History of Bourbon County Car Tours Offered


The Old Fort Genealogical Society, along with help from the Historic Preservation Association of Bourbon County and the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce are presenting a social distancing history event for Bourbon County residents, on August 1.

It is a guided carpool tour around the county with local history lovers leading and speaking at designated spots. It is the first of many by the group of local history enthusiasts.

The title of the inaugural car tour is Ghost Towns and Early Legends of Northern Bourbon County.

Stops will be the Barnesville Cemetery, Fort Lincoln and Freedom Colony, Wagon Road Bridge,  Guthrie’s Mound, U.S. National Cemetery No. 1, and Eugene Ware Elementary School.

The tour will begin at 8:50 a.m. at Old Fort Genealogical Society located in Memorial Hall, Third Street and  National Avenue, and end at approximately 11:50 a.m. at the National Cemetery.

Park vehicles on National Avenue in front of the Bourbon County Courthouse or across the street in front of Memorial Hall. The Old Fort Genealogical Library is located in the basement of Memorial Hall on East National Avenue.

National Cemetery, Fort Scott.

The event costs $5 and registration is at fortscott.com. There is a limit of 45 participants.

For more information: 620-223-3300 or [email protected].

It was happenstance that the tours are beginning.

“Pete Allen comes to visit the Old Fort Genealogical Library and we talked,” Ann Rawlings, the librarian said. “He said I should contact Fred Campbell…..The next thing I know we had a meeting to set up a tour again.”

Historial Preservation of Bourbon County did bus tours years ago, she said.

“Bourbon County is fortunate to have local men and women presenters whose love of history and the preservation of that history for future generations drives them to work endless hours to fulfill their mission of historic preservation,” Pete Allen said.  “Fred Campbell and Don Miller started the tour years ago. They are being joined now by Reed Hartford, Brian Allen and Ralph Carlson. Ann Rawlins, whose enthusiasm sparked the revival and Lindsay Madison has offered invaluable help in getting the tour organized.”

The following is from an email  interview with Ann Rawlings:

What is the plan for future tours?

“The tours will change each month covering the whole of Bourbon County,” Rawlings said. “There are many places to show and tell the stories all over the county and this is the way to get first-hand information from well-seasoned historians.”

“Some of the areas we plan on visiting are Bronson and the aluminum statue; Hell’s Bend Railroad, engine and cemetery; Garland and the coal mines on the Old Hwy; Cato, the town that moved; the west side of Bourbon County where ‘Africa Colony’ once thrived; cemeteries – those that are active and those forgotten; travel the path of the Military Highway, and more to be defined,” she said.


Who is invited to attend?

“Anyone who has an interest in history. Most sites will be handicapped accessible as long as they can get in and out of vehicles,” Rawlings said.


Why a car tour offering?

“The plans in the future will be bus tours, but due to the six-foot distancing of the COVID guidelines, we felt the attendees would be willing to go via carpool,” she said. ” Families can still attend and not be concerned about contamination.”

“We will require all to have a mask when out of their vehicles, observe the six-foot distancing protocol and make sure all are healthy before coming on the tour.”


What is the history of the genealogical society?

“Old Fort Genealogical Society (OFGS) started in 1984 and has expanded over the years until it is a large Library packed with original documents, newspaper microfilm, hundreds of researched history notebooks and self-published works, old and new printed works, several filing cabinets full of family histories and topic histories as well as computer access to newspapers.com and ancestry.com and many other sites,” she said.

We have researchers working on several projects at this time. Some are working on genealogy, others on local history. We have so many projects we need help. Anyone who would be willing to research at the Library or at home is welcome to contact us”

“We can be reached at [email protected] or 620-223-3300.”


What is the history of the HPA?

“This from their website,” Rawlings said.

“The purpose of the Historic Preservation Association of Bourbon County, Inc. is to preserve historic sites.

“We promote public interest in matters of historical importance to Bourbon County and each year, we match several $500 City of fort Scott grants to downtown Fort Scott business owners for the purpose of restoring their historic building facades. In addition, we sponsor and sometimes co-sponsor history-related events and invite an entertaining and information speaker to each of our annual meetings.”

“We can be found on facebook by typing in HPABC or online at hpaofbourboncounty.weebly.com.”


Give a brief history of the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce

“The Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce is a membership organization serving Fort Scott and Bourbon County with a focus on being a support to our members including businesses, agri-businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals who belong to and support the work of the Chamber and are engaged in the community.”

“The Chamber strives to be a valuable resource in many ways including referrals of members, supplying relocation packets, housing options, event information and promotion of job opportunities.”

“We can be contacted via our website fortscott.com, call 620-223-3566 or come by and visit at 231 E Wall St just west of the Hwy 69/Hwy 54 interchange.”

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