Longtime Lawrence resident creates bandana to commemorate 150th anniversary of Quantrill’s raid
When Missouri ruffian William Quantrill raided Lawrence 150 years ago this month, Conrad Altenbernd III’s great-grandfather and his family spent the day and night hiding in their farm’s cornfield.
So Altenbernd figured he could at least do a little something to help Lawrence residents keep the fateful day at the top of their minds for a moment or two.
And what rests at the top of your mind more than a bandana?
Altenbernd has designed and printed 300 commemorative bandanas that recognize the 150th anniversary of the raid, which occurred on Aug. 21, 1863, and left more than 180 residents dead.
“I just want to do my part to make people aware of what happened in the little town that they live in now,” Altenbernd said.
The bandana includes a reproduction of a somewhat famous drawing that ran in Harper’s Weekly showing the ruins of The Eldridge Hotel. The bandana also includes: a picture of a young John Speer, Jr., who was killed in the raid when he was sleeping at the newspaper offices of his father; a map of Quantrill’s route into and out of Douglas County; and a picture of Civil War troops to represent the group of Union recruits who were killed by raiders near Ninth and New Hampshire streets.
Altenbernd said he had seen several commemorative bandanas of western figures like Wild Bill Hickcock, Buffalo Bill Cody and others. Then he saw one celebrating the anniversary of a small Pennsylvania community, and he decided it might be a neat way to mark Quantrill’s raid.
“It is something easy for people to carry or maybe even pass on someday,” Altenbernd said.
Altenbernd plans to give away 100 of the bandanas to elected officials, local leaders, museums and others who have a special tie to Lawrence’s history. He is selling the other 200 for $10 each at several retailers in town, including Weaver’s Department Store, Cottin’s Hardware, Downtown Barbershop and Stoneback’s Appliance.
“We weren’t money driven to do this,” Altenbernd said of he and his girlfriend, Judy Green, who helped design the bandana. “It was fun. I learned more about the raid.”
Altenbernd said stories of the raid came up from time to time from members of his family. His great-grandfather Konrad Altenbernd came to Douglas County in 1858 from Germany and set up a farm along the banks of the Kansas River between Lawrence and Eudora.
“I had heard the stories of my family seeing the burning of the town from our farm,” Altenbernd said. “And then they got nervous and went and hid in the cornfield.”
Altenbernd, who owns a local housing rental business, has been in Lawrence his entire life and still has the family’s original homestead. He’s even taken to collecting Civil War letters, and said he didn’t want to let the 150th anniversary come to pass without doing something to mark the event that forever changed the city.
“I’m just a local boy, and this seemed to be a good thing for a local boy to do,” Altenbernd said.
The community also will host several events to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the raid, including a special Lawrence City Band concert and program at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 at South Park.