Saturday, December 26, 2015

Old New Year Traditions

Happy New Year from the Geary County Historical Society! As we make the transition from celebrating Christmas to welcoming the New Year, we all have different traditions our friends and families like to do every year to help welcome and say goodbye to the previous year. Many hope to improve on their health and situation by making New Year’s resolution for a better new year. Perhaps the most common way to bring in the New Year is by having a party on New Year’ Eve. Most of the world welcomes in the New Year by throwing a big party and counting down the old year. This however might not have always been the case. In a few early reports in the Junction City newspapers, it seems as though Geary County celebrated the arrival of the New Year on New Year’s Day instead of New Year’s Eve.
One of the more common traditions that took place on New Year’s Day at the turn of the century was that it was customary to have one’s house open in an “open house” setting for different people to visit your home. An article from January 2nd, 1895, the Daily Sentinel, an old and now defunct newspaper in Junction City, detailed an account of what a typical New Year’s Day, with these open houses, would be like in town: “The pretty old custom of keeping [an] open house on the first day of the year has been revived, and on New Year’s day of ’95 there were score of callers and many gracious hostesses all over town.” This tradition doesn’t seem like one that is celebrated often in our community now.
These open houses would be fully decorated and the women hosting and attending these parties would be dressed in their best attire, ““The ladies were very elegant reception gowns. Mrs. Humphrey was gowned in black and satin and brocade velvet. Mrs. Greene, black noire and real lace. Miss Eleanor Humphrey, black silk skirt with a fancy blue silk waist.” The article continues, “The refreshments were daintily served from small tables in the back parlors and consisted of ices, cakes, tea, cocoa, coffee and wafers.” From these early accounts of New Year’s in Geary County, it seems that the bigger celebrations took place on New Year’s Day and not New Year’s Eve.
            These “open houses” were not the only things that seemed to happen around town in Junction City. The Union of January 3, 1880 reported that observances ranging from evening parties and pranks to New Year’s Day open houses took place that year.  A detailed account outlines the transformation of Washington Street by pranksters:
            “Last Thursday—New Year’s Day—was generally observed in Junction City.  At midnight prior to the day, bells were rung, guns fired and beautiful music was discoursed by a portion of the Fort Riley band.  In the morning a strange sight greeted people who appeared on the streets.  Washington Avenue, between the grange store and Brown’s Harness Store was completely blockaded with wagons, carts, buggies, hacks and vehicles of every conceivable appearance and description.  Prominent among then was the bus of the Pennsylvania House, on the top of which was a barrel standing on end and supporting the carved Indian sign from Miller’s cigar store.  On the wooden awning of Mrs. Mead’s millinery store was one of the buggies of Porter Bros. Drug Store.  A cow was found tied to the door of the grange store and Old Bill’s savage yard bulldog was secured to the doorknob of Hout’s billiard hall.  Under the words, “Our Saloon” on Fritz Overhoff’s was G.W. Meddick’s law shingle.  Mrs. Blue’s Millinery store was converted into a boot and shoe store and a restaurant.  A small building (privy) hauled from the rear of Purington’s blacksmith shop stood in front of the opening to the yard of the Allen House and sported Pershall’s hotel sign.”
These open houses diminished over time and it did seem that at the turn of the century, there are recorded events that took place on New Year’s Eve. In the January 5th, 1924 edition of the Daily Union reported,” One of the events of the holiday season was the watch party given on New Year’s Eve by Miss Josephine Caspar and Mr. Geo Caspar, at which 20 guests enjoyed  an evening at cards and dancing.”
So no matter what traditions you and your loved ones practice on New Year, make sure you stay safe and we hope to see you next year at the Geary County Historical Society!

This picture was taken at a 1898 party at the Rockwell residence on New Year’s day during an “Open House.”

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Brief History of the Christmas Tree

We are less than a week away from Christmas and for most of us, the Christmas spirit is high. Putting up the family Christmas tree usually marks the beginning and for many, the peak of the Christmas festivities. The Christmas tree has not always existed in the form we know it today.  Two weeks ago, we took a look at the history of Santa Claus, and just like the myth of Santa Claus, the modern Christmas tree has been influenced by many traditions and combined with many cultures, specifically from the Germans. This week we are going to take to take a briefly look into the history and evolution of the modern Christmas tree.

The exact start of the use of an evergreen tree is not known. One of the first cultures to use evergreen trees during winter celebrations were the Romans. In the Roman tradition of the Winter solstice, Roman citizens would decorate their homes with evergreen braches during this time of the year because it meant that at last the sun god would begin to get well. Evergreen branches reminded them of all the green plants that would grow again when the sun god was strong and summer would return.

Early Christian celebrations with a tree were forbidden as many in the clergy had seen  the use of a Christmas tree would take attention away from Jesus and his birth. However, this quickly changed as Christians during the Middle Ages began to accept a tree for Christmas celebrations.  A legend had grown that said “…when Christ was born in the dead of winter, every tree throughout the world miraculously shook off its ice and snow and produced new shoots of green.” This is used as an explanation as to why trees were used for Christmas by Christians.

It was not until the renaissance, however, that there are clear records of trees being used as a symbol of Christmas. Some of the earliest records start in Latvia in 1510 and Strasburg (Germany) in 1521. These early trees were not known as “Christmas trees” but “Paradise Trees.” These trees were in referenced to the “Tree of Life” and the Garden of Eden which were added to the German Mystery or Miracle plays celebrated the feast day for Adam and Eve and many Christians on December 24th. The clergy would then decorate fir trees with fruits for the play. This tradition followed many people home and many Christians started to decorate their own trees.

This custom really did not take a hold in the United States until the 18th and 19th century when there was an influx of German immigrants into the United States. The idea of gift giving under the tree was brought over by German immigrants. Before the influx of German immigrants, many 19th century Americans saw the Christmas tree as a novelty idea. The first mention of the Christmas tree in American literature was in a story in the 1836 edition of The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, titled "New Year's Day," by Catherine Maria Sedgwick, where she tells the story of a German maid decorating her mistress's tree.

The same poem that brought us a modern version of Santa Claus, Clement Moore’s 1882 A Visit from Saint Nicholas, which was later retitled The Night before Christmas, also helped popularize the image of the family opening up presents under the tree on Christmas morning. During the Victorian era, candles were added to the tree to help represent the stars of the night winter sky. Before that period, it is widely believed that Martin Luther, the famous protestant reformer was the first to add lights to the Christmas tree. These candles are the predecessor the lights we use today (the electrical lights are less of a fire hazard, which came about in 1895 by an American telephonist, Ralph Morris.) The addition of lights coincided with the arrival of German ornaments which made their way from across the ocean to American trees.

            Bringing the history of the Christmas tree closer to home, pioneer families in Kansas knew a very different Christmas than we know it today. From an undated early Union article, the author tells us, “Only a generation ago the pioneers in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa only knew a Christmas spruce, balsam or pine tree as a wonderful object. So rare it was.” The article goes on to explain that the willow trees for many along the banks of Prairie rivers were used as early Christmas trees. These accounts were recorded in the Daily Union from around the turn of the century. As more and more people started to come to the Kansas, Christmas trees became more readily available, as they were being brought from the east coast and used by the pioneers and their families.

            The Christmas tree gained popularity over the next hundred years and has become one of the staple traditions during the holiday season.

The picture accompanied is one of the earliest renditions of an American Christmas tree which was explained in Catherine Maria Sedgwick’s short story, “New Year's Day." Credit to American for the picture. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Goldie Gorman Webster Part 3

Goldie Gorman Webster moved to Junction City as a young girl at the turn of the 20th century. Years later, she recalled her memories of those early years in Junction City. In this third part to our Goldie Webster memories series, Goldie remembers the businesses of Junction City that she and her sister, Sylvia, visited with their parents:
“We had two laundries in our area.  One owned by the Schmoldt family was on west l4th street. One daughter, Helen, later became Mrs. Roy Luke.  Kaufholz Laundry was on east l4th street.  There was a monument business operated by DeArmond and Root.  It was on the west side of Washington street.  We passed it each time we went uptown.  Seemed sort of spooky to me when I was younger, since gravestones were displayed near the street. There were two hotels in the north end.  The Pacific Hotel, operated by Charles and Martha Fox was on Washington between l0th and llth.  It later became the Hamilton Hotel. The Bartell Hotel was in the main part of town, had a cab service of its own. It hauled customers to and from the station.  Sam Brazil was the cab driver.  Mr. Fox had no cab, but he met the trains and carried customers baggage to the hotel himself.
            The little Free Methodist church was there when we came.  It is still there, remodeled and enlarged.
            Charles Ross had a grocery and meat store on Washington street.  His family lived in the rear of the store, and on one side of the store his sister, Haidi, had a small dry goods and millinery store. Mother always bought our Easter bonnets from Miss Ross.  She would plant a hat on my head and say, "Turn around and let your little sister see how nice you look in that hat." I always opted for the plain sailor style of hat, with a black velvet streamer hanging down the back. The flowery hats were for my little sister. She was the type for flowery hats, having beautiful blond curls and blue eyes.  I, of the mousy colored hair, was not the type for flowered hats. I always had a rubber band on my hat that fit under my chin.  In case of wind, the band kept my hat from sailing into the bright blue yonder.
            Stanleys had a newsstand on Washington street. The neighbor kids were George, Dorothy and Ruth Edwards. Their father was a trainman on the Union Pacific. Reed & Elam, mentioned earlier, had the grocery on West 7th. One hot day our mother took me and my little sister up town to the store. We walked. While we were in the store, my little sister saw a basket of shiny buttons. She helped herself to one card and put it in her apron pocket. After we went home she took the card out and my mother saw it. She was told that was wrong. Mother then explained that the buttons were for sale and not for little girls to carry away. After further counsel, we put our bonnets back on and trudged to the store. Little sister said to mother, "Mr. Reed had so many that I didn’t think he would care if I just took one pretty one." She was tearful but made her apology as required. The matter closed, but never again did little sister help herself to the property of another.
            E. H. Hemingway had a dry goods store on the east side of Washington. Once a year he held a nine cent sale of dry goods. Yardage was sold at 9 cents a yard for some of it. Other yardage was also on sale. This sale always drew a large crowd. Before the store opened lines of ladies stood outside, waiting to get in the door. There was a mad rush when the door opened. Sometimes the ladies selected bolts of material, clutched them in their arms, and hauled them around waiting to be waited upon. Someone else would want some the same cloth and there would be a hassle over it. Children were pushed up against the wall where they had a good view of the melee.
            There were saloons on the east side of Washington street. We were never allowed to walk on that side from 10th south. Father said it was not a fit street for children and ladies to travel. Too many drunks were to be seen coming out of the places. I once, curious to know what it was all about, ventured onto that side. It smelled awful and I never went again. There were other stores on that side but they were for adults so we were told.

Look for more of Goldie Webster’s memories in future articles, or stop by the Geary County Historical Society to experience other histories. Do you have experiences growing up in Geary County that you would like to share? We want to hear your stories!  Give us a call at 785-238-1666 or email us at Museum open Tuesday-Sunday 1-4pm.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

History of the G.A.R Monument

One of the most iconic fixtures of Junction City is the Grand Army of the Republic arch in Heritage Park. It shows pride in our community and pride in our soldiers.  But how many of you know how it came to be?
The story is rather heartwarming as you realize how our pioneer community pulled together to build a monument to the “soldiers and sailors killed in the War of the Rebellion” 1861-1865 more commonly known as the Civil War. It all started in the summer of 1897 when it was announced that 5th District G.A.R. reunion would be held in Junction City in September of 1898.  
By September of 1897 it was announced that F.A. Gardner, army architect at Ft. Riley, had drawn up a plan for the monument that was accepted by G.R.A post #132. “The monument is to be an arched design…built of native stone crowning the substructure with a copper-bronze statue of a volunteer solider, 8 feet high” the total height of the monument would be approximately 35 feet. A sketch of the memorial was reproduced in the 1900 Junction City High School yearbook. It depicts cannon on the right side of the solider and stacked arms on the left.
 It is interesting to note that when the memorial was erected rifles were originally displayed in stack arms, rifles standing on their stock in a tipi shape on either side of the solider. However these proved dangerous during windy days and were soon taken down.  
The cost of the memorial was expected to be between $1,600 and $1,800. The community quickly banded together to raise the funds. John Davidson, who had served as a Major during the Civil War, was in charge of fund raising. Community leaders and businessmen pledged between $10 and $25 for the memorial. Churches and lodges sold “monument buttons” with the proceeds going towards the monument. The largest donation came from the local school children who raised $116 in coins.           
The stone was quarried right here in Geary County. Resident stone workers constructed and shaped each stone under the direction of local contractors Ziegler and Dalton. The entire project was funded and carried out by residents of Geary County.
By the summer of 1898 residents efforts had paid in dividends. The cornerstone was laid during the 4th of July celebration. Inside was placed a box with items to inform the future of the events of 1898 such as a copy of the Daily Union, letters, mementoes of the construction of the monument and a dispatch announcing the destruction of Cervera’s fleet as well as the capture of Santiago.   
Workmen hurried to finish the memorial for the dedication and unveiling scheduled for September 9, 1898. The town was a frenzy of activity preparing for the G.A.R. reunion and the unveiling of the monument. A large tent was erected in the center of the park for the soldiers programs. Merchants up and down Washington Street decorated their windows with patriotic scenes. The local Women’s Relief Corps organized meals for the veterans.  Rooms were secured free of charge to the soldiers at the Bartell House across the street from the park.
On the day of the unveiling school was dismissed so the students could attend the ceremony. They had worked so hard to raise funding for the monument that it would have been a shame for them to miss the unveiling.  1200 students, dressed in their Sunday best, waving American flags led the parade down Washington Street to the Park.  
Major Davidson opened the ceremony and presented the Memorial Arch to the G.A.R. post #132. Dr. J.K. Miller of the Methodist Episcopal church gave a dedication prayer and the school children, accompanied by the city band sang “America” and the” Battle hymn of the Republic”. As the program wound to a close Cora Davidson pulled the cord to unveil the silent solider that stood guard over the memorial.
Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate for the remainder of the reunion and rained out many of the scheduled activities.  However, the community rallied for the veterans by securing the Methodist and Presbyterian churches for the remainder of the activities.

Next time you are walking in Heritage Park take a minute to admire the memorial and remember those that came before us.  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thanksgiving in Geary

Thanksgiving in Geary
Thanksgiving can sometimes be forgotten as the Christmas season seems to start earlier and earlier each year.  To many, this holiday is still their favorite holiday to celebrate. It signifies food, family, football and fun. The first Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln, but even before the official declaration by the President, many families had longstanding traditions about gathering around the table and give thanks for their loved ones and their fall harvest.  Thanksgiving had been an early tradition in Geary County, and the Daily Union recollects some of the earliest stories of Thanksgiving day in Geary County and how those stories had an impact on the community and in the surrounding areas.

In 1871 a few days after Thanksgiving, George W. Martin, founder of the Junction City Daily Union, wrote “Thanksgiving day in town was as quiet as the Sabbath. There was a general suspension of business, but a very limited attendance at church. Folks were too busily engaged in the kitchens getting up Thanksgiving dinners. If we were to get into the Thanksgiving Proclamation business, we would set an hour for worship so that turkey need not interfere to such an extent as at present. Everybody now enjoys turkey, but more ought to attend religious services than do. It ought not to become wholly a day of feasting!” It’s safe to assume that Mr Martin had an opposing view on how the people of Junction City should be celebrating their Thanksgiving, but believed in the core value of Thanksgiving, to give thanks.

A few years later in 1883, the Opera House held one of the first Thanksgiving Balls, where the community and surrounding areas would get together to celebrate Thanksgiving and dance off what they had just eaten. Perhaps not what Mr. Martin would have liked, but it showed that there was a growing interest in celebrating Thanksgiving as a community. The Daily Union stated, “Professor Tappan’s Thanksgiving Ball promises to be the most extensive entertainment of this kind ever known in Central Kansas. From fifteen to twenty couples at Abilene have signified their intention to come, several from Solomon, four from Minneapolis, a number from Manhattan and ten or twelve couples from Lawrence are coming too.” Unfortunately however, the ball that year was upstaged by a fire that broke out near the Highland Cemetery, and that took most the attention away from the Thanksgiving ball and Professor Tappan’s professional dancing.

After George W. Martin moved on from the Daily Union and into the state capital, George Clark the new editor the Daily Union, had a much less condescending view on Thanksgiving than Martin did just a few years earlier, “The Seventh Cavalry never sat down to a more substantial dinner in their lives that they did on Thanksgiving Day. The dinner was one of the best the market could afford. It was cooked and served well, and at the conclusion of the meal, each trooper offered up (in his mind) thanks to the Giver of all good for the bountiful supply of a substantial concealed under his blue shirt.”

In 1893, Clark reported on a Thanksgiving feast that was consumed in a very public way. It seems Fred Durland, the owner of Durland Sawtell Furniture store, attempted an unusual advertising gimmick when he arranged in one of his store’s largest front windows, with a stylish new dining room suite and all the accessories. On Thanksgiving Day, he decorated the table with his own beautiful spread, which included turkey, oysters, celery, oranges, apples grapes and other fruits and trimmings that might be associated with Thanksgiving. The intent of the display was to lure prospective customers into the store to see the other fine furniture that was on sale. This could be thought of as the first Black Friday advertisement in Geary County!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, when Mr. Durland was asked how he was going to dispose of his display by a very impoverished Frank Trott, Durland said if he could find a group of 6 people that would sit down for a Thanksgiving dinner; Durland would feed them a thanksgiving meal. Trott stated that he knew of his “6 eager men” who could eat that display. Sticking to his word, Frank Durland offered Mr. Trott and his 5 companions the Thanksgiving display to these hungry men.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, make sure to enjoy it with loved ones and to not overlook it while waiting for Christmas. Eat some food, enjoy some football and make some memories with your family.

This is a look at the Durland Furniture store which hosted that famous Thanksgiving Diner. Although this is not a picture of that display, this does give a good look at how enticing that spread would have been to the people of Junction City 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Willis Duncan was born in 1919. By the time of his death in 2010, Willis had served in WWII, worked for the postal service in South Dakota and farmed in the Humboldt Creek community. In 1939, Duncan married his first wife, Helen Roether. They were both 20 years old and for them, the next six years would be filled with war. While Willis moved with the army, often taking Helen with him, Helen journaled their experiences into a scrapbook. This scrapbook was found by a local Junction City couple and brought to the museum, where we are happy to care for this look at the local war experience.
            In honor of Veterans’ Day, and men like Willis Duncan who served, we would like to share some of Helen’s memories from WWII.

            “Willis entered the Army on April 6, 1942 at Ft. Riley, Kansas. He was accepted as an aviation cadet and given an indefinite furlough.
            While waiting for his call to active duty he continued working as a clerk for Bolman’s wholesale grocery. He resigned from this job the first f July. He then went to work as a carpenter at Ft. Riley helping to build barracks.
            He received his call to active duty on August 31, 1942. He reported at Ft Riley on this day, and at 2:00 P.M. boarded the train for Nashville Tennessee.
            At Nashville he was given more mental and physical tests. Upon failure to pass the eye accommodation test he was made a Private in the ground force of the Army Air Corps.
            I went to visit him the first of October and spent three weeks there before coming home. While I was there I stayed with Mrs. Mary Williams and her daughter Mary Ruth at 2014 Belmont. Bill [Willis] had met them at the Cadet Club and they were good to us. In fact, we wouldn’t have known what to do without them. 
            In November Bill became ill with pneumonia and spent two weeks in the hospital. He had as his nurse a refugee from Norway.
            He was granted two weeks sick leave upon leaving the hospital and came home for his first visit since joining the Army.
            He returned to Nashville after his two weeks were up with the expectation of being home for Xmas. But Willie was having a run of hard luck and spent Xmas in quarantine for the Measles, German Measles, During this time he made the remark that “Anyone who gets Measles ought to be tied to his mother’s apron strings.” The words were no more than out of his mouth than he was taken to the hospital with of all things the “Measles.”
            In February he came home on 10 days furlough…after his furlough he sent home the following pictures for me to keep. He also sent back the card I sent him for Xmas, and asked that it be saved too. Willie is now the proud Corporal.”
Helen documented Willis’ war experience throughout the remainder of the war and beyond. Following WWII, Willis was transferred to Alaska then Rapid City, South Dakota. Helen’s stories included the purchase of their first car:

 “On April 5, 1947 I bought our first new car. It was a 4-door, green Kaiser and really some boat. Richard said he bet Uncle Bill would come home for sure when he found out we had a new car, well he wasn’t wrong because on April 20th Bill came home from Alaska. He had a 15-day furlough so we didn’t leave for our new station until May 1st and we arrived in Rapid City, South Dakota, May 3rd. We didn’t have a place to live except one room…but we had each other…so who cares!”

The Geary County Historical Society loves receiving personal memoires like Willis and Helen Duncan’s. If you have a story you would like to share about your time in the military, or any other significant moment in your life, please contact the museum 785-238-1666.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The history of the First Baptist Church of Junction City

This past Thursday marked the Sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary, of the first meeting of the First Baptist church of Junction City. One of the first churches in Junction City, the church has had a tremendous impact on the citizens of Junction City.  The growth and challenges of the church almost mirror the ones that faced the town of Junction City throughout the time of its establishment in 1865.

In January of 1894, a reader who identified himself only as “Old Settler” remembered a time where different church denominations would worship together during at time of uncertainty and worry in the days during the Civil War. “The newcomer [to Junction City] will scarcely believe that all the church-going people in town met together for worship In the upper room of the building knowns as the old jail, just north of the Central Hotel on Jefferson street (this building is now part of the municipal building.) This did change after the war when families started to come home and the population, and perhaps animosity between the religions, grew.

With the demand on the rise for their own place of worship, eleven local Baptist took it upon themselves to organize and start their own location for worship. So on November 5th, 1865, the first organized Baptist sermon took place at the Streeter-Strickler building, which was located on the corner of Seventh and Washington. The Streeter-Strickler was converted to a makeshift church. It was originally donated by James Streeter, who also happened to be one of the charter members of the church. The establishment of the Baptist church at the Streeter-Strickler building is said to have been the first regular place of worship established in Junction City.

The first assembly of the Baptist church was big news in town, as it made the Junction City Republican newspaper. “The first meeting preparatory to the organization of the First Baptist church of Junction City, Kansas was held November 5, 1865 and at a subsequent meeting held February 25, 1866.” The first leader of the church was Elder Blood and was assisted by Reverend Jacobus and Reverend McClure.

After a few years at the Streeter-Strickler building, James Streeter donated money again to have a permanent church built for those of the Baptist faith. This new church was located between Sixth and Seventh Streets and was on the west side of Jefferson Street and was dedicated on January 27, 1867. A year later, the church received its official charter and it was awarded to them on February 29, 1868.

An interesting account of the church’s early history is that for three years, 1867-1870, the church did not have a rooftop. It was blown away in the middle of a storm. Because of this “Reverend Balcom, who was a Baptist Evangelist, was called upon to help “pray the roof back on.” Only a year after the help from Rev. Balcom, and the Junction City community, the roof was back on the church and the sermons were back to normal. After the roof was back on the church, there was a strong growth in the church and by 1872 the church membership had grown to 97. By 1882, the church had grown to 150. Because of the exponential growth of the church, in 1917 the second reincarnation of the church was constructed right down the street, and the first regular place or worship was sold to a Durland-Sawtell Undertaking company. 

During WWII, the First Baptist Church of Junction City helped the war effort by purchasing $4,000 worth of war bonds. $4000 in 1941 is estimated to be $64,746 with today’s inflation. The church donated something much more valuable than money to the war. 106 members of the church joined the war effort and fought for their country during WWII.

After the war, the Baptist church saw a growth in members and the church itself. In order to get to as many people as possible, the Baptist church started to broadcast their morning worship services over the then-new local radio station, KJCK.  During continued growth after WWII, the church suffered a major setback as the building caught fire on the night of December 15, 1955. The fire caused approximately $40,000 worth of damages. Among some of the repairs were a new roof and sheathing, repair of roof trusses, a new ceiling and hardwood floor in the sanctuary Friendship hall had some of the worse damage as it needed a new ceiling in Friendship hall and redecorating in the sanctuary and Friendship hall. The pews were completely refinished and the organ was rebuilt. This did not stop the church as it continued to grow and become one of the major institutions in Junction City.

Join the church this weekend in celebrating its Sesquicentennial by perhaps visiting and taking a look at one of the oldest churches in the area. 

This picture of the 1st Baptist church was taken circa 1880s-1890s and was located at 6th and Washington. 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dont Run Over the Children!!

Since today is Halloween, I would like to share a little history of one of our local landmarks and a Halloween prank that traveled around the world. In the late 1940’s the Walker Cut Stone Company erected a large 5 x 9 foot stone slab across K-18 highway from the Spring Valley Country School house. It would demonstrate the quality of the stone and direct buyers to their quarry, a quarter mile south of the school.   It would eventually have a metal sign on top, but for several years, just the stone stood next to the road.
                Local pranksters were busy in the days leading up to Halloween of 1950. The Monday Daily Union reported that “a quantity of popcorn was poured into the gasoline tank of a parked car” near the Webster apartments.  On West Thirteenth “police reported the removal of tires” from a half dozen cars. The tires the football team used for training were also missing. Other more minor incidents included the soaping of windows and placing of barricades in streets.
                As Halloween loomed it was decided that four police cars with radio would be on patrol due to the increase of incidents. In addition, special police were walking the streets and city employees were stationed in the city parks to ward off mischief-makers. The extra security seems to have scared off the hooligans because the only real incident to make the next day’s paper was a 3 ½ foot bull snake that had been released in the front lobby of the Municipal Building.
                The paper did not report the incidents out in the surrounding countryside. Those outside of town remember several pranks being pulled. Mary Kay Munson remembers coming home that night with her family from a Spring Valley school Halloween party program to find several harrow sections (each weighing a couple hundred pounds) piled in front of the garage. Several others reported farm equipment moved and outhouses toppled that night. Perhaps the most well-known prank was that someone had decided that the Walker Stone slab across from the Spring Valley Schoolhouse needed a message.
                Josephine Munson writes in the Project Heritage book “A Halloween prank in 1950 caused Spring Valley School to be known as the school with the sign ‘Don’t run over the children, wait for the teacher.’ Pictures of the large stone which displayed these words have been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world.”
                Many military personnel took photos of the stone as a memento of their time stationed at Fort Riley. These photos helped in circulating the landmark and message around the world.
                Mary Kay Munson remembers her parents laughing with Maynard Coe, President of the National Safety Council. He said that it was one of the most effective safety signs he had seen because everyone slowed down to read and think about the message.
                Not only has this become a familiar prank but its perpetrators have also been a well-kept secret as no one has come forward and admitted to painting the sign. The hand-printed message has been repainted over the years and still stands as a Halloween prank remembered fondly by many.  

                If you have memories or photos of the stone you would like to share please stop by the museum Tuesday-Sunday from 1-4pm. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Early businesses in Junction City

Early businesses in Junction City

By Gaylynn Childs

Newcomers to this area often find it hard to believe that Junction City was – for over a century – the main center for trade and commerce in this region of the state.  However, a look through Editor Charles Manley’s comprehensive publication should convince even the most skeptical of the truth of this statement.  In this edition, consisting of 12 newspaper-sized pages divided into two sections, Manley expounds that fine agricultural qualities of the area along with detailing the history of the various settlements in Geary County beginning with the first military expedition to Camp Center in 1852.  He then enumerates the many retail and industrial operations which were located here at that time and brags on the cultural and social offerings of the community as well.
            Under bold headlines which proclaim: “GEARY COUNTY TODAY AND TOMORROW,” the editor explains, “In preparation of this Industrial Edition of the REPUBLIC it has been our aim to adhere strictly to facts.  Reckless statements concerning any locality always react and do more injury than good…”  Then he states that not a penny had been paid to advertise in this issue and that expenses were to be covered by the sale of extra copies. 
            It was interesting to note how this enthusiastic promoter could turn even the most negative aspects of our state into something to brag about.  Take note. 
            “Caesar preferred to be the first man in a village to the second in Rome.  He ‘made good’ in Rome and took his pay in daggers.  It costs to lead but it is the best way to advertise.  Kansas leads.  She originated the Civil War, a very expensive job, but it took and was copied all over the country.  Our drought was made national, likewise our grasshoppers.  They are Kansas things.  Other states have them but they take them after us and give us the credit of the invention.  John Brown and Jerry Simpson never amounted to much until they came to Kansas.  We were the making of them….
            “Cyclones are also credited to Kansas but other states are now treating the cyclone very respectfully.  Very little fun is now poked at Kansas on account of its cyclones.  It is a species of wind that makes itself respected wherever it blows.  It went pretty hard with us to have to originate war, drought, hoppers, and cyclones, but somebody had to do it and Kansas never waits.  Calamities are not so almighty amusing but it takes courage to originate them and the first patient has them the easiest.  We are now waiting for something else to originate.”
            After a fairly comprehensive review of the history of the county including an eclectic compilation of “firsts” in Geary County, Manley describes the countryside and assures an excellent supply of water.  “The supply of drinking water comes from wells and springs and is of the most pleasant taste.”  The character of the rural residents is not over looked either.  “There are at least a dozen church organizations in the county outside Junction City and all denominations are represented.  The educational resources are good and well up to modern ideas and as a consequence we find a well educated people, a sharp and active citizenship.”
            Our present county commissioners might take some comfort from Manley’s assessment of the county roads in 1915.  “The county has as good natural roads as one can find anywhere and they are as good ten months of the year as the pikes of the eastern states.  This has been made possible from the fact that rural transportation is largely done by automobile and this necessitates the making of good roads and keeping them in repair.  Geary County has one automobile for every 36 of its inhabitants and when it is known that many are owned by farmers it is at once apparent why the roads are kept in good condition and when it is known that each car has a license tax of $5 per year against it, the fund for road maintenance is not a small one in itself.”
            Junction City was described as an “aggressively progressive city of about 7,000 population.  The inhabitants are a busy, hospitable people, wide-awake, ambitious and enterprising to a degree that surprises visitors from other sections.  There is no apathy or laziness among them, but exceeding vim, zeal and courageous energy characterize their every action.  They extend the open hand of welcome to the newcomer, are frank and generous, open-hearted, unselfish and sincere in their efforts, full of commercial vim, level-headed and far seeing; what wonder the stores and the town generally present a scene of life and bustle that many towns twice its size do not show.”
            Prior to in-depth descriptions of the various businesses and professional operations in Junction City – many augmented with photographs – Manley lists all the types of retail ventures then represented in the community.  This was eye-opening even to those of us who are somewhat familiar with the history of our local business district.
            “Commercially Junction City has: three hotels; two bakeries; one ice plant; three creameries; five opticians; one airdrome; no saloons; (remember this was the era of prohibition) two book stores; three shoe stores; six drug stores; one music store; eight restaurants; six tailor shops; three green houses; one boot and shoe factory; one glove factory; six meat markets; four variety stores; two rock quarries; two rock crushers; four jewelry stores; three lumber yards; one general store; twenty-seven grocery stores; three livery stables; two electric stores; one electric plant factory; three photographers; one bottling works; one storage house; three cigar factories; five clothing stores; two cleaning shops; three candy factories; two grain elevators; three millinery stores; one job printing office; two state banks; three steam laundries; two national banks; three hardware stores; one pure milk depot; three newspapers; two flouring mills; five auto garages; one sheet metal factory; four general contractors; one veterinary hospital; two electric contractors; one sand shipping plant; two wholesale produce houses; one cement block factory; one sewing machine shop; one ice cream cone factory; two harness manufactures; three moving picture theaters; one telephone exchange; one awning and tent factory; one credit rating association; one marble and granite works; one building and loan association; three wholesale ice cream factories; five blacksmith and machine shops; one electric power plant; six furniture stores; three undertaking establishments; two plumbing and heating contractors; one wholesale grocery distributing house; seven attorneys; twelve physicians; seven dentists; one gas company; one hospital; six feed stores; four department stores; three coal dealers; one abstract firm; one architect; nine barber shops; four billiard and pool halls; one cab and baggage line; one chiropractor; five dressmakers; one express company; one insurance agency; twelve real estate and loan firms; four second hand stores and a commercial club (Chamber of Commerce) of 350 members.”

            Editor Manley concluded with the observation that “Junction City is a good trading point.”  The he offered some advice to new entrepreneurs, which might well apply today.  “Visionary individuals cannot get along in Junction City.  The streets are not paved with gold and you can’t pick big yellow nuggets out of the gutter or make a fortune in a minute, but any legitimate business enterprise, coupled with honest and energetic endeavor on the part of the promoter will succeed.”

Due to the high number of cars in Geary County during the turn of the century, businesses like Arnold’s Battery Station, on the corner of 4th and Washington, was a necessity to keep cars in the best condition possible.  

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Coronado Monument

Have you ever wondered why there seems to be a random monument dedicated to Spanish Explorer Francisco de Coronado in the middle of Kansas? How about the fact that there is a park in Junction City with the same name as the monument? For those who have ever wondered why we have these items named after a Spanish explorer, this column will explain the long story of the Coronado influence in Geary County.

This past February marked the 475th anniversary of Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s expedition to North America, and more specifically, Coronado’s trip into deep present-day Kansas. Coronado’s expedition crossed five states; Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. It was estimated that the expedition included 36 men, including Coronado, and one woman. What drew Coronado to Kansas was the legend of the Native American Province of Quivera where inhabitants were rumored to possess gold and copper. Chieftains were believed to eat out of silver bowls and use utensils at every meal. These Native Americans were believed to have been the wealthiest in all of the New World. This is a legend that was almost too good to be true. This did not stop Coronado, as he took a chance and took his expedition into the new world, and tried looking for such a place.   

It turned out; it was too good to be true. Coronado reached, what is now present day central Kansas and was told by Quiviran Chief Taxarrax that the seven cities of gold did not physically exist. Instead it is a place that existed in mind and spirit. This was not good enough for Coronado, so he and his expedition returned to Mexico. The exact place of Coronado’s heartbreak is unknown. But for a few decades, Logan Grove here in Geary County was believed to have been Coronado’s final stop. In 1901, J.V. Brower, a researcher and amateur archeologist for the Minnesota Historical Society, and avid Coronado researcher was looking for the exact route the Spanish researcher took to get to Kansas. Brower had a very specific interest in the Coronado expedition and had spent some time across the United States looking for the exact trail Coronado and his expedition had traveled. While in Junction City, Brower asked the town’s people for information about the surrounding area or any information on the local Native American history. The citizens of Junction City directed Brower to Captain Robert Henderson and his land in Logan Grove.

Captain Robert Henderson obtained property at Logan Grove in 1857 when he received a land warrant signed by President Abraham Lincoln following the Civil War. Captain Henderson was awarded these lands by President Abraham Lincoln due to Henderson’s adventures in Texas. Fresh out of the Army, Captain Henderson was awarded the 106 acre plot just south of town. While building the first log cabin in Geary, the Henderson’s turned the newly acquired land into a family farm. With the daily tilling and toiling of the new soil along with the constant rain fall the Henderson home was turned into a treasure trove of Native American artifact. Items such as arrowheads, hatchets and skinning knifes would turn up on a daily basis.

The rain would later turn up old burned bones and pottery that made the Hendersons and Brower believe that Logan Grove was an old village at the site for the Quivira Indians. Brower believed Coronado ended his expedition at the site. Perhaps the most convincing evidence is the discovery of an old chief grave found on top of a hill on the Henderson farm. Although the chieftain was believed to have lived before the arrival of Coronado, this does signify that there was a stable and sedentary community around Logan Grove for years.  

Due to these developments, Brower believed that Logan Grove must have been the location where Coronado met with the Quivara American Indians, and where he turned back for Mexico. Because of this, Brower and the Henderson family decided to have a monument built to commemorate the discovery of the location of where Coronado and Chief Taxarrax met. The shaft of polished granite was mounted on two bases of native stone. This monument was officially unveiled in September of 1902 to a big crowd. On one side of the monument is the inscription “ERECTED FOR THE QUIVERA HISTORICAL SOCIETY BY ROBERT HENDERSON IN 1902.” The Quivara Historical society was created by Brower to explore and investigate the expeditions of the great explorers of the west and Northwest along the waters of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

Unfortunately for Brower and Captain Henderson, it was later found out that the closer, more approximate location to this meeting ground was at the now aptly named, Coronado Heights near Lindborg, Kansas. This location is about 77 miles south of Logan Grove. There is no doubt that the Logan Grove cabin location was in fact an American Indian village, but perhaps not a location where Coronado had met with the Quivara Indian chief.

After these new developments surfaced, the ground at Logan Grove where sold off for recreational purposes in the late 1960s, the monument was moved to avoid damages. The Coronado Monument was moved to what is now Coronado Park in 1974 when the American Legion Post #45 presented this monument to Junction City. The Fort Riley Engineers moved it to Coronado Park in December of that year.

This picture portrays the original location of the Coronado monument next to the Henderson cabin at Logan Grove. You can now visit the monument at Coronado Park. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Our Cabinet of Curiosities

Museums have been around for centuries, but they were not always the type of institutions we might think of them as today. The original museums were privately owned collections by Europe’s most rich and powerful citizens and featured scientific and naturalistic oddities. These early collections went by many names but most frequently “wunderkammer” or curiosity cabinets.
There was a widespread craze for cabinets of curiosity in the 1600s. These small exhibitions were displayed in the houses of wealthy collectors and would include strange, beautiful and outlandish objects. Exotic shells and jewels, stuffed animals, preserved bodies, clockwork and scientific instruments would often be accompanied by the stuff of fairytales - mermaids, dragons, or the clothes or footsteps of giants. Collections included examples of rare and misunderstood deformities. Among the curiosities of the Russian emperor Peter the Great was a two-headed sheep, a four-legged rooster, the teeth of a singer and the bones of a giant footman.
            Anatomist Frederick Ruysch created elaborate, and horrifying, curiosity cabinets in the 17th century. Ruysch discovered the recipe for a colored die that, when injected into human organs, revealed the journeys taken by the blood vessels through the body.  He later included these injected body parts in his museum of curiosities: body part specimens in glass jars, baby skeletons, and preserved organs sat alongside exotic birds, butterflies and plants. He thought of these exhibits as educational, but also felt that they should be decorated 'prettily and naturally.’
Small skeletons were positioned in 'geological' landscapes, crying into handkerchiefs, wearing strings of pearls, or playing the violin. The 'botanical' landscapes were also made up of body parts: kidney stones or tissue from the lungs would become bushes, grass or rocks.
The popularity of these curiosity cabinets eventually gave way to what we might consider more normal museums in the 18th century. The first American historical societies came about as a direct result of the American Revolution. Following the war, American patriots believed the founding fathers had made contributions to world civilization that should never be forgotten. So, the historical materials of American democracy were gathered and preserved in historical societies. The earliest historical society in America is still active. The Massachusetts Historical Society has been an active part of American history since 1791.
The Geary County Historical Society was first chartered in 1920, and, in 1924, J.B. Henderson donated the pioneer photographs that currently hang in the museum’s front hallway. The Historical Society was disbanded soon after, but in 1972, local citizens revised the organization that exists today.
            Museums are still filled with curiosities, but of a different kind. We are fascinated with how people lived; what they wore; what they ate and what they thought. For example, dinner manners have evolved over the last hundred years. We might go to a museum to see different artifacts used at a formal dinner in the 1800s.

            The Geary County Historical Society has been preserving local history since the 1970s. Our collection includes everything from the early Bartell House registration ledgers to the cane used by Governor Harvey at the turn of the century. But, the museum also holds a couple of oddities: Odd Fellows fraternal order robes, a wooden plane propeller from WWII, and a turn of the century graphophone among others. The museum has taken these oddities out of storage. We are preparing the stories of these rarely seen objects in our new exhibit “Our Cabinet of Curiosities.” This exhibit opens Saturday October 17th  at 1pm with special presentation “Jackalopes, Hodags and Other Larger than Life Myths from the American Road” given by Kansas Humanities Council Speaker’s Bureau speaker Erika Nelson at 1:30pm.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Dixon Brothers Land War

            Among the area’s earliest settlers was a family of enterprising Irishmen named Dixon who were all born in County Mayo on the Emerald Isle.  Their father was an “above average farmer” and prominent in his borough.  The family, which consisted of parents and nine children, immigrated to America in 1847 and initially settled in Virginia.  There, sons James, Thomas, Patrick and John took up the stone-cutter’s trade and worked as bridge builders for the railroads.  This eventually led them Kansas Territory in August of 1854 in the employ of Col. Ashley, who had contracts to build bridges for the Army at Forts Leavenworth and Riley.
            Here the brothers located claims on land along Three-mile Creek just outside the boundary of Fort Riley.  Then the death of their father called the brothers back to Illinois. After settling affairs there, they returned to Kansas with their sisters, wives, and children.  Here they camped on their claim site and commenced to build a suitable dwelling for their clan. 
In the meantime the Pawnee Town Company had been organized and a site was selected in the same area for the new capital city of Kansas.  A few days after their return the Dixons were visited by a detail of soldiers from Fort Riley who ordered the party to move on, saying the land was already claimed.  The brothers however, being made of substantial material, maintained their ground and continued to put up their house.  A short time later, Capt. Lowe, Master of Forage at the fort, appeared at the site with government lumber and crew of carpenters and put up a house on the same claim. 
Col. Montgomery, the commanding officer at the post, then notified the Dixons that they were intruding upon the claim of Mr. Lowe, and must move off or they would be put off of United States troops.  James Dixon refused, but finally agreed to pay Mr. Lowe $300 to leave, which the latter did.
One day soon after the Dixon house was completed, the brothers were visited by Judge Ed Johnson.  Under the guise of friendship, he urged the family to leave their claim peaceably as the land was wanted for the military reserve.  In reality, it was wanted by private individuals.  When the Judge could not move the Dixons, he became threatening.
The next move was to send Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, one of the few abolitionist officers at the fort, to purchase the claim for $1,000, but still the Dixons refused to leave.  A few days later, while the Dixon men were away grading a steamboat landing at Pawnee, a company of troops commanded by Capt. Lyon came to the homestead and forcibly ejected the women and children and then, using oxen and grappling hooks, tore down the house.  Upon their return that night, the Dixon brothers moved back to the same spot and, acting upon the advice of counsel, put up another house.
A short time later, another officer with a company of troops came to the site, tore down the second house, and a second time ejected the women and children in the absence of the men.  James Dixon then dug a hole in the ground and he and his brothers moved into it to guard their claim.
James McClure, an early area settler and lawyer, later shed some light on what may have motivated Col. Montgomery’s actions where the Dixons’ claim was concerned .  He wrote in the Kansas Historical Collections that, “Governor Reeder had visited Fort Riley and indicated to the town company (of which both he and Montgomery were shareholders) his intention to make Pawnee the capital.  As one of the conditions for doing this Reeder insisted upon the company securing for him 160 acres of land adjoining the town site to the east side, which was where the preemption claim had been made by the Dixon brothers. Repeated efforts were made to purchase the land, but the Dixons persistently refused to sell or surrender their right to the claim. When it was found impossible to induce the Dixons to surrender the 160 acres desired by Governor Reeder it was determined to force them off by embracing their tract in the military reservation.”
In the meantime, Capt. Lyon, appalled by what appeared to be gross misconduct and graft on the part of Montgomery, prepared and preferred charges against the Major.  As a result, he was court-martialed and dismissed from the Army in December of 1855.
Major Ogden replaced Col. Montgomery and the Dixons found a friend in this commander.  Ogden told them their claim was legitimate and he encouraged James Dixon to maintain it.  With this support, Thomas and James Dixon walked to Platte City, Missouri, where they laid their case before General Atchison, then acting Vice President of the United States.  The General reported the problem to Washington, and at the request of President Franklin Pierce, Generals Churchill and Clark were sent to investigate the question of the fort’s boundaries. 
After this inquiry was completed, they recommended boundaries that excluded both the city of Pawnee and the Dixon land at Three-mile Creek.  However, Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of war, over-rode this recommendation and extended the lines to the post to incorporate both Pawnee and the Dixon claim.  The residents at both sites were ordered out and mounted troops tore done the buildings with grappling hooks.

The Dixons went on to make the most of their bad beginning in this frontier land.  After being booted off their claim, they removed to other homesteads in the vicinity, and for the most part, were prosperous and successful.

This picture is of James Dixon

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Abbie Clarke Hogan

With Jammin’ in JC in full swing, we at the Geary County Historical Society would like to highlight the great tradition of musicians from the area by sharing the story of local musician, Abbie Clarke Hogan.
Sanborn and Harriet Clarke came to Junction City from Michigan in 1872. The family moved to Wakefield in 1874 where they welcomed their second child, J. Abbie Clarke on February 1, 1875.
The family returned to Michigan when Abbie was about a year old but returned to Junction City in 1878.
The Clarke family loved music and enjoyed sharing their love with the community. Every Sunday morning their church would send a wagon to pick up the family pump organ so that Harriet could play during the service.
Mrs. Clarke also gave piano lessons in the community. When Abbie was five years old her mother attempted to teach her how to play the piano. Abbie was not interested in the instrument and her mother soon gave up the lessons. 
When Abbie was eight she heard a traveling violinist. She was captivated by the music and immediately asked her parents for a violin. Her mother was shocked because the violin was a “man’s instrument” and not at all proper for a young lady. But Abbie persisted and in a fit of exasperation her mother said that if she wanted a violin she would have to buy it herself. Abbie promptly marched downtown with her savings and bought herself a violin.
The next problem was finding a violin teacher in the wilds of Kansas. In a strange twist of fate K. Dome Geza, a Hungarian violinist trained at the Vienna Conservatory had become stranded in New York at the end of a concert tour. Down on his luck he met a very persuasive army recruiter and ended up being sent to Fort Riley where he served as the chief musician of the 5th Cavalry Band.
The Clarke’s convinced Geza to teach Abbie. He taught her for three and half years until fortune favored him and he left the Army to become the head the music department at Bethany College.
Mr. Geza thought that Abbie showed a lot of promise and he advised Mrs. Clarke to take Abbie to Germany and have her audition for the violinist Joseph Joachim.
 Just before the audition Abbie injured her hand, despite the injury Abbie performed admirably.  Mr. Joachim was not impressed with her technique but he agreed that she did have talent and he would teach her.
                Abbie lived in Germany with her mother and sister, LuCelia. She attended the Royal Hochschule. She was so talented that she performed a solo with the Royal Hochschule Orchestra at the age of thirteen; making her the youngest member of the orchestra.  
Abbie came back to Junction City after spending two years in Germany.
Abbie was eighteen years old when she won a statewide music contest in Hutchinson, Kansas. The winner would represent Kansas at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. While in Chicago preparing for her fair performance, she auditioned for and won a scholarship at the Chicago Musical College.
Abbie stayed in Chicago to attend college. She graduated in 1894 with honors. After graduation she traveled around the county performing as a soloist with many well-known groups. But she never forgot her home.
In the fall of 1896, at the age of 21, Abbie worked with the local school district to organize a high school orchestra. During this time Abbie was still touring around the country so her sister LuCelia, also an accomplished musician, took responsibility of the high school orchestra.
In August of 1898 Abbie took a break from her musical career to marry, Thomas Hogan, who was in the milling business with his uncle, Mr. Fogarty. They made their home in Junction City and were blessed with two boys, Cornelius born in 1899 and Theodore born in 1903.
When Mr. Fogarty passed away in 1901 Thomas took over managing the mill. The Hogan’s bought the mill in 1907.
Marriage, children, and business responsibilities kept Abbie close to home but she still made time for her music. To keep her schedule manageable she only performed in the Midwest. Her other passion was working with community and high school orchestras. With her help curriculum was developed for music education in Kansas.
Abbie was also very active in the community. She was a member of the Ladies Reading Club and gave concerts to raise funds for the clubs many activities and good works.  She also volunteered at Fort Riley by bringing music to injured soldiers. 
It was by chance that Abbie was passing through Wakefield in September of 1950 and learned that the old hotel was going to be auctioned off.  She stayed and bought the hotel with the intention of tearing it down and selling it for salvage. But she just couldn’t tear down the beautiful old building, so she moved into it. One day some workers at Fort Riley asked if they could stay at her hotel and the next thing she knew she had a new career.

Abbie helped run the hotel among her other interests until her death in May of 1964. The Hogan Hotel, originally built in 1905, was bought by the Corps of Engineers and torn down to make way for Milford Reservoir. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Goldie Webster PT. 2

            In July, we shared with you the memories of Goldie Webster who moved to Junction City with her family in 1901. Today, we have more of her story. Goldie recalled her days as a school girl in Junction City, including attending high school in the current museum building on 6th and Adams.
            “We went to school at the Washington school at 15th St. The boys and girls each had their own playground. Boys played marbles, ball and such. Girls played jacks, hop scotch, drop the handkerchief and charades. In the fall, when dry leaves were on the ground, we played in the leaves, outlining rooms of "our house" with the leaves. When the dandelions were in bloom, we were allowed to go onto the lawn at certain times to pick the blossoms. At other times the lawn was a no no.
            No one brought a lunch to school except in an emergency when permission had to be given. We had not many problems with discipline. We heard stories about a length of hose (rubber) which was kept in the principal’s office. Woe to anyone who was sent to that office. I never saw that hose. The story may have been a myth. I must mention that the rest rooms were in a different building, some distance from the main building. This was not very convenient in winter. We had dedicated teachers and we loved them. I recall that when I took leave of my third grade teacher, "Miss Crowther", we were both in tears at the end. She tried hard to keep a little country girl who had been in school before, only for a year in a one room country school, from being lonely among strangers. It was quite an adjustment to make and her kindness helped a lot..
            School became interesting at time went on. We had programs on special occasions to which parents were invited. On Friday afternoon we had spelling bees or ciphering matches. If we were asked to be leader of a team we chose those whom we wanted to be on one side. It was an honor to be chosen first or early in the game because the best spellers or bosom friends were always chosen first.
            The teachers at Washington School were Miss Crowther, Miss Ina Hurley, Miss Mary Hay, Miss Emma Hay and Miss Corda Pennell. I was graduated from the 8th grade from the old stone building on west ninth. This was later torn down. The teachers there for that grade were Miss Alexander (mine) and Miss Cora Campbell. In 1907 I entered the freshman class at the sixth street high school building. I was graduated from there in 1911, being a member of the Commercial class, taking second honors. My friend Florence Tietze, (later Mrs. Fred Altwegg) out bested me by a fraction of a point. I was much surprised, having never tried for the honor. In fact I was overjoyed to have lost since I always had a fear of speaking in public. I was very nervous when it came my turn to give a current event (without notes) in our opening assembly before the whole student body. I was convinced that my legs would never have held me up while I addressed an opera house full of people. Florence did a wonderful job! I returned to school for the term of 1911 to 1912, where I took the Normal Training course. Upon graduating in 1912, I received my State Teacher’s Certificate. This term was the first time that this course was offered in the JC High School.
            At one time we lived next door to the Barkman family. Three of the Barkman girls became teachers in the Geary County schools, Edna, Clara and Florence. Esther Zellner who lived on 14th St., also became a teacher. She graduated from Emporia. Florence Tietze who lived on a farm on the Alida road was another who taught. Charles P. Murphy who graduated when I did, became President of the Board of Education and later Mayor of Junction City. Charles gave out certificates to the High School graduates the year my daughter, Shirley Ruth, was graduated. We were proud of our schoolmates.”
            For more local stories, family histories and photographs about early Geary County, stop into the Geary County Historical Society. Open Tuesday-Sunday 1-4pm.

            And come in this Sunday, September 20th 3pm-6pm for our Annual Ice Cream Social and help support the museum. This will also be the last chance to see Letters Home, the military letters display, before it comes down to make way for a new exhibit.