June 20, 1996, LANE -- Many historians consider the Pottawatomie Massacre the most significant single event in the "Bleeding Kansas Era" before the start of the Civil War. Indeed, many of them consider the massacre one of five events that actually created that conflict between the North and South.
But if you want to stroll out and find where five persons were killed in this area the night of May 24, and the morning of May 25, 1856, you'll be disappointed because there is not a marker saying where it all happened.
IN FACT, most of the lands on which the five victims lived are all in private hands and you would be trespassing if you went to those sites.
A keen observer of the Four County Area's history, Homer White, recalls that the late Dolly and George R. Belt, vainly tried for years to get markers erected on the historic tracts where the massacre victims lived. They were on the board at various times in the 1930s and 1940s of the Franklin County Historical Society.
The Kansas State Historical Society was also approached for help in getting markers placed at the massacre sites. But it was not interested.
A sign giving a brief history of the area is located in the Lane City Park.
MANY RESIDENTS fear that the historic sites will slip into oblivion once today's seniors are gone. In fact, few of the seniors know where the massacre sites are located.
Homer White, an expert on the area's history, served on the Franklin County board for years but resigned in January 1995. Efforts to find someone else to represent Pottawatomie Township on the board failed.
WHITE POINTED OUT that this community has some other historic points of interest. The California Road, for example, went from Fort Scott, through Trading post, Lane and Ottawa to connect up with the Santa Fe Trail near Palmyra.
Looking east from the bridge over the Pottawatomie at Lane, KS.
The road crossed Pottawatomie Creek near the site of the massacre at Dutch Henry's Crossing. The crossing was named after William Sherman, one of the area's first settlers and a victim of the massacre.