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Archive for Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lawhorn’s Lawrence: The hidden survivors of Quantrill’s Raid

June 9, 2013

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Brenna Buchanan Young goes over the fine points of a building like investigators go over a crime scene. No detail is too small to matter.

In fact, maybe we’re on to something here. The “CSI” TV show franchise has made millions. Maybe there is potential for “BHI” — building history investigator — and it could be based right here in Lawrence.

As Lawrence prepares to commemorate the 150th anniversary of William Quantrill’s deadly, Civil War-era raid on Lawrence this August, there is quite a bit of building history investigation going on.

A few investigations, actually, have produced quite a bit of excitement in Young’s circles. But be forewarned: Unlike the “CSI” folks, it is not blood spatters or DNA that gets BHIs like Young excited. It’s coining.

Yes, I was excited too when I thought that word described a process to put more coins in my pocket. But it’s not. It is an architectural term used to describe the stacking of cornerstones of a building.

Brenna Buchanan Young, project manager for the 1863 Commemorate Lawrence Project and an architectural historian, has researched older buildings in downtown Lawrence and found that several more survived Quantrill's Raid than originally thought. Photographed inside the Dusty Bookshelf, 708 Massachusetts St., Buchanan Young is certain the building is pre-Quantrill and the south wall, shown behind her, with its quoins — masonry blocks at the corner of a wall — are the same ones visible in photographs of the building taken with less than a year of the burning of Lawrence. Buchanan Young is holding a copy of David Dary's "Pictorial History of Lawrence."

Brenna Buchanan Young, project manager for the 1863 Commemorate Lawrence Project and an architectural historian, has researched older buildings in downtown Lawrence and found that several more survived Quantrill's Raid than originally thought. Photographed inside the Dusty Bookshelf, 708 Massachusetts St., Buchanan Young is certain the building is pre-Quantrill and the south wall, shown behind her, with its quoins — masonry blocks at the corner of a wall — are the same ones visible in photographs of the building taken with less than a year of the burning of Lawrence. Buchanan Young is holding a copy of David Dary's "Pictorial History of Lawrence."

This photo taken from David Dary’s “Pictorial History of Lawrence” shows buildings in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street in October 1864, about a year after Quantrill’s Raid destroyed many of the town’s downtown structures. Architectural historian Brenna Buchanan Young believes more downtown buildings than originally thought survived the raid in some form.

This photo taken from David Dary’s “Pictorial History of Lawrence” shows buildings in the 700 block of Massachusetts Street in October 1864, about a year after Quantrill’s Raid destroyed many of the town’s downtown structures. Architectural historian Brenna Buchanan Young believes more downtown buildings than originally thought survived the raid in some form.

And when Young — an architectural historian by training — saw the coining in an October 1864 photo of downtown Lawrence, she became excited. The coining on the building at 706 Massachusetts St. — which now houses The Dusty Bookshelf — is strikingly different than the coining on the second story of the building. The grainy photo also allowed Young to see the side wall of the building because the lot next to it was vacant in 1864. The evidence there also is striking: Limestone rubble was used on the second story but not on the first.

Young is now confident in saying the clues strongly suggest the ground floor of the 706 building survived Quantrill’s Raid. Only the second story was rebuilt.

All right, maybe that isn’t the type of dramatic discovery that makes for a hit television show. But if you love Lawrence — Young is a Lawrence native — it is important because it may spark a point of historic pride: William Quantrill didn’t take as much from us as we thought he did.

• • •

The seminal moment of Lawrence’s history generally is boiled down to this: Infamous raider William Quantrill comes to Lawrence in the early-morning hours of Aug. 21, 1863, kills about 180 men and boys and leaves the town in ashes.

The general thinking is, because of that atrocity, most of the physical pieces of Lawrence’s pre-1863 history have been lost forever — destroyed by a hell-bent Missourian.

Historians for a while now have taken issue with part of that narrative. It isn’t quite accurate to say the entire town was burned. Young estimates there were 70 to 80 structures outside of downtown that survived the raid. Young believes there are quite a few that still exist, probably housing people who have no idea they are living in a home that survived the wrath of Quantrill.

“It wasn’t a burnt town,” Young says. “It was a burnt district.”

The district, of course, was downtown. Historians generally have agreed that downtown Lawrence was almost entirely decimated by the raid. The thinking has been that maybe one, two or three buildings — the buildings that today house Francis Sporting Goods and Goldmakers jewelry are most often cited — survived the attack. The general consensus has been that much of what existed downtown prior to 1863 doesn’t exist there today.

But the BHIs aren’t so sure now. The upcoming commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the raid — Young is the project manager for the Lawrence 1863 group — has caused many people to pull photos from their attics and submit them to people such as Young and to places such as the Watkins Community Museum of History.

The pending commemoration also has sparked projects in which history buffs are taking a closer look at photos that have been on file for years.

Young has seen many clues that suggest more buildings survived than previously thought. In doing historical forensics on the area from New Hampshire to Vermont and from Sixth to 13th streets, Young has come to believe that there are at least 100 buildings that either had significant portions survive the raid — or used large amounts of their original materials to rebuild.

It is exciting, Young says, because like most architectural historians she has a theory about buildings.

“Buildings do talk, if you know how to translate what they’re saying,” Young says.

Come to find out, Lawrence buildings may have more to say than we thought.

• • •

This is where history gets tricky. One of the great Lawrence stories is about how the community came together and rebuilt in the wake of the raid. The phoenix out of the ashes. If there were fewer ashes, however, does that make the story less heroic?

Young doesn’t think so. She goes back to that October 1864 photo that we previously mentioned. That photo shows that just 14 months after the raid, 706 Massachusetts St. had been rebuilt to two stories, 710 Massachusetts St. had been rebuilt to three stories and 712 Massachusetts had been rebuilt to two stories. That’s an impressive amount of work even using today’s construction methods.

“There really is no question about the spirit of Lawrence and how determined they were to have Lawrence maintain its status as an up-and-coming metropolis and as an abolitionist stronghold,” Young says.

The fact that there wasn’t quite as much to rebuild shouldn’t diminish the story any, she says. In fact, it might even be cause to celebrate just a little bit.

Oops, I used the wrong c-word there. If you’ve noticed, we talk about the upcoming events that will mark the 150th anniversary of the raid as a commemoration, not a celebration. That makes sense: You don’t want to celebrate the cowardly killing of about 180 Lawrence residents.

That’s why “commemorate” is a leading candidate to be the Lawrence buzzword of 2013. But maybe we should make one exception to our reticence to celebrate this summer.

Maybe we all should go downtown and be reminded of a fact that we’ve known for a long time now. We can be reminded of the fact by the crowds, the commerce, the vitality that fills our downtown on any given day. And now, thanks to a little work from Brenna Buchanan Young and our other building history investigators, we can keep our eyes peeled for a stone or a marking or, heck, even coining that survived the raid.

It all will help remind us of this fact: William Quantrill — a man intent on destroying Lawrence and everything it stood for — was an utter failure.

And that’s worth celebrating.

— Each Sunday, Lawhorn’s Lawrence focuses on the people, places or past of Lawrence and the surrounding area. If you have a story idea, send it to Chad at clawhorn@ljworld.com.

Comments

tolawdjk 10 months, 1 week ago

Best book I have found on the subject is "The Devil Knows How to Ride: The True Story of William Clarke Quantrill and his Confederate Raiders" by Edward E. Leslie. Spends quite a bit of time Quantrill's life before and after the massacre.

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LawrenceTownie 10 months, 1 week ago

You might be thinking of Signal Oak, the point north of Baldwin where lighted lanterns were hung in a large oak tree to signal Lawrence that the raiders were coming. From this point you can see Lawrence with no problem, and Lawrence people would be able to see lights in the tree at night, if they had a high enough vantage. I have been able to see this point from Lawrence during the day, when I have been a passenger in a car, and traveling down Iowa street from around 18th street.

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neworleans 10 months, 1 week ago

Prior to this attack the pro-slavery farmers of Missouri had been continuously antagonized by the marrauding forces of Jim Lane and "Doc" Jennison's Jayhawkers; due to their obvious position as abolitionist headquarters in Kansas, the citizens of Lawerence were frequently sent into hysterics when rumors of an attack from Missouri gained creedence. Nevertheless, security around the city was usually lax, and on August 21 the populace was jarred awake by the sounds of Quantrill's men invading the town. After a swift and bloody assault, the Ruffians had the town secured. Once their military objective was out of the way, they eagerly proceeded to loot and burn as many houses as they could. They cleaned out all the banks, and the taverns were drained of whiskey. While they killed no women or children, they shot every man they saw. The death toll numbered 150 men, whose burned and mangled corpses littered the streets of Lawrence when Quantrill's men rode away, just a few hours after they had came.

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Lawrence Morgan 10 months, 1 week ago

Fascinating article and great comments to go with it!

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TheEleventhStephanie 10 months, 1 week ago

There's a neighborhood NW of Baldwin called Quantrill Estates. Doesn't seem like something you'd want a neighborhood named after, but maybe that's just me...

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LJ Whirled 10 months, 1 week ago

Note to world: Stop misusing "decimated", as in ...

'downtown Lawrence was almost entirely decimated'

Doesn't decimated still mean reduced by ten percent or a tenth? To me it does.
Perhaps we could try "devastated" or "destroyed" or "laid to waste" to mean that something is "almost entirely" wiped out.

(deep breaths)

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true_patriot 10 months, 1 week ago

Great stuff, love it. Look forward to the Sesquicentennial of the Raid this August.

i did know Quantrill was a teacher in Lawrence prior to the raid and he therefore would have know the families and locations. Apparently he made lists. Makes him seem even more psychopathic given that prior intimacy with the town and its families and children.

The context is that people died on both sides and it was a very violent time going back several years prior to the raid to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act. The Civil War really start in eastern Kansas in a lot of ways.

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none2 10 months, 1 week ago

I think it would be interesting to note the affect on the surrounding communities. I'd be curious to know if there there also people from other surrounding towns like Eudora, Baldwin City, etc that were also killed? (Lawrence had a big pull as it was the booming town in need of working men, so I would guess that there could have been more outsiders killed.) For instance three of the killed were laborers from Lecompton (2 Klaus brothers who were stonemasons, and laborer James O'Neal who is discussed in this ljworld article: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2012/feb....

Here is a findagrave memorial for one of the Klaus brothers that states a little about his situation: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=40918793

It is also commendable that this article emphasizes that Lawrence prepares to commemorate (NOT celebrate) the 150th anniversary of this atrocity.

Here is a good site I found out about Quantrill's raid and now one can take a self guided tour. It also has some photos:

http://www.kansastravel.org/quantrillslawrenceraid.htm

For those interested, one should also read Quantrill's wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_...

I had no idea that he was originally a teacher in Lawrence, and that he was originally sympathetic to the abolitionists. After he lost his teaching job he turned to a life of cattle rustling and capturing escaped slaves for profit which could account for his change to the pro-slavery side.

It is also interesting to note that he learned his guerrilla war tactics from Joel B Mayes who was the war chief of the Cherokee Nation in Texas. One view of the Civil War history that I have never heard was the Native American point of view. I have heard that some Natives owned slaves. I've also heard that sometimes the escaped slaves found refuge among the Native peoples. I'm guessing that most Natives ended up being on the side which their territories were located in. For instance, it would have been difficult for Oklahoma located Natives to be pro-Union since Oklahoma was below the union line. Again, I don't know that angle of the history; it would be interesting to know

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anticommunist 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for continuing to post cool articles, Chad. I know most probably care not that I endorse you, but I had to say something, darnit. Keep up the good work. You are an owl among crows.

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FlintlockRifle 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Great read, keep them coming, just love reading about by-gone days here in Lawrence.Keep digging Chad.

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