“So I showed the kids a picture of Fort Scott in the 1950’s and they were just blown away by where are all these buildings now, where’s all the traffic, what happened?” explained Bourbon County history teacher Brian Allen.
And that curiosity sparked the creation of a new history course at Fort Scott High School.
Allen, an instructor at the school and a member of the Bourbon County Historical Preservation Association, says he’s excited to share the story of the county’s roots.
“A few things that will be in the curriculum will be of course, Fort Scott. We wouldn’t be Fort Scott if we didn’t have the fort.” Allen continued. “Another thing would be some of the famous people that are from here, like Gordon Parks.”
Allen’s interest in history has led him to find out some intriguing stories about the region, like the story of Birdie McCarty, who was convicted for stealing horses in the county, but the judge was looking to make a deal.
“He offered to reduce her sentence by one year because she said she was a Christian woman, and he said, ‘if you can say the Lord’s Prayer, I will reduce your sentence by one year.’ And she said, ‘Just bang the gavel,'” Allen laughed.
Allen never expected his students’ interest in the county to blossom into a course.
To share the story of Fort Scott with the younger generation gives him hope the legacy of the area will live on.
“It’s just amazing to me,” Allen continued. “I think it’s great they have a little bit of civic pride and that’s what I’m hoping to teach these kids.”
And that legacy is sure to live on with at least one student.
“I would like to know where we came from, very accurately,” explained junior Issac Hurst. “And I would like to meet the people who are experts on where we came from, I’d like to learn some history about this town and especially about this county.”
This is the first year the school has ever offered the county’s history. At the end of the course, students will be meeting with residents who have lived in Bourbon County for at least 80 years to create a “living history” project.