Black Jack Battlefield Trust gets $20,000 from state
By Mike Belt
Black Jack Battlefield near Baldwin City is getting a boost from the Kansas Department of Commerce in its effort to become a key tourist attraction.
The department has awarded a grant of about $20,000 to Black Jack Trust, which owns the battlefield, to be used in preparing a plan specifying how the site will be developed for tourists.
The money is from the Attraction Development Grant Program, which is used to help potential tourism destinations become reality and maximize their potential.
"It will help us sort out and determine how we are going to interpret the park," said Ramon Powers, president of the trust. "We are very excited about this grant."
Among the decisions that need to be made: whether to have a visitor's center, how to interpret the battlefield for visitors and whether to develop the farm area next to the battlefield, Powers said.
The trust will consult with local communities in preparing that plan by holding public meetings, Powers said.
In addition, the funds will be used in the application process for obtaining national landmark status to go with its placement on the National Register of Historic Places.
"When you go to seek a grant, a landmark site is viewed as more important in terms of the history of the country," Powers said.
Battle of Black Jack
The battle of Black Jack took place June 2, 1856, between John Brown-led abolitionists and a pro-slavery force. Many think it was the first armed skirmish leading to the Civil War.
To get the grant, the trust had to raise 60 percent in matching funds, or $30,985. The money was obtained from the Douglas County Commission, Baldwin City Council, Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce, banks and other private entities and individuals in the Baldwin City and Lawrence area, said Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention and Visitor's Bureau.
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