Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 22, 2017

August 22, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            During the summer of 1949, the “Good Neighbor Program” was broadcast from the Leedy Drug Store over Junction City’s new radio station, KJCK.  On this show, local residents were recognized for being “good neighbors” and citizens.  One of the first honored was:  Mary A. Verbeke, who was nominated by the Reverend Harry Weed.  Mary Verbeke had an interesting life story.  She was born in Belgium.  When Mary was eight years old, she immigrated to this country with her mother. During their train trip there was a need to change trains in Kansas City.  Mary and her mother witnessed women chewing something at the train station.  It was not common in Belgium to see women chewing and their only reference was that of men who chewed tobacco.  So, Mary and her mother assumed the women were also chewing tobacco, when in fact the women were chewing gum.
            Upon arrival in Junction City, Mary and her mother spent their first night with the Muenzenmayer family, who lived on West 6th Street.  A neighbor at that time recalled the first time Mary was given ice cream, she put it on the stove to warm it, because it was too cold for her.

Mary and her mother moved into their first home on West 5th Street in 1893 and Mary lived there the rest of her life. Because Mary was on the “remembrance committee” of several organizations, she developed the habit of sending greeting cards and  cheery notes and messages during her life time.  So, KJCK’s recognition of Mary Verbeke in 1949 as a “Good Neighbor” was well deserved.  Showing our appreciation for others is a good habit to get into, even when we are not recognized for doing it.  It is just the right thing to do. That’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            For some still living in Geary County, the beginning of the new school year brings back memories of a one-room school house educational experience.  Four generations of one family all attended the Alida School, which was located in northwestern Geary County.  Mrs. Lester Esasser wrote an interesting history of the school in 1953 and one of her recollections is our story today.  Mrs. Esasser remembered a stray burro clattering through the school’s hallway and one of the teacher’s was also a detective. One of the first teachers was Mrs. Jane Ault, whose four children also went to the school. 
            Because there were no school rules regarding age, it was common to have 18, 19 and even 20 year old boys in school, when there was no work to be done on the farm.  One year an unusually large number of boys threatened to “take over” the school.  The School Board advertised for a male teacher to manage the rowdy boys.  After being hired the male teacher managed to tame the unruly Alida lads. After the teacher left, it was discovered he was a detective who had been tracking a man in Junction City. 
            Another teacher was said to have carried an opened penknife and if a student misbehaved, the teacher threw the knife, which sailed past the student’s heads and stuck into the wallboard behind them.  There are still challenges in dealing with student behavior as there were in the early days of the one room school, the difference is that the teachers in USD 475 have training for managing  difficult to handle students and there are counselor’s and administrators to assist them when needed.

Well, that’s today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 18, 2017

August 18, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about the first swimming pool in Junction City. We shared with you in an earlier broadcast Junction City was one of the first communities in Kansas to have a public swimming pool. As the summer’s swimming season comes to a close, we wanted to share this story with you: “The first pool was located very near the site of today’s swimming complex.  The pool came about through the generosity of pioneer resident Sumner Pierce, who was the founder of Central National Bank.  He gave the park land to the city and was responsible for building the pool. 
            There was no special ceremony that marked the opening of the first pool, but community excitement was high nevertheless.”  On August 19 of 1913, the “Junction City Union” newspaper reminded “citizens of the big day and reported that dealers in bathing suits have sold their stock.  On the day of the opening of the pool, Fred Smith, the custodian of the new pool, awoke that morning and went to the pool soon after 5:00 AM. Much to his surprise there were three boys already there with their swimming suits on and waiting for the gates to open.  At 7:00 AM there were a dozen boys at the gate and by 8:00 AM the crowd numbered over 20.  When the gates opened at 9:00, 27 boys took the first plunge into the new pool’s water and in less than an hour the number had increased to over 50. The numbers kept increasing as the day continued.”  The newspaper observed that “the circus may draw the crowd tomorrow, but the playground and its pool drew the crowds today!!!”


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 17, 2017

August 17, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about Dr. John Brinkley, who was the famed “Goat Gland” doctor.  In the summer of 1920, Dr. Brinkley announced that he thought Milford, Kansas needed a hotel.  Apparently the hospital business of the “goat gland” surgeon had been so successful that a hotel was needed to accommodate his waiting patients.  Dr. Brinkley recognized the urgent need and ordered work be done to create a first class hotel.  With the possible exception of amenities like an elevator, electric lights and running water, it would offer guests every convenience.
  A manager for the hotel in Milford still needed to be found.  It was said that the fame of the goat gland specialist had spread to Europe and patients from London, Sweden and even South Africa were on the waiting list as guests at the hotel.  The surgeon was naturally desirous that Milford residents take care to put on their best, and every weed be cut or pulled before the arrival of his guests. Even if it meant at his expense.

We have more information about Dr. Brinkley in a book at our Museum.  Stop by any day Tuesday through Sunday between the hours of 1 and 4 in the afternoon and learn more about the “Goat Gland” doctor.  This has been “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 16, 2017

August 16, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            The price of wheat has always been important to the farmers of Kansas.  In August of 1914 an interesting comparison was given of prices paid for wheat for the previous twenty years.  The report was published by B. Rockwell Merchandise and Grain Co., which in 1914 had been in the grain business in Junction City for about 40 years. 
            The report showed the lowest prices were 44 cents per bushel in 1894 and 45 cents in 1896.  The highest prices were $1.01 in 1909 and $1.00 in 1910.  In 1912 the price for wheat was $1.04 per bushel. 
            The price farmers would get for their wheat from September to December 1914 was difficult to predict.  If the foreign countries arranged for safe transportation of the wheat across the ocean, the price might go to 85 cents or a dollar.  The impact of WWI in Europe played a role in the challenge of getting wheat to those countries. 
            Farmers who were out of debt or were able to borrow money from the banks to pay their threshing and grocery bills would be the ones who would make a good profit on their 1914 wheat, and have enough money to support themselves and their families for a while.
            We all depend on farmers to provide the grains and vegetables we want and need for our diets.  They deal with a changing market, weather, pests, a “fickle” customer base and many other issues.  Those of us who go to Dillon’s grocery store or some other store for our food products usually don’t even think twice about where the produce comes for.  We mostly just think about the price we pay for items.  Perhaps we could all do a better job of showing our appreciation to farmers.  Something to think about.  Well, thanks for listening today. We look forward to sharing another story about Geary History with you tomorrow on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 15, 2017

August 15, 2017

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Tomorrow is the first half day of school for the 2017-2018 school year.  Today’s story is a brief history of Geary County Schools. The information comes from a book written in 1893 by J.W. Rodgers, who was then the County Superintendent of Schools. “The history of Geary County schools dates back to a period before Kansas became a State – even to the days when the vital question asked was - should this be a free or slave state? The first schools were private, or “select” schools and were provided for by the interested parents, who paid tuition in proportion to the number of children in attendance.  A fund was usually raised for those who were unable to pay the tuition.
            During the winter of 1858-59 there were three schools in the county.  One was located at Milford, one at Junction City and one four miles northeast of Junction City.  The first public school was organized in 1862.  A room was rented for the school and was above a store, which was located in the Bartell block.  County Superintendent, O. Davidson was also the teacher with 72 students enrolled.  During the next school year eight additional districts were formed in the county with three male and four female teachers.  Their average salary was $30.00 per month for the male teachers and $15.00 per month for the female teachers.    
            By 1868, every district had its own school building.  Some built of logs, some were frame and a few were stone buildings.  There was no uniform curricula until 1887, until Speer’s “Graded Course of Study” was introduced.  With this course of study, teachers knew where to begin and what was to be accomplished to prepare students for graduation examinations, which were often held the last Saturday in April of each year. “
In 1893 there were a total of 44 schools in the county with 67 teachers.  The average male salary had increased to $49.44 per month and the average female teacher salary was $39.92 per month.”
            There are 19 schools currently in USD 475 with approximately 700 teachers.  The current yearly salary for beginning teachers (whether they are male or female) is
$38,500.  Eight days of professional development is provided by the district. Teachers in Geary County Schools are: “Preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s world.”            
            We wish all of our educators and students a great learning experience this school year from the Geary County Historical Society.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
 At the turn of the 20th Century, William Frey was a well-known and enterprising owner of Frey’s Restaurant located at 607 N. Washington Street.  Later it was the Good Eats CafĂ© and several other restaurants.  It is now the home of Bella’s Italian Restaurant.  This address is also identified as the Rialto Building.
A souvenir booklet published in 1910 titled “Junction City Past and Present” described Frey’s Restaurant as having seen many changes and additions over time.  Mr. Frey moved into the location of 607 N. Washington Street in 1905.  It was here that the most modern facilities and arrangement of artistic as well as expensive fixtures had created a great deal of interest.  Courteous waiters attended the customers who dined at the restaurant, the lunch counter and the soda fountain. Twelve to 18 employees were required at all times to take care of customers.  Each customer received individual attention and their wishes were catered to with courtesy whether the customers were local people or those visiting. 
            A number of rooms were also available for rent. Regular meals were served as well as short orders of anything customers requested. There was a complete line of imported and domestic cigars, smoker’s supplies and tobacco.

Stop by 607 N. Washington Street and spend some time not only dining, but imagining what that restaurant would have been like in the early 20th century.  Before you enter the restaurant look up at the top of the building and see the word “Rialto” carved into the limestone.   

Friday, August 11, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 11, 2017

August 11, 2017

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            A term used by historians is the word Chautauqua.  What is a Chautauqua anyway?
            A Chautauqua is an adult education movement that was popular in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920’s.  Entertainment and culture, speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day were included in these events.
            Traveling Chautauqua tent shows were once a highlight of small town entertainment and Junction City had enjoyed a successful one during the summer of 1911.  The last program that year had been a sacred concert by an Italian band.  The time had come to decide if the town would subscribe again the next summer.  A notice in the newspaper stated that in order to have the same excellent variety of programs the next year, at least 500 people must subscribe at once.  They also reported that the Chautauqua that year had shown the people of the city the high-class attractions that were sent out by the Redpath Chautauqua Company.  Many of the programs would cost a dollar elsewhere, instead of the low price asked by the Chautauqua management.  The newspaper concluded that Chautauqua was letting the people of this city and county hear some of the best speakers and musical talent.  It gave our citizens a week’s pleasure and education during the most disagreeable time of the year.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 10, 2017

August 10, 2017

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

            Today’s story is about a business that lasted longer than expected. 
            In August of 1891, a little stock of goods was uncrated and placed on sale in what was formerly a barber shop in the Bartell House block in Junction City.  There were prophecies by locals that the business would most likely last only a week or two – well perhaps as long as a month. But the goods were bought right and sold right.  During the first day of the opening of the store, over one-tenth of the whole stock was sold out, showing to the proprietor that the people of Junction City knew a good thing and appreciated it.  Fifteen years later, the Racket Store, as it was called was still growing.  The store was expanded several times until it had become one of the leading stores in the state with sales of up to about $150,000 a year.  The Racket Store owners claimed that their success was due to good reliable merchandise at the lowest possible prices and their policy of taking back any article that was not satisfactory with a full refund.  They claimed to make friends of their customers and did all they could to let them know their patronage was appreciated. Junction City’s Racket Store remained in business on Washington Street until well past WWI – well past the time naysayers had expected. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 9, 2017

August 9, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Zoos were not as numerous in Kansas as they are today.  So when a circus came to town, parents made every effort to take their children to see the animals. Many of those animals were unusual examples of wild life.  Before there were many zoos, the circus was a way to see and learn about animals that were not common to our area.  A good place to see these animals was at the circus.
  It was August 9 and 10 in 1866 following the Civil War that J.T. Johnson and Company exhibited the first circus in Junction City.  Watching a circus crew put up the big tent and make camp was almost as exciting as seeing the animals and the show.  The elephants usually stole the attention in the pre-event activities, because of the work they did in unloading and setting up equipment for the performances.  In 1867, the Siamese Twins, who were part of this company, visited the town again.  During the decades which followed, the summer entertainment was often furnished by traveling shows of various types.
Circuses are becoming less and less available now.  Many of us have memories of circuses that not only had entertaining animal acts, but also trapeze artists, clowns and who could forget the circus marches and music played by live musicians with tremendous skills and talent.  Good memories!!!
Well, that is today’s story on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 8, 2017

August 8, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Nels Nicholson, a well-known former Police Chief of Junction City and Geary County Commissioner, passed away in August of 1941.  He was 70 years of age.  In 1934, the “Daily Union” newspaper published a Junction City 75th Anniversary issue.  Everyone knew him as Nick.  He began his career in Junction City in 1900 under the city Marshall Tom Allen Cullinan, who we have mentioned during these previous “Our Past Is Present” programs.  Nick Nicholson served as Deputy Sheriff for 9 years.  Later, he became a U.S. Marshall in Wichita for three years before returning to Junction City as a night patrolman, a position he held for 10 years.  He was then elected Chief of Police and preserved law and order in Junction City during World War I.  Nick was the Chief of Police through the mid to late 1930s when the town was overflowing with people from Camp Funston.  He was a reasonable and somewhat forgiving man and many soldiers at Fort Riley knew it.  Nick Nicholson had given  some of them a lecture and sent them back to the Post when an arrest and sentence would have meant an end to the soldier’s military career.   
            We want to express our appreciation to our current Chief of Police, Dan Breci, Sheriff Tony Wolf and all of the law enforcement officers who serve and protect us every day in Junction City and Geary County.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017

            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Many of us are aware of the Farmer’s Market which is held every Thursday in the Geary Community Hospital’s parking lot.  Local farmers sell fresh produce and other products at that weekly event.
            In the early days of Junction City and the surrounding counties there was a sort of “trading post on wheels.”  Eggs, chickens, cream, milk and butter were traded for sugar, flour, molasses and other staples.  The wagon was equipped with chicken crates which were usually on the back of the vehicle as well as containers to protect the eggs, cream and milk.  This “trading post on wheels” made it convenient for those who lived in rural areas and didn’t often travel to town. As our town grew, more people bought their supplies in town and the “trading post on wheels” began to disappear.
            Credit for establishing the first store IN Junction City was J.B. Dickerson.  He had a trading post here as early as August 1, 1855.  In 1858, John Wiley opened the first general store in the new town, and in August of 1860 Streeter and Stickler bought out the stock of William Leamer and had an imposing store for the time and place.  In addition to local trade, this firm was a heavy contracting business freighting and furnishing supplies throughout the plains area as far away as the Rocky Mountains.  It reached every government post in that region.  Hundreds of men living on the plains were employed by this first “chain department store” in our town.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 4, 2017

August 4, 2017
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Citizens of Junction City were told in 1907 that there will be no raising of hogs in the city limits.  On August 25, 1907, Dr. Hannah, the city health officer served notice on all people who had been keeping hogs within the city limits to have them removed  - AT ONCE!!!  There was a very strict ordinance against this and yet there were people who, either through ignorance or disregard for the law, continued to openly violate it.  From time to time warnings had been published in various papers and they had been ignored.  The city abounded with people who kept as few as one and as many as six hogs in pens in their back yards.     
            Even in the densely populated parts of the city this nuisance was being carried on.  There were even some pigpens within a few blocks of the main streets.  Hardly a day passed, but some of these animals would be seen parading up and down the streets and alleys.  This gave the city a “Cabbage Patch” aspect and was a decided detriment to civic improvement.  Then, too, the stench from the pig sties was extremely unpleasant – especially in the summer months.  Also it was conducive to ill health.  Several cases of malarial fever during previous years was said to have been traced directly to this source.
            According to the “Union” newspaper editor, the practice of keeping pigs with the city limits had long been a menace to the health of the community, and Dr. Hannah was to be commended for the stand he had taken on this matter.
            That’s today’s story.  We hope to see you soon at our Museum at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets in Junction City. The Museum is open from 1 until 4 every day Tuesday through Sunday and admission is free. 


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 3, 2017

August 3, 2017
            You are reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today’s story is about a harsh criticism of a play that was performed at the Opera House in August of 1907.  Apparently not all summer entertainment lived up to expectations according to a review of a play present in Junction City in August of 1907.  The review stated it had been the custom of a certain class of stage people, when they wanted a vacation to band together and tour the country with a performance of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” This was done by those more desirous of salary than anything more permanent.  The consequences was that the average “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” production was not all that it should be and the performance at the Opera House the previous evening was in no way an exception to the rule. 
            According to the reviewer, the play itself was always disappointing after one had read the book by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  The development of the play, through the work of such companies during the last half of the century had been rather disastrous to the individuality of the story.  “The show last night was poor”, stated the critic.  He went on to write that “the story was supposed to be a tragedy of the most pathetic type, but it takes good acting to do tragedy  and not make it laughable.  When it was well acted, it is a fine thing, but on the other hand when it is murdered and also dissected it is a most painful production.  The audience was large, but many left before the play was over”. 
            The review concluded that “this play was out of date anyway and the sooner it is laid on the shelf for the worms to worry over, the fewer occasions there would be for harsh and adverse criticism.”
            Wow!!! That was harsh – but from the critics perspective deserved.  It has been rare that a poor performance is seen at our C.L. Hoover Opera House.  We hope you will join us this season to see a few or all of the productions.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 2, 2017

August 2, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Many of us have experienced the direction to “hurry up” and then we find ourselves having to wait – for some reason, perhaps unknown to us.  Well, today’s story is about what might be considered a common “hurry up and wait” theme in August of 1920.
            A selected detachment of 500 regular soldiers from Camp Funston left for Denver on two special trains in August of 1920.  They had been ordered to duty in connection with the rioting related to the streetcar strike there.
            When the orders reached Camp Funston the previous evening, many of the officers and men of the detachment were at their homes and they were recalled at once to the camp. It took only a short time to get the unit together, assemble the equipment and get ready to entrain.
            The men were said to be a special detachment that was formed to handle similar emergencies as the one in Denver.  They were equipped with sawed-off shotguns and cartridges loaded with buckshot, Whippet tanks, hand grenades and “one-pounders” that shot shrapnel.
            Although the men and equipment were quickly assembled, their departure was delayed until the necessary rolling stock was available and they were finally underway with the first train that left in the early morning of August 7, 1920. 

            Hurry up and wait.  Still a common theme in the military.  

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Our Past Is Present August 1, 2017

August 1, 2017
            This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
            Today our time will be spent sharing more about the early days of Junction City.  
            We hope you are enjoying these stories and if you are, stop by the Museum and let us know that or give us a call at 238-1666.
            Ben Keyser opened a printing office in Junction City to start a newspaper in 1859, the same year Junction City was incorporated.  He was a Southerner with pro-slavery sympathies and a radical Democrat, although the only surviving edition of his “Junction Sentinel” newspaper dated May 14, 1859 gives no outward indications about his political position.
            Keyser’s “Prospectus”, in addition to describing his plans for the newspaper, also gives us an indication of the prospects for the new town. Here is a quote from that work:  “This is the most western town of any importance in the Territory, being three miles west of Fort Riley and located immediately at the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill forks of the Kaw (Kansas) River.  It naturally commands the trade of the settlers upon the rich and beautiful valleys spreading from the banks of streams. 
            The continued prosperity of the town although but six months old, its rapidly increasing importance and the many and varied interests that are centering on it, has induced the undersigned to try the rather dangerous experiment of publishing here, upon the border of civilization.  It is true that towns seldom make papers, while it is equally true that papers often erect towns.”  These were encouraging words about early Junction City.

Thanks for reading “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.