Osawatomie’s Anna January Park is named after Anna January, who worked to preserve Osawatomie’s John Brown-related historic sites from 1898 to 1946, and her dedication to historic preservation in Osawatomie still benefits the community today.

Every time a tourist visits one of the town’s John Brown-related historic sites that she worked to ensure were preserved for future generations during her tenure as a historic preservationist in Osawatomie, the town still benefits from her efforts.

Without her determined efforts to work to preserve the town’s historic sites, Osawatomie’s nationally and internationally important history would not be so easily accessible by tourists today, and the town would not have the thousands of heritage tourists that visit Osawatomie every year attracted to the community to the same degree that occurs today.

January’s historic preservation efforts are more amazing due to the reality that she accomplished her historic preservation efforts during some of the most challenging historical eras of the 20th century, including the Great Depression.

When many communities were canceling cultural activities during the Great Depression, she worked with Ada Remington to ensure that the John Brown Statue was created and erected in John Brown Memorial Park. When local funding wasn’t enough, she sought and acquired funding from the Kansas Department of the Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic and prevailed upon other sources of funding to ensure that the John Brown Statue was erected.

Tourists from all over the nation and the world now have their pictures taken in front of the John Brown Statue, and Anna January’s legacy has helped ensure that Osawatomie’s nationally important history and heritage has been remembered in pictures and stories since the 1930s due to her efforts.

Indeed, she was a leader in the effort to ensure that John Brown Memorial Park was preserved, and the John Brown Museum State Historic Site stands in John Brown Memorial Park due to her participation in the efforts to move the Adair Cabin from its original site to John Brown Memorial Park.

She also worked to ensure that the Frederick Brown monument was erected, and her contributions to Osawatomie’s cultural life do no end there. She was a schoolteacher, the first female postmaster in Osawatomie, and was the Sunday school superintendent of the First Presbyterian Church of Osawatomie for 48 years.

Putting it mildly, she was a hardworking, determined civic leader who was short of stature, but proof of the saying that “dynamite comes in small packages.”

Once she set her mind to achieve a goal, she worked tirelessly to achieve the goal, never giving up on achieving the goal, and Osawatomie’s cultural life and tourism industry still benefits from her efforts today.

Anna January Park is a small park that has a shining jewel in Osawatomie’s historical crown for a namesake, and Anna January certainly deserves to be remembered for her enduring contributions to Osawatomie’s cultural and economic life.

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

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