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Archive for Thursday, May 14, 1992

S TOP SITE FOR CIVIL WAR BUFFS

May 14, 1992

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An organization of Civil War buffs from Kansas City says Lawrence should be touted as Kansas' pre-eminent Civil War-era tourist site.

Five officers from Kansas City's Civil War Roundtable were in Lawrence Wednesday and said they wanted to set up a historical tour of the area this fall for Kansas City-area residents.

"I think people in this area have to recognize that they have the most significant (Civil War) incident in the whole trans-Mississippi area," said Orvis Fitts, an officer of Kansas City's Civil War Roundtable.

The group's officers toured Lawrence with Steve Jansen, local historian and director of the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum, 1047 Mass.

The group was brought to Lawrence by Topeka historian Tom Goodrich, whose book, "Bloody Dawn," was published in 1991.

Goodrich's book details the Aug. 21, 1863 raid on Lawrence by William C. Quantrill, a Confederate guerrilla leader who rode into the city with 400 men from Missouri. Most of the city was burned to the ground and 150 men were killed in the raid.

Members of the Kansas City roundtable became interested in Lawrence after reading the book, they said.

THE HISTORIANS say Quantrill's Raid is the most significant Civil War event occurring west of the Mississippi River.

"This (city) could be the greatest tourism site in the state," because of the raid, Fitts said.

Kansas City's Civil War Roundtable and other such groups are devoted to the study and preservation of Civil War history.

The organization, which operates in conjunction with the Westport Historical Society, has purchased 50 acres of land at the site where the Civil War Battle of Westport took place in Kansas City, Mo. The group currently is in the process of raising funds to purchase an additional 40 acres on the other side of the Westport battle site.

Fitts said that in September or October the group would organize a bus trip from Kansas City to Lawrence, in which riders could follow the path of Civil War brigades.

KANSAS CITY'S Civil War Roundtable has about 225 members, said Jack Brooks, officer of the group.

Jansen said interest in Lawrence by the Kansas City group was significant because it could attract more visitors and give Lawrence more credibility as a significant historical site.

"Their visit is a way of building contacts," Jansen said. "I hope that we can have a renewed effort to tell people that we do have that kind of significance."

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