The Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic was the women’s auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was the Union Civil War veterans’ organization.

The daughters and granddaughters of the Union Civil War veterans worked to preserve the memory of their loved ones’ service to the Union during the Civil War. When Union Civil War veterans began to grow old and many started to pass away, the members of the Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic mobilized to work to ensure that the service of their fathers and grandfathers were not forgotten by ensuring that statues to Union soldiers and Civil War historic sites across the North were preserved.

Osawatomie’s members of the Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic were no exception to the rule. Osawatomie’s cadre of the Women’s Relief Corps actively worked to ensure that Osawatomie’s Civil War-related historic sites were preserved.

Many of the women who made up the Osawatomie cadre of the Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic had the unique perspective of having been present as children and young women when the nascent free state community of Osawatomie had a flash point of conflict during the guerilla war over the issue of slavery in Kansas Territory.

They had seen the smoldering ruins of Osawatomie following the Battle of Osawatomie on August 30, 1856. Therefore, the ladies of the local Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic were highly motivated to preserve the historic sites of Osawatomie for future generations as they observed their fathers and grandfathers age and pass on in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Community leaders such as Emma Adair Remington, Ada Remington, Anna January, and other women worked to ensure that Osawatomie’s John Brown and Civil War-related historic sites were preserved for future generations, an effort that took great determination and persistent effort.

For instance, John Brown Memorial Park, the site of the Battle of Osawatomie on August 30, 1856, was under threat of being developed into a residential area when Emma Adair Remington convinced her husband, J.B. Remington, to purchase the land that made up the site of the Battle of Osawatomie. He paid the taxes on the land until the Osawatomie cadre of the Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic could purchase it from him and preserve the battle ground for future generations, an effort in which they were successful, for that land is now set aside as John Brown Memorial Park.

The Osawatomie cadre of the Women’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic successfully preserved the community’s John Brown and Civil War-related historic sites for future generations, and we owe them a debt of gratitude and respect for their efforts.

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

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