Category: News (page 1 of 61)

Grover Barn and the Underground Railroad

John Brown as portrayed by Kerry Altenbernd told the story.

When Jim Daniels, a slave in Missouri, found that his owner had died, he feared that he and his family would be sold and separated.  Daniels contacted John Brown for help.  Brown brought Daniels and his family out of Missouri to the Grover farm near Lawrence.  The “cargo” of 12 people stayed several nights in the Grover’s new stone barn, then began a journey on the Underground Railway that would take them north and east through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan, en route to freedom in Canada.  The Grovers defied federal law by harboring the fugitives, risking fines and imprisonment.

Judy Sweets, local historian and archivist, has dedicated her energy to researching the Underground Railroad in Douglas County.  She explained that there are originally thirty sites on the Railroad in the area.  Two remain in Lawrence:  the Grover Barn at Stone Barn Terrace and Lawrence Avenue and the Miller Farm at Haskell and 19th Street.

The stone barn was built in 1858 by Joel Grover and his wife Emily on their 180-acre farm located about a mile-and-a-half south and west of the center of Lawrence at the time.  When the Grover family finally left the farm in 1953, the barn was used as a sculpture studio for many years.  In 1981, the Grover Barn was refurbished by the City of Lawrence to serve as Fire Station #4.

Recently, the Guardians of Grover Barn announced that the barn has been designated as a documented Underground Railroad site on the Network to Freedom by the National Park Service.

Lawrence Is a 4-Star Community

Jasmin Moore, Sustainability Director for Douglas County, reminded Rotarians that Lawrence became a national leader in 2016 in quality of life measures, the first community in Kansas to earn a 4-STAR certification.  The STAR measurement framework (“Sustainable Tools for Assessment and Rating”) allows communities to track progress toward improved quality of life against seven sets of objectives–and to compare themselves with others working on similar goals.

Moore defines a sustainable community as one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilent.  She uses a four-way test to evaluate sustainability initiatives:

How does it impact environmental health?
How does it impact the well-being of people?
How does it impact relationships, effective government, social justice, and overall livability?
How does it impact the local economy and at what short-term and long-term costs?

Originally from the Kansas City area, Moore chose to study urban planning at KU when she became intrigued with the idea that the built environment of a community influences the health of the community.   After a series of jobs in Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, and Johnson County, she has landed back in Lawrence.  Now she coordinates the City/County collaboration to develop integrated solutions and long-term investments for sustainability.

United We Win!

Jannette Taylor has been President and CEO of United Way of Douglas County for only nine months, but she is clearly the right person to provide strong leadership for the organization.

Prior to coming to Lawrence, Taylor earned a reputation for championing social justice concerns in Omaho, NE.  Among other initiatives, Taylor founded and led a community-based nonprofit, Impact One Community Connection. This small nonprofit worked to provide life-changing services to at-risk youth and young adults.

Now Taylor champions the three areas of focus that the United Way of Douglas County has identified for its efforts in Douglas County:

academic success of all children;
health access for all; and
financial stability of every person.

The 2017 Annual Report tells stories about households dealing with these issues.  It also outlines the scope of these challenges and highlights the ways that United Way has mobilized community resources and developed partnerships to meet them.

Taylor explains that the agency uses the “community impact model” to target resources and avoid duplication of effort.  The model also employs an assessment tool to gather data about needs and results.



The 2018 Lawrence Summer Community Bike Ride is set for July 21st!

Lawrence Community Bike Ride - Summer 2019We’ve reserved the space, got the sponsors, now we need you to come out and enjoy the Summer 2018 Lawrence Community Bike Ride!

Here’s what we’ve got on tap for this year’s event:

  • Family Friendly Bike Ride With Safety
  • Kids Helmet fitting
  • Safety Vest Giveaway
  • Training Wheel Takeoff Area
  • Bike Checkup & Maintenance area
  • Healthy Snack Zone provided by The Merc
  • The always popular Lawrence Kids Calendar Kids Inflatable Zone!

We have some new rides planned too!

  • 1-Mile   “Arboretum” loop 
  • 4-Mile   “Family” ride to Sanders Mound
  • 6-Mile   “Bob-Billings” ride….new for 2018
  • 8-Mile   “6th-Street” ride….new for 2018
  • 12-Mile “I-70” ride with SAG stop (by the Lawrence Bicycle Club)

Thanks to all our sponsors these annual events just get better and better.

All riders must fill out a release you can download one from this LINK.

(We’ll have them on hand too.)

Get this on your calendar! We look forward to seeing you!

2018 Community Bike ride Sponsors


Adrian Zink Tells Stories Overlooked in Kansas History

Adrian Zink, a Kansas native, had his interest in history sparked by a high school teacher who made the past come alive with interactive classroom experiences.  After  earning a degree from KU, he worked at museums, universities, archives and historic sites.  His recently published book, Hidden History of Kansas, digs deep into the state’s history to relate the overlooked stories of “fascinating firsts, humorous coincidences, and intriguing characters.”

One of Zink’s favorite stories is about auto polo.  A sport dreamed up in 1911 as a marketing stunt by a Ford dealer in Topeka,  it became popular coast to coast  into the 1920’s.  The matches pitted two cars per team against each other with two men in each car–one to drive and one to hit the ball with the mallet.  Truly a “lunatic game,” it did lead to the first patented roll bar for a vehicle.

Boston Corbett is the man who shot John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, despite orders to capture Booth alive.  Courtmartialed over the incident, the trigger-happy Corbett became notorious for his erratic behavior, likely caused by mercury poisoning from the years he was a hat-maker.  He moved west and homesteaded in Kansas, became a street-corner preacher, and eventually was hired as a doorkeeper for the Kansas House of Representatives.  When he brandished a gun inside the statehouse, the legislators committed him to the state mental asylum.  Two years late, he escaped and was never found again.

Railroad executives renamed the town of Weeks, KS,  after a St. Louis baseball player named Bushong in 1886 without consulting the residents.  Why? Because the St. Louis Browns had won with World Series over the Chicago White Stockings that year.

Susanna Salter became the first female mayor in the United States in 1887.  Nominated as a joke by the men in Argonia, KS, she was elected by a strong majority just weeks after women had been given the right to vote in Kansas city elections.  She served capably but briefly, leaving office after one year and never seeking elected office again.

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