Friday, April 17, 2009

#189: DGCo. Vol. I

I love where I'm from. I am a complete dork when it comes to my home of Douglas County, Kansas. I've lived most of my life in Lawrence except for the six years I lived in Baldwin City. It was mainly because of Baldwin that I got interested in history. I had to write a report for my Kansas History class and I chose the history of Baldwin which included history on the Santa Fe Trail and early battles of the Civil War.

I think, and this is just my opinion, that Douglas County has the richest history of any county in Kansas. And I have proof to back it up. Lawrence, the county seat, was burned down twice; Baldwin is home to the first four-year college in the state and nearby Black Jack has what some people consider the first battle of the Civil War--the Battle of Black Jack, 1856. Lecompton was in the running to be the state capital and the Lecompton Constitution was drafted making Kansas a slave state. The first printing press in Kansas was used in Prairie City near Baldwin and nearby Brooklyn was burned in 1863 and never rebuilt.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are many houses and buildings that are historic, that line the streets of Old West Lawrence, Lecompton's Woodson Street, Baldwin's High Street and Eudora's Church Street. Lately I've tried to get pictures of things that are old or seemingly historic just so that there is some memory of that place. It was I who put the pictures up on the Douglas County National Register of Historic Places Wikipedia page and I am proud of that accomplishment. A couple months ago I started a blog about Douglas County but it got too tiring trying to pick out moments of history to post (plus I wanted it to be a collaborative effort) but I plan on starting some major research in the next month or so, so what I get written I will definately post here and transfer to the County blog.

My favorite spots in the county are varied. I don't really have any in the city but closest would probably be Lakeview Lake. Since Lakeview is essentially like private property (and at one time was a resort), people look at you weird if you stop too long. It's really a nice place though. From Lakeview, travel the river road toward Lecompton (not very hard to get lost) and follow County Road 1023 past Lecompton to North 2100 Road and follow the road around and down the hill until you come to an old schoolhouse. The Greenwood Valley School was built in 1896 and is still in decent condition. This isn't a place I hang out because the landowner is kind of ornery and there's an electric fence surrounding the school.

Just follow North 2100 around the East 100 and follow that until you come to Highway 40. Turn left and then right onto East 200 Road and follow until North 1600 Road. Turn left to East 250 Road and head south to North 1400. Turn right, then right again up a driveway and you are at Mound Cemetery.

Mound Cemetery (sometimes erroneously called Old Stull Cemetery) was platted in 1888 on a beautiful natural mound. If you look out toward the east-southeast you can see Clinton Dam ten miles away. After the cemetery get back on East 250 and follow it around Clinton Lake until you come to East 800 Road. Take East 800 south until you come to North 600 Road. Turn right then turn left onto East 750 Road and follow it all the way to the end and you come to Colyer Cemetery, a lovely and quiet spot at the top of a hill. I spend some time here planning my writing and just looking at the names.

Until next time, I remain...