Thursday, April 19, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 19, 2018

April 19, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about why Abilene became the cattle shipping center in the 1860s and not Junction City.  You see, following the Civil War, Texas was overrun with longhorn cattle and people involved in the business were looking for new markets for their cattle.  In 1866, some Texas cattle made their appearance in the Junction City area by way of a new Shawnee Trail from Texas.  R. Patterson opened up a packinghouse here in 1867 to take advantage of the availability of the beef.  Completion of the railroad to Junction City in November of 1866 had provided a shipping point to eastern markets and – for a brief time – the Shawnee Trail was used by cattlemen to bring herds from Texas to the rail-head in Junction City. 
            However, there were enough people in Junction City, who discouraged the cattle trade that the stockman, Joseph McCoy, who was determined to locate his loading pens in the area, went to Abilene.  Stock owners in Davis County (now Geary County) had expressed serious concern over the introduction of Texas cattle, because the cattle were often infected with ticks that served as carriers of “Texas Fever”, which could decimate an entire herd.  In the spring of 1867 a public meeting was held in the Clark’s Creek area in the eastern part of the county to organize the resistance to Texas cattle in Davis County.  This local opposition and the extension of the railroad westward helped make McCoy’s second option a cattle shipping center and as a result the Dickinson County settlement of Abilene became one of the most famous cow towns in the old west. 
            And…. that is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.   

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 18, 2018

April 18, 2018
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.  Your host understands that it may not be possible for all of you to listen to or read this program EVERY DAY and some of you may not have access to our blogspot at Since becoming the host of this program in March of 2016, there have only been a few repeated stories.  So, just in case you missed one or more of those over 500 programs, some of those stories used previously may be repeated.  In fact that is the case today.
            This is a list of historical facts about Junction City and Geary County:
            *Junction City was the first town west of the Mississippi to distribute Coca-Cola.  This was at 710 N. Washington where Eye -Ware Junction is now located.
            *Junction City was one of the first towns in Kansas to have a kindergarten in 1927.
            *In 1929, the “Uptown Theater” was one of the first theaters in Kansas to be equipped with “talkies” or motion pictures.
            *Some of the famous guests at the historical Bartell Hotel located at the corner of Sixth and Washington Street in Junction City were Gene Tierney, John Phillip Sousa, W.C. Fields, John Wayne and the Russian Grand Duke Alexis.
            *Fort Riley’s first name was Camp Center, because it was believed to be the geographic center of the United States. However, it has been learned that the actual center of the 48 contiguous states is near Lebanon, Kansas in Smith County.
            *Davis County was Geary County’s original name.
            *In the fall of 1857, the name Junction City was formalized.
            And… one more:  *Walker Stone Company was one of the first industries in the area.
Well, there is some information for you trivia buffs. 
            Thanks for reading today and visit as often as you can to “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 17, 2018

April 17, 2018
            On Tuesdays, we bring you stories about the history of the C.L. Hoover Opera House, which is located at the corner of Seventh and Jefferson Streets in Junction City.  Today’s story comes from a Daily Union newspaper article dated October 8, 1904.  The article is about a matinee performance given on Friday, October 7, 1904. The story line was “Grand Concert By Sousa’s Band – Music that Will Long Be Remembered By A Big Audience."
            Here is what was in the article:  John Phillips “Sousa gave a matinee concert in the Opera House Friday afternoon that will long be remembered by all who heard it.  There was not a vacant seat in the house. The program opened with the overture to “William Tell”.  The second movement, which was the storm scene, was taken at a tempo, which was simply hair-raising.  Mr. Herbert Clarke then followed with a cornet solo in waltz tempo.  It was a composition he had written and was well received. 
            The suite was Sousaesque from beginning to end and had the marked rhythm peculiar to all of Sousa’s compositions.  The last number on the program was undoubtedly, the vocal solos by Miss Estelle Liebling, which shows a rarely trained voice of wide compass and remarkable sweetness.” This concludes the article from 1904.
It was also interesting to read in that same newspaper that on the same date, but in the evening, there was a formal opening of the city’s new high school building with a reception.  The reception was provided by the school board for the school’s patrons, students and faculty.  That building is where the Geary County Museum is today – at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets. Our Museum was the city’s “new high school” referred to in the Daily Union publication of October 8, 1904. 
            Join us for “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society on the blog each weekday.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 16, 2018

April 16, 2018

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Some of our readers are members of the Ladies Reading Club in Junction City.  The Ladies Reading Club is the oldest Federated Club in Kansas and one of the first west of the Mississippi.  The current group still meets once a month. They have a light brunch, share information about their history, work on projects, have entertainment and socialize in the same building used since 1875. An article was found in the local newspaper in 1904, which summarized one of the Club’s meetings.  The author of the article wrote that “The Ladies Reading Club met on Thursday.  Mrs. G.H. Trott, President, was the chair.  There were a wide range of topics that ranged from charities to politics. 
            The ladies were favored with a vocal solo by Mrs. Purington-Smith.  Mrs. C.K. Raber, Mrs. Cook and Miss Ida Starcke presented a reading of the “Golden Legend” written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 
            Mrs. Elizabeth M. West was admitted as a member and the resignation of Mrs. Kelsall , who had been ill, was accepted with regret.  By a special dispensation Mrs. Green’s name was to remain on the list of active members during her absence in California.
            The committee that was working on the traveling library exhibit was authorized to make all arrangements for the art entertainment.  The committee will meet with Miss Bertha Rockwell on Saturday afternoon.”
            Members of the Ladies Reading Club scholarship local students, have recognized students for their achievements and encourage academic and social  growth in their work since their beginning.  Thank you ladies for all you do for our community from the Geary County Historical Society.    

Friday, April 13, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 13, 2018

April 13, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            In April of 1909, baseball was in the news. The Central Kansas League (or CKL) season was going to open on June 14, 1909 with four western towns playing the four eastern towns.  That meant Minneapolis, Beloit, Ellsworth and Salina were scheduled to play against Junction City, Abilene, Manhattan and Clay Center.  The season would end September 1st with Junction City playing at the Minneapolis field in April of that year. 
Preparations for the season were underway. The local park was situated halfway between Junction City and Fort Riley and was directly east of the streetcar line spur.  A grader was put to work to cut off a layer of ground in order to get rid of the weeds and alfalfa.  Then a second layer was removed and the ground scraped with excess dirt moved to the center of the field, which would be higher than the rest of the grounds.  A ditch was dug around the field for drainage purposes.  The grandstand was built immediately back of home plate with a seating capacity of 600.  Two bleachers on either side of the grandstand would hold another 500 people and a place for parking rigs and automobiles would be on each side of the bleachers.  It was decided to charge an admission fee of 10 cents for buggies and automobiles.  The field was expected to be in shape by May 15 at which time the players would be on hand to try out.  The first game on the new field would be played on June 1, 1909. We are sure the season brought many people and excitement to the area during the baseball season of 1909.
            Many of us are anxious for “Brigade” baseball to begin again during the 2018 season.   It is fun and exciting to watch young baseball players on a summer evening as the lights gradually come on, there is the smell of popcorn and hot dogs in the air and there is the excitement of watching players get base hits, home runs and an occasional steal of a base.  Good times!!!
            And… that is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 12, 2018

April 12, 2018
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Yesterday, I mentioned that while attending the Military Affairs Council Breakfast last week, Betsy Young shared information about the Lady Troopers.  Here is some of what she told the group.
            “The Mission of the Lady Troopers is to establish a continuing liaison between the military and civilian communities by exchanging information and creating feelings of mutual understanding and congeniality through social interactivity and supporting soldiers and their families. The Lady Troopers were founded in 1991 and is made up of women who live or work in the Junction City area. Their goal is to provide friendship, support and goodwill for the Military families of Fort Riley.  They host two functions, which include a Spring for the Spouses and a Fall Function for couples.  The ladies establish contact with newly arrived Command teams, maintain relationships and provide local information and assistance throughout command time at Fort Riley. Lady Troopers are known for the “Canteen” they provide at all deployments and re-deployments.  They provide cookies and other homemade baked goods at these events.  Welcome gifts are given to incoming Brigade Commander’s and Command Sergeants Majors and Battalion Commander spouses.  Special projects include Survivor Outreach Services with meals for events or during Victory Week. 
            Lady Troopers have representatives on various Boards, which include the Historical and Archaeological Society, Military Affairs Council, JC Old Trooper, and the Fort Riley Spouse Club. 
            We want to thank the Lady Troopers and the Old Trooper Regiment for all they do for our soldiers and their families at Fort Riley from the Geary County Historical Society.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 11, 2018

April 11, 2018
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Last week I attended the Military Affairs Breakfast at the Marriott and heard some interesting history about the Old Troopers Regiment from Scott Stuckey and Mark Edwards and the Lady Troopers from Betsy Young. It was so interesting I thought I would share it with you today.   
            “Junction City was formed in 1859 to serve Fort Riley Soldiers and their families. The Mission of the Old Trooper Regiment is to welcome and assist them during their stay at Fort Riley.  That was as true in 1859 as it is today.  In the 1920s after a friendly polo game between town leaders and Fort Riley officers, the “townies” started calling themselves the Old Trooper Regiment.  They continued hosting social events to keep their relationships strong. In the 1960s the Old Troopers Regiment became more formal by becoming a part of the Junction City Chamber of Commerce, and then part of the Geary County Economic Development agency.  Eventually the OTR went back to being an independent organization when it merged with another Fort Riley support group – Kansans For A Strong Fort Riley.  OTR became a founding member with the city and county with the Junction City Geary County Military Affairs Council.  OTR’s partner spouse’s organization, the Lady Troopers, also play a huge part in making military spouses feel welcome at Fort Riley and it provides a valuable source of information to help military families.  
            Be reading tomorrow at about 9:45 for information about the Lady Troopers on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 10, 2018

April 10, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            We have been reserving time on Tuesdays to share information about the Opera House.  We have had stories about the original building, the process of restoring the Opera House and in future programs will share information about some of the early shows, the transformation to a movie theater and then back to the current building as “The Gem On The Prairie”.  We want to encourage you to take a tour or enjoy one of the upcoming performances at the C.L. Hoover Opera House located at Seventh and Jefferson Streets in Junction City. 
            Well, today’s story is about talented performers from Camp Funston on Fort Riley, who appeared at the Opera House in 1919. In anticipation of the performance this article appeared in the local newspaper on February 4, 1919.  “There is a certain barracks at Camp Funston which for some weeks has heard the steady hum of busy workers.  It is the building which houses the dramatic department where the preparations have been made for the big minstrel show, which the boys are to give at the opera house tomorrow evening.
            The musical part of the program has been placed in the very capable hands of Charles T. North, who has kept the boys busy rehearsing for the past few weeks that Junction City may have a real musical treat.  Musician Truman Lord of the Sixty-ninth band has arranged all orchestrations for the “Khaki Minstrels.”
            The cast of thirty-five, which is to present the minstrel, is composed entirely of Camp Funston soldiers, many of whom in civilian life are professional entertainers and theatrical men.  These soldiers, during the past six months have out of the kindness of their hearts, come to Junction City time and again and given entertainment for the people here without any remuneration whatsoever.  And now on the eve of their discharge from the Army, the camp dramatic director, Henry W. Pemberton, has arranged to have this big show at the Opera House.  The entire proceeds are to be given to these boys for the dramatic department who have worked so loyally during the past months.”  
            The C.L. Hoover Opera House and the Junction City Little Theater have some great shows in the next few months.  Check them out.  You can see professional as well as local talent on the stage and not even have to leave town to do so. 
            Thanks for reading today and every Monday through Friday at about this time for “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 9, 2018

April 9, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story comes from an article published July 11, 2003 by Mike Heronemus who worked at the Daily Union newspaper.  The title of the article was the “Station at Sixth and Webster May Close.” This is what he wrote in the article:  “One of Junction City’s last full-service gas stations may close this month if a new operator cannot be found (that was in July of 2003).
            George Leiszler of Leiszler Oil Company in Clay Center leases the station.  Leiszler has been in the oil business for about 30 years and has leased the station from Griffith Oil Co. in Manhattan for 10 years.  The decision was an economic one.  Leiszler’s customer base has decreased and profit margins are slim.
            Young customers are buying gas at convenience stores, Leiszler said, and his older customers, who were traveling 30,000 to 40,000 miles-a-year when they were younger are traveling 10,000 miles a year now.
            Leiszler went on to state that there were two potential operators trying to obtain financing to sublease the station.  If a subleaser can be found, the station will stay open as a Phillips 66 or another franchise. However, if no operator can be found, the station will close and no other location for his Philips 66 franchise will be sought.  If the station closes, Jim’s 66 on North Washington Street will be the only station in town offering full service at the pump. 
            Calvin Gauntt, who managed the station, said the station was built in the early 1960’s as Cummins Conoco.  That station sold to Griffith Oil Co. in early 1985 and Gauntt moved in to manage it as a Phillips 66.  Then in 2000 Calvin Gauntt decided to reduce his work hours and passed management of the station to Leonard “Jake” Jacobs.”
            The station was eventually closed and torn down and replaced by The Kansas State Bank.  And… that is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Junction City’s weekly Republic newspaper announced on “March 25 in 1949 that on Friday and Saturday of that week, Junction City merchants would stage a showing of the latest in merchandise at the annual Merchants Exposition sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Two evenings of entertainment were planned for the event, which took place in the Municipal Auditorium.
            The always-popular WIBW entertainers appeared in a show beginning at 8:00 Friday night. A three hour show would be provided Saturday night, beginning at 7:00 with a 1 ½ hour program of talent arranged by the Fort Riley Special Services Office.  At 8:30, Junction City businesses would stage a combine style show. The climax of the exposition would come at 10:00 Saturday with the awarding of a new Ford by the Junction City Chamber of Commerce.
Other merchandise valued at more than $500 was to be given away as door prizes during the two days of the exposition. Some of those prizes included an innerspring mattress, three radios, a pen and pencil set, three sets of fog lights, a spot light, an electric iron, a waffle iron, tailor made seat covers and many others.
            Free Coca-Cola was offered on both days of the exposition.  There was a candy bar and popcorn concession also available. The only charge was an admission fee of 35 cents for adults and 15 cents for children on Friday night.  Saturday’s activities were all free.”
            And… that’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 5, 2018

April 5, 2018
            Welcome to another program of “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about Ed “Slim” Winzeler the man who was behind the wheel of Yellow Cab Number 35.  Slim often drove with a pipe in his mouth and wore a checkered hunter’s cap on his head.
            When he was not working you could find him sitting in the main office at 112 W. Ninth Street listening to the scanner at the main desk. If not there, he might be found cruising past Montgomery Ward’s, Wal-Mart, Dillon’s or Safeway.  He stated that he doesn’t drive a cab for the money, “but for something to do.  If I’d quit – I’d go crazy.”
            Winzeler drove trucks for the U.S. Army for 17 years while stationed overseas or at Fort Riley.  He also drove trucks as a Civil Servant.  In 1967, he began working for Yellow Cab, which at one time had been Dime-N-Taxi.  He worked 11-12 hours a day with the taxi service, which had 14 cabs running 24 hours a day.  Unlike the taxi stories one hears about in big cities, Winzeler’s workday was usually calm and crime-free.
            Sometimes if people can’t pay, they will give me their watch until they can.  He said, “One time a girl gave him her coat to keep until she could pay him the following day.”
            There was a $1.00 a mile rate.  
            Winzeler was paid by commission and preferred driving in order to get more customers over a shorter period of time.  He shared that some customers share their stories with him.  He stated that “They’ll talk about weather, wives and kids and sometimes they’ll talk about their problems.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t ask.  They just tell me. I just listen and say yeah, yeah.  I don’t get involved, but try to be polite.”
            It seems that there are fewer cabs in town since the A.T.A. Bus service has come to service those who need transportation - at least that is your host’s observation.  Well… thanks for reading today to “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 4, 2018

April 4, 2018
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            The information included in today’s program was published in an “Industrial Issue” of the JC Republic newspaper in 1915.
            The Herman Wetzig Garage was established in 1895, when E.L. Wetzig opened a bicycle repair shop, which he operated until 1902.  At that time Herman Wetzig became associated with E.L. and they continued the bicycle repair shop until they entered the auto repair field.  Herman later took full control of the business where he sold Ford cars, had a complete line of accessories for those cars, oils, greases, casings, Firestone tires and other items. 
            The garage was located at 912 North Washington Street.  It was a stone structure of 25 x 100 feet with a cement floor and was practically fire proof.  Not only did the Wetzig Garage provide repair and service, but they were a “livery” business and provided chauffeur services. 
            Well, that is our story today.  We hope you will take some time to visit our Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets in Junction City.  We have some interesting artifacts and easy to read information about businesses, those who served in our military, a print shop, “grandma’s kitchen”, a replica parlor, tack room, a one room school and a fabulous research center. The hours are 1 until 4 Tuesdays through Saturdays (Sundays beginning in April through October) and…..admission is free. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            We have been sharing information about the process of restoring the C.L. Hoover Opera House for several weeks.  Today, time will be spent sharing more history about the “Gem on the Prairie” prior to the restoration project.
            The Junction City Opera House and City Office/Fire Station Building opened in January 1882, originally a stately red brick structure featuring a tall pointed four-faced clock tower.
In January, 1898, the building burned, totally destroying the south portion containing the Opera House.  The 820 seat Opera House was rebuilt the same year using native limestone taken from quarries near Fort Riley.  The city building portion was retained and restructured with similar brick and the entire building was re-roofed in slate.  The Opera House proper included a balcony, dress circle and parquet with frescoed and painted walls and six private boxes decorated with draperies, carpets and cane chairs.
            In 1918, silent movies made their first appearance at the Opera House although it continued to function primarily as a legitimate theater.  In 1919, the Opera House was converted to solely movie presentation and operated as the City Theater, under private management.  In 1939, the City Offices vacated the north portion of the building and moved into the existing Municipal Building across the street on Jefferson Street.  The entire building was then gutted and remodeled into a “modern” movie theater, later known as the “Colonial Theater.” 
            In 1982, the Colonial Theater closed it’s doors. If you have been reading recent Tuesday blogs in which we shared information about the restoration efforts to return the Opera House to being the showplace that it is, you know there was a long struggle to get that project completed.  It took a vision, diligence, patience, fundraising and most of all people working together to provide a quality performance area for quality programs and shows, which has improved the quality of life in Junction City. 
Here are just a few of those who worked so hard on that restoration project: The City of Junction City, The Junction City Opera House Foundation and the Junction City Little Theater Foundation. Thanks to those and many others for their work.
And… that’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Our Past Is Present April 2, 2018

April 2, 2018
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            “Like father, like son” is a well-known cliché.  In an article written by George Pollock, Daily Union newspaper copy editor in 1983, he wrote that “a Junction City father and son team has taken that phrase literally.  Jim Nixon owned and operated Jim’s Phillips 66 Service at 12th and Washington Streets where he began in 1965. His son, Russ, operated the Fourth Street Mobil at Fourth and Washington Streets. When Russ was 8 years old, he began helping his dad at the “66” station.  Russ changed tires, cleaned the station waited on people and did anything he could to help. 
            As time passed and Russ had the opportunity to grow in the business, like any father, Jim encouraged his son to step out on his own.  That opportunity came when Mike and Arlene Dellefate sold Mike’s Conoco.  Mike died of a heart attack in 1982 and Arlene later sold her interest in the station to Fred Bramlage, who was the area distributor for the Mobil Oil Corporation. 
            Russ Nixon became the manager of the Fourth Street Mobil in February of 1982.  Having worked in his father’s station, provided a good foundation for running a station on his own.  Russ stated that he “likes running a service station.  I couldn’t sit in an office building all day and write all day, like a businessman.” 
            “Jim’s 66” was a full service station.  Long after other stations stopped providing service; Jim’s employees would pump the gas, wash the windshield and check tire pressure as a convenience to their customers.  When Jim retired, the station closed. 
            Well… that’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.