Archive for Sunday, September 27, 1992


September 27, 1992


Many people in Lawrence naturally think of a Jayhawk just as the benign, smiling mascot of Kansas University.

But as about 100 people on a bus tour who stopped at The Eldridge Hotel for lunch Saturday learned, Kansas Jayhawkers and Red Legs often were malicious and mean.

The two-bus tour, sponsored by the Civil War Round Table of Kansas City and the Westport Historical Society, traced the 1863 path of William Clark Quantrill and his followers as they crossed from Missouri into Kansas, intent on raiding Lawrence.

By lunchtime, they had reached Lawrence Memorial Park Cemetery on East 15th Street, near a hill where it's believed Quantrill first viewed Lawrence.

After driving through the cemetery, the group visited the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum before lunching at the hotel, where they were treated to a visit from the past by a farm woman and a bushwhacker from Missouri (portrayed by Kim Colwell of Wichita and Dale Sherrard of Lone Jack, Mo., respectively.)

IN RESPONSE to questions by Orvis Fitts, Civil War Round Table member who moderated the discussion by the Missourians, the bushwhacker said he rode into Lawrence with Quantrill to "make things right" after Jayhawkers burned Osceola, Mo., and killed people and stole livestock in other Missouri towns. He asked for some kerosene before turning the microphone over to the farm woman.

She said her father, a Pleasant Hill, Mo., farmer, was a Union sympathizer. One day while he and her brother were plowing, Kansas Jayhawkers rode up and began harassing them, accusing them of knowing where Missouri guerilla fighters were. The Kansans killed her father, the woman said, beat her brother, whipped her mother and made her burn their house. After that, the family helped Quantrill in any way it could, she said.

RON CASTEEL, independent documentary film producer, said during the luncheon that he learned while making the documentary, "The Life and Death of Jesse James" that the genesis of the Civil War took place in Missouri, and that there is a general lack of knowledge about Missouri's pivotal role in the national conflict.

A bus tour is the best way to learn about history, Casteel said.

"I find that if you can be there, that's the best way to learn something and to remember that something," he said.

Casteel will attempt again to take people where they cannot go with another documentary given the working title, "Quantrill and the Missouri Guerrillas." He said after the luncheon that he would rely heavily on people in Lawrence to provide the sketches and graphics that are crucial for making a documentary, as well as filming here.

"Lawrence will obviously be a major element, because it was a major element of Quantrill's career," he said.

JEAN JOHNSON of Overland Park, one of the organizers of the tour, said the interest in the bus tour had been terrific. Sixteen people had to be turned away Saturday morning because the buses were full.

"These people aren't coming out to go for a nice ride on the bus," she said. "They're coming to find out what happened, to get a feel for it."

Tom Goodrich, author of ``Bloody Dawn,'' a book that describes Quantrill's raid on Lawrence, rode one of the buses to narrate the tour and answer questions. Johnson said interest in the tour was sparked by Goodrich's book.

Goodrich said he thinks Lawrence has the potential of being as big a resource for Civil War history buffs as Gettysburg, Pa. If Lawrence had not existed, there would have been no Civil War, Goodrich said, because then Kansas would have been a slave state and there would have been nothing to skirmish over for Missourians and Kansans.

"WE ARE sitting in a gold mine; it's just a matter of people mining that gold," he said.

Goodrich's wife, Maurine Higley, said events in Lawrence focused the nation's attention on the slavery debate, yet people too often forget Lawrence's history.

"I don't think these people realize when they're walking down these sidewalks, they are stepping on a spot where someone died," she said.

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