'Lincoln' film's popularity boosts that of small Kansas town

Territorial capital featured in national newspaper

LECOMPTON, Kan. - One historic Kansas town, population 630, seems to be on a roll lately.

They managed to save their post office, and they are almost finished moving their historic one-room jailhouse to a more practical spot.

And the President of the Lecompton Historical Society was recently interviewed by a reporter from The New York Times.

"He's going to be doing a story in the near future on Lecompton, and the role it played in the Civil War," Paul Bahnmaier said.

The town's no stranger to the Times, but it was last featured in the paper more than 150 years ago. The town also was recently mentioned in a blurb in USA Today.

Why the sudden spike in interest?

"Because of the publicity that we're receiving from this film ‘Lincoln'," Bahnmaier explained.

Although Lecompton isn't mentioned directly in the film, it does receive several references in the book that the screenplay was based on: Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

"Lecompton, Lincoln, Kansas, they're all tied closely together," said Tim Rues, Administrator of Historic Constitution Hall in Lecompton.

It was there that the contentious pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution was written while 800 protestors filled the streets outside. Events like that are why this town is sometimes referred to as the place where the Civil War began, or where slavery began to die.

Rues, Bahnmaier and other volunteers have been presenting the dramatic events of Lecompton's past to audiences here for years now, playing the parts of colorful characters from the town's early history.

Many residents say they have seen the movie and liked it. They're expecting a ripple effect from the film's popularity.

"I think that there will be a definite increase in motor coach tours next year," Bahnmaier said.

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