Saturday, August 6, 2016

Our Past is Present

Museum Musings
08 06 2016

In addition to our normal museum programs and weekly newspaper article in the Daily Union, the Geary County Historical Society also has a daily radio spot called “Our Past is Present” on KJCK 1420 AM about a moment in our county’s history. For today’s Museum Musings, I am sharing a small sampling of what you might hear on 1420 KJCK at 9:45 a.m. throughout the week.

Our Past is Present: April 18, 2016
There was quite a ruckus at Fort Riley in late spring of 1954, when a veterinary officer from the Fifth Army Headquarters in Chicago was sent to the post to investigate the cost of the 30 “retired horses” stabled on the reservation.

Rumors flew that Fort Riley had been ordered to dispose of the horses, and cavalrymen and local residents protested. Every one of the 30 retired horses had been on an honorary list. Among the horses being considered were Millwood, the personal mount of General Joseph Wainwright, the “Hero of Corregidor,” and Dakota, former star of the U.S. Army’s 1936 Olympic equestrian team.

Weeks passed and no order was received to confirm this rumor. As summer began, members of the military and civilian sources alike came to believe that orders to destroy the horses never would come!

To learn more about the fates of Millwood, Dakota, and the other retired horses, stop by the Museum any time from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and ask about the epilogue!

April 19, 2016 Our Past is Present
April is the month when a special ceremony is conducted in most communities in the Midwest. On Arbor Day, citizens are encouraged to plant trees to improve our environment and the beauty of our communities. Nebraska originated the observance of Arbor Day in 1872, but in Geary County, motivated residents took it upon themselves to plant trees, and not just for cosmetic purposes.

In the nineteenth century, Kansas needed an incentive to plant trees for shade and windbreaks. Like most of the Midwest, our township was originally treeless. When the city was laid out in 1858, the planners decided the southwest corner block of Sixth and Washington Streets would be a likely place for a park. General Knox, an eccentric community resident, is credited with planting the first trees and sowing grass in the park. He watered and cared for them until they appeared to be established on their own. William Cutter, a local nurseryman, and others followed General Knox’s lead in planting many other trees in what is now known as Heritage Park.

In addition to giving the listener short tidbits that reflect Geary County’s history, “Our Past is Present” also features updates about upcoming events at the Geary County Historical Society and its museums. Listeners may hear about a new guest speaker at the Museum, an open house day at our Spring Valley Historic Site, or the theme for this month’s Home School activity. Tune in to “Our Past is Present” at 9:45 from Monday through Friday on KJCK 1420 AM.

About the Museum
There are many learning activities offered through the Geary County Historical Society for school groups, families, and private organizations, and our spacious auditorium is available to the public to rent for special events. We also offer numerous volunteer opportunities to people of all ages. Our volunteers run our Research Center, learning valuable research and technical skills as they scan and digitize documents in our collection, and their assistance as docents, hosts, and Traveling Trunk program educators is instrumental to the Museum.

We have a variety of books in the Gift Shop at the Museum that will be interesting to those who enjoy reading about historical people, places and events. One of our best sellers is titled Set in Stone, which is a collection of articles about Geary County History. These articles were written by local authors including Gaylynn Childs, Josephine Munson and Leona Garrison. New books available are Fort Riley and Its Neighbors and Buffalo Soldiers and the American West. For younger readers we have “H” is for Honor and “S” is for Sunflower, both by JCHS graduate Devin Scillian. Stop by the Museum on the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets and visit our Gift Shop. Admission is free and the books are reasonably priced.

The Geary County Historical Society is an invaluable resource available to the residents of Geary County or anyone interested in Geary County history. We are open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For more information and event fliers, follow us on Facebook (@GearyHistory) and Instagram (@GearyCoHistory). Our phone number is 785-238-1666 or you can email us at, and finally you can come in and visit with us at 530 N. Adams St. We would love to hear from you.