Sunday, May 20, 2018

Guess this is our Meade Haul?

After stopping for lunch at the Washita Battleground, we continue north. The weather continues to be threatening, with heavy storm clouds on the horizon. 
We make one last stop in Oklahoma. Woodward was part of the Cherokee Outlet, the biggest land rush in United State history - way back in 1893.
We overnight at the Walmart and watch our last Oklahoma sunset.
The next day we push north and reach Kansas. We cross the state line and notice one thing immediately - the roads are much better maintained.
For the next hour we wind our way through southern Kansas. 
Ready for another diversion? Today, Kansas is America's breadbasket and the top producer of quite a lot of our food, including wheat and soybeans. Back in the 19th century, nobody woud've seen that as the territory's future.  Kansas took many long and difficult years to become a state, which inspired the state's motto "Ad astra per aspera." That translates as "to the stars through difficulty". 
From 1854 to 1861, the territory became a battlefield between abolitionists and those who were pro-slavery.  The violent confrontations earned the state the nickname "Bleeding Kansas". In 1860, a severe drought hit, and its estimated as many as 1/3 of the settlers pulled up stakes and left. 

After several years and multiple attempts at writing constitution, the abolitionists finally won the day and submitted a finished constitution. Kansas became a free state in 1861 - just four months before the Civil War began.
 The drought would also create conditions ripe for dust storms, and farming would continue to be a struggle through the 1880s. By the 1920s, Kansas finally seemed to be fertile farmland - then came another drought, and the great Dust Bowl of 1935. This  would lead to some major, and necessary, changes in how prairie land is farmed.
So, yep, next time you get stuck behind a Kansas farmer (like we did) just be thankful his family was too tenacious to quit! 
We finally pull off  Highway 54, stopping at Meade's City Park. The park was started way back in the 1920s, by business men who wanted to cater to the tourists traveling along Highway 54. Today, the city still allows RVs to park overnight for free.
Meade's real claim to fame, though, is the being home to the Dalton Gang Hideout
In 1887, J.N.. Whipple married Eva Dalton, and built his new bride a house in Meade. Eva was one of 15 children (some sources say 17). Her oldest brother Frank had become a lawman, and three other brothers followed suit. When these three weren't paid for their services, they turned to crime. Two of the brothers were killed during a bank robbery in Coffeyville in 1892, the last brother was captured and sent to prison.
One more digression! Eva's mother was Adeline Younger. She was the aunt of  Cole, Bob, and Jim Younger. These three men were also outlaws, and rode with Frank and Jesse James.


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