Historical programs to grace Baldwin City once again
History will come alive in Baldwin City in June with two events, including one where recording the community's stories for posterity is an aim.
The 151st Anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack is June 2 and the Kansas Humanities Council's Chautauqua is June 18-24. Local historian Brenda Day is involved in both efforts and hopes the community will respond.
"We're having a celebration on June 2 for the 151st Battle of Black Jack," said Day, who is director of Baker University's Old Castle Museum and archives. "Basically, it'll be the same as last year with Wheat State Brewery there with John Brown Ale and a campfire supper. There will be tours and music. Entertainment, food and drink."
The event celebrates the storied battle between abolitionist John Brown and proslavery forces that occurred June 2, 1856 just east of Baldwin City. Many historians consider it the first armed conflict of what was to become the Civil War.
The festivities get underway at 4 p.m. June 2 two miles east and a half mile south of Baldwin City. Tours of the battlefield, Black Jack cabin and prairie tours will run every hour until 7 p.m. The campfire supper will be at 6 p.m. There's a program at 7 p.m. and will adjourn at 7:45 p.m.
"We don't have any special speakers," said Day. "There will be speakers, but nothing special. We will be debuting our new nature trail. Bring lawn chairs and sturdy shoes. Everybody is welcome."
Cost for the supper is $12.50 in advance, $15 at the gate and $5 for children 12 and under. Tickets are available at MidAmerica Bank and Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce here and at the Lawrence Visitor's Center.
About three weeks later, Chautauqua will take center stage on the Baker campus with a myriad of events. A Youth camp will run June 18-22, with the main event going June 20-24.
Described as a "step back in time," Chautauqua brings live performances to the state with actors portraying famous Kansans. For the Baldwin City Chautauqua, those will be Carry Nation, Langston Hughes, William Allen White and Dr. J.R. Brinkley.
The schedule each day from June 21 through June 24 has Kid-Tauqua and story tent from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; dinner/food service available from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and local music followed by that night's performance at 7 p.m. For more information, visit the www.kansashumanities.org or call (785) 357-0359.
As part of the week-long event will be the StoryCorps program, which Day is spearheading and hopes to attract Baldwin City community members of all ages to take part in. StoryCorps is a national oral history project to instruct and inspire people to record each other's stories in sound.
"My interest is in the StoryCorps, the oral history part of it," said Day. "Basically, I want to get the word out that they need to call me at (785) 594-8380 to set up the oral interview. I want people to understand that their stories won't just be kept in Baldwin City, but nationally."
StoryCorps interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and excerpts are broadcast on National Public Radio's Morning Edition each Friday.
The stories will also be archived at the Baldwin City Public Library for research purposes, she said. Day is looking for all kinds of stories from young and old alike.
"Yes, I want the old timers, but I want a full-bodied story. I want to capture the whole range, not just old, but young," she said.
That history doesn't have to be about Baldwin City, either.
"Not necessarily, about their life," Day said. "Things they've experienced from World War II, the Vietnam and Iraq wars, anything."
The StoryCorps recordings will be done June 22 and June 23 at Mabee Hall at Baker.