Hi welcome to Around Kansas, I’m Deb Bisel your co-host and we’re here in
Wamego at the Kansas Sampler Festival today. And we’re going to be visiting
with the folks from Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area. So, we’ll be
meeting with a lot of the folks that interpret the history in those great
places along the border. I invite you to stay with us today for this really
interesting episode of Around Kansas.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.(Deb) Welcome to the Kansas Sampler Festival and we’re in front of the tent that Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area has set up for this event with Julie McPike who’s the Managing Director. Julie, fantastic job. You’ve brought together some really great folks and some great entertainment, and educational materials and just talk a little bit about, number one what Freedoms Frontier is, and then what you guys are doing here at the festival. (Julie) Sure. Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area is a 41 county region in Missouri and Kansas. What we do is we work with partners
in those 41 counties, they could be museums, historic sites, educational groups, tourism groups. So, we work with these groups to help tell, share, promote the story of Bleeding Kansas, the Border War and the Civil War.
Also, we look at what happened before Bleeding Kansas, so we have a theme that kind of talks about settling the frontier and the loss of freedom for Native Americans. And then we also look at what came out of the civil war, we call it the enduring struggle for freedom. And that talks about stories of women’s suffrage, stories of segregation, stories of integration, all the way up through Brown vs. Board of Education and even some things that are still happening around the world today. (Deb) So with the tent that you’ve set up here at the Sampler Festival and I know you’ve gotten lots of
folks coming through today, you’re interpreting those through music and we can hear in the background now re-enactors and just all kinds of ways to share that history. (Julie) Right, we have musicians, we have re-enactors that are portraying actual people that lived in the time and made this history happen, made Kansas become the state that it is today. So, just people telling stories from a first person perspective. Some of them you’ve heard of, John Brown for example. And some people that not many people have
heard of Mahala Doyle has been on the stage a couple of times talking about John Brown attacking her family. They were a pro-slavery family that moved into Kansas right after the Kansas-Nebraska Act. So talking about John Brown coming and attacking her family during the Pottawatomie massacre. So these are real stories of real people and the emotion and the hardship and
everything that they went through is really something that people can connect with. (Deb) Now Freedom’s Frontiers is involved in a lot of different events, obviously Kansas Sampler is just one of those. So people can go to the website and keep up with what you are doing. (Julie) Yes, that’s the www.freedomsfrontier.org. (Deb) And the partners, so you can look for the partners, again all over eastern Kansas and western Missouri and patronize the people who are partners in Freedom’s Frontier because the story is complicated, isn’t it? (Julie) It is. It is very complicated and
you can’t just go to one site and learn the story. You can’t just go to
Lecompton and learn the whole story of Freedom’s Frontier, you have to visit Topeka, Lawrence, you have to visit Harrisonville, to get a real clear picture of what was going on here because there were not just a Missouri and a Kansas perspective there were a lot of different perspectives going on. (Deb) A lot of different perspectives. (Julie) So to get a real clear picture and good understanding of how the Civil War started really, we invite you to go to our website and also visit the sites where this history happened. (Deb) Thanks so much Julie. We’ll be right back with more of Around Kansas.(Deb) Welcome back to the Kansas Sampler Festival where we are visiting the Freedom’s Frontier tent and with me is my good friend Ed Hoover. Ed, great to be with you today. (Ed) Well, nice to see you again. It’s been a little while. (Deb) It’s been a while. So tell the folks about all the cool stuff you have and how you interpret history with it. (Ed) Well, basically I first got in with the Lecompton re-enactors and started doing portrayals of political entities and naturally you have to be period correct, so you research your clothes, you make your own clothes, anything that you need,
you generally speaking have to produce yourself. (Deb) So did you make this nice jacket? (Ed) Actually, yes I went through and I have to do my own sewing… (Deb) Isn’t it beautiful? (Ed) Because as a portly gentleman you can’t really buy off the rack. (Deb) You done good. (Ed) I’ve done more women’s clothes actually of the period than I have because I have been into more lady… young re-enactors that their mothers, or parents or grandmothers don’t sew and they don’t so it’s OK, let’s go to the fabric store and we get the fabric and the patterns and then you make all their clothes, so I am familiar with going from out from a chemise to making a corset or whatever. I am one of those strange characters. (Deb) So, tell me what era, what year would these clothes represent? (Ed) This would be mid
to late 1850s. It would also be correct up to about the early 1870s for an older gentleman to have in his closet. So, I can actually do cow town type portrayals because it is correct for me to wear an earlier type style.
(Deb) OK. And what about the other things that we’ve got here, the
accoutrements. (Ed) Well, you can’t go anywhere without all your toys. Last year a bug struck me to where I needed some easy way of hauling my stuff around and I was doing some research on hand carts because order number 11 was going to be that year. And there was a company that produced what they referred to as the Mormon handcart. So I produced from a kit, a very expensive kit… and the problem was I had to back date it because they sent Phillips head screws and regular bolts. (Deb) You’re kidding! (Ed) So I had to go get square bolts and go to a company and find square bolts
and then 188 slot head screws had to be counter sunk and drilled, two coats of stain later, but it came out beautiful. (Deb) It’s awesome. It’s gorgeous. (Ed) Had to buy bows for it, because I wanted bows but you have to buy five at a time, so this is one of those things to where it’s going to be an easy, quick project… that suddenly turns into a very expensive, long term thing. But it’s worth it, every dime that I’ve spent in to it.
It’s real easy to move. People love it. I’ve had several organizations
today, come up and say, “We need you to come to our site to do this
interpretation.” (Deb) We’re so grateful to have you with us and we’re just so grateful for folks like Ed that will go to such great lengths to be historically accurate. We are going to visit some more of the folks with Freedom’s Frontier right after this.
(Deb) I want to welcome Michael Stubbs who is just one of my favorite people. And we’ve got a great event coming up on June 7th. Mount Mitchell. And tell folks, number one where Mount Mitchell is and what will be happening on June 7th. (Michael) OK, well we have an annual open house at the Mitchell Farmstead and the Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie Preserve. They’re both sites in the Network to Freedom Program, which is a National
Park Service Program that commemorates the Underground Railroad. And the Captain Mitchell house, actually, a family lives there, it’s a private residence, but their living room is the original 1856 cabin that was built by a leader of the colony that came to make Kansas a free state. (Deb) This is an amazing site. And this is right outside of Wamego? (Michael) It’s three miles south of Wamego on Mount Mitchell Road. And Mount Mitchell
itself, the preserve, is another half mile south on Mitchell Prairie Lane. (Deb) Now the… it’s beautiful. Now is this pure prairie, is this unbroken prairie? (Michael) Yes that’s the uniqueness of the site. It is a Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie that happens to be on the edge of the glaciated region, so we have those glacial erratics, those big pink stones that come down from South Dakota but we also have historic components. The trail that John Charles Fremont used in 1842 comes right through the park. And it was later used by military going from Topeka to Fort Riley. (Deb) Right.
(Michael) And then it was used by the Underground Railroad to transfer slaves seeking their freedom in the north. And the ruts from that trail are still there in the park and we mow it so that visitors can walk in the trail. And at the top of the mound is a monument to this Beecher colony that settled in the area. (Deb) Now, I’ve done this walk, it’s absolutely beautiful, it’s really stunning. Now is there a charge for this on the 7th?
(Michael) No, the park is open seven days a week from dawn til dusk. And on the 7th, the Wildflower Walk will take place from 9 to noon. And then at the house which is a half mile north, it will also be open from 9 to noon and you can go in the house and see the original logs. (Deb) I highly advise you to do that because that is really incredible to go into that home and see, you know to really touch history. That’s a really wonderful thing. You guys are doing great work out there. (Michael) Thank you. (Deb) Thank you so much for joining us. We’ll be right back. Stay tuned.
(Deb) Welcome back to the Freedom’s Frontier tent here at the Kansas Sampler Festival and with me is my good friend Alan Shirrell who is with the Lecompton re-enactors and is also the proud owner of the Old Stone House, right on the Oregon Trail. It’s just a fantastic home there. What’s the address, is the Tecumseh? (Alan) Tecumseh, yeah. (Deb) OK. Now Alan often portrays John Brown with the Lecompton re-enactors, so is that what
you are doing here today? (Alan) Today I was Felix Castor, Missouri border ruffian, burner and sacker of Lawrence. (Deb) You like doing those border ruffians, don’t you? Type casting you know, isn’t it? So, tell us about…you not only re-enact this era, of history, but because you own this historic stone home, you really live a lot of this. I mean, taking care of that house is a real history lesson isn’t it? (Alan) When you consider that the modern accoutrements of today that we take so much for granted I still haven’t changed that house overly modern. It is still very much shadows and
imitates its… from the very beginning. So it’s as difficult to live there now in the winter time as it was in 1855 when they started it. (Deb) Now your home was built by Eli Hopkins? (Alan) Eli Hopkins was his name. (Deb) And where was he from? (Alan) He was from the tobacco growing regions of Kentucky and northern Tennessee, was a slave owner himself and trekked across Missouri into Indian territory before 1854 and staked a claim as a squatter settler. (Deb) Well, that was a really substantial home that he built. That had to be one of the nicest homes on the Oregon Trail when he built it. (Alan) I am sure of it. He did that purposely so the people traveling the trail would see his people working and the slave trade was
very active in that area at that time. (Deb) So that is one other piece, it’s kind of a flip flopping Kansas, telling the slave story, the slave owners in the Kansas territory. So it’s flopping the story and telling another side of it. It’s really interesting. So Alan you do a lot of school programs. Alan does a lot of volunteering with the Shawnee County Historical Society which we appreciate very much and if people want to see your house, how can they do that? Give you a call? (Alan) Well, as now a star feature with the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, we’re going to start capitalizing on the slavery nature and fabric of the structure as an historic site. It is on the National Registry of Historic Places, it’s on the Kansas List of Historic Place, it’s on the Kansas list of historical Agricultural Resources as an intact farmstead and as a star
feature on the Freedom’s Frontier we are hoping to capitalize fully on this, so people that are interested will want to hear more stories, and I have a lot. (Deb) I hear you’re trying to learn to grow tobacco too. (Alan) Been trying to grow tobacco for a lot of years. Mr. Hopkins attempted that.
It is legal to grow tobacco in Kansas. You don’t have to register unless you grow more than a third of an acre. (Deb) So if you can help Alan grow tobacco, give him a call. Visit the old Stone House. We’ll be right back with more of Around Kansas.
(Deb) Welcome back to the Kansas Sampler Festival, we’re still here at the Freedom’s Frontier tent and with me is my old friend Paul Bahnmaier who is president of the Lecompton Historical Society and Paul I’ve got to tell you whenever we talk to re-enactors and historians so many people say it started with Lecompton. You know that Paul Bahnmaier is the person who got me into history and to living history. And kudos my friend, you’ve done a fantastic job. (Paul) It has been teamwork, everybody’s worked together that’s made it happen. It’s team work, that’s the name of the game. (Deb) Now Lecompton has two really…well more than two, but you’ve got two museums and so talk about what Lecompton has to
offer. (Paul) For the most historic building is Constitution Hall which is a national landmark and in Lecompton Constitution Hall on the second floor, the Lecompton Constitution was written. This constitution went back to Washington, D.C. and was approved by the United State Senate 33 to 25, was endorsed by President Buchanan, but failed in the House 120 to 112.
Otherwise, Kansas would have come to the Union as a slave state with Lecompton the capital by just eight votes. Now in the House of
Representatives there was a major, major fight over the Lecompton
Constitution. And 50 Congressmen got into a physical fight over this constitution on the floor and the speaker couldn’t bring them to order. And they didn’t come to order until the Congressman from Wisconsin pulled the wig off of the Congressman from Mississippi and yelled out,” Look, I’ve scalped him!” And as a result of this, it split the National Democratic party, so in 1860 when Lincoln ran for president, there were four candidates- Stephen Douglas ran as a northern Democrat, John Breckinridge as a Southern Democrat, John Bell as a Constitutionalist Whig and Lincoln won with just 39 percent of the vote. So without the events that occurred on the second floor of Constitution Hall in Lecompton that split the
National Democratic Party, Lincoln would not have been elected President in 1860 . So that’s why we say Lecompton is the birthplace of the Civil War where slavery began to die. (Deb) It’s just an amazing history. So if you go to Lecompton today you can visit Constitution Hall that Paul was just mentioning, you can visit the old Lane University, the Democratic Headquarters is there. All roads lead to Lecompton, so you’ve got to go visit. And Lecompton of course, is a partner in the Frontier to Freedom, so Paul kudos for all the good work you guys are doing. (Paul) Well thank you
for all you do and we’re sure glad you decided to leave the south and come to Kansas. (Deb) Thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Around Kansas, as much as I did. I love sharing the history as you know and Kansas Sampler Festival, if you’re not proud to be a Kansan, by golly this festival will turn you into one proud Kansan. Marci Penner and her staff do such a fantastic job with this event and we’re so pleased to be a part of it. See you next time on Around Kansas.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.