Lecompton, Kansas: Secret Skeleton in a Casket

A child-size coffin that, when opened, reveals a real-looking paper mache skeleton that was used in fraternal order initiation rites.

Territorial Capital Museum

Address:
640 E. Woodson Ave., Lecompton, KS
Directions:
Territorial Capital Museum. On E. Woodson Ave. west of Eisenhower Memorial Drive/E. 600 Rd.
Hours:
W-Sa 11 am - 4 pm, Su 1-5 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
785-887-6285
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Paper mache skeleton. Skeleton in a Casket

Among the many fascinating and historic displays and objects in the Territorial Capital Museum is one of particular note. It is a small child-size coffin that, when opened, reveals a paper mache skeleton that was formerly used in Constitution Hall when the building served as the I.O.O.F. Lodge. The prop was used in initiation rites to show the last door of life and to instill seriousness in initiates as a rite of passage into the secret fraternal benefit society.

Lecompton has been called "The political birthplace of the Civil War" since it was here in Constitution Hall that the Territorial Legislature voted on the Kansas state pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution. When it was sent along with the anti-slavery Topeka constitution to Washington D.C. for debate, it was soundly defeated in The House of Representatives and divided the Democratic party. That division made it possible for Abraham Lincoln to be elected President.

[Phil Pasquini, 07/17/2010]

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In the region:
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December 19, 2014

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