Saturday, May 21, 2016

Estes- Moody Family

Today, we are sharing a story that spans Geary County, Riley County and Fort Riley because while we like to clearly define county boundaries as “our story” and “their story,” the reality is that early settlers weren’t thinking too much about which county their history might be attributed to.
The story of the Estes-Moody family begins in North Carolina, where the Reverend Robert Henry Moody Sr. was born in Morgantown on May 12, 1822.  To their marriage was born 16 children: John, Mary, Nancy, Jane, Cynthia, William, Robert Jr, Thomas, Marcus, James, Caleb, Rachel, Joseph, Sarah, Josephine, and Horace. Mary and her husband, Caleb Estes, were among the first of their family to depart from North Carolina. Caleb’s life was well summarized in his obituary, printed in the Junction City Sentinel in 1912:  
“Caleb Estes was born Feb. 26, 1840 in Caldwell County, North Carolina, where he spent the early part of his life, At the age of 18 years he went to the state of Wisconsin and spent two years, returning to his native state about six months before the Civil War. In June, 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate army as a member of Company F, 26th North Carolina infantry, and took part in many of the important battles of the war, namely, The Seven Days Fight around Richmond, Falling Water, Cold Harbor, Gettysburg and others of less importance. He was twice taken prisoner and was wounded at the battle of Cold Harbor. At the close of the war he returned to the farm. On Aug.29, 1865, he was married to Mary Elizabeth Moody. To this union was born one child, a daughter, Zada Ariel Huston.” Another obituary declared, “Mr. Estes was one of the pioneer men of this part of the state and is well known in this city.” 
And Caleb and Mary were among the earlier settlers of the Ogden area. Caleb’s second cousin Joseph P. Estes, also from North Carolina, had relocated to McDowell Township in Geary County in 1856, and perhaps it was his presence that prompted Mary and Caleb to settle in the area. Following their 1865 marriage, Mary and Caleb left North Carolina and traveled west, to the Flint Hills of Kansas, where their daughter Ariel was born. Once in Kansas, the Estes family settled in the Vinton area. Eventually taken over by Fort Riley when the military reservation was expanded, Vinton was a small community with little more than a schoolhouse and a church, though from 1870-1888, a post office served the area. Caleb Estes served as the final postmaster from 1882-1888. Following that time, Vinton mail was rerouted to Junction City, the trade center for the Vinton community. Letters from between the Estes and Moody families reflected this change. Earlier letters written by R.H. Moody to his daughter were regularly addressed to Vinton, KS and letters sent toward the end of the 19th century were addressed to Junction City, KS.  
In 1868, R.H. Moody began to write to his daughter of his desire to join her and her family in the state of Kansas. On December 9th, 1868 R.H. Moody wrote: “Mary this might afford me the opportunity of writing to you again to let you know something about home in the Old State of North Carolina. We are all tolerably well at present and hope this letter will reach you and find you both in good health. We are always glad to hear from you and ask you to write often and let us know how you are and how you are getting along. Your mother is anxious to see you and the children all want to see you. And I want to see you myself very badly. Unless you come to see us I don’t know when I shall see you.” And in the next ten years, the Moody family began their move west.  
By 1900, the area was filled with Moodys and Estes. The Estes Ranch lay on the western border of Riley/Geary County; to their east, on the Northern border of Fort Riley, both Ariel Estes and her husband, Ed Huston, owned land. Mary Estes’ brothers, Caleb and Horace Moody, owned large segments of land to the north and Robert H. Moody owned a segment of land to the west, where his property was bisected by the Geary/Riley county lines. That property was eventually broken into smaller segments; Joseph Moody, son of R.H. Moody, owned and paid taxes on the Geary County segment in 1908, while Walter Rubart, a relation through marriage, owned the Riley County land.  
The Vinton Cemetery reflects this close knit family community. The cemetery, which is on private land in Geary County, is the final resting place for a plethora of Moodys, Estes, Neubers, and Chambers.
In the early years of the 20th century, county lines began to shift. With the growth of Fort Riley Military Reservation, ownership shifted and the majority of Vinton land became part of the military base. The western edge of the Vinton community, which houses the small Vinton cemetery, was shifted into Geary County. So, this story is neither one of Riley County or Geary County, but the tale of two counties and, even, one military reservation. Documents appear in two historical societies instead of one, and hunting down the story of the Estes-Moody family became a little harder, but no less worth the effort.   
Come by Spring Valley Historic Site May 28th 11am-1pm to learn what life might have been like for early pioneers like the Estes-Moody family. A wildflower talk will be presented by Chuck Otte from the Geary County Extension Office at 11am. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Commencement Activities

5 13 2016

In the next few weeks there will be Pre-school graduations, Middle School, High School and College Graduations occurring everywhere we look.  All are important milestones for the students, their families and the communities in which they take place.  Baccalaureate celebrations, Valedictorians, and Commencements Speakers are the norm for today but it was not always so in the past.  The senior classes were the presenters, the speakers and were tasked with reciting what they had learned to include instrumental or vocal performances.  What follows are a few examples of past commencement ceremonies pulled from the Geary County Historical Society archival folder entitled “Schools: Junction City Graduates, Graduation and Ceremonies.”
On Friday May 23rd, 1876 the First Presbyterian church was the sight of First Annual Commencement of Junction City High School.  Four young ladies and three young gentlemen comprised the graduating class. The Band played “Corn Flower Waltz,” as they marched in and took their seats. In addition to a reading by Miss Frankie Davis “The Heroes of Common Life” and Jacob Callen’s presentation of the paper “Theoretical vs. the Practical,” and a performance of the “Good Humor Polka.”
The J.C. Tribune of May 1890 recounts how recent graduates were the invited guest of Mr. and Mrs. D.N. Hicks who accompanied by Professor Batchelder enjoyed a lovely luncheon at their residence.  A group picture was taken by the artist Louis Teitzel followed by individual pictures at his studio. This was followed by a trip to Seven Springs Farm where the 20 Junction City graduates partook of supper at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy which was followed by moonlight rides home.  This lovely social event capped off the graduation ceremonies which had begun at 10am that morning.
The Commencement Exercises of May 17, 1899 were held at the Opera House on a Wednesday evening.  Included in the program was the Overture, “The Twilight Hour”-Boetger performed by the orchestra.  A chorus performing “Hail! Smiling Morn” by Spafforth as well as individual recitations of “The Discovery of the Age”-Fredrick Killian, “Monuments” Nettie Swensen and the “Progress of Humanity-Sumner” Ada Coryell.  This was just a small sampling of the variety of performances and recitations included in the evening’s program as well as the number of orchestral performances before Presentation of Diplomas and the Benedictine.
By 1924 the Commencement activities had begun to stretch out over an entire week.  According to the May 15th 1924 Junction City Union the festivities began on Sunday with the Baccalaureate sermon held at the Junior High school auditorium by Dr. D. M, Clagett, who was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.  An alumni banquet was held on Tuesday evening at the M.E. Church dining room which is where the senior class were welcomed into the association.  Thursday evening’s festivities included the senior class play entitled “It Pays to Advertise,” which was performed at the Junior High School auditorium.  The commencement exercises were held that Friday and included performances by the Junction City High School Girl’s Glee Club, the Chorus, as well Violin solos by Miss Ruth Glick.
Move forward to the Class of 2002 which heralded Junction City High School’s 127th commencement ceremony.  The size of the graduating class consisted of 244 students, 17 of which had completed their high school requirements at the Geary County Learning center.  This ceremony had no commencement speaker so it was the senior students who took center stage to address their classmates.  Valedictorian Philip Max Guthrie spoke of the past and recalled all those who helped them graduate.  As a military family member he stated “I’ve met some of the best people in the world here,” as well as “I feel proud to be an American, and I feel proud to be a Kansan.” 
It did not matter what year these young men and women graduated or who performed and presented.  While the pomp and circumstance of the event was not lost on these young men and women it is clear that they were not only good students but that Junction City High School had instilled a sense of pride as well as gratitude in the community that had nurtured their intellect.  So it is in that same spirit that The Geary County Historical Society says, “Congratulations Class of 2016 on a job well done.”

Junction City High School Class of 1892

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Education is and was valued by the Junction City Community

5 8 2016
Education is and was valued by the Junction City Community

As students from Junction City High School prepare for Commencement on May 22nd, 2016 it is important to remind them of those who came before them, past graduates from days gone by in hopes of inspiring them as they move on to the next phase of their lives. It is also a good time to look back at the school building that nurtured them as well as the other schools that were part of the Geary County educational history.  It was within those walls that dreams were nurtured, that those first glimmers of success could be seen, and it is within the buildings that the community came together to support the students within. The Class of 2016 should be proud of themselves, their accomplishments today and in the future, and of their
History.  So in that spirit here are brief tales of a few former Junction City High School buildings and of a student who was ahead of her time.
            According to Gaylynn Childs in her writings of “Junction City’s First Schools” there was a piece in the1903 yearbook regarding the Educational History of Junction City. Mrs. A.C. Pierce, a female school board member who wrote, “very early in its history Junction City was especially favored by having among its citizens those who appreciated intellectual culture.”  The 1900 Junction City yearbook included musing from Mrs. McFarland, who conducted school at that time. She recollected that the school house was located above the city jail.  Later on when the Davis County District No.1 was created the school room was relocated to a room above P.Z. Taylor’s dry goods store. Families were eager to educate their children and the locations were transitory until Junction City residents raised $5,000 through the issuance of bonds to construct the “Old South” building which held its first term in July of 1867.  In 1903 the School Board began plans for the construction of a new High School building as the ones located within the McKinley and Lincoln buildings were severely overcrowded. With the purchase of the 3 lots on the corner of Sixth and Adams with the ground breaking taking place in early October of 1903.
            It was the JCHS Class of 1904 that experienced the new learning environment.  They were also the first graduating class to don the classic commencement regalia of the cap and gown.  The new building allowed for athletics to play a more prominent role in the student’s growth and development.  The high school on Sixth and Adams was conducive to more of the arts in the curriculum; instrumental and vocal musicals as well as drama and debate were now offered. During the World War I years the Red Cross was assisted by the JCHS sewing classes in making pillowcases, kit bags as well as socks and caps for the soldiers. By the 1920’s the 6th and Adams high school was clearly too small and the last group of seniors to call it home graduated in 1929.  The former high school went on to become the Junction City Departmental School.  As times changed the needs of the Junction City students evolved and the building underwent various uses until the construction of the new high school and the district returned to a 6-3-3 grade system. The Sixth and Adams building was later purchased by Fred and Dorothy Bramlage to house the Geary County Historical Society.     
Now to the story of a Junction City High School Alumni who was very much ahead of her time. Laura Rohrer Bauman was a graduate of the Junction City class of 1915.  She went on to Washburn University for her undergraduate work and completed her studies at Northwestern University’s School of Law in Chicago. She graduated with her law degree in 1920 and returned to Kansas and was the 1st woman lawyer in Kansas.  She went to have a long and successful career in Junction City retiring from the practice of law in 1954. However she was instrumental in the founding of the Geary County Historical Society in 1972 and the creation of the Geary County Historical Museum in the early 1980’s. 
The founders of Junction City knew the value of providing a good education for their children.  They raised funds, stayed at the forefront of curriculum changes, and assured that the school was the heart of the community.  So as you celebrate the mile stone of your commencement be mindful that the community as well as your teachers and your coaches, supported you. Your education is and always was of the utmost important to the people of Junction City and Geary County.