Hanging Out With Civil War Buffs

When kids in Lawrence, KS, are in second grade, they go out to the banks of the Kaw River to build mud huts and learn about the time Quantrill came over from Missouri to burn down the Free State.  15 years later, this Kansas-Missouri rivalry matures into college students chanting “Muck Fizzou” at basketball games.  And then there’s the civil war re-enactors…

Black Jack Costumes

This Wednesday, I met my first true Lawrencian Civil War Buffs!  My library plans to be involved with the Civil War on the Western Frontier Festival this August, which commemorates the anniversary of Quantrill’s bloody raid.  And so I was in the thick of it all, sitting at a planning meeting with the most hardcore of a town full of hardcore buffs.  When we went around the table for introductions, half introduced themselves as their civil war persona:  “John Brown.”  “Reverend Cordley.”  “The Honorable S.A. Riggs.”  Later someone suggested a Civil War movie, and a hush fell over the room: “That one’s from the Missouri perspective.”

I’ve never lived in a place that took such pride in its Free State Civil War roots.  It’s one of the things I love about living here  — slowly learning the culture, understanding what makes this community tick.  The arts.  College basketball.  Civil War re-enactments.  Who knew??  I think public libraries are in a great position to vitalize our communities by offering programs that really mean something to the people who live there, and I’ve been doing my best to learn what that means in Lawrence!  I can’t wait to see what the CWWF festival brings this August.  And I can’t wait to build my mud hut.


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