June 12, 2021
Lawrence, US 83 F
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Events to mark 165th anniversary of Battle of Black Jack, 200th year of Santa Fe Trail

The beginning of June will mark the 165th anniversary of the Battle of Black Jack, a key conflict that preceded the Civil War and took place in a small town on the Santa Fe Trail just outside of what is now Baldwin City.

The Santa Fe Trail, an 870-mile trek spanning much of the central United States, also is celebrating a momentous occasion: 200 years since its construction.

Baldwin City and neighboring Wellsville will commemorate the two anniversaries with a series of events on June 2 and 5. Here’s the schedule:

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Wednesday, June 2:

5 a.m.: A guided tour of the Black Jack Battlefield, 163 E 2000 Road, Wellsville, beginning at the exact time the battle took place in 1856. Attendees should arrive no later than 4:45 a.m. and should consider bringing a flashlight and wearing appropriate clothing and footwear for hiking.

Saturday, June 5:

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Shuttle buses will be available to take folks from Baldwin City High School to the city’s Trail Park, where events and exhibits will be ongoing during the day, including:

  • Speakers from the National Park Service, the Santa Fe Trail Association, and Kansas Department of Transportation, Douglas County, and Baldwin City
  • A new walking trail showcasing some of the best Santa Fe Trail ruts along the entire trail length
  • A covered wagon replica
  • Black Jack Cabin pioneer artifacts
  • An Ezekiel Williams reenactment (Williams is colloquially known as one of the “Godfathers of the Santa Fe Trail”)
  • Battlefield walk

3 p.m.: A second guided tour of the Battle Jack battlefield, conducted by local historians Kerry Altenbernd — who frequently portrays abolitionist John Brown — and Johnathan Hart, who will portray Henry Clay Pate, the pro-slavery militia leader who Brown’s forces battled that day.

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