Murphy - Bromelsick House
Abolitionist John Speer established a farmstead on this site shortly
after his arrival in Kansas Territory in September 1854. A newspaper
publisher from Pennsylvania, Speer became a part of the struggle to
bring Kansas into the Union as a free, non-slave-holding state. As a
pressman and political strategist, he was a founder of Lawrence, and he
played a major role in the drama known as Bleeding Kansas.
The struggle for political control of Kansas, 1854 - 1861, was a prelude
to the American Civil War, leaving a bitter legacy of distrust, hatred,
and violence. Kansas entered the Union as a Free State in January 1861.
Two and a half years later, Lawrence suffered the worst civilian
atrocity of the war at the hands of William C. Quantrill and his 450
Confederate irregulars. By mid-morning of August 21, 1863, 200 men and
boys were dead or missing and the town lay in ruins. Elizabeth and John
Speer lost two teenage sons. One column of invaders crossed near this
site at dawn, en route to the business district. The only bushwacker to
die here on the day of the raid was captured southeast of Lawrence,
brought to this hilltop, and shot.
The Murphy - Bromelsick house, relocated to this site in August 2000,
is a product of the spirited rebuilding of Lawrence in the decade following
the Quantrill massacre. It was constructed in stages between 1866 and
1869, at 909 Pennsylvania, almost 300 yards northwest of this site.
Irish and German immigrants built and owned or occupied this structure
until c. 1941. This dwelling was placed in Hobbs Park as a memorial to
John Speer, to the vision and sacrifice of the founding citizens of
Lawrence, and to the domestic vernacular architecture of that era.
Located in HobbsPark