Lecompton Lecture Series

(Frank) And we’re back again. You know, I know you’re going to talk about Lecompton but I like to go to Lecompton because it’s really beautiful over there. And of course, by the river, that’s where the bald eagles nest as well. But I have tried to imagine if Lecompton had actually become the state capital, how it would really look? (Deb) You wouldn’t be able to find a parking space, would you? (Frank) Yea, right. But I mean, think about it, because it’s nestled there kind of just off of the Kansas River. And you look at that and you go, OK well where would they have put the capitol? (Deb) And of course, Lane University was going to be the capitol, so but the parking lot would have extended to the river I bet. And the little democratic headquarters down there on the river, they would have bulldozed that because they would have had to put up a parking lot. So, maybe it’s all for the best that it didn’t work out. And Constitution Hall, Old Constitution Hall, the state historic site, yea they would have torn that down because they would have needed to put up a state office building. So, probably best that it didn’t become the state capital. We’ve got a better, got it preserved better anyway because of that. (Frank) Yea. So, anyway, so Lecompton this weekend some pretty exciting things that are going to be going on. (Deb) This is the, kicks off the 20th anniversary of their lecture series. And this lecture series is so well attended I don’t know if mine will be, but there can be an inch of ice on the road and honest to gosh, people come from 50 miles. It is standing room only. So, get there early. It starts at 2 for the next six Sundays, I think that’s right. Yea, all four in February and then the last Sunday of January and first Sunday of March. So, the next six Sundays but get there early because you gotta scramble to get a seat and people stay and they ask questions and it’s the most involved audience you’ll ever find. And it’s such a mixture. You’ve got real historians. You’ve just got the local folks who just care and may or may not be knowledgeable on particular topics, but they’re all interested. And Tim Rues, I have to give a shout out to Tim Rues from McCracken, Kansas, who is the site administrator at Constitution Hall who gives above and beyond the call of duty. He just gives his heart and soul to that place. And God bless him. And of course Paul Bahnmaier with the Lecompton Historical Society who has just made that town, had really put it, kept it on the map. (Frank) And remember Lecompton was not the Free State Capital. (Deb) No it was not. (Frank) So, anyway (Deb) “Lecompton, where slavery began to die.” I think that’s the new slogan. So, yea, let’s take a look at the Lecompton Lecture series. Tim Rues is the only site director that Constitution Hall State Historic Site has had since it was dedicated in 1995. Obviously, he has been doing an historic job. Tim grew up in McCracken, a close-knit, rural town southwest of Hays. Before coming to Lecompton, he was working in Territorial Capitol on the post at Fort Riley. When the Lecompton State Historical Site was dedicated, Tim asked Iona Spencer, local genealogist to research how many families were still in the area that traced their roots back to Territorial and Civil War days. There were more than 30 names. For folks in Lecompton, said Tim, this is not just heritage but a family legacy. In 1997, Tim began a lecture series in Constitution Hall. He wanted to see the building used the way it was intended – as a meeting hall. The response has snowballed, according to Tim, and has constantly drawn crowds from both sides of the border. This year’s series marks the 20th annual. Running six Sundays, from January 31 to March 6. Presenters include Aaron Barnhardt, Avery Munns, Ian Spurgeon, Monica Davis, Jan Elder, Dr. Carl Graves and Professor Antonio de la Cova. Rarely does one find a community so passionate about preserving its history. Tim credits Paul Bahnmaier, President of the Lecompton Historical Society, for providing the leadership that has rallied behind historic causes for decades. Tim credits the community for making not only this lecture series a success, but all of the projects that are undertaken by the State Historic Site or Lane University Museum. For a time, Lecompton was my home and I am so proud to be the speaker who kicks off the 20th annual Bleeding Kansas lecture series on January 31st. Hope to see you all there!