(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with the rich story of Lincoln County, Kansas, and the Lincoln Days celebration. Then learn about Abraham Lincoln’s visit to the Kansas Territory in 1859. Next enjoy a poem from our Poet Lariat, Ron Wilson. We’ll end with a story about the 20th Annual Lecture Series at the Constitution Hall State Historic Site in Lecompton.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Frank) Well, here we are again. It’s Wednesday and this is Around Kansas. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’re at the end of the month already. (Deb) Can’t believe it. Where has January gone? (Frank) I don’t know. It’s going to be another very quick year I have a feeling. (Deb) It is indeed. I keep looking at the calendar and it’s just packed full and it just flies by. And it’s just crazy. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) We’re at the Dillon House and they’re doing the after holidays cleaning which is what everybody I know is doing and probably will be until St. Patrick’s Day maybe. That’s the way it is at our house. (Frank) So, if you hear some background noise that’s what it is. It’s not the ghost in here. I don’t think there are any ghosts in here. (Deb) No, we’re not fortunate enough to have cleaning ghosts. That would be the ultimate wouldn’t it? Casper with his mop and bucket. Yea, that would be great. (Frank) Yea, hey you’re going to be busy this week. (Deb) Honey I am so busy. I am so, this afternoon I’m speaking at Aldersgate Village on Charles Curtis. We had our documentary screening of the Curtis documentary. It went really well. And so if you would like to see that, if you would like me to come share that with your group, I’ll be happy to do that. Just send me an e-mail. And I’m going to Aldersgate Village and show them. It’s a short documentary, just 15 minutes. So, we can talk about that after we show it. Hopefully that’s the first piece of an ongoing project on Charles Curtis. So, yea, Charles Curtis is gonna keep me busy. (Frank) Well, then in Lecompton this weekend also there’s a series of lectures and all that. Well tell us about it. (Deb) Well, I’m kicking that off. In our last segment today, we’ll talk a lot about that lecture series. But yea, I’ll be kicking that off on the 31st at 2:00 p.m. at Lecompton. So, apparently they went through all the qualified speakers and they’re down to me now. This is their 20th anniversary, so this is, it’s a huge deal. They just do an amazing job and speaking of Lecompton, they are one of our sponsors, Lecompton Historical Society. So we want to thank them and give a big shout out. We appreciate all they do for history and get the community involved. They do the best job of anybody I know of involving the community and coming out to make tourists welcome and the locals welcome, they just do a wonderful job out there. (Frank) Yea, so anyway, and Abraham Lincoln, I get to talk about that today too. (Deb) Yes, you do and I’m going to talk about, we’re all going to talk about Lincoln today. You know we’ve got Lincoln Days coming up out at Lincoln, Kansas, and we’re going to do a little segment on that. And then Frank’s going to talk about Lincoln actually visited the Kansas territory before it was a state. And so we’re going to talk about that, so February is going to be a busy month too, and it’s a short one. So, we’ve got to cram a lot of stuff in. Gotta cram a lot of stuff into February. (Frank) And then we’ll be in summer and guess what, it will be Christmas again. (Deb) Exactly, exactly. We’ll be right back.
(Frank) And we’re back. (Deb) With Lincoln. (Frank) Yea. Now this is an old, old version of this book. I have a paperback of this. This is “Yarns and Stories of Abraham Lincoln.” (Deb) I have the original, first edition. You see what kind of shape it’s in. Lloyd Zimmer used to lecture me all the time about the condition of my books. But I’m like, Lloyd I read ’em. Plus a lot of the ones that I bought were actually old, I bought from estate sales or whatever, so they were not in great shape. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) But I’ve got quite a Lincoln collection. I’ve got another one. Vanna, could you hold that please? (Frank) Yes. (Deb) One of my favorite authors and a friend of mine, Brian Dirk, “Lincoln and Davis.” I would, this is an awesome book. I teach a class on Mary Lincoln and Varina Davis, the two first ladies of the Civil War. Fantastic reference and just a fascinating book. My good friend, Michael Burlingame, I will hold that for you, my good friend Michael Burlingame wrote the definitive work on Abraham Lincoln, “Abraham Lincoln, A Life.” And it weighs like 10 pounds and so I didn’t bring that today. I’ll have Michael get a shot of that back at the office cause it’s too heavy to bring. But I’ve got a bunch of Lincoln stuff. It’s pretty cool. There’s a Lincoln Society here in Topeka too. And I want to give them a plug. And I don’t know if there are other groups around the state, but the Lincoln Club in Topeka is a small and brilliant group of folks that meet every month and have some kind of Lincoln speaker. They meet at the library so I think you can look them up there. But just lots of cool ways to remember Lincoln… (Frank) Yea. (Deb) …in the coming month. (Frank) You know he was very, very clever. (Deb) Yea. (Frank) He did, well in fact, he could have been a standup comic. Cause he liked to tell stories. And that was the way that he communicated to a lot of people to get his point across. He would say, Well you know…and he would tell a story and it would be, aahhh, now I get it. So he was a very, very clever man. (Deb) He really was. And the movie “Lincoln” with Daniel Day- Lewis, there’s a great scene about exactly that when he comes to the War Department and starts to tell a story. And Stanton’s like, “If I have to listen to another story, I’m gonna die.” But it was a way of communicating like parables. Just a way of communicating. He was brilliant at it. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) But let’s take a look at what’s coming up, Lincoln Days in Lincoln, Kansas, and I hope to see you there. Lincoln County, Kansas, was established in 1867, right on the heels of the Civil War. For the thousands of soldiers headed West, memories of their Commander and Chief were vivid, and sacred. So many of these veterans settled in Kansas that we became known as the Soldier State and the names of counties and towns created during that time reflect their loyalty to the Union. Lincoln Center became the county seat, though not without suffering through one of the county seat wars that plagued western counties and thrives today. Each year, the town of Lincoln celebrates its namesake with Lincoln Days, the passionate project of Marilyn Helmer. The diminutive brunette has brought throngs of talented people together each year in one of the state’s most unique celebrations. At her side is Marla Matkin-actress, educator, living historian. Marla has a passion for history and bringing it to life that is unsurpassed. Traveling throughout the midwest, she brings audiences closer to life in the 19th Century. What these two women manage to accomplish is remarkable and could only be done through the efforts of equally committed town folks and historians far and wide. Kathie and Jack Crispin, who have museums on Main Street, have long been active in history happenings and are a big part of promoting the community. The staff of the Historical Society’s Museum, especially Andy Anderson, work awfully hard to keep the rich story of Lincoln County alive. This year’s events fall on the actual birthday beginning Friday, February 12 and continuing all day Saturday. There is a fee for attending events. I hope to see you and your friends there in supporting this community and remembering, in a very special Kansas way, the legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
(Deb) So Frank you don’t really remember when Lincoln visited Kansas, right? (Frank) No, it was, it was….yea. (Deb) I don’t either. Michael’s sitting over there, I know he thinks we both do, yea… (Frank) Well you know the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe. You know the railroads opened up the west in America and Lincoln did travel here. (Deb) He did. He came. Took the railroad as far as St. Joe and then the railroad had not yet reached Kansas. Didn’t until after the war. But of course, the railroad was big business. And Lincoln was a railroad lawyer. We don’t think of him, you know you and I were talking earlier about his being folksy and the storyteller. He was also a corporate lawyer. And we don’t think of him quite that way. But he was. And so part of his visit to Kansas obviously involved the expansion of the railroad. That was everything. Nineteenth century, everything is about expanding the railroad and crossing the country. And he was smack dab in the middle of that too. (Frank) Yea. Well, and he did say and you’ll see that in this story, if I moved west, I’d move to Kansas. (Deb) He obviously was impressed with it when he was here. (Frank) Yes, he was. (Deb) He really was. I think that’s nice for us to remember. It’s a nice legacy for Kansas, that he was actually here and made some important speeches here. And had such a fondness for the state and fondness for the troops from Kansas. And yea, so that’s a pretty good endorsement. (Frank) Yea, so let’s take a look. It was not big news when the folksy attorney Abraham Lincoln visited the Kansas Territory in 1859. There were no trains in KT and Lincoln crossed the Missouri River at St. Joseph by ferry and arrived in Elwood on November 30. The thriving community was home to the Great Western Hotel where Lincoln spoke that evening. His topic was not new. The Lincoln and Douglas Debates just months before had made national headlines, and the press exposure was helpful to Lincoln. At that time, he was not nearly as well known as his famously short rival, Senator Stephen Douglas. The pair had taken different sides on the slavery issue and Lincoln continued his condemnation of the evil institution while visiting the Kansas Territory. Lincoln would speak in Doniphan, Atchison, Leavenworth, and Troy. Ironically, his stage in Leavenworth at Stockton Hall would be visited only a couple of years later by famed Shakespearean actor, John Wilkes Booth. It was bitterly cold during Lincoln’s visit. Mary did not accompany him. While in Leavenworth, Lincoln stayed with cousins, the Delahays. Artifacts from that visit are on display at the Frontier Army Museum at Fort Leavenworth. Cousin Julia Delahay would go on to marry Thomas Osborn. Perhaps it was this family connection that helped Osborn obtain a presidential appointment. In 1863, “Cousin” Lincoln would appoint Osborn to be U.S. Marshal in Topeka. Years later, Osborn was elected governor, making Lincoln’s cousin, Julia, first lady of Kansas. December 2, 1859, John Brown, Old Osawatomie, was hanged in Virginia following the raid on Harpers Ferry. News of the execution reached Lincoln and he commented to the press that Brown had shown “great courage, rare unselfishness,” but did not sanction his actions. “Old John Brown has just been executed for treason against the state. We cannot object,” Lincoln said, “even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed, and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right.” The story of Kansas and Lincoln is so entwined. It was February 22, 1861, as President-elect that Lincoln was on his way to Washington. He stopped in Philadelphia and raised the first flag with the 34th star for Kansas in front of Independence Hall. As the flag was hoisted, it unfurled in the wind, a beautiful site. Lincoln hoped it was a good omen — for him, for Kansas, for the nation.
(Ron) My Dad bought a tractor, used, way back in 1958. It was a Farmall Super H, which he thought was great. Yet it wasn’t big or fancy, had no roll bar, cab, or radio. No three-point hitch or power steering for turning it just so. He had more modern, bigger tractors in the ensuing years, but he always kept the old Farmall around the place here. Decades later when we moved back to the place, I drove the Farmall but felt that it should be replaced. We went to Kan-Equip and bought a brand new tractor with all the tools and features which you might think would be a factor. It had a front end loader and a great hydraulic system with so many wonderful features that I had never missed `em. When there was work to do, I’d pick the new tractor instead, and leave the old Farmall parked back out in the shed. One wintry day, I had to take a load across the meadow. I fired up the brand new tractor and drove across the snow. When suddenly the tractor’s front end went down with a whack, into a snow-filled ditch. I couldn’t go forward or back. The new tractor had front wheel assist, but it was in too deep, tires spinning on the slippery snow where the angle was so steep. I tried to rock it, but there was no such luck. Thanks to my bad judgment, the new tractor had gotten stuck. I considered my options as I trudged back with sinking heart, and decided to see if that old ignored Farmall would even start. To my surprise, the engine caught, with a growl and then a shout. We drove across the meadow and pulled that brand new tractor out. It must have been a funny sight to see this curious trip, like watching a Model T help out a new spaceship. Now things are back to normal. When there’s a tractor to be used, I choose the brand new tractor because of all that it can do. But Dad was right, and just because his thinking was so sound, I’ll embrace the new technology – but I’ll keep the old Farmall around. Happy Trails.
(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!
(Deb) Well, we’ve had an historic morning haven’t we? (Frank) An historic, yes, yes, yes. So, anyway…well we have to go, but we’ll be back next week at this time, so I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Both) …Around Kansas.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.