“History never looks like history when you are living through it.”
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Na-Nex-Se Blackhoof, widow of Chief Blackhoof, was the signer of an 1854 treaty. Over one and a half million acres of the Kansas Shawnee Indian reservation was ceded to the United States government. In 1865, shortly before the widow’s death, the Kansas and Neosho Valley Railroad was organized; a railroad depot was erected and a civil engineer platted a town. In 1869 the name “Lenexa,” a derivation of Na-Nex-Se, was adopted. The old Santa Fe Trail ran directly through this little corner of the cosmos.
I only write these words because I didn’t know about this until today. I was raised a few miles away from the railroad depot. The city of Lenexa was my home until I turned eighteen and left for Arizona’s warmer climates. It dawns on me that there’s an awful lot that I don’t know that I probably ought to.
The historic downtown area is small. If you’re driving through and you blink your eyes, you might just miss it. Today it’s pretty much only comprised of this old rail house, a saloon, and a barber shop. I never spent any time here. For one reason or another, the idea struck me yesterday that it might be a good idea to drive over and make a few pictures. It may well have proved to be a waste of time. The weather was disagreeable, and I’m not so sure I’m pleased with any of the photographs I got out of the deal. But at least I learned about my hometown’s namesake.
There are lots of little details that slip through the cracks. It can be argued every which way that the details of our history are important. The details also rarely seem to be very glamorous. In fact, most of the time the details of our history seem decidedly mundane. Nevertheless, the importance of our history is argued regularly. It has been my experience, however, that rarely are our words ever put into proper practice. The business of life overwhelms us. At the end of the day, the television seems to be a greater comfort than a history book.
I’m wholly confident that this is not a good thing.