Osawatomie and John Brown are linked in history, and visitors have been coming to Osawatomie due to the community’s John Brown-related history literally since the mid-19th century.

The Kansas Magazine, in its January-June 1873 issue, wrote an article about Osawatomie in which it stated “There is a small village, located about seven miles southwest of Paola, the county seat of Miami County, whose name is perhaps known throughout the eastern states as those of the more populous and flourishing towns of Kansas. There is, however, nothing remarkable or peculiarly attractive in its appearance; yet hundreds have been induced to leave the usual line of travel and branch off for the sole purpose of paying the village a visit. A professor of one of the colleges in Pennsylvania remarked to me only a few days ago’ I could not return home without saying I had paid my respects to the village of Osawatomie.”

The Kansas Magazine stated that the reason why Osawatomie had attracted heritage tourists in 1873 was the town’s association with John Brown and the Battle of Osawatomie.

The magazine stated, “It was the 30th day of August which gave this village its extensive renown.” And the article goes on to give a detailed description of the battle of Osawatomie and the town’s John Brown and Border War history as the primary reason that heritage tourists made it a point to go out of their way to visit Osawatomie to walk where John Brown took a stand against proslavery militiamen at the Battle of Osawatomie.

Osawatomie’s history and historic sites are of national and international importance, and just as in 1873, heritage tourists from all over the nation and the world continue to travel out of their way to visit Osawatomie due to the town’s connection to John Brown and the Border War over the status of slavery in Kansas during the 1850s.

Heritage tourists visit the town’s John Brown-related historic sites to stand where John Brown stood and walk where John Brown walked by the thousands every year, which is evidence of the importance of Osawatomie’s history on a national and international level.

John Brown is a controversial figure in American history, and is never an anachronism, for he has become a philosophical archetype for an ideologically motivated action in not only Americans but in nations around the world.

The heritage tourists who visit the John Brown Museum State Historic Site and the town’s other John Brown-related sites often do so because they want to consider solutions to the philosophical issues that John Brown’s abolitionist crusade raises, and tend to be as interested in discussing John Brown’s philosophies of life with the museum staff as they are in seeing Osawatomie’s John Brown-related historic sites.

Osawatomie and Miami County have a cultural gem that is a must-see for many heritage tourists, and it is important to preserve Osawatomie’s John Brown-related history and historic sites in the present and for future generations.

Grady Atwater is site administrator of the John Brown Museum and State Historic Site.

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