Civil War on the Border event series to offer tours, lectures, gospel music

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Douglas County’s largest heritage festival will return this weekend, offering Civil War-era tours and lectures and sharing stories of resilience.

Watkins Museum of History’s 28th annual Civil War on the Border series will feature programs, lectures and tours around Lawrence, this year with the theme of food insecurity — past and present, according to the museum’s website. One event in the series is an online discussion with historian and author R. Douglas Hurt about food and agriculture during the Civil War.

Throughout the weekend, attendees can enter a raffle to win a historical print framed in original hardwood flooring from the 1888 Watkins Building. A portion of the raffle proceeds and each tour ticket sale will be donated to Just Food

Various walking and bus tours will educate about Civil War topics, such as Quantrill’s Raid, women who were a part of early Lawrence, Bleeding Kansas and more.

In addition to tours through local Civil War-era sites, the series will memorialize victims of Quantrill’s Raid by way of a reading by Anthony Boynton, writer and member of B.L.A.C.K. Lawrence, a memorial service, and a talk with historian Fred Whitehead, “The Union Cause in Kentucky.” 

A free screening of the new documentary “I’m So Glad: Kansas City and the Roots of Gospel Music” will close out the festival on Sunday afternoon at the Watkins Museum. The event is a partnership between the I’m So Glad Project — a film and series of events highlighting Black gospel music in Kansas City — and the Lawrence Branch NAACP.

“From its pre-Civil War roots to today, Kansas City’s unique style of gospel music has influenced every other genre of American music,” the event page says. “And it has sustained the people with its positive message: ‘I’m So Glad, Trouble Don’t Last Always.’”

LaToya Fleming-Garrett and Ashlé Fleming, members of one of Lawrence’s historically Black churches, St. Luke AME Church, will sing a duet before the film screening begins.

The Civil War on the Border series is scheduled for Friday through Sunday, Aug. 18 through 20, and events last throughout each day. Visit the Watkins Museum website to see the event lineup and buy tickets. Tickets can also be purchased by calling the museum at 785-841-4109.

Tickets cost between $15 and $35 for ticketed events; some events are free. Most of the events will be held in person, but some are solely virtual or provide a virtual option.

For more information about the Watkins Museum, visit its website,

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