May 16th, Perry and LeCompton KS

A somewhat brief and certainly incomplete history of Perry, KS:

Perry, KS a town of around 950 residents was in its early days a railroad town. Established in 1865, it was named after John D Perry, the president of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. Prior to that, French explorers were the first white people to appear in the area after the Louisiana Purchase, followed by French fur trappers, who mostly moved on when game became scarce. 

The local native people were the Kaw, who with other tribes, became intermarried with the remaining French; many of the Native Americans in the area still have French names to this day. The Kaw people had frequent skirmishes with the nearby Pawnee (an enemy with whom they had a history of battles), as well as Cheyenne and Commanchee as the new settlers came. Available land became more scarce, and pressure mounted from tribes moving west to escape incursion from the white settlers. After many disastrous moves and broken treaties and after a flood in 1844 destroyed the farming they had taken up; in June of 1873, the last few hundred of them ended up in Oklahoma far from their ancestral home. Interestingly enough, Herbert Hoover’s Vice President, named Charles Curtis was a member of the Kaw tribe. Another interesting side fact- the person who taught farming to the local Kaw, was Daniel Morgan Boone, son of the famous Daniel Boone.

As more and more settlers moved west, the division between those in favor of slavery and abolitionists grew. The area, and specifically the town next to Perry, LeCompton is called the birthplace of the Civil War because that is where the Territorial Government Office stood which was the scene of many fights about slavery, so many in fact, that the time was known as Bloody Kansas for the violence perpetrated mostly by the pro-slavery factions.

End history lesson, for now!

When we were in town we went to see  the Perry city hall, and the mural next to it. The mural was painted by a self trained artist in 2012. It depicts Kansas and several familiar objects, including a trestle bridge.

Perry KS, mural next to city hall.

As we drove away from town, we went down near the railroad tracks and found Perry Bar and Grill. It was a Sunday but seemingly all the cars in town were there:

Perry Bar and Grill, Perry, KS

About a week ago I got a message here on the blog asking if we were coming to Perry, KS from a man named Greg Howard. He is from LeCompton and wanted us to be aware of a mural program they are doing.  Here is an article about the project:

We promised Mr. Howard we would stop in his town, and we did, starting with a visit to the Territorial Capital Museum (the mural is painted on the side of a nearby building). The gentleman in the museum was kind of a hoot. I really needed to use the facilities, and I slipped away from the tour he was giving to do that when he said we could explore on our own. As soon as I came back he wanted us to go upstairs, which we did. Then when he finished showing us around upstairs we decided to leave the museum, and a bell tolled on our way out. He came up to us quickly and asked for us to come back in and see more. Which we did. Finally when he was done, I told him a tiny bit about our trip and we left the museum again. He followed us out to the RV, and handed us a photo of flooding in Perry, KS in 1951. He really wanted us to learn everything he knew about the Territorial Capital Museum!!

Here is the image he gave us. I apologize for the poor quality- I took a photo of a newspaper article photo:

In 1951 the Delaware River flooded Perry and many surrounding communities.

Finally, there were multiple car washes in Perry and LeCompton, each with an amusing name. One was the “Kaw wash”- the high school has a mythical bird called a Kaw as its mascot, no doubt inspired by the local first inhabitants of the area. This was the second one we saw:

Perrydise indeed!

A few more random photos from the museum in LeCompton:

Crafting art from human hair was once a thing. Seems creepy now, but what do I know?
This lovely quilt depicts the history of the area.
Civil War Artifacts. LeCompton Territorial Capital Museum

Finally I want to thank the local people who reached out to us, Greg Howard and Kathy Youngquist. Because of it being Sunday and some time constraints we were not able to meet any of the locals. The friendliness of the gentleman at the museum must surely reflect that of the community, he is a great ambassador for your area. I hope to return some day and meet you both in person.

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5 thoughts on “May 16th, Perry and LeCompton KS

  1. Thanks so much for coming to Lecompton as well as to Perry. We are extremely excited about our new historic art mural Resilience that will be dedicated on June 12 2021 as part of the annual Lecompton Territorial Days festivities. You are always welcome for a return trip back to Kansas at any time and i would certainly love to meet you both. Happy trails and safe trips to you both.

  2. Hi Guys:

    We just wanted to say “Hi” and “Sorry We Missed You” in Perry, Kansas. The weather was the pits over the weekend, but we still hoped to catch up with you to show you our Blessing Box Ministry and Food Pantry at the Perry United Methodist Church. Due to the economic problems related to COVID-19, we have filled many food boxes and helped many families who would otherwise have gone without food and personal hygiene items for the last 14 months. Maybe next time, we will get to meet and greet one another. Have a wonderful trip and enjoy every minute of each other.

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