Larry Lapsley

LARRY LAPSLEY, the first black homesteader in Saline County, was born a slave in Kentucky in 1840. In the 1850’s he was taken into Missouri by his owner and at the start of the Civil War, accompanied new owners into northern Texas. One day in the fall of 1864, Lapsley and a cousin decide to cross the Red River and walk north to Union-held Fort Gibson in Indian Territory. They faced a trek of nearly two hundred miles through and area held by Confederate sympathizers. Early in the journey, Choctaw Indians apprehended the two and held them captive for a time. Lapsley escaped and continued his flight to freedom alone, arriving at Fort Gibson early in 1865, suffering from starvation and exhaustion. The commanding officer at the post was Colonel William A. Phillips, one of the founders of Salina. Lapsley befriended another soldier from Saline County named Luke Parson, and when the war ended, the ex-slave accompanied Parsons to Kansas. Lapsley died at the age of 57 of heart disease at home of his neighbors, Frank and Adelaide Robinson. The Robinsons buried him in the family cemetery beside their infant sons. Years later when the graves were moved to Gypsum Hill, they erected the monument for their friend.

Original art work by David L. Hardman(click here for inforation about the artist)

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