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. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The early History of Football in Junction City

This past weekend marked the second week of the 2015 Kansas High School football season. The tradition of High School football, for many, marks the official beginning of the new school year. This is true for many in Junction City. The High School football team has a great tradition of winning. The Blue Jays have won two state titles; the first came in 1969 when they defeated Bishop Carroll, 32-14 in the 4A state title game. The second came in 2008 when the Blue Jays defeated Lawrence Free State 19-14. In total, the Junction City high school team has appeared in five state title games (1969, 1973, 1976, 1986, and 2008). Football, however, has not always been as popular or successful in Junction City.  Football had very humble beginnings which led to it having a hard time gaining traction in town for the first few decades. Those students who did decide to play football in school played for the love of the sport. These kids had to do so on their own dime and really had to go out of their way to lay down a good foundation so future generations could play football.
The first official Junction City High School football team started playing in 1894. Unlike today where there is a single uniform that is provided by the school, the first team had to obtain and take care of their own uniform, which made many on the same team look very different. No two uniforms were the same. Those who wanted to play on the team, and could afford it, bought their equipment from the H.V.B. Pickering Tent and Awning shop that sold wheat binder canvas and wagon covers. From that stiff, coarse canvas the players made pants and shirts. Apart from not matching their teammates, these uniforms and pads were not comfortable in the least.
Perhaps the reason football had such a hard time getting started in Junction is because just like today, the sport was met with controversy. An early Daily Union article dated from December 22, 1894 states, “Football is, if possible, even more brutal and dangerous than prize fighting… so far a broken arm and numerous bruises and contusions, are the extent of the injuries received by our local players.” These sorts of reactions perhaps impeded the growth of football in the area. Even by the 1910s, the idea of modern football was still very young. Kids who participated on the team still had to find their own way to away games. An article from 1918, details the account of a game the Blue Jays lost to Saline 32-2 and this was partly due to the fact that many of the players missed the first half of the game because of the trouble with their cars and could not make it in time for the kick off.
Football in Junction City and around the country came a long way in just 20 years. By 1924 there was a “semi-professional” football team that played their home games in Junction City. The term “semi-pro”, is used very loosely as the team had to still fund their own games and schedule their own games. The Yellowjackets, as the team was known as, were an independent football team that usually housed recently-graduated high school players and some college players. They would play other similar teams from around the area and some units from Fort Riley. Each team was responsible for lining up their own slate of games each season, as they were not part of any “leagues”. The Yellowjackets played at the old union pacific field that was located on Grant St. It seemed as though many of the surrounding areas had a lot of these “independent” teams as it was reported in the newspaper that the Yellowjackets would play against the teams from Minneapolis, and Council Grove.
The Yellowjackets team signified a rise in popularity in football around the surrounding areas. The early struggles in establishing football in Northeastern Kansas seem almost unimaginable seeming how popular the sport is today. So next time you attend a football game image how much different it would have been if the same teams did not have matching uniforms or if the kids on the team had to worry about their own transportation to games.

When you are not at the football games on Fridays, make sure to come down to the museum and check out our exhibits. We are open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 pm to 4 pm

This picture is of the 1884 Junction City high School football team. Records show that this team was the first in the history of Junction City High School. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The history of the High School

            The school year has officially started for Junction City High School. The hallways of the high school have been rumbling and buzzing with the excitement of a new school year. The rumbling of a new school year have always been a part of the high school, but not always at the same building.  The history of the high school is a very interesting one, especially when you correlate it with the growth and change in the population of Junction City. This change has always affected how the high school has evolved and changed. The high school has traveled around town and has been housed in many different building around town, one of which doesn’t stand anymore. The purpose of this column is to review the history and transformation of the Junction City high school and how it has arrived in its current location.

The original Junction City High School began in 1873 when the old McKinley building, which no longer stands, was used as the town’s first high school.  The McKinley building was used as the Senior High School from 1873 to 1904, and was located in the 300th block of West Ninth Street. When the high school first opened, the staff was compiled of five teachers and one principle, who also served as the superintendent. The student body was not much bigger. A total of seven kids graduated from Junction City High’s inaugural class in 1876. The class would have been much smaller if two of its students, J.B. and J.S. Callen, had decided to graduate early. Because the two brothers had finished the three year program in 2 ½ years they had the opportunity to graduate after the first semester. They decided to stay for the second semester so they could walk with the rest of their classmates. The two brothers were able to take advantage of the three year program the high school offered. After 1894, the district decided to change it to the more traditional, four year program.

            When the student body began to outgrow the McKinley building, the high school made the switch to a new building. In 1904, the high school moved to its next location, the stone building on Sixth and Adams. The high school was at this location for about 25 years. Anyone who visits the old building will notice old reminders of the old high school, such as the words “High School” over the main doorway of the building and the year 1903 is chiseled into the cornerstone. As with the McKinley building on Ninth Street, the ever growing student population out grew the building.

In 1929, there was an addition to the Junior high school which then combined both the junior and senior high schools into one building. Kids from 7th to 12th grade went to this newly renovated building, while the old building on Adams Street became the “Departmental Building”, and housed only the sixth grade class.

Just like the previous incarnations of the high school, the renovated building could not hold the growing number of students that were coming into the Junior and Senior high school. Due to this population boom in the 1950s, many of the classrooms were overcrowded and many teachers had to share a classroom. The school day began at 8:30 am and many would teach their last class at 4:10 pm. When the high school was at this building, the maximum capacity was 900. The largest enrollment they had while at this old school was 1,300!

For these reasons, a new school was built in 1958, to better accommodate the growing student population of Junction City was built. This new school housed the more traditional grades of 9th through 12th and is where the current high school still stands.  At the current high school, there are still some imagery and items that give homage to the previous high schools. The original bell than hung at the McKinley building is still on display at the current high school.

            The Geary County Historical Society is located in the second high school building at 530 N. Adams. If you want to visit the old high school building make sure to come check out the museum. We are open Tuesday- Sunday from 1 pm through 4pm! 

This picture is of the McKinley building which housed the very first high school between 1873 and 1903. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cigar factories in Junction City

The museum is currently working on a big project to digitize the documents in our archives. We are currently going through the documents to see what we have and where we should start. While searching through files in the business section I found a file labeled Tobacco/ Cigars.

I was surprised to learn that at the turn of the century, Junction City had a booming cigar business. Our 1908 Junction City phone directory shows at least 20 listings for merchants of cigars and tobacco. A quick look through the January 1899 issues of the Junction City Tribune yields ads for three cigar factories in Junction City.

The Union Cigar Factory was owned by Jake Schoenhoven. Before settling in Junction City, he worked throughout Europe as a cigar maker. As of 1899, he had been working in Junction City for 17 years and employed four cigar makers at his factory. 

The Thompsons Cigar Factory was located on Seventh Street. In the 1899 newspaper, it is described as a small establishment started 9 or 10 years ago. They employed five cigar makers whose specialties’ include “Thompson’s Cubana” and the “Little Joker” just to name a few.
The Williams & Zellner Cigar Factory was a fairly young business in 1899 but had enough trade to keep three men busy. They produced cigars such as the “Victor Dewey” and the “Junction City Band”.    

Also, among the papers in the Tobacco/ Cigar file is a short history written by John R. Williams of his father, Charles Otto Williams, an early pioneer in the Junction City hand rolled cigar business.
In 1892, Charles entered the cigar trade as an apprentice under Jake Schoenhoven. By 1898, Charles had started his own cigar business, working out of his home. His son John writes, “Over the next 50 years he worked his trade at several locations in Junction City, selling both wholesale and retail. During the early days he would load up his Model T once each month and go on a selling trip to the surrounding small towns.”

In 1906, Charles sold his factory and moved his family to California due to health reasons. The January 26, 1906 Junction City Sentinel notes that, “This week Geo. A. Fitzgibbons and M. Stokes purchased C.O. Williams cigar factory at 810 Washington St and will continue the business at the old stand.”

A year later the Williams family returned to Junction City.  Charles formed a partnership with John McCormick as the Williams & McCormick Cigar Store. They ran a concession stand in the basement of the Liberty Theater at Camp Funston. This partnership lasted until 1918.
Sometime after 1917, Charles constructed a building “next to his home at 320 W. 10th street which he used as his cigar factory” until 1929.

John writes of working with Charles, “With the advent of beer in Kansas in 1932, my father and I, opened a bar and cigar store at 821 N. Washington. It was here that the last cigar was made in this city. It was during Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal Days. Appropriately he named his new cigar “The New Deal”. It was sold only at his place of business.”

John also writes of the iconic “Indian Head, outlined with Neon” that hangs at 912 N Washington.  John writes  “This sign has passed through many hands since the following article appeared on May 17, 1934: The Williams Cigar Store this week put up a big Indian head, an attractive sign for their business that will be seen at a long distance, and is so unusual that the sign will be remembered.”
At the time John wrote his recollections the sign hung over the JC Bar owned by Gerda Smith. “A few years ago she had this sign refurbished and now it hangs as it once did…To me it stands as a memorial to all the cigar makers who plied their trade in this city.”

Between the advent of cigar making machines that could produce uniform cigars quickly and the increased popularity of cigarettes during WWI the art of hand rolled cigars slowly became a thing of the past. John writes that, “When C.O. Williams retired in 1943 he was the last to ply his trade in this city.”

I really enjoyed researching this topic but I still have questions.  Where did they get the tobacco? Was it imported, possibly from Missouri? Did we have local suppliers? If you have the answer to these questions or more information about cigar factories in Geary County, stop by the museum, Tuesday-Sunday 1-4pm and let us know. We love hearing from you!   

Charles O. and Louise Williams with daughters Grace and Hazel. Photo dated 1906.