Place:Lawrence, Douglas, Kansas, United States


Coordinates38.96°N 95.253°W
Located inDouglas, Kansas, United States
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Lawrence is the county seat of Douglas County and sixth-largest city in Kansas. It is located in the northeastern sector of the state, astride Interstate 70, between the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 87,643. Lawrence is a college town and the home to both the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University.

Lawrence was founded by the New England Emigrant Aid Company, and was named for Amos Adams Lawrence, a Republican abolitionist originally from Massachusetts, who offered financial aid and support for the settlement. Lawrence was central to the "Bleeding Kansas" period and was the site of the Wakarusa War (1855) and the Sack of Lawrence (1856). During the American Civil War (186165), it was also the site of the Lawrence massacre (1863).

Lawrence began as a center of free-state politics. From here, its economy diversified into many industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, and education, beginning with the founding of the University of Kansas in 1865, and later Haskell Indian Nations University in 1884, as well as several private and public schools.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia


Prior to Kansas Territory being established in May 1854, most of Douglas County was part of the Shawnee Indian Reservation (created in 1830).[1] During this period, the Oregon Trail ran parallel to the Kansas River, roughly through the area where Lawrence would eventually be situated and a hill known then as "Hogback Ridge" (i.e., Mount Oread, which sits on the water divide separating the Kansas and Wakarusa River). This area was used as a landmark and an outlook by those on the trail. While this territory was technically unopened to settlement prior to 1854, there did exist a few "squatter settlements" in the area, especially just north of the Kansas River.

Lawrence was founded "strictly for political reasons" having to do with the issue of slavery, which was heavily debated in the United States during the early-to-mid 1800s. Northern Democrats, led by Senators Lewis Cass of Michigan and Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois promoted the idea of "popular sovereignty" as a middle position on the slavery issue. Proponents of this doctrine argued that it was more democratic, as it allowed the citizens of newly-organized territories (and not politicians from Washington, D.C.) to have final say in regards to the permissibly of slavery in their own lands.[2][3] (Meanwhile, enemies of the bill, especially those in the north, derisively called this political idea "squatter sovereignty".) Douglas eventually made popular sovereignty the backbone of his Kansas–Nebraska Actlegislation that effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and created the territories of Kansas and Nebraskawhich finally passed in Congress in 1854.[2]

Around this time, the Christian abolitionist Rev. Richard Cordley noted that "there was a feeling of despondency all over the north" because the bill's passage "opened Kansas to [the possibility of] slavery [which] was thought to be equivalent to making Kansas a slave state." This was largely because nearby Missouri allowed slavery, and many rightly assumed that the first settlers in Kansas Territory would come flooding in from this state, bringing their penchant for slavery with them.[4] In time, anger at the Kansas-Nebraska Act united antislavery forces into a movement committed to stopping the expansion of slavery (which eventually was institutionalized as the Republican Party).[2][3] Many of these individuals decided to "meet the question [of slavery in Kansas] on the terms of the bill itself" by migrating to Kansas, electing antislavery legislators, and eventually banning the practice of slavery altogether. These settlers soon became known as "Free-Staters". In his book A History of Lawrence (1895), Cordley wrote:

The most systematic and extensive movement [to populate Kansas], however, was made [by] "The New England Emigrant Aid Company" ... The men engaged in it, Eli Thayer [a Republican in the United States House of Representatives], Amos A. Lawrence [a Republican abolitionist and businessman], and others, began their work at once, arousing public interest and making arrangements to facilitate emigration to Kansas. As early as June, 1854, they sent Dr. Charles Robinson, of Fitchburg, and Mr. Charles H. Branscomb, of Holyoke, to explore the territory and select a site for a colony ... [Previously] Robinson [had journeyed to Kansas, during which] his party climbed the hill along this spur, and looked off over what was afterwards the site of Lawrence. They marked the beauty of the spot and the magnificence of the view. Whether they thought then of what might afterwards occur is not known; but when the time came to select a location for the first colony, Dr. Robinson remembered this view from the hilltop, and this doubtless had much to do in the final decision. When he was asked, therefore, to go and explore the country with a view to locating colonies, it was not altogether an unknown land to him.

Branscomb was tasked with exploring the Kansas River up to about the location of Fort Riley, whereas Robinson scouted land near Fort Leavenworth and the nearby city of the same name; after assessing the territory that they had surveyed, the two recommended that the New England Emigrant Aid Company send its settlers to claim territory along the Oregon Trail near Hogback Ridge. The two likely chose this site because it was the "first desirable location where emigrant Indians had ceded their land rights." The area was also attractive because it was close to not only on the Oregon Trail, but also the Santa Fe and the 1846 Military Trails.

Concurrent with Robinson and Branscomb's exploration, the New England Emigrant Aid Company was soliciting some of its members into settling in Kansas.[5] At first, the New England Emigrant Aid Company had wanted to send a somewhat sizeable group of settlers to claim the land. Unfortunately, a cholera outbreak in the Missouri Valley prevented this from happening. In the end, a small group of only twenty-nine mena group that Eli Thayer would later call the "pioneer colony"volunteered for the job.[5] Led by Branscomb, these pioneers left Boston, Massachusetts and set out for Kansas Territory on July 17, 1854; according to Thayer's antislavery newspaper the Kansas Crusader for Freedom: "Immense crowds had gathered [in Boston] at the station to give them a parting God-speed. They moved out of the station amid the cheering of the crowds who lined the track for several blocks."[5] In late July, the group met Robinson in St. Louis, who discussed with them the next leg of the journey and provided them with transportation.[5]

The pioneers arrived in Kansas Territory near the close of July, and on August 1, they ate their first meal on Hogback Ridge itself (which was soon re-named "Mount Oread" after the Oread Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts).[5] Immediately thereafter, about half of this party set off to claim land in the nearby countryside, where about fifteen of the original settlers remained, and began to establish a city between Mount Oread and the Kansas River (roughly where Massachusetts Street now runs).[6] While all of this was unfolding, a follow-up party of sixty-seven individuals, guided by Robinson and Samuel C. Pomeroy (that latter of the two being an abolitionist and a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives), left Worcester, Massachusetts on August 31; along the way to Kansas, settlers of similar political inclinations joined this group, and when the party reached their destination on September 911, it had grown to about 114 people.[7][6] This second party included about ten women, a number of children, and several musicians.[8] A third group of settlers arrived in the vicinity of the future city on October 89, although many "became disgusted by the outlook" of the settlement and returned to New England, feeling as if they had been "deceived" by the New England Emigrant Aid Company.[9] A fourth group of settlers arrived on October 30, followed by a fifth on November 20, and a sixth on December 1. On September 18, the early colonists convened and established a "voluntary municipal government", and by September 20, the settlers had approved a constitution (which included principles of prohibitionatory Maine law) to govern their town.

When the settlers first arrived, most had referred to their fledgling city simply as "Wakarusa" (after the nearby river of the same name), but other names were being considered, like "New Boston" (in recognition of both the New England Emigrant Aid Company's city of operation and the hometown of many early settlers) and "Plymouth" (after Plymouth Rock).[7] Meanwhile, settlers from Missouri derisively referred to it as "Yankee Town", due to its New England connections.[10] Another name considered around this time was "Lawrence".[7] Many approved of this name because it would honor Amos Adams Lawrence, an Ipswich-based businessman and noted abolitionist, who, Cordley writes, was "a man of wide personal influence" and "one of the first men of means" to fund the Emigrant Aid Company.[11] Others hoped that by giving their town Lawrence's name, he would be inclined to support them with monetary donations, which in turn came to pass. Another factor that made "Lawrence" a popular choice was that it was unbesmirched, having "no bad odor attached to it in any part of the Union."[7] Consequently, on October 6, the settlement's leaders voted to approve "Lawrence" as the name of their new city, and on October 17, the citizens drew territory lots so as to begin erecting homes and businesses.[7][12] Around this time, the Lawrence settlers got into a heated argument with proslavery land-squatters who were hoping to establish a city named "Excelsior" on the land where Lawrence was being constructed. While these proslavers threatened violence against anyone who stood in their way, they eventually acquiesced to the New Englanders, and no open conflict occurred.[12][13]

By the end of 1854, two newspapers touting the free state mission had been established in the town: the Herald of Freedom, edited by George W. Brown, and Kansas Pioneer edited by John Speer (the latter of which was renamed the Kansas Tribune after Speer discovered that a proslavery newspaper of the previous name already existed). A third paper, the Kansas Free State, was also created by editors R. G. Elliott and Josiah Miller, and began publication in early January 1855.[14][10] The Plymouth Congregational Church was started in September 1854 by Reverend S. Y. Lum, a missionary sent to Kansas from Middletown, New York. The first post office in Lawrence was established in January 1855, and E. D. Ladd was appointed the town's first postmaster.

"Bleeding Kansas" and the American Civil War

At the start of 1855, settlers who held opposing opinions about slavery had settled in the Kansas Territory around the Lawrence area and began vying for political power. On August 27, 1855, the proslavery faction in Douglas County (based primarily out of the territorial capital, Lecompton, as well as smaller satellite settlements like Franklin and Lone Star) got a boost when acting territorial governor Daniel Woodson appointed the zealously proslavery settler Samuel J. Jones to the office of county sheriff. Then, in October 1855, the outspoken abolitionist John Brown arrived in the Kansas Territory; he brought with him a wagon-load of weapons with which he intended to use to fight off "Satan and his legions" (i.e., proslavery settlers).

For much of 1855, the pro- and antislavery factions existed uneasily with one another. Then on November 21, 1855, the proslavery settler Franklin Coleman shot the Free-Stater Charles Dow nine times in the back after an intense verbal altercation. The murder was the culmination of a long-simmering feud between the two, as for some time they had bickered about a land claim near the Hickory Point post office, located about south of Lawrence. According to the Border War Encyclopedia, "Politics had not motivated Coleman to kill Dow, but the murder marked the genesis of the violent political divisions that characterized Kansas for the next 10 years."[15] When Jones investigated the crime, Coleman argued that he had simply been acting in self-defense. The sheriff sided with his proslavery compatriot and chose to instead arrest Dow's free state affiliate Jacob Branson for disturbing the peace. Branson was quickly rescued by Samuel Newitt Wood and a gang of Free-Staters.[15][16]

In a few days, the two factions went from merely threatening violence to actually preparing for a fight. To temper the situation, the governor of the Kansas Territory, Wilson Shannon, called on the Kansas militia to intervene and keep the peace. Shannon had intended for the militia to be composed of Kansans, but Jones mustered a small army of 1,500 proslavery men, most of whom were from Missouri.[16] When the citizens of Lawrence learned of Jones's army, they raised up a defensive militia of 800 men armed with "Beecher's Bibles". Robinson was chosen to direct the city's military operations, the future state senator James Lane was selected as his second-in-command, and a "committee of safety" was also created, which organized squads of about 20 men to keep watch over the city. Lawrence was additionally aided by John Brown and his four sons: John Jr., Oliver, Owen, and Watson. While both sides were ready for a fight, an outright clash between the two militias was prevented at least in part by the harsh Kansas winter. On December 8, Shannon had had enough and ordered representatives from both sides to meet at the proslavery stronghold of Franklin to sign a peace treaty. Terms were agreed to, and eventually, after much persuading, the Missouri army reluctantly left the area. This conflict, despite its rather diminutive size and scale, would later be known as the "Wakarusa War".[16]

In the spring of 1856, the proslavery forces, hoping to diminish the power of the anti-slavery settlers, singled out the Kansas Free State, the Herald of Freedom, and the Free State Hotel (the latter of which was owned and operated by the New England Emigrant Aid Company) as "nuisances" that needed to be stopped.[14] On April 23, 1856 Sheriff Jones entered into Lawrence and attempted to arrest members of the extralegal Free-State legislature (a rogue governing body which had been set up in opposition to the official proslavery territorial government). During the commotion, Jones was non-fatally shot by a sniper named Charles Lenhart, and Lawrence residents promptly drove the sheriff out of town.[17] A few weeks later, on May 11, Federal Marshal Israel B. Donaldson proclaimed the act had interfered with the legal execution of warrants against select antislavery settlers. This proclamation was bolstered by a Kansas grand jury's that "the building known as the 'Free State' Hotel' in Lawrence had been constructed with a view to military occupation and defence, regularly parapetted and port holed, for the use of cannon and small arms, thereby endangering the public safety, and encouraging rebellion and sedition in this country". Donaldson, Jones, and Missouri senator David Rice Atchison consequently raised up another army comprising around 800 southerns. Ostensibly this army's purpose was to enforce the legal arrest warrants, but the group was also motivated by a desire to stamp out the Free-Stater nest that was Lawrence.

On May 21, Donaldson and Jones rode into town and successfully arrested those who had previously evaded them. While the citizens of Lawrence hoped that the officers would leave peacefully after making the arrests, this did not come to pass.[18] Donaldson dismissed his men, who were immediately deputized by Jones. The sheriff was then joined by more followers and together they began to sack the city. After seizing the house of Charles Robinson (who had recently been arrested in Missouri) to serve as his headquarters, Jones and his men attacked the offices of the antislavery newspapers. The attackers smashed the presses, tossed the sort into the nearby Kansas River, and threw already-printed copies of the newspapers into the wind. After this was done, the proslavery mob shot the Free State Hotel with a cannon before burning it down. Jones and his men then pillaged $30,000 worth of valuables. When Jones left the city, he and his men lit Robinson's house on fire for good measure.[18] Although the city was thoroughly ransacked, the human cost of the attack was low: only one persona member of Jones's possesdied during the attack when he was struck by a piece of falling masonry. In September 1856, another sack seemed nigh when, according to the Kansas State Board of Agriculture 1878 Biennial Report, "2,700 proslavery men appeared in sight of Lawrence, and the city was temporarily defended by Free-State men, under the command of Maj. J. B. Abbott".[10] However, this threat was neutralized when the recently-installed territorial governor John W. Geary realized what was about to happen and called for federal reinforcements to defend the city.

In both 1855 and 1857, Lawrence received a charter from the proslavery government in Lecompton, but the citizens, being adamant in their opposition to the "Bogus Legislature", refused to accept it, as it would have organized Lawrence under proslavery laws. In July 1857, the citizens of Lawrence then attempted to secure an "official" city charter from the Free-State legislature before issuing one themselves.[13][19] This act was seen as one of bold-faced insurrection by the newly-installed territorial governor Robert J. Walker; as a result, on July 15, 1857 Walker ordered William S. Harney to send a regiment of soldiers to watch over the city and impose martial law. These troops remained in the vicinity of Lawrence until the territorial elections in October of that year. By this time, it seemed as if the struggles of Lawrence's early citizens were coming to fruition. In the election of 1857, free-staters gained the upper hand and were able to oust the proslavery majority from the territorial legislature. By the start of the next year, Samuel Joneslong the enemy of Lawrence's free state populationresigned his post as sheriff and left the territory. On January 16, 1858, Lawrence was declared the seat of Douglas County (an honor that had previously belonged to Lecompton). In February of that year, the legislature approved the city charter that had been drafted a little less than a year prior in July, and soon James Blood became the first mayor of the city.[13] Around this time, the antislavery legislature often met in Lawrence, which functioned as the de facto capital of Kansas Territory from 1858 until 1861 (although Lecompton was still the de jure seat of the governing body).[13]

On October 4, 1859, the Wyandotte Constitution was approved in a referendum by a vote of 10,421 to 5,530, and after its approval by the U.S. Congress, Kansas was admitted as a free state on January 29, 1861. By the time the Wyandotte Constitution was framed in 1859, it was clear that the proslavery forces had lost in their bid to control Kansas. But while Kansas's entrance into the Union as a free state arguably ended the Bleeding Kansas period, it coincided with the outbreak of the American Civil War. During the war, Lawrence became a stronghold for Jayhawker guerilla units (also known as "Red Legs"), led by James Lane, James Montgomery, and "Doc" Jennison, among others. These groups raided parts of Western Missouri, stealing goods and burning down farms; it was a common belief by southerners that the goods snatched by these Jayhawkers were stored in Lawrence. In 1863, Lawrence was attacked and destroyed by William Quantrill and hundreds of his irregular Confederate raiders on August 21, 1863. Most houses and businesses in Lawrence were burned and between 150 and 200 men and boys were murdered. The Plymouth Congregational Church in Lawrence survived the attack, but a number of its members were killed and its records were destroyed.

Following Quantrill's raid, the survivors and their Unionist allies began to clean up the damage and restore their settlement. After a very bitter winter that forced the citizens to temporarily put their work on hold, rebuilding continued into 1864, and was completed with a zeal that Richard Cordley described as akin to "a religious obligation." Given trauma of 1863, the citizens of Lawrence were on edge during this period of rebuilding; Cordley notes, "Rumors [of guerrilla attacks] were thick and the people [of Lawrence] were particularly sensitive to them." Consequently, Lawrence citizens organized themselves into companies to protect the city. Around this time, the federal government also erected several military posts on Mount Oread (of which a few were named Camp Ewing, Camp Lookout, and Fort Ulysses) to keep guard over the city. However, no further attacks were made on Lawrence, and these installations were eventually abandoned and dismantled after the war.

Post-Civil War

Attempts to begin a university in Kansas were first undertaken in 1855, but it was only after Kansas became a state in 1861 that those attempts saw any real fruition. An institute of learning was proposed in 1859 as The University of Lawrence, but it never opened. When Kansas became a state, provision was included in the Kansas Constitution for a state university.[20] From 1861 to 1863 the question of where the university would be located—Lawrence, Manhattan or Emporia—was debated. In February 1863, Manhattan was made the site of the state's land-grant college, leaving only Lawrence and Emporia as candidates. The fact Lawrence had $10,000 plus interest donated by Amos Lawrence plus 40 acres (160,000 m2) to donate for the university had great weight with the legislature. Eventually, Lawrence beat out Emporia by one vote, and in 1866, the University of Kansas (KU) was opened to students.[20]

Facing an energy crisis in the early 1870s, the city contracted with Orlando Darling to construct a dam across the Kansas River to help provide the city with power. Frustrated with the construction of the dam, Darling resigned and the Lawrence Land & Water Company completed the dam without him in 1873; however, only when J.D. Bowersock took over the dam in 1879 that the constant damage to the dam ceased and repairs held up. The dam made Lawrence unique which helped in winning business against Kansas City and Leavenworth. The dam closed in 1968 but was reopened in 1977 with help from the city, which wanted to build a new city hall next to the Bowersock Plant.

In 1884 the United States Indian Industrial Training School was opened in Lawrence. Boys were taught the trades of tailor making, blacksmithing, farming and others while girls were taught cooking and homemaking. In 1887 the name was changed to the Haskell Institute, after Dudley Haskell, a legislator responsible for the school being in Lawrence. In 1993 the name was changed again to Haskell Indian Nations University.

20th century and beyond

In 1888, Watkins National Bank opened at 11th and Massachusetts. Founded by Jabez B. Watkins, the bank would last until 1929. Watkin's wife Elizabeth donated the bank building to the city to use as a city hall. In 1970, the city built a new city hall and after extensive renovations, the bank reopened in 1975 as the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum.

In 1903, the Kansas River flooded causing property damage in Lawrence, especially North Lawrence. The water got as high as 27 feet and water marks can still be seen on some buildings especially at TeePee Junction at the U.S. 24–40 intersection and at Burcham Park. Lawrence would be hit by other floods in 1951, where the water rose over 30 feet,[21] and in 1993 but with the reservoir and levee system in place, Lawrence only had minimal damage compared to the other floods.

Also in 1903, Theodore Roosevelt visited Lawrence on his way to Manhattan where he gave a short speech and dedicated a fountain at 9th & New Hampshire. The fountain was later moved to South Park next to the gazebo. Roosevelt would visit Lawrence again in 1910 after visiting Osawatomie where he dedicated the John Brown State Historical Site and gave a speech on New Nationalism.

In 1871, the Lawrence Street Railway Company opened and offered citizens easy access to hotels and businesses along Massachusetts Street. The first streetcar was pulled by horses and mules and the track just ran along Massachusetts Street. After the 1903 flood, the Kansas River bridge had to be rebuilt but was not considered safe for a streetcar to pass over. The Lawrence Street Railway Company closed later that year. In 1907, C.L. Rutter attempted to bring back a bus system, after having failed in 1902. In 1909, a new streetcar system was implemented putting Rutter out of business and lasting until 1935.

In 1921, Lawrence Memorial Hospital opened in the 300 block of Maine Street. It started with only 50 beds but by 1980, the hospital would expand to 200. LMH has been awarded several awards and recognitions for care and quality including The Hospital Value Index Best in Value Award and is ranked nationally in the top five percent for heart attack care by the American College of Cardiology.

In 1929 Lawrence began celebrating its 75th anniversary. The city dedicated Founder's Rock, commonly referred to as the Shunganunga Boulder, a huge red boulder brought to Lawrence from near Tecumseh. The rock honors the two parties of the Emigrant Aid Society who first settled in Lawrence. Lawrence also dedicated the Lawrence Municipal Airport on October 14.[21]

In 1943, the federal government transported German and Italian prisoners of World War II to Kansas and other Midwest states to work on farms and help solve the labor shortage caused by American men serving in the war effort. Large internment camps were established in Kansas: Camp Concordia, Camp Funston (at Fort Riley), Camp Phillips (at Salina under Fort Riley). Fort Riley established 12 smaller branch camps, including Lawrence. The camp in Lawrence was near 11th & Haskell Avenue near the railroad tracks. The camp would close by the end of 1945.

In 1947, Gilbert Francis and his son George opened Francis Sporting Goods downtown, selling mostly fishing and hunting gear. A decade later they moved across the street to larger retail space at 731 Massachusetts Street, enabling them to expand into other sporting goods. In November 2014, in the wake of the opening of a new Dick's Sporting Goods location in Lawrence, Francis Sporting Goods, announced its retail business within what had become Lawrence's Downtown Historic District would close by the end of the year, allowing the Francis family to focus on supplying uniforms and equipment to teams.

In the early 1980s, Lawrence grabbed attention from the television movie The Day After. The TV movie first appeared on ABC but was later shown in movie theaters around the world. The movie depicted what would happen if the United States were destroyed in a nuclear war. The movie was filmed in Lawrence, and hundreds of local residents appeared in the film as extras and in speaking roles.

In 1989, the Free State Brewing Company opened in Lawrence becoming the first legal brewery in Kansas in more than 100 years. The restaurant is in a renovated inter-urban trolley station in downtown Lawrence.

In 2007, Lawrence was named one of the best places to retire by U.S. News & World Report. In 2011, the city was named one of America's 10 best college towns by Parents & Colleges.

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