Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Founder's Rock

Welcome to a New Year and the first entry in the new Capt. Brian's Whiz Bang and semi-new Tauy Creek. I thought long and hard about how to make the changes work and decided that Whiz Bang will focus on history, pop culture, writing and a sprinkling of personal entries. I figured I would start on something history related, namely Founder's Rock in Lawrence.

The first group of emigrants arrived in the Lawrence area on August 1, 1854 and for the first nine years of its existence, Lawrence had a very tumultuous history. In 1929, Lawrence celebrated its 75th anniversary. Two of the major celebrations Lawrence had was the dedication of Lawrence Municipal Airport in Grant Township just north of North Lawrence and the dedication of Founder's Rock, commonly known as the Shunganunga Boulder.
The dedication ceremony for the Shunganunga Boulder on October 11, 1929.
The Shunganunga Boulder rested at the confluence of the Shunganunga Creek and the Kansas River near Tecumseh for centuries after it was deposited at this location by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years ago. The rock, a beautiful red granite boulder, was considered sacred by local Natives and used routinely in ceremonies and as a landmark. In September of 1929, a Topeka attorney, A.A. Graham, brought attention to the boulder and suggested that it be moved to the grounds of the state capital. Graham suggested that people could donate money to pay for the cost of moving the boulder to the statehouse. Before Topekans could act, however, someone in Lawrence learned of the boulder and gathered a group of his friends and with the help of the Santa Fe Railway, got the boulder to Lawrence without anyone in Topeka knowing what was going on.

The rock was placed in Robinson Park at Sixth and Massachusetts Streets and honors the two emigrant aid parties that came to Lawrence in August 1854 and September 1854. Robinson Park is named for Charles Robinson, one of the men who selected the area Lawrence would be founded and the first governor of Kansas. The plaque on the boulder lists when the original settlers left Massachusetts and arrived in Lawrence and their names:

In 1883, a Kansa Indian named Pahn-le-gaqli told five Kansa song-prayers about the boulder. One of the songs went like this:
O Wakanda! O Wakanda!
We see the big, red rock;
It has a hard body,
Like that of Wakanda!
May we continue like it--
Like this big, red rock!

Until next time, I remain...