Settled by members of the New England Emigrant Aid Company on August 1, 1854, what is now the town site of Lawrence was forged on the anvil of the Civil War. During its Territorial days, Lawrence was defended by John Brown in the 1855 Wakarusa War, sacked by sheriff Sam Jones in 1856, and was designated the free state capital of the Kansas Territory from 1857-1860. At least 143 men were massacred on August 21, 1863 when Lawrence was burned to the ground by the pro-slavery forces of William Quantrill. Much of the town was rebuilt following the raid, and some of those buildings still stand; bronze plaques mark the most significant historic structures. Exhibits of those pioneer years and Lawrence’s free state heritage are on display at the Watkins Museum.