By Susan Redden
Organizers hope that today’s ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of a Civil War battle northwest of Joplin also will encourage support to finance a permanent memorial on the site.
The public event, set for 11 a.m. at the intersection of Peace Church and Fountain Roads, will remember the regiment of black soldiers ambushed and killed by Confederate guerillas and the response by Union reinforcements who burned down the farm and the nearby Sherwood community.
The ambush occurred at the site of the former Rader Farm property just west of the intersection. Jasper County more than three years ago used donated funds to buy the five-acre tract. A committee of volunteers soon after started plans for a permanent memorial, but that work was sidelined for a time by recovery efforts after the May 2011 tornado.
The committee has developed plans for the memorial park, which will be showcased as a part of today’s ceremonies. Committee members will be available to answer questions about the memorial and show plans for buildings memorializing what happened at the site.
“We’ll have the plans there for people to see and we intend to use marking paint and actually mark off the area where the house and summer kitchen will be built,” said Bob Harrington, volunteer project manager for the Sherwood-Rader Farm Jasper County Civil War Park.
The committee is made up of about 15 people, including representatives from Missouri Southern State University, regional authors and community leaders. They have developed plans for a structure to replicate the original Rader farmhouse, with a small cabin and a split-rail fence at the perimeter of the property. County road crews have cleared the property except for a small barn and stretch of the split-rail fence that has been constructed.
The park would be the first site on the western side of Jasper County to recognize the region’s role in the Civil War, according to Steve Weldon, county archivist and a member of the committee.
The design for the buildings was donated by Don Ness, a Joplin architect, and the committee has talked with officials of a local firm experienced in buildings that would replicate construction from the period.
The committee has set a fundraising goal of $100,000, Harrington said.
“Originally, we thought we could do it for just a little under $85,000, but we’ve found the property is larger than we first thought, and it’s going to take more for the fencing.”
Thus far, money toward the project has been a $25,000 donation by Ed and Allison Hershewe, used to buy the tract, and $7,500 set aside by Jasper County for incidental expenses in the project’s development.
“The county has been very supportive,” said Brad Belk, a committee member and curator of the Joplin Museum Complex.
Discussion of the property’s future will come at the end of a program to include elements aimed at taking listeners back to that time through first-persons account of the Rader Farm ambush and events that followed. Speakers will include Jim Lile, a professor of the theater department at MSSU, and Paul Teverow, a professor in the history department, who will read writings from Hugh L. Thompson, who was with Company C of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, and Lt. J.H. Graton, a white officer with the First Kansas Colored Infantry.
Virginia Laas, a retired MSSU history professor also will speak, the Carthage-based Heartland Concert Band will perform and the program will include presentations from others on the committee and will involve veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.