Archive for Tuesday, August 20, 2013

100 years ago: Peaceful day precedes commemoration of Lawrence massacre

August 20, 2013


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for Aug. 20, 1913:

"After fifty years have elapsed Lawrence tomorrow will observe the anniversary of the darkest period in the history of the city. Fifty years ago this evening the sun went down peacefully in the west just as it will tonight. The little village of Lawrence nestled at the base of Mount Oread and on the bank of the Kansas River was the picture of quietude and serenity. The citizens strolled along the streets or sat in their front yards, the day had been a hot one, just such a day as today, the survivors say, and the town folks remained out of doors to enjoy the coolness of the evening. But in the morning the quiet and serene atmosphere gave way to turmoil and anguish, murderers rode down the streets with revolvers loaded, with the scent of liquor on their breaths and with revenge in their hearts. It was early morning, the sun was not yet awake when the Outlaw Quantrell turned loose his horde of fiends to prey upon the residents of this little city. 'Kill and burn' was the only command.... That was the city of Lawrence fifty years ago tomorrow. Today on the same site is the City of Lawrence of today, a city proud of its homes, its buildings, its businesses. The quietude and serenity of the evening before that terrible tragedy has been restored. Lawrence will go to sleep tonight just as did the citizens of fifty years ago, but it will be a different scene which will greet the awakening town in the morning. There will be strangers here, but they are guests come here to participate in the Memorial, to pay tribute to the victims and the heroes of that day."


Sarah St. John 4 years, 10 months ago

From the front page, Aug. 20, 1913, by what I'm guessing was a local poet:


(By John F. Read)

Behind Mount Oread's grassy slope, the August sun goes down

And twilight falls from azure skies, above the fated town

Where many a happy home is filled with pleasure, joy and mirth

While joyous groups are gathered o'er that beautiful spot of earth

Where many happy children roam, through lawn and rosy bowers

And lovers stroll through shaded walks, and gardens bright with flowers.

Ah many will remember now, when summer twilights fade

The gold and purple sunset, on the night before the raid.

No cloud obscured that setting sun, the air was still as death

Like that dreadful stillness preceding the cyclone's breath.

Did it come as a silent warning of the morrow's crimson wave

That swept through the unarmed city, leaving dark spots on its pave?

Some may recall the parting words some friend or lover said

And of finding them on the morrow, numbered with the dead.

And many a sad heart will recall some well remembered face

As memory brings from out the past some last farewell embrace.

Some may remember watching little children at their play,

Little thinking they'd be orphans at the close of another day.

Some will recall the closing of their office, shop or store,

But the key that turned the lock that night, will turn it nevermore

For the night will pass and the dawn of day

Will see lives and fortunes swept away.

And the morrow's sun will be shining down

On the smouldering ruins of the plundered town.

And its parting rays will alike be spread

On the homeless living, and the murdered dead

And the last glimmer of that dreadful day

Will sadly pass from this world away.

The night comes on, and starlight falls

On black charred timbers and crumbling walls

And fifty long years have passed away

Since that night in August ushered in that awful day.

The sun goes down in the golden west and twilight shadows fade

Just as they did at close of day, the night before the raid.

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