For Mabel Holland and her brothers Bernard Rogers and Charles Rogers, Quantrill's Raid is more than history.
It's a family tragedy.
Abner Griswold, 28, was among the nearly 200 people killed Aug. 21, 1863, during a raid of Lawrence by pro-Confederate guerrillas led by William Quantrill. His wife, Susan, survived the attack. Her sister was the great-grandmother of Holland and the Rogerses.
The three drove this week from their homes in Michigan to Lawrence to participate in commemorations of the attack and dig into their family history.
"It's really been moving," Holland said Thursday at Watkins Community Museum of History, where collections manager Judy Sweets spent several hours helping the family search old documents and photos for information about Griswold.
"It's really brought home the tragedy of the whole thing," Holland said. "Before it was just a story."
Abner was one of four Griswolds to die that day, but there's scant evidence how or if any of them were related.
"Really, there's very little known about him," Sweets said.
Susan Griswold was listed as a seamstress in Lawrence's 1865 census. She eventually remarried and died in 1917 in Michigan. She was buried next to her second husband, Cuyler Sawyer, in Rushville, N.Y.
The trunk she owned in Kansas, along with landscape paintings she made while living here, are still in the family, Holland said.
"I remember my grandmother talking about it," she said.
Holland said she began learning about Abner Griswold's death in Lawrence when a distant cousin, Barbara Boyce, contacted her last summer about the family's history.
The family arrived Tuesday; local historian Katie Armitage took them to Abner Griswold's grave Wednesday so they could place flowers at the site. The family attended a Wednesday night candlelight vigil commemorating the raid, part of the Civil War on the Western Frontier, more than a week of events honoring Lawrence's role in the Civil War.
"I'm really sorry more people from Lawrence don't attend these events," Holland said. "They're wonderful."
Lawrence history buffs were equally glad to have the family here.
"We feel like we know these people from reading about them," said Tolly Wildcat, a museum volunteer. "When you meet their families, it's like history come alive."