Monday, February 28, 2011

A View of the Eisenhower Family

This is probably the most well known photograph taken by Paul "Bud" Jeffcoat.  Jeffcoat was a photographer who owned and operated a studio in Abilene, Kansas for a number of years.  In 1925, he built a new building for his photography business, located at 321 North Broadway Street.  Approximately one year later, he took this photograph at a time when all of the Eisenhower brothers were visiting home.  Jeffcoat's subjects are positioned in interesting places in this photograph, especially Dwight seated on the front steps while in uniform.  After Dwight began his campaign for President, this photograph was featured in several publications, including Life Magazine and National Geographic.  Jeffcoat generally did not get credit for this picture in publications, as he had sold the rights to the photograph for a small fee.

Image courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Amusement King

Charles Wallace Parker was born in Griggsville, Illinois in 1864.  At the age of five, his family moved to Abilene, Kansas.  As Parker grew into adulthood, he became interested in creating and operating amusement devices as a career.  After saving his earnings as a janitor, Parker bought a portable shooting gallery.  He traveled the area with the device, and after some time, decided that he could improve the design.  Parker soon built his own shooting gallery, thus beginning his career in manufacturing amusement devices. 
C.W. Parker
Soon Parker would be building carousels as well.  As the story goes, Parker and his daughter were headed towards the general store one afternoon.  Parker had one dollar in his pocket to buy the family’s groceries.  Suddenly, his daughter noticed a carousel offering rides for a nickel.  After much pleading from his daughter, Parker paid for his daughter to ride the contraption.  His daughter did not stop riding until Parker had spent eighty-five cents, leaving only fifteen cents to pay for the family’s groceries.   Seeing that the excitement of a carousel could get him to spend most of his last dollar, Parker decided he should be in the carousel business.  After saving enough money to make the purchase, Parker bought a portable carousel.  Similar to his ideas concerning his shooting gallery, Parker decided that he could build carousels in superior ways.  Parker built his first carousel in 1892, and started the Parker Carnival Supply Company two years later.
Parker's Abilene factory.
In 1896, the company became the C.W. Parker Amusement Company.  Over the years, Parker’s company produced all sorts of amusement devices including shooting galleries, Ferris wheels, and other carnival equipment.  While Parker did produce this wide range of devices, he was best known for his carousels.
The "Head Man" was an experienced wood carver who focused on the head details on each horse.
At the time of his company’s beginning, Parker was the only carousel manufacturer not operating on the east coast.  Most of Parker’s early carousels, or “Carry-Us-Alls” as he named them, were built to be portable.  Generally speaking, every carousel had interchangeable parts, so replacement parts were easy to acquire.
One of Parker's Abilene carousels packed on a wagon for transport.
Parker's early carousels were operated with the use of a steam engine such as this.
Several Parker horses on his property in Abilene.
Parker’s business lasted in Abilene until 1911.  At this time, Parker got into a dispute over property lines with the city.  Rather than continuing to dispute, Parker decided to move his entire company to Leavenworth, Kansas instead.  While in Leavenworth, Parker made visible changes to his carousel designs.  The horses became more grandiose and other animals were featured as mounts.

World War I caused a shortage of supplies for carousel manufacturers.  Following the war, the Great Depression greatly hurt the business, as fewer and fewer patrons had enough money to visit a carnival.  The carousel manufacturers that survived were those that switched to wood carving machines, or to aluminum horses (which required little to no maintenance).  Parker’s company was one of those that endured.  After Parker’s death in 1932, his son ran the company in Leavenworth until 1955.

Parker used his "Seal of Cleanliness" to promote that his carnivals were a family friendly environment.
For his time, Parker was a huge name in the amusement business, earning him the nickname of the “Amusement King.”  A number of his carousels still exist today, at least sixteen in operating condition.  Two museums in Kansas feature the story of C.W. Parker and his carousels.  The C.W. Parker Carousel Museum in Leavenworth features a number of carousels, two of which can be ridden.  The Dickinson County Heritage Center in Abilene features a 1901 Parker carousel that is known to be the oldest Parker carousel that can be ridden.
The Dickinson County Heritage Center's 1901 Parker carousel.  Notice that the horses are simply adorned and move on a rocking mechanism.  These were common features of Parker's carousels made in Abilene.
All photographs in this post are courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Abilene Architecture

For this week's post, I thought I would feature some old photographs of different buildings in Abilene.  Some of these buildings are no longer standing, so it is interesting to see what the town looked like back in the day.  All photographs are courtesy of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

The Abilene Public Library soon after its construction.  To learn more about the library, read my post here.

The intersection of Northwest Third and Spruce streets.  Notice the office for the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle stands where Little Ike Park is today.

 The Belle Springs Creamery.  This building is no longer standing today.

 Burklund's Grocery store.  This building now stands behind the Dickinson County Heritage Center and is open to view for visitors to the museum.

 The Dwight D. Eisenhower Boyhood Home.

 The former Abilene High School.  The apartment complex Frontier Estates, located on Buckeye Street, now stands where the high school used to be.

 Broadway Street during the flood of 1951.

 Lincoln School.  This school used to stand on the property that is now the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.

The Plaza Theater.  This building has a rich history, once serving as the A.B. Seelye Medical Company Lab and as the Bonebrake Opera House.  The building no longer stands today, but was located at the corner of Northwest Second and Cedar Streets.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Carrie A. Nation Comes to Enterprise

At the turn of the twentieth century, a small hatchet would cause uproar throughout the state of Kansas.  A hatchet used, not to cause physical harm to Kansas residents, but in the wielder’s opinion, to save them.  That hatchet wielder was Carrie A. Nation, a major Kansas personality that people continue to talk about today.
A memoir written by Carrie A. Nation.
Nation, born Carrie Amelia Moore, had a difficult life before she began campaigning for the temperance movement.  For a number of years, she was married to Charles Gloyd, an abusive husband who had a problem with alcohol.  Gloyd would later die of alcoholism.  

After Carrie’s life with Gloyd was finished, she married David Nation in 1877.  Mr. Nation was involved in the clergy, and it could be said that he turned Carrie on to becoming involved with reform movements.  It was at this time that she became active in movements to outlaw the sale of alcohol.  By the late 1800s, alcohol was illegal in Kansas.  However this did not stop many saloon owners from selling the product.  Nation decided that she would put an end to that.

Nation’s work in the temperance movement began with the singing of hymns outside of establishments that sold alcohol.  In 1900 though, Nation began attacking such establishments by smashing the joints up with rocks.

As the story goes, Nation’s husband told her one day that a hatchet would be a better tool for causing such destruction.  Nation thought that it was a good idea, and carried a hatchet to each saloon from then on.
Hatchet pins like this were sold by the Women's Christian Temperance Union to raise funds.
On January 23, 1901, Nation visited the small town of Enterprise in Dickinson County.  Upon her arrival in the town, Nation met up with a small group of Women’s Christian Temperance Union members at the home of Catherine Hoffman.  Later that afternoon, members of the group left and headed towards the saloons in Enterprise.

The saloon owners had heard that Nation might be in town that day, so they locked up their establishments and pulled the shades closed.  Also, there was a ball game occurring in Chapman at the time, so many Enterprise men were out of town enjoying the game.  No one was there to stop Nation from doing what happened next.

With her hatchet in hand, Nation smashed the door of Schilling’s Saloon down.  Once inside, she broke the large mirror above the bar, and broke every bottle of alcohol in sight.  After these tasks were complete, she and the other women smashed many pieces of the furniture as well.
Schilling's Saloon after Nation's visit.  Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.
After their work was done, City Marshal William Benham came to arrest Nation.  Benham led Nation away from the saloon, but it is reported that after having a word with one another, he decided to let Nation go.  Apparently Nation convinced Benham to do so because she said he was a “protector of the law breakers, rather than an enforcer of the law.”
Marshal Benham leading Nation away from Schilling's Saloon.  Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson County Historical Society.
Later that same day, Nation returned to downtown Enterprise to give a stirring speech on the evils of alcohol.  Mrs. Schilling, the wife of the saloon owner, attacked Nation, giving her a black eye.

While Schilling’s Saloon was the only establishment attacked by Nation, she did confront the owner of another saloon.  According to reports, the owner of this other saloon, Mr. Shook, promised to close his establishment down and abandon the business completely.

The next day, Nation was attacked again.  After beginning to preach about the evils of alcohol again, she was struck with several eggs thrown by members of the crowd.  She was then attacked by a group of women, who pulled at her hair and struck her with their fists and a whip.  Some claims state that three of the women who attacked Nation were prostitutes hired to do so.  It is unknown if this is factual though.  

After a visit to the courthouse later that day, Nation was free to go.  Her assailants were temporarily held for disturbing the peace.  Nation left Enterprise and continued to fight for what she thought was right.  It is because of this and her outstanding character that people still talk of Nation today.
Nation's hatchet that was used to smash Schilling's Saloon.
If you are interested in Carrie A. Nation, her hatchet used to smash Schilling’s Saloon in Enterprise is currently on display at the Dickinson County Heritage Center.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Photographs of the Jeffcoat Museum's Current Exhibit on C.L. Brown

Last week's post was focused on C.L. Brown, so I thought it would be a good idea to share a few photographs of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum's current exhibit, An Abilene Legacy: Images of C.L. Brown.

The exhibit will be available to view until April 30.  The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum is open Mondays and Tuesdays 9:00am-4:00pm, or by appointment.