Friday, October 29, 2010


Well it's been a little while since I've been here. Cathy started to pick up a cold while we were in Neosho, We moved over to Sallisaw Oklahoma, about 150 miles, I went to Walmart and loaded up on over the counter stuff to see if she can't kick it this week, so we've just been sitting around while she's doing her Night Quill shots.

We did have a big list of things we wanted to do in Fort Smith and this area but will just have tosave them for an other time we pass this way. She was felling a little better today and wanted to get out of the house so we took about a 15 mile drive to Sequoyah's Cabin.

Sequoyah was a Cherokee Indian that invented the Cherokee alphabet which enabled the Cherokee to read and write in their own language, At first he tried making a symbol for every word but after ten years he gave up on this idea just because there were to many words to learn the symbols for.

After he junked this idea he came up with a symbol or letter or the different sounds or spelling things phonetically. Sequoyah could not read, write or speak English but when he came up with his alphabet the five main sound were A E I O U and instead of sometimes Y his was sometimes V. The curator at the visitors center told us that the it was so simplified that he could teach anybody to read, write and speak Cherokee in under two weeks. They have a computer program that they type your name it and it comes out in Cherokee, Catherine is pronounced ge da qui ni and James is tse mi.

We already knew a lot about the Trail of Tears, over the years our travels have taken us to quite a few places along it, so he told us about all the different Indian Nations that were in Oklahoma and how it was divided up before becoming a state. As a matter of fact the people of the Oklahoma Territory took a vote and originally Oklahoma was going to be admitted to the Union as two separate States, the western half as Oklahoma and the eastern half as Sequoyah. But the powers in Washington DC decided that they didn't want two Democratic states coming into the union at the same time so they were combined as just Oklahoma. Half the vehicles have license plates that say Oklahoma (Native America) and the other half say Cherokee Nation, which are issued by the Cherokee Nation and not the state of Oklahoma. They have there own Police and Courts that work in conjunction with the state authorities, but the hard part to understand is that they is not specific territory since there are no reservations in Oklahoma, I really don't understand how the concept works but it does

He built the one room cabin in 1829 and lived in it until his death in 1843. The state took control of the property in 1936 (as a National Historical Landmark) and shortly after the WPA workers constructed the stone building around it to protect it. We were there just a little over a n hour but it seems like we learned five hour worth of stuff. The cabin is located about ten miles north of I-40 and if you're ever in the area during the hours it's open, it's worth the trip and time.

Just thought that this typewriter was interesting because it types Cherokee, look at the key board.

The log cabin on the left was added onto the cabin in later years to make it two rooms, when the WPA restored the cabin they removed this to make the cabin original. They then moved it to this location and made it the Visitors Center.

Lets see, what would the icing on the cake be for today, before we left the curator gave us directions to a little cemetery with an interesting grave, so that's where we went on the way home, see the photo below.

If you guess right then you're number 1, just like he was. If you haven't then change the Charley Arthur to "Pretty Boy" and you'll know who he is.

Notice how people have chipped away parts of the stone for keepsakes , the curator told us that they have replaced the stone something like 5 times.

Well I'll close by saying do na da go hv I , “Until we meet again”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fort Scott National Site

An hour drive north brought us to the city of Fort Scott and the Fort Scott National Historical Site.

Fort Scott was built in 1842, it's original purpose was to keep the peace between the white settlers and the Indians, by 1853 the frontier extended far enough west that the fort was no longer need and it was abandon by the army. In 1855 the fort and buildings were sold at auction and this became the start of the city Fort Scott. This also started what was known as the Bleeding Kansas era. In 1854 Congress had passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which stated that the people of the Kansas Territory by vote would decide if it became a free state or a slave state. Three political groups were in the Fort Scot area, the pro-slavers, free-staters and abolitionists. Two of the building from the old fort became hotels, one was nicknamed the Free State Hotel and the other the Pro-Slave Hotel ( these hotels were less then 50 yards apart), by 1859 over 60 people died in the disputes in this area. The violence ended in 1861 when Kansas entered the union as a free state.

What the fort looked like in 1960.

With the start of the Civil War the army returned and rented the fort back from the people. It became a major supply depot, Hospital, a haven for refugees and a recruitment center, both an American-Indian and an African-American regiments were formed here. With the end of the war the military again abandoned the area but returned once again around 1870 to protect the railroad workers from the squatters who opposed the railroads. One of the few times that the U.S. Military took up arms against American citizens to protect the country's business interest.

Each company of Dragoons had a different color of horses, this was so the Captain could tell what company was where and doing what during a battle.

Dragoon (later to be the Calvary) got it's name from the early french who fired a rifle that spit out a large flame and smoke, it looked like a dragon. The Dragoons were train as both infantry and Calvary.

Click to read

Interesting note on how John Brown refused to take part in this raid to break a Fellow Free Stater out of jail because they pick James Montgomery as their leader rather then him. Makes you wonder if he was only in it for the fame.

Ceiling of the Powder Magazine.

Stare at this for one maybe two days and let me know what happens.

We spent about two and a half hours here, there are about seven buildings open with exhibits and a 20+ minute film about the history of the fort. The fort is right across the street from the downtown historical district so we didn't have far to go to find a nice restaurant for lunch.

Of course we had to make a stop at the National Cemetery.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

GW Carver-stuff and Baxter springs

We did a short drive Sunday over to Neosho which is a little town just south of Joplin. After getting set up at the Stage Stop RV Park, we figured that it was to nice a day to sit around, so we took a ten minute drive over to Diamond to tour the George Washington Carver National Site (his birthplace). The visitors center has a small museum, a large area for school groups with tons of hands on stuff and a 28 minute video on GW Carver. Born a slave, died a master, that's what they say about him but there is a whole lot more about the man between those two points.

He was born a slave to Moses Carver, who happened to be a black man and had to be pretty amazing himself. Pre-Civil War he was awarded a 40 acre warrant in Diamond MO and with in ten years he owned 240 acres and must have been pretty wealth since he paid $700 to buy 13 year old girl who would later be GW Carvers mother. George and his mother were stolen and taken out of state, Moses sent a chaser after them and he returned with George but his mother was never found, his father, a slave on a neighboring farm died shortly after this, so George was raised by Moses and his wife. At 13 he was allowed to go to nearby Neosho to attend school, from this point on there was no stopping him, fast forward about 15 years and he's joining Booker T Washington at Tuskegee as a teacher, where stayed until his death 47 years later. One of the more interesting thing I found out was that is salary was $1500.00 a year and that is all he ever took from the school for the entire 47 years,yet in his will he left over $33,000.00 to start a research foundation. At different times he turned down job offers from Henry Ford and Thomas Edison who offered him $150,000.00, he never applied for a patent because he felt that he was just passing on knowledge that was given to him by God. After all this we went for a walk on the ¾ mile trail that takes you to the location of the slave cabin where he was born, then down to the spring and little stream that he played in as a boy and then past the family cemetery (he's buried a Tuskegee). If you are ever in the area be sure to schedule about 2- 2 ½ hours to spend here.

For some reason tonight I was only hungry for a peanut butter sandwich.

Another beautiful day Monday so we're going to get our kicks, on Route 66, but first we have a few little out of the way things to find. Our first quest was to find “Great Falls on Shoal Creek”. We found Shoal Creek and had to cross what they call a low water bridge, it gets it's name because it's only visible during low water, very narrow and no rails or sides. A few miles down stream there is a small pull off and you can walk out to the falls, only about a 12 foot drop but pretty.

Now to the Tri-State Monument, which was built in 1938 by the National Youth Administration, when you drive around it you go from Kansas to Oklahoma to Missouri then back to Kansas, in a matter of seconds.

Now where ready to go find the Attack on fort Blair and the Battle of Baxter Springs (1863) which was really a massacre, where 163 soldiers and civilians were killed. Quantrill's Raiders approached the Fort in three groups from different directions, many of the raiders were wearing Union uniforms and were carrying a captured Union flag. The men from the fort went out to greet them and were shot down, as they scattered and ran to different sections of the city they were chased down and slaughtered.

We drove over to the Baxter City Cemetery and found something we've never seen before, they have deeded a one acre square plot which is fenced off and labeled as a National Cemetery Plot by Congress.

In 1870 the 163 dead from the massacre were moved here to a mass grave, if you look at the picture, there are four upright cannons, the mass grave is between these cannons.

Back in town we stopped at the City Museum which we figured would be a short stop before lunch, three hours later we went looking for a restaurant but we could have spent another hour there without any trouble. They have tons of information on the battle and some great artifacts from the battlefield, this is one of those battles where years later they started having reunions we the soldiers would return with there families for a week, because of this and the fact that many of the soldiers settled here that the museum has so many items donated by their familys.

They had so many different exhibits at this museum that it would take pages to describe, the battle, mining, city history involving Indians, Blacks, Foreigners, Route 66 and much more.

Back in Joplin we found a Red Hot and Blue BBQ, we used to go to one in SE Michigan all the time and just over night they closed, so for the last four years I've missed their ribs and Cathy has missed their potato salad, after lunch it was back to camp Fat and Happy

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jefferson Barracks and National Cemetery

Jefferson Barracks

Two days after purchasing the property in 1826, the first military troops arrived on the grounds, the next year it was named to honor Thomas Jefferson who had died the year earlier and was designated an Infantry School of Practice.

Stone that was over the main gate was found buried in the dump after being missing for about 50 years.

Men from JB have been involved in every war or conflict since the Black Hawk War of 1832, that year the Dragoons (later renamed Calvary) were formed and trained to fight both mounted and dismounted and stationed here.

During the Civil War a hospital was built, by the end of the war it had treated over 18,000 soldier from both sides.

The first parachute jump from an airplane was made here on the parade grounds March 1 1912

During WWI the base was used for recruiting and training,

In the 30's it was also used for the Citizens Military Training Camp, later to become ROTC.

WWII it was a major recruiting and training center with tens of thousands of troop passing through.

1946 following the end of WWII it was decommissioned as a Military Post.

More then 230 General Officers Passed through JB during its time,from Cook the Indian fighter to General Eisenhower, the one that missed JB was General Custer and look how that worked out for him.

Today it is divided up and contains two county parks, a National Guard Base, a National Cemetery and a VA Hospital.

We started out at the visitors center and were met by a lady that has lived in the area since before WWII and has a great memory about everything that has happened in this area. She not only answered every question that we had but told us about enough places to go and see to last us two days.

Our first stop was at one of the two museums, this one changes displays every few months and wasn't exactly what we were looking for.

The second one was all about JB and this is what we wanted. They have a great history of the base and cover it from the start till after it was closed and then some. We spent about a hour here and its not a very big museum, one of the volunteers walked us through to make sure we didn't miss any of the little interesting things.

As a kid we had a huge Army surplus store near by and we were still using these when I was in High School.

Click to read
A great story, escape from lockup, steal a plane and end up with the Medal of Honor.

From here we drove over to the National Cemetery, this has to be the largest, not counting Arlington, cemetery we have ever been to, National or not. We always make a stop at the National cemeteries (this makes about 45) but this one needs a at least a few hours to park and walk around.

The cemetery picture were taken at different areas of the cemetery just to show you how big this place is and how many graves are here. I have not idea how many graves are here but they told us that they average 21 burials a day.
NOTE: After some checking I found out that as of 04/01/10 there were 180,000 graves.

There are eight MOH burials here,a few recently discovered bodies from both WWII and Vietnam that were identified by DNA, a Minuteman that fought at Lexington and Concord, all of the graves from Fort Bellefontaine were moved here, 1,140 Confederate Soldiers, 2 German and 5 Italian POW's, 564 Group Burials the largest consists of 175 victims of the 56th United States Colored Infantry and a lot more that I can't remember. This were the things that the lady at the visitors center told us about, we managed to see a few things but will have to return to really do it justice.

An interesting thought.

I think the most unique grave is is that of 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie who was interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for 14 years until his mother insisted on DNA testing that identified him and had his remains moved to Jefferson Barracks.

It's been a fun week here in St Louis, when we were here before (Camped on the north side) we did all the downtown stuff, we're glad that we camped on the south side this time since we were able to see a lot of things that would have been to long of a drive last time.

College football Saturday, tough day for us Michigan vs Michigan State both undefeated, and then moving day Sunday.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

US Grant - Missouri Gardens

White Haven, Home of the 18th President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant.

That's where we started our day at, it is now under the control of the US National Park Service. They start you out with a 20 minute film that explains how Grant came to White Haven and his life here. After the film a Ranger takes you on a tour of the house, then they turn you loose to wander the grounds and the museum.

The house never was painted white.

The Ranger explained that after graduating from West Point Grant was stationed at Jefferson Barracks about 5 miles from here, his roommate's family owned White Haven and he made Grant promise to stop by and visit with them. Grant visited once a week until their daughter Julia returned from school in St Louis, after they met he visited everyday. They had a secret engagement and Grant was shipped of to fight in the Mexican War. They wrote each other every day and when he returned they were married.

We found out a lot of little interesting twist that took place during his life, such as his father worked as an apprentice for a tanner side by side with John Brown and would not attend the wedding because it took place in Dent's (Grants father-in-law) house and Dent owned 30 slaves. Another thing was that Grant never wanted a life in the military, he was doing what his father wanted him to do when he went to the Point, he always wanted to be a farmer.

What we thought would be about an hour stop turned into a very interesting and informative three hours.

We grabbed a quick lunch then stopped by the Penzey's Spice store to stock up on a few things, then it was over to the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

This is one of our very favorite gardens, everything is spotlessly clean, always flowers in bloom and special displays scattered around the grounds. Since this is our second time here in the last three years I'll just post a few pictures.

Water lily

Glass floats in with the lily pads

Clematis going to seed

The yellow thingys look to be hand blown glass.