August 31, 2017
This is “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.
There will be two stories during our time together today. One is about the first boxing match held here in 1874 and the other is about the Wetzig brother’s aviation business.
The first boxing match held in Junction City was in August of 1874. People came from Topeka, Manhattan, Abilene and Chapman in buggies and carriages to see the match. The boxers were Jim Brewster, and the other was an unknown who went by the name of the “Montana Wonder.” Jim Brewster, better known as Jim BUSTER, weighed 249 pounds. His opponent – the “Wonder” weighed only 189 pounds. The match was held at the “Sipperly” home on the old fairgrounds on West 8th Street. The match lasted three rounds. Jim Buster was considered one of the best boxers in the area, so it was not unexpected that he won. Several days after, when asked who won the match, Jim stated, “Well now, I did – or I wouldn’t be so willing to talk about it.”
Our second story is about the Wetzig brother’s aviation business. Long before many people had ever seen an airplane, let alone ridden in one, two Junction City men owned an airplane and were flying it in the area. They were Herman and Henry Wetzig. They were pioneers in the aviation business in Kansas beginning about 1910 and lasting up to WWI. They toured many of the county fairs in the Midwest “barnstorming” as it was called. They flew in a homemade plane and demonstrated how an aircraft could rise from the ground, soar through the air and return to the place from which it started. Their plane was a one-seater. The process for learning to fly was to tell the student what should be done, let the student-pilot practice taxiing across the field and then take off and land in 100 yards. It took the Wetzig brothers about a month to learn all the needed skills and then graduate as pioneer pilots. There is nothing in our research to indicate how long it took others to learn to fly.
Those are today’s stories on “Our Past Is Present” from the Geary County Historical Society.