Ike, Brown, Oz and … Bugs??? – Manhattan KS


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North America » United States » Kansas » Manhattan
September 15th 2015
Published: December 17th 2015
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There Was No Homesteading In Hawaii Or TEXAS!!! – Go FigureThere Was No Homesteading In Hawaii Or TEXAS!!! – Go FigureThere Was No Homesteading In Hawaii Or TEXAS!!! – Go Figure

Homestead National Monument of America- Beatrice NE
I got a mid-morning start as I departed the Pine Grove RV Park in Greenwood NE for a week-long stay at the Tuttle Creek Cove Campground in Manhattan KS. I had selected Manhattan for my base camp because of its centralized location, unlike my circumstantial midpoint landing in Nebraska the previous week. I returned to Lincoln NE from Greenwood to head south on US 77. Near Beatrice NE, I made a stop at the Homestead National Monument of America. This National Park Service attraction is actually two separate facilities. A coin flip found me first visiting the Homestead Education Center which is the more artifact laden of the two. The Farm Implement Room has an awesome collection of well documented vintage agricultural equipment. One room of the center has an interesting exhibition of photographs of one-room schools from around “homestead territory.” I found a photo of the Chana (IL) School (1883-1953) which served an area near when I was raised.

The Homestead Heritage Center has an interesting, award-winning film “Land of Dreams – Homesteading America” and examines the effect of the Homestead Act of 1852 on immigration, agriculture, native tribes, the tallgrass prairie ecosystem and federal land policy. I learned as I was writing
A Treadmill Powered The Washing Machine, A Goat Powered The TreadmillA Treadmill Powered The Washing Machine, A Goat Powered The TreadmillA Treadmill Powered The Washing Machine, A Goat Powered The Treadmill

Homestead National Monument of America- Beatrice NE
this blog that the roof line of the Homestead Heritage Center resembles a “single bottom plow moving through the sod” and that the parking lot measures exactly one acre. The park also includes 100 acres of tallgrass prairie restored to the approximate ecosystem that once covered the central plains of the United States – an ecosystem that was nearly plowed into extinction by the homesteaders. About 2.7 miles of hiking trails meander through the prairie and the woodland surrounding Cub Creek.

The restored Palmer-Epard Cabin, which was built in 1867 and was originally located about fourteen miles northeast of the Monument; and the Freeman School, which is built of foot-thick red brick and which was the longest continuously used one-room school in Nebraska history (1872–1967), are also part of the facility. Interestingly, the Freeman School was the focus of an early, influential judicial decision regarding separation of church and state. In 1899, Daniel Freeman sued the school board after a teacher, Edith Beecher, refused to stop praying, reading the Bible, and singing gospel songs in her classroom. In Freeman v. Scheve (1902), the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that Beecher’s activities violated provisions of the Nebraska constitution. If feasible, plan your route to take you past the Homestead National Monument and plan to spend a couple of hours PLUS walking time at the attraction. It reveals an important part of America’s history.

I continued south on US 77, US 24 and KS 177 without incident until I reached Manhattan and the Tuttle Creek Cove Campground. The campground is north of Manhattan which makes it somewhat inconvenient to I-70, but what a quiet, peaceful facility. The drive through Manhattan is easy and well worth the solitude when at home.

Thursday, September 10, 2015 found me heading east to the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka KS, which has served as the capital of Kansas since statehood was granted in 1861. Also known as the Kansas Statehouse, the Kansas State Capitol houses the executive and legislative branches of government for the State of Kansas and is the second building to serve as the Kansas Capitol. The land for Capitol Square was donated by Cyrus K. Holliday via his Topeka Town Company in 1862. In what I found an unusual progression of events, construction on the East Wing began in 1866 and used limestone from Geary County KS. Construction began on the West Wing in 1879 and used limestone from Cottonwood Falls KS. In 1881, the legislature authorized and appropriated funds for the construction of a central building to link the two wings. Hmmm! Construction of this central building began in 1886, and the contract for dome construction was awarded in May 1889. Its dome (304 feet) is taller than the United States Capitol dome (288 feet); however its 50-foot diameter is about half that of the nation’s capitol (96 feet).

After 37 years of construction, the building was declared officially completed in 1903; however, a design for a sculpture to stand atop the dome was not approved until 1988. “Ad Astra,” a 22 ½ foot bronze sculpture that weighs 4,420 pounds, was installed atop the dome on October 10, 2002. The sculpture depicts a Kansas Native American with bow and arrow pointed at the North Star and was chosen from 27 entries. The title “Ad Astra” is a shortening of the Latin for the state motto, Ad Astra Per Aspera – “to the stars through difficulty.”

In 1898, artist Jerome Fedeli painted murals near the top of the dome in the rotunda; however, Fedeli's work depicted bare-breasted classical women. Officials referred to the paintings as "Nude Telephone Girls" and had them painted-over. In the 1930s, John Steuart Curry painted murals on the second floor including the building's most famous painting – Tragic Prelude – which depicts an oversize and raging John Brown wedged between flames and a tornado. Curry's work gained considerable notoriety for depicting an unsavory aspect of Kansas history. He left the murals unsigned and did not complete his commission to paint murals in the rotunda. Curry's depiction of John Brown is believed to be the only occurrence of a person convicted of treason being featured in a state capitol. From 1976 to 1978, Lumen Martin Winter painted the murals in the rotunda. In December 2001, a $120 million modernization project began which included restoration of the first through fifth floors, the exterior masonry and the copper roof and dome as well as rehabilitation and expansion of the basement. By the time the project was finished in 2014, unexpected and added expenditures resulted in a total cost of $332 million.

The Kansas State Capitol is one of the few capitols in the United States that continues to offer tours that go to the top of the dome. Visitors
The Under Side Of The Inner DomeThe Under Side Of The Inner DomeThe Under Side Of The Inner Dome

Kansas State Capitol - Topeka KS
enter the dome by climbing 296 steps leading from the fifth floor to the top. I was tempted, MAN, was I tempted! The Kansas Historical Society cleverly says, “This spectacular tour is breathtaking—literally….” The visitor is afforded up close and personal views of both the inner and the outer domes and, the summit offers a unique view of the City of Topeka. The personnel manning the visitor center assured me I could go part way and abort the idea if the climb got to be too much; however, they were more than fair when they pointed out the obvious – heat rises. With outdoor temperatures in the mid-80s, I surmised the temperatures at the top of the climb would exceed 100 degrees. I’ll come back in January and ascend the dome stairway then – yeah, right! The Kansas State Capitol is one of the most beautiful capitols I have visited and the guided tour was one of the most interesting I have encountered. Obviously, it is very highly recommended.

As long as I was in the capital frame of mind, I headed to the Territorial Capital Museum and its first cousin, the Constitution Hall State Historic Site both in Lecompton KS. Both attractions offer an interesting history of Lecompton and, therefore, of Territorial Kansas. Lecompton, originally called "Bald Eagle," was founded in 1854 but was later renamed Lecompton in honor of Samuel Lecompte, the chief justice of the Kansas Territorial Supreme Court. In the spring of 1855, the town became the capital of the Kansas Territory.

I believe some background information will be helpful at this point. In the years leading to the Missouri Compromise of 1820, tensions began to rise between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions within the U.S. Congress as well as across the country. They reached a boiling point after Missouri’s 1819 request for admission to the Union as a slave state. Approval of the request would have upset the delicate balance between slave states and free states. To keep the peace, Congress orchestrated a two-part compromise – it granted Missouri’s request but also admitted Maine as a free state, and it passed an amendment that drew an imaginary line across the former Louisiana Territory at latitude 36°30′ which established a demarkation between free and slave regions of the country.

The Missouri Compromise was criticized by many southerners because it established the principle that Congress could make laws regarding slavery; while northerners, on the other hand, condemned it for acquiescing in the expansion of slavery (albeit only south of the compromise line). Nevertheless, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 remained the law of the land and helped hold the Union together for more than thirty years until it was effectively repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. That act established popular sovereignty as the decisive principle regarding slavery in both Kansas and Nebraska, even though both states were north of the compromise line.

Three years later, the Supreme Court declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional in Dred Scott v. Sandford wherein Dred Scott, an enslaved African American man who had been taken by his owners to a free state, attempted to sue for his freedom. This landmark 1857 decision held that African Americans, whether enslaved or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court, and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. The Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott is unanimously denounced by scholars and has been described as “first in any list of the worst Supreme Court decisions,“
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Kansas State Capitol - Topeka KS
“the Court's greatest self-inflicted wound” and "unquestionably, our court's worst decision ever."

Dred Scott was negated by the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1868), which gave African Americans full citizenship. Interestingly, the Fourteenth Amendment was interpreted by some to restrict the citizenship rights of most Native Americans until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 granted full U.S. citizenship to America's indigenous peoples. Indeed, Arizona and New Mexico had laws that barred many American Indians from voting until 1948, and American Indians faced some of the same barriers as blacks before passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965.

The building which now houses the Territorial Capital Museum started with an appropriation of $50,000 from the United States Congress and work on the building was begun. In the fall of 1857 a convention met in Constitution Hall and drafted the Lecompton Constitution, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state. Although adopted by Kansas voters, the United States House of Representatives defeated the Lecompton Constitution by only eight votes. Lecompton was considered the center of the pro-slavery movement in the Kansas territory; however, the antislavery party won control
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Kansas State Capitol - Topeka KS
of the territorial legislature in the election of 1857 and immediately began to abolish the pro-slavery laws already on the books. Lecompton remained the territorial capital until the victorious free-state leaders met at Constitution Hall and officially chose Topeka as capital when Kansas became a state on January 29, 1861. The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861.

By early 1858, when it had become evident that Lecompton was not going to become the capital of the State of Kansas, work on the capitol was halted. At that time, the foundation for three wings had been laid, the center section had been completed up to the top of the first floor windows, and all the materials needed to complete that section were on site. Fast forward – Lane University was founded in 1865 and was first located in what had been the Rowena Hotel – a three story stone structure that had been built to house territorial legislators when that body was in session. Later that year, the state donated 13 acres of land, including the foundation of the uncompleted Kansas Territorial Capitol building, to the university. Interestingly, it was at Lane University that David J. Eisenhower and
No Matter Where One Looks, There Is BeautyNo Matter Where One Looks, There Is BeautyNo Matter Where One Looks, There Is Beauty

Kansas State Capitol - Topeka KS
Ida Stover met and decided to marry. That ceremony was held in Lecompton, and, the couple later became the parents of Dwight D. Eisenhower – our 34th president. Today, the Lane University building is a museum, officially known as Lane University & Territorial Capital Museum, dedicated to Kansas pre-Civil War history and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The name of the attraction definitely led me to believe this museum would hold the history of the Territorial Capital. It does to a certain extent, but primarily it contains three floors of pre-Civil War artifacts. Of course, there are many commonplace artifacts that I have seen before; however, there are numerous artifacts that I have never seen and other specimens I have seen but didn’t know what it was and/or how it was used. The remarkable quality of this local history museum on the day of my visit was that my tour guide was well-versed about almost every artifact on display. For those interested in learning about antiques vs. merely looking at them, I highly recommend this attraction and SINCERELY HOPE you get a tour guide as entertaining and knowledgeable as was mine!

My next stop was at Constitution Hall State Historic Site also in Lecompton. I’m not sure just what it is about two 60ish men when they get together these days. At the drop of a hat, we learn that each is a vet, a Vietnam vet and a Marine Corps vet. This usually takes about 60-90 seconds. Pretty amazing! The docent on duty was all of the above and served in Vietnam during the same general time frame as had I. When I responded to his inquiry about my unit affiliation, he asked if I knew Capt. James Livingston. I replied I did not but noted Capt. Livingston had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions as commander of a sister company, Company E, in my battalion (2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment) during the Battle of Dai Do. He had worked with Capt. Livingston later in their careers and knew him well both professionally and personally. As an aside, another company commander, Capt. Jay Vargas of Company G, was also awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the same battle. For those interested few, I was a member of Company H and have included a link to what I have found to be an accurate, interesting synopsis of the Battle of Dai Do – at least accurate from the narrow perspective of what I saw in my company, my platoon and my squad. That is a very small slice of a very large pie.

Oh yes, it was time for the presentation! It’s off to the second floor. My new-found acquaintance gave quite a detailed account of the politics of Territorial Kansas as witnessed by these historic halls which, in essence, was an account of the politics that resulted in the Civil War. Remember, the U.S. Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act in May 1854 which created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opened new lands for settlement and effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 by allowing white male settlers in those territories to determine through popular sovereignty whether they would allow or ban slavery. Lecompton was designated the territorial capital of Kansas in August 1855, and this building, Constitution Hall, was completed late in 1856.

The Lecompton Constitution was the second of four proposed constitutions for governing the State of Kansas. It was preceded by the Topeka Constitution and was followed by the Leavenworth and Wyandotte Constitutions – the Wyandotte eventually
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Kansas State Capitol - Topeka KS
becoming the Kansas state constitution. The pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution was written in response to the anti-slavery position of the 1855 Topeka Constitution. The territorial legislature, consisting mostly of slave owners, met at Constitution Hall in September 1857 to produce that rival document. Both the Topeka and Lecompton constitutions were placed before the people of the Kansas Territory for a vote, and both votes were boycotted by supporters of the opposing faction. The "Constitution with Slavery" v. "Constitution with no Slavery" referendum suffered from serious voting irregularities, with over half the 6,000 votes deemed fraudulent.

A new referendum over the fate of the Lecompton Constitution was proposed, even though this would delay Kansas admission to the Union. On January 4, 1858, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected the Lecompton proposal by a vote of 10,226 to 138; and, in Washington, the Lecompton Constitution was defeated by the House of Representatives. Though soundly defeated, debate over the Lecompton Constitution had ripped apart the pro-slavery Democratic Party. In January 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state, and the Civil War began three months later. The presentation was interesting and replete with accounts of some of the major players represented in
There Were A Few Kids In AttendanceThere Were A Few Kids In AttendanceThere Were A Few Kids In Attendance

Gage Park (1908 Carousel) - Topeka KS
both legislatures. The attraction itself has numerous well done placards summarizing the narrative offered by our docent but has very few artifacts per se. I would categorize this attraction as an auditory learning experience vs. a visual learning experience; however, just walking across those creaking floors where so much pivotal American history transpired is an awe-inspiring experience.

September 11, 2015 – Fourteen years, has it really been that long? – I took advantage of a beautiful post-overnight, severe thunderstorm day to visit several outdoor attractions. My first stop was Gage Park in Topeka. Unexpectedly, I happened upon a memorial erected, “… to commemorate the achievements of the native sons and daughters of Kansas.” I next happened upon a veterans’ memorial garden hosting several war memorials and other military-related monuments. I finally arrived at my original destination – Topeka’s 1908 Carousel. On the interior of the pavilion walls, placards provide historical information about the history of carousels, about carousels in general and about the Gage Park Carousel specifically. The carousel was on the road and then had fixed homes in Pennsylvania and Texas prior to its arrival at a Topeka amusement park in 1957. Since its acquisition by the City
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Gage Park (Mini-Train) - Topeka KS
of Topeka in 1986 and its subsequent restoration, it has been delighting the young and the young-at-heart in Gage Park.

As I was driving to the carousel, I happened upon some miniature railroad tracks and was told the location of the train station by the carousel attendants. Not wanting to bypass the opportunity to be young-at-heart twice in one day, I made my way to the station, purchased my ticket and, when prompted, boarded the train for a narrated mile-long scenic journey through the park. The engineer related some of the history of Gage Park and pointed out many of the attractions available to park visitors. The mini-train has been a fixture in Gage Park for over 45 years.

My second stop of the day was at the Old Prairie Town at Ward Meade Historic Site also in Topeka. The attraction features an 1854 replica log cabin with blacksmith shop; the Ward-Meade Home, an 1870’s Victorian prairie mansion; and Town Square which contains two operating stores – the Mulvane General Store Visitors Center and Gift Shop and the Potwin Drug Store where the visitor can select from a nice variety of traditional soda fountain treats. Who would I be to forego an opportunity to enjoy a Green River? Town Square also houses an 1891 schoolhouse (complete with outhouse), an 1880 church, a turn-of-the-century barber shop, a livery stable with a carriage and an ice cream wagon, a tack shop and a train depot and caboose. Except for the two operating stores, the buildings are secured; however, a guided tour (which lasts almost a full hour) gets the visitor inside most of the buildings. Additionally, the tour also includes a physician’s office and a dentist’s office located, quite appropriately, above the drug store. As prairie towns go, this is a very nice example; however, if you have been exposed to many attractions of this type, you might want to allocate your time in Topeka to other more unique attractions. If you decide to attend, make sure to take the guided tour. Oh yes, photography is allowed throughout except the interior of the Ward-Meade Home.

My next stop was at the Great Overland Station also in, where else, Topeka. This was my third planned stop of the day, and two of the three have been prefaced with an unexpected bonus. This bonus was the All Veterans Memorial with the Corridor of Flags which connects the memorial and the Great Overland Station. The All Veterans Memorial consists of a sculptural flame centered above four reflecting pools. The Corridor of Flags consists of fifty 30-foot flagpoles, one for each state, that outline a vast outdoor room, the BNSF (Burlington, Northern & Santa Fe) Memorial Plaza. From each state’s flagpole is displayed an American flag configured as it was at the time of that state's admission to the Union. Below each historic American flag flies that state’s flag. A bronze plaque at the base of each flagpole identifies the name of the state, the year it joined the Union, its capital, and other state-specific information. Each flagpole is lighted from below. It is hoped, and expected, that the Memorial will provide a nucleus around which will revolve patriotic celebrations, holiday ceremonies and other community events. Had I been staying closer to Topeka, I would have returned at night to see the lighted memorials.

Time to visit the Great Overland Station! The station, designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, whose firm designed over 20 Union Pacific Railroad stations from 1924 to 1931, was built between 1925 and 1927. The station's Free Classical Revival design uses terra cotta extensively and features a center pavilion with two increasingly smaller pavilions on either side. When the new station was completed, it was one of the largest and was considered one of the finest stations west of the Missouri River. Almost 20,000 people attended the station's grand opening. Passenger service to the station began in January 1927; however, passenger totals at the station declined through the 1950s and 1960s, and regular passenger service ended in 1971. The Union Pacific Railroad repurposed the station as office space and a customer service center before abandoning the building in 1989. In 1992, a fire damaged the western part of the station. The station, added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 1, 2002, was extensively rehabilitated from 2000 to 2002 and is now, among other things, a railroad heritage museum.

A temporary exhibit I found especially interesting was titled, "Emerging from the Ashes." The exhibit memorializes significant historic fires from Topeka's past and pays tribute to the men and women who face the inherent danger. The exhibit title was exceptionally appropriate for this facility given its fiery history, and the exhibit itself contained fire-related equipment I have never seen. When I decided to visit
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Great Overland Station - Topeka KS
the Great Overland Station, I didn’t know what to expect save some (hopefully) interesting architecture. I got that and the aforementioned bonus. All of those await the future visitor and command me to give the attraction a lukewarm endorsement; however, the temporary exhibit was only given a life span of three months. How sad!

My fourth stop of the day, Topeka Computing Museum, in where else but Topeka, offered no bonus. Indeed it didn’t even offer a main course. The attraction is located in the Jayhawk Hotel in downtown Topeka and is housed in a series of “storefront” windows in one of the interior corridors. There are lots of memory triggers for us early stage home computer geeks – Texas Instruments, Commodore, KayPro, Osborne and TRS-80 computers; as well as thermal and dot matrix printers and, of course, the CPM operating system. There is no documentation, the artifacts are isolated behind glass and the only value to the attraction is nostalgia for an eldergeek.

I headed home but not without one additional stop on the agenda – the Kansas State University Insect Zoo in Manhattan. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the unique! As a high school biology
I Told You So!I Told You So!I Told You So!

Topeka Computing Museum - Topeka KS
review, living things are classified by Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. There are two kingdoms, Plant and Animal. There are over thirty animal phyla. People, along with other mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, belong to the phylum Chordata. The Phylum Arthropoda, by far the largest phylum, is estimated to include 3.7 million species.

Within Phylum Arthropoda, Class Arachnida (a class of eight-legged arthropods) includes spiders, mites and scorpions while many-legged creatures, such as centipedes and millipedes, belong to the same subphylum but to distinctly different classes. One of my favorite classes, Class Crustacea, contains the lobsters, crabs and shrimp. Also in Phylum Arthropoda one also finds Class Insecta – terrestrial invertebrates which have a hard exoskeleton and six legs. Do we remember that spiders and tarantulas have eight legs? Insects are, by far, the largest group of animals on earth with about 926,400 different described species in about 30 different orders and estimates of the total number of species ranging from 2 million to 30 million. New species of insects are continually being found. Most insects have wings and, thusly, were the first animals capable of flight. Class Apterygota is the wingless insects. Both Class
Walking Sticks Are Another Really Cool CritterWalking Sticks Are Another Really Cool CritterWalking Sticks Are Another Really Cool Critter

Kansas State University Insect Zoo - Manhattan KS
Insecta and Class Apterygota are in Subphylum Hexapoda – Latin: hex (six); pod (feet).

I learned researching this blog that, indeed, only some insects actually are true bugs – a particular order of insects. I have always viewed the term “bugs” as a more globally inclusive term that would include spiders and millipedes rather that a more exclusive term. I guess in a colloquial sense that remains the case. The attendant on duty grabbed her glass-cleaning materials when I entered and worked nearby as I made my way through the facility. Regardless of whether she stayed close at hand to act as an impromptu tour guide or as a monitor to assure this “crazy old person” didn’t release all the cockroaches from captivity remains to be seen, but she was a wealth of information. My friends, I found the facility interesting and will recommend it to the like-minded; however, for most of my readers, probably not so much.

An overcast, schooless Saturday found me heading back to Topeka to visit the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka resulted in a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court to overturn the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of
As Are MantisAs Are MantisAs Are Mantis

Kansas State University Insect Zoo - Manhattan KS
1896. Plessy v. Ferguson allowed state-sponsored segregation in the arena of public education as long as the educational facilities and curriculum was equal for all students – the "separate but equal" doctrine. On May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" and declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black students and white students was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and, therefore, to be unconstitutional. The ruling paved the way for integration and was a major victory of the Civil Rights Movement.

Racial segregation in education varied widely from the 17 states that required racial segregation to the 16 states in which it was prohibited. The plaintiffs in Brown asserted that this system of racial separation, while masquerading as providing separate but equal treatment of both white and black Americans, instead perpetuated inferior accommodations, services, and treatment for black Americans. The United States and the Soviet Union were at the height of the Cold War at this time, and U.S. officials, including Supreme Court Justices, were highly aware of the negative effect that segregation and racism had on America's international image. When Justice
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Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site - Topeka KS
William O. Douglas traveled to India in 1950, the first question he was asked was, "Why does America tolerate the lynching of Negroes?" Douglas later wrote that he had learned from his travels that "the attitude of the United States toward its colored minorities is a powerful factor in our relations with India." Chief Justice Earl Warren echoed Douglas concerns in a 1954 speech to the American Bar Association, proclaiming that, "Our American system like all others is on trial both at home and abroad," he said. "The extent to which we maintain the spirit of our constitution with its Bill of Rights, will in the long run do more to make it both secure and the object of adulation than the number of hydrogen bombs we stockpile."

The Topeka Board of Education operated separate elementary schools under an 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in 12 communities with populations over 15,000; however, Topeka’s junior high schools had been integrated since 1941, and Topeka High School was integrated from its inception in 1871. The Kansas law permitting segregated schools allowed them only "below the
The Visitor Can Learn The Details Of Each Of The Five LawsuitsThe Visitor Can Learn The Details Of Each Of The Five LawsuitsThe Visitor Can Learn The Details Of Each Of The Five Lawsuits

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site - Topeka KS
high school level."

The plaintiffs in Brown were thirteen Topeka parents on behalf of their 20 children who had been recruited by the leadership of the Topeka NAACP. The case "Oliver Brown et. al. v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas" was named after Oliver Brown as a legal strategy to have a man at the head of the roster. The lawyers, and the National Chapter of the NAACP, also felt that having Mr. Brown at the head of the roster would be better received by the U.S. Supreme Court Justices. The third-grade daughter of Oliver Brown had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to her segregated black school one mile away, while a white school was only seven blocks from her house. The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation.

The case of Brown v. Board of Education actually was heard before the Supreme Court as a combination of five cases: Brown itself, Briggs v. Elliott (filed in South Carolina), Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (filed in Virginia), Gebhart v. Belton (filed in Delaware), and Bolling v. Sharpe (filed in Washington
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Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site - Topeka KS
D.C.). All were NAACP-sponsored cases. The Davis case was the only case of the five originating from a student protest. The Gebhart case was the only one where a trial court, affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court, found that discrimination was unlawful. In the other three cases, the plaintiffs had lost as the original courts had found discrimination to be lawful. I was not surprised, given that Plessy was the judicial barometer of the day.

In December 1952, the Justice Department filed a friend of the court brief in the case. The brief was unusual in its heavy emphasis on foreign-policy considerations of the Truman administration in a case ostensibly about domestic issues. Of the seven pages covering "the interest of the United States," five focused on the way school segregation hurt the United States in the Cold War competition for the friendship and allegiance of non-white peoples in countries then gaining independence from colonial rule. The brief noted that discrimination in the United States against minority groups has had a negative effect on our relations with other countries and that racial discrimination provides fodder for the Communist propaganda campaign. The NAACP's chief counsel, Thurgood Marshall (who was appointed
The Impact Of The Brown Ruling Is Nicely ExplainedThe Impact Of The Brown Ruling Is Nicely ExplainedThe Impact Of The Brown Ruling Is Nicely Explained

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site - Topeka KS
to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967) argued the case for the plaintiffs before the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson had been a key stumbling block in overturning Plessy v. Ferguson, but after Vinson died in September 1953 and President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren as Chief Justice, a rare reversal of a previous Supreme Court decision became plausible. The debate both publicly and within the Court’s chambers was animated, but, as is the case with politics as usual, Warren held his tongue until the Senate confirmed his appointment. It was reported that President Eisenhower told the newly confirmed Supreme Court Chief Justice during a White House dinner, "These (southern whites) are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes."

While all but one justice personally rejected segregation, the judicial restraint faction questioned whether the Constitution gave the Court the power to order its end. Warren convened a meeting of the justices, and presented to them the simple argument that the only reason to sustain segregation was an honest belief in the inferiority of Negroes. Warren further submitted that the Court must overturn Plessy to maintain its legitimacy as an institution of liberty, and it must do so unanimously to avoid massive Southern resistance. Although most justices were immediately convinced, Warren spent some time after this famous speech convincing everyone to sign onto the opinion. Two justices finally decided to drop their dissent. Warren drafted the basic opinion and kept circulating and revising it until he had an opinion endorsed by all the members of the Court. The final decision was unanimous.

The key holding of the Court was that, even if segregated black and white schools were of equal quality in facilities and teachers, segregation by itself was harmful to black students and, therefore, unconstitutional. It found that a significant psychological and social disadvantage was given to black children from the nature of segregation itself, drawing on social research. This aspect was vital because the question was not whether the schools were "equal", which under Plessy they nominally should have been, but whether the doctrine of separate was constitutional. The justices answered with a strong, “No:"

"Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored
A Classroom As Found In Monroe Elementary In The DayA Classroom As Found In Monroe Elementary In The DayA Classroom As Found In Monroe Elementary In The Day

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site - Topeka KS
children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the negro group. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law, therefore, has a tendency to (retard) the educational and mental development of negro children and to deprive them of some of the benefits they would receive in a racial(ly) integrated school system." ... “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Monroe Elementary was designated a U.S. National Historic Site unit of the National Park Service on October 26, 1992. I found the attraction intriguing. Few legal decisions can impart their meaning by the mere mention of the case name, but Plessy and Brown are two of those monumental decisions. Another would be Miranda v. Arizona where the U.S. Supreme Court held that an incriminating statement by a suspect not informed of his or her rights violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and developed the “Miranda Law.” It is extremely rare for a court to overturn another court at any level, and Brown was a true legal watershed. I thoroughly enjoyed a closer examination of this highly charged topic. Many of my readers would not. You decide, but the facility is well done.

My next Topeka stop on a schooless Saturday was at the Kansas Museum of History. My first encounter was at a temporary exhibit titled "The Great Soldier State: Kansas and the Civil War." I, as do many, think of the Civil War as an action that took place east of the Mississippi River, but there was a war west of Old Man River as well. Kansas provided more soldiers per capita than any other state in the Union, and the exhibit focuses on battles involving units from Kansas.

The visitor is then greeted by a “Welcome to Kansas” committee – most of whom were not born in Kansas but had strong ties to Kansas. The museum continues with an interesting perspective on Native Americans who emigrated from eastern areas after treaties evicted them from their homelands onto a new homeland (as guaranteed in the treaties) “forever.” By the 1830s, the government had forced all Native Americans to areas west of the Mississippi River. The exhibit examines how churches helped “make the red world white.” It resumes twenty years later with the beginning of the forced removal of the Natives from their newly adopted “forever” homelands. The exhibits then explore the composition of the major players when the Kansas-Nebraska Act, creating the Kansas-Nebraska Territory, was passed in 1854 – the Native Americans, the Free State proponents, the Pro-Slavery faction, the African Americans, the Abolitionists and the Abortionists. Who is paying attention?

The violence that led to the nickname Bloody Kansas, including an attack on anti-slavery Lawrence KS by proslavery forces (subsequently named the 1856 Sack of Lawrence) as well as the exploits of John Brown, the well-known abolitionist. We learn that Kansans voted on four separate constitutions (on one they voted three times); that the capital was moved to no less than five different towns; that at one time there were two separate legislatures, one free-state and one proslavery; and that it took five years to ratify a constitution, and then two more for the U.S. Congress to approve it. Actually, the “free-state” constitution was only adopted by the U.S. Congress after southern states began seceding from the Union and the balance of power in Washington DC shifted to the free-state proponents. The politics of Kansas are storied and run deep. The Latin motto for the Kansas Territory translates as, "Born by the voice of the people,” i.e., popular sovereignty or let the people decide.

So far, this museum has performed well telling me the history of Kansas, but, unfortunately, it goes downhill from here. One showcase tells the visitor everything (I guess) he or she needs to know about The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, Alfred M. Landon, Politics, Reaction to War, William Allen White and Dr. John R. Brinkley. Huge exhibit pieces occupy vast expanses of valuable floor space and tell me nothing about KANSAS. There are two full-size railroad passenger cars – the only KANSAS link being that they were used on the A.T.S.F. (Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe) line. One large "storefront" depicts a hybrid fast food restaurant and pays homage to the likes of McDonalds, A&W, Wendy's, Hardee's, Sonic and Kentucky Fried Chicken none of which got its start in KANSAS. Make no mistake, there are some interesting artifacts in this section of the museum – I just wish I knew what they are or how they were used. The portion of this museum that is well done is very well done. The other portions are, well, – they are what they are. This is the Kansas Museum of History, and, as such, I cannot “disrecommend” it; however, I can only give it a lukewarm recommendation.

On my return to Manhattan, I made a stop at the Oz Museum in Wamego KS. While L. Frank Baum never disclosed where Dorothy lived in Kansas, at least two other communities in the state tout Oz museums. I knew going in that museums of this type are truly a coin flip – some are very nicely done and worth the time and the money; however, others are money pits. All of the Oz characters – Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, The Cowardly Lion, The Wicked Witch of the West, Glinda the Good Witch and the Munchkins - are nicely presented. Numerous pieces of Oz memorabilia are nicely displayed in showcases. I cannot state this is completely accurate because it was late in the day and I didn’t investigate, but it appeared the 1939 MGM film was being shown in its entirety ??? and was at no additional charge ???. I can’t suggest everybody should drive miles out of the way to visit the attraction, but it is worthy of the admission fee and the time if one is in the neighborhood.

I selected another blue sky day to head west on I-70 to visit three attractions in Abilene KS. The first was the Greyhound Hall of Fame. I know nothing about greyhound racing and have never been to a greyhound track, but the two retired racing dogs strolling around the lobby convinced me I should go the track when I return to Apache Junction AZ for my winter vacation – after all, I do work hard at my occupation of Professional Tourist about seven months a year and deserve a five-month vacation and time to plan for the next chapter of The Great Adventure. In a typical week, I would have omitted the greyhound attraction, but what the heck – it opens early, is free and is only a few blocks down the street from the
General IkeGeneral IkeGeneral Ike

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home - Abilene KS
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. My regular readers know I’m a fan of things presidential, and Eisenhower was the first president I can remember.

Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was born October 14, 1890 in Denison TX during a brief period when his parents and two older brothers left Kansas for employment opportunities for Ike’s father in Texas. Ike, the only one of David and Ida Eisenhower’s seven children born in Texas, and his family returned to Kansas when he was 18 months old. Eisenhower learned of a competitive examination for applicants to the service academies. He learned that he was too old to enter the Naval Academy, his first choice, but he took the exam anyway and scored second among the eight candidates. When the highest ranking candidate failed the physical, Eisenhower secured an appointment to West Point. Eisenhower entered West Point in June 1911 and graduated in June 1915. After graduating from West Point and while stationed in Texas, he met and fell in love with Mamie Geneva Doud of Boone IA. Those who follow my blog might remember that I visited the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Birthplace in Boone in August 2015: Hot Air Balloons, Race Cars and the State Capitol - Des Moines IA and the Eisenhower National Historic Site (where the Eisenhowers spent their post-Presidential years) in Gettysburg
The Eisenhower Home – Not Fancy, Just Plain AmericanThe Eisenhower Home – Not Fancy, Just Plain AmericanThe Eisenhower Home – Not Fancy, Just Plain American

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home - Abilene KS
PA in May of 2012: Gettysburg PA - The Battlefield and Eisenhower's Home.

While serving in Panama from 1922-24, he met General Fox Conner who took him under his wing and encouraged him to read widely in history, military science, and philosophy and was instrumental in Eisenhower's acceptance by the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth KS where Eisenhower graduated first in the 1926 class of 245 officers. During World War II, Ike served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. After World War II, he served as Army Chief of Staff under President Harry S. Truman; and, in 1951, became the first Supreme Commander of NATO. He retired from the Army to accept the post of President of Columbia University.

Ike was a very popular American, but a political enigma and was courted by both political parties near the end of Truman’s term of office. Indeed, a foreign politician had suggested to Eisenhower in June 1943 that he might become President of the United States after the war. Eisenhower said that he could not imagine wanting to be considered for any political job "from dogcatcher to Grand High Supreme King of the Universe." In 1945, Truman told Eisenhower that, if
Nicely Appointed For The Time And The Economic Status Of The FamilyNicely Appointed For The Time And The Economic Status Of The FamilyNicely Appointed For The Time And The Economic Status Of The Family

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home - Abilene KS
desired, the president would help the general win the 1948 election; and, in 1947, he offered to run as Eisenhower's running mate on the Democratic ticket if MacArthur won the Republican nomination.

Eisenhower entered the 1952 presidential race as a Republican and won in a landslide, defeating Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson. Eisenhower's main goals in office were to keep pressure on the Soviet Union and to reduce the federal deficit. In the first year of his presidency, he threatened to use nuclear weapons to end the Korean War. His policy of nuclear deterrence featured inexpensive nuclear weapons in lieu of increasing funding for conventional military forces. In 1954, Eisenhower rejected the use of military force to help the French retain their colony of Vietnam. Hmmm! Congress agreed to his request in 1955 for the Formosa Resolution, which obliged the U.S. to support the pro-Western Republic of China in Taiwan and to continue the ostracism of the People's Republic of China on the mainland.

After the Soviet Union launched the world's first artificial satellite in 1957, Eisenhower authorized the establishment of NASA, which led to the space race. During the Suez Crisis of 1956, Eisenhower condemned the Israeli, British
Made By Ike – AHS (Abilene High School)Made By Ike – AHS (Abilene High School)Made By Ike – AHS (Abilene High School)

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home - Abilene KS
and French invasion of Egypt and forced them to withdraw. He also condemned the Soviet invasion during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 but took no action. In 1958, Eisenhower sent 15,000 U.S. troops to Lebanon to prevent the pro-Western government from falling to a Nasser-inspired revolution. Near the end of his term, his efforts to set up a summit meeting with the Soviets collapsed because of the U-2 incident – an incident that occurred when a U.S. U-2 spy plane was shot down while encroaching in Soviet airspace. In his January 17, 1961 farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower expressed his concerns about the dangers of corporate control of Congress, massive military spending (particularly deficit spending) and government contracts to private military manufacturers. He coined the term "military-industrial complex."

On the domestic front, he was a moderate conservative who continued New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security. He covertly opposed Joseph McCarthy and contributed to the end of McCarthyism by openly invoking the modern, expanded version of executive privilege. He otherwise left most political activity to his Vice President, Richard Nixon. He also launched the Interstate Highway System, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the establishment of strong science educational program via the National Defense Education Act and encouraged peaceful use of nuclear power via amendments to the Atomic Energy Act.

As a part of his domestic policy, he sent federal troops to Little Rock AR, for the first time since Reconstruction, to enforce federal court orders to desegregate public schools; signed civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960 to protect the right to vote and desegregated the armed forces in only two years. Eisenhower's two terms saw considerable economic prosperity except for a sharp recession in 1958–59. Voted Gallup's most admired man twelve times, he achieved widespread popularity both in and out of office. Since the late 20th century, consensus among Western scholars has consistently held Eisenhower as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents. Dwight David Eisenhower was born the year the U.S. census pronounced the frontier closed and died on March 28, 1969 – the year man first walked on the moon.

Everything at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home is free except the Boyhood Home and the Presidential Museum, and I was assigned a tour time for the Boyhood Home when I first arrived and purchased my tickets. David and
Some Of the Gifts Eisenhower Received As Head Of StateSome Of the Gifts Eisenhower Received As Head Of StateSome Of the Gifts Eisenhower Received As Head Of State

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home - Abilene KS
Ida Eisenhower purchased the home from David's brother, Abraham Lincoln Eisenhower, and the family moved into the six-room home in late 1898. The Boyhood Home was occupied by the Eisenhower family from 1898 until Ida Eisenhower died in 1946, and the home is furnished as it was at the time of her death although some items have been moved to accommodate visitors touring the home. Her sons gave the house, on its original site, to the Eisenhower Foundation which maintained it until it was given to the Federal Government in 1966, and it has been opened to the public since early 1947, originally as a World War II Veterans Memorial and now as the Boyhood Home of the 34th President of the United States.

One is greeted in the Presidential Museum by a series of murals depicting significant events from Eisenhower’s life, and the visitor is then treated to a temporary exhibit, “World War II Remembered: Leaders, Battles & Heroes, 1941-1945” which has a lifespan of June 1, 2013 - December 31, 2016. One display utilizes a timeline to place relevant events in perspective, beginning with the September 1, 1939 invasion of Poland by Germany. Large placards examine sundry
The Presidential Library Was Hosting A Nice Exhibit About The Allied Forces Of World War IIThe Presidential Library Was Hosting A Nice Exhibit About The Allied Forces Of World War IIThe Presidential Library Was Hosting A Nice Exhibit About The Allied Forces Of World War II

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home - Abilene KS
war topics including the various campaigns and battles waged in the war, Rosie the Riveter, the Tuskegee Airmen, the wartime life of a Kansas enlisted woman, Japanese interment camps, the holocaust, Hitler’s final gamble and the final battlefields of the Pacific. Rightfully, the focus of the wartime information is on the European theater where Eisenhower served.

The exhibits continue with information about Eisenhower’s youth, his early military career, his marriage to Mamie, “The Triumphant Hero Returns” and “The Reluctant Candidate?” A close examination of his presidency includes civil rights and desegregation (including the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown), the communist threat (including the balance between national defense and personal freedom and the McCarthy hearings), the creation of both the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the interstate highway system and the expansion of the national park system. Placards provide a brief synopsis of events that highlighted Ike’s tenure as president in the fields of the economy, health, education, housing, space age, technology, environment, movies and sports. The museum concludes, as do most presidential museums, with samples of some of the gifts Eisenhower received as head of state as well as an assessment of his legacy by himself and by outsiders. At
The Place of Meditation Appropriately Describes The FacilityThe Place of Meditation Appropriately Describes The FacilityThe Place of Meditation Appropriately Describes The Facility

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home - Abilene KS
the end of his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was thought of as mediocre at best; but, by the year 2000, our 34th president was ranked in the top ten.

Most presidential libraries are about books, documents and other hard research items; however, the Eisenhower Presidential Library held a pleasant surprise. On the second floor, an exhibit was underway highlighting, “The Allies of World War II” with a lifespan of February 2014 - December 2016. The exhibit consists of placards highlighting the history of the country and how each was conquered by the Nazis – Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Norway and Philippines among a few others. Only a handful of artifacts are on display, but the placards hold a wealth of information.

My final stop was the Place of Meditation – the final resting place of Dwight David Eisenhower, Mamie Geneva Doud Eisenhower and their first-born son, Doud Dwight Eisenhower, who died at age three. Other features of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home campus include the Visitors Center, the Eisenhower Statue and the Pylons. I would suggest allowing at least 2-3 hours; however,
This Carousel Is Much Greater In Diameter Than Others I Have SeenThis Carousel Is Much Greater In Diameter Than Others I Have SeenThis Carousel Is Much Greater In Diameter Than Others I Have Seen

Parker Carousel (1901 Carousel) - Abilene KS
one could easily spend the entire day at this requisite attraction during a visit to northcentral Kansas.

My final stop in Abilene was at the 1901 C.W. Parker Carousel, just a few yards from the Eisenhower complex. The carousel, complete with hand-carved horses, was manufactured in Abilene and originated as a traveling carnival ride. It was owned by a man in Riverton WY until his declining health forced him to close his business. The Dickinson County Historical Society was offered the opportunity to purchase the carousel and bring it back home to Abilene. After ten years and many volunteer hours, the carousel became fully restored and was named a National Historic Landmark. It is one of only twelve National Historic Carousels in the United States.

On the way back to Manhattan, I made a stop at the Kansas State Vietnam War Memorial in Heritage Park in Junction City KS. I have mixed emotions about this memorial. I first saw the black marble slabs with the names of the lost etched in its face in alphabetical order. OK. Upon closer examination, I found the word “Army” in the top left corner. In conventional English, that would be at the
The Setting And The Memorial Are Very NiceThe Setting And The Memorial Are Very NiceThe Setting And The Memorial Are Very Nice

Kansas State Vietnam War Memorial - Junction City KS
top of the list. OK, Army comes first alphabetically, in service flag displays and Fort Riley KS lies just outside Junction City. I looked down the list panel by panel and found no notation of the Marine Corps, Navy or Air Force. WHAT! I was getting pissed. When I walked around to the back of the memorial, there they were. I will manipulate my mind to rationalize that this was an oversight when the granite panels were purchased and that there was insufficient space for all the names on the front of the memorial because I cannot fathom that ANYBODY would disrespect the other branches of the service in such a brash and insensitive manner. One quote on the memorial got my attention, “History will remember the war. Will America remember her men?” She will if I have anything to say about it. Never again should any veteran be disrespected as we were when we returned. I sincerely believe America has, indeed, learned her lesson.

For as lackadaisical as was my week in Lincoln NE, my week in Manhattan was just the opposite. Weather was largely responsible, and my mindset played an important role as well. I PLANNED to be centrally located amid three different locales in Kansas and to drive some manageable distances, whereas I was dumped into a remote campground by a football game during my Lincoln visit – but Uncle Larry learned a valuable lesson! Only one attraction, the Topeka Computing Museum, was a total waste of time, and 12 of the other 14 attractions I visited (save the Greyhound Hall of Fame and the Kansas State University Insect Zoo) told me of some aspect of Kansas history. Some, like the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site and the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home, hold national relevance. There is a lot to see in this part of Kansas. The people were great, and all of the cities were quite tourist friendly. In fact, I’m not sure why Dorothy left!


Additional photos below
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The Chana School (1883-1953) Served An Area Near Where I Was RaisedThe Chana School (1883-1953) Served An Area Near Where I Was Raised
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Kansas State Capitol - Topeka KS
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Territorial Capital Museum - Lecompton KS
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Territorial Capital Museum - Lecompton KS


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