Archive for Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Underground Railroad conference to showcase area history

July 21, 2010


— Even though it has been more than 150 years since cabins, houses and churches scattered across northeast Kansas were once hideouts for escaping slaves, the history is still visible.

In the seven present day counties in the region, more than 80 places still tell of the Underground Railroad.

This year, the history of the region will be brought together in one collective conference. July 28-31 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, Topeka, will host the fourth annual National Underground Railroad Conference.

The conference — titled Battleground for Freedom; The Underground Railroad on the Western Frontier — will be a four-day event with historians, workshops, tours, exhibits and vendors.

Diane Miller, national manager for the Network of Freedom Program, said the conference will shed light on how the Underground Railroad in the West influenced the national struggle to abolish slavery.

“Participants will discover new connections to a larger national story with global significance,” Miller said.

In the West, Topeka was the southern terminus of the Jim Lane Trail. North of the Kansas River, the Lane Trail to Freedom collected travelers from dividing routes across the south and central regions.

In 10 present-day northeastern Kansas counties, more than 15 places are associated with this trail. It is also the trail by which John Brown left Kansas for his raid on the Harpers Ferry Arsenal.

Martha Parker, director of the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum, said that while many people may focus on northeastern states such as the Carolinas, Virginia or Maryland as famous Underground Railroad sites, Kansas played a significant role as well. Because the Wakarusa Valley played such a pivotal role in the abolitionist movement and freedom frontier campaigns, Parker said it is great to finally have the conference in Kansas.

“It’s wonderful to have the conference here and to have a whole week of speakers and events centered around Kansas,” Parker said. “I’m hoping people will begin to take more interest in our history.”

To register to attend the event, visit


rbwaa 3 years, 9 months ago

i guess some people just have to gritch about something


geoismeo 3 years, 9 months ago

Are we talking about a subway here?


Mike Ford 3 years, 9 months ago

there is the old home on east 19th and the site of the fire dept on Harper St that were places on the UNderground Railroad. I've been to the Dawn Settlement In western Ontario Canada where the underground railroad ended.


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oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 9 months ago

A hundred years from now there will be documented examples of economic slavery. The city commission, the county commission and the school district is writing history of the slavery of the local workers to support their undocumented stories of leadership and success and the Chamber is right in there with them.

Too bad, Lawrence doesnt have a whole bunch of homes open for tour. But those that are from the era have been reworked with granite countertops and flat screen TVs.

Snowflake Arizona has more historic homes to show off than Lawrence. Even the Chamber of commerce works from one. Oskaloosa KS has a "village' of interesting period structures. Even has an old jail. Lawrence has an old jail as a Senior Center. The real jail next to courthouse wasn't fancy enough to keep as a token of history.

This thing in Topeka is just that, a thing.


mom_of_three 3 years, 9 months ago

Much written about the underground railroad was written after the fact, so it isn't just kansas.


boothillbilly 3 years, 9 months ago

there is no direct documentary evidence of UGRR activity in the region. One letter, dated 1859 makes an oblique reference to escaped slaves. This is not to say that there was no UGRR activity, but the supposed "smoking gun" evidence of UGRR activity are reminiscences that were recorded after 1880.

If you want fiction oneeye_wilbur, I agree with you, this an opportunity to make some cash. But it should not purport itself to be a historical site.


oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 9 months ago

with you yankeevet, have been saying all along that lawrenec and the area is stuck in the civil war. Now Lawrence could make some real money if we had a bunch of folks dressed up in rags, and put some chickens and goats in the front yards of most every house in East Lawrence ,it would look like the civil war era. Then take that big fancy brick house on Kentucky and get some "folks" in white suits to sit around sipping Mint Juleps.

Lawrence has no imagination. This thing in Topeka will have some motor coahes filled with folks who have not much of anything else to do and after a day of rehassing the same crap as yankeevet refers to, the will go back home and ask themselves. " How can Topeka be so trashy as the Capitol of the state and why is Lawrence full of bars with no restored historic homes or sites ?"

Lawrence does't have anything like a Wave Hill. Now that would be something to showcase. All Lawrence has is a somewhat pesticide free park with drunks sleeping in it.


yankeevet 3 years, 9 months ago

Just keep rehashing this crap over and over...............


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