The Battle of Black Jack -- At dawn on June 2, 1856, the abolitionist John Brown led a Free-State militia in an attack on the camp of a pro-slavery militia led by Henry Clay Pate. Pate and his men had been scouring the countryside looking for Brown, and had spent the night at a popular camping ground along the Santa Fe Trail near Black Jack Creek in southeastern Douglas County, Kansas Territory. Although Pate’s forces held the superior position and outnumbered those of Brown, he was forced to surrender after three hours of intense fighting, thereby ended what John Brown later called “the first regular battle fought between Free-State and Pro-Slavery men in Kansas.”
Because Kansas saw the first armed conflict over slavery, and because Brown identified the Battle of Black Jack as the first such battle in Kansas, many consider it the first battle in the American Civil War.
The Battlefield -- In 2003, a forty-acre tract of critical Black Jack Battlefield land was saved from residential development. A group of concerned individuals, members of the Friends of the Black Jack Battlefield (FoBJB) and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance (LPA), purchased the land from descendants of Robert Hall Pearson. The LPA became the temporary owner of the land until a new organization could form to take over ownership and management of the property. On June 30, 2004, the newly formed Black Jack Battlefield Trust, Inc. assumed full ownership of the property.
The area surrounding the Battlefield is rapidly changing from farmland to residential developments. This suburban growth threatens to destroy the very land where John Brown and Henry Clay Pate fought. If we fail to preserve the site, an irreplaceable part of the history of Kansas and of our nation will be lost forever. It is now or never to: Save the Black Jack Battlefield.
The Park -- The Black Jack Battlefield and Nature Park is being developed on the site of the Battle of Black Jack, June 2, 1856.
The Park helps tell the story of the unique role that the Battle played in our shared history. It will also preserve wildlife habitat and provide a place to experience the beauty and tranquility of a natural Kansas landscape in an area undergoing rapid urbanization.
In addition to the Battlefield, the Park includes the historic Robert Hall Pearson House. Pearson fought alongside of John Brown in the Battle. He eventually purchased the land and built his house overlooking the Battlefield in the 1880’s. His descendants lived in the house until the property was purchased by preservationists in 2003.
Membership and donations -- The Black Jack Battlefield Trust, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Donations to the Trust are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Student/Senior - $10 Individual - $35 Contributing - $50 Supporting - $100 Sustaining - $250 Patron - $500 Benefactor - $1,000
Send membership payments and donations to:
The Black Jack Battlefield Trust, Inc. P.O. Box 44 Baldwin City, Kansas 66006-0044
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- Phone: 785-883-2106