Category Archives: Places

Bixby School students reunite, reminisce about the day the school burned down

Bixby School students and teacher, 1949-1950. Courtesy photo.

By Ardis Ann Diehl

Twelve students comprised the student body of the one-room Bixby School during the term of 1949-1950, along with their teacher, Clara E. Christesen. After 70 years, six of those students met Nov. 6, 2019, at Lamont Hill Restaurant for dinner and an enjoyable evening of talking about times at Bixby – mostly everyone’s memories of the day of the fire.

‘Twas an eventful day in March 1950 – Bixby schoolhouse burned to the ground. Embers from the burning trash in the furnace had floated up the chimney and out onto the wood roof. Of course, it was a typical day of Kansas wind which contributed to the rapid spread of the blaze.

I remember sitting at my small desk, looking up between the spaces in the ceiling boards and seeing flames in the attic and hearing the crackling sound. At the same time, the teacher was cranking the “four longs” general ring on the party line telephone and shouting, “Bixby schoolhouse is on fire!”

None of the patrons who picked up the call acknowledged they had heard it – they all headed to the school in a rush. So the teacher kept calling the alarm, thinking no one had heard, all the while we 12 students were still sitting in our seats.

We all got out and were safe. Older students went back into the burning building and rescued some of the rows of runners of desks, coats from the cloak room, and yes, the lunch pails with our not-yet-eaten lunches. The neighborhood men arrived and the upright walnut piano (weighing enough to take four men and a horse to move) was saved, along with the heavy teacher’s desk.

One of the horses in the horse barn spooked and ran two and a half miles home at full gallop. Students, teacher, parents, and community folks stood at the far edge of the school grounds and watched the fire entirely consume the District No. 53 education building.

One month of the eight-month term of school was left that spring. We finished the year at Lone Elm School on Highway 68 and had the typical last day of school picnic. The teacher and all of the students of the last school year of Bixby School are shown in a photo taken that day, April 22, 1950.

Those attending the reunion dinner, along with their spouses, were Donna Miller Young and Marvin, of Quenemo; Leo Williams and Gloria, Osage City; Garry Niehoff and Lila, Topeka; Jim Niehoff and Diane, Baldwin City; Carolyn Burkdoll McMillin and Gerald, Lyndon; and Ardis Ann Diehl and Clyde, Lyndon.

Hidden History: Spiritualists reach final earthly destination at Ridgeway Cemetery

Hidden in Ridgeway Cemetery along the backroads of northern Osage County is a queer monument of stone. This grouping of stones is not any ordinary memorial, but rather a remembrance to a belief system held by former resident Hiram K. Reilly and other area individuals.

Hiram K. Reilly was born in 1839, the son of Hiram and Elizabeth Reilly. The entire family moved to the Ridgeway area around 1865. Hiram Sr. suffered from debilitating chronic asthma, which prompted his daughter to eventually reach out in 1871 for assistance from James R. Newton, a well-known spiritualist healer in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Dr. Newton wrote Hiram Sr. a magnetized letter, which Hiram Sr. credited with curing him. Magnetized letters were a method used by Spiritualists in which they would think about the disease and its location within the patient, which they believed infused the letter with spiritual magnetism and connect the healer to the patient. When the patient received this letter, they were instructed to wear it on the part of the body afflicted as long as the paper lasted to maintain a continuous connection between doctor and patient until their healing.

Hiram Sr. died in 1875, but believed that his nearly five years of healing was “a greater miracle than was ever performed by Jesus Christ.” Hiram Sr.’s story influenced nearly a dozen local people with his testimony of healing and promotion of spiritualism. Elizabeth Reilly died in 1891. Her stone in Ridgeway Cemetery reflects the family’s belief in spiritualism, depicting her spirit standing beside her physical body lying on her deathbed.

Hidden History: Mineral Springs gush healing waters at Carbondale-area sanitarium

A painting of the Mineral Springs Hotel, donated by the Jungmann family, hangs in the Osage County Historical Society museum, in Lyndon.

The Carbondale area was once home to Mineral Springs, a health resort that drew the attention of locals and others from far beyond the boundaries of the county that wanted to receive health benefits promoted by its proprietor. The resort, located about a mile north of the town, was founded by a man named Moses “M.D.” Merrill. Merrill’s Mineral Springs would go on to become a refuge for many seeking healing for more than 25 years.

M.D. Merrill purchased his land just north of modern-day Carbondale in 1859, a year after coal was discovered in the area. At the time, however, Merrill was living in Rock Island, Illinois, as a prosperous former land agent, newspaper editor, and railroad man. It wasn’t until 1884 that he moved to the north side of Carbondale and made use of springs located beneath his land. Local lore indicated that Merrill’s springs were located on an Indian camping spot, where they constructed dams across the beautiful stream flowing from the spring, calling this fount, “medicine water”. Merrill did not immediately realize the benefit that these waters held, however.

Within two years of his arrival, Merrill decided to find out the truth of the healing aspects of his springs and sought out the expert opinion of Dr. Albert Merrill, reportedly unrelated, of St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Merrill analyzed the water and reported that the water contained purgative salts that could be utilized in treating digestive disorders.

M.D. Merrill seized the opportunity to bring the healing waters to the public and started selling his water for curative purposes locally and shipping orders as far as New York. For a time, there were as many as 100 visitors per day to the springs coming in “vehicles of every description, from the barouche and road wagon to the typical Mexican burro, loaded with kegs, cans, big jugs, and little jugs to be filled with those marvelous waters”, as reported by the Carbondalian. The spring water was also sold and delivered at 15 cents a gallon by the Cooke Fuel Company, of Topeka, which also sold Osage County coal.

Hidden History: Incognito contest winner shines perpetual spotlight on Overbrook

Mindy Allen, Scott City, Kan., recently completed a new painting of the “Don’t Overlook Overbrook” mural.

“Don’t Overlook Overbrook.” More than a hundred years ago, this memorable slogan was created, but even today will spark strangers to recognition when the town’s name is mentioned.

In 1911, the village of Overbrook was joining a nationwide trend of growth across the country during this period. “Boosters” sought to boost their communities by increasing the visibility and appeal, acquiring utilities to improve the living conditions in their towns, and bring commerce and new citizens. Of course, not everyone was happy with prospects for change, folks content with the status quo and speaking out against any change were dubbed “knockers.”

Overbrook’s booster group was called the Overbrook Commercial Club. This club put out a call for a slogan. Topeka had decided on a slogan “Topeka can, Topeka will.” Overbrook was quick to follow the example, and added an incentive of $5 paid to the person who supplied the chosen phrase.

The winning submission was made by Lewis Coffman, a West Virginia resident who had two brothers in Overbrook. He sent the motto to the Commercial Club under the pseudonym “Mary”, since he lived outside of the 20-mile radius required for submissions. However, the club was so pleased with the line that they gave Coffman not only the $5 award, but voted that he receive a lifetime membership to the club.

Coffman accepted, stating it was “impossible to overlook Overbrook anyway. It was too good of a town.”

Osage County Cemeteries: Map and list updated 2019

No Name No. 8 Cemetery, near Lamont Hill. Photo by Jan Williams.

In cooperation with the Osage County Historical Society, Osage County News has published online a list of Osage County cemeteries and their locations. The historical society had previously published similar information in a brochure, and volunteers of the society updated the list.

Osage County News has also created a map that shows the general locations of the cemeteries, which are listed with directions on the reverse side of the map. A printable version of the two-page map and cemetery list is available here.

When visiting the cemeteries listed, visitors are advised that some are on private property and property owners’ privacy should be respected. Not all cemeteries are located on all-weather roads, and some are in remote locations in Osage County; visitors should watch weather conditions and be aware of possible road hazards. Use of a highway map or GPS device to assist with navigation when trying to locate cemeteries is also advised.

Hidden History: Osage County monuments ‘perpetuate the memories of fallen heroes’

Burlingame Cemetery soldier’s monument, date unknown, but photo possibly taken the day of the monument’s dedication. Photo thanks to Burlingame Schuyler Museum.

The Civil War was the bloodiest war in United States history, claiming the lives of about 620,000 individuals. After the war, veterans organizations were created to help those who survived the war to band together and honor those who were lost and the battles they fought. Largest among these groups was the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), established in 1866 for those who had fought for the Union army. General John A. Logan of the G.A.R. first proposed a decoration or memorial day in 1868 as a day of remembrance. This day was not one of any particular battle, and one in which the flowers would be in bloom to decorate graves. Observance of this day was determined by individual states, but by 1890 each of the northern states had made Decoration Day a state holiday.

Another group that arose during this time was the Woman’s Relief Corps (W.R.C.). This womens’ group had evolved out of the Christian and Sanitary Commission, whose mission had been to care for wounded soldiers. The W.R.C. was created to aid Union veterans, in particular the dependent ones. This group eventually became the auxiliary of the G.A.R. and was established in Kansas in 1885. Along with aid for veterans, this group aimed to “invoke a spirit of patriotism, respect for the nation’s flag, a love of country and reverence for her defenders in the minds of the youth of the present day, [and erect] monuments to perpetuate the memories of fallen heroes.”

Around the turn of the century the W.R.C. began seeking to memorialize those who served in the Civil War, because those that had remained were quickly disappearing as a present reminder of their service.

In Osage County, Kan., the first major monument to be erected was the soldier memorial at Burlingame, in 1905. The women of Burlingame’s W.R.C., consisting of 70 members under the leadership of president Lucy Jennings, commissioned Nettleton Marble & Granite Works, of Ottawa, Kan., to do the work.

L.H. Nettleton had been creating marble masterpieces for the area for 21 years. In 1904, he bought out his former partner, M. K. Ferguson, and became the sole proprietor of the business. Nettleton’s company had previously created war memorials for Baldwin City, in 1896, Garnett, in 1899, and Peabody, Kan., in 1900, but Burlingame’s monument was to be his greatest achievement yet, working in a grander style than before.

In order to secure the contract and gain the chance to showcase his abilities, Nettleton cut the W.R.C. a significant discount of the original $1,250 cost. The granite monument stands 15 feet, 8 inches tall, with a soldier standing atop keeping watch over the cemetery’s sleeping heroes. The monument was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1905, with exercises starting at Sumner Park including orators and band performances, and a visit by Governor E. W. Hoch.The veterans joined the procession to the cemetery for the dedication, following the local Kansas National Guard company, and only had “to look ahead to be reminded of what they were when they went first to battle for their country in their hour of need.”

KRTC gains grant for Landon Trail near Overbrook

Landon Trail trailhead at Overbrook, Kan.

TOPEKA, Kan. – The operators of the 38-mile Landon Trail have received a $14,745 grant from the Walter S. & Evan C. Jones Trust, Emporia, Kan. The grant will be used to develop another one-mile section of the trail south of Overbrook, Kan.

Developed by Kanza Rail-Trails Conservancy, the scenic recreational trail’s right of way stretches from the Shunga Trail, in Topeka, Kan., to Clinton Wildlife Area, Pomona Lake, and the 117-mile Flint Hills Nature Trail, near Quenemo, Kan.

“We appreciate the support the Jones Trust has shown for developing outdoor recreational opportunities,” said KRTC President Doug Walker. “Kanza is working to create a remarkable recreational trail, which will provide a safe place for families to walk or bicycle away from traffic.”

Currently, the trail is completed for 13 miles from the trailhead at 17th and Monroe streets in Topeka to the Clinton Wildlife Area, and two miles at Overbrook, Kan.

When completed, the trail will be the only recreational trail in the U.S. to link the Oregon National Historic Trail to the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. The trail crosses the Santa Fe Trail north of Overbrook.

Today’s Alta Vista country road has significant Mormon migration history

On an 1854 map, the Mormon Trail is shown crossing Richardson County which later became Wabaunsee County.

“Is the Mormon Trail near Alta Vista?”

That was semblance of query wondering more about location, history and significance of what is actually a road. Having driven by its clearly identifying state highway sign many times, exactly where that was didn’t come to mind.

Research began by calling area natives and finding information including local historians with vast study and knowledge on the subject.

Well, the Mormon Trail Road turnoff is about a mile south of the main Alta Vista turnoff on Highway 177. The “trail” is actually Highway 4 to the west and a country road to the east. It’s easily found and identified following guidance of hometown newspaper editors-writers Gloria Smith and Joann Kahnt.

Several years ago, Michael Stubbs, of Eskridge, named Wabaunsee County roads, including “Mormon Trail Road,” generally based on locale history. A board member of the Kansas Historical Foundation and Wabaunsee County Historical Society, Stubbs researched the area. He concluded the road was whereabouts of the original trail.

Public Land Surveys of Kansas Territory in 1855-60 recorded a “Mormon Road” in Osage, Wabaunsee, Geary, Riley, Marshall and Washington counties. That’s according to Morris Werner, Manhattan-area architect in the 1940s and ’50s, who wrote articles describing settlement of the West. He based his writings on dedicated records study as well as somewhat on those Kansas Territory Public Land Surveys.

“Origin and existence of ‘the trail’ have been largely overlooked by students of Mormon history,” Werner wrote.

“It appears Mormon emigration into Kansas was in 1854,” Werner wrote.

The Mormon Church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often also informally known as the LDS Church. It’s defined as a “nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church.” Members are said to consider it to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ.

“There may have been three Mormon wagon trains traveling across Kansas in 1854 averaging about 65 wagons each,” Warner wrote. “It’s reported that 11 persons were assigned to each wagon, a very high average.”

Melvern Jr. Highline cleans up at Oak Hill

Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club members and family who participated in a recent cleanup at Oak Hill Cemetery were Peter Roy, Jennifer Roy, Colt Sowers, Ellie Sowers, Braelyn McNally, Bo Sowers, Gentry McNally, Gradey McNally, Jamie Sowers, Pedon McNally, Landon Roy, Caleb McNally, and not pictured, Janae McNally. Courtesy photo.

By Bella Reeser
Club Reporter

Spring is here and for most people that means spring cleaning. For some, that might mean cleaning their house or yard. Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club members and their families decided to step outside that social norm and volunteered to help clean up Oak Hill Cemetery, outside of Quenemo. Melvern Jr. Highline members and their families spent the afternoon of April 20, 2019, picking up sticks and raking leaves to spruce up this old cemetery.

Construction delays postpone St. Patrick’s new church opening at Scranton

View from the balcony of St. Patrick’s Church, at Scranton, Kan., which served its parish for more than 100 years.

Update: Due to delays in construction on the new church for the parish of St. Patrick’s of Scranton, the planned Nov. 4, 2018, dedication and open house will be postponed. The new opening date or dedication plans have not been determined at this time.

*****

One year ago, in October 2017, parishioners of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Scranton celebrated the 100th anniversary of the current church building and 150 years of the parish being in the Scranton community.

Now one year later, the parish is anxiously awaiting the completion of a new church building. If the finishing construction goes as planned, the final Sunday mass in the current church building and the new church building dedication will be soon. Parishioners plan to host a lunch after the dedication and give tours of the new church. Lunch reservations may be emailed to [email protected] or call 785-640-4503.

Hidden History: Nation reaps rewards of local public service corps

At the Civilian Conservation Corps camp at Burlington, Kan., recruits end their duty day with a retreat ceremony. Photo from Bevitt collection.

By Wendi and Tod Bevitt

The outlook at the start of the 1930s was shrouded in a cloud of economic failure and dust as a result of the stock market crash of 1929, drought, and poor soil conservation practices. Unemployment had risen to 25 percent by 1933, and while that did not affect farmers, the dropping crop and stock prices did. The great clouds of dust that were forming on the horizon were a result of the wartime effort after 1914, during which the amount of acreage devoted to wheat was greatly increased, also known as “The Great Plow Up”.  The combination of drought, overgrazing of pastures and poor conservation practices overall led to a period of massive dust storms led to the region being called the Dust Bowl.

When President Franklin Roosevelt took office in 1933, he immediately set in motion work relief programs to deal with the dire financial situation facing the country, one of which was the Civilian Conservation Corps or CCC. The CCC focused on conservation projects, a subject Roosevelt had previously shown favoritism towards during his tenure as governor of New York. The CCC not only put unemployed young men to work, but also increased their employability through education and experience on the many public service projects performed by the various camps.  There were generally three different types of CCC projects in Kansas: soil erosion, lake creation or maintenance, and those focusing on reforestation.

Catch up with the past at Arvonia

By Susan Atchison

This year has been eventful and much progress has been made at Arvonia by the Arvonia Historic Preservation Society.

January and February began with reflecting on memories of the Christmas tour and Christmas Tea, and planning for 2018 events. March started off strong with the St. David’s Tea in Lebo. Arvonia hosted Eluned Jones, director of the St. David’ Society of Kansas annual concert in Emporia.

On the cold first weekend in April, AHPS hosted several events. On Friday, a PEO chapter from Emporia toured the buildings and held their meeting. Saturday, a group of eight came for a progressive dinner bought at a silent auction benefitting the AHPS last fall. The group progressed from appetizers at the school, soup at the church, followed by the main course at the Humphreys/Atchison house, and dessert at the town hall. All food courses contained food with a Welsh flair. The brave group walked the entire route despite the weather. On Sunday, we hosted a private group tour.

Lyndon landmark, ‘The Old Ice Plant’, former commerce center and residence

By Paul Schmidt

The distinct white painted concrete and brick building located at the corner of Washington and Third streets in Lyndon, Kan., is known as “The Old Ice Plant”. It is most associated with Lyndon resident and businessman Roscoe Gray (1890-1981) who, with his wife Nell, operated not only an ice plant in this structure, but also a slaughter house, locker plant, and an ice cream shop. There was also a private living quarters in the building.

Gray, with the help of two other men, built the concrete structure. Assisting with additions to the structure were boys from the vocational agriculture class at Lyndon High School, who wanted to earn some extra money in their free time.

In a June 12, 1980, article, Gray noted that the cement was mixed by hand and hauled by wheelbarrow. He also proudly told of the popularity of their most famous ice cream flavor, “brown bread.” In this article he revealed the secret* to their recipe.

Additionally, the roof garden portion was open every Saturday for roller skating parties with a big community dance held each Fourth of July.

The facility was in operation from 1941 to 1959. Gray, after his “first retirement” at the age of 72, went on to lay the rock for his private residence on Ash Street in Lyndon, as well as build a dozen fireplaces for homes in the Pomona area.

Source: The Osage County Historical Society, Lyndon, Kan. (Editor’s note: Please remember this building is privately owned; never enter private property without permission of the owner.)

*Rosoe and Nell’s secret to making their brown bread ice cream: The recipe is the same as any brown bread ice cream with the following two tricks. First, soak the grape-nuts in your ice cream mixture long enough – the grape-nuts should be very soggy. Second, instead of vanilla, flavor your mixture with caramel.

See more photos by Paul Schmidt below.

Hidden History: Building Burlingame bridge was just one of Switzler’s adventures

John Switzler’s namesake creek forms a natural city limits in northeast Burlingame, as shown in the foreground on a historical illustration and satellite photo.

By Wendi Bevitt

The Santa Fe Trail crosses a small drainage known as Switzler’s Creek as the trail enters Burlingame from the east. This crossing has been in existence for traffic since the trail was created, if not in the time before history was written. The small drainage known formerly by the name “Bridge Creek” gained its name from John Switzler, a trader who was present at the birthplace of the Santa Fe Trail, and made the crossing at Switzler Creek possible.

When Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, the trading center of Santa Fe could finally become a target of trade with the American frontier. That same year, William Becknell led an expedition from Franklin, Missouri, to Santa Fe to gather furs, as well as find a viable route to that center of commerce.

The route was already known to Native Americans as a series of trails across their plains from the Missouri River Valley to the southwest. Franklin would be the beginning of Santa Fe Trail traffic for several more years and home to notable traders like Kit Carson, and lesser known ones such as John Switzler.

Switzler and his brothers took part in the Santa Fe trade. His brother Michael ran a boarding house and stable, and supplied the westbound traffic.

John was not only active in the trade between Taos, New Mexico, and Franklin, but also provided mules to the traders making the journey. When traders would head out on an expedition, they would normally travel in groups, each man carrying a good rifle, dependable pistol, four pounds of gun powder, eight pounds of lead, and rations for 20 days.

By 1822, Becknell had secured a route to Santa Fe that was accessible to wagon traffic, making travel easier. Starting in 1825, Becknell mapped the route and Colonel George Sibley was put in charge of an expedition to survey the route and secure safe passage for the travelers through treaties with the Native American tribes. Part of Sibley’s responsibilities required him to make the route easier to travel, and in 1826 he paid John Switzler $200, presumably to build the bridge over Bridge Creek, later known as Switzler Creek.

Chamber names July yard of the month

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce has named its July “Yard of the Month”. Martin and Linda Jones’ yard at 223 Lord St., Osage City, has been selected this month.

Selection of yards, June to September, takes place during the first few days of each month. In appreciation of the beauty and hard work for the selected yard, the residents receive $25 in Osage City Chamber Bucks to be used at any Osage City business.

“Even through the lack of rain and hot weather, the owners are continuing to try to keep their yards groomed and looking nice,” said Chamber executive director Jeanette Swarts.

Ruins of 160-year-old stage stop stand as monument to Osage County history

By Paul Schmidt

Located west of Burlingame, Kan., just off U.S. Highway 31, Havana Stage Station was a mail stop on the Santa Fe Trail. The stage station and hotel was built in 1858 and offered meals and lodging until 1869.

About 50 German and French families established a community on the site. A large brewery and distillery were also located there. By the early 1870s, most of the German settlers moved to the town of Alma, in Wabaunsee County, and the property was sold for taxes.

The ruins lie about 150 yards from the highway on private land, and the site is accessible only with permission from the landowner. Readers should note it is trespassing to enter private property without permission.

See more of Paul Schmidt’s photos of Havana Stage Station here.

Cemetery map inquiry clears up foggy history of old Prairie Center Church

The remains of Old Prairie Center Church, now being used as a barn. OCHS photo.

By Eileen Davis, Osage County Historical Society

Usually I title these discussions as “day” rather than month but that does not adequately describe this adventure. It began with an email from a person who had looked at Wayne White’s website, www.osagecountyonline.com. (Please check it often if you don’t already.) His query was innocent enough.

“I am seeking help in identifying the name of a church and cemetery that were located approximately one mile east of the Prairie Center Cemetery on 125th Street. Your cemetery map records this as #34 and calls it ‘No Name.’ Can you shed any further light on the name of the church and those who are buried at the adjacent cemetery? Does the cemetery and any grave markers still exist?”

So I checked Mr. White’s website and learned that his Osage County cemetery map differed from the one we use and I learned that we could not give permission for ours to be used at his website. (Another long story but the permission was not ours to give.) I’m not sure where Mr. White got his map but I did find a similar one on the website that indicated a #34 one mile east of Prairie Center. (See Osage County News’ Cemeteries of Osage County here.)

Esther Little and I drove out there on the way home one evening and found Prairie Center on the south side of the road at 125th and Valencia Road. We saw no other cemeteries in the area.

I turned this problem over to John Hill, who’s been doing new research on several Osage County cemeteries and some really great field work. He spoke to farmers who now own the land and learned that the original church and cemetery had been moved. He also learned that the church, after some additions, was still being used as a barn. John also discovered evidence of graves at the original location. To further add to the confusion, John found an obituary for Andrew H. Caldwell, which stated in the first column that he would be buried in Prairie Center Cemetery. The second column of the same article said “Sharon Cemetery.”

Lions and Tigers share Lyndon pride

This spring Lyndon High School students participated in the first Tiger Action Day. One of the activities was to help paint the Lyndon Lions Club picnic tables at Jones Park. Students shown painting are, from left, Marah Bingham, Skye Brosch, and Kolsyn Bergkamp. The picnic tables, serving counter and shelter house were constructed in the late 1990s in Jones Park by the Lions Club. The Lions extended a hearty thank you to the students for their great work.

Photo thanks to Bill Patterson.

Hidden History: Early trekkers cross Kansas, pulling cart, pushing for better U.S. roads

Smith and Miller were photographed with their cart, the “Fordlet”, and featured in the Hoisington Distpatch, Nov. 25, 1915.

By Wendi Bevitt

With the invention of the automobile, America needed roads, good roads – which created a push for the creation of highways, namely a highway that would cross the entire country east to west. To draw attention to this need, and following a movement created by the government to See America First, people started taking up the challenge of traveling the completed and proposed parts of this highway. Two men that took up this challenge were Edward J. Smith, age 20, and Carl A. Miller, age 19, both of New York state.

The pair left New York City in July of 1915 and headed for California with $5 in their pockets, 250 pounds of gear, and a mandolin in their cart, which they called a “Fordlet”. America was to be their school, nature their books, and the people they met along the way their teachers. Their goal was to make the trip from NYC to California in seven months. By comparison, a motorist would expect to make the journey in 30 days, which would be at a rate of 18 miles per hour and six hours per day, costing $5 per day per person.

Smith and Miller as pictured in the Palladium Item, Richmond, Ind., Sept. 13, 1915.

Ed and Carl made up for their lack of funds for the trip by lecturing about their travels and selling photographs of themselves along the route, all while promoting their hope for a book on their travels. They kept an extensive scrapbook, tucking away the letters of recommendation from various government officials or people they encountered, as well as mementos of sights along the way. They stayed at local YMCAs, gracious individuals’ houses, or just slept under the stars.

In Ohio, they befriended a dog that joined the caravan and whom they named Frisco. It was also in this area of the country that the roads became less travel worthy. Ruts and mud were a foot deep. Ed Miller commented that “you could not take a step without lifting an abnormal portion of the county with you.”

Once the pair finally reached Kansas City, they shifted their travel from the proposed route of the Lincoln Highway to that of following the Santa Fe Trail. The old Santa Fe Trail closely follows modern day Highway 56 in Osage County. Some of the points that would have been seen at that time and can still be viewed today are Simmons Point Station in extreme western Douglas County, and McGee-Harris Station near Scranton.

Ed and Carl arrived in northeast Kansas right after Arthur Capper had declared Good Road Days for Kansas, so he was glad to meet with them when they made a detour from their Santa Fe Trail route to visit the capital city.

Arvonia society plans celebration and Christmas tour

Travel back in time and come to the Arvonia Celebration Christmas Tour hosted by the Arvonia Historic Preservation Society, beginning at 10 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017. As the traditional Welsh Christmas carol says, we are “Decking the Halls”.

Restoration has been completed at the school and church. All buildings will be decorated for the Christmas season. The school has ornaments made by local students. The church has the altar rail returned and a couple of the pews restored. Christmas will be in the air at the town hall as groups and individuals perform.

Chili and cinnamon rolls will be available for a donation as will warm Welsh cakes. Piano music will greet you as you enter the Humphreys/Atchison home.

Funds raised from the event will go to the restoration of the town hall. Tickets are available for a minimum donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. A family pass for two adults and up to four children is available for a minimum donation of $30. Please keep in mind that children are welcome but must be closely supervised by an adult as there are fragile items on display.

Scranton parish celebrates 150 years of St. Patrick’s blessings and 100-year-old church

St. Patrick Church, at Scranton, Kan., has served its parish for 100 years.

By Paul Schmidt

St. Patrick Catholic Church, at Scranton, Kan., is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a church building and 150 years as a parish in 2017.

Catholicism in early Kansas goes back to the mid 1500s with the explorations of the Spanish Franciscan friar, Fr. Juan de Padilla, who accompanied the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado.

Statue of the church’s Patron Saint: St. Patrick.

Catholics had settled around the Scranton area as early as 1855. The first mass was celebrated near Scranton in 1855 in a private residence. Scranton was a distant served mission until 1876 when a more permanent, regular Catholic presence was established.

On Aug. 15, 1877, a lot was acquired in Scranton at the corner of Boyle and Mercer streets for the purpose of establishing a Catholic church building. A frame church was built on this location, serving about 120 people.

During Scranton’s boom, there was also a parochial school serving Catholic youth from 1885 to 1889.

The church’s bell was originally in the frame church building that existed until May 21, 1916, when the last mass was held in it. That bell is currently housed in the present church building.

Cornerstone of St. Patrick Church, Scranton: Celtic shamrock motif indicates s strong Irish presence in the parish’s history.

On June 7, 1916, the first spade was turned for the new St. Patrick Church in Scranton, to be located on the same site as the 1877 wooden structure. The cornerstone was laid in ceremony Oct. 2, 1917, officiated by then Archbishop John C. Ward of the Archdiocese of Leavenworth.

The strong Irish presence in the church is exemplified by the Celtic cross design graphic in the cornerstone as well as the shamrocks within the cross on the end corner stone. St. Patrick church has had strong Irish, German and Hispanic presence over its history.

Another prominent feature of the church’s chapel are the stained glass windows donated in 1941 by the Michael Towle family. The windows are on either side of the chapel, with one showing the chiro on the throne with the crown; the one on the north side is dedicated to and features symbolism of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Contact us: Osage County News | P.O. Box 62, Lyndon, KS 66451 | [email protected] | 785-828-4994 | Powered by Osage County, Kansas