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5:30- 7pm Saturday,  June 10 



A Candlelight commemoration of the African American and Native American victims of the Confederacy, and celebration of their 1861/2 “Great Escape” into Kansas,

led by the Muskogee (Creek) Chief Opothleyahola.

This program consisted of


>brief speeches about the history being commemorated,

>a procession of stand-ins for several specific African American and Native American families that connect with this story.


OPENING and Master of Ceremony: The Rev. Robert L. Baynham, KIAANAFH Vice President, former Pastor of  Poplar Grove Baptist Church of Humboldt, and presently Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church of Kansas City, KS ) – led a communal prayer to commemorate the spirit, resilience and triumph of the African Americans and Native Americans who came to escape slavery and the Confederacy.

Chief Perry Beaver, representing the Muskogee (Creek) Nation, that was the central component of the Great Escape saga, spoke about Opothleyahola’s role in the history of the Creek Nation and the importance of the Great Escape that he led, and the Creek Nation’s historic connections with African Americans.

Willard R. Johnson (KIAANAFH President, member of Poplar Grove Baptist Church)-- gave  an  account of the nature and scope of the experience of the blacks in the Trails of Tears and in the Great Escape, their settlement into the Humboldt area, and the special role Humboldt played in the events leading to and following upon the Great Escape.

William Linde of Yates Center Chamber of Commerce – recounted  more aspects of  the Opothleyahola story, especially  as it relates to the Yates Center area of the state, and  the Opothleyahola Commemorative Highway, and Opothleyahola’s burial place in Woodson County, Kansas.

Eileen Robertson and Carolyn Green (Humboldt Historic Days planning Committee)— gave an account of the anti-slavery sentiment and underground railroad activity that occurred in the Humboldt area, and displayed quilts of the type often used in those times to send coded messages to escaping slaves.

Eric Kirkwood -- (KIAANAFH Board member, history teacher) gave an account of  the rise and contributions of the

            Indian Home Guard and Kansas Colored regiments, which many of  the refugees joined. These units were the first                     colored troops to fight in the Civil War (preceding the Massachusetts 54th) and were precursors to the 79th and the                 “Buffalo Soldiers.” 

THE  PROCESSION --- family representatives presented a candle-latern  for each of  the earliest pioneer African                         American and Native American families of the Humboldt area thought to be  closely connected to this story, several of             which  still have descendants in the area, and  gave a brief history of these families- several of the  procession                            participants are direct descendants of a family commemorated in the procession.

> Humboldt family representatives were:
James Boyd,  Rev. Otis Crawford Jr.,  Charlotte Goodseal, Marjorie Harper, Willard R. Johnson

> Native American family representatives each were direct descendants: Felix Gouge and Thompson Gouge --
of The Muskogee Nation,  (who are now resident in the Oklahoma City area) and Mary Atkin - of  the Cherokee Nation. She is now resident of Yates Center, KS.

CLOSING The Rev. Robert L. Baynham led the whole assembly in  a communal pledge to work to heal the wounds of history, to overcome the legacy of slavery and racism, and to achieve unity and understanding among all people,  followed by the Benediction.

To go to the current  KIAANAFH Web Site,  click here   (or type into the "location" window of your browser, the following URL