Slaves wanted

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

HUMBOLDT — Eileen Robertson is looking for volunteers to help Humboldt celebrate its Civil War Days.
Civil War Days, a triennial event, will be June 12-14.
Robertson, local historian, has grand plans for the 2009 celebration.
“Ever since 2006, I have realized that we must do something different,” she said. “Instead of talking about slavery, we need to re-enact it live, as it was and is: cruel, sad and shocking injustice. Otherwise, it’s just talk.”
This is where Robertson is asking for help. Anyone willing to help portray fugitive slaves, may call Debbie Lake at 473-3130 or Ellery Robertson at 473-2325.
Volunteers will be part of the Parade of Participants June 13.
The events begin June 12 with a ceremony at Mount Hope Cemetery.
June 13’s events will be at Camp Hunter Park, with re-enactments and other portrayals of life in Humboldt during the Civil War. Events will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
That evening the film “Bloody Dawn,” telling of William Quantrill’s 1863 burning of Lawrence, will be shown in the Humboldt High School Auditorium followed by a Union Gala Dance in the HHS cafeteria.
On June 14, site tours will be offered at 1 and 3 p.m. of Humboldt Historical Museum and Patrick Haire Cabinetmaker Working Museum will also be toured.
“No matter how much we hear or read about raids and burnings during the Kansas and Missouri Border War, it’s hard to imagine their frightening impact before and throughout the Civil War, when people lived with the fear and anger those gruesome happenings generated,” Robertson said.
“Seeing them re-enacted in films sometimes helps us better understand what many of our ancestors endured, but live re-enactments even more vividly disclose what happened,” she said.
Robertson explained how some slaves escaped from Missouri to Kansas, and other fugitive slaves were brought to Kansas by Union Troops who invaded Missouri.
“Humboldt was known as a town that welcomed, hid and protected fugitive slaves,” Robertson said.
“After Humboldt was raided by John Mathews and his gang of Missouri Bushwhackers and pro-Confederate Osage and Cherokee on Sept. 8, 1861,” she said, “it was reported in three different newspapers that fugitive slaves were found in Humboldt by the raiders and returned to their masters in Missouri.”