Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

            Tuesday, June 4th of 1913 at about 1 A.M., the residents of Junction City were awakened by what sounded like the artillery at Fort Riley bombarding the city with shot and shell.  It was, however, one of the heavies hailstorms ever witnessed by the residents.  Not much hail fell, but the size was enormous and the damage had not yet been estimated by the time the “Junction City Sentinel” newspaper went to press on the following Thursday.  It was thought that 50 percent of the peaches were on the ground. Gardens were also badly damaged and the strawberries were ruined.  The skylights in downtown businesses were all broken and the tin roofs had holes punched in them that made them impossible to repair. Many stories were circulated about the size of the hailstones, but it was a fact that many of them measured from 6 to 8 inches in circumference.  At Mike Frey’s restaurant some of the boys picked out six of the largest ones, which tipped the scales at three quarters of a pound. The hail seemed to be at the heaviest within Junction City.  No damage was reported at Fort Riley. A heavy rain accompanied the hail, but it was not general over the county and very little benefit was provided to the growing crops. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 25, 2017

April 25, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            It seemed almost incredible to a Middleton, Pennsylvania firm that a car load of flour and a railroad car could disappear from the face of the earth leaving absolutely no trace behind.  However, it appeared that was what happened.  S.W. Maples & Company had ordered the carload of flour several months earlier from the Hogan Milling Co. of Junction City.  In due time the shipping bills came through and the firm anxiously awaited the flour.  Days passed and all inquiries at the freight house brought forth the reply that the load had not arrived.  Communications passed back and forth between the two companies, and a small fortune was said to have been spent on postage stamps for written correspondence. Tracers were sent out for the car.  It was known to have gotten half way from Kansas to New York, then it completely disappeared. Beyond a certain point, railroad men completely denied having seen the car.  Switches and sidetracks were diligently searched and records of wrecks that occurred along the route were looked up, but to no avail.  The railroad, which owned the car ordered a search made on every railroad in the country. Dozens of men were sent out and still could not solve the mystery.  Then by chance, one of the tracers happened to pick up an old newspaper and read that some months prior a fire in a railroad yard had completely destroyed all of the cars.  These cars had all been accounted for in the records, but after the fire a mass of what appeared to be flour had been found in the debris and its presence was not accounted for.  Thus, the mystery of carload of flour that had disappeared after having left Junction City was found.  
That’s todays story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
  On the evening he started across the North Washington Street Bridge in his car, a Geary County resident approached the middle of the bridge and was about to pass an oncoming truck.  The bridge suddenly gave way and he found himself and his car falling downward.  The man in the car was Melvin Britt and at that time he lived west of Junction City on Rural Route 3.  He was employed by the Harvey brothers’  on their farm, which was north of Fort Riley.  The “Daily Union ”newspaper printed a long article on the incident.  It was reported that “The bridge span, about 75 feet long, broke entirely free from the two supporting piers and pan-caked into the river about 30 feet below.  The accident attracted people to the scene by the hundreds.  Within a few minutes the riverbank was lined by scores of watchers as state highway police, sheriff’s officers and others worked to free the body of the truck driver.  He was killed instantly when an overhead beam of the falling bridge crushed the truck’s cab.  The accident happened so quickly that Melvin Britt only vaguely remembered what happened.  He said his car had only a few dents in it, but he was fearful that approaching motorists might not notice the missing span of bridge and would plunge into the river.  He made his way across the stream on the fallen span and was able to climb it and onto the end of the bridge.  Several cars came up to the bridge to cross it and Mr. Britt and an unidentified man stopped one of them with only a short distance to spare.” It was the second time the North Washington Street Bridge had been disabled in recent years. Fortunately our bridges get inspected and repairs made when possible.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 21, 2017

April 21, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s program is about two more historic sites in Junction City that we know you will want to take a closer look at the next time you are downtown.  One of those is the Memorial Arch in Heritage Park at the corner of Sixth and Washington Street and the other is the 1931 Post Office Building, which was originally 138 West Sixth Street.
            The Memorial Arch was conceived by Civil War veterans known as the Grand Army of the Republic or the GAR.  It was dedicated in 1897 after a full year of planning in memory of soldiers and sailors who served their country from 1861 to 1865.  Stonework for the arch was done by Junction City masons and cost $1800 to build.  The architect was F.A. Gardner, who also did many of the original buildings on Fort Riley.  The Junction City Rotary Club is currently working on a project to update the Arch and is in a fundraising campaign to do so. If you are interested in contributing, please contact Mary Hogan at Screen Machine Sports at 117 E. Seventh Street in Junction City.

            The next building included in today’s program is the 1931 Post Office Building located at 138 West Sixth Street.  This building was begun in 1928 and was the first government-owned Post Office in Junction City.  At one time space was rented in the southwest corner of the Bartell Hotel.  This building served as the Post Office from 1931 to 1962, when the United Telephone Company took over the building.  In 1989 the exterior fa├žade panels were removed and the windows and brick front were restored to the original design. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
This is the first of two programs about historic buildings in downtown Junction City.  Today’s program is about the original First Baptist Church, which is located at 618 North Jefferson Street.  The First Baptist Church was organized in Junction City on November 5, 1865.  This building was dedicated January 27, 1867 and served as the Baptist Church until 1917 when the adjacent building was occupied.  Since 1917 the building has served as the Durland-Sawtell Funeral Home, the Sawtell and the Mass-Hinitt Alexander Funeral Home.  In 1998 the building became the home of the Iglesia Hispana Maranata Church. The stucco exterior conceals the original limestone blocks.  The building is currently used by the Junction City Little Theater.
The current First Baptist Church at 624 North Jefferson Street was originally built in 1909 as a hall for the Modern Woodmen of America.  This building was purchased, remodeled and dedicated on December 16, 1917 by the Baptist Church.  Additions have been made to the south side of the building in 1949 and 1983.  The interior and exterior have been remodeled numerous times. Services are still held every Sunday morning.
Take a drive past these buildings on North Jefferson, which are just south of the Opera House at the corners of Seventh and Jefferson Streets in Junction City.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 19, 2017

April 19, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
It appeared that there was another slow news day in the spring of 1943. The local newspapers revealed that the war news was not the only source of interest for Geary County residents, however.  The Washington Street bridge, which connected Fort Riley and Junction City was closed in May of 1943 following an accident.  It seemed that a heavily laden vehicle crashed through one span.  Repairs were made by the State Highway Department, but a few months later military authorities again ordered the road closed to vehicular traffic.  The bridge was not opened until June 19th.  An official ceremony was held and the bridge was then opened to all types of vehicles except tanks and vehicles weighing more than ten tons. 

Here is another slow news story found that year.  There was a report being circulated that checker and domino players, who were commonly found in the City Park during the summer, were being run out of the park.  One of the domino players stated to a reporter that they had been ordered to stop their domino games by authorities, because they were tramping out the grass and killing the it by spitting tobacco juices on it! However the removal of the players from the park was denied by Mayor, Roy More. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 18, 2017

April 18, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            If you haven’t visited our new display “A Call To Arms” as a part of our theme “The Year of the Soldier" at our Museum, please take a few minutes or few hours between the hours of 1 and 4 PM Tuesday through Sunday to see the gallery.  It's full of letters, uniforms, weapons, pictures and medals from the Civil War up to today.  Come by and see this main display on the second floor in our Auditorium.  And… bring a friend.  Admission is free. Now for today’s story…
            In April of 1958, the “Topeka Capital Journal” newspaper reported that people who install television and other new-fangled gadgets in their cars have nothing on the inventors of earlier years.  However, some of these inventions, might have us asking: Why would someone want to use these inventions?  For example: The article revealed that during the 1890’s a Chicago man devised a mechanized horse that would run along on wheels in front of a car. It seems horses pulling other vehicles would often bolt when they saw a horseless carriage and the inventor was out to fool them.
 Another inventor designed an automobile washing machine, which was simply a tank with a lid.  The tank was filled with warm water, soap and dirty laundry and while riding over bumpy roads the family’s clothes got washed.
            And finally… there was a Texan who eliminated the need for eyeglasses by having his whole windshield ground to match his specific prescription.

            These items may have made good sense to their inventors, but again... why and who besides the inventors ever used them?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Have you ever wondered why rural mail boxes are all about the same height and placed on level ground near the road? Well… there was an order from the Postmaster General in Washington, D.C., which was received on April 21, 1909.  It announced that all mailboxes on rural routes must be placed on the sides of the roads and at a convenient place, so the carrier could reach them without getting out of his vehicle. The placement of the mailboxes was to be on flat land and away from deep ditches.  The order, which required the change was for the purpose of expediting the work of the carrier, and reducing the time required to make a circuit of the route.  The Postmaster was required to furnish a list of all names of patrons whose boxes were NOT easily accessible to the carrier.  Furthermore, all boxes were to be placed on short strong posts, not on telegraph poles, at a height which would allow the carrier to deliver the mail without rising from his seat.

            Now you know how the uniformity of rural mail boxes got started.  

Friday, April 14, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017

Today’s “Our Past Is Present” is a continuation of information about our historic buildings in downtown Junction City.  The information being shared today is about the Sargent Building at 710 N. Washington Street.  W.W. Sargent the Sargent Drug Store in a single-story wood frame building on this site in 1865.  This building, which was constructed in 1907, bears the Sargent name and both dates.  W.W. Sargent was succeeded by his son, Linden S. Sargent, who became the first to sell Coca Cola in Kansas.  Linden’s son, Leslie W. Sargent, ran the business until 1941, when it became the Mensen Zuck Pharmacy and later Al’s Drug Store until 1967.  Stop by and take a look at this building and the others talked about in this week’s “Our Past Is Present”. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 12, 2017

April 12, 2017
       J.J. Pennell was a well-known Junction City photographer between 1886 and 1922.  In 1908, he built the building at 801 North Washington Street, which housed the Miller Pharmacy at the street level and his photography studio upstairs.  After Pennell’s death, his widow and son moved from their home on Fourth Street to the second floor of this building.  Here Joseph Stanley Pennell wrote his novel The History of Rome Hanks, which was a best seller in 1944.  In 1960 he sold the building to the College of Emporia and moved to Oregon after his complaints about a noisy calliope fell on deaf ears.  The main floor was then occupied by “Gamble’s” as a department store.  The second floor was used by the Red Cross and the basement by the “Republic Printing”.  In the 1960’s the upstairs was again rented as living quarters.  In 1998, the building was restored and occupied by the Geary County Court Services

Monday, April 10, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society
          Sometimes even locally elected officials are TOLD by state officials that they WILL do something rather than being ASKED if they will do something.  That was the case in 1917.  Dr. Crumbine from Topeka, who was the head of the State Board of Health, was in Junction City to meet with city commissioners and health officers.  The purpose of the meeting was  to discuss health conditions that the War Department said had to be maintained within a many mile radius of their camp at Fort Riley.   The heads of the State Health Department had been called to Washington before the Secretary of War Daniels some days previous and the state authorities were now taking the message back to the city and county officials telling them what they MUST do.  This affected all of Junction City.  Every place in town, which was within the sewer district, had to immediately be connected to the sewer.  Every place not in a sewer district was to immediately have fly proof urinals and cesspools. Well, the city did NOT act immediately on this news, but called a meeting for four days later, when Dr. Crumbine could be present to talk about the requirements and necessities, which forced this drastic and urgent step.  The general proposition was that the federal government must have the most perfect sanitation and healthful surroundings for the hundreds of thousands of men who were to be mobilized in the following two years.  Coupled with this need was the requirement for extra and immediate precautions to prevent typhoid fever among all men called to the camp.  Thus, the heading for the proposition to be put before the city and county commissioners could be accurately termed:  “You WILL, not WILL you?”  That’s today’s story.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Our Past Is Present April 4, 2017

April 4, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

            It’s baseball season – and with it comes all the anticipation and excitement of players hitting, running, sliding, catching and using their best strategies to score more runs than the other team.  There was more than just the excitement about a new season in 1909.  There was the anticipation from seeing the beginning construction of a local baseball field in Junction City.  The new park was to be situated half way between Junction City and Fort Riley and was directly east of the streetcar line spur.  A grader was put to work to cut off a layer of ground in order to get rid of the weeds and alfalfa.  Then – a second layer was removed and the ground scraped.  The excess dirt was moved to the center of the field, which would be higher than the rest of the grounds.  A ditch was dug around the field for drainage purposes.  The grandstand was built immediately back of home plate with enough seats for 600 people.  Two bleachers on either side of the grandstand would hold another 500 people and a place for parking rigs and automobiles would be on each side of the bleachers.  It was decided to charge a parking fee of 10 cents for automobiles and buggies.  The field was expected to be ready for play by May 15.  Players could then tryout with the first game to be played on that new field on June 1st of 1909.  

Friday, March 31, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 31, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            In March of 1936, Junction City and Milford school children were given some good ideas about how accidents could and should be prevented.  The four schools in town and the two Milford schools each were visited by the American Legion Safety Caravan as a part of a statewide educational drive to lessen the hazards to pedestrians, motor car drivers and their passengers.  Young school children were impressed with the fact they should always stop, look and listen before they cross the street to get a ball.  They were advised that when they were riding in the family car, they should advise their speed-loving father that they and their mother would like to live a while longer, so he should slow down the car.  Cards that had some rules for driving on State highways were also shared and included: stay on your own side of the road and signal your intention to turn or stop.  The Safety Caravan included three white American Legion safety cars and a truck.  The Junction City Police Car and a Sheriff’s car also were included in the caravan as well as a wrecked automobile towed by Dennis Steele’s wrecker.
            There was no mention about seat belts. Infant seats, air bags or other protections in 1936 that are now required for travel in today’s modern vehicles. 

            Visit us at our Museum for more interesting information about Geary County history and learn why we say “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.   

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 30, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            During the winter months our Museum is closed on Sundays. Beginning next Tuesday it will be open Tuesdays through Sunday from 1 until 4 in the afternoon.  This will give more of you an opportunity to visit and learn more about the history in our County.  So stop by and spend a few minutes or a few hours any day except Monday.  Now for today’s story…..

            W.J. Lott returned to Junction City in early March of 1936 after spending four months in Corpus Christi, Texas, which he had done for the previous four winters.  Mr. Lott reported that the city was experiencing a real boom.  In addition to a thriving tourist trade, the countryside was becoming dotted with oil wells.  He stated that traveling men found it quite difficult to get accommodations there with the winter tourist trade being popular by people from Kansas and Nebraska. Mr. Lott’s companion for the trip was his brother-in-law, F.D. Miller, who was a former Junction City resident.  Mr. Miller first came to town in 1881 and worked several years for Sebulon Miller, a clothier on Seventh Street.  While he was in Junction City, F. D. Miller was a city fireman and served as captain of the hose company.  He had been a part of winning many trophies that were kept in the fire department clubroom.  Both Mr. Lott and Mr. Miller had married daughters of Mr. and Mrs. J.O. Heaton. Mr. Heaton was a widely known contractor, who had erected several hundred thousand dollars worth of buildings in the Junction City and Fort Riley area.  F. D. Miller left Junction City in 1890 to obtain work with the New York Central Railroad and retired after 40 years of service.  He still had many friends when he renewed acquaintances during his March visit in 1936.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 29, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Next month our Museum will be open Tuesdays through Sunday from 1 until 4 in the afternoon.  This will give more of you an opportunity to visit and learn more about the history in our County.  So stop by and spend a few minutes or a few hours any day except Monday.
            Now for today’s story…..

            Will Carlson made up his mind to come to America and decided on Junction City, Kansas where he had a friend.  Will boarded the boat from his hometown in Sweden with just 5 cents in his pocket.  During the ocean voyage, the food on board was provided for him, but when he got to Quebec, he had to use his nickel to buy food.  During the four days it took him to get to Junction City, he had no more food.  When he stepped off the train in town, he met a woman who tried to get him to go over to what was referred to as “the old German’s house”.  He could not understand her and did not go.  The woman then went herself to the house and explained to some of the men there, who spoke Swedish, that a man of their nationality had arrived in town.  They went to Henry’s aid and got him plenty of food. That afternoon Will Carlson took his two bags and walked to eastern Geary County where he worked as a hired hand for the next few years.  At first he received only $5.00 per month, but after several years he got up to $15.00.  He then went into contracting and made enough money to buy a farm in the eastern part of the county and with credit established Will got all he needed to stock the place with cattle.  He moved into his new farm home in March of 1913.  That is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 28, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Early March of 1923 was designated as a “Building Year” in Junction City.  The local newspaper carried double page ads under the heading “Let’s Build! The boom has started!”  The main article stated that with winter not quite over, work has been started on a number of new homes in Junction City and remodeling of many others is also in progress. The one great need for Junction City is modern homes and present construction activity is a step in the right direction.  The article went on to ask, “Just what does this building boom mean?”  The people who are building at the present time are, in most cases, people who have wanted to build for several years.  This means the costs of construction have come down.  Raw materials have been  reduced so people can afford to build or remodel.

            On the same page there was an ad from “The Citizens Building and Loan Association” urging people to save for their own home.  The Franklin Paint and Wallpaper Store advertised that they had a comprehensive stock that made selection a pleasure.  Harley E. Pritchett, contractor and designer of a new house at 518 West 3rd Street had plans for more new houses and remodeling jobs and would gladly furnish estimates.  M.L. Coryell sold insurance against fire, windstorms and tornadoes.  It was a busy time in 1923 for the building industry in Junction City. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 27, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about a missing boy who ended up being in trouble with officials of the M.K. &T Railroad Company.  His name was Henry Rand and he was about 13 years of age.  He was a frequent visitor to Junction City during the early months of 1873.   At one time, Henry was a news boy on the M.K. & T. Railroad and was in the habit of hanging around the depot.  He was supposed to be an honest boy, but subsequent events proved that this was not the case.  One Sunday evening and soon after the express had passed going west all employees were absent from the depot, when Henry broke into the Katy Post Office.  He had pried open the money drawer with a pair of scissors and took a few dollars from the drawer.  The loss was discovered when a Mr. Kugler, who was an agent for the Railroad Company, returned to the depot office. 

            Mr. Kugler and a Mr. Munro had no clue as to who to suspect if it were not Henry.  So they instituted a search for him. After looking for some time they decided to look in the M.K. & T. passenger car, which was to go south in a few hours.  That is where they found Henry.  After questioning Henry they concluded that he was NOT the guilty party.  However, for some reason they later went back to Henry to search his pockets.  Henry told them “Don’t you put your hands in my pocket or there will be trouble!”  And so there was trouble.  But it was not the kind Henry had thought.  Mr. Kugler and Mr. Munro did search Henry’s pockets and found M.K. & T. tickets as well as the missing money.  However, with the stolen items found, Henry was allowed to leave without further confrontation.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 24, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

            Robert Chew was a native of Junction City and in the spring of 1872 he related to his friends at the “Union” newspaper the story of his miraculous escape from an explosion at sea.  He was sleeping in his bunk aboard a steamship, which he boarded at Shreveport, Louisiana.  At about twenty minutes to five in the morning the explosion threw him from his bunk and he landed on the floor amidst boiling water and glass. Within twenty minutes the flames increased and had driven everyone from the vessel overboard.  Robert spent about two hours in the water before help arrived.  Also on board had been the circus troupe of which Robert was one of the proprietors.  Unfortunately, none of the animals could be saved.  They were all in cages and could not be reached through the flames.  Once in the water, Robert and another man were able to cling to a float and drifted for about five miles before they were able to get to a shoreline where they stayed until the “Belle of St. Louis” arrived to pick them up.  Robert suffered scalds to his feet and his hands were cut with glass, but he told his friends in Junction City that he was thankful to be alive. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 23, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about a surprise for Mr. Abe Jones.  A few days after local resident, Mr. Abe Jones, went away on business in March of 1887, his wife, thought of something that would agreeably surprise her husband and make him have a smile when he came back.  She apparently bought a calf.  The reporter of the “Junction City Union” newspaper asked “Did you ever see or know a woman who, when allowing her fancies to roam over things of comfort, didn’t dream of a cow and plenty of milk, butter and cream?  Mrs. Jones thought of the satisfaction that her husband would have when once it came time to pay the milkman.  She was as pleased as could be when she saw the calf safely tied up in its new stall.
            When Mr. Jones returned home that evening, he was not told of the calf until the next morning.  When Mr. Jones went into the barn, he saw the calf tail whisking in the frosty air.  He also saw the remains of a $40 harness, a colt, which had been shorn to include its tail and a barrel of oats. Mr. Jones was angry.  Then he saw the calf.  He began to hit the calf with a club until Mrs. Jones came out and interceded to save the calf’s life.  Mr. Jones promptly put a sign on his fence that read “calf for sale”. 

            Some men don’t appreciate being surprised.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 22, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about a place where many early settlers in our area shopped – even some that became famous in American history.

            Mrs. Nancy Taylor wrote in her “Remembrances of Early Days” that her father, John F. Wiley, was one of the earliest settlers when he arrived in 1858.  He took up a claim across the Kansas River, south of Ogden, which later was known as the Old Eskers Place.  However, he was not a successful farmer and sold out, then moved to Junction City in 1860.  It was here that he bought a grocery store.  At that time there were only a dozen families in town, but as the town grew in population and businesses grew, Nancy’s father built an addition to this building and sold both groceries and dry goods.  He also bought buffalo hides and all kinds of fur from the Native Americans and shipped them to Leavenworth, Kansas by ox teams.  Mrs. Taylor mentioned that Bill Hickock and Bill Cody, better known as Wild Bill and Buffalo Bill, used to patronize her father’s store.  After running the store for several years her father sold out, bought a farm again and at one time owned Logan Grove.  Nancy Taylor died in 1929 at the age of 79 years.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 21, 2017

This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Quick responses to a fire call by the Fire Department were not as efficient in 1929 as it is today.  When we hear the city warning sirens sound today, we do not give much thought to what methods were used in early years. 
            In March of 1929, there were times when people complained because they were unable to get a telephone operator.  At the time of the Trosper fire at 5 A.M. there was only one operator on duty.  She had to call the Fire Department members and inform them of the location of the fire.  The operator then had to call a water works employee to go down and start the pumps in order that pressure might be maintained.  Then she had to call electricians to go down and shut off the power in the vicinity so the firemen might work among the wires in safety AND she had to call the parties whose property was on fire and the businessmen in the vicinity whose property might be threatened. 
            All of this was because the blowing of the light plant whistle for alarms had been discontinued.  It was written that the cost of using the steam for the sole purpose of blowing that whistle meant maintaining enough steam to operate a 250 horsepower engine.  When use of the steam whistle was discontinued, it was necessary to notify volunteer firemen by telephone and often they could not be reached. 
            Two years later in 1931 the City Commission was still struggling to install an efficient and less costly fire alarm.  We can be thankful for our current communication systems and the work our Fire Fighters do to not only fight fires, but provide us with emergency medical assistance.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 20, 2017

You are listening to “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

            Today’s story is about Annie Rohrer’s teaching contract for the 1881 school year.
Her contract was between School District Number 16 in Davis County, in the State of Kansas and herself.  Annie was a qualified teacher and the contract stated that she was to teach, govern and conduct the public schools to the best of her ability.  She was to keep a register of the daily attendance and studies of each pupil and other records as the District’s School Board may require.  She was to endeavor to preserve the good condition and order of the school house, grounds, furniture and such other district property as shall come under the immediate supervision of said teacher. 
            This contract was for a term of school months beginning on the 14th day of March 1881.  She was to receive the sum of ………..$30.00 per school month.
            The District agreed to keep the school house in good repair, to provide the necessary fuel and a school register for her to keep track of the required records the School Board requested. 

            The final paragraph of the contract was rather ominous.  It stated: “Provided that in case said teacher shall be legally dismissed from school or shall have her certificate legally annulled, expiration or otherwise, then said teacher shall not be entitled to compensation from and after such dismissal or annulment.”

Friday, March 17, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today is “St. Patrick’s Day”, which reminds us that the Irish were the most prominent ethnic group represented among the early settlers of Junction City and Geary County.  Perhaps the most legendary Irishman in our local history was Tom Cullinan.  He was among Junction City’s most famous early law men.  Citizens referred to him as Tom Allen. Tom made his reputation and kept the peace with his fists rather than with a gun.
            The “Junction City Union” editor, George W. Martin, wrote an article about Tom Allen Cullinan upon Tom’s death.  The article included some of the following information:  “Tom Allen Cullinan was only eleven years of age when he left the home of his well-to-do parents in Ireland and went to sea.  This was the beginning of a life of adventure, which took him from the seaports of England and Ireland to the Crimean in 1854, the mining camps of gold-rush Colorado, the cattle ranching operation of Kit Carson and Lucas Maxwell on the Cimmaron and finally served as a scout for Union forces in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri during the Civil War. 
            It was after the war in 1866, that the Cullinan’s first arrived in Geary County.  Tom had a contract to supply beef to the Army at Fort Riley.  He worked in that capacity between here and Fort Laramie for several years, but in 1871 he became the Marshall of Junction City.”
            Again, according to the newspaper editor, Tom Cullinan “had a fist with which he could split an inch board and he always gave a lick under the left jaw, which never failed to lay a man out.  While he always carried a gun, her preferred to use his fists, because he never wanted to kill.
            Tom Allen was about five feet nine inches tall and weighed about 175 pounds.  Although his physical size was not great, he met all comers for years and never knew defeat.  Along with being the City Marshall, Cullinan was a Sheriff’s Officer and also the Fire Chief.  At the time of his death in 1904, Tom Allen had been city Marshall since 1872 and served under 18 mayors.”


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 16, 2017

March 16, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about a person who won a 1949 Ford at the Merchant’s Expo in Junction City in 1949.  Junction City’s weekly newspaper, the “Republic” announced on March 10th in 1949 that on Friday and Saturday of that week, Junction City merchants would stage a show of the latest in merchandise at the annual Merchant’s Exposition sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce.  Two evenings of entertainment were planned for the event, which took place in the Municipal Auditorium. 
            The always popular WIBW entertainers would appear in a show beginning at 8:00 Friday night.  A three hour show would be provided Saturday night, beginning at 7:00 with a 90 minute talent show which was arranged by the Fort Riley Special Service Office.  Following that show, six Junction City stores would stage a combined style show beginning at 8:30 PM.
            The climax of the Exposition was to come at 10:00 PM on Saturday with the awarding of a new 1949 Ford by the Junction City Chamber of Commerce.  Other merchandise valued at more than $500 was slated to be given away as door prizes during the two day event.  Among the gifts were an innerspring mattress, three radios, a pen and pencil set, three sets of fog lights, a spotlight, an electric iron, a waffle iron, a coffee maker, a fishing reel and casting rod, tailor made seat covers, a blanket and bed spread set and many other gifts.

            Free Coca-Cola was offered on both days of the Exposition. The only charge for all this was an admission fee of 35 cents for adults and 15 cents for children to the Friday night show. Saturday’s activities were all free. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 15, 2017

March 15, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
When I first began volunteering at the Museum about 7 years ago, there were two words I didn’t know and even had difficulty pronouncing.  The words were “accessioning” and “deaccessioning”.  Thankfully, Gaylynn Childs, who was then our Executive Director, helped me with both the pronunciation and definition of these words.  These words are unique to curators and their work.  There is often limited space to store items in a Museum and ours is no different.  So… in our case the Curator and two members of the Geary County Historical Society meet on an as needed basis to consider items donated or on loan to the Museum.  Since our focus is on Geary County history, it is important that the items be either from this area or have significance to this county.  “Accessioning” then is about acquiring those items that meet the criteria of having been created or used in Geary County, have a direct connection with historical events in Geary County or which have a direct connection with residents of the county.  The items may be from all time periods, they must be in good condition, be well documented by the donor and be needed in the Museum’s collection to fill a gap and not be viewed as adding excessive duplication to the current collection.  “Deaccessioning” is the term used when it is determined that there is a need to remove items from holdings by the Museum. The items may be returned to the owner or person who made the donation, be destroyed or see the item or items may be sold. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 14, 2017

March 14, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            John P. Grasberger first arrived in Kansas in 1855 as a soldier with the 2nd Dragoons.  He had come to America as a young German immigrant in 1852.  After completing his 5 year enlistment, he purchased bounty land northwest of Fort Riley.  He joined the Army again at the outbreak of the Civil War and served as an officer in the Union Army until 1864 when he returned to Kansas with his wife, Susan Maxfield, of Arkansas.
            The newlywed Grasbergers settled on his farm about a mile west of what would become the Alida town site, in Smoky Hill Township.  Soon other families were settling nearby and in 1866 a school was built on the Grasberger farm.  In 1872, John built a log store beside the railroad track, which he operated while his wife ran the post office in their home.  A short time later, he added a warehouse near his store for the storage and handling of grain. 
            In the early 1880’s Susan Grasberger died and in 1886 at the age of 50, John married 24 year old Hedwig or “Hattie” Wolters who had recently arrived in Kansas from Berlin.  This union was blessed with three children.  In 1890, John Grasberger sold his Alida store to P.H Gfeller and devoted his efforts to farming and raising his young family.  In 1902, he fell from a ladder and died from his injuries leaving a legacy of honorable service to his community and his family.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 13, 2017

March 13, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about the printing press in the basement of the Museum.  It has been moved several times to other locations, but as you will hear in this story, it ended back where it started. 
            The printing press, which began its operation in the Junction City High School at 6th and Adams Streets between 1904 and 1929, is once again rolling.  On May 1, 1994, the Chandler and Price press that stood idle for a number of years is once again in operation. 
            The high school at the turn of the 20th century was located in the building, which is now the GCHS Museum.  The press served as a tool for teaching the printing trade to high school students, who printed the school newspaper and other information in the school district. 
            The press was moved to the Junior/Senior High School at 9th and Adams Streets when the high school moved to that location in 1929.  Later it was used in the print shop operated by USD 475 in another location.  Still later it was loaned to the Geary County Historical Society and moved to their first museum at 117 West 7th Street in the old Durland Furniture Store.  When the Museum was given the old Departmental Building at 6th and Adams by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Bramlage in 1982 it was once again moved to the building where it had first started.  USD 475 donated the press to the Historical Society in 1992.  After the press was cleaned and serviced and type set, the press was put back to use by the Society for demonstrations to visitors on May 1, 1994.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 10, 2017

March 10, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about Girl Scouts.  This Sunday, March 12, is the birthday anniversary of the Girl Scout Organization.  Junction City Girl Scouts was a newly formed group in 1939.  Girl Scouts across America had more than half a million members.  Girls and their leaders held programs varying from fancy dress parties to formal receptions with many important guests.  They were all celebrating the twenty-seventh anniversary of the day the late Juliette Gorden Low of Savannah, Georgia who organized the first troop of Girl Scouts in the United States.  Stories were told of her tremendous vitality, her wit and humor, her capacity for making friends and her perseverance in getting the Girl Scouts launched in the United States. 
            A special party was held in New York, which was to be attended by many prominent guests and was to be the highlight of a week’s observance.  Many radio stars also shared birthday greetings to the organization on the radio.  Among them was Fanny Brice of the “Good News 1939” program and Irene Wicker, the “singing lady” of the NBC Network.
            We want to express our appreciation to all the Girl Scout leaders in our area who do so much to encourage girls to continually improve themselves, our communities, our schools and be positive role models in their families. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 9, 2017

March 9, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s program is about an act that appeared at the Opera House in April of 1909.
            An article in the “Junction City Union” newspaper included comments by the writer about the upcoming event which read as follows:
            “Comparatively few people can afford the luxury of traveling abroad, but everyone can enjoy the delights of travel without any of its discomforts by journeying via Lyman Howe’s “Travel Circus Magic Lantern Show” appearing at the Opera House this Thursday evening. In his newest video program, Mr. Howe promised to escort his travelers to the Montreal Ice Palace and Winter Carnival then through the scenic grandeur of the Rockies in the winter and into the heart of the great Canadian wilds, where the severe life of the lumber camp would be shown.
By taking them to the top of a battleship, he promised everyone an experience which could happen to few.  The stirring and striking scenes on the deck below would impart a new sensation. In fact the whole program would be extremely diverting and delightful, ranging from the sublimely beautiful scenes of sunset and moonlight on land and sea to the inner mechanisms of the great ship.  The show was to include a tour through France and any other European States.  It would conclude with distinctly novel portraits of English noblemen.”
            This was a way to virtually transport people to other places for a short while then return them home again to Junction City without leaving their seats in the Opera House.  This magic continues at our Opera House when we attend programs there.  If you haven’t been to a show or have never been in the Opera House, stop by during the day after 10:00 for a tour. You may want to call first.  The number is 238-3906.  This has been “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 8, 2017

March 8, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            We have many interesting displays in our galleries at the Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets in Junction City and we invite you to come and see them.  The Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1 until 4 in the afternoon and admission is free.
In today’s program, we would like to share about some of the displays on the first floor in Gallery One.  Heather, our Curator has created a potpourri of items around the theme “Curiosity Cabinets”, which were popular in the 1800’s.  One such item was the “What-Not Shelves”.  The passion for collecting and displaying ornamental objects began in the 18th century and was widespread in the 19th.  This led to the creation of personal “What-Not Shelves” or curio cabinets.  These were usually placed in the parlor and were used to display family treasures.  The display at the Museum has a collection of things like sea shells, human hair, an armadillo basket, and even a memory jug.  “Memory Jugs” were particularly popular with the Victorians.  They were made with a vessel, plaster and knickknacks.  The knickknacks were of value to the owner.  In the example we have on display, G.F. Gordon’s pipe and other small items were cemented onto a jar and lightly sprayed with gold paint then put on display as a way to remember him after he had passed. 
            There are many other items on display in our “Curiosity Cabinets” including a cape made out of monkey’s hair, a baby’s coffin, home embalming equipment and many others.  Stop by and see these unique items when you have a few minutes or a few hours and you will see why we say “Our Past Is Present”. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 7, 2017

March 7, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story comes from a March 1874 “Junction City Tribune” newspaper article in which the reporter gave this account of a visit to the Davis (now Geary) County Poor Farm.  He wrote:  “On last Monday, Bob Wilson dragged me out to the poor farm behind a spanking team of bays and in company with N.L. Prentis of this city and Hugh Cook of Lawrence.  Both were respectable paupers.  We found the farm in quite admirable condition.  We have already forgotten how many trees have been set out this season, but the number runs way up into the thousands.  All of them are doing well and but a very few have died.  A large orchard is growing and it will be sheltered by a large number of forest trees.  Mr. Wilson, the manager, is getting things into tip-top shape.  By the time his lease expires the county will have a farm that will support all the paupers and leave a surplus.  What Bob DON’T know about the growing of trees and their proper arrangement isn’t worth knowing and he is putting his knowledge and skill to use that will prove a public benefit.  He is doing more work for less money than has ever been done in Davis County.  He becomes completely disgusted whenever anyone mentions that Davis County has no tillable land, for he knows better, having proved the falsity of the statement.”

            Perhaps this was a slow news day in Junction City.  

Monday, March 6, 2017

Our Past Is Present March 6, 2017

March 6, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about some men who had tried boring for coal near where the Union
Pacific shops once stood in Junction City in the spring of 1873.  A vein of high impregnated salt brine was found 290 feet below the ground’s surface.  An analysis showed that one gallon of this brine made three and a half pounds of salt.  A salt production operation was begun almost immediately using the evaporation process.  This business was managed by Mr. C. R. Adams.  Two engines were at work on the site.  One pumped brine from the old well into the pans and the other ran the drilling machinery in the new well.  The new well was down about 45 feet and was sinking at a rate of 8 to 10 feet per day.  This 6 inch well was said to furnish an immense amount of brine and was sure to make Junction City one of the saltiest spots on earth. The newspaper observed to their readers that “Grumblers who were eternally talking about the opportunities to be found in towns down the line on the new railroads, or the “booming Solomon Valley” are advised to open their eyes and look at what Junction City has to offer.”  We think this is good advice even today!!!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Our Past is Present March 3, 2017

March 3, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story includes a potpourri of news items found in the Junction City “Republic” newspaper in March of 1949:
This was the beginning of Lent, which marked the annual pancake supper at the Episcopal Church’s Guild Hall. The supper featured pancakes and sausages for 50 cents. Eggs and dessert could be purchased for an additional charge. There must have been a larger crowd than expected, because there was a statement in the next day’s newspaper that “those who did not get served would be offered refunds.” The Episcopal Church still hosts a similar event, however, the prices are slightly higher.
With the Legislature being in session at that time several interesting items were noted in Representative Ralph Upham’s column in the newspaper. Dairymen had appeared before the fact-finding committee to protest the repeal of the law requiring State institutions to use - butter.
Representative Upham also noted that the liquor bill finally passed, but would probably require several amendments in the next two years. Those who favored the “dry side” of the bill claimed that there was not enough control and those on the “wet side” stated that there was too much control.
Mildred Keegan’s March 3rd “This ‘n That” column was as applicable today as it was more than a half century earlier. She wrote: “This country is sorely in need of another Will Rogers – someone with brain and wit enough to debunk the powers that be. In his day, whenever they got too big for the britches, Rogers would come forth with just the right remark to set the country laughing. It cleared the air and kept things from getting too heavy.”

Perhaps Mildred would see “Saturday Night Live” characters as modern day Will Rogers replacements. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Our Past is Present March 2, 2017

March 2, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
On March 2nd, 1949, the Junction City Rotarians gathered at their usual site – the Bartell House – at noon like they did every week. On that day they heard a program presented by James Vance Humphrey, who observed the native Indians, issues with grasshoppers and shared other experiences as a pioneer Kansan.
Mr. Humphrey arrived in Junction City in 1870 with his parents. Even though the hardships of pioneer days had been reported, they did not impress him at the time. However, in retrospect and as an adult he agreed there were hardships, problems and worries in those earlier days.
He spoke to the Rotarians about the destructive grasshopper plague, in which all green vegetation was stripped from crops, plants and trees over-night. His personal recollection was that of a visit to the McFarland Farm west of Junction City, where older members of the family were observed frantically cutting green corn from a field.
There were so many grasshoppers they darkened the sky. There were no troublesome native Indians, but they often appeared at back doors for food. An incident he remembered from his school boy days occurred at the school building in southwest Junction City when Indians suddenly swarmed around the building and peered in through the windows to observe – in curiosity – what was going on inside the classroom.
As an adult, Mr. Humphrey became an attorney. He told the Rotarians that he had often thought of the sporting instinct of early Junction Citians. He recalled that Eighth Street from Washington to Jefferson was known as the “foot race tract”. The merchants would desert their shops to cheer and even bet on the racers.

R.B. Fegan, founder of the Junction City Rotary Club, arranged this interesting program to give the Rotarians a greater appreciation of their local pioneer heritage. Junction City Rotarians still meet. Their meetings are held every Tuesday at noon at the Courtyard by Marriott in Junction City. If you have a topic of interest that you would like us to do some research on and share on this program, please contact our Executive Director, Katie Goerl, at 238-1666 and be sure to keep reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Our Past is Present March 1, 2017

March 1, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. This is a story about an interesting fine given to members of the Kansas House of Representatives. In his weekly report from the Kansas Legislature, which was published in the “Junction City Republic” newspaper in March of 1949, Geary County Representative Ralph Upham reported that 15 bachelors in the House of Representatives were each fined … a barrel of apples. According to Representative Upham, the bachelors came from all walks of life. Good looks? Of course. Youthful enthusiasm? Well, all of them sizzle with it. The outdoor type? Well, they are nearly all farmers. Wealth? There is a cattleman from Emporia. A burning passion for public affairs? There are low students who have talked their way into office.
Democrats? Republicans? Both were plentiful. There were all types. Some were tall, dark and handsome; a few tall Swedes and even well-built white-haired men. However, there were no red heads. Before concluding his dissertation on bachelors Mr. Upham noted that Mrs. Kininmouth, the only lady legislator, was appointed their housemother.
We suspect that the fine of a barrel of apples was a light hearted way to encourage the young bachelors to pursue happiness …. through marriage. There was no mention of the impact the fine of a barrel of apples had on the young, eligible, bachelor Representatives and their marital status in the later years.

It would be interesting to know how many members of the Kansas House of Representatives are single today. That would be an excellent question for our Research Department at the Museum. We will get back to you on that…

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Our Past is Present February 28, 2017

February 28, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. It is sad when a business catches fire, but one evening two businesses caught fire. The first was the H. D. Thompson Bus and Livery barn, which caught fire on the evening of February 24, 1912. The fire caused damage to the hay stored in the loft. About 25 tons of hay were spoiled by the fire and water. The alarm was turned on at 10:00 that night. It started at the rear of the barn just after several employees had gone to bed. The employees reported that they saw no evidence of a fire and the origin remained unknown. The hay and grain were a total loss. The barn roof was almost completely destroyed and the horses had to be moved temporarily to the Central Livery Stable. Mr. Thompson was out of town at the time of the fire. The building was actually owned by M.H. Foss, who had insurance on the contents and the building.
While the Fire Department was busy fighting the fire at the H.D. Thompson Bus and Livery Barn that evening, the stable in the rear of the Murray Bakery had also caught fire. Three horses in that barn were scorched, but their blankets saved them from being badly burned. The horses and harnesses were taken out and the fire quickly extinguished with the only loss being a ton of hay.

We have a display of early fire-fighting equipment and pictures of early fire fighters in the basement at our Museum. Stop by for a few minutes or a few hours to visit and learn more about Geary County history. Our artifacts have been donated by Geary County residents displayed with meaningful commentary to help you learn more about why we say… This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Our Past is Present February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Today’s story is about the Women’s Relief Corps, which celebrated its 45 years of organization in Junction City on February 22, 1929. Only two of the charter members were still living in 1929. They were Mrs. Alphia Nicholson and Mrs. Elisa Bush.
Thirty other members joined them in the celebration. The organization, which was formed during the Civil War to aid Union soldiers and their families had worked quietly throughout the year, but in making a summary it was found that considerable patriotic and charitable accomplishments had been achieved. A silk flag with staff and stand had been presented to the Hardscrabble School District Number 29; sunflowers were made to sell at the National Convention; a contribution was made to the John Brown Monument fund and financial help was given to the Wichita Drum and Fife Corps. At Christmas time a contribution was made to the Mother’s Club to be used for the poor of the community. The Women’s Relief Corps had also established a scholarship fund of $150 for deserving high school girls or boys. On Memorial Day, flowers and small flags for the graves of all Civil War veterans and Relief Corps members were furnished. In 1928 this amounted to a little over 300 graves.

The report, which was shared with our listeners this morning was made during the annual Washington Day tea in 1929.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Our Past is Present February 24, 2017

February 24, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
The availability of adequate AND AFFORDABLE housing was written about in the Junction City newspaper in 1949. The rent controls, which had been enacted during WWII, were being repealed across the nation as towns and cities attempted to deal with the challenges of hundreds of thousands of GI’s starting families and getting an education now made obtainable with the GI Bill. In Junction City and Fort Riley the housing problem was an old and familiar one. Early in 1949, the Army announced that 38 sets of temporary family quarters were being made available for non-commissioned officers of the first three grades at Fort Riley. The “temporary” nature of these billets was being emphasized because they were being converted from the old wood barracks, which were hastily constructed at Camp Funston during the war. Each unit would have only three rooms, which included a kitchen, bath and living room doubling as a bedroom. If these quarters were too small for men with large families, it was announced they could refuse the billet and wait for assignment to a larger space in the Camp Whiteside area.
In the same issue of the “Junction City Union” newspaper a letter was printed in the “Public Opinion” column in which a local veteran shared his feelings about why rent control was still needed. This writer was D. J. Smith and he claimed that veterans would not have enough money left to buy shoes if they had to pay $100 a month more for rent. He noted that his rent had just been raised by $5.50 per month, which gave his landlord an increase of $264 a year. Mr. Smith went on to state that he had lived in the apartment for five years and the plaster and wall paper were in bad condition when he moved in and the landlord would not spend a cent to improve it. Mr. Smith told about an Army officer who lived in a remodeled two-room garage apartment with the only entrance being on the alley surrounded by trash burners and garbage cans. The Lieutenant paid $75.00 plus utilities just to have a place to live. It was perceived by some in 1949 that rent controls were needed in Junction City. Some may even say the same today. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Our Past is Present February 23, 2017

February 23, 2017
You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. Sunday, March 3, 1929, was the fiftieth wedding anniversary of Mr. Thomas G. McKinley and Miss Virginia G. Ross. Their relatives and friends from Geary County joined them in observance of the joyous event. Among the guests were the bridesmaid, best man and four other members of the original wedding party. Mrs. McKinley wore a black satin dress with a brooch and earrings, which were a gift of her bridegroom on their wedding day. The McKinley’s were both pioneer Kansans. Mr. McKinley had come with his parents from Illinois in 1858. The trip was made by the use of wagons. There was one drawn by horses, one by a yoke of oxen and one by a yoke of cows. The cows provided milk for the family and were used to start a herd of cattle on the farm once the homesteaded area was located. Soon after their arrival, they selected farmland near the mouth of the Humbolt Creek. Opportunities for an education were meager and Thomas McKinley felt that made life more challenging for him. However, through his natural ability and strong determination, he attracted the attention of his peers, who found him well qualified to serve publicly his community and country. He served on the rural school board for 34 years as well as being a justice of the peace and constable.
Mrs. McKinley was the youngest daughter of the Ross family, who came to Kansas from Virginia in 1873. Mr. and Mrs. McKinley spent the best part of their married life on the farm, but enjoyed their retirement years in their home in Alta Vista, where they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary.

We have many pictures of early pioneers from this area displayed in the hallway on the first floor of our Museum. Stop by and take a look at them and other interesting displays about Geary County history. We think you will agree that the more we change, the more we stay the same. That is one reason we say “Our Past Is Present” at the Geary County Historical Society. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Our Past is Present February 22, 2017

February 22, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
Many Kansans may be surprised to know that when the state was first settled there was not a sparrow within 1,000 miles. This fact was recorded in the archives at the Historical Society in Topeka. When settlers first came to Kansas there were only a few insects. After the soil was cultivated by settlers, the insects appeared like the plagues of Egypt. With no birds to feed upon the invading swarms of bugs and flies, beetles and other insects, the settlers lost many of their crops.
About the time the grasshopper plague had devastated the fields in 1874 and left a barren waste where once there were the hopes and aspirations of the new settlers, an idea came to some of the pioneers. Since there were no birds, why not bring some to the area?
So, in 1874, Fred W. Giles, O.W. Jewell and others, ordered a shipment of English sparrows from New York. They received 35 sparrows, but 4 were dead. The 31 left were in poor condition according to the Giles account. However, “They were received with the kindest attention.” The birds were restrained from freedom for a while. In fear of losing all of the birds and when all but five died, the remaining birds were turned loose to take their chance with life or death in nature. That fall Giles counted twelve birds where there had been but five and the following autumn a census listed the sparrow population at sixty. The third year the number had increased to three hundred and after that they multiplied so rapidly that within a very few years the cities were literally alive with sparrows and people began killing them off in large numbers. However, in just a few short years, Mr. Giles proudly reported that the insect annoyance was entirely abated.

Sometimes when we try to solve one problem, another appears to challenge us.