Friday, April 27, 2012

Troy

Nestled among the glaciated hills of the far northeastern corner of the state of Kansas, and right off of Highway K-7, is the small community of Troy, one of the oldest towns in the state, and home to several interesting sites. I have visited Troy on a couple of occasions, but Wednesday of this week was the since I began my Kansas Journeys blog in 2009.

Troy is best-known as the setting for one of Peter Toth's Indian carvings. Toth is a Hungarian-born resident of Florida whose "Trail of the Whispering Giants" includes 74 wood carvings honoring native Americans indigenous to the area in which the sculptures are placed.  The artist did not charge Troy to create the Whispering Giant, only to provide the materials, lodging and expenses.

The Troy monument represents a composite of the features and clothing customs of the Kickapoo, Pottawatomie, Iowa, Sac and Fox tribes, all of which have reservations in the area. Toth came to Doniphan County in 1978 to sculpt this work, the twenty-ninth completed. The burr oak log chosen (from a 100 foot tall tree) was 67 inches in diameter. When the sculpture was completed it was 27 feet in height.

Peter Toth's "rough" style is ideal to enable him to demonstrate the conditions in which the Indians lived. He noted that, like his Hungarian ancestors, they had been "driven from their land, ... abused and rejected, ... and suffered from humiliation and trickery"

The Indian Chief occupies a spot in front of the Doniphan County Courthouse, one of the numerous simple, but stately, courthouses designed by Kansan George P. Washburn. The Neo-Romanesque structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

 The businesses and homes surrounding the courthouse square make up the Doniphan County Courthouse Square Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

Most of the buildings on the square are of Queen Anne or Italianate design. Fortunately the owners have not attempted to "contemporize" them by adding the abhorrent faux  modern facades so popular in the 1960s and 70s. Over the years, these buildings have served a number of purposes and survived a fire. Among the more intriguing uses? A second floor skating rink. (I'm wondering about the racket downstairs.) After a fire damaged the skating rink, it was rebuilt as the Leland Opera House in 1900.


It appeared that Simpson Hardware might have been in business in the not-too-distant past, but I didn't see anybody to ask.

 At first glance, I thought this cat was of the stuffed variety, part of an antique store's inventory. Wrong, guess it was there to control the mouse population.


The Lincoln Connection: Abraham Lincoln made one brief visit to Kansas Territory, that to make campaign speeches in 1859. 


Depending upon  which source you choose to believe, he gave a speech either on the courthouse steps or on the steps of a hotel (shown below in an earlier time, and as it is today). It has been reported that Lincoln used the occasion to fine-tune a speech he was preparing for an important occasion "back east." This writer is not an authority on Lincoln, but has family connections to him and has read much about him. It would be my opinion that he probably spoke from both places, and maybe even after emerging from an outhouse during his visit. Folks were drawn to him, and loved to hear his home-spun homilies and good-sense ideas.

I, for one, wish the balcony and woodwork were still present.

On a previous visit to Troy, I happened upon this house in the process of much-needed restoration and stopped to visit with the hometown folks, members of the Doniphan County Historical Society, who were making it happen. It is the oldest house in the county, built in 1856 of hand-hewn cottonwood and walnut by Nelson Rogers, Troy's first blacksmith and first postmaster. He sold the property to Sidney Tennant. Tennant, an attorney, had ties to Abraham Lincoln, and most likely entertained him here during his 1859 visit. The house sits across the street from the courthouse, and is included in the Doniphan County Courthouse Square Historic District.

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Visiting Troy ~ Troy is easily accessed from US Highway 36, or from Kansas Highway 7 on the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway.  You might add Troy to your itinerary if you are visiting Atchison, St. Joseph (MO), Highland, or Hiawatha ... Eating: The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers recommends Home Place Restaurant, open Mon-Fri for breakfast or lunch, Sunday for lunch. Specialties are reported to be Hungarian pork chops, sour cream dill chicken breast, and homemade bread and square pies.

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Trivia Question ~ For what pro-slavery Missourian was Doniphan County named? The answer can be found at: http://skyways.lib.ks.us/counties/DP/

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