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By Linda Emley
This Thursday, April 17 at 6 p.m., the Ray County Historical Society is hosting its quarterly meeting at the Eagleton Center in Richmond.
The guest speaker is Darryl Levings, who is an editor/writer for The Kansas City Star’s FYI section. He will be sharing stories from his book “Saddle the Pale Horse” as well as other stories related to the Civil War.
This is a carry-in dinner and everyone is asked to bring a side dish or dessert. Meat will be provided by the historical society.
If anyone has a question, please give me a call at the museum at 816-776-2305, and I’d be glad to help.
I’m excited about having Darryl as our guest speaker because I enjoy reading his history stories in The Star.
I got to meet Darryl a few years ago and it’s an interesting story. One Monday I was at the museum cleaning and the phone rang. I usually don’t answer the phone when we are closed, but for some reason I did. It was Darryl calling to ask if he could stop by. He was in Lexington and wanted to come see our Civil War room.
I had on old work clothes and wasn’t fit for company, but I didn’t want to pass on showing Darryl our fine museum.
He arrived a few minutes later and I explained we were closed and I was there cleaning things up but was glad he stopped by. He was working on a story about Civil War artifacts in the Kansas City area, but couldn’t promise whether we’d be mentioned. I told him I understood, but secretly hoped we would make the cut.
I was so happy and surprised when the following story came out in The Kansas City Star: “Treasures of the Civil War, By Darryl Levings. The best Civil War museum in the region is surely the Sweeney Collection now held by the National Parks Service at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, which will be open through November. Closer and very good are state collections at Lexington, Topeka, Lone Jack and Mine Creek, just down the state line in Kansas. But look around. Little treasure troves of Civil War artifacts and stories are all around us in county museums and other collections.
“The Star visited several and asked the curators or directors to single out just one item that they thought was unique or special to their collection. It often wasn’t easy to choose.”
Darryl then listed 10 sites, and I’m proud to say the Ray County Museum was on his list.
This is how he put it: “Ray County Museum – In the Civil War Room, Linda Emley first shows a Union uniform, then an unusual musket, then a flag.
“Now what’s that in a case beneath a revolver?
“An old envelope is printed with the caricature of Jefferson Davis hanging by the neck — after a whiskey barrel has been rolled from beneath his feet.
“Mostly in the first two years of the war, both sides printed perhaps 6,000 different collectible envelopes with patriotic sentiments. The Northern printers were not adverse to execution themes or boldly displaying ‘Death to Traitors’ on their wares.
“As the reporter leaves the old Richmond house, Emley asks: ‘Would you like to see the meat grinder that was at the house where Bloody Bill Anderson had his last meal?’ ”
I loved the article and kept a copy but thought that was the end of the story. But a few months later I heard the rest of the story.
C. J. Ford from Kearney stopped by the museum one day to show me a book he had. I was happy to see that this article had been added to a book and our little story was forever a piece of recorded history.
I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and I’m so glad that I answered the phone that Monday morning when I was just hanging out on the hill.
Have a Civil War or other story Linda might like to hear? You can write her at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her in person during museum hours.