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.