Friday, December 21, 2012

T.C. Henry: The Wheat King of Kansas

T.C. Henry
Abilene is a city with an eclectic history.  Whether it is the cattle trade, greyhound history, notable figures, or farming, the town has had many interesting stories and events over the years.  One of Abilene's more notable people from the cattle trade days was Theodore C. Henry.

We have featured the story of Joseph G. McCoy on this blog in the past, and interestingly enough, Henry's and McCoy's stories cross paths quite a bit.  Like McCoy, Henry was an Illinoisan and a successful businessman and entrepreneur.  Henry moved from Illinois to Abilene, Kansas to help promote McCoy's stockyards and also make a name for himself in real estate.  Henry would build a large financial standing through real estate over the next few years, and by 1870, he became the provisional mayor of Abilene.

During his time as Abilene's mayor, Henry would oversee the hiring of marshal Tom Smith, who finally brought law and order to the town after three hectic years of crime and lawlessness.  Smith would enforce a strict "no firearms" ordinance in Abilene and saw the closing of many of the town's brothels.

Though Henry had profited from the cattle trade and most definitely found success in his real estate business due to the influx of people moving to Abilene, he would eventually change allegiances in 1871, and help contribute to the anti-cattle trade group, the Farmers' Protective Association.  In the winter of 1871-1872, Henry drafted the following statement:

We the undersigned members of the Farmers' Protective Association and Officers and Citizens of Dickinson County, Kansas, most respectfully request all who have contemplated driving Texas Cattle to Abilene the coming season to seek some other point for shipment, as the inhabitants of Dickinson will no longer submit to the evils of the trade.

This statement was published in multiple Kansas and Texas newspapers, and it actually worked!  Over the course of 1867-1871, several other Kansas towns had caught onto Abilene's cattle town model and replicated it to great success.  Instead of Abilene, cattle drovers brought their herds to other Kansas towns like Ellsworth or Wichita.

Though the cattle were gone and the town was in a state of decline immediately following the end of the cattle trade, Henry still found great success.  Throughout the 1870s he experimented with planting Turkey red winter wheat, a crop that was commonly thought to not grow well in Kansas.  Henry had several large yields of the crop, and by the mid-1870s was known by many as the "Wheat King of Kansas."  The work of Henry can still be seen throughout Dickinson County as this is one of the most widely grown crops in the county (and the state as a whole).  Henry's large carriage house, which used to stand near the corner of 14th and Buckeye streets in Abilene, can still be seen today at Old Abilene Town.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Annual Appeal from Director Jeff Sheets

Dear Members and Non-Members alike:

The Dickinson County Historical Society would like to wish all of you a Happy Holiday Season and thank you for your continual support. It is that continual support that helps keep the Dickinson County Historical Society going.

2012 has been an exciting year at the Heritage Center. Through the generosity of some of our members, we were able to raise $7,000 to put new roofs on the Volkmann Cabin and the Kellogg School House. These were great accomplishments for us.

As the year comes to a close, the Board of Trustees would like to ask you to think about an end of the year donation to the Dickinson County Historical Society General Fund. Every dollar helps preserve the history of our county. Your donation can be mailed to 412 S. Campbell, Abilene, Kansas 67410 or dropped off at the Heritage Center.

The Board of Trustees would also like to suggest giving memberships as gifts to your family and friends. It is a gift that they could enjoy the whole year.

Please support the Dickinson County Historical Society in preserving the heritage of our county.


Jeff Sheets

To become a member of the Dickinson County Historical Society and/or learn the benefits of membership, please click here.

Heritage Center and Jeffcoat Museum to Close for the Holidays

Vern Stroda. Photograph from the Jeffcoat
Photography Studio Museum collection.

The Dickinson County Heritage Center and Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum will be closed for the holidays, December 20 through January 1, giving our staff time to celebrate this festive season.

The Heritage Center will reopen on January 2 for normal business, while the Jeffcoat Museum will be open Mondays and Tuesdays starting January 7, and open by appointment all other days.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Help our Quilt Giveaway!

As many of you know, we gave away a beautiful quilt at this year’s Chisholm Trail Day Festival. We would like to thank everyone who bought a chance for the giveaway, as this was a fantastic fundraiser for the museum.

We would love to have another quilt giveaway for next year, however at this time, we do not have a quilt to give away. If any of our members have a quilt they would like to donate for use in this fundraiser, we would greatly appreciate it.

Also, if anyone has other types of items they would be interested in donating for us to use in our fundraising efforts, please let us know.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Heritage Art Show to Begin on February 3

The Heritage Center will host the 5th Annual Heritage Art Show from February 3 through February 10. This show will present works of art from Dickinson County students. 

There will be an opening reception held at the museum on Sunday, February 3, 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Cookies will be served for all who attend.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kansas Statehood Ball Scheduled for January 26

Come celebrate the 152nd birthday of the state of Kansas at the Kansas Statehood Ball sponsored by the Dickinson County Historical Society on Saturday, January 26 at Sterl Hall in Eisenhower Park from 7:00pm to 10:00pm. 

This will mark the 18th year of this popular event for the whole family. The public is invited to dress in period (1860s) clothing but this is not mandatory. Admission for the dance will be $5.00 per adult, $3.00 for members of the Historical Society, and $2.00 for children (3 to 12 years of age). 

The Kansas Statehood Ball is an educational program provided by the Dickinson County Historical Society. Come and enjoy an evening filled with music and dance. Refreshments will be provided, but we would greatly appreciate any members who can bring a dozen cookies to serve to our guests. Our next newsletter will have more information on this entertaining event.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holiday Shopping at the Heritage Center

The Heritage Center’s gift shop has a variety of items that may interest you for your holiday shopping needs. We have several books available for purchase that are perfect gifts for the history buff in your family. For local history, Stephanie Mowry Bearce’s pictorial history Abilene, Cowtown Abilene by Stewart Verckler, Abilene’s Carousel by Cecilia Harris, and Past and Present Towns of Dickinson County by Helen Dingler all make excellent reads. For a first-hand account on life in early 20th century Abilene, try Deane Malott’s On Growing Up in Abilene, Kansas.

For Kansas history, the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook is a really neat book that features unique looks at over 200 Kansas attractions. We also have books on pioneer life, Bleeding Kansas, Wild Bill Hickok, and the Dust Bowl. Our wide selection of cookbooks is always a good choice too.

For kids, we have coloring books on Kansas and famous Kansans, pencil sharpeners, and antique-style wooden toys, which make great stocking stuffers. Our shop also has the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad’s new children’s book Lonesome George and the Steam Engine for sale.

Be sure to stop by the Heritage Center gift shop to see our full selection of merchandise, which includes books, toys, magnets, music, and much more. If you shop at the Heritage Center, you’re not just supporting our local museum, but also our local economy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Home Cooking Dickinson County Style" Available December 2nd

The newest edition of the Home Cooking Dickinson County Style cookbook will be available on December 2 in the Heritage Center’s gift shop, but copies can be ordered as well as previous editions of the cookbook.

To order additional copies of this cookbook, the 11th edition (2011-2012) of Home-Cooking—Dickinson County Style “Capturing the Present and Remembering the Past,” contact Dickinson County Historical Society, 412 S. Campbell Abilene, Ks. 67410; Phone: 785-263-2681

Earlier editions of “Home-Cooking—Dickinson County Style” are also still available at the Historical Society and include:
11th edition (2011-2012) featuring recipes from: Angie Wilkins, Sandi Dutt & Abby Markley Dutt, Jeanette Myers, Dee Marshall, Marcus Gann, Solomon Parents as Teachers program w/Carrie Hilbert, Dona Myers, David & Mary Ann Bon, Lorraine Geist, Jane Veal, Kerstin Cole, Rhoda Frasier
10th edition (2010-2011) featuring recipes from: Betty Payne, Marie Balfour, Jim Lillich, Ruth McCurry w/brother Bud, SFC William McGinley, Don & Mary Rickley, Dawn James, James Holland, Linda Cromwell, Mike Jantz, Mealtime w/3 Families (Allen, Tompkins, Robinson), Nicki Danner Anderson
9th edition (2009-2010) featuring recipes from: Betty Holtzen, Meredith Sleichter, Debbie Howie, Shelia Biggs, Twila Jackson, Lorie Rimmel, Jessica Weissenbach, Carolyn Woellhof, Marsha Scales, Sarah Geiger, Cathy Whitehair, Anita Hummel
8th edition (2008-2009) featuring recipes from:  Paula Martin, Clarice Emig, FACS w/ Barb Leckron, Pat Berkley, Marsha Weaver, Noreen Zumbrunn, The Perkins Family, Scott Pretzer, Joann Hettenbach, Katie Wieters, Joanna Berry
7th edition (2007-2008) featuring recipes from:  Joan Taylor, Lease Duckwall, Louise Frey, David McClain, LaVetra Brown, PAT Dine & Learn workshop, Vangie Henry, Nancy Hottman, Peggy McLaughlin, Ila Beemer, Marla Jo Batchelder, Virginia Hoffman
6th edition (2006-2007) featuring recipes from:  Linda Klucas, Dorothy Holmstrom, Jane Medina, Dennis Medina, Margaret Shouse, Joyce Taylor, Ingeborg Teasley, Jim Howie, Faye Jacobson, Carrie Bauer, Joann Holmes, Shirley Kready.
5th edition (2005-2006) featuring recipes from:  Phyllis Peterson, Genny Dawson, Marcia Williamson, Bob Burns, Eileen Garten, O.E.S. + interview w/Margaret Furbeck, Orrene Wetzel, Mary Flora, Elaine Sears, Diane Litke, Barry West, Mary Feller.
4th edition (2004-2005) featuring recipes from:  Mary Jones, Nelda Horan, Gary Cox, Nadine Griffin, Doreen Couture, Mike & Gwyn Johnson, The Anguiano Sisters, Mary Beth Lenhart, Dorothy Veach, Elinor Haas, Richard Danner, Verda Gay.
3rd edition (2003-2004) featuring recipes from:  Paul Schmitt, Audrey Cooley, Jeanne Freeman, Peggy Meuli, Mabel Bailey, Jim Johnson, Sarah Kuntz, Betty Krenger, Helen Hettenbach, Joan Angst, Jean Mohler, Amy Dodson.
2nd edition (2002-2003) featuring recipes from:  Ken Brown, Eddie Morris, Evelyn Gugler, Willard & Mavis Davis, Phyllis Newell, Marge Jacobs, Dee Robinson, Paul Whitehair, Lylas Gugler, Sherry Soelter, Agnes Garten, Erika Place.
1st edition (2001-2002) featuring recipes from:  Bernice Peterson, Alma Lauer, Marge Olson, Stella Diehl, Rethie Foster, Maurine Carl, Helen Pepper, Lucille McCain, Pauline Sims, Aileen Duckwall, Alberta Davis, Dorothy Gay Burton.

All editions of the booklet sell for $4.95 + tax at the Historical Society; mail-order deliveries sell for $8.50. 

Watch for Meta’s monthly food column, Home-Cooking—Dickinson County Style “Capturing the Present and Remembering the Past,” in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.  It appears on the last Tuesday of each month.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Holiday Events Scheduled for December 1st and 2nd

The holiday season is almost here, and the Dickinson County Historical Society has a busy weekend approaching on December 1 and 2. The Dickinson County Heritage Center will be a refreshment stop on the Homes for the Holidays Tour, serving cookies and drinks. The Volkmann Cabin will be open for visitors during the homes tour as well, Saturday (December 1) 4:00pm—8:00pm and Sunday (December 2) 1:00pm—5:00pm. Tickets for the Homes for the Holidays Tour are just $10 and can be purchased at the Dickinson County Heritage Center or the Abilene Visitor Center (not at the homes themselves).

We will also host some other special events on Sunday, December 2. The Home Cooking Dickinson County Style cookbook reception will be held at the Heritage Center at 4:00pm. From 6:00pm to 8:00pm, we will host our annual Christmas in the Cabin event at the Heritage Center. The Volkmann Cabin and Burklund Store will be open for visitors, cookies and hot chocolate will be served, and carousel rides will be given. Thad Beach (pictured above) will also be on hand with his musical Christmas wagon. He will perform Christmas tunes with acoustic folk instruments; everyone is invited to sing along and explore a variety of rhythm instruments. This is always a great event for any age, so bring the whole family and have some fun.

As we mentioned above, we will be serving cookies and refreshments both Saturday and Sunday. We will need 100 dozen cookies to serve everyone, so we are asking for your help. If you can provide one or two dozen cookies (or even more!) we would greatly appreciate your help. Please call us at 263-2681 to let us know how many you would like to provide. We also serve cookies at the upcoming Kansas Statehood Ball and Youth Art Show reception, so the more cookies we receive, the better.

We also need help working our refreshment table during this weekend. On Saturday, we could use two or three people 3:30pm to 6:00pm, and 6:00pm to 8:30pm. We will also need one or two people to sell tickets for the homes tour in the front lobby from 4:00pm to 8:00pm.

On Sunday, we will need two or three people for the refreshment table 12:30pm to 3:00pm, 3:00pm to 5:30pm, and 5:30pm to 8:30pm. We will also need one or two people for the ticket table 1:00pm to 2:30pm and 2:30pm to 5:00pm.

As you can see, this will be a very busy weekend. With your help, we can make it a very memorable time for all who visit the Heritage Center.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Riders on the Orphan Train Program on November 29

On November 29, the Heritage Center will be host to a free program on the Riders of the Orphan Train at 7:00pm.

Between 1854 and 1929 over 250,000 orphans and unwanted children were taken out of New York City and given away at train stations across America. The last train came to Sulphur Springs, Texas in 1929. This “placing out” system was originally organized by Congregationalist minister Charles Loring Brace and the Children’s Aid Society of New York. His mission was to rid the streets and overcrowded orphanages of homeless children and provide them with an opportunity to find new homes in the developing Midwest. Many of the children were not orphans but “surrendered” by parents too impoverished to keep them. This nearly eighty year experiment in child migration is filled with the entire spectrum of human emotion and reveals a great deal about the successes and failures of the American Dream. Through literature, music, archival photographs, film interviews, informal lecture and audience discussion this virtually untold chapter in American history comes alive. The one-hour multi media program including music, video and a dramatic reading of a novel in progress by award-winning author Alison Moore. Although the program is about children it is designed to engage audiences of all ages.

Alison Moore, Humanities Scholar
Alison Moore, MFA, is a former Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona and a current Humanities Scholar in Texas. She lives in Austin and is completing a novel on the Orphan Trains with a grant from the Texas Institute of Letters and the Dobie/Paisano Foundation of the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of three books, a new collection of short stories entitled The Middle of Elsewhere (Phoenix International/University of Arkansas Press 2006), Small Spaces between Emergencies (Mercury House, 1992) one of the Notable Books of 1993 chosen by The American Library Association, and a novel, Synonym for Love (Mercury House 1995). In 2004 she received the Katherine Ann Porter Prize for Fiction.

Phil Lancaster, Presenter/Audio-Visual Technician
Arkansas Arts on Tour musician Phil Lancaster (Professor Strings) was born in Texarkana and studied art and music at L’Ecole De Beaux Arts in Angers, France. He became a member of a bluegrass band that traveled and played throughout France and produced an album entitled “Bluegrass Oldies Ltd./Traveling Show.” He also worked as a stage theatre technician for La Coursive Theatre Nationale in La Rochelle, France. After returning to the U.S. he met three Arkansas musicians and the acoustic quartet “Still on the Hill” was formed in Fayetteville. They released their first CD in 1997, the second in 2000. The group performed at national and international festivals. He currently lives in Austin and is a co-presenter of Riders on the Orphan Train. In 2007 he received an Arkansas Arts Council fellowship for Music Composition.

“…the program far exceeded any expectations I may have had, as did the community’s response…this was by far the most well-attended program the library has ever offered….everyone who attended was moved, educated and entertained…your program truly made an impact on our community.
--Cecilia Hurt Barham, Decatur Public Library, Decatur, TX

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dickinson County Historical Society to Gather for our 84th Annual Meeting

The 84th Annual Meeting of the Dickinson County Historical Society will be held on Thursday, November 15 at 6:00pm at the St. Andrew’s Parish Center located at 311 S. Buckeye.

Mr. K’s Farmhouse will cater the evening’s meal, and reservations should be made by Friday, November 9 by calling the Heritage Center at (785) 263-2681.  Cost per plate is $13.50.

Sister Act from Hope will provide musical entertainment for the evening. During the business meeting, we will elect new board members for 2013.

Also this year, we will honor the descendents of the John H. Wood family. The Wood family settled near Solomon around 1875.

We hope to see you at this year’s Annual Meeting. Please contact us at (785) 263-2681 to make your reservation.

Monday, October 8, 2012

"C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony" is Now on YouTube

Back in July, the Dickinson County Historical Society premiered our short documentary film, C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony.  The film highlights the life of C.L. Brown, a utilities entrepreneur and humanitarian who gave back to the Kansas public in fantastic ways during his life.  Today, the independent telecommunications companies continue this tradition set forth by Brown, by giving to their communities as well.  You can watch the film below:

Principal funding for this program is provided by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Special Traveling Exhibit to Highlight the Orphan Train Riders to Kansas

We are very pleased to announce that the Dickinson County Heritage Center will be host to the traveling exhibit Orphan Train Riders to Kansas, October 6th through October 31st.

This special exhibit is made possible by the Thelma Starr Workman Estate, the Humanities Division of Cloud County Community College, and the National Orphan Train Complex.

The National Orphan Train Complex in Concordia (which manages the National Orphan Train Museum) had this to say about the exhibition: “The exhibit will feature photographs and information from the Anna Laura Hill collection. Hill was a placing agent during the Orphan Train Movement, making 163 trips to Kansas to place children.

“The exhibit will also incorporate photographs from depot scrapbooks that were compiled by the late Thelma Starr Workman. Workman was a teacher at Cloud County Community College for 28 years, and published a number of poetry, fiction, and local historical books. She was also a collector and promoter of local history, and a columnist for the local newspaper.”

The National Orphan Train Museum is dedicated to the preservation of stories and artifacts of those who were part of the Orphan Train Movement. The museum features displays of Orphan Train Riders, families who took the children, placement agencies and the agents who accompanied the children on the trains, and the more recent history of collecting the stories.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Volunteers Needed for the Chisholm Trail Day Festival!

The Chisholm Trail Day Festival (October 6) is always a fantastic event for the whole family to attend, but in order to meet the needs of our visitors, we need lots of help to make sure everything is up and running. We are once again asking our members to step forward and lend a helping hand. Here are the areas we need help with: 

Front Desk: 9 am—12 pm (2 people), 12 pm—2 pm (2 people), 2 pm—4 pm (2 people)

Food Stand: 8 am—11 am (4-6 people), 11 am—2 pm (8-10 people), 2 pm—5 pm (4-6 people)

Carousel Operators: 9 am—12 pm (2 people), 12 pm—2 pm (2 people), 2 pm—4 pm (2 people)

Carousel Tickets: 9 am—12 pm (2 people), 12 pm—2 pm (2 people), 2 pm—4 pm (2 people)

Information Tent: 9 am—11 am (2 people), 11 am—1 pm (2 people), 1 pm—3 pm (2 people)

Bounce House: 9 am—11 am (2 people), 11 am—1 pm (2 people), 1 pm—3 pm (2 people)

Museum Ambassadors: 9 am—11 am (2 people), 11 am—1 pm (2 people), 1 pm—3 pm (2 people)

Set up: Friday starting at 9 am, Saturday at 8 am

Clean up: Saturday, 4 pm—?

This is our biggest event of the year, and we need help from all of our members to make this a success. Please look at your calendar and see if you can help. Your help will keep this festival going and growing. Please call our office at (785) 263-2681 if you are available to help. We would be very happy to add your name to the schedule.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Work Days Scheduled for September 22 and 29

We’re having work days at the Dickinson County Heritage Center on September 22 and 29, 9:00am-12:00pm to help prepare our grounds for the Chisholm Trail Day Festival on October 6. We’ll be working on projects such as painting, trimming, weeding, cleaning, dusting, and a lot more. This will be a great opportunity to give back to your museum and community.

If you know any students who need community service hours for a club or organization, let them know, we’d be happy to have help from people of all ages. 

If you won’t be able to attend, or are not able to help with manual labor, another great way to help would be providing snacks or refreshments for our volunteer workers those days. Please let us know if you are interested in helping with our work days in any way.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Come to the 34th Annual Chisholm Trail Day Festival!

It’s time to saddle up and head to the 34th Annual Chisholm Trail Day Festival, on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at the Dickinson County Heritage Center, 412 S. Campbell in Abilene, Kansas from 9 am to 4 pm. The admission is $5 per adult and $2 per child (ages 3-12), sponsored by the Dickinson County Historical Society.

There will be lots of fun and activities for the whole family. We will have lots of live entertainment on the main stage featuring Classic Heart playing great music of the 50s and 60s, music that will really make you want to dance. Aaron Fowler of Wichita will also be on the main stage presenting a program entitled Oh Give Me A Home: Music and the Kansas Prairies. Our third performer on the main stage will be Dave “Zerf” Zerfas. Zerf plays Kansas Ballads and Old Cowboy songs. There will be great music and entertainment all day long.

This year the Antique Farm Show will feature International tractors and farm equipment. The special feature tractor will be International Cub owned by Gail Rodda. 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 8:00 am and the pull will begin at 9:00 am. This activity will be free of charge.

If you love old cars then you won’t want to miss the Antique and Classic Car Show. There will be over 50 antique and classic cars on exhibit throughout the day. Anyone who would like to bring a car for the show is welcome to do so. Registration will begin at 8:00 am Saturday morning.

Come and learn how old crafts were done. We will have 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 3:00 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.

There will also be a special traveling exhibit entitled Orphan Train Riders to Kansas from the National Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, Kansas inside the Heritage Center.

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

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 steam powered trains. The train will run from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on the hour.

During the day, visit Old Abilene Town and watch Wild Bill Hickok tame the streets of Abilene in 1871. Also you can take a ride on the Old Abilene Stage located in Old Abilene Town. On Sunday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 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 and Timbo will also be roaming the grounds during the day.

Don’t miss out on the fun and the excitement at the 34th Annual Chisholm Trail Day Festival. For more information call 785-263-2681, check out our website, or visit us on Facebook

We would like to thank all of our sponsors for their continued support of the Chisholm Trail Day Festival.

Bert & Wetta
Solomon State Bank - Solomon, Abilene
Abilene Termite and Pest Control
Zey's Market
M & M Tire & Auto, Inc.
Family Eye Care of Abilene
First Bank of Kansas
First National Bank of Hope
Abilene Reflector-Chronicle
Great Plains Manufacturing
Wyatt Land Title Services
McKee Swimming Pools
Reynolds Real Estate
Mr. K's Farmhouse
Mid-Kansas Cooperative Assn.
Kenneth A. Hansen, D.D.S.

West's Plaza Country Mart
Pinnacle Bank
Webb Home Center
Holm Automotive Center

Smart Insurance
Duckwall-ALCO Stores, Inc.
Brierton Engineering

Thanks again! We'll see you at the Chisholm Trail Day Festival on October 6, 2012!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A New Face (of the Equine Variety) at the Museum

The Heritage Center is very pleased to announce that we have acquired a carousel horse due to a generous donation from Mary Feller. After repairing several of the horses for our 1901 C.W. Parker carousel, Mary’s husband, Don, was inspired to build four different horses based upon Parker’s patterns. This particular horse was an extra one created by Don, which Mary so graciously decided to donate to the museum. It is currently featured in our museum’s entrance and gift shop, welcoming guests as they enter the Heritage Center. We also plan to bring this carousel horse to festivals and events to help promote our museum’s many attractions to the public. Next time you are at the museum, be sure to take a look at this beautiful carousel horse!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Guest Post: April 24, 1949, Davis Brothers Lives Lost in the Line of Duty

Today's post is brought to you by Amy Feigley. Amy is a member of the Dickinson County Heritage Center staff, and also works as a paraprofessional educator.

Bill and Milt Davis were known as good ole boys. They spent the majority of their lives in Abilene, were very devoted to their families, and were known in the community as kind and generous. They were not only known as peace officers, but also as peace makers. They were both doing something that they truly loved.

Sunday, April 24, 1949 began as a normal day for Sheriff Bill Davis and his brother, Deputy Sheriff Milt Davis. Little did they realize that April 24, 1949 would be their final day. The Davis brothers were summoned to an early morning disturbance at a farm house southeast of Abilene. They had no idea what lie ahead of them. 

Charles K. Rush, a dairy farmer by trade, was known to many as a crazed man, berserk at times. He had spent some of his early years in a mental institution. People found him harmless.

But, on April 24, 1949, something sparked in Charles Rush like it had no other day. By the end of the day, Rush, along with Bill and Milt Davis, would be dead and three innocent by-standers would be wounded.

Mervin Franks, Fred Yuhl and Mrs. Mae Pettriess, also had no idea what that day would bring to them. But they, unlike Rush and the Davis brothers, were lucky enough to survive.

Mervin Franks was sound asleep in a downstairs bedroom and was awakened by the sound of a bathroom light. As he turned and looked in the doorway, there stood Rush, his brother-in-law, with a shotgun. Franks, after being shot, played dead to protect himself from Rush.

Fred Yuhl, who was a neighbor to Rush, was shot when he approached the house. His sole purpose of going to the house that day was to tell Rush about a garage fire. Shot in his neck, chest and right arm, he was able to survive that horrific day.

Mae Pettriess was employed at the time as Rush’s housekeeper. She was shot through the right shoulder and arm. She was considered the most seriously injured of the survivors. Her arm was saved, but she suffered from shock.

The Davis brothers were murdered by Rush as they tried to enter his home from different doors. Their bodies were burned after Rush set his house on fire. Rush’s charred body was also found in the remains of the house. It was believed at the time that he escaped and was still at large and in the area.

April 24, 1949 still probably lives in the minds of many people. A day they would soon forget is a day that will never be forgotten. The following year, a granite memorial was erected in honor of the Davis brothers and placed at the Abilene cemetery, where they are buried on a hillside. Over 1,000 mourners attended the funeral for the brothers. They were heroes of this town, loved by all and will not too soon be forgotten.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Upcoming Exhibit at the Jeffcoat Museum to Focus on the Studio's History

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum in Abilene, Kansas is proud to announce a new exhibition highlighting the history of three generations of photographers in the Jeffcoat Studio family business.

Before the turn of the twentieth century, Lucy Fritz Jeffcoat trained herself in camera operation and retouching photographs.  She quickly found work for several photographers in the Abilene area.  Lucy was also the mother of four children, so she did most of her photographic work from her home.  Her son, Paul, became interested in the photographic process at a young age.  He began delivering his mother’s retouched photographs and was fascinated with the developing process.

Paul went into business as the Jeffcoat Photography Studio in 1921.  At the time, the studio was located in a small second story room in downtown Abilene.  The business soon outgrew this space, and Paul built a new building for the business in 1925.  This building still stands today, and is the current home of the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum.

Paul saw his business through the Great Depression, and was able to supplement his income by partitioning his building and renting half of his property to other area businesses.  Over the years, the north side of the building would be occupied by an optometrist, an insurance agency, and a shoe repairman.  The sound of pounding hammers repairing shoes could be a bit distracting during portrait sessions, but having these businesses next door helped the Jeffcoat Studio immensely. 

Paul passed the trade of photography down to his son, Bill.  Throughout his life, Bill was interested in documenting life and events in his hometown of Abilene.  Bill photographed several parades, visits from President Eisenhower, and of course, family portraits.  He enjoyed photography outside of his professional work, walking around Abilene and snapping pictures of anything that caught his eye.  His father, Paul, saw this differently.  He once told his son not to take photographs unless he could make an income from the image.  Bill would continue taking snapshots, choosing to develop his film at night to keep it a secret from his father.

Though the Jeffcoat Studio was primarily a portrait studio, the Jeffcoats were able to document the history of the Abilene area, creating images that will last several years to come.  The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum’s newest exhibit, The Family Behind the Lens: A Retrospective of the Jeffcoat Studio, begins on September 1 and runs through November 20.

You can learn more about the history of the Jeffcoat Studio and the history of Abilene by visiting the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum at 321 N. Broadway Street in Abilene.  For hours of operation or to schedule a private viewing, contact the museum at (785) 263-9882 or  Be sure to visit the museum’s website at and their Facebook page at

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Announcing Our Museums' Fall Hours

Beginning on September 3rd, the Dickinson County Historical Society has returned to our fall /winter hours from Labor Day to Memorial Day.  The Dickinson County Heritage Center will open from 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and 1 pm to 5 pm on Sunday.

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum has also changed to its fall hours which are Monday and Tuesday 9 am to 4 pm or by appointment.

The public is invited to visit the Dickinson County Heritage Center, ride the carousel, and experience over 150 years of Dickinson County history.

Be sure to mark your calendar for the Chisholm Trail Day Festival, held on Saturday, October 6th, as well.

For more information on the Dickinson County Historical Society or on these events, contact 785.263.2681 or stop by our museum at 412 S. Campbell.  Become a part of the Society and help preserve our heritage.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Historical Bicycle Tour Coming Up in Abilene

The Dickinson County Historical Society will once again be conducting a historical bicycle tour of downtown Abilene.  This tour benefits the Quality of Life Coalition, and will be held on August 24, 2012 at 7:00pm.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Busy Summer for the Dickinson County Historical Society

The Dickinson County Historical Society has certainly had a busy time this summer.  Every summer, we try to offer our visitors and members a variety of educational and fun programs.

We kicked off June with our annual youth day camp, Pioneer Camp.  This proved to be a fantastic two weeks, involving many young kids in history in a real life way.  If you would like to see photos showing some of the activities these kids do, be sure to check out our Facebook page.

The Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum continued their Abilene in the Fifties exhibit throughout the summer, showing visitors views of the 1951 flood, President Eisenhower's visits to his hometown, and several other interesting views of the 1950s.

Our Memories of the Prairie lecture series was a great success this year, with several of our membership coming to our programs every Saturday.  This series culminated with our Annual Ice Cream Social and a public screening of our new short documentary film C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony.  If you are interested in showing this film at a local club meeting or in the school classroom, please let us know.  We would love to share this film with as many people as possible.

Overall, it was a fantastic summer for the Dickinson County Historical Society.  We believe that sharing our county's history through public events is of paramount importance.  To help support future events from our society, we welcome donations to help keep our current programs running, and to allow for the creation of new and exciting programming.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Great Interaction at our Short Film Premiere

Our premiere's audience.
For the past seven months, the Dickinson County Historical Society has been working on a short film highlighting the life of C.L. Brown and his lasting legacy of community giving that still exist in Kansas independent telephone companies today. On Saturday, July 21, 2012, we premiered the fifteen-minute film, C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony, to a crowd at the Eisenhower Presidential Library auditorium. I was hoping for a good-sized crowd for the event. What we got far exceeded my expectations.

That evening, we totaled 165 guests for the film screening. That’s right, 165 people. This total was more than would fit in the auditorium’s seats, but staff at the Eisenhower Presidential Library graciously set up additional chairs so everyone in attendance could have a place to sit.

After the screening, we also held a panel discussion focusing on the history of C.L. Brown, community engagement, and how the short film was made. I was very pleased with the variety of questions our audience posed and the many stories that were shared during the discussion. Many of our audience and their families have strong memories of the Brown Memorial Park, so it was fascinating to hear those people reminisce about the past.

After the discussion, we hosted our annual Ice Cream Social at the Dickinson County Heritage Center. This was probably the largest crowd we have ever hosted for this event. Our museum was a packed house, but everyone seemed to be in high spirits throughout the evening.

I would like to thank everyone who helped make this short film and event a success, and would like to thank our society’s membership for coming out in full force Saturday night. If you were not in attendance, we will be announcing other ways to view the short film very soon.

For another take on this evening, be sure to read the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle’s writeup on the event. 

Principle funding for this program is provided by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Event Notice: Ice Cream Social and Museum Fundraiser

The Dickinson County Historical Society will conclude this year’s Memories of the Prairie series on Saturday July, 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Dickinson County Heritage Center.

This week's activity will be our annual Ice Cream Social and Fundraiser.  Ice cream and baked goods will be served beginning at 6:30 p.m, a good-will offering will be accepted at this event.

For the evening's entertainment, Alice Thomas of Abilene will begin singing at 7:15 p.m.  Alice loves music and will play many of your old time favorites.  It should be a very enjoyable evening, so bring you family and friends and be a part of an old time tradition.   
This year, we will also host an auction of several food items from some special cooks beginning at 7:00p.m. These items will include pie, cake, homemade bread, and other baked goods.  This is a great opportunity to get some very fine desserts and help support the Dickinson County Historical Society.
Just a reminder, the society members whose names begin with L-Z are asked to bring baked goods for this event.  These can be left at the Heritage Center beginning Friday or brought to the Ice Cream Social on Saturday.
Concerned about the heat?  Don't worry, since the Ice Cream Social will be held inside the Heritage Center Museum where it is cool.
Also don’t forget to come early and see the premiere of C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony.  This short film will be shown at the Eisenhower Presidential Library auditorium at 6:00 p.m.  After the film, everyone will be invited to walk across the street to the Heritage Center for ice cream and to view the Museum of Independent Telephony.
For more information about the Memories of the Prairie or about becoming a part of the Dickinson County Historical Society, please contact the Heritage Center at 785.263.2681.  Help us preserve our heritage.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Press Release: Film Premiere for "C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony" Scheduled for July 21, 2012

C.L. Brown at age 20.
We posted some information about this event earlier this week, but here's the official press release announcing the premiere of the new short film C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony.

The Dickinson County Historical Society is pleased to announce the debut of C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony, a new short documentary film on Abilene’s twentieth-century patriarch.

Beginning in 1899, Abilene’s C.L. Brown began the Brown Telephone Company, which in its later years would grow to become Sprint.  At a time without wireless technology or even dial phones, operators diligently worked twenty-four hour shifts connecting customer calls and greeting everyone with a friendly voice.  After much company growth and expansion, Brown began to give back to his employees and the general public.

In 1926, the Brown Memorial Foundation was born.  With this foundation, Brown and his siblings built the Brown Memorial Home, a retirement community still in operation today.  They also created Brown Memorial Park, which featured boys and girls camps, a swimming lake, golf course, and zoo.  This was a popular Kansas destination, attracting as high as 20,000 people on one weekend occasion.

With his acts of philanthropy, Brown promoted a spirit of giving that is still seen in telecommunications companies today.  Kansas is home to over 30 independent telecommunications companies, which give back to their communities in remarkable ways.

C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony will premiere with a debut screening on July 21 at 6:00pm in the Eisenhower Presidential Library Auditorium.  After a screening of this short documentary, the film’s project staff will hold a panel discussion on the making of the film and the importance of stories like C.L. Brown’s.  Everyone in attendance is also invited to attend the Dickinson County Historical Society’s Annual Ice Cream Social at the Dickinson County Heritage Center at 7:00pm.  Both events are free to the public, but donations will be appreciated at the Ice Cream Social.

Principal funding for this program is provided by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

C.L. Brown, Kansas Independent Telephony, and a Spirit of Giving

C.L. Brown
Abilene, Kansas will soon be host to the premiere of a short film on one of the city’s most influential people who often times has been unheralded in the past. On July 21, the Dickinson County Historical Society will present C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony, a look at notable Abilene patriarch Cleyson L. Brown and the spirit of giving that he inspired for Kansas independent telecommunications companies that continues today. After becoming a successful businessman in the early twentieth century, Brown decided to focus on many community improvement projects late in his life. Whether you know it or not, the legacy of Brown can be seen in the area around Abilene, and Kansas as a whole to this day.

Brown was born February 3, 1872 in Brown’s Mill, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest of Jacob and Mary Brown’s five children. The family decided to move to Dickinson County, Kansas with a sect of the Church of the Brethren in 1880. Jacob Brown owned a grist mill on the Smoky Hill River south of Abilene. At the mill, the Browns would saw wood and grind grain for local farmers. C.L. helped with various work at a young age, and was met with an accident at the age of nine. In 1881, C.L.’s right elbow was crushed by a piece of equipment.

The damage was too severe, and his arm was amputated soon after the event. Throughout most of his daily life, Brown would wear an artificial arm and hand, covered by his sleeve and a glove. Later in his life, Brown was known to muse that if it had not been for this accident, he likely would have been a farmer.

After graduating from Abilene High School, Brown worked as a school teacher, attended business college, and worked as the manager of a creamery in Wichita. In 1898, he started Abilene Electric Light Works with his father. Jacob Brown’s grist mill was converted to be a source of Abilene’s electric power. This company grew and grew, eventually becoming the United Power and Light Company in 1924.

Brown Telephone Company linemen.
Due to the success of his electric company, Brown decided to build a local telephone company just one year after Abilene Electric Light Works was formed. Brown later chartered the Brown Telephone Company in 1902. Abilene quickly became filled with various electric and phone lines strung on wooden poles. After much growth, Brown’s telephone company was renamed the United Telephone Company in 1911. In 1914, Brown and his associates decided to sell controlling interest in the company’s stock to the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company (later Southwestern Bell). This allowed for United to have enough money to expand, and Brown was still manager of his business.

Brown built himself a large empire of companies throughout the early 1900s, having 85 companies to his name. In addition to electricity and telephone service, Brown also owned oil and refining companies, shoe stores, insurance companies, and Piggly-Wiggly grocery stores.

Having amassed a great fortune and large business empire, Brown decided he should give back to his community. He had been concerned for others for quite some time, ordering all of his employees to save ten percent of their income for future expenditures. Additionally, he had honored employees who saved money with “honor pins” for their commitment. This mandatory savings plan would come in handy for many employees after the stock market crash in 1929.

However, it would not be until 1926 that Brown began making visible gifts to the Abilene community as a whole. Brown and his siblings formed the Brown Memorial Foundation in memory of their parents. With the foundation, they constructed the Brown Memorial Home for the Aged and a 226 acre park open to the public. At the time, the park cost approximately $1,000 a day to operate. However, it was free to the public and included a swimming lake, golf course, zoo, and camps for boys and girls.

Brown once said, “Every man tries to accumulate wealth and it’s all to buy six feet of ground. Others enjoy the fruits of his effort and he never can see how much they enjoy it. But I want to see people enjoy mine while I am still alive.”

Brown Memorial Park was a huge attraction in its day. The lake was often filled with swimmers and canoes. Local Sea Scouts would practice sailing skills on a massive ship that sat in the lake. Weekend visitor totals consistently reached over 5,000 people, occasionally reaching as high as 20,000 people. It seems hard to believe today, that Brown’s Park drew in so many people, and was considered a major amusement park for the area, and was free to the public.

During all of this, Brown still focused a great deal on his businesses. In 1931, during the Great Depression, Brown opened the Sunflower Hotel in downtown Abilene. It was known as one of the grandest hotels between Kansas City and Denver. Though Brown opened this hotel in 1931 and appeared to be doing well financially, the Great Depression would take its toll on his businesses very soon.

The Great Depression greatly weakened Brown’s business empire in the 1930s. This was largely due to Brown’s persistent effort to continue funding business ventures that were making less and less income, such as the Piggly-Wiggly grocery store chain. Brown died on November 12, 1935. He was bankrupt at the time of his death.

Many aspects of the Brown Memorial Park had to be closed over the years after Brown’s death due to lack of funding and damage from the 1951 flood. However, the Brown Memorial Home still continues to offer affordable housing for senior citizens, camping is still offered for youth in scouting programs, and residents around the area are still welcome to enjoy visits to the park. The Brown Memorial Foundation is still an active force in the Abilene area, supporting area projects and scholarships for students.

Though the financial situation of the Brown businesses looked grim at the time of Brown’s death, the United companies continued to grow and expand. United Utilities pulled out of bankruptcy in 1938 and grew through the acquisition of many smaller companies over several years. The company went through many changes over the years, but continued to grow and grow long after Brown’s death. In 1986, United (then known as United Telecommunications) consolidated with Sprint. United purchased controlling interest in Sprint in 1989, and adopted the Sprint name soon after due to the company having better brand recognition.

The legacy of C.L. Brown still continues to be seen in Abilene. With all that remains of Brown’s legacy: the Brown Memorial Foundation, park, Memorial Home, Sunflower building, Brown Mansion, and the memories of Abilene’s residents; C.L. Brown lives on to this day.

C.L. Brown and Kansas Independent Telephony is a short documentary highlighting Brown’s story and the benefits independent telecommunications companies offer to the Kansas public. The film will premiere on July 21 at 6:00pm at the Eisenhower Presidential Library auditorium and is free to the public. A brief panel discussion will follow the screening, featuring the project’s staff. The Dickinson County Historical Society also welcomes the public to visit the Dickinson County Heritage Center and Museum of Independent Telephony immediately after the program, where refreshments will be served. For more information about this event, please contact the Dickinson County Historical Society, (785) 263-2681,

Principal funding for this program is provided by the Kansas Humanities Council, a nonprofit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions, and ideas that shape our lives and build community.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Memories of the Prairie Lecture Series: Lt. Frank Baldwin and the Indian Territory Expedition of 1874

Dan Holt, former director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, will be the speaker for the next Memories of the Prairie program sponsored by the Dickinson County Historical Society on Saturday July 7 at 7:00pm at the Dickinson County Heritage Center located at 412 S. Campbell Street in Abilene.

Between the years of 1867 and 1875, some of the worst Native American conflicts took place in Kansas.  Most of the raids and attacks were along the new railroad being built along the Smoky Hill Trail.  Dan Holt's program, entitled Lt. Frank Baldwin and the Indian Territory Expedition of 1874, tells the story of an expedition directed by General Nelson Miles, a result of American Indian raids by the Comanche, Kiowa, and Southern Cheyenne in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Northern Texas.  This purpose of this expedition was to put down these raids and return these people to the reservation.  Forts Larned, Wallace, and Dodge in Kansas were all involved.  Baldwin, of the Fifth US Infantry, won his second Medal of Honor during the expedition for rescuing two girls captured by the Cheyenne along the Smoky Hill Trail.

Dan Holt began working on this story at the Kansas Historical Society, where he served as assistant manuscript curator 1963-1964.  The original version of his work was published by the Kansas City Westerners in 1965.  He had access to Frank Baldwin's diary and a wealth of primary sources and became interested in the different aspects of what was known as General Phil Sheridan's Southern Plains campaign.  He will focus on one part of the campaign, the Indian Territory Expedition of 1874, and specifically on the exploits of Lt. Frank D. Baldwin.  Baldwin was awarded two Medals of Honor, one in the Civil War, and one for his rescue of the girls captured by the Cheyenne on the Smoky Hill Trail near Fort Wallace, Kansas.

Contrary to popular stories about Indian campaigns, over half of the troops on this expedition were infantry, not cavalry.  On the other side, these Native American tribes' living conditions were destitute.  Some of the names included in this campaign are well known, including Bat Masterson.

The commentary in Baldwin's diary, Kansas newspapers, and officers on the expedition regarding the Inidan Bureau and Indian Agents, particularly the Quaker Indian agents' policy of "friendly persuasion," clearly reveal the differences of opinions on the causes and possible solutions related to the reasons for the tribes leaving the reservations and how best to convince them to return.

This Memories of the Prairie program is free of charge, however donations are always welcome.  For more information on the program or about how you can become a supporting member of the Dickinson County Historical Society, please call (785) 263-2681, or visit

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Memories of the Prairie Lecture Series: Presentation Explores Kansas Opera Houses

The Dickinson County Historical Society and the Heritage Homes Association of Dickinson County in Abilene will host “Kansas Opera Houses and Community Events,” a presentation and discussion by Jane Rhoads on Saturday, June 30 at 7 pm  at the Dickinson County Heritage Center located at 412 S. Campbell St.  Members of the community are invited to attend the free program.  Contact the Heritage Center at 263-2681 for more information.  The program is made possible by the Kansas Humanities Council.

 This program is part of the Memories of the Prairie Lecture Series presented by the Dickinson County Historical Society. All the programs are free, however donations are always welcomed.  You are also invited to become a member of the Dickinson County Historical Society to help support the continuing efforts to preserve the heritage of Dickinson County.

From melodrama to Shakespeare, from church socials to high school commencements, the opera houses of Kansas made significant contributions to the state’s social and cultural fabric in communities both large and small.  Rhoads will discuss the history of opera houses in Kansas and how they are being used today.

Rhoads is an author and a 2009 Notable Kansas Book award winner.  Her book, “Kansas Opera Houses, Actors, and Community Events 1855-1925” is the result of years of travel across Kansas to research opera houses.

“I came to love opera houses when as a small child I played in the opera house built by my great-grandfather,” shared Rhoads.  “This eventually led to my visiting 400 Kansas communities to learn about the activities that took place in the local opera houses and to photograph the state’s remaining ones.”

“Kansas Opera Houses and Community Events” is part of the Kansas Humanities Council’s Kansas Speakers Bureau featuring presentations and discussions about Kansas and what it means to be a Kansan over time and across generations.                         

The Kansas Humanities Council conducts and supports community-based programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to participate in their communities.  For more information about KHC programs contact the Kansas Humanities Council at 785-357-0359 or visit online at

For more information about “Kansas Opera Houses and Community Events” in Abilene contact the Dickinson County Historical Society at 785-263-2681 or visit

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Memories of the Prairie Lecture Series: Presentation Explores Kansas Frontier Photographer

The Dickinson County Historical Society in Abilene, Kansas along with the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum will host "Kansas Through the Lens of F.M. Steele," a presentation and discussion by Jim Hoy on Saturday, June 23 at 7:00pm at the Dickinson County Heritage Center located at 412 S. Campbell Street in Abilene.  Members of the community are invited to attend the free program, and can contact the Dickinson County Historical Society at (785) 263-2681 for more information.  This program is made possible by the Kansas Humanities Council.

In 1890, frontier photographer Francis Marion Steele set out from Dodge City to record cowboys, American Indians, wildlife, wheat harvesting, grain farming, sugar-beet factories, railroad building, community celebrations and festivals, small-town life, and studio portraits.  Hoy's presentation examines how Steele's work provides visual documentation of the Kansas character.

Jim Hoy is a professor of English and director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State University.  He is an authority on the folklife of ranching, a topic on which he has lectured throughout the world.  Hoy's publications include ten books and over one hundred articles, and he is co-author of "Plains Folk," a syndicated newspaper column.

"Francis Marion Steele arrived in Dodge City in 1890 and immediately set out onto the prairies in a dark-room-mounted buggy to take photographs of cowboys," shared Hoy.  "After the end of the open range he photographed everything from wheat farming to railroad construction to small-town life, providing in the process documentation of Kansas and the southwestern plains in the transition from the open range to crop agriculture."

"Kansas Through the Lens of F.M. Steele" is part of the Kansas Humanities Council's Speakers Bureau featuring presentations and discussions about Kansas and what it means to be a Kansan over time and across generations.

The Kansas Humanities Council conducts and supports community-based humanities programs, serves as a financial resource through an active grant-making program, and encourages Kansans to participate in their communities.  For more information about KHC programs contact the Kansas Humanities Council at (785) 357-0359 or visit online at