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Watkins Community Museum

Tour Stop

Directions: The Watkins Community Museum [ Waypoint = N38 57.842 W95 14.167 ] is located about 4 blocks south of the Eldridge Hotel on the southwest corner of Massachusetts and 11th Streets at 1047 Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kansas 66044. It's an easy walk to the museum.

Watkins Community Museum in Lawrence, KansasSign for the Watkins Community Museum in Lawrence, Kansas

Description: The Douglas County Historical Society is responsible for the operation, preservation and development of collections in the Watkins Community Museum of History. There are a number of artifacts from the Bleeding Kansas period in the museum. There is a bust of the Free-State leader, James Henry Lane. There is a printer's mallet from the Herald of Freedom Press and pieces from the printing press of the Kansas Free State Press. Both of these Free-State newspapers were targets for destruction during the Sack of Lawrence. But what may be the most interesting relic is “Old Sacramento.”

James H. Lane“Old Sacramento” was one of ten cannon captured at the Battle of Sacramento, near Chihuahua, Mexico on February 28, 1847 during the Mexican-American War. Following the conclusion of the war, the cannon were taken to Missouri and stored at the Liberty Arsenal in Liberty, Missouri. Missourians liberated “Old Sacremento from the Liberty Arsenal and used it in the fighting during Bleeding Kansas. In 1856, Jim Lane led a force of about 100 free state militia and surrounded some pro-slavery militia who were holed up in a fortified log cabin known as Fort Franklin. After several hours of fighting, the pro-slavery men to fled when the fortified log cabin was set afire. The free-state men were able to capture “Old Sacramento”.

The free-state militia next took “Old Sacramento” and moved against Fort Titus, another fortified log cabin located about two miles south of Lecompton, Kansas. Lead type from the Lawrence newspaper, Herald of Freedom, was melted into the shot used in “Old Sacramento” as it fired on Fort Titus. The pro-slavery men in the cabin surrendered after a short fight.

During the Battle of Hickory Point on the morning of September 14, 1856, Colonel James A. Harvey used “Old Sacramento” to open fire on the log cabins holding the pro-slavery defenders. After firing some 20 cannon shots at the cabins over a period of six hours, the pro-slavery defenders surrendered to the Colonel Harvey's free-state militia.

“Old Sacramento” was never used in battle again. It was next used to celebrate the admission of the state of Kansas into the Union in 1861.

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