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John Brown Memorial Park
Osawatomie, KS

Statues and monuments stand in honor of John Brown and the men who fought with him on the site of the Battle of Osawotamie in Eastern Kansas.

Before we decided to see the Buffalo Soldier Memorial, or even the Brown vs Board of Education site in Topeka, I knew I had to see Osawotamie. John Brown has been one of my heroes since high school when I learned more about him than the derogatory blurb in most history books.

Osawotamie is not all that difficult to find, though it's about 1 1/2 hours off of I-70. You know you're in a hero-worshipping area when every other road name is for John Brown or one of his associates.

Once in Osawatomie, if coming in from the West (on John Brown Road), the Park is hard to find. One little brown sign announces it is within half a mile, but nothing directs the visitor to turn through a very quiet residential area on Main Street to find the Park and the rest of the town. Perhaps this map will help. If you do have a problem, any resident of the town can point you in the right direction.

[ Yahoo! Maps ]
Map of 10th St At Main St
Osawatomie, KS 66064

The arch over the entrance announces to the world that this park is in Brown's honor. Beside it stands a placard stating that President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated it in 1910. W.E.B DuBois stated that Brown was universally a hero to black people and universally a villain to whites. This placard shows that DuBois painted with a bit too broad a brush in making that statement. A former president honored him as a hero as well.
. . .

The park covers the hillside on which the battle of Osawotamie was fought. This battle was one of several between abolitionist and pro-slavery forces that gave Kansas the name "Bloody Kansas". Brown's men, surprised by the "Bushwhackers", lost the battle and their homes here. It was as he watched Osawotomie burn that John Brown is believed to have vowed to strike back at the heart of slave country, which he eventually did at Harper's Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia).

Within the park, stands a life-size statue of Brown, all the sternness one would expect etched in his face, and a rifle over his shoulder.

At the top of the hill a stone building houses the Adair cabin in which Brown stayed when he was in Osawotamie. It is considered the main attraction of the park as it houses several displays on Brown. Be warned, however, that it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Unfortunately, we went on Tuesday, so I can't comment any further on what's inside.

The down-town history museum will teach you more on the history of the town and the Browns' struggle there. Two older ladies at the museum graciously showed us some Brown memorabilia and answered some questions. They were not able to point us to the site of the Pottawotamie "Massacre" which is only a few miles away. I realized later that one of the brochures they gave us did include a map of the location. Assuming you don't visit on Monday, when the museum is closed, it is well worth the time to stop.

Between the park and the museum stands a simple obelisk, the Soldiers' Monument. At this place five of Brown's men including his son Frederick died. The words on one side of it best remind us why John Brown is a hero , not only to the African-American, but to all who would live free, from New York to New Delhi.
    "This inscription is also in commemoration of the heroism of Capt. John Brown who commanded at the battle of Osawatomie August 30, 1856, who died and conquered American slavery on the scaffold at Charlestown, VA December 2, 1860."


John Brown by W.E.B. DuBois

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