Road to Freedom
Written January 2023 under construction
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I grow up as a boy where the three states Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri come together. The town of Falls City, Nebraska was my home on hills overlooking the bottoms of the Nemaha River. Falls City was five miles north of the Kansas state line, about 20 miles North of Hiawatha, Brown County, Kansas and ten miles West of the Missouri state line, Rulo,Nebraska and the Missouri River.
We sometimes heard vague references to the Civil War and the Underground Railroad but no solid references or history about it being included in the area where I lived. It must have happen some place else was my feeling. As time went on, I read more stories and did more research. This is where I lived and this is what I found. People had to survive the environment, wars with each other and even slavery. Starting with the first written history of about 500 years, the area has worked its way towards freedoms we have today in many steps and in many ways. It is where three states come together forming a large area including Southeast Nebraska, Northeast Kansas and Western part of Missouri plus North into Iowa.
Stephen the Moor
Believed an African
Year 1536 - Stephen the Moor
Stephen (Estevanico) the Moor and three other individuals arrived in Mexico City half naked and were only 4 men out of 400 men to survive. Eight years earlier they were a group of 400 men who had landed in Florida. They had travailed from Florida to Mexico City. They were the first to discovered the Mississippi River, traveled up to parts of Kansas and Colorado and all the way down to Mexico City.
Search for the Land of Quivera.
Year 1541 - 'Hail and Wind Storm'
The Coronado Expedition was formed by a group of financial backers for the purposes of originally finding a trade route to East Asia for expensive items (get rich quick), but ended up trying to find the "Land of Quivera". How objectives can change! The expedition of 2,500 men and several thousand head of cattle was made up of three groups: Europeans, West Africans (who were mostly slaves and servants), and American Indians. They encountered many experiences. Here is a description of a 'Hail and Wind Storm' in the year 1541 by Coronado in his search for the "Land of Quivera". This could just as easily have happen today. One had to survive the weather to live to have freedom. This bad weather hail storm event most likely happen in our three state Underground Railroad area of Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri:
"One evening, there came up a terrible storm of wind and hail, which left in the camp hailstones so large as porringers and even larger. They fell thick as rain-drops, and in some spots the ground was covered with them to the depth of eight or ten inches. The storm caused, says one, many tears, weakness and vows. The horses broke their reins, some were even blown down the banks of the ravine, the tents were torn, and every dish in camp broken." In this case, our environment has not changed much in almost 500 years. Is it possible that such a storm could be a once in 500 year storm?
Could the Falls City, Richardson County, Nebraska and Hiawatha, Brown County, Kansas areas be where Coronado arrived at when searching for the land of Quivera? Where did Coronado visited in 1541 searching for the Land of Quivera? The description of the vegetation and land match Nebraska and Kansas state line, but no one knows where it was? This mythical land is reported to be the land of milk and honey with streets paved with gold but Coronado could not find it. The Kansas Nebraska state line is on the fortieth parallel of latitude. Coronado used a sextant and sailed the prairies as one would sail a ship across the ocean to what he says was the fortieth parallel of latitude (now part of our GPS coordinates). The Indians that lived on the Nebraska Kansas state line were Pawnee Indians and wore a headdresses similar to a Turkish headdress. That is the type of headdress Coronado said he saw when he was at the Nebraska and Kansas state line. At another place in Coronado's write up, he said that he stood on a high hill top and looked down on a very very very great river (Maybe this was looking down from a high bluff on the Missouri River near White Cloud, and where our Nebraska Kansas state line starts). Each person pushes for there own favored location for the Land of Quivera. This search for such a mythical land has been the inspiration to everyone. Maybe these three state line areas are in the Land of Quivera.
Year 1803 - Louisiana Purchase
City of New Orleans was founded in 1727. On 1760 the British conquered Canada. On November 3, 1762 France ceded the Territory of Louisiana to the King of Spain. On September 3, 1883 a Peace Treaty was signed between the British and the United States giving rights to the United States of all land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River and from a line from the great lakes to the 31st parallel to the Atlantic ocean, then South to the Southern border of Georgia. On October 1, 1800 the King of Spain ceded the Territory of Louisiana back to Napoleon of France.
The United States purchased the Territory of Louisiana on April 30, 1803 from Napoleon of France and called it the "Louisiana Purchase". The Louisiana Purchase extended from the West bank of the Mississippi River to parts of land along the Pacific Coast. It included land that would make up many states and parts of other states. It doubled the size of the United States. The City of New Orleans, the Rocky Mountains, the entire valley of the Missouri River, the entire states of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and others were included in this purchase. It included a 60,000 non-native population which half were slaves.
Lewis and Clark Expedition
Year 1804 - Lewis and Clark Expedition 1804 Notes
The Lewis and Clark Expedition refers to the above notes source on July 12, 1804 has GPS latitude 39°55´56"recorded by Lewis- as they explored the mouth of the Nemaha River and the Nemaha River bottoms. At the mouth of the Nemaha River, there is a Sand Stone cliff (I have seen it, but Clark's name is missing). That is the place where Clark says he carved his name and date next to an Indian carving of an animal and boat.(None of this exists today). At this location on the Missouri River in 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition held a court martial for a soldier sleeping on sentry duty and sentenced him to one hundred lashes on his bare back at four different times starting in the evening for four evenings. How punishment has changed.
On August 3, 1803 Lewis and Clark discussed with the Indians at the Council bluff meeting, how long it would take to travel to a Spanish city (most likely Santa Fe). Lewis recorded: the Latitude of Council bluff is in 41° 17' north Latitude on this date.
Lewis sailed the Missouri River with a Sextant just as one would sail the ocean. Lewis recorded his GPS coordinates each day. Clark has two write-up's for each day. The first are his notes and the second is his write-up for the book that was published. You can put in other dates by going to the web site above. July 10, 1804 brings up the a write-up for the day they arrived at what is now the Nebraska - Kansas state line. Other members of the Expedition also have notes. Floyd was the only member of the Expedition to die. He died at what is now Sioux City, Iowa of what is believed was appendicitis.
the mouth of the Nemaha River
Year 1804 - York the slave:
Clark had a slave named York that he took with him on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Lewis and Clark Expedition camped on what is now the mouth of the Nemaha River on the Missouri River in Nebraska on July 12, 1804 with Clark's slave York also camping there.
York asked for his freedom at the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition but was denied. York's wife was owned as a slave by another man in another town. York then ask Clark if he could move to that town and send Clark the money he would earn each month. York was again denied this.
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was a term used for smuggling slaves in "Bleeding Kansas" from 1857 to 1861. It was a trail (marked with rock piles known as Lane's chimneys) built by Gereral James H. Lane and called Lane's Road. Lane's Road followed several paths with one passing through Padonia to Falls City and another passing through Albany, Kansas to Salem, Nebraska. Lane's Road ran from Lawrence, Kansas through Padonia, Brown County, Kansas, then near or over Pony Creek, then through the Falls City underground railroad in Richardson County, Nebraska to Nebraska City. The name of the street that the highway takes through Falls City is now called Lane Street. In some writeups, it states that James Lane lived at Falls City, Nebraska part of the time that the underground railroad activity was going on.
"Bleeding Kansas" was a dangerous place. John Brown personally used this Underground Railroad to smuggle slaves to freedom by taking them through the Brown County area to Falls City, Nebraska (Slavery in Nebraska) where he hid slaves on the Underground Railroad (one then would go through Padonia to get to Falls City). John Brown sparked the American Civil War by his actions in other parts of the United States and was hung for this. He is considered by some to be a heroic martyr and one of the more important people in American history because he give his life for freedom of the slaves by actions which he intentionally took to free the slaves. Others consider John Brown a terrorist.
Railroad to Freedom
Kiene, L. L. (1903–1904). "Battle of the Spurs and John Brown's Exit from Kansas". Kansas History. Vol. 8. pp. 443–449. Archived from the original on 2018-12-15. Retrieved 2021-07-02.
The Battle of the Spurs
This slavery confrontation occurred about half way between Hiawatha and Horton Kansas on January 31, 1859.