Kansas is celebrating its 148th birthday today by remembering its history and the famous people who were born there and who have visited. The year 2009 is especially important, as it marks the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth and 150 years since his visit to Kansas.
Kansas, which was made the 34th state on January 29, 1861, has had a rich and sometimes tragic history. In the 1850s, Kansas became the first battlefield in the conflict of the Civil War, though the war wouldn’t officially begin until three months after Kansas’ admittance to the Union. Over time, Kansas would see the beginning of the cattle drives, the start of Prohibition, the Indian Wars and would eventually be one of the sites of the Dust Bowl and the consequent Great Depression.
Kansas’ motto is “Ad Astra Per Aspera“, which means “To the Stars Through Difficulties.” The state has produced several famous citizens, including President Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart and Susan B. Anthony.
Tourists are likely to find the celebration of Kansas’ birthday at the Kansas Museum of History. Because of its connections to Lincoln, the theme is “Mr. Lincoln Comes to Kansas!” Governor Kathleen Sebelius will make an appearance at the celebrations.
Among all the things to do throughout the day, one of the most interesting will be Lincoln re-enactor Tom Leahy presenting “Abraham Lincoln Remembered.” Leahy has performed as Lincoln from Kansas to New York. Also present will be Richard Camara Pitts, an African-American storyteller and drummer. Telling folktales and legends of West Africa and the histories of the people who came to North America, the performance should not be missed.
Historic Craft Demonstrations will also take place at the museum. Guides will demonstrate how to make historic crafts including, rope making, weaving, horn carving, quilting, and basket making.
Tour guides will be available throughout the day to escort you through the galleries that unveil the rich history of Kansas, including the new “Lincoln in Kansas” exhibit and the Potawatomi Mission exhibits.
Younger children are invited to take part in the activities in the lobby of the museum. Some of these include, according to the Kansas State Historical Society:
Activities for younger visitors focusing on Kansas symbols and Abraham Lincoln.
A Hat Full of Stories
Collect facts and stories about Abraham Lincoln and then assemble them into a Lincoln’s Hat booklet.
Gallery Scavenger Hunts
Explore the Main Gallery and the Potawatomi Mission using themed scavenger hunts.
Who Can Vote?
Compare voting rights in 1861 to 2009.
“It Happens First in Kansas”
Learn about elected officials from Kansas who have helped change our nation as you examine historic photos and create a timeline.
Building a More Perfect Union
Explore the municipal, county and state government through their buildings.
More information can be found at the Kansas State Historical Society’s website, or by calling (785) 272-8681.
Sunflower State Turns 148: Students Celebrate Kansas Day at School, State Capitol, The Fort Scott Tribune
Kansas Day at the Museum, Kansas State Historical Society
Kansas History, Kansas State Historical Society