Big Springs, Kansas

1855 invitation to the Free State Convention in Big Springs, Kansas. Courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society.

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Big Springs, the oldest township in Douglas County, had long served as a watering hole on the Oregon Trail by the time of its formal founding in 1854. In 1855, antislavery deligates gathered in Big Springs and formed the Free-State Party, but the town was soon eclipsed in importance by the nearby towns of Lawrence and Lecompton. Today, Big Springs remains an unincorporated rural community.