Mo. town calls on KU to drop Jayhawks mascot

OSCEOLA, Mo. (AP) — City officials in Osceola, a southwest Missouri town of about 950 people, are asking the University of Kansas to drop its “Jayhawk” mascot because the name refers to a group of domestic terrorists that nearly destroyed the city 150 years ago.

In a resolution approved earlier this week, the Osceola Board of Alderman also asks the University of Missouri to educate Kansas on the history of the “Border War” and let people know there was more to it than William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, Kan., in 1863.

Resentment still runs deep for residents of Osceola over the Sept. 22-23, 1861, siege by U.S. Sen. Jim Lane and a band of about 2,000 “Jayhawkers” that left a dozen men executed on the town square and the community itself a smoking ruin

“I grew up here, and it is all I heard about when I was attending grade school and high school,” Mayor Larry Hutsler told the Columbia Daily Tribune (http://bit.ly/ne3eyV). “Everyone knew who was responsible.”

In the resolution, the city condemns “the celebration of this murderous gang of terrorists by an institution of ‘higher education’ in such a brazen and malicious manner.”

Osceola had a population of about 2,500 before the 1861 attack, but fewer than 200 remained afterward. The city has never had as many residents as it did before the raid.

The attack was only one of several deadly episodes in the “Border War” over slavery between the two states. Lane was a radical abolitionist who formed his own militia at the outbreak of the Civil War and used it to punish Missourians.

When Quantrill’s band attacked Lawrence — Lane’s hometown — two years after the Jayhawkers’ raid in Missouri, many of the guerrillas shouted “Remember Osceola” as they were killing about 200 of the city’s men and burning down a quarter of the town.

The Osceola resolution asks Missourians to stop spelling Kansas or KU with a capital letter, since “neither is a proper name or a proper place.” In the resolution, both words are lowercase throughout.

Rick Reed of Osceola, who brought the resolution to the aldermen, doesn’t think the measure will persuade the University of Kansas to dump the Jayhawk.

“I don’t expect them to do anything,” he said. “They are so arrogant and uppity.”

A Kansas spokeswoman downplayed the Civil War origin of the school’s mascot.

“A Jayhawk is a blue bird with a red head and a big yellow beak that wears boots,” spokeswoman Jill Jess said in an email to the Daily Tribune. “It would be hard to confuse it with anyone with terrorist intent, though we admit we have been terrorizing the Tigers on the basketball court for some time. Tigers have been known to kill people. Bears, too.”

Missouri’s Tigers mascot also has Civil War roots, named for the Unionist militia set up to protect Columbia from guerrilla raids, the newspaper reported.

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Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, http://www.columbiatribune.com

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