The city of Lawrence was founded on a political idea. Eli Thayer, a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, proposed that the Kansas Territory be filled with free men "who hated slavery and who would drive the hideous thing from the broad and beautiful plains where they were going to raise free homes." He drew up a charter for what was called the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company.
Leaving Boston on July 17, 1854, the first group of settlers heading for what is now Lawrence got a rousing sendoff. Their arrival in Kansas was not so warm.
Kansas artist Al Howell's depiction of Quantrill's raid on Lawrence
was the cover for the 1967 Southwestern Bell telephone directory.
Gathered from all parts of the New England states, the settlers leaving the station were sent off by cheering crowds lining the tracks. They journeyed westward across New York, and they were cheered at nearly every stop.
They crossed Lake Erie on the steamer "Polar Star." In a week, they were in St. Louis. Three days later, the group arrived in Westport, in Kansas City, Mo.
From there, their directions read:
"Proceed through the Shawnee reservation and select the first eligible site south of the Kansas River."
They reached the site that would become Lawrence on Aug. 1, 1854, and camped on Mount Oread.
A second party of settlers arrived by Sept 15. On Sept. 18, 1854, the Lawrence Assn. was formed. On that date, the town site, named (for Amos Lawrence) and city constitution were adopted.
|This is the first of three special sections the Journal-World will publish to commemorate the city's sesquicentennial. Look for the other sections Sept. 26 and Oct. 3.
Less than a decade after the city was founded, it would be burned and looted in Quantrill's raid and given the challenge of rising again.
|Multimedia 6News video: City celebrates birthday with parade, music, festival Photo Gallery: Scenes from Lawrence's past Photo Gallery: Lawrence's Sesquicentennial Celebration Photo Gallery: Mayors of Lawrence Audio: Benjamin Seferovich, beard contest participant Audio: Tony Peterson, beard contest judge Audio: Kendall Simmons, beard contest organizer, part 1 | Part 2 Audio: Kerry Altenbernd, beard contest participant, part 1 | Part 2 Journal-World page 1A pdf | jpg 'From the Ashes' special section pdf | jpg Stories Lawrence celebrates its sesquicentennial Editorial: Storied past, bright future Free cake tops off downtown parade Lawrence cuts a rug at outdoor dance Competition hairy at beard contest Spooked horse gives Japanese mayor taste of old-time Lawrence City's sesquicentennial makes big impression on stamp collectors Letter: A message to 2054 bicentennial plannersStories from 'From the Ashes' From the Ashes Founding based in abolishing slavery Lawrence burned, looted in border hostilities Quantrill's raid left Lawrence in ruins, killed 143 men Who really were the Quantrill raiders? Boulder, plaque pay homage to pioneers Remembering those fallen in battle City churches trace roots to pioneer days Sesquicentennial Commission seeks to inspire next generation Lawrence's early days marked by bloody conflict Sesquicentennial briefs Early Days in Lawrence: A timeline Calendar of events More on Lawrence's Sesquicentennial
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