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Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2012

City likely to require test to answer burial puzzle at Ninth and New Hampshire

Some think victims of Quantrill’s Raid may have been buried at site

This is thought to be one of the most accurate sketches of Quantrill's Raid because the artist, Sherman Enderton, was actually present for the raid.

This is thought to be one of the most accurate sketches of Quantrill's Raid because the artist, Sherman Enderton, was actually present for the raid.

October 25, 2012

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On the street

Should a rumored burial site of Quantrill’s Raid victims at Ninth and New Hampshire streets be further investigated before a hotel is built there?

As an engineer, I say move on with it. I don’t think they (those buried) are going to care. They’re dead.

More responses

A Lawrence mystery that dates back to at least 1903 is likely to get solved by a 21st century hotel project in downtown Lawrence.

City officials confirmed they are likely to require the developers of a proposed hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire streets to conduct test excavations to determine whether victims of Quantrill’s Raid are buried at the site.

“We have not lost track of this issue,” said Scott McCullough, the city’s director of planning. “Our plan is to try to get it mediated with the property owners and get some test sites dug before construction begins.”

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 city’s position that test excavations should be done comes after the Journal-World reported on Wednesday that Kansas’ state archeologist had asked for test excavations on the site.

State Archeologist Robert Hoard sent a letter to City Manager David Corliss in March that said he wanted to discuss the possibility of test excavations occurring on the site before any permits are approved for development of the site.

Those tests did not happen, nor did city officials notify the city’s Historic Resources Commission that the state archeologist had an interest in testing the site. The city’s Historic Resources Commission in late April had a hearing to determine whether the multistory hotel project was appropriate for the area.

A few neighbors of the project mentioned the grave site issue, but McCullough said he does not believe staff members ever alerted the commission that the state archeologist had requested test excavations to occur before development permits were issued.

McCullough said that’s because his office read the letter to mean that the test excavations only needed to be done before a building permit or site plan was issued for the project. Now that the hotel has won its necessary approvals from the City Commission, the project is moving into the building permit and site planning stage.

Increased cost

A spokesman for the project’s development group — which is led by Lawrence businessmen Doug Compton and Mike Treanor — said the city hadn’t yet spoken with the group about doing the test excavations.

“The problem is that you have to pay the archeologist to do all this,” Fleming said. “It won’t be free, and we’re going to excavate the entire site anyway. I guarantee you we’re going to be digging way below six feet.”

But Fleming said he was open to having discussions with the city about the issue.

A neighbor who had originally raised the issue said she wasn’t aware the state’s archeologist had formally requested test excavations. But she said she’s hopeful the tests will now be done. She said having the tests done before construction digging begins would be beneficial.

“In archeology, context is everything,” K.T. Walsh, an East Lawrence neighbor who had raised the issue, said. “How the bones lay, their exact location all can help you piece together a story.”

Hoard, who was out of the office this week and unavailable for comment, also indicated in his letter that a pre-construction excavation would be preferable.

“If burials are present in the lot and disturbed during construction, it would be an unfortunate situation because of the social and historical importance of the burials,” Hoard wrote.

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. Even opponents of the project concede that point.

“It is not about stopping the project It is about our Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, about our Civil War history, and about telling our story,” said Walsh, who previously had spoken against the hotel project. “This could be particularly important in helping understand the long-ignored history of black soldiers who fought in the Civil War.”

Or, Walsh said, it could just be an Al Capone’s safe type of incident, for those who remember Geraldo Rivera’s anti-climatic safe opening.

“I don’t know that there are bones there,” Walsh said.

Historical context

But the 1903 master’s thesis by Lizzie Goodnight raises the question. Some well-documented history also raises the possibility. It is known that an encampment of soldiers were stationed across the street from the Ninth and New Hampshire Street lot.

The story goes that black soldiers were buried in an open trench that was part of construction of the St. Luke AME Church. The letter from the state’s archeologist said 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.

The church following the raid, for reasons not entirely understood, then stopped construction of the church and began work at 900 New York. Neighbors contend that historic property maps show that the site of the church construction has never been built on, and thus has never been excavated since the raid.

Fleming said he thinks it is unlikely that graves are on the site, given that no other historical researcher since 1903 has found evidence of it. But he said construction crews will be instructed to be on the lookout. The hotel project, which is expected to begin work before the end of the year, will excavate the entire site to make way for an underground parking garage.

“We’ll either confirm or deny, that’s for sure,” Fleming said. “It won’t be a mystery for much longer.”

Comments

JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

If they wanted to avoid suspicion that this was an effort to punish Compton or delay construction they should have chosen someone other than dumpster diving KT Walsh to be the spokesperson.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 5 months ago

Still no physical evidence of graves along the SLT.

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fiddleback 1 year, 5 months ago

All the sneering that this issue is merely a delaying tactic makes no sense. It says clearly in the article: "The grave site issue, however, is not the type of issue that would stop the hotel project from moving forward. Even opponents of the project concede that point."

Likewise, I think people who shrug at history and even at the bones of those who bled on this soil, while arguably boors, don't qualify as racists for that alone. Sure, I get the irony that they root for a highway being built over American Indian graves and a hotel on top of white or black soldier graves. But let's just stick with identifying this disregard for human remains as churlish and move on.

I wish we could just discuss this as the historical opportunity it presents rather than trot out all the old baggage and character attacks.

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Mike Ford 1 year, 5 months ago

I have to laugh....when minorities are disrespected by building whether it's Native American students at Haskell or Civil War era African American soldiers what do the archie bunkers do to cover themselves???? they accuse the descendants of these people who suffered at the expense of White America of playing the race card. Guess what.....when minorities have lands taken under duress of false pretenses or a whole race of people are freed by the Emancipation Proclaimation and yet Jim Crow laws reign upon the US from the 1870's to the 1960's affecting African, Latino, and Native peoples until the Brown Ruling of 1954 or the Civil Rights Acts of 1964-65 you do have a problem of being a culture guilty of wrongdoing and willfully ignorant enough to accuse those who survived your culture's brutality. Ignorance and blame shifting is no excuse. Both the soldier's graves and the wetlands should be protected by executive order. It's happened before. Maybe a second term brings this......

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

There seems to be a certain suspicion that opponents of the hotel project are using this grave possibility issue simply as a way of delaying the project or just sticking it to the developer. I'm going to propose something and I'd really like to hear from the opponents of the project.

If in fact there was a massacre and burial on this site, then U.S. soldiers and/or recruits that may be buried there deserve the utmost thanks from all of today's citizens. They deserve utmost respect and dignity from us all and they need an appropriate burial. As they were defending their city, their state and their country, they deserve all of those things from us all. As such, whatever costs associated with this should be borne by us all. Take the money from the city coffers and pay whatever amount you opponents want to spend. We can offset those costs with cuts in services, leave some potholes unfilled, whatever.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

In fact, there were many people who expressed displeasure at the construction of the Arts Center on property that had previously been single-family housing stock (but no history of graves,) and the construction of the parking garage on the site of the massacre of the recruits during the Quantrill's raid.

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cheeseburger 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't seem to recall any huge concern regarding bones by KT Walsh and her ilk when the arts center and the parking garage were constructed. Perhaps those structures should be leveled and the sites excavated since KT's 'research' has led her to believe there are bones in the area.

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classclown 1 year, 5 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus

If you send that out in an email to enough people, it'll become "the truth." Or at least "truthy."

October 26, 2012 at 12:44 p.m.

=======================================

Is that how you got on the "bodies are buried there" bandwagon?

Although I frankly believe you didn't really care until you heard they may have been black which then gave you the chance to get to jump in here and call everybody a racist.

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1 year, 5 months ago

jwhoopes2: "However, the fact that they were buried without honors or markers suggests that [they were African American]"

Actually, the probability is that they were white:

"Near the center of the town, [Quantrill's raiders] came upon an encampment of twenty-two recruits of the Fourteenth Kansas, which they literally trampled into the ground, killing seventeen of the young men. They also attacked a nearby camp of colored recruits, but most of these managed to flee to safety." -- Albert Castel, "Civil War Kansas" (1997) p.129

Now, the 14th was a white unit, but the important point is that these men were "recruits" of the fourteenth, not members. As was often the case, they were probably brought in by a recruiter but had not yet been mustered - so technically they weren't soldiers. They would not have been buried with honors for they had earned none. Their camp was in the block between New Hampshire and Mass, and Berkeley and Warren. So Goodnight here is probably referring to the 14th.

According to William Elsey Connelley (Quantrill and the Border Wars, 1909 - see the map on p.335.) the camp of the black recruits (First Kansas Colored, I believe) was at Massachusetts and Berkeley, a block or so closer to the edge of town and not directly in the path of Quantrill's charge into town. That explains why most of them were able to escape.

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jwhoopes2 1 year, 5 months ago

From the website of the Kansas Historical Society:

"KSA 75-2741 through 75-2754 protects unmarked burials in Kansas and the human remains and associated objects that come from them. Unmarked burials are those that do not have headstones, are not in demarcated cemeteries, and are not noted in maps, deeds, or other records. The law makes it illegal to disturb unmarked burials and prohibits the possession or display of human remains and associated objects from unmarked burials." http://www.kshs.org/p/unmarked-burial-sites-preservation/14677

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jwhoopes2 1 year, 5 months ago

As noted in the article, the information about this burial site appears in a 1903 KU Master's thesis in Sociology by Lizzie E. Goodnight. The thesis is archived in KU's Spencer Research Library. Its title is “Negroes of Lawrence.”

On p. 17 of the thesis, there is a reference to an unmarked mass grave of twenty U.S. Army soldiers at the corner of 9th and New Hampshire. It reads as follows:

"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."

Note that it is not clear that the "recruits" were African-American. However, the fact that they were buried without honors or markers suggests that may well have been the case.

The possibility of a trench holding a mass grave of U.S. Army soldiers killed during Quantrill's raid on Lawrence makes it especially compelling to handle this issue as responsibly as possible with the best available archaeological methods and technology.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

It's just a funny coincidence that the property has sat there for 150 years, had gas tanks buried in the ground, multiple owners own it, but it wasn't until someone decided to block some sunlight from hitting KT Walsh's dilapidated house of horrors that the buried bodies mentioned in some 100 year old Master's thesis came to light. A funny coincidence I tell you.

I never thought I'd be cheering for Doug Compton, but it's just awfully hard to like people like KT Walsh.

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xclusive85 1 year, 5 months ago

"In the early part of '63 the Bridge joining North and South Lawrence was completed, and a Congregational Church was established. Then came the great event, Quantrill's Raid. The negroes suffered no more in proportion than the white people. Several negroes were killed, and what they had was destroyed. The whites again came to their aid, and divided what they had with them."

The above is from Lizzie Goodnights masters thesis "Negroes of Lawrence". It is actually pretty interesting. It is a little hard to read since it is hand written.

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ljreader 1 year, 5 months ago

Someone should contact Acorn.They probably registered these poor departed souls to vote.

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MacHeath 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't think this story is just bull dug up (no pun intended) to mess with Compton. Not that I would care, if it was. If there is some evidence that this is true, they need to dig there and find out. Thats all there is too it.

It doesn't make a hoot in hell what you think either, Jack.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

KT and Bozo have taken the worst beat down in this story that we've seen in a long time. Both should be embarrassed to show themselves for a long time.

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J Good Good 1 year, 5 months ago

It seems like a lot of people have no reading comprehension. It isn't going to stop the construction of the blessed hotel. But if there are remains they need to be found and treated with respect. Lawrence has recently been recognized for it's important place in American history whether you agree or not.

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jj14 1 year, 5 months ago

Build it and let the ghosts haunt the hotel as revenge!

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alcoholbliss 1 year, 5 months ago

Oak Hill Cemetery http://lawrenceks.org/lprd/parks/oakhillcemetery

" In 1864, the mayor urged the city to build a new cemetery since most raid victims were buried in Pioneer Cemetery and it was far from town and difficult to maintain. A local newspaper editor helped gain public support of the project when he wrote that raid victims buried at Pioneer were forgotten and their graves unmarked. "

Apparently they were forgotten in unmarked graves in downtown Lawrence too, unbelievable. Or do we now have a local newspaper helping to gain public support of a conspired hoax, to just to delay a project construction?

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JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

One final comment, if there was a gas station on that site the tanks were buried there. If nothing was found then, there's nothing to be found there now. Build it.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

And I was on the record as being opposed to the project, albeit for completely different reasons. I just don't care for this kind of approach. It's stinks like a huge pile of cavalry manure.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

Where does one begin to look for a 100+ year old Master's thesis? This whole controversy just smacks of the SLT. I think that's why so many people are ready to jump on KT and Bozo. We're on to your little game, girls.

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Joe Hyde 1 year, 5 months ago

Had Quantrill's raiding party not succeeded in entering Lawrence so swiftly, and if this group of Army soldiers had been alerted in time, it is possible the sacking of Lawrence never would have happened, or the extent of destruction and the number of town citizens killed would have been minimized, thanks to those soldiers repelling Quantrill's attack force.

These were men; these were U.S. Army soldiers we're talking about. There seems to be no doubt that their deaths happened in Lawrence. Had their remains been tended to by the Army in the conventional battlefield fashion of the day there'd be no questions today on who was killed and where they are buried. Instead, all we know is they were killed here and buried here. Those men lost their lives in a surprise attack and their bodies are still here somewhere. Since the construction site in question matches many of the historical reference points as a possible mass grave, the site absolutely must be tested for the presence of human remains.

If the remains of those soldiers are found, they should each be identified to the extent possible then buried as a unit with full military honors at Leavenworth National Military Cemetery, if not Arlington National.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

What does this K.T. Walsh woman do for a living?

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mom_of_three 1 year, 5 months ago

Did anyone ask Katie Armitage? She wrote a book about the Lawrence Raid survivors.

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alcoholbliss 1 year, 5 months ago

Wouldn't a plane ticket be cheaper to fly in this woman to answer these unanswered questions? She talks to the dead? Has her own show?

Long Island Medium: season 1 episode 1 no turning off

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc7JU_BQcEw

Could possibly avoid the below video...

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irnmadn88 1 year, 5 months ago

Some detail is missing from this article related to the SE corner of 9th & NH. There once was a time when there were buildings along 9th St at that corner. What once was likely a filling station turned locksmith and a liquor store. There were also several homes between the Salvation Army and the corner before the Arts Center was built. One of those buildings was reputed to be a former brothel and as it has been told to me, a death there was part of what set off the Lawrence Riots in the early 70's. However, between the footprint of the last of these homes and those properties along 9th, there was an empty lot with its southern edge roughly where the wall of the Arts Center is now. So, I assume the grave site is somewhere in the middle of the current gravel lot.

FWIW- near the pedestrian crossing along NH is a plaque that says something along the lines of "Near here, a score of men were killed during Quantrill's raid." A reference perhaps?

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nugget 1 year, 5 months ago

So it was OK when there was a liquor store on top of that surface and those other crappy buildings that most of us remember from the 70s and 80s and obviously much earlier? How do we know that art crapper thing in the alley isn't on top of them too?

Maybe they'll find Jimmy Hoffa.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 5 months ago

What about the bones moved to a controlled fill landfill from the excavation during the construction of the city's parking garage?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

There is apparently a consensus on this thread that any bodies buried there should just be unceremoniously ground up by bulldozers and then reburied at a landfill somewhere. Could it be because, just like any bodies buried in the Haskell Wetlands, they aren't the bodies of dead white folks?

3

hipper_than_hip 1 year, 5 months ago

Corliss should be held accountable for this, as the state sent him the letter and he failed to follow up.

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jhawkinsf 1 year, 5 months ago

This is the reason we're stuck with just a couple of developers in town who are seemingly disliked by so many. All the likable developers who might come here, see stuff like this and move on.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 5 months ago

I've lived in Lawrence for 22 years. Why is this the first time I've ever heard of this?

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rtwngr 1 year, 5 months ago

Build on the site and the ghosts of the dead soldiers will haunt the hotel. Then we can have "Ghost Hunters" come in and record nothing but inexplicable and inaudible sounds.

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DennisReynolds 1 year, 5 months ago

How anything gets done in this town is beyond me.

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Matthew Herbert 1 year, 5 months ago

if they find no bones, will Lizzie Goodnight have her master's degree revoked? Lets face it, an absence of bones destroys her thesis.

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Pork_Ribs 1 year, 5 months ago

“We have not lost track of this issue,” said Scott McCullough, the city’s director of planning. “Our plan is to try to get it mediated with the property owners and get some test sites dug before construction begins.”

Scott McCullough should be relieved of his duties. You have definitely lost track of the issue.
If tests are requested...then the party requesting the tests should be required to pay for them. Making developers pay for these silly tests is criminal. Pretty funny that right next to this article is an campaign advertisement for a left wing nut job Marci Francisco. Think the obstructionists are left leaning or right? Not a camp I would want to think like.

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cheeseburger 1 year, 5 months ago

More grandstanding and obstruction by KT Walsh. If this was such a hot-button issue, why hasn't she been working on it for any of the last several decades? Oh, that's right - she doesn't give a rats rear about bones - she just doesn't want a shadow cast upon her precious illegally dived-into Dumpster. Perhaps she could fund this search for bones herself if it's so blasted important to her.

When is this city going to give as much credence to the silent majority as it does to a few of these local loudmouth self-centered obstructionists?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 5 months ago

"Fleming said he thinks it is unlikely that graves are on the site, given that no other historical researcher since 1903 has found evidence of it. "

It was already 40-year-old history in 1903, so what subsequent "historical research" does Fleming think there would be, short of excavating the site?

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leftylucky 1 year, 5 months ago

McCullough always has an excuse . He should be removed from his position. He spews bovine manure to try to cover up his failures.

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KS 1 year, 5 months ago

They lost the South Lawrence Trafficway fight. Now they will focus on another one.

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