Archive for Thursday, February 25, 2010

Letter: Keep history alive

February 25, 2010

It is said that historians have a special responsibility to bring the dead alive in a way that allows them to speak to the living. Alice Smith Dow came to De Soto with her family before Kansas became a state. In “Childhood Memories” she does an exemplary job of giving the reader the conditions that the early settlers were forced to deal with to build our town.

De Soto currently has three history markers financed and installed by the Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department. In my opinion, there is a need for three more markers.

The first priority would be the placement of a second kiosk at the Kill Creek overlook on Lexington Avenue that would illustrate the original plat of De Soto and the significance of the Shawnee Indians who sold their holdings to the De Soto Town Company.

There were five important structures in the early growth of De Soto located on Peoria Street between 83rd and 84th streets: two churches, a school, doctor’s office and meeting hall. Only two of these structures remain. These buildings and the people associated with them have intriguing stories to share with us.

Riverfest Park and the surrounding flood plain are more than a park and grain fields. Imagine standing on the bank of the Kansas River and watching any of the 34 steamboats passing De Soto carrying supplies and passengers to towns upstream.

Estimates for completing the designs and the manufacturing of the markers is about $1,500 each. The proposed markers would have illustrations and narrative taken from photographs, drawings, and the words of our early pioneers.

If you feel it is important to have our community’s history made available to its current and future residents, you can support this endeavor by making a contribution to the “De Soto Historic Marker Fund” that has been established at De Soto’s FCB Bank.

Darrel Zimmerman

De Soto

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