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Leavenworth community planning to honor the lives of lynching victims

<i></i><br/>The Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum in Leavenworth

The Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum in Leavenworth

By Nathan Vickers

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    LEAVENWORTH, Kansas (KCTV) — The Richard Allen Cultural Center and Museum will unveil a memorial to three lynching victims later this week.

The marker will tell the stories of three different Black men who were unjustly killed in Leavenworth County.

Edna Wagner, the director of the museum, said all three of the men had been wrongfully accused and had never gotten a fair trial.

“This is being brought to the forefront,” Wagner said, “not to shame anyone but to make a difference for our community.”

The man to be honored is Richard Wood, who was dragged to death in 1887 near 4th Street and Olive Street in Leavenworth.

Later, in 1893, Silas Wilson was hung near Easton, Kansas, just a few miles from Leavenworth.

The most widely known lynching in the area happened in 1901, when an angry mob burned Fred Alexander to death after being accused of killing a woman. Alexander had served in the Spanish American War. Wagner said the accusations against him were likely false.

“This made national news,” Wagner said. “People were collecting bits of his skin and whatever had fallen off. It was devastating.”

Leavenworth County District Attorney Todd Thompson has also been involved in honoring the three men. In 2022, Thompson assisted with a project to collect soil samples from the areas where the lynchings happened as a symbolic gesture. The samples are on display at the museum.

“We’re talking about justice, talking about due process,” Thompson said. “Memorializing and telling the hardship of the story is necessary for helping people remember.”

The memorial ceremony will take place Friday, June 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bethel AME Church in Leavenworth.

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