Black Jack Battlefield nears fundraising goal to construct a visitor center at the historic site

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Black Jack Battlefield is closing in on a big goal of raising $2.1 million to construct a visitor center, according to a news release from the nonprofit.

The project also includes restoring the battlefield to tallgrass prairie, “the way it was when the combatants took aim at each other,” according to the release.

On June 2, 1856, abolitionist John Brown led forces into battle against proslavery militia men in the Douglas County prairie, according to the release. The proslavery militia surrendered to Brown after an intense three-hour battle, according to Black Jack’s website.

“The Battle of Black Jack is now widely characterized as the first real battle of the Civil War, so historically significant that the site has been designated a National Historical Landmark,” according to the release.

The site — which is about 3 miles east of Baldwin City — has seen an increase in visitors in recent years, “but there is not a visitor center to accommodate the influx of guests who are interested in learning about Black Jack’s rich history,” according to the release.

“A visitor center will serve as a space for the community and school children to learn about Black Jack through exhibits. It will also allow visitors to take shelter during inclement weather.”

The visitor center “will be built within the footprint of the former barn near the Pearson house,” according to a Facebook post from Black Jack. “It will be historically accurate on the exterior and completely modern on the interior.”

The nonprofit has secured grants and private donations to get 93% of the way to its $2.1 million goal, according to the release. Now the Black Jack Battlefield trustees and staff members are hoping the community can help them reach the finish line.

Those interested in donating may do so via the Douglas County Community Foundation. Find more information about the campaign, “Black Jack: The Story Continues,” at this link.

Learn more about Black Jack on its website at

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