Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 21, 2018


February 21, 2018
             This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about an explosion in the Milford High School Gymnasium.
The explosion of an overhead butane gas heater was blamed for a fire, which destroyed the Milford High School Gymnasium in February of 1961.  The fire was discovered about 11:00 in the evening after several Milford residents had heard an explosion, but did not realize the source of the blast.  Principal Lew Wallace said the Butler type building, constructed about seven years earlier at a cost of $65,000.00 was believed to be a total loss.  Most of the contents in the gym including athletic gear and 500 permanent seats were all destroyed.  Members of the Milford fire department, as well as many other Milford residents fought the fire in near zero temperatures for about four hours.  City and school officials publicly thanked those volunteers, especially the military men in the community for their help.  Many handled water hoses for up to three-quarters of an hour without relief.  Ladies of the community provided hot coffee and food for the volunteers.  The gym was a separate building from the structure, which housed the high school classrooms and the fire did not damage those.  Since the fire was before today’s school unification, Milford school officials received offers from both the Junction City  school system and St. Xavier’s to make available their facilities for future athletic events.  The gym was never repaired and the high school was razed within three years to make way for Milford Lake.
And.. that’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 20, 2018


February 20, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            We have been reserving time on Tuesday’s programs to continue with some of the history of the C.L. Hoover Opera House.  If you have been reading each week, you have been hearing about the struggles and challenges of restoration of the building as recorded in a document written by the late Rob Stevens. We pick the story back up in 1985 and this is what Rob wrote in his work:  “The architect’s concept did not provide the Junction City Little Theater (JCLT) with enough storage area or scene shop and the firm said it would be impossible to put another floor above the auditorium portion of the structure without all new girding.  Therefore, the group took an option to purchase the adjacent building as part of its intended contribution to the project.  Plans were to remodel the front two-thirds of the main floor into a lounge suitable for small dinner theater.  This facility could also serve people using the Opera House for whatever purpose.  To keep costs down and to maximize space usage, JCLT asked if the city would be willing to accept a permanent walkway between the two so the Opera House could be used by both. With the request to connect the two structures, the question of alcohol came to the forefront and a delegation of the First Baptist Church, located across the street from the Opera House filled the city Commission Room to protest a change in codes.  The adjacent building was less than 400 feet away.  JCLT had hoped the lounge revenue would cover the payments to purchase and remodel the structure and felt without it another avenue of finance would have to be established before any work was done.  “This was probably the final roadblock to the project” Mona Kessinger stated. 
            Well, that brings us to the end of our time together.  Next Tuesday we will pick up this story in 1985 on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 19, 2018


February 19, 2018
            Today’s story is a quick look at the history that led to the construction of the Milford dam.  This information was first published in an article by the late Marilyn Heldstab and published in 1993. 
“The first settlers began establishing homesteads in the community of what is now called Milford in 1855.  The chartered name of the city was Bachelor, however it was later changed to Milford, because the postmaster was unhappy with the misspelling of the name Bachelor.  Marilyn cited another resource titled “Our Town and Townsmen”, which was written in 1892, in which the author stated that “The town is the oldest on the Republican River.  It is situated about fourteen miles from the mouth of the river on the Fort Kearney branch of the Union Pacific Railroad.” The rest of the article describes the people who settled the town and later continued to develop it.  Some of those included A.F. Fawley, who sold general merchandise, Ed Steckel, a blacksmith, a Mr. Pickering, who was a wagon maker, William P. Bard, restauranteur, Mr. Newby conducted the public schools as principal and Miss Gertie Brown taught the primary department.  Miss Bell Roether was a dressmaker and seamstress in the town and Burt Bartell a barber.
            If you are interested in more information about “Old Milford”, why the town was moved to make room for the Dam, stop our Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets any day Tuesday through Sundays from now until February 18.  The hours are between 1 and 4.  Check out the Submerged and Water/Ways displays. And… Thanks for reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.


Friday, February 16, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 16, 2018

February 16, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s time will be spent sharing some trivia about our area.  You can use these to test your friends to see how much they AND you know about the history of Junction City, Fort Riley and our county.  Here we go…
            *Junction City was the first town west of the Mississippi to distribute Coca-Cola.
            *The Junction City Ladies Reading Club is the oldest Federated Club in Kansas and one of the first west of the Mississippi.
            *In 1929, the “Uptown Theater” was one of the first theaters in Kansas to be equipped with “talkies” or motion pictures.
            *Famous guests of the Historic Bartell Hotel include: Gene Tierney, John Phillip Sousa, W.C. Field, Gloria Vanderbilt, Dan Dailey and John Wayne. 
            *Fort Riley was first named Camp Center, because it was believed to be the geographic center of the United States.
            *Davis County was Geary County’s original name.
            *St. Mary’s Chapel, Building 3, at Fort Riley was the first stone church in Kansas.  The original building was constructed by the Episcopalians in the mid 1850’s.
            So, how many of these did you know?  Hopefully you knew all of them. 

We’ll do this again on a future program of “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.   

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 15, 2018

February 15, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Many of our listeners will remember Ernie Baumann.  Today’s story is was written by Mary Liz Montgomery and published in the “Junction City Union” newspaper in 1979.  She wrote: “It was the Fourth of July 1929, when the Greyhound Bus stopped at its usual station, Miller’s Drug Store at the northeast corner of 7th and Washington Streets. Ernest Bauman, a young Swiss lad stepped off the bus to the popping sounds of fireworks.
            Ernie, as he was called, had originally come from Switzerland to work at cabinet-making and building in Cincinnati. However, he was laid off with the stock market break and the pre-depression time.  He was on his way to California, but wanted to visit a friend from Switzerland who had married a farmer, Art Luthi, and the two lived 17 miles north and west of Junction City. 
            The Luthi’s met Ernie at Miller’s Drug Store.  They persuaded Ernie to stay here stating that they had heard the depression was worse in California than it was back east.
            Ernie took a job with contractor Ralph White and remained with the firm until 1942, when he went into the Sea-Bees.  After the war was over in 1945, Ernie came back to Junction City and established his own general contracting business.
            The first house Ernie Bauman built under his own name in Junction City was that of the late Abbie Moses.  The house was built on West Chestnut in the Crestview section.  The second was for Abbie’s nephew and wife, George and Helen Moses.  This cottage on West Sixth Street was later occupied by Dr. Alex Scott as his office.  
            After Ernie retired, he worked in his garden and vegetable patch.  However, if someone called him to come and fix something, he was quick to respond with a comforting bass voice with “I’ll be over shortly.”

            And… that is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 14, 2018

February 14, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today is Valentine’s Day.  We hope each of you have done or will do something special today for that person who means so much to you. Today’s story comes from an article written by Gaylynn Childs, our former Executive Director, in 2008.  The article was published in our local newspaper.  She wrote: “G.F. Gordon was a banker and a judge in the Eighth Judicial District, but when he first arrived in Kansas in the summer of 1855, he was a 28 year old Quaker school teacher from Pennsylvania.  He loved hunting and fishing and came to the new Kansas Territory to experience more of those opportunities. 
            He traveled with a group, who had received information that the settlement of Pawnee, near Fort Riley would be selected as the capital of the territory by the newly appointed governor.  Ruth Berry, a 16 year old girl, was also leaving Pennsylvania for Kansas by way of Illinois headed for Pawnee.
Shortly after Ruth’s arrival there was preparation for the legislative session, which was soon to take place.  Ruth being an accomplished cook, made over 70 apple pies for the legislators.  She was given the honor of serving one of her pies to the governor’s table, which included G.F. Gordon.  We can only imagine that it may have been love at first sight. However, the two began a courtship.”  As the say, one thing led to another and they married “during a harsh and terrible winter of 1856. They were actually married in the old stone capitol building in Pawnee with Reverend Clarkson, the Chaplain at Fort Riley, officiating.”
That’s today’s story.  Happy Valentine’s Day from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 13, 2018

February 13, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Well, it is Tuesday and that means our story today will contain more information about the history of the Opera House. This information comes from a text written by Rob Stevens for a course he took at Kansas State University.  You may remember from last week that there were some struggles with where to get the money to do the restoration project after voters rejected an $840,000 bond request to remodel the Opera House.
            Here is some more of what Rob wrote: “The Opera House Committee conducted numerous fund raising events, which included a yard sale, a celebrity auction and wrote and staged an original musical, marking the Central National Bank centennial  The foundation directors suggested selling “box seats” in the newly renovated building for $10,000 each as an incentive to major donors.  Permission was granted by the city, but money for only one of these was pledged.  The problem of funding became more critical and the city had committed no more money to the project since the money had been given to replace the roof.  Although business was actively working on downtown renovation, no business leader came forth with help or money for the project with the exception of Ed. J. Rolfs, Chairman of the Board of the Central National Bank.  A major donation came on April 10, 1985, when an anonymous donor gave $20,000 to the city for a new clock for the building’s tower. 
            There is more to come and although it may not sound like it – we know that the good things will happen in the end.   Be reading next Tuesday for more of the process to save the C.L. Hoover Opera House on “Our Past Is Present from the Geary County Historical Society.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 12, 2018

February 12, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about some of the former roller skating rinks in Junction City.  The information was take from article written by Kathy George, former GCHS Executive Director, and Ralph Murphy, a former Curator. 
            “An enthusiastic Dutch skater decided there had to be a way to enjoy skating throughout the year and in the 1700’s he invented a skate with wheels or rollers.
On October 25, 1884, Schull and Stewart re-opened the Seventh Street Skating Rink at Seventh and Jefferson Streets in Junction City.  The previous owner had lost his lease.  The rink was open every night with an average attendance of 75 skaters.  The regular schedule was: Monday, general skating; Tuesday, no gents without a lady partner; Wednesday afternoon, ladies only; Thursday evening, music by the band; Friday and Saturday, general skating.  
            In 1942 a roller rink owned and operated by George Harding was located on Grant Avenue opposite the Drive-In Movie Theater.  This was a portable metal building with an oak floor, 50 feet by 110 feet.  Admission was 35 cents for a two hour period and music was supplied by a 78 speed phonograph record player. 
            When the rains and floods came to Grant Avenue two times that year, Harding moved the rink to 1008 West Sixth, which was approximately where the old Montgomery Ward Store was and the Goodwill Store is now located.  The rink remained at that location until 1953. 

            In 1944 there was a rink called the Roller Land Roller Rink at 206 East Sixth Street. Then in 1954, J.C. Roller Rink opened at 920 North Washington Street and was operated by Mr. Mrs. John B. Chaney until it closed in 1969. And… that’s our story today on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 9, 2018

February 9, 2018
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Don’t forget to visit the Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “Water/Ways” at our Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets.  The display will only be with us until February 18th.  Admission is free and our hours are Tuesdays through Sundays from 1 until 4:00 PM.  While you are there, you will also want to see the exhibit created by our Curator, Heather Hagedorn, titled “Submerged” in Gallery One of our Museum, which chronicles the different floods in Geary County that eventually led to the construction of Milford Dam. 
            Now for today’s story…
            It was February 9, 1859 that the Kansas Territorial Legislature passed a special act making the little settlement that had sprung up on the plains south of Fort Riley the summer before, as a “city of first class”.  Thus, Junction City was born.
            To give our listeners an idea about the type of community that was developing at the forks of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers at the time of its incorporation, here is a description of Junction City as recorded in the journal of area pioneer Thomas J. Ingham in the summer of 1859.
            Mr. Ingham wrote: “We entered the broad flats of the Kansas River and followed it down to Ogden.  I doubt whether Ogden will ever become a large place.  From Ogden we went up the river five miles to Fort Riley.  We passed a large unfinished stone house, which had been built upon the government reserve for the capitol when Reeder located it in Pawnee, but now it is put to no use.  I went on the road previously described to Fort Riley, then ferried across the Republican River and went three miles up slightly to Junction City. 
            Junction City is a very new place.  Several “Lager Beer; signs stand out and among the improvements that may be noticed is a ten pin alley and a billiard room.  There is a printing office run by a Boarder Ruffian, another lager beer saloon and a tavern, along with the land office.  I am told the place is unable to support a school.  Junction City is the center of a fine agricultural region though time is not so abundant here as I wish it were.”
            The region was rapidly growing at the time Mr. Ingham recorded these statements in his journal.  We have come a long way since the incorporation of our fair city and look to continue to grow in the years yet to come.
            Well, that’s today’s story from the Geary County Historical Society.



Thursday, February 8, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 8, 2018

February 8, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Many of us had the pleasure of working with or being aided by the late LaVerne Allen when she worked as a school nurse or at Geary Community Hospital.  In an article written by Brenda Green, a staff writer for the “Daily Union” newspaper in 1986, the author wrote that “Throughout Laverne’s years in nursing she has not only seen many people die, but also seen nearly as many healing miracles.  She graduated from Christ’s Hospital in Topeka, which is now Stormont Vail, in 1940 and “grabbed” the first job she could get.  There weren’t many jobs available, so she accepted a position in Norton at a salary of $55.00 a month and room and board.  The work day was from 7 PM until 7 AM – with perhaps one night off during the month.  She then transferred to Hays, Kansas for about a year, and then went to Key West, Florida.
LaVerne’s nursing career began in Junction City in 1943. The Junction City hospital was then located at Ash and Jefferson Streets before it was renamed Geary Community Hospital, which is now at the corner of Ash and Eisenhower Streets. That hospital opened in 1966.
            LaVerne also worked as a school nurse from 1942 until 1984, when she retired from USD 475.  Sheridan Elementary was the last school in which she worked.  She recalled times when she and her husband, James, a former Junction City Fire Chief were at the movies and her name would flash across the movie screen with instructions for her to call the hospital.  (This was before beepers and cell phones.)  LaVerne also recalled that her personal experiences with losing loved ones had better prepared her to deal with her work and to understand what people go through when they lose someone.”  LaVerne Allen was somewhat of a miracle herself for doing all the good she did for others for many years.  Those are some fond memories of a kind lady – LaVerne Allen.
And… that’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Members of the Presbyterian Church in Junction City are celebrating their church’s  150th anniversary.  On February 23, 1868, Reverend John Anderson preached his first sermon in Junction City.  The congregation extended an invitation to him to become the minister of the newly established church.  The first gathering was held in a building known as the “Corn Crib”.  On May 2nd, 1868, the lots on which the Church now stands were purchased.  On March 8, 1868 there were 11 charter members.  The Sunday School was organized with 16 pupils.  On September 27, 1868, the congregation moved to Brown’s Hall on the north side of the City Park.  The first building was a vision of Major O.J. Hopkins.  The congregation met on August 25, 1869 and resolved to build a church building.  The present location at the corner of Fifth and Washington Streets was first used on Christmas Eve of 1870.  It was dedicated on July 19, 1872. 
The manse at 125 W. Fifth Street, where the minister resides was built in 1886.  In 1911, the organ was installed in the church through a gift of Andrew Carnegie. 
            A new structure was erected in 1919-1920.  The congregation met in the junior high school, which was then the Departmental School from April 11, 1920 to July of 1921.  When the new building was dedicated on September 25, 1921, it was steam heated, seated 600 people, and had a church school building and 7 separate departmental meeting rooms and classrooms.  There were 33 separate rooms in the building.  The organ was a gift of Mrs. Oscar Howard as a memorial to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. N.F. Green.  The cost of the building, pews, organ and fixtures total $115,000. 
            This beautiful structure for worship is often used for concerts and recitals and is one of the special landmarks in our city. 

            Well… that is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 6, 2018

February 6, 2018
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Well, it is Tuesday and time for more on the Opera House.  We are sharing these stories on Tuesdays to honor this pristine building’s 120th Anniversary of existence.  Last Tuesday, we shared information written by Rob Stevens about the Opera House in which he had written that “even though voters rejected an $840,000 bond request to restore the Opera House, Junction City Little Theater committee members like Jolana Montgomery, Mona Kessinger, Riley Werts, Gretchen Haas, John Triplett and Rob Stevens were committed and determined to the project.”  Some of the next commentary may sound familiar to us as we reflect back on the most recent campaign to seek voter approval in November of 2017 for a new 105 million dollar high school. 
            On March 25 of 1984, the “Daily Union” newspaper printed its only editorial written about the remodeling of the Opera House.  It stated in part: “Where’s the money? Might be an appropriate question to ask…. Furthermore, the estimated cost of more than $800,000 to renovate the old Opera House may be better spent on a new building.  The modern 20,000 square foot Dorothy Bramlage Public Library was completed last year for less than that.”  Others in the city were asking the same question, what was the significance of this old building?  On the other hand, KJCK Radio gave its immediate editorial support to the historic building and never wavered.
            “Both the city and JCLT began active searches for outside money.  In comparing theirs to the Concordia effort to restore the Brown Grand Theatre, fund searchers found grant money was not as readily available as it had been.  “Brick and mortar grants” were more available for restoration and “art grants” for programs.  A number of JCLT representatives attended seminars on fund raising and City Lobbyist, Earl Cocke in Washington was directed to research available grants.  The results were….. negligible.”
            Well don’t despair.  We know there is a happy ending, so bear with us as we travel through the tough times of restoring the Opera House.  Be listening next Tuesday for more about the history of the C.L. Hoover Opera House on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.


Monday, February 5, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 5, 2018

February 5, 2018

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story comes from an article written by Gaylynn Childs, a former Executive Director, and was published in the local newspaper.  Similar articles are written by the current staff and published each week in the “Junction City Union” newspaper in the “Weekend Edition”.  Check the stories out each week and let us know what you think about them. 
            Here are some highlights of the article titled “Date When Wooden Staircase Removed A Mystery”.  Gaylynn wrote that “In the city’s first high school, which was built in 1903 (and is now our Museum) there was an elegant double staircase inside the main entrance.  These wooden stairs funneled students to and from an open hall on the second floor and all the way down to the restrooms in the basement.  Carved and polished banisters and railings bordered the double sets of open stairs and landings form the second floor to the main level.  Sometime after the last high school class graduated in 1929, this staircase was removed and replaced with the present cement stairwell which runs through what was originally classroom area in the building’s north end.  Apparently this change coincided with the outlawing of wooden stairs in public schools. 
            During the demolition, which took place to facilitate the restroom construction, the workers discovered a two by four stud back under the stairway which bore an inscription scrawled in July and August 1929 by Bushboom Brothers Contractors, work done by Huff Brothers Carpenters.” However, there was still no clear evidence of when the staircase had been removed. People who may have remembered the staircase from having gone to school or worked there were contacted.  Bob and Betty Waters were two who attended school there and remembered the staircase.  Doris Paulson, who worked as the school district secretary and graduated from the high school in 1929, remembered it and… there were many others.  However, no one seems to remember when it was removed.  So… the mystery remains.  If you have any recollection about this staircase and can solve our mystery, please contact the staff at 238-1666.
            And….. thanks for reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.



Friday, February 2, 2018

Our Past Is Present February 2, 2018

February 2, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            The late Bob Honeyman, former “Daily Union” newspaper correspondent for many years, wrote an article in his column, “Bits of Honey”, about two of the oldest businesses located on Washington Street in Junction City.  Some of what he wrote is our story today.
            One of the oldest businesses was the “Daily Union” newspaper, which was founded in 1861.” It is now located on Sixth Street.  However, Bob wrote “of those still located on Washington Street, the Central National Bank is the oldest.  The Bank dates back to 1884. It was founded by Sumner W. Pierce, a native of Cooperstown, New York. In 1861 Pierce borrowed $750 from the Building and Loan Association to start a sewing machine and music business.  He established branches in several towns in Kansas.  To finance his business ventures, Pierce began making loans on real estate and selling mortgages in the East as early as 1880.  He organized the Central National Bank with capital of $50,000.  Edward W. Rolfs began a 60 year career with the bank in 1915 with his son, Ed J. Rolfs and Ed C. Rolfs both succeeded him in the presidency.” Robert Munson, E.J.’s son-in-law, is now the President of the bank.   
            “Water’s True Value Hardware “takes the laurels for being the oldest continuous retail business in one family. Waters Hardware was founded in 1904 by G.E. Waters, grandfather of the late Bob Waters.  G.E. Waters moved to Junction City from Manchester, Kansas.  Waters purchased the Grentner Hardware Store, which was housed in the Masonic Temple at 722 N. Washington Street,  The store moved to the southwest corner of Eighth and Washington in about 1918. Waters True Value is now located on East Sixth Street.
            The Rolfs and Waters families are connected through the marriage of Betty Ann and  Bob Waters.  And… that is today’s story on….. “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.