Memorial Day 2017 – In Defense of Our Veterans

Here at Camden Point Landmark Society, the purpose of this site is to, of course, remember our history and the people of our local community. While this does focus on Camden Point, we also realize we’re part of a Platte County community and the community of Missouri – and a much more vague community abroad. We sincerely love history and want to learn from it – but never want to pursue the rewriting, removal or disregarding of the portions that we don’t really like. Yes, there’s been some terrible periods and ugly blots which might prove to be uncomfortable or hard to understand. Much like our society today. There’s some terrible things (like the genocide of small children through abortion, the continued enslavement of people, and the murder of children in war) that are done that a future generation may find uncomfortable or hard to understand.

However, what we find especially ironic this Memorial Day are opportunistic politicians and people groups who are attacking veterans and their families in order to further their own agenda (like Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans who recently removed several veteran memorials or Lyda Krewson, Mayor of St. Louis who wants to remove veterans memorials). To defend veterans on one hand, and then attack the memory of veterans on the other is the height of hypocrisy. Because it’s people who end up doing the fighting and dying. Most statues that are currently being removed, or are in threat of removal, were erected NOT for a government – but for the people of our communities who lost their homes, children, husbands and wives in an attempt to defend from an aggressive invader. Were there some who fought and sacrificed for unpopular reasons? Perhaps. Just as some veterans today may fight – and die – for unpopular reasons.

For example. World War II Veterans fought for our communities, while at the same time the government was interring thousands of Japanese Americans in concentration camps (like at Heart Mountain, Wyoming). Because of this, should we start removing all the statues in public places commemorating the people who fought and sacrificed so much in World War II? Or what about Abraham Lincoln, a man who would be considered a racist and war-monger by today’s standards. Should we start removing public statues and monuments dedicated to this divisive individual? Maybe Thomas Jefferson, a prior president whose face is carved into Mount Rushmore. He was a slave owner and involved in the Louisiana Purchase – an act that would eventually lead to the near genocide of countless Native Americans. Should we seek to remove him from public memory? Or the Romans, on which much of American law and government architecture is based around. They promoted slavery and subjugation of entire people groups. Should this be a cause for some Orwellian campaign to rewrite history and present day usage of potentially offensive things?

Or can we just learn from history, seek to never repeat the terrible things…and move on?

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Will Missouri Government Support our Veterans?

veterans, world war 2, civil war, confederate, union, HB53, Missouri, Government, MonumentsIronically, while politicians in Missouri may like to issue grandiose claims about supporting our veterans, an opportunity to honor their sacrifices is currently stagnating in the Missouri House of Representatives. The bill, also known as HB 53, is designed for the historic preservation of veterans sites, memorials, markers and more. While this is of course the responsibility of all people in honoring the sacrifices and memory of those who have went before (and not just the government), we also understand that many veterans monuments and sites of great significance to the people of Missouri may be under threat of removal or neglect from local governmental entities. We’ve read recently where New Orleans is planning to remove at least three monuments commemorating the sacrifices of veterans and their families who lived in this community. And very recently, St. Louis bureaucrats are looking for ways to remove a veterans monument away from public view (as seen here). Also see the Cape Girardeau veterans monument vandalized in 2011, and the Forest Park Monument in St. Louis vandalized in 2015.

We’ve discussed before on this blog (as written here) about the preservation of veterans monuments and historical sites of all eras, because of the great historical and educational value that’s associated with them. Sure, we may not all agree with some of the politics surrounding wars of whatever era (even more recent ones), but we still recognize the sacrifices of men and women who were involved in defending their community. For instance, could we imagine a day perhaps 100 years from now when a community is neglecting, defacing or tearing down a monument, cemetery or historical site associated with veterans who sacrificed in the Vietnam or Gulf War, simply because someone didn’t like it? Yet this is what’s happening today with monuments and historical sites remembering local veterans of all races (english, south american, african american, irish, german, native american, etc.) from 150 years ago or more.

In asking people in every Missouri community, and the politicians who claim to serve us to remember our veterans, we also hope that organizations like the American Legion or Daughters of the American Revolution will additionally take a stand for ALL our Missouri veterans and their families who served during every conflict. It would be unthinkable for these organizations to remain silent if World War II, Vietnam veterans, or Revolutionary era landmarks and figures were given unsavory labels and their monuments or symbols forced from public eye. Yet they continue to largely remain silent as Confederate veterans and their families from America’s unCivil War (for example) are attacked, marginalized and monuments and historical sites are “cleansed” from the public. So much for reconciliation, huh?

In the end, should everything ultimately be banned? Or should we simply learn how to work together in our communities, and peacefully get along with others – even if they may believe or value something different?

For the text of the bill, please click HB53. To look up your Missouri legislator (for contact purposes), please click Missouri Representatives. And while HB53 is only currently in the House, you may want to also contact your Senator (here) and let them know that you hope they’ll support future efforts at honoring the sacrifices our veterans and their families have made.

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Platte County History Illustrated on Sale Now!

Platte County’s first illustrated history book is now available for purchase as a hard copy or digital download!

The illustrator of the book (and who was also mentioned in this Kansas City Star article), says that, “My goal with this book is for people everywhere to be drawn into the powerful story of Platte County history through the colorful, dramatic ‘graphic novel’ format. This history, which is a snap-shot of the struggles that a typical community faced during this dramatic time period, is very accessible and extremely applicable to people throughout Missouri and beyond. The written portions of the book detailing the historical aspects come directly from Mr. Paxton’s 1897 annals, and highlight many of the tragic, unusual, humorous, or profound moments of those people who have come before – including a fascinating glimpse into the impact of the War Between the States on a local, state and national level. I think people today will find a lot to encourage them as they look at what Platte County people went through to build the community we have today.” (Check out the below video – please make sure you have your sound on!)

 

Platte County, History, Illustrated, graphic novel, book, missouriIt should also be pointed out that residents throughout Missouri and elsewhere will also find this easy-to-read book to not only be an important resource on the time period – but a sometimes surprising (and shocking) look into the hardships of pioneer families, the building of western civilization, the War with Mexico, the Gold Rush, Border War and Senator Atchison, early newspapers, dramatic situations surrounding the Civil War, Jesse James, grasshopper invasions, Native Americans, the arrival of the phone, the temperance movement, and more!  As the book utilizes the writings of a man (Mr. Paxton) who lived through the events described, and wrote about these experiences – sometimes having witnessed the events from a first-hand perspective – the combination of his writing with illustrations depicting the dramatic scenes described truly make for a memorable reading experience where history almost comes to life! Some have even stated that after reading this book, they’ve come away with an exciting new perspective on this important and influential period of history. (Note: As Paxton lived in Platte County, the book details many experiences that occurred here. But there are also many writings of interest involving Jackson County, Clay County, Clinton County and Buchanan County – as well as the entire state of Missouri and nation as a whole)

To view sample images from the book, click here and here. The 70 page book is full color, recommended for ages 13+, and is sized at 8.5 by 10. If you’d like to learn more about the book, please click Platte County History Illustrated!

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Fascinating Views regarding the American Civil War

We thought it might be fun to share a selection of several of our exclusive resources, some of which have been submitted from a number of local historians who enjoy writing about the impact the Civil War had on a local, state and national level. Not only do we hope you find these works an engaging and insightful experience, but also useful in helping educate in light of many misunderstandings and attacks leveraged against our Missouri veterans and the many families who sacrificed a great deal in our communities during this difficult era. You won’t find these thought-provoking perspectives anywhere else!

FreeA perspective on the American “Civil War” – This unique 7 page essay (with works cited from numerous resources) from a Missouri historian discusses how the the typical perceptions of the American Civil War may not be entirely accurate. Includes thoughts on Britain’s peaceful emancipation, the deplorable loss of human rights during the war, reconstruction, African American perceptions regarding the war (W.E. DuBois) and the legacy this tragic conflict has even on our communities today. Plenty to chew on here!

MartialMissouri Martial Law – Did you know that Missouri was under Martial Law from 1861 – 1865? This PDF resource incorporates many historic writings on the subject. It includes details on property confiscation and other hardships experienced by people under martial law, officials who were ousted for being “disloyal”, pastors forced from churches, some shocking letters from prominent leaders, a sample of a loyalty oath and much more. (4 page pdf)

WilliamsJames Williams:  Civil War memories – Being a Union man during the Civil War, Mr. Williams recounting of his war-related experiences in Platte County are of particular interest – and provide the modern reader with a first-hand perspective of this difficult time in our local history. Also discussed are experiences of life near his home, and brief mentions of travels to the mills of Platte City and Shoal Creek. (3 page pdf)

WareThe Lyon Campaign in Missouri (first-hand Civil War observations) – Another Union Man, Eugene Fitch Ware provides more fascinating first-hand observations and insights into the Civil War in Iowa and Missouri. He discusses the divisive conditions before the war, a broken constitution, less than favorable thoughts on Lincoln, what he believed the war was really about, thoughts on General Lyon and more. Not what you’d expect! (3 page pdf)

Remember, you can also find these and many other resources on Camden Point History under our Educational Resources tab. Check it out! We’ve got articles on Camden Point’s Military Academy of 1892, Camden Point’s rich educational history (including the roots of present day William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri) and much more!

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Missourians standing up for our Veterans

rally1We came across this picture recently of a flag rally held August 16, 2015 at the Missouri State Capitol. It was said that around 250 people came out for this event in support of symbols and flags associated with Missouri veterans (and their families) who fought in defense of their homes during the unCivil War. Sponsored by the Missouri Sons of Confederate Veterans, people of all ages attended the event with a variety of flags – including the Missouri Battle Flag, the Confederate Battle Flag, the First National, the U.S. Federal Flag, and more. As many are likely aware, Confederate flags and symbols have become targets of forced removal recently here in Missouri – both in Platte County and far beyond.  Note: According to The Sons of Confederate Veterans website, this veterans organization helps preserve the history and legacy of the Confederate Veteran so that future generations can understand the motives that animated the Southern Cause.

For further reading, please see the following: The Veteran and Platte County Flags

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The Veteran and Platte County Confederate Flags

flagsHow quickly we forget the lessons of history! With the Kansas City Star’s recent hit-piece against the Confederate Battle Flag hanging along side the Federal Flag at the Dirty Shame Saloon (located on the privately held Platte County Fair Grounds), we’re concerned that bullying and coercion may once again be rearing it’s ugly head. And it’s not just here in Platte County, but everywhere across the state (and beyond). From the Missouri Battle Flag being removed at Lexington, to discussion of relocating Confederate monuments in St. Louis and Boone County Missouri, one group seems intent upon forcing their will upon those of another.

And while we want to be sensitive to the concerns some may have about the Confederate Battle Flag, or Confederate symbols – we need to realize that many different people groups who currently live together in America could have serious issue with other popular symbols or beliefs. Take the American Indians, who were forced from their lands and in some cases pushed to near extinction. What would they say about popular flags, symbols, monuments or beliefs many Americans hold dear? Or the Japanese American who was placed involuntarily into prison camps on American soil during World War II? Or the approximately 65,000 Americans who were involuntarily sterilized during the 1920’s and 30’s? Some may even say that the millions of unborn, whose futures continue to be wiped from existence, would certainly have much to say – if only they could be allowed a voice. Flags and other symbols have different meanings to different people. Should everything ultimately be banned? Or should we simply learn how to work together in our communities, and peacefully get along with others – even if they may believe or value something different?

The fact is that most families in Platte County during the “Civil War” did not fight to oppress others, but to protect their home and community from invasion and aggression. As Missouri was placed under martial law early in the war, many Platte County people were disenfranchised, had their property confiscated, sent to prison without trial and often executed on the spot. As such, we’re a bit disappointed that the American Legion or Daughters of the American Revolution haven’t stood up for these American veterans and their families who served during this horrific conflict. It would be unthinkable for these organizations to advocate or remain silent if World War II, Vietnam veterans, or Revolutionary era landmarks and figures were given unsavory labels and their monuments or symbols forced from public eye. Yet they do remain silent as veterans and their families from America’s unCivil War are attacked, marginalized and “cleansed” from the public.

It took a long time for our communities to heal after the War Between the States. However, Platte County did slowly mend the wounds caused by this catastrophic event which some believe may have claimed the lives of around 1 million Americans (including women and children). They learned the terrible cost that comes with the use of force, coercion and bullying. Maybe it’s time we do the same?

If you’d like to know more about the history of Platte County during the “Civil War”, you might enjoy obtaining a copy of Platte County History Illustrated. It’s based on the first-hand observations of William Paxton, a resident of Platte City who witnessed Platte City burned twice by the Union Army – as well as interactions with General David Hunter of Ft. Leavenworth, a man who threatened to lay waste to the county, and “damned” the constitution when it was suggested he had no constitutional authority to do so.

For further reading, please see:

(Note: The Kansas City Star article referenced was published July 22, 2015: “Confederate Flag issue rises again at Platte County Fair”, by Matt Campbell.)

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Day-trip to Keytesville, Home of Sterling Price

monumentWe recently took a day-trip to Keytesville, Missouri in order to learn more about General Sterling Price, the 11th governor of Missouri who is also known for his involvement in the War with Mexico, and Lincoln’s War afterwards. Sterling Price once lived in Keytesville, running a hotel and mercantile business. He also built a home known as Val Verde on the Bowling Green prairie about 1/2 mile east of the Missouri River with his wife, Martha (Head), whom he had married in 1832 – 1833.

Located about two hours east of Kansas City, and just a tad north of the Missouri River, Keytesville these days is a pretty small town. However, it’s also the county seat of Chariton County – although you’d be hard pressed to realize it, as the courthouse is a modern structure that looks more like a fancy motel or church. But it’s a beautiful drive to get there, with many scenic smaller towns to pass through.

Although Keytesville is quiet these days, at one time, like many towns in rural America, it was once the epicenter for local business and social life. You can still see remnants of that time, with a few larger historic homes evident (including the Hill Homestead of 1832) and a crumbling downtown that speaks of earlier prosperity. However, there’s also people here who obviously care for their history too, as there’s a small park with a beautiful historic church predating the War Between the States, and a reconstructed log cabin. Nearby is a carefully manicured town park with well preserved monument to Sterling Price (erected in the early 1900s), which is quite a memorable tribute to behold. And we also visited the Sterling Price museum, where there were some artifacts owned by the family, as well as many other historical items pertaining to Keytesville history.

cottageset1I was hoping to learn a little more insight into who Sterling Price was on this trip, and I wasn’t disappointed. As it was said his wife burned his personal papers to avoid trouble after the war, not a lot is known about him personally, other than his involvement in politics and war strategies. While I still didn’t really find out anything new, it was a great experience to see some of the personal items from the Price family, as well as being able to walk the streets and see the landscapes that he and his family would have known. The museum has a few items that are said to have belonged to Sterling Price, including a sugar bowl, cottage set and a ox yoke his family used when moving from Virginia. Most personal items were sold by his wife to pay for transport to a Confederate colony in Mexico that later failed, which is quite pardon1a story in itself! There’s also a great 1905 banner for a Sons of Confederate Veterans Convention in Richmond. Of course his Val Verde home is long gone, but the horse track he constructed can be seen from the air. Like many individuals involved in the horrific tragedy of America’s un-Civil War, Sterling Price was a man who sacrificed everything in order to stand up for his community. I believe he’s a true Missouri hero.

Note: Interestingly, there are some small ties linking Camden Point history with that of Keytesville. For example, Confederate Lieutenant Colonel John C. Calhoun “Coon” Thornton (who was involved in the Camden Point Battle) was ordered in 1863 by General Price to conduct a recruiting mission in northwest Missouri. And John Thrailkell, who was also said to have been at the Camden Point fight, would later go on to burn the Keytesville courthouse in September of 1864. Read more here at Action at Camden Point.

For further reading on  General Sterling Price, I’d recommend Albert Castel’s “General Sterling Price and the War in the West”, and Andrew Rolle’s “The Lost Cause: The Confederate Exodus to Mexico”.

For more information, please see: Keytesville, Missouri Tourism. Note that there is a “Sterling Price Days” that happens each year in Keytesville!

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