Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Brief Look at Abilene's Historic Buildings: the Lebold Mansion

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum recently featured the exhibit City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture.  The following is a brief look at the Lebold Mansion.  Photographs are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

This beautiful Victorian home was constructed on the original site of the home of Timothy and Elizabeth Hersey, founders of Abilene.  Conrad H. Lebold had great success as an Abilene banker and land agent.  He later became Mayor of Abilene, Treasurer for Dickinson County, and a member of the state legislature.  The Lebold Mansion was built in 1880 for a cost of $18,000.  At one time, it was said to be “the finest dwelling house west of Topeka.”  After business failure, Lebold moved away from Abilene and the mansion saw a number of different owners and uses.  In the late 1920s, the mansion became known as the Girls Club.  The Girls Club was owned by C.L. Brown, and was a residence that offered female employees of the United Companies a place to live.  The Lebold Mansion also saw life as an apartment building and historic tour home.  Today, it is a private residence.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Brief Look at Abilene's Historic Buildings: the A.B. Seelye Medicine Company, Plaza Theater

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum recently featured the exhibit City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture.  The following is a brief look at the A.B. Seelye Medicine Company, also known as the Plaza Theater.

Courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.
This theater was known by several names over the years: the Seelye Opera House, Bonebrake Opera House, and Plaza Theater.  In addition to being a theater, the building was also utilized as the laboratory for the A.B. Seelye Medicine Company close to the turn of the twentieth century.  One of the most important events to happen in the Plaza Theater’s history was when Dwight D. Eisenhower visited his hometown of Abilene June 4-5, 1952.  Upon the Plaza Theater’s stage, Eisenhower made the announcement that he would run for President of the United States.  In 2000, the theater suffered catastrophic damage when one of its walls collapsed.  The damage was too severe that the entire building was demolished shortly after.

Courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Brief Look at Abilene's Historic Buildings: the Belle Springs Creamery

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum recently featured the exhibit City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture.  The following is a brief look at the Belle Springs Creamery.

Courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.
This longtime Abilene business actually began in the small Dickinson County town of Belle Springs, a community settled by River Brethren families from Pennsylvania.  The original creamery was developed for the purpose of manufacturing butter.  In 1892, a new creamery was built outside of Abilene in Prospect Park.  The large brick creamery that is pictured here was built in 1902 in Abilene close to the original location of the Drover’s Cottage, Abilene’s largest hotel during the cattle town days.  The Belle Springs Creamery produced ice and many dairy products, including butter, cheese, and ice cream.  The David and Ida Eisenhower family moved to Abilene due to David acquiring employment at the creamery.  He would hold a position there for over twenty years.  His son Dwight, future General and President, also worked for the Belle Springs Creamery before leaving Abilene to begin his military career.

Courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Below are a few photographs courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum that should hopefully bring you some winter cheer.

A small girl visits Santa Claus.
Bill Jeffcoat's aunt, Winifred Metz Cale, bundled up for the cold.
The Hutchins household decorated for the holidays with Santa Claus on the roof.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Brief Look at Abilene's Historic Buildings: the Kirby House, Abilene Club

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is currently featuring the exhibit City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture until early January.  The following is a brief look at the Kirby House, which at one point was known as the Abilene Club.

Courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum
Thomas Kirby was an Abilene banker who began his career working for another prominent banker, Conrad H. Lebold. Kirby built his home on the original site of the home of the father of the cattle town, Joseph G. McCoy. In later years, the home underwent a major redesign to become the Abilene Club, a men’s social club for Abilene businessmen. This group was a precursor to the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce. Years later, the building was redesigned to return it to its original state, as it appears now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Photographs of the Jeffcoat Museum's Current Exhibit on Abilene Architecture

City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture is on exhibit now at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

A look at Abilene circa 1900.

The Hotel Sunflower in its heyday.

Several buildings are featured in the exhibit.

Photographs of Abilene High School.

Photographs of the Vacu-Blast Dome.

Several photographs of Abilene buildings and an Abilene map from 1908.

Can from Abilene's Belle Springs Creamery.

Photographs and artifacts representing many of Abilene's former businesses.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thoughts on the 2011 Kansas Museums Association Conference

October 26 through 28 marked this year’s Kansas Museums Association Conference, and I was lucky enough to go (thanks to my museum sending me).  The KMA Conference is an annual event for Kansas museum professionals to network and learn how to improve the institutions we work in.  This year’s event was spectacular fun, and a great educational opportunity. 

The conference was held in Olathe this year and featured a great pre-conference workshop on Making Collections Meaningful.  So often in museums, we have many fantastic artifacts, but do not use them to their full potential.  To do this requires conducting strong research and proper exhibit strategies; two things that are easier said than done.  It takes time to create a dynamic exhibit and tell an involving story.

A staple of the conference is the museums tour / progressive dinner.  During this time, all of the conference participants are taken to different museums to tour and have refreshments.  During this time, our destinations were the Deaf Cultural Center and William J. Marra Museum, the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm, the Ernie Miller Nature Center, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.  All of these were great places to visit, and more information can be found by clicking on their names.  I cannot recommend these places enough.

The bulk of the conference is made up of multiple sessions that each participant attends to learn about different techniques in museums.  Topics include: visitor services, building web collections, exhibit program strategies, and working with volunteers.  Attending sessions are my favorite thing to do at the conference since I am new to the museum profession and still have much to learn.  During these times, I am a vigorous note taker and am often thinking of new ideas to use.  With any luck (and a lot of work), I will hopefully begin working towards a web collection and some unique exhibits for next year.  

Between all of these things, three keynote addresses, and a formal dinner and auction, this year’s KMA Conference was a rousing time and a memorable event.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Lilly Mae Helm

Views of the Past is currently featuring brief biographies of former Abilene residents. These photographs and biographies were recently featured in an exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. Even if you are not from Abilene or do not know these people, these stories are invaluable since they paint a portrait of small town life. Both the photograph and text of this post are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Lilly Mae Helm:

She was raised in Salina, Kansas. With her husband and some employees, they made a living hauling trash. Their two children were Dorothy and Dick.

This was a happy family; Lilly would do the bill collecting (for their trash service) each month and knew everybody in town.

She would be the first black lady in Abilene to be elected to the Abilene City Commission. She did her job as best as she could, but resigned and did not become Mayor. She was a member of the Catholic faith.

She loved her children and grandchildren, detested being pushed around, and was a fighter to protect what she felt was her right to do what she pleased. I think it is fair to say that she was a remarkable, strong willed lady.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Deane E. Ackers

Views of the Past is currently featuring brief biographies of former Abilene residents. These photographs and biographies were recently featured in an exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. Even if you are not from Abilene or do not know these people, these stories are invaluable since they paint a portrait of small town life. Both the photograph and text of this post are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Deane E. Ackers (1893-1966):


Hiram Ackers lived on Buckeye and 10th Street and was a very successful real estate broker. He and his wife raised two sons (one of them, Deane). Deane started in with C.L. Brown as an engineer with the United Power and Light Co. With its demise, he was instrumental in putting together a collection of power companies, forming the Kansas Power and Light Co. He was President and C.E.O. of that firm. Deane and his wife had no children and are buried in Topeka, Kansas. In high school, he was on the football team with Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: R.J. Long


Views of the Past is currently featuring brief biographies of former Abilene residents. These photographs and biographies were recently featured in an exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. Even if you are not from Abilene or do not know these people, these stories are invaluable since they paint a portrait of small town life. Both the photograph and text of this post are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about R.J. Long (1880-1939):

R.J. Long came to Abilene from Miltonvale, Kansas, where he had been a druggist and worked for C.L. Brown in the utility business in the stock department. Somewhere along the line, he saw the handwriting on the wall that things were not going well (with the business), told Brown so, and handed in his resignation. Brown begged him to stay but to no avail.

R.J. then started his own investment business on Broadway; remodeled the building with his office upstairs and retail firms on the ground floor. Long Investments had the back part of the second floor.

With the Wall Street crash of 1929, and following the bankruptcy and death of C.L. Brown, investments were not easy to sell in a little town like Abilene.

R.J. married Mary Forney, daughter of J.K. Forney of the Belle Springs Creamery, and they had one son, Loraine.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Howard Marshall

Views of the Past is currently featuring brief biographies of former Abilene residents. These photographs and biographies were recently featured in an exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. Even if you are not from Abilene or do not know these people, these stories are invaluable since they paint a portrait of small town life. Both the photograph and text of this post are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Howard Marshall:

Howard Marshall, born in Abilene, Kansas, but not with a silver spoon in his mouth! Yet, this did not deter him from being aggressive. His business seemed to thrive in insurance, small loans, and real estate.

In real estate, he developed the area now known as Charles Road, which he named after his son. Cement blocks were coming (into style) and many of these are built this way.

Howard’s office first started in the basement of the Commercial State Bank, run by Andy Blair. Later, he moved to where the VFW post is now located.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Vic Viola

Views of the Past is currently featuring brief biographies of former Abilene residents. These photographs and biographies were recently featured in an exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. Even if you are not from Abilene or do not know these people, these stories are invaluable since they paint a portrait of small town life. Both the photograph and text of this post are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Vic Viola and his father, R.H. Viola:
Vic Viola

R.H. Viola conceived many businesses and one of these was a hardware store. This was during the 1930s and many in town felt it would not go, as two well established hardware stores were going, Shockey and Landis, and Minick and Taylor.

Viola ran a contest to name the store, offering $100 for the winner. The name selected: RHV Hardware, standing for Real, Honest, Vision.

His son Vic was put in charge and he had a knack for it. As you can see by this photo, he was a man whose expression is showing that he was good with customers. True to Viola tradition, he would cut a price and make the customer happy, creating a repeat customer. If one was not satisfied with a clerk, you could go directly to Vic to make a deal. The store did a wonderful volume of business. As were all the Viola sons, they were great contributors to the town’s civic things.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Henry B. Jameson

Views of the Past is currently featuring brief biographies of former Abilene residents. These photographs and biographies were recently featured in an exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. Even if you are not from Abilene or do not know these people, these stories are invaluable since they paint a portrait of small town life.  Both the photograph and text of this post are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum. The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Henry B. Jameson (1912-1986):

Henry did not graduate from high school, but he made the grade anyhow. Born and raised in Abilene, he was in the Press Corp, working for the Associated Press in Europe during WWII. He returned to his home town and teamed up with the Reflector-Chronicle, first as advertising manager, and then as his boss, Mr. Harger grew older, Henry became owner.

He was very popular in town, and he could do good writing. He ran a front page column of happenings of the day in town called “Ramblings,” and this was the first thing people read when they received their evening paper.

As the Eisenhower popularity grew, so did the newspaper and Henry. When out of town media arrived, the first thing they sought out was the editor of the paper. The paper and Henry became the connection for all important events concerning Ike and Abilene. Henry was “it” during the Eisenhower era, and he basked in the limelight and met a lot of very high up people in the media and from the White House. He wrote some books on Ike and on early Abilene days. Henry was a great contributor due to his outlook on the town and for the development of the Eisenhower Center.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: John H. Lehman

Views of the Past is currently featuring brief biographies of former Abilene residents.  These photographs and biographies were recently featured in an exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.  Both the photograph and text of this post are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.  The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about John H. Lehman:
He worked himself up off a farm south of Abilene, to become a leading attorney in town and was on the board of the Eisenhower Foundation. John was in on everything in town. When asked why he wanted to go into law, he replied, “As a young man, I drove around and saw that all the big homes were owned by either doctors or lawyers, and knowing I could not become a doctor, I thought I could make it in the practice of law.” He was a very imposing looking man, very tall, and always well dressed. He did much to help draft papers for the Eisenhower Center when it was being built, to buy the homes and property around this, so that nothing shabby would be around it. He knew all the important people in town and made the most of these contacts with large estate work. He loved Abilene history and on the second floor of his office in the old Sterl Building, he kept a regular museum of historic memorabilia which he adored showing off. Out of law school, he obtained his ground work as a partner of Matt Guilfoyle, another well known lawyer who did much for the town and was active in civic projects. I think we can be sure that Ike appreciated all the work that went on here, from all his friends in Abilene. Had it not been for these friends, the Eisenhower Center would not have grown to the size that it is.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Henry Giles

The following is a brief bio on Henry Giles written by Bill Jeffcoat.  Both the text and photograph are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

Henry’s father was an early day Abilene business person who made money in the grain business and also was a charter member and organizer of the Citizens Bank, along with the Malott and Johntz families.

Here is Henry all dressed up fit to kill, so to speak. The reason is that he was active in the Masonic Lodge and each worshipful Master had their photo taken to hang in the Hall. He married Bea Young who clerked in the People’s Store, a department store like Cases and Pendergasts, and they had two girls.

Henry was a big hunter and fisherman. The old Giles family home is on West Fourth Street, where Henry’s sister, Ethel, lived until her death.

Spotlight on Abilene Residents: The Smiths

The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Mr. and Mrs. Sam Smith and their daughter, Mary.  Jeffcoat also goes into detail about the photographic process at the time this photograph was taken.  It is a rather interesting image considering the work that was required to capture it.  The caption and image are both courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum:

A home portrait by P.H. Jeffcoat, 1920s.

An attorney, this couple had one daughter, Mary, who graduated from KU in journalism. She got a job in Boston with the Christian Science Monitor newspaper. Some years later moving to New York City, she started her own magazine on hand weaving which was very successful. She never married and she is buried along with her parents in the Abilene cemetery.

For this view, flash powder was used for lighting. Flash globes or strobe lights were not around then. Flash powder was tricky to use as it had to be ignited at the same time the shutter on the camera opened and closed. In the 1920s, not too many couples could afford to have home portraits taken. The Smiths were able to afford it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Roy Baker

The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Roy Baker and the Baker Hatchery:

This is Roy Baker, hatchery man, chicken fancier, with a hatchery building in the back end of his house in the 300 block of NE 6th Street. His wife Bertha was the daughter of J.L. Kruger, a prominent builder of Abilene buildings.

In depression days, even town people raised chickens in town for eggs and eating. If you bought a bag of baby chick mash, Roy would give you twenty-five baby chicks free.

This photo of Roy, which is not really the normal way he dressed, is the way he desired this photo. With Abilene’s Wild West Days and the Fair parade, all businessmen were supposed to do this.

From the 1940s this ad is from the paper. Whoever dreamed this up was very clever; the baby chick with a head piece and then the slogan: “Let me help make dough for you.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spotlight on an Abilene Resident: Lester Green

In addition to taking photographs, Bill Jeffcoat liked to write about the history and people of Abilene.  Many of his writings were featured in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle newspaper as Letters to the Editor.  The following was written by Bill Jeffcoat about Lester Green:

He grew up in Abilene and worked for Red Wheeler at the Chronicle newspaper in the front office.  When this paper merged with the Reflector, Lester moved along with Red and worked in the front office there and along the road, he was in charge of circulation.  With Charles Harger being head man, after Red died in about 1941, he asked Lester to get interested in taking photos for the paper, and Les entered into this with lots of interest.  He bought a camera and his supplies from Jeffcoat’s Photo Store, and this is how, I got to know him.
When stores stayed open on Saturday nights, Les would come in and we would discuss film and paper, and the nic nacs of taking a photo.  He was high strung and got nervous on assignment, and one time, he felt he had under exposed some negatives, and asked us to force develop his film, which we did.  Being very religious, when Harger asked him to take photos of greyhound racing, he refused. 
Les got married late in life, and with his wife, Wilma, they both were so very happy. When I asked him to autograph this photo, he was so pleased. To know Lester Green, and his life, was an experience and a delight.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Exhibit at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum: City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture


The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is pleased to announce a new exhibit highlighting the architecture of Abilene.  The exhibit, City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture, will be featured now through January 9 at the museum. 

Abilene has had a varied history, and was originally settled by Timothy and Elizabeth Hersey in 1857 along the bank of Mud Creek.  The area saw some growth, with a few brave settlers deciding to build homes near the Hersey stagecoach stop.  It was not until 1867 though, that the community saw substantial growth.  That year, a man named Joseph G. McCoy came to the area and decided to build a shipping point for Texas longhorn cattle.  Abilene quickly became the first Kansas cattle town and saw much growth over the next four years.  After Abilene’s cattle town days were over in 1872, the city saw a sharp decline in business.  Many stores that catered their wares to the cowboys moved elsewhere.  However, Abilene slowly began to grow again and develop into the town that it is today.

Many homes and business buildings that continue to stand in Abilene today were constructed close to the turn of the twentieth century.  Buildings such as the Seelye Mansion, Lebold Mansion, Shockey and Landis building, Sunflower Hotel, Union Pacific Depot, and United Telephone building made their mark on Abilene history and serve as reminders of the past to this day.  While this is the case for many historic buildings in Abilene, there are several that no longer remain. 

The Belle Springs Creamery was a staple of the community for several years, providing customers with a place to purchase milk, butter, ice cream, cheese, and ice.  Another historic piece of Abilene architecture was the Henry House, also known as the Union Pacific Depot and Hotel, a multi-level central hub for the community.  There were many other such buildings that no longer exist in Abilene: the Plaza Theater, Vacu-Blast Dome, C.W. Parker Amusement Factory, Toothpick building, original City Hall, and various residences.  As times change, so do the buildings that form a community, however photographs do remain as a reminder of what happened before.

While the Jeffcoat Studio primarily worked in portrait photography during their business days of 1921 to 2007, they did take many pictures of the Abilene community and the buildings that make up the “city on the plains.”  The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum’s photography exhibit, City on the Plains: A Look at Abilene Architecture, will feature the images and stories of many of the community’s historic buildings.

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is located at 321 N. Broadway St. in Abilene, and is open Monday and Tuesday 9:00am-4:00pm, and by appointment any day of the week.  For more information about the museum, or to schedule a private viewing, please call (785) 263-9882, or find the museum on Facebook at facebook.com/jeffcoatstudio.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Chisholm Trail Day Festival will be Here Soon!

We are making many preparations for the 33rd Annual Chisholm Trail Day Festival at the Heritage Center on October 1, 2011.  There are many things to do; printing and folding brochures, setting up equipment and displays, and getting the museum extra clean for the big day.  Here are all of the details:

It’s time to saddle up and head to the 33rd Annual Chisholm Trail Day Festival, on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the Heritage Center Museum, 412 S. Campbell in Abilene, Kansas from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The admission is $5.00 per adults and children 12 and under is $2.00.

There will be lots of fun and activities for the whole family. There will be live entertainment on the main stage featuring Classic Heart playing great music of the 50s and 60s, Dave “Zerf” Zerfas singing Kansas Ballads and the Tallgrass Express String Band, a four member string band performing traditional string band music. They will play a variety of instruments including fiddle, banjo mandolin, guitar, upright bass and others. There will be great music and entertainment all day long.

This year the Antique Farm Show will feature “Oddballs and Orphans” tractors and farm equipment. Registration begins at 8:00 am. There will be tractor games at 11:00 am and the Parade of Power will begin at 1:00 pm. Also there will be an antique tractor pull beginning at 2:00 pm.

There will also be a pedal tractor pull for kids four to twelve years of age. Registration will begin at 8 am and the pull will begin at 10:00 am. This activity will be free of charge.

Come and learn how the old crafts were done. There will be demonstrations on blacksmithing, chair caning, bread baking, molasses boiling, pioneer cooking, lumber sawing and much more.

Inside the Heritage Center make sure you visit the Mud Creek Quilters demonstrating the art of quilting. As a fund raiser, the Dickinson County Historical Society will be giving away a beautiful hand quilted quilt at 3:30 pm. For a donation of $1.00 you will receive a chance on the drawing or for donating $5 you will receive 6 chances for the drawing.

Also visit the Daughters of the American Revolution’s booth, where you can look up your ancestors. Learn more about the DAR and help preserve your family history.

The History Stage will feature Wilma and Lori Howie performing Bluegrass music at 10:00 am; Joe Basso talking about the “Origins of Expressions at 11:00 am and at 2:00 pm. From 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm Randy Schumock will be singing your favorite Country and Western tunes.

For $1.00, kids of all ages will enjoy riding on the 1901 C.W. Parker Carousel powered by the original steam engine. This carousel is a National Landmark, a National Historic Carousel and was recently voted one of the top 8 Wonders of Kansas Customs. It is truly a national treasure and everyone should enjoy a ride on it.

If you like trains, come and ride the rails as the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad powers up their 1919 Santa Fe 4-6-2 “Pacific” #3415 Steam Locomotive. Relive the days of the steam powered trains. The train will run from 10 am to 3 pm on the hour.

During the day visit Old Abilene Town and watch Wild Bill Hickok tame the streets of Abilene in 1871. On Sunday from 2 pm to 4 pm Bill Burrows will hold a “Cowboy Jam Session” at the Alamo Saloon.

There will be children’s activities as well as arts and crafts booths, folk craft demonstrations, and the Farmers Market. Kasey the Clown will also be roaming the grounds during the day. Don’t miss out on the fun and the excitement at the 33rd Annual Chisholm Trail Day Festival. For more information call 785-263-2681, check out our website www.heritagecenterdk.com, or see us on Facebook at facebook.com/dkcohistory.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A State of Fighting and Fear: Kansas and the American Indian Wars of the 1860s

Note: This blog post also appeared in the Dickinson County Historical Society's newsletter (the Gazette), and in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle on 9/14/2011.

During the mid-1800s and especially following the events of the Civil War, a different type of war was being fought on the plains of Kansas and surrounding states and territories.  This war had been long in the making, ever since immigrants came to the New World to settle and claim territory.  Leading up to the mid-1800s, many Native Americans had been affected by pioneers settling on their former land.  The spread of smallpox and other diseases were deadly to many tribes, and in several cases, Native Americans were forced away from their land onto newly formed territory.  However, as emigrants moved west and the western United States population grew, Indian Territory became smaller and smaller in size.  By the mid-1800s, many tribes were infuriated by the treatment dealt to them by the United States.  Plains tribes such as the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Sioux, Kiowa, Comanche, and Pawnee greatly resisted the emigrant invasion of their land.  In many cases, this resistance was violent. 

For new western settlers, frontier defense became a necessity.  Many had seen their families and homes attacked by Native American groups in an effort to drive the settlers away.  Many Kansas Forts were established to offer protection to emigrants from the American Indian resistance.  Forts Hays and Wallace were both established to protect the Smoky Hill Trail, which passed through Kansas Indian hunting land, including portions of Dickinson County.  For many Native American tribes, the railroad was viewed as a great threat.  Since it allowed for ease of travel, the railroad greatly contributed to an influx of people, which in turn led to the further use and destruction of many resources such as the buffalo.  Some plains tribes attacked railroad construction crews or targeted their efforts toward the destruction of the rails themselves.  On August 1, 1867, six men of a railroad work party of seven were killed by Native Americans approximately ten miles east of Fort Hays.

While fighting was common, there was another side to relations between the United States and Native American groups.  Peaceful negotiations did occur, however the success rate for these discussions was generally low.  Early negotiations in 1866 with the Cheyenne and Sioux began poorly when General Winfield Scott Hancock ordered the burning of an abandoned village in the midst of peace talks.  In October 1867 the Medicine Lodge Treaty was signed by several chiefs of different Plains Indian tribes.  According to the treaty, the agreeing tribes would relinquish all land north of the Arkansas River for the promise of federal aid and hunting rights south of the river.  While this may have sounded like a beneficial and easy to manage agreement on paper to both parties, this was not the reality.  The individuals of a nation rarely agree with every decision their leaders make, and this was the case for many tribal nations after the signing of the treaty.  Many individuals within tribes refused to leave their land and agree to the terms.  Additionally, many Native Americans that did agree with the Medicine Lodge Treaty were soon disappointed when the federal aid promised to them came slowly or not at all.  By early 1868, many tribes returned to their former land to hunt and raid.

George Armstrong Custer is likely the most recognizable face of the United States Military during the Indian Wars on the Plains.  Custer led the Seventh Cavalry through several successful campaigns against Plains Indians during this turbulent era.  One of the first substantial victories for the United States during the Indian Wars was the Battle of Washita River.  In this battle, Custer and his men fought and killed several Cheyenne warriors.  As was common during these types of battles, several Cheyenne women and children were killed as well.  The precise number of casualties is unknown.  Custer claimed that his men killed over one hundred warriors, but the actual number may have been significantly lower.  Shortly after this battle, Custer and the Seventh Cavalry met with members of the Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry to pursue a group of Cheyenne.  Among the ranks of the Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry were Andrew and Calvin Freeman, sons of Dickinson County’s first permanent settler, George Freeman.  The reason for the cavalry’s pursuit of this group of Cheyenne was to rescue two women who were held as captives.  The women, Miss Brewster and Miss White, had been captured eight months before.  After the cavalry had made their approach to the Cheyenne camp, three chiefs visited with Custer to make peace.  Custer and his men decided to hold the chiefs captive until the women were released.  According to John McBee, a member of the Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry, Custer threatened the chiefs by showing them a tree and rope, and stating that they would be hanged by sundown if the women were not safely returned.  Soon after this, the women were brought to Custer’s camp.  Custer did not release the three Cheyenne chiefs, but escorted them to Fort Hays, where they found over fifty of their tribe’s women and children already being held.
This mid-1800s era blockhouse features gun ports on either side.
Since peaceful negotiations between both sides were poor or non-existent, and Native American raids on emigrant settlements became a common occurrence in parts of Kansas, many settlers were afraid that they might be attacked next.  The United States Military could not always be counted on to offer defense for settlers in remote areas.  Many armed themselves with weapons to protect their families and property. 

Additionally, many who lived in rural areas built small fortified buildings for use in case of an Indian attack.  The Dickinson County Historical Society in Abilene recently acquired one such building.  Donated by Ron and Sandra Bolliger and Kathaleen Kubik, the building was given to the Historical Society as a memorial to Ervin and Florence Aebi, parents of Sandra and Kathaleen.  Made with native Kansas limestone, the building was originally constructed on the property of Fred Helstab, a Dickinson County pioneer who built his log cabin home in 1867.  The small, fortified blockhouse features two gun ports that could have been used to fire at attackers from the safety of the building.  Helstab also built a large barn and an additional stone building on his property that was used for food storage.  All of these buildings have found many uses over the years at the farmstead, which is located half a mile west of Enterprise.

Battles between the United States and Native Americans continued on the plains in the 1870s, but began to occur frequently less.  Tribes did have incredible victories such as the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, in which a united encampment of Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Lakota Native Americans killed Custer and all of his command in Montana Territory.  However, many tribes had been forced onto reservations by this time.

During this remarkable era, both the United States and Native American nations had instances of glory, honor, and triumph.  However, these events were equally paired with instances of despair, fear, and reckless aggression.  Neither side could easily reach an agreement, or understand the other’s ideas and culture.  The average United States cavalry member and the average Native American warrior did not believe they had much in common with one another, while this was far from the truth.  Both sides fought to protect their families, resources, and property.  Both wanted to see their nation prosper.  Additionally, both committed atrocious acts to further their cause.  The slaughter of civilians, women, and children was knowingly carried out by both groups of people.  For every emigrant settlement raided and fort attacked, there were burnings of tribal encampments and attacks on peaceful Native American nations.  No matter whom a person was, life on the plains was met with great difficulty.

To see the Dickinson County Historical Society’s recent addition, a fortified blockhouse with gun ports, come to the Dickinson County Heritage Center and “experience the past.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Thoughts on Giving a Historical Bicycle Tour of Abilene, Kansas

A couple of weeks ago, I guided a historical bicycle tour of Abilene.  This tour was put on by the Quality of Life Coalition as part of their Dickinson County Road Race event.  All in all, it was a really fun event, and I believe that everyone that took part had a blast.  For the tour, we rode about three miles with several stops along the way, making the tour last close to an hour.  The group stopped at the Lebold Mansion, Texas Street, the Kirby House, Abilene’s historic downtown district, and a couple of historic homes.  We also stopped and talked about the Drover’s Cottage, Belle Springs Creamery, and Joseph G. McCoy’s Great Western Stockyards; all places that do not exist today.  I was really happy to see that everyone had a lot of questions and was interested in the different sites.

When I help out with events like this, it’s fun for me since I get to meet new people and share my love of history with them.  It’s always great to see other people that are interested in a history-related topic, and see excitement build for them.  It is incredibly important for us at the Dickinson County Historical Society to be active in events like this.  It not only promotes our organization, but also our mission to preserve and educate about the history of Dickinson County.

D.R. Gorden: A Man about Town

David Ross Gorden was an early resident of Abilene who had a remarkable career in several positions.  During his time in the town, Gorden served as Abilene’s first Kansas Pacific Railroad station agent, first telegraph operator, and served as the town’s postmaster.  He was also involved in the organization of Abilene’s first grain elevator, and in the formation of the Citizen’s Bank of Abilene in 1885.  Needless to say, he was an incredibly active man in Abilene.

Before making his way to Abilene in 1869, Gorden was present for one of the most famous presidential speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address.  Gorden was eighteen at the time, and managed to situate himself close to President Lincoln so that he could clearly hear the President’s words.  Prior to President Lincoln’s famous speech, a man named Edward Everett gave a long address to the crowd.  After this, the President delivered his Gettysburg Address, which is admittedly a rather short speech.  After President Lincoln had finished speaking, Gorden distinctly heard the President say to Everett, “I have made a failure of my speech.”  Everett’s reply was, “Oh, no, your speech will live long after mine has been forgotten.”

After the end of the Civil War, Gorden learned the skill of telegraphy and moved to Abilene, Kansas.  He would live in Abilene for the rest of his life.  During his duties as Abilene’s railroad station agent and telegraph operator, Gordon encountered many colorful characters including the town’s city marshal in 1871, James Butler “Wild Bill”Hickok.

According to one of Gorden’s memories, he witnessed a conversation between Hickok and a gambler that almost turned into a shootout.  One day when Hickok was visiting Gorden in the telegraph office, a gambler walked into the building with a revolver strapped to his leg.  Hickok ordered the man to give him the gun since it was illegal to carry firearms in Abilene.  The man replied to Hickok, “Bill, I am not going to take off this revolver and you know darn well you cannot make me take it off.”  Both men glared at one another and rested their hands on their six-shooters.  Now, Hickok is of course known for his famous shootouts, but he was a practical man when it came to fights.  He always tried to avoid a fight that he was not positive he could win.  According to Gorden, Hickok replied to the man, “Well, just keep it hidden so that I cannot see it.”  The unsettling moment passed.

As a resident of Abilene, Gorden saw many changes in the town.  After the end of the cattle drives to Abilene, Gorden saw his town change from a wild and dangerous place, to a peaceful small community.  Throughout his entire life, Gorden remained an active man, always willing to tell a story about Abilene’s past, and offer his support for new enterprises that would improve the community.  He lived until the ripe age of ninety, and died April 7, 1935.

Note: Quotations were taken from the "Reminiscences  of D.R. Gorden," found in the files of the Dickinson County Historical Society.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Broadway Market in Abilene, Kansas

Broadway Market. Courtesy Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.
Throughout a large part of the twentieth century in Abilene, the Broadway Market, located at 311 N. Broadway Street, was a small grocery store that despite its size, carried several items.  The market was a family business, first owned by Charles Benignus.  His son, Albert Benignus later took over the business. 

In the early 1900s, the Broadway Market was exclusively a meat market, one of five in Abilene.  By 1939, the market was promoting their many different food items, including 139 different types of cheeses in stock!  As it is told, Dwight D. Eisenhower loved to stop by the Broadway Market, and buy some steaks to cook up while visiting his parents at home.

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Benignus. Courtesy Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.
Albert Benignus' right hand man, Isaac "Ike" Wesley Robinson, worked in the meat department and was known for his skill in preparing ham loaf, Swedish potato sausage, and pon haus.  For those of you with inquiring minds, pon haus is a dish of Pennsylvania Dutch origin, and is a mixture of corn meal and pork leavings.  It is commonly fried and served for breakfast.  Eisenhower apparently loved the dish so much, that the Broadway Market shipped it to him in Europe during World War II on multiple occasions.

Courtesy Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.
The Broadway Market no longer exists today, as is common with many small grocery stores, it went out of business after the advent of supermarkets.

The basis of this post was inspired by the writings of Bill Jeffcoat, who wrote down many stories of people from his hometown of Abilene.  The story of Albert Benignus and the Broadway Market is featured in the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum's current exhibit.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bishop Ray Witter

Courtesy Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

For today's blog post, I thought I would briefly tell the story of Ray Witter, one of the stories featured in the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum's current exhibit Our Community, Our Stories: Through the Eyes of the Jeffcoat Studio.

Witter grew up on a farm south of Abilene.  His family were devout to the Christian faith, and were members of a Brethren in Christ parish, as many people in Dickinson County history have been.  Witter was a cousin to the Eisenhower boys, and was close to the same age as the future President, Dwight.  Since they were related to one another, the two boys knew each other well, and Eisenhower would often visit and work on the Witter farm during the summer.  The Witter family had horses, so the boys enjoyed horseback riding when they had free time.

As the two boys grew up, their lifestyles greatly parted from one another.  Of course, Eisenhower had his famed military career and was an expert in the ways of war.  Witter took a much different path and became a Brethren in Christ pastor, eventually becoming the minister for a church in the Hope, Kansas area, and later attaining the role of Bishop.

After Witter's retirement, he moved to Abilene and worked as a painter and paper hanger.  After Eisenhower became President, Witter and his son were invited to visit the White House, which must have left quite an impression on Witter.  According to a note written by Bill Jeffcoat, which is featured in the exhibit, "This was the proudest moment in Ray's life."

Our Community, Our Stories: Through the Eyes of the Jeffcoat Studio, is currently on display at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum through the rest of August.  Be sure to visit the museum's Facebook page for more information.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Matt Visits the Wonders of Kansas #1: The Kansas Museum of History

Every now and then, I will be visiting locations that were selected for the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s 8 Wonders of Kansas lists.  The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka was selected as a top 8 Wonder of History.

I recently paid a visit to the Kansas Historical Society’s Museum of History over the Independence Day holiday weekend.  It had been a while since my last visit to the museum (I believe I was in Middle School the last time I toured the place).  It has been interesting to visit other museums over the past year to say the least.  Since I began working in a museum, I feel that I look at other museums in a new light.  I am not just there to learn about the historical narratives that the exhibits teach me, I am also there to see how the museum and exhibits are constructed, and get new ideas for the future.  

The Kansas Historical Society has a fantastic space for their museum.  The ceilings are very high, allowing them to feature many large and tall artifacts such as a windmill, covered wagon, Native American tipi, airplane, and of course, a train.  If I have one critique about an element of the museum’s exhibits, it is that some of the exhibit labels are difficult to read.  Now this can partly be attributed to lighting, however many artifacts on display cannot have direct light on them.  The museum would definitely not want to cause accelerated light damage, so changing the lighting would not be the solution.  One possibility would be to change the coloring of some of the labels.  I think this would help quite a bit.

But I am not writing this to complain about exhibit minutiae, I am here to promote history!  If you have never been to the museum, it begins with a fascinating look at Native American life in Kansas.  This area of the museum features many American Indian tools, and a Plains Indian grass lodge and tipi.  It is difficult to describe how cool it is to see a tipi actually made from bison hides.  Pending on the size of the tipi, it could take twelve to sixteen hides to make the outer covering of a tipi.  If you think about the process and hard work it took to create something like this, it is truly amazing.

The museum also features interesting exhibits on the Santa Fe Trail, Oregon Trail, and Bleeding Kansas.  The Bleeding Kansas period has always held special interest to me.  It is incredible to look at how Kansas was at the forefront of national politics (and people were killing each other over these issues!).  I feel the museum does a good job of showing both sides of the story, and showing how many people were invested in their respective causes during that period in time.

The train, in which you can walk through a section, is probably the museum’s superstar.  Inside the drover’s car, visitors can learn a little bit about the Kansas cattle towns and Joseph McCoy.  Outside of the train are many artifacts relating to changing technology and town growth.  

Probably my favorite part of my visit was getting to see the museum’s current exhibit in their temporary gallery.  The exhibit is entitled 150 Things I Love about Kansas, and will be on display for the remainder of this year.  The exhibit features a plethora of objects related to what makes Kansas great.  Most notable for me was a dress worn by Carry Nation.  Also featured was a painting of the famous hatchet-wielding woman, painted after her visit to the town of Enterprise in Dickinson County.  In the painting, her face is bruised due to women attacking her while she was in Enterprise to smash up Schilling’s Saloon.  It was such a cool piece of history to see, since I already knew the story of her visit to the town.  Fascinating stuff to see.

If you have never visited the Kansas Historical Society, be sure to do so.  I have only scratched the surface of what you can see in this blog post.  Also, if you have seen the museum before, I highly recommend returning, so you can see the current exhibit.

To learn more about the Kansas Museum of History and the Kansas Historical Society, be sure to visit their website

Kansas 150 Film Series

The Dickinson County Heritage Center has been showing movies related to Kansas history once a month throughout this year.  We have had a great turnout for all of these events so far.  Over one hundred people came to the museum to see June's movie, which was Surviving the Dust Bowl: The American Experience.  If you live in the Abilene area, we would love to see you at the rest of these historical film showings.  All films begin at 2:00pm on their respective dates.

July 17: The Wild West Cowboys
August 21: Mr. Sear's Catalog
September 18: The West of Charles Russell
October 16: The Railroad: Transcontinental, 1865-1880; The Railroad: The Golden Age, 1880-1916
November 20: The Real West

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Life on the Trail and in the Cattle Town for an American Cowboy

Note: This writeup first appeared in the Dickinson County Historical Society's newsletter, the Gazette.

July 23 marks the National Day of the American Cowboy and people throughout Kansas and other states will be gathering together to celebrate this national icon.  Abilene is no exception, as Old Abilene Town will be holding many festivities to celebrate the day.

When students visit the Heritage Center, many of them wonder why cowboys were rowdy when they reached a cattle town.  This may seem like a simple question, but there are many different answers.  Life on the trail for a cowboy was difficult, and this affected their behavior in cattle towns greatly.

Life for a cowboy (or drover as they were often known) was difficult before they even left the ranch.  Many men and boys that drove cattle lived together in small shacks on their employer’s property.  These buildings had very few furnishings, small bunks for each inhabitant, and not many luxuries.  Many cowboys plastered up newspaper along their walls to keep warmth inside their cabin, and offer themselves a little reading material.

Once a drover was out on the trail, conditions were worse.  Most cowboys slept under the stars while on the trail, which as itself would not be too hazardous except for the risk of rattlesnakes and stampeding cattle.  Stampedes were a constant worry no matter what time of day or where the herd was located.  Prairie dog holes and other ground agitated by animals were another problem, as horses could trip into these easily, possibly throwing the rider to the ground.  For these reasons, strict discipline along the trail was enforced to prevent injuries to the men and cattle.  A cowboy always had to be on guard for problems along the path.

Another hazard was encounters with Native Americans.  Since many tribes had lived throughout the land that the Chisholm Trail passed through, many cowboys met Native Americans along the trail.  A typical encounter simply entailed the trail boss paying a fee for his herd to pass through the Indian land.  Fees were typically under ten cents per head of cattle, or entailed the trail boss allowing a tribal group to have two to three cattle.  Occurrences of fighting between the two groups did happen, but these skirmishes were few and far between.

When a drover arrived to a cattle town such as Abilene, he was ready to relax and “cut loose.”  These men and boys had spent roughly three months on the trail though, so they did not always have the best of manners when they arrived in town.

Once the herd arrived and were sold and ready to ship east, the cowboys were paid for their work.  Most cowboys went about spending most of their wages within the next few days.  A drover would typically pay a visit to a local barber for a haircut and shave, clean himself up, and buy new clothes and boots to wear.  Most cowboys would also treat themselves to a fancy meal served by their hotel (such as the Drover’s Hotel), and spend the rest of the evening using his money to gamble on card games and drink his weight in whiskey.  During the evening, some drovers would feel inclined to visit a brothel and spend their money on the wares of that business.

After spending evenings filled with gambling, booze, and debauchery, tensions flared and fights broke out over card games and other matters.  Before Abilene’s “no firearms ordinance” in 1870, many people were armed, and weapons may have came out during brawls.

Overall, cowboys were likely rowdy for the simple reason that they could be.  Compared to the standards of law enforcement in the big cities of the east, there was a general sense of lawlessness on the plains.  In Abilene’s case, it became a cattle town in 1867, seeing a large influx of people, but had no official law enforcement until 1870.  There were several reasons cowboys behaved the way they did, and their experiences on the trail and in the cattle towns greatly contributed to that behavior.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greetings from Pioneer Camp!

I took a little time off from writing on this blog since Pioneer Camp was going on at the Dickinson County Heritage Center.  It is a really fun event to help organize and put on, and this year was no exception.
For those of you who do not know, Pioneer Camp is a week long day camp in which twenty four youth come to the Heritage Center and learn what it was like to be a pioneer.  We hold two weeks of camp every June, so in the end, we have forty eight kids and a ton of youth and adult helpers at the museum during that time span.

The first day of camp started off with the Heritage Center’s director, Jeff Sheets, instructing all of the kids that they were at a “working camp,” meaning that everyone would be getting their hands dirty and pitching in to get jobs done.  Jeff then led the kids around the museum grounds so everyone could see artifacts and get to know the layout of the buildings.  The campers then split up into three groups, each group going to a different station first.  At one station, the campers headed over to a Native American tipi, and got to make beaded pins and learn about Native American beadwork.  Every Plains Indian tribe had/has their own style of designs and history.  At another station, the kids got to play some pioneer games.  The first game was “hoop and stick.”  Hoops and sticks were common primitive toys because all you need is a long stick with a “T” shaped end, and a small metal hoop.  The kids quickly picked up the skill of pushing their hoops without falling, and were racing one another in no time.  After that, the campers also had a potato sack race, a three-legged race, and played cat’s cradle.  At the third station, the campers helped prepare the day’s lunch, making ham and beans, corn bread, and apple crisp.

The second day of camp allowed for the kids to visit the prairie and learn about Kansas wildlife.  Throughout the day, the campers picked and pressed prairie flowers and grasses, made illustrations of plains life, and played some nature themed games.  After this, we all ate lunch together.  After having an egg tapping contest to see who had the hardest egg, we sat down to a lunch of hard boiled eggs, sandwiches, and watermelon.

On Wednesday, the kids found out they would have to do chores first thing every morning for the next three days of camp.  During chore time, the kids worked in the cabin, milked a goat, and did a little gardening.  For the day’s regular activities, the kids made Native American dream catchers in the tipi using yarn, beads, and feathers.  The campers also learned how to make rope and ground corn to make feed for the goat and chickens on the property.  Of course, the campers also helped prepare lunch for the day, making beef stew and spice cake.

For Thursday, Week One’s campers were shown the process of shearing a sheep, learned how to spin and weave, and made candles by dipping wicks into paraffin wax.  During Week Two, it was raining throughout most of the morning, so activities were altered a little bit.  The campers were still able to work on spinning and weaving, but instead of dipping candles, we toured inside the museum.  Included in that tour was a brief lesson on the Plains Indians’ relationship with the buffalo (or American Bison).  The kids got to touch real buffalo bones and learn about the different uses of those objects.  After the activities, we sat down to a lunch of chicken noodle soup, bread, and oatmeal cookies.

Friday was the last day of camp, but was certainly a fun one.  The campers attended a brief class in an actual one room school house located in Old Abilene Town.  During their lesson, the kids learned some songs, solved some problems and riddles, and worked on their penmanship with old fashioned ink pens.  The campers also learned about personal hygiene in pioneer times.  The girls curled their hair using ribbons, and the boys were treated to a “shave.”  Afterwards, everyone dressed up in pioneer garb and had their picture taken.  For lunch, our main dish was biscuits and gravy and sausage, so the kids learned how to make sausage with an old fashioned sausage stuffer.  After lunch was over and dishes were cleaned, many campers’ parents and grandparents came and everyone took a ride on the 1901 C.W. Parker Carousel.  All in all, it was a great time for everyone involved.

What I love about Pioneer Camp is that kids get to learn about history in an entirely hands-on way.  The kids work while they are at camp, and the funny thing is, they enjoy it.  So often these days, many of us do not think about where our food comes from.  To us, it simply comes from the supermarket.  We do not always think about the hard work that goes into raising that crop or animal to bring it to the store and our homes.  Additionally, so often, we take modern conveniences for granted.  While at camp, all of the meals are prepared on a wood burning stove.  There is no air conditioning or running water in the cabin.  Since many of us have had these conveniences our entire lives, it is easy to forget about the difficulties of the past.  In this way, the purpose of Pioneer Camp is not to only learn about history, but also the present.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dwight D. Eisenhower and Golf

The media has been mentioning golf a lot this week, due to President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner's game that was played earlier today.  It's also been mentioned that many past presidents have been golfers.  In fact, fifteen of the last eighteen United States presidents have been golf players.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower was probably the most dedicated to the game.  It has been said that during his presidency of eight years, he played over eight hundred rounds of golf.  Many weeks, he would find time to play eighteen holes on both Wednesday and Saturday.  It is amazing he was actually able to make the time to do this.  President Ike knew Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer, and played at the Augusta National Golf Club often. While he was a very active player, he must have thought that he could do better.  He once joked "If I don't improve, I’m going to pass a law that no one can ask me my golf score.”

Golf.com has an interesting look at a set of President Eisenhower's golf clubs here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Memories of the Prairie Lecture Series, 2011 Lineup


Memories of the Prairie is an annual lecture series held every Saturday at 7:00pm at the Dickinson County Heritage Center in Abilene, Kansas.  If you are in the area, be sure to come to these fantastic programs.

June 4 – *Kansas Women in the Civil War-Diane Eickhoff
June 11 – *The Plains Indians – Erin Pouppitt
June 18 – *The Kansas Cattle Towns – Jim Gray
June 25 – William Bent and the Santa Fe Trail – John Atkinson
July 2 – The True Meaning of the 4th of July – Jeff Sheets
July 9 – Censorship in Kansas Cinemas – Matt Eaton
July 16 – Bleeding Kansas – Jeff Sheets
July 23 – The National Day of the American Cowboy Celebration at Old Abilene Town
July 30 – Annual Ice Cream Social
*Programs sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council

"Our Community, Our Stories," A New Exhibit at the Jeffcoat Museum for Summer 2011

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is featuring a new portrait photography exhibit, "Our Community, Our Stories: Through the Eyes of the Jeffcoat Studio," featuring several different stories about some of our area’s residents.  This exhibit will be available to view through September 3rd, 2011 at the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.


In 1921, Paul H. Jeffcoat opened a small photography studio in Abilene and began taking portraits for many different individuals.  In 1925, Jeffcoat constructed a new studio in Abilene, which is home to the museum today.  His son, Bill, took up the trade as well, and together, the Jeffcoat family worked in photography for the greater part of the twentieth century.  


This exhibit features over fifty photographs of many different residents of the Dickinson County area.  Accompanying each photograph is a brief caption, many of which were written by Bill Jeffcoat himself.  The people featured in this exhibit were/are businessmen and women, homemakers, farmers, store clerks, plus many others.  Separate, they are simple stories; but together, they form a community.


Admission is free of charge, and the museum is open every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 9:00am-4:00pm after Memorial Day.  If you would like to schedule another time to visit the museum, arrangements can easily be made.  The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is located at 321 N. Broadway, Abilene.  For more information or to schedule a private viewing, please contact the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum at (785) 263-9882, or call the Dickinson County Historical Society at (785) 263-2681.