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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Field Trip Thursday: The Little Apple

  We hadn't seen my folks for a while and we needed a Ducky and Gigi fix, so we altered our field trip day so they could go with us!  One of my folks' favorite treat places is getting ice cream at K-State, we used that as a base and built our trip around it and headed to Manhattan.  The place that best fit what we are learning now is Goodnow House. Goodnow House was built in 1859 by Isaac and Ellen Goodnow.  The Goodnows were abolitionists from New England and moved out here with the New England Emigrant Aid Society.  Isaac started the pre-cursor to K-State University, Bluemont College.  The museum was small but exemplary because all the artifacts that were in it were used in the household either by the Goodnows or their adopted daughter. 
  Oh how pretty this house was, and how I think I would have enjoyed the Goodnows.  They shared similar interests...
In fact, the house would be a reflection of our lives, but just 150 years ago.  Books galore, artifacts - yep:) 
  While there was a lot of hands off type of areas, there was a section where our guide let the kids try out some period artifacts...
  The high point, just for this homeschooling momma, was when we walked by this picture of a soldier with excellent hair on a horse, and Bubby says to me, "Mom, do you know who that is?".  I answer, "George Custer?".  Bubby, "No, Mom, that's Nathaniel Lyons."  Our guide was pretty shocked, and actually so was I.  It was indeed Nathaniel Lyons who we had learned about when we visited the Wilson's Creek battlefield.  He too had excellent hair;) As a homeschooling parent, I still get those moments of, "what are they retaining?", but its sinking in!  Yay!
  I am so glad we chose this site for our destination today.  Suggested donation is $1 for kids and $2 for adults, and it is chalked full of free-stater history and architecture:)  Even Shorty did relatively well which is always a bonus.
  Right across the drive is the Riley County Historical Society, so we made it part of our trip. 

  The area for displays was not really big, but it was well laid out with interesting displays.  You also can't beat free admission!  The biggest find for me was some artifacts from Sikes' Store in Leonardville.  My hubby's gg-grandfather worked there, so it was fun to make personal application for the kids.
  Our next stop was Call Hall on the K-State campus.  Since K-State is an agricultural based college, you can buy all kinds of wonderful things that they produce at the Dairy Bar at Call.  We started with the ice cream...
and checked out where they process the milk...

that was especially fun since my gr-grandpa attended K-State dairy college in the early 1900s before it was K-State.
On our way out we bought some of the meat, cheese and ice cream that was for sale (they also sell flour too!).
  We're definitely going back to the Little Apple soon.  Every sign we saw (for the zoo, the Flint Hills Discovery Center, art museum, etc...) was met with "oooh, I want to go there!" And, well, I have some genealogy research that I need to make an appointment for as well!