Friday, March 27, 2015

Field Trip Friday: A Little Less Ordinary

  We didn't take a field trip today, per se.  We traveled and we didn't "do school" but it didn't involve a museum.  Today we went to Ducky and Gigi's to burn the pasture.  Something we like to do as a family every year to take out the dead and make way for the new.  So we'll just say we reviewed fire safety for that portion of the day...
The kids don't do the burning, just Daddy and Ducky, but they enjoy watching.
  Our trip part of the day took us in to my hometown of Oskaloosa to the cemetery.  We were seeking out photo requests for the Find A Grave website.  While we didn't have much luck with that, we found some awesome Civil War veteran stones...

The top pic is the coolest Civil War veteran stone I've ever seen.  The bottom one is a man who served as a Corporal in the 1st Kansas Colored (aka 79th USCT).  Oskaloosa was a free-state town and I was hoping to find some of the USCT there and was thrilled to find two 1st KS Co. among them!  By the end of our time at the cemetery I was having to pull Bubby away (the other two had given up on us long before) and tell him we had to stop taking pictures of veterans' stones.  History class for the day!
  Our last stop was to the County Seat Variety for some ice cream from their soda fountain.  My mom used to work at the library up the street when I was a kid and every once in a while we would stop in for ice cream.  It was so wonderful to be able to share that with my kiddos.
  While we didn't get to our "ordinary" trip, fun was had by all :)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Field Trip Friday - Ft. Leavenworth

  Oh, the irony!  Ever since we started our learning of Civil War veterans a few summers ago, I've been dying to go to the museum at Ft. Leavenworth.  The thing that has held us back was getting access to the fort.  I didn't want to have to go thru all the possible security.  We finally broke down, picked up Gigi, and made our trip.  It turns out that just a couple of weeks prior, the fort had changed their admittance from just showing drivers license, registration, and insurance to stopping at a visitor's center and submitting those documents as well as undergoing a background check.  It was not a big deal even with that (took less than 10 minutes), but to think that it would have been easier and I put it off - *sigh*. 
  The Frontier Army museum was right on the edge of the historic fort area (we did take advantage of our fort pass and went further into the historic part - cool!  Mookie loved looking at the old buildings).  The museum is free and well worth the trip.  They start you out with Lewis and Clark who explored the area and Fort Cavagnal which was an early French fort in the area, as well as some really cool early Ft. Leavenworth artifacts. 
Shorty with Lewis & Clark
  The main exhibit area was made up of examples of firearms, military equipment, and vehicles used during different periods.  It really reminded me of the Kansas National Guard museum in Topeka except with more finesse and just key artifacts.  The interpretation guides for these were exceptional.
  Mookie surprised me a bit with what she enjoyed.  She took a big interest in some cannons and what was inscribed on them.
  Shorty was intrigued by the large stage coach.  He kept saying that the guy inside was moving.  After a few laps and hearing that, I could almost see him move myself...
  Bubby was thrilled to see a bust of one his favorite historical characters - Frederick Funston. He portrayed Funston in a Kansas characters show and tell a few years back at our homeschool coop :)

  My biggest disappointment was not seeing anything meaty on the U.S. Colored Troops.  I had assumed that since William Matthews, of the 1st Kansas Colored, was from Leavenworth prior to the war that there would be some emphasis on them.  They did have items about the Buffalo Soldiers and we made sure to pay a visit to the Buffalo Soldier's monument while we were there.
  The kids were very intrigued with Fort life and how self contained it was.  It would be fun to go back when it wasn't so very cold outside.  I think a trip to Ft. Riley is in our near future as well!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Field Trip - Art Lab

Guest blog by Bubby (age 11)

  The other day, we went to Mulvane art museum’s art lab at Washburn University 
in Topeka. It is in the Basement there. There are legos, archaeology, painting, rock 
    art, scavenger hunts, and puppets.  I like the legos because you can make anything you 
    want. Laura made a huge tower. I also liked archaeology because of the quiz you can 
    take. My sister’s favorite part was the Legos.  It was educational. I can’t wait for next week!

Like Shorty like Ducky...

Mookie's tower

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fort Titus

 We went to Fort Titus yesterday with my Grandparents. On August 16, 1856, some fifty free state men under Captain Samuel Walker attacked Fort Titus. After a brief battle, Colonel Henry Titus, Fort Titus’ 34 defenders, and 400 muskets surrendered. Servants and slaves owned by Titus were set free and instructed to go to Topeka. Eight free state men were wounded; the fort was burned to the ground. It was great because that is what we’re learning about in school. (guest blog by Mookie - age 10).
Fort Titus

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Forgotten Buddies

  What started out as a service project for our homeschool coop is a continuing project for me.  I am slowly looking up all the obituaries and regimental information for all of the veterans in Osage County.  I've gotten to know these guys so well by now that I call them my "buddies".  My most intensive searching has been at Burlingame Cemetery, partially because I can access most Burlingame papers for the time period I need on the internet for free. Because of this I've been able to find many veterans buried there that are unmarked by any tombstone - something my family hopes to be able to correct.  I've been focusing on these forgotten buddies so that they can be remembered too. 
  The first one that I was able to find information on was James S. Montgomery.  James signed up with the 2nd California Cavalry.  Before the war he was engaged to a woman, who said that she would wait for him.  While he was in service he was "dangerously" wounded by a gunshot wound to the lung and was discharged because of it.

When he came home, he found that his betrothed had not waited for him.  He was so saddened that he became a mountain man/miner and wandered the Wild West.  His lung troubled him terribly and he took the common treatment for the day - laudanum.  Unfortunately the nature of laudanum lends itself towards overdoses and he died from one while on a trip back to Topeka. He was buried by his Burlingame G.A.R. veteran friends with a full military burial.
  One of the newest veterans is going to be a challenge.  John Hardison was a gentleman of African descent who lived primarily in Topeka, but moved to Carbondale in the mid-1890s.  He had served with Co. I of the 17th United States Colored Troops as an Orderly Sergeant.  He became paralyzed in later life and the $12 pension he was receiving was not cutting it.  If you were receiving a pension, you could not be placed in the county poor farm, and the city of Carbondale would not offer him assistance, so he was on his own.  He died in a house fire in 1904 before anyone could get to it.  There is no record of his burial in Carbondale, and none that I have found yet in Topeka.  The search continues!
One of my other buddies is Isaac Williams.  Isaac also served with the USCT.  Because of his common name it has been hard to track down a pension record for him, and none of the newspaper articles listed his service designation.  I finally found a reference in the 1885 census that put him in the 4th Missouri.  Yay!  Trying to find his regimental designation after the USCT went federal, I did find that he was one of the first 4 people of color in Burlingame in 1865 (the town was about 300 people).  I also found this newspaper article on him:
1885 Osage County Chronicle
The title makes it seem like its going to be prejudiced in one way, and then what a slam!  The Stoddards that owned the Osage County paper at this time were very equal in their treatment of their colored friends.  They published such wonderful articles on people from the black community that it met with opposition.  They responded with an awesome editorial that pretty much said that they were just covering people of note in their community and that there were good and bad of both races and people just needed to let it go.  :)
  Another one of my guys is William "Pitt Green" Gaines who is also of African descent.  His double name confuses me, but it has me wondering if it doesn't have to do with his previous life in slavery (I would definitely appreciate any thoughts on this).  Pitt served with the 83rd USCT.  He was a well known penny pincher, in fact, the paper did a whole article on the time he spent a nickel.  The whole community of Burlingame was dying to know what he spent it on!  At the end of his obituary even, it said that he was supposed to have hidden a great deal of money in his house and the people of the community were going to hunt for it.   
  There are more than 20 veterans in Osage County without stones.  I am hoping I can bring them back from their forgotten status and share their wonderful stories!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Candlelight Tour

  On our wishlist for a while has been the Fort Scott Christmas Candlelight Tour. We had never been, but had heard wonderful things about it.  This was our year!  Tickets go on sale Nov. 1st and the tour is only offered for 2 days.  Our tour took place on a drizzly night this past weekend, but really it wasn't too cold for December.  Dress warm! It was perfect timing because we're covering the Civil War for our history in school right now. 
  Our tour guide was one of the rangers (Ft. Scott is a National Park) and he gave background information prior to and after each station we stopped at where volunteer actors re-enacted Fort Life.  Mookie whispered to me about a dozen times, "this is SO cool!" They don't like photography, but I did snap this shot while one of the skits was going on inside one of the buildings and I was out running Shorty around. Beautiful!

  It all ended with a dance with live historical music, food and drink, and activities for the kids.

  Because of the distance from home we stayed overnight.  The kids would not have allowed us out of town anyway since Ft. Scott is a National Park and had a Junior Ranger program anyway :)
   We had printed off our Junior Ranger booklets ahead of time and the kids had worked on them on the way down South.  This was great because the next morning was as drizzly as the night before and even chillier!
We were there about an hour and a half working on our Ranger booklets and wandering.  Definitely one of the more intensive ones.  Not that I minded, I'd rather one of the tougher ones be in local history.
  One of the things that stuck out to me on this trip was the fort jail.  This year for Christmas I am getting the pension record for who we think is my ggg-grandpa George Marshal.  George is one of my black sheep in the family and was in the Arkansas St. Penitentiary for stealing.  He also was naughty during the war and was caught stealing.  So he would have ended up someplace like this I imagine.  
 Doesn't look very comfortable.  I'm not sure if that cured Grandpa George of his problem, but it probably put an end to it temporarily. :) 

Samuel Rutherford

  I was given the opportunity to read a "Bitesized Biography" Samuel Rutherford by Richard Hannula. I enjoy these bite-sized biographies.  Packed full of great information, and just the right sized for both my kiddos and this busy mom to increase our knowledge.  I admit, when I heard it was Samuel Rutherford, I had no idea who he was.  I love learning new things, so I dove in.  Let me tell you, I was excited to learn he was a Presbyterian minister in Scotland during the 17th century.  My gg-grandfather Murray's great-grandfather was a Presbyterian minister in Scotland at or after that time period, so this book grabbed my full attention right away.
  The book starts you out with a timeline, which is great for giving you an idea of what you are getting yourself into.  The author took an interesting slant and let Samuel talk mostly through his own words.  While this got tiresome at times, boy you can't beat the original source! It covers Samuel's own personal conflicts to ones where he battled corruption in the church.  The faith and how he handled himself and others was wonderful to see.
  I am definitely going to have to do some more research on John Knox and the other circumstances that shaped the environment that Samuel lived in.  Simonetta Carr has one in her Christian Biographies for Kids series on Knox, that is going to be next on my list.
  The book ends with a listing of recommended reading, of which it is noted that many of the selections can be found for free on-line.
  These bite-size biographies don't disappoint.  They pack a whole bunch of information into a small package.  I am thankful for Cross Focused Reviews for the chance to read and review this book.  Any opinions given were my own.