Archive for Thursday, November 1, 2012

Test excavation of possible grave site at Ninth and New Hampshire likely to happen in next few days

November 1, 2012


It now appears that the mystery of whether there are Civil War-era graves at a vacant lot at Ninth and New Hampshire streets may be solved in a matter of days.

Lawrence Mayor Bob Schumm said he’s been told that the state archeologist will conduct test excavations on the vacant lot at the southeast corner of Ninth and New Hampshire streets, which has been approved to house a multistory hotel building.

Schumm said he was not sure when the excavations would happen, but another source said the tests are scheduled for Monday. Attempts to confirm that with the state archeologist or the city manager’s office weren’t immediately successful.

The issue of possible unmarked graves re-emerged last week when the Journal-World reported that state archeologist Robert Hoard had sent a letter to city officials in March expressing interest in testing the site.

Several opponents of the proposed hotel project had argued to city officials that the site may well be an unmarked burial ground for several black soldiers who were killed in Quantrill’s Raid. A 1903 master’s thesis by a Kansas University student contends the site was a burial ground for victims of the raid, but historians haven’t been able to find any other corroboration for the claim.

The test excavations also come after some archeologists at Kansas University began to express concern that the site may not be properly researched to determine if unmarked graves are present.

“If human remains are discovered there, I think there is a very good chance they represent union soldiers who died during Quantrill’s Raid,” said John Hoopes, an associate professor in KU’s department of anthropology. “I think it could potentially be a very important find.”

Hoopes said he spoke with City Manager David Corliss about the scheduled test excavations. Hoopes said it is his understanding that a backhoe will be used to determine whether a trench once existed on the site. If signs of a trench are found, more detailed archeology work can proceed. Hoopes said he’s been told the state’s archeologist will oversee the excavation.

The idea of a trench on the site is important because the 1903 KU master’s thesis contends black soldiers were buried in an open trench that was part of construction of the St. Luke AME Church.

Property records confirm St. Luke AME bought the lot just 10 days before Quantrill’s raid, so it is conceivable an open trench existed on the property at the time of the raid. For reasons not documented, the church never completed construction at the site.

Hoopes said he thinks there is a good chance unmarked graves may be on the site. He said he has talked with a noted Civil War historian who said it is known that the makeshift burial of bodies was common in the aftermath of Quantrill’s Raid, in part because the attack came in the heat of the summer.

But Hoopes said there is a more basic reason he believes the reports of graves there may be true. He said it is significant the master’s thesis was written only 40 years after Quantrill’s Raid.

“You have to remember that when this was written, there were still people walking the streets of Lawrence who were eyewitnesses to Quantrill’s Raid,” Hoopes said. “It seems very likely to me the author would have accessed eye-witness accounts.

“And I don’t know why someone would make up a story like this.”

If remains are found on the site, there are state laws that dictate how the bodies must be treated or removed. The grave site issue, however, is not the type of issue that would stop the hotel project from moving forward.

A state review board would have to decide whether the remains should remain on site or be moved to a more appropriate burial. Hoopes said if moved, the bodies very well may be entitled to a proper military burial.


Mike Ford 5 years, 4 months ago

I find it funny that all of the deniers attack this academic like the simpletons they are.....

jhawkinsf 5 years, 4 months ago

I find it funny that someone who consistently insults people, and who frequently does so based on race, is still allowed to post on this site, despite the fact that such comments are in clear violation of the terms of agreement.

5 years, 4 months ago

"I find it funny that all of the deniers attack this academic" It's especially funny since no one has attacked this academic. Getting ahead of ourselves, are we?

I have no intention of attacking this academic or any other. But I would point out that the article is again incorrect. The thesis does not contend that black soldiers were buried in an open trench. It contends that:

"There was a company of 25 recruits encamped on this site, 20 of them were killed, and thrown in the trenches."

The site of the black church property was next to the encampment of recruits of the Kansas 14th., a white unit. There were an unknown number of black recruits of the First Kansas Colored in the neighborhood, but they were not on that site.

I'm glad they are digging, but I suspect they will find nothing. While it's conceivable that the church began construction within the first 10 days they owned it, it's very unlikely that they would have dug trenches suitable for burying bodies. It's not like there were a lot of basements in Lawrence in 1863.

5 years, 4 months ago

Here's the entire quote from the other thread (courtesy jwhoopes2)

"African Methodist Episcopal, St. Luke was founded in 1868. The first meetings were held in a blacksmith shop in the 700 block on Massachusetts Street. At the time of Quantrill's Raid they had begun to dig the foundation for a church at the corner of New Hampshire and Warren Streets. There was a company of 25 recruits encamped on this site, 20 of them were killed, and thrown in the trenches. The site was abandoned, and a little stone church was built on the corner of New York and Warren. This one was used several years before the present brick structure was added in front."

Mike Ford 5 years, 4 months ago

I rightfully insult those who either have no concept of their disrespect towards of minorities or deny it and troll anyway. Own your culture's implementation of land grabs, slavery and the like and stop ignoring history where this country is in the wrong and saying dumb things like love it or leave it when you're probably the descendant of immigrants to a country where people already lived who brought people for labor purposes when they could've done the work themselves if not for greed.

50YearResident 5 years, 4 months ago

Will you ever remove that "chip" from your shoulder ar will you just pass it down to your next generation as it must have passed down to you?

jwhoopes2 5 years, 4 months ago

There is no indication that the dead recruits were black. In fact, it seems probable that they were white. They were reportedly between the ages of eighteen and twenty and were killed, unarmed, in their tents. Their names can be found on p. 194 of this 1897 book, published just six years before the 1903 Master's thesis:

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

However, newspaper reports from the raid does say that 20-25 black soldiers were killed who were camped in Lawrence, and the number goes up to 40 in the next article.

jwhoopes2 5 years, 4 months ago

The reference is:

Fisher, H.D. (1897) The Gun and the Gospel: Early Kansas and Chaplain Fisher. New York: Medical Century Company.

A full digitized edition is available online.

It contains detailed, eyewitness accounts of the events of Quantrill's Raid and a full list of the victims. With the 150th anniversary of this event coming up next August, it's a story all Lawrencians should know.

Note that the author makes an impassioned plea for a monument commemorating the people who died that day and the abolitionist cause they represented. Where is that monument?

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

His first hand accounts are also available at and he doesn't mention troops, let alone black troops at all. Doesn't mean that they weren't there.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

A September 1, 1863 from John S. Brown (no relation) says there were "20 negro soldiers killed", Great old pictures of Lawrence in the 1893 memorial album, which lists survivors and what the town looked like at the time in 1893

JackMcKee 5 years, 4 months ago

When they find nothing send the bill to KT Walsh.

Jeremiah Jefferson 5 years, 4 months ago

I think its a pretty crappy materialistic society we live in when we can't leave the dead alone. Rest in peace means just that. If there are bodies there, leave them be and find another place.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 4 months ago

So, if there are graves there, do you want the bodies used as fill somewhere?

Terry Sexton 5 years, 4 months ago

After a few more centuries, we'll all share the same point of view and, hopefully, it'll be something we can build upon.

Mike Ford 5 years, 4 months ago

I guess the newbies want to benefit from theft and not be reminded of it. now hand the newbies the remote control. they want everything easy and no reminders....what's history to americans anyway......

MarcoPogo 5 years, 4 months ago

I like how you use the "stupid white people watch TV" premise, yet you're always the first to refer to others as Archie Bunkers and/or Peter Griffins.

JackMcKee 5 years, 4 months ago

Bozo, there won't be any bodies. You deft clown.

JackMcKee 5 years, 4 months ago

would you like to place a friendly wager?

JackMcKee 5 years, 4 months ago

Tushy, these guys were federal troops. Army. The Calvary. You know, the guys that came to the rescue when the Indians were getting pesky.

5 years, 4 months ago

They should just dig up the whole lot to the specifications needed for the new hotel foundation...then we can save the developer some money.

jwhoopes2 5 years, 4 months ago

“The following were ‘Unmustered Recruits’ who were killed in their tents unarmed:

Anderson, C. Allen, Chas, R. Cooper, Jas. F. Green, John R. Griswold, Walter B. S. Walderman, Aaron Markel, David Markel, Lewis Markel, Samuel Parker, Ashbury Parker, Isaac Riggs, Chas. F. Speer, Robt. Watson, John Waugh, Wm. A. Wilson, Jas. Woods, Andrew

“Of a company of twenty-three recruits, of the ages of from eighteen to twenty years, only five escaped with their lives.”

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

The problem with the book that you are reading, and the description from his son is that there is no mention of black troops at all. That doesn't necessarily mean that they weren't there, but that no one really cared to check. There are also letters and newspaper articles which reference black troops who were killed as well as white, so its possible the truth is somewhere within all this information.
I need to find the Katie Armitage book about the raid and see if she mentions it.

5 years, 4 months ago

" That doesn't necessarily mean that they weren't there, but that no one really cared to check."

They weren't "there" if by that we mean on the site where the black congregation's property was. As Connelley related in his 1909 book on Quantrill:

"There were two camps in Lawrence, that of the white recruits (for the Fourteenth Kansas Regiment) being situated near the center of the block bounded by Warren, Berkeley, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire streets. The camp of the recruits for the Second Colored Regiment, who had been enlisted by Rev. S. S. Snyder, was on the southwest corner of Berkeley and Massachusetts streets." (Quantrill and the Border Wars, 1909, p.337) The camps were about 100 yards apart, but the white camp was between the black camp and the property at issue, and was on the same block as the property.

However, there is an interesting footnote on that page: " In the negro camp there were about twenty recruits, most of whom escaped. They had not been armed or uniformed, and they scattered at the first sound of the firing and escaped general slaughter. The location of this camp was given the author by C. L. Edwards and G. Grovenor, May 14, 1909. Mr. Grovenor believes all the colored recruits were killed, but reliable negroes, among them the late Andrew Williams, of Topeka, say that almost all of them escaped." (ibid)

And the main reason it's interesting is not that whites thought the blacks were killed while blacks thought they escaped. Mr. Groverner in his testimony relates how he saw the 14th cut down, but he merely presumed that the nearby Second was treated the same way. It's that Connelley took most of his narrative of the attack from the Gregg Manuscript (William Gregg was one of Quantrill's lieutenants), and Gregg does not mention the black camp. He tells how his guys ran down the 14th, but he only mentions the death of one soldier of the Second Kansas Colored - who was, incidentally, the first man killed in Lawrence itself. Now, given the lengths that Quantrill's men went to kill blacks (see Sam Gaty Massacre) and especially blacks that might wind up in federal uniform, it's at least interesting that Gregg did not mention killing the black Union troops.

The most likely reason for that is that he did not kill them, i.e. that as Andrew Williams (and Connelley) stated, most of them escaped when Gregg's men hit the white camp on the very church property at issue.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

interesting...wonder why other first hand accounts black troops among the dead . too bad the thesis doesn't have sources.

5 years, 4 months ago

Hard to say. Like Grovernor, they may have merely presumed the disappearance of the black camp meant that its inhabitants had been killed. Remember, it's unlikely that blacks staying at a camp in Lawrence were from Lawrence - most were "contrabands," escaped slaves from Missouri - so after they scattered, they probably did not come back to a Lawrence that looked to have been destroyed.

It's also certain that civilian blacks were killed in Lawrence - in fact, like in John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, the first man killed was black. So how does your average white newspaper editor tell the difference between un-uniformed black soldiers and a dead black teen he probably didn't know anyway? It's easy to assume they are the same. Also, since Lawrence's newspapers were out of business, much of what was published elsewhere (especially early) was hearsay, to say the least.

It's also certain that some black soldiers were killed, even if most escaped. They might even have been buried with the white soldiers. The historical problem is, of course, that we really don't know where either group is buried.

And yes, it's too bad the thesis doesn't list sources. Such an oversight, I hope, would never get past a committee today, but with the past you have to take what you find.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

I read through the chapters of Connelley's book, and found a few issues with the preceding chapters. It doesnt discredit Connelley's account, but it certainly doesn't help it. He has Dow murdered in october 25, 1855, but it was actually November 21, 1855. The Kickapoo speech made by Stringfellow before the sack of Lawrence in 1856 has never been confirmed as true. And then he mentions Pelathe, which has not been confirmed either.

5 years, 4 months ago

Right-O. I'm not saying he's perfect - In my own thesis I took him to task on a couple things as well. However, I've never seen anyone else place the black camp on the site of the black church either (which would have been a coincidence anyway, since the church came last and the camps were temporary).

Connelley seems to have spoken with enough people (and includes a lot of their testimony in full in his footnotes) that he makes a very good starting point. The fact that Albert Castel back him up in saying that most of the black troops escaped is a point in his favor, I think.

mom_of_three 5 years, 4 months ago

Connelley's "standard history of kansas" is great, but as you say, every historian has a fault. Malin had his as well. And Connelley mentions all his sources, and one of them is the book mentioned above. Problem with that book as a source is that the black troops are not mentioned in it at all.... but connelley was good enough that he used so many sources. then again, the murder of dow has taken on a couple of interpretations and who knows which is fact vs romanticized history.

ascgrown 5 years, 4 months ago

What is gonna happen in a few hundred years? No one has cared about the bazillion human corpses that have fought, for right or wrong, and died under the very homes which we sleep so comfortably until this point. Blood has been spilled for eons over every tract of land since the first 2 cavemen had a disagreement. Do what we have always done and build forward and move on. Hasnt stopped Lawrencians from building before. Outside the parking garage on New Hampshire and 10th there used to be a bronze memorial plate that called attention to the many men, women, and regretably, children who died during the raid near that spot. That plate no longer rests there since the switch from parking lot to parking structure. Has anyone else noticed this? I just wonder where people would live if not for blood spilled for that land. Their fight is over. Been called home long ago. Although I believe in respect for the dead I have to acknowledge the fact that they are just that. Dead. If someone dies in a house should the building be razed? However, historical signifigance is paramount. If any are found, by all means, exume, identify, respectfully bury somewhere else and build away. It matters not who they were, what life they led, Black or White...They are poor souls who either died in fear or died for what they thought was " right " Bottom line is dig away. If you find remains go the appropriate route, remove,examine,identify,report,re-bury,rebuild. And I'd like to know what happened to that Bronze plate.....

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