Wabaunsee, Kansas

The Beecher Bible and Rifle Church, built during the Civil War in Wabaunsee, Kansas. Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress.

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Wabaunsee, Kansas was founded in 1855 by some 100 Free-Soil settlers associated with the New England Emigrant Aid Company and the Beecher family, headed by the abolitionist Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, who smuggled guns to Kansas settlers in crates labeled "Beecher's Bibles." Throughout the "Bleeding Kansas" era and the Civil War, Wabaunsee remained a predominantly antislavery community, and in the wake of William Clarke Quantrill's raid on Lawrence in August 1863, Wabaunsee's citizens provided aid to the devastated town. Today, the community remains unincorporated, but the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church, built in 1862, still stands and is on the National Register of Historic Places.