Lawrence community memorializes victims of Quantrill’s Raid as 160th anniversary approaches

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Lawrence community members gathered at the Watkins Museum of History Saturday morning for the annual reading of the names of known victims who died in Quantrill’s Raid.

Monday, Aug. 21 will mark 160 years since the proslavery forces attacked the town, largely considered an antislavery stronghold, killing between roughly 160 and 200 people and destroying much of the property. The town quickly rose from the ashes as the people rebuilt.

Anthony Boynton, writer and member of B.L.A.C.K. Lawrence, gave an original reading during the event. He said it was a poem written from the perspective of someone who knows history has been whitewashed.

He said there are two kinds of stories we can tell about our history. One is full of heroes, ramparts and red glares, and “it might warm your heart because it’s the stories that we’ve always told about war. About wars fought over people, won over people and property, on misnamed land with unnamed names.”

The other story is told by the brave, they said, and it’s messy and filled with horrors.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Anthony Boynton gives a reading during the memorial reading of the names of known victims of Quantrill’s Raid, Aug. 19, 2023 at the Watkins Museum.

It may induce shame and guilt, but we will be better for it because the story is about freedom struggles born from long summers in the deep south, from ground tilled by his ancestors and sharecroppers, Boynton said.

“The story is hard to share, the story may be hard to bear, but it is honest,” they read. “And like a good meal, sharing your story and naming names and bearing gifts, knowing those stories, we will be better for it.”

The Watkins’ Civil War on the Border event series continues through Sunday. Read more about the events in this article.

A video of the reading and a talk by historian Fred Whitehead are available at this link on the Watkins Museum’s YouTube channel,

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Steve Nowak, executive director of the Watkins Museum of History, opens the event, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023.
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Will Haynes, director of engagement and learning for the Watkins Museum of History, asks speakers to come read the names of the known victims of the raid.
Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Historian Fred Whitehead gives a talk on “The Union Cause in Missouri,” Aug. 19, 2023 at the Watkins Museum of History.
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Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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