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tv   Robert Miller House  CSPAN  December 30, 2018 9:50am-10:00am EST

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historic south park in the early morning hours of august 21, 1863. they gathered here and traveled into town and proceeded to destroy lawrence. up next, we will take you to one of the few homes in town able to survive the raid. in fact it was a stop on the nderground railroad. >> people stop by this place ll the time. they come to the front door and they say is the museum open? it is not a museum. we live here. people regularly pull into the driveway. if they stop and get out, i will go out and greet them and tell them the story. one of the most powerful experiences i have had several times is to have a car come in and see a black family get out of the car. i will rush out, tell them who i am, tell them the story and
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start to talk about why they are here. they have come because they know it is an underground railroad site. one of the most moving experiences i've had is to see a dad or a mom tried to explain to their little kids, maybe eight or 10 years old, what the underground railroad means with tears in their eyes. trying to describe what a place like this can mean to their family, even though they don't have any personal connection to it. they still have that connection to the underground railroad and it is one of the most powerful moments i've had in my experience in being on this property. this house tells to stories. one is quantrell coming through o raid lawrence. the other is a more subtle story of the house and the property being used to
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sequester slaves as they move through lawrence on the way to topeka and canada and of north. we purchased the house in 983. i was very interested in historical preservation. his house -- we slowly learned about the history and decided this is a place we would like to live. we found ourselves to be the third name on the the deed. the millers owned the home for 100 years. robert and then william took over and then his son roy took over. they lived here for 100 years. another person lived here for 25 years. we have lived here since 1983. miller was an early settler to lawrence and kansas territory. came here in 1858. the family was from south carolina. he was a successful farmer. moved here at the urging of his son who came here in 1854.
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they built this house, starting in april of 1858, occupied it in december of 1858, and set up the business of farming. that's what he did. he was a farmer. the miller family belongs to a church called the associated presbyterian church of south carolina, along with many other people who migrated from ireland. one of the stipulations of membership in the church which he could not hold slaves, which was fine early but as 1850 approached it became very scary. he wrote many letters urging them to come here. over two or three years they moved here in 1858. mostly to be safe, and i think the start over. lawrence was four years old. it was two blocks downtown of the most. probably under 1000 people, and
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not a tree inside. all the trees you see here were not here. it was one big. -- one big open prairie. i think robert miller's involvement in the underground railroad started shortly after he got here. 1857 to 1860. they are extraordinarily difficult to document. he had anti-slavery sympathies. that became known in the community. what is also true is that was never broadcast in the area because two miles that way was a community called franklin which was proslavery. two miles that way was lawrence, which was abolitionist and anti-slavery. he was right between. if you are discovered, you would find your barn burned down or your cattle shot. the oregon trail passes in front of his house.
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this is a natural byway for traffic. people would come up at night usually by wagon. they would get just down below that he'll where there were a few trees and a little gulch. there was a grove of trees there. they would hide there, slowly come up to the property and the millers would shelter them in what was called a smokehouse. i have a photograph of a very old smokehouse they were held in. seldom for more than a few days. then another person, another conductor would take them off to topeka or up into canada. the smokehouse i was talking about sat right up approximately in here. i suspect that was gone by the 1880's. it had disappeared. it sat right here. it was also sheltered.
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because they were worried and concerned. underground is the exact term. it was a quiet enterprise because discovery could be harmful to the millers. the discovery would be very harmful to slaves coming up. if they were caught, they would often be sent back to where they came. the length of time the underground railroad operated in lawrence is a little vague. 1857 is a good starting date for the millers. i guessed there were no longer involved past 1861. early in the civil war. the oregon trail i was talking about earlier, quantrell rode up the trail in 1863 at about 8:30 in the morning. 8:00 this morning. rode up here with all of his men. every time i think about that a get a cold chill. 400 men on horseback ride out here in this front yard. they knocked on the door.
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margaret, one of the older daughters greeted them and ecognized quantrell. recognized one of his men. there is good evidence they had been spotted in town a few weeks before. one of them was put up in this house, ate a meal here, slept overnight here and was recognized. they spent 10 or 15 minutes and then they all rode that way over to reverend snyder's house for he was sitting on his pastor milking his cow and shot him dead. and then moved into town and killed 250 men. they killed men. they didn't kill women. they killed men. any man would be in danger. there is speculation about why this house survived. lawrence was completely burned down. hy did this house survive? the best way of telling the story probably is it is a combination of quantrell having
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been here several years before as a schoolteacher and a scoundrel. i suspect the millers may have met him or knew him or whatever. one of his scouts slept here, which is always a little spooky. that combination of things, i think, saved this house from being burned down. i think pretty much after the raid the miller family returned to the business at hand. they had a farm to run. their role in lawrence was significant in that both robert and josiah, is son, purchased numerous properties in lawrence and built a home and that sort of thing. they were involved in the commerce of the community. robert was involved in farming and selling produce. they continued their involvement and commitment to lawrence. they play in incredible role
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from 1854 to 1863 or so. this community was in the national media. all the national newspapers every day because it was a part of bleeding kansas. it was a battleground for the xtension of slavery. in 1854, what began was the process of deciding shall kansas be a free state or a slave state? this was a focal point for that whole business about the extension of slavery. a railroad and the raid becomes ieces of that story. >> our cities tour staff recently traveled to lawrence, kansas to learn about its rich history. learn more about lawrence at other stops at c-span.org/citiestour. you are watching american
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history tv, all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. announcer: next, author barbara gannon talks about her book "the one cause: black and white comradeship in the grand army of the republic." she describes how the union army's largest veterans organization, known as the g.a.r., often had integrated chapters and treated african-american soldiers equally. this hour-long talk was hosted by pamplin historical park in virginia. dez: our next speaker is dr. barbara gannon. she received her doctorate from penn state university in 2005. she is currently assistant professor of military history at the university of central florida.

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