Kansas Roadtrips: Garnett and Osawatomie

After our annual trip to the apple orchard we decided to visit Osawatomie – a small Kansas town we passed last month on the way to Galena. As always, I took a wrong turn and, since I was too lazy to get the map out of the trunk, we ended up passing through Garnett as well. Garnett, KS is a neat little town, clean and well-kept. The most impressive building in Garnett, like in many other county seats, is the Anderson County Courthouse.

Over the years I’ve seen many county courthouses and I am always impressed with the effort and expense the rural counties invested in these buildings in the past. Just look at the Franklin County Courthouse in Ottawa, KS (4th photo); Linn County in Mound City, KS; Pike County in Pittsfield, IL; Chase County in Cottonwood Falls, KS;  various courthouses in this post and you will notice that the courthouse is usually the largest and the most architecturally creative building in town. By the way, I hope you clicked on all these links because I will find out if you didn’t. Many of these courthouses along with the one in Garnett are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A statue of Lady Justice and what looks like permanent Christmas lights adorn the front of the building. Justice in Kansas is not blind.

Lady Liberty keeps her company…

but her facial expression seems more stunned than her sister’s in New York.

Any self-respectable courthouse features an underground dungeon for the ladies.

Courthouse square wasn’t busy on a Sunday afternoon, but unlike many other places I’ve seen, it feels alive: there were people walking, kids riding bikes and few cars were parked in front of businesses.

Garnett doesn’t look its age.

Why don’t they build houses with porches nowadays?

If you are planning a visit to Garnett, you might want to reserve your tickets to the show.

Osawatomie, a town not far from Garnett on highway 169 right past this guy…

…is home to the John Brown Museum State Historic Site.

John Brown’s statue, reportedly hit by a meteorite, didn’t change much since at least 1942.

Statue of American abolitionist John Brown. © Time Inc. Alfred Eisenstaedt

Museum was open on Sunday afternoon…

…the stone building contains the original cabin built by Samuel Adair where John Brown stayed during some of his time in Kansas.

John Brown museum contains many original artifacts and displays showing the hardships of the first settlers. Weather, diseases and what now would be considered hideous looks of both sexes made their lives miserable. Even in this non-airconditioned environment, lacking TV and indoor plumbing they found it in themselves to do what was right and fight slavery.

It was getting late and we didn’t take any photos on the way home, so use your imagination and this photo from 1942 as a substitute.

Main Street. Osawatomie, KS. © Time Inc. Alfred Eisenstaedt

  • jjskck

    I always love these posts.  We don’t build houses with porches because we don’t want to have to see or talk to our neighbors.  It makes us uncomfortable.  yet we bemoan the fact that “kids can’t even play outside anymore”.  Well, they could if you chose not be scared of everything and everybody.

    Anyway, I digress.  Yesterday we passed a car with Kansas plates and “KM” as the county.  I didn’t know what that stood for, so I did a little searching.  I learned it’s Kingman County, immediately west of Sedgwick, from this website:
    I share the link because you can click on the county and it will return a small photo of each courthouse.  Also, it gives the county’s population in 1900, 1990, and 2000, which I found inordinately fascinating.  SO many counties had more residents in 1900 than now.

    • Thanks for the link. I guess I have a lot more driving to do in the future. We usually don’t go further than 3-4 hours one way so I don’t feel like OTR driver.

  • >> “Even in this non-airconditioned environment, lacking TV and indoor plumbing 
    >> they found it in themselves to do what was right and fight slavery.”

    It’s a very weird chapter in American history. People like John Brown didn’t fight slavery because they liked blacks (they didn’t). Rather they were motivated by a wave of religious fervor to be rid of slavery. Some were trying to avoid the impending wrath of god for the sin of slavery, while others were trying to make the world a better place just before the second coming of Christ (which, as  you know, is always predicted within one’s own lifetime). Of course, Brown was struck with the fervor a little more than most.

    If you get the time, there are some great books written about the “Second Great Awakening” — I contend it was more influential in american history than the average joe gives it credit for.