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Osage County Senior Center: Breakfast, lunch and shopping trips scheduled

Hello from the Osage County Senior Center and the Osage County Public Transportation. I am sad to say that we did not place in the Sunflower and Scarecrow Contest at the Kansas State Fair.

The Sewing Chicks have a beautiful fall quilt up for a raffle, so stop in and get your tickets. Don’t forget the potluck lunch on Oct. 4; we eat at noon. A blood drive is 2-6 p.m. Oct. 5; donors are encouraged to stop in a sign up.

The Breakfast Club is going to Lamont Hill at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 13. The Lunch Bunch is going to Smoked Creations, in Ottawa, at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 27. We are taking a bus to the senior fair in Emporia on Oct. 18. Anyone interested in going should give us a call to get your name on the list. Shopping trips to Topeka are on the first and third Thursdays of each month. Call to make reservations.

On Oct. 26, John McGrath will be here to help with choosing the right Medicare Supplement plan. He will be available 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; stop in and make the right plan for you. Herms Foot care is here Oct. 19 and 24.

We are going to try and learn to Line Dance every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Come join us, it will be interesting. The ceramics class is up and going it is $4 per class, with most supplies furnished.

High Rollers is 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursday. Home Town Health Care is here to call quarter Bingo at 10 a.m. every Tuesday; all invited to come and enjoy.

The senior center is in need of donations of buttons and lace. If anyone has any they would like to donate, we would love to have them.

I am open to all suggestions for activities and or outings. Don’t forget that we rent out the center for events that need larger accommodations. Come and enjoy the fun and activities with us!

Thanks, Franny!
Franny Deters, Osage County Senior Center director

Bow-angler breaks 40-year state record for spotted gar

BIG HILL RESERVOIR, Kan. – A lucky bow-angler from Parsons, Kan., has officially broken a 40-year state record for spotted gar in Kansas. Michael Starr Jr. was fishing at Big Hill Reservoir, Labette County, in late July when he successfully reeled in a 34.5-inch spotted gar weighing 7.98 pounds.

Michael Starr Jr. shows his state record catch, a 34.5-inch, 7.98-pound spotted gar. KDWP photo.

The previous Kansas state record for spotted gar was held by bow-angler Charles Harbert, of Arma, when he caught a 33.5-inch, 7.75-lb spotted gar from the Chetopa Dam in 1983.

Spotted gar derive the name from trademark dark, round spots on the top and sides of its head. Most are less than 30 inches long, but like other gar species, it’s covered with a tough armor of thick, heavy scales. There are three native species of gar in Kansas. The spotted gar is the smallest and can be found in the southeastern part of the state.

How state records are set

Trophy catches such as these end up as a Kansas State Record if:

  • The fish is a species recognized on the current list of Kansas state record fish.
  • The fish is caught by a licensed angler using legal means.
  • The fish is identified by a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks district fisheries biologist or regional fisheries supervisor.
  • The fish is weighed on a certified scale prior to being frozen.
  • The fish is photographed, in color, and a state record application is filled out.
  • The mandatory 30-day waiting period has passed.

Zion Lutheran Church celebrates its heritage with annual Germanfest

Zion Lutheran Church, Vassar, Kan., will celebrate its German heritage with a special event planned by members 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The community event is open to the public.

Members of Zion Lutheran Church from left to right, Toni Wendling, Donna Silver and Larry Wendling dressed in authentic German attire for the church’s Germanfest celebration. Courtesy photo.

German bierocks, potato salad and strudel will be featured menu items during the event. Live polka music by “The Alpen Spielers” will be provided during the day with a beer garden touting authentic German beer. Hand-crafted items will be offered for sale by local vendors. Also, a children’s area with German themed activities will be available.

There is no admission charge at the celebration, which is held on the square block area to the west of Zion Lutheran Church in Vassar.

The church was formally organized almost 130 years ago in 1893 as “Die deutsche evangelishche lutherische Germeinde ungeaenderter Augsburgischer Knfession zu Vassar, Osage County, Kansas,” translated to English, “The German Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of the unaltered Augsburg Confession.”

However, the beginnings of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church were in 1884. Several Lutheran families in the area of the not yet organized town of Vassar, which was platted in 1886, requested that the Lutheran minister Rev. F. Pennekamp from St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Topeka, Kan., come to preach God’s Word and baptize their children.

Chamber Chatter: Crouchers earn yard of month award for July

Even with the lack of rain and the hot days, many of the homes landscaping have been kept up with many hours of attention. Each month, the Chamber selects a yard to show appreciation of the beauty and hard work by the homeowners. The honorees receive $25 in Chamber Bucks to be used at an Osage City participating business. Announced as July’s winner was Gregg and Cheryl Croucher’s yard, at 834 Main St., Osage City. The beauty of their floral arrangements extends from the front of their home around to their back yard. The back yard includes a neatly kept garden, floral arrangements surrounding the house and out building. Gregg and Cheryl have lived in their home for 18 years.

Ribbon cuttings mark progress in area business community

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce has been busy in the last month with ribbon cuttings celebrating new business ownership, renovations and reopenings.

June 28, 2023, COF Training Services held a grand opening of its newly renovated facility, which updated accommodations for individuals served. Renovations included a kitchen, alternative day programing area, updated restrooms, laundry facility, arts and crafts, exercise areas and contract work area.

New owners Kent and Erin Schaper cut the ribbon at Osage Building Materials.

Under new ownership, Osage Building Materials held a grand reopening and ribbon cutting on June 29, 2023. Kent and Erin Schaper are new owners of the Osage City hardware store and lumber yard. They also own Arrowhead Hardware, in Baldwin City. Kent and Erin said they are excited to be a part of the community and look forward to serving customers throughout Osage County for years to come. The event included a discount off all in stock, in store merchandise, participants enjoyed ice cream, give aways, refreshments, special offers and balloons.

Henry’s Coffee House: Owner Nathan Willis, center, with Chamber members Roger Mersmann and Joe Humerickhouse.

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting July 6, 2023, for its newest member, Henry’s Coffee House. Henry’s is not a brand new business, having been open at 413 Market St. for a little more than two years. Joining the Chamber marks a milestone in Henry’s efforts to expand its business and make itself a central gathering spot for the community. Henry’s has added more food items to its lineup and has expanded its hours to be open seven days a week, and has future plans to expand to a larger space.

From the director: ‘You’re never too old to learn something new’

I invited Chamber members to submit an interesting fact about their business for me to include in my “Did You Know” article for this month. I had several responses and look forward to sharing them with you.

KDHE lifts blue green algae health advisory for Pomona Lake

POMONA LAKE, Kan. – A blue green algae public health advisory for Pomona Lake has been lifted after the Osage County lake had been under a warning status since June 8, 2023. Blue green algae advisories are lifted when cell densities and toxin concentrations dissipate to levels below watch thresholds.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks usually update public health advisories weekly. Pomona Lake’s warning advisory was lifted June 22.

Harmful algal blooms can look like foam, scum or paint floating on the water and be colored blue, bright green, brown or red. Blooms can develop rapidly. If the water appears suspicious or there is decaying algae on the shore, avoid contact and keep dogs away. These toxins can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation of aerosols and even skin contact. Symptoms vary depending upon the type of exposure (such as direct contact, ingestion, inhalation) but can include rash, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, and headache. Anyone or dogs that come into contact with algae should rinse the area with clean, fresh water. Suspected HAB-related health incidents, whether human or animal, regardless of season, should be reported at

Kansas lakes listed on the warning list this week are Cedar Lake, Johnson County, Harvey County East Lake, Harvey County, Lake Afton, Sedgwick County, Marion Lake (Reservoir), Marion County, Lovewell Lake (Reservoir), Jewell County, Webster Lake (Reservoir), Rooks County, and Wellington Lake, Sumner County. Under watch status are Augusta Santa Fe Lake, Butler County, Dorner Park Lake, Sedgwick County, and Lake Parsons, Neosho County.

A hazard status indicates that a harmful algal bloom is present, and extreme conditions exist. A warning status indicates that conditions are unsafe for human and pet exposure; contact with the water should be avoided. A watch status means that blue-green algae have been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop.

Hidden History: Burlingame firemen fight to keep town from extinguishing

Burlingame was the earliest, lasting community within Osage County, Kansas, and was also the site of the first county seat. As the county figured out how to manage growth that nearly doubled the area in the early 1870s, the county seat was shifted to Lyndon, much to the dismay of Burlingame. How could they wrest the title back? What improvements or services could they do that would bring it back? Every community faced the demon of fire, and in 1876, the year after the county seat was taken from them, Burlingame established an organized fire department – something that Lyndon did not have.

Earliest citizens had to rely on their own townspeople to form bucket brigades in case of fire, but that was a slow and intensive process that wasn’t successful against the fiercest of fires. As time passed, some businesses and residences had access to extinguishers, but whether or not they could be afforded, or even easily located in case of a disaster, was another thing entirely.

Organization of two fire companies in 1876 was seemingly progress, but posed its own challenges. Volunteers for the companies were primarily from the Burlingame Guards, the town’s militia, and while the numbers were seemingly impressive, getting those who had promised their service to show up to actually fight fires was problematic. The numbers for the two companies fluctuated wildly. Burlingame would have a at least one company, and then it didn’t have either. People joked that when the volunteers did follow through, the city council would have to offer bribes of payment to the first company to perform their promised duty. And when they did show up, response times were terribly poor, and the losses were great.

Reading School alumni plan 2023 banquet

The annual Reading Alumni Banquet will be held Saturday, June 3, 2023, in the gymnasium.  Registration and time to mingle with friends and classmates will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the dinner at 6:30. Back by popular demand, The Miracle Cafe will be providing a delicious meal.

Special honored classes are: 1973 (50th), 1963 (60th) and 1948 (75th). Bright orange postcards were mailed to those alumni with addresses on file. Attendees are asked to bring their registration card or contact Reta (Kinslow) Jackson at PO Box 103, Reading, KS 66868, or call Reta at 620-340-5347. Anyone who attended school at Reading or served as staff are encouraged to attend.

The cost of the meal and registration for the night is $18. People are also welcome to pay at the door.

Memorial Day: Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club honors those who have served

Photo: MJH 4-H club members hang flags on servicemembers’ graves at the Melvern Cemetery.

By Bella Reeser

On Thursday, May 25, 2023, at the Quenemo Cemetery, and on Friday, May 26, 2023, at the Melvern Cemetery, members of the Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club helped organizers hang flags on the graves of fallen servicemen and servicewoman. Members felt privileged to honor those who have served.

Osage County Cemeteries: Map and list

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.

Overbrook Rural High School plans annual reunion; former students, teachers, staff invited

An Overbrook Rural High School All-School Reunion will be 2-4 p.m. Saturday, May 20, 2023, at the Overbrook Public Library. All former students, teachers, and staff members are invited.

The informal gathering is casual and will be a time to visit and reminisce. Attendees are encouraged to bring their ORHS Annuals and other memorabilia of high school days. Light refreshments will be served.

Registrations are due by May 16; registration is $5 per person, payable at the event. To register, call or text Mary Ann (Vanderslice) Leslie at 214-773-5246 (include name and the number attending), or register by email at

Get into a rut with Lyon County history

Update: The Lyon County Santa Fe Trail Bus Tour scheduled for April 22 is sold out so another one has been scheduled for Saturday, April 29. Tickets for the April 29 tour are $30 and are available only online at The ticket includes lunch. The tour time is 5-6 hours. Seating is limited.


A free history program at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2023, will feature Jan Huston and her video of Lyon County history, and images from the 1972 archaeological dig of the Rock Creek trading post, where Bloody Bill Anderson murdered Judge A. I. Baker and burned Agnes City in 1862. The program will be at the Trail Days Arts & History Center, 803 W. Main St., Council Grove, Kan.

The following Saturday, April 22, a 5-6 hour bus tour of the Santa Fe Trail in Lyon County, guided by Jan Huston and LeRoy Boline, will include local stage stations, trading posts and people who made history on the trail. For more information, or to reserve a bus tour seat, call 620-340-6310, or see Reservation deadline for the bus tour is April 18.

The April 20 program and the bus tour are sponsored by the Lyon County History Center, the North-Lyon County Museum, and the Heart of the Flint Hills Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association.

Willing Workers tour Osage City meat processing plant

Willing Workers 4-H Club visits Custom Meats, Osage City, front from left, Clara Thielen and Ruby Stucky, middle, Leila Wilcoxson, Jaiton Bosse, Mason Newman, Reese Newman, Hadley Bosse, Kassie Thielen, and Paige Thielen, back, Bo, Emilee Burkett, Avery Thielen, Claire Newman, Lena Stucky, Kaiden Bosse, Kevin Whitmer, and Gene Roberts. Courtesy photo.

By Avery Thielen, Club Reporter

On March 1, 2023, the Willing Workers 4-H Club went to Custom Meats, in Osage City, to learn how livestock are processed. The 4-Hers were given a tour of the Custom Meats facility by Gene Roberts, Emilee Burkett and employee Bo. Gene did a great job of entertaining the group while educating them on the steps of processing animals. Many of the 4-H members show livestock at the county fair. This tour helped them understand what happens to their animals after they sell them. Even members who do not show livestock found the tour to be informative. It is important that people understand where their meat comes from. Thank you Custom Meats for the tour.

Historical society plans workshop to gather Melvern Lake stories

Melvern Lake control tower. File photo.

The Osage County Historical Society will host a story gatherers workshop 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Saturday,  March 4, 2023, at Melvern Community Center, 102 NE Main St., Melvern, Kan. The workshop is free to the public.

The workshop is being offered as a part of the “Melvern Lake: Citizens’ Stories” project. The goal of the project is to document and share the Melvern Lake experience from the perspective of Osage County residents.

Osage County Historical Society’s programing director, Lynsay Flory, will lead the workshop, and county archivist Ann Rogers will be available to scan and return any Melvern Lake related images or documents that participants would like to have digitized.

Participants will learn techniques on gathering historical stories from friends and family, receive instruction on using the Storycorp App, and leave equipped with sample questions and knowledge on how to conduct at-home interviews.

This workshop is sponsored in part by OCHS and Humanities Kansas. For more information, contact the historical society at 785-828-3477 or email

Hidden History: Santa Fe Trail charts course for railroads, highways across Kansas

An American family travels using a common mode of transportation during Santa Fe Trail times and later, a covered wagon. Photo source unknown.

The Santa Fe Trail cuts across Osage County, entering the northeast corner and exiting northwest of Osage City. Road markers are visible for travelers on local highways, but what was the Santa Fe Trail, and why was it significant for Osage County?

The route of the Santa Fe Trail, as is commonly the case with historic period trails, was comprised of a series of more ancient routes of travel established and widely used by the original inhabitants of the region far back into prehistory. This trail closely followed a series of indigenous roads.

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 and find a viable route to that center of commerce. By 1822, Becknell had secured a route to Santa Fe that was accessible to wagon traffic, making travel easier. In 1824, the road to Santa Fe was declared an official route by an act of Congress. The following year, representatives of the U.S. government and the Kansa and Osage met at Council Grove, Kansas, where the tribes agreed to relinquish claims to large tracts of the Plains to the United States. The tribes also agreed to provide open access and assistance along the Santa Fe Trail to all travelers. Starting in 1825, Becknell mapped the route, and Colonel George Sibley was put in charge of an expedition to survey 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 to build the bridge over Bridge Creek, later known as Switzler Creek, at modern-day Burlingame.

Early traders along the Santa Fe Trail in Osage County were members of the Shawnee tribe. After a treaty designated a reservation in Kansas for the Shawnee, they were moved to lands south of the Kansas River, which included modern-day Osage County. The Shawnee had long had close associations with Euro-American traders in their recent history, which led them to build a way of life located in close proximity to those they traded with. In Kansas, the Santa Fe road corridor became an ideal location for this because it cut through the Shawnee reservation. Tribe members typically settled in family groups spread out along waterways. Prime locations in what would become Osage County were the Switzler Crossing (at Burlingame) and 110 Mile Creek crossing (near Four Corners).

Hidden History: Working for freedom in Osage County coal mines

Drawing of Kansas Exodusters by Solomon Eytinge, 1833-1905, Harper’s weekly, v. XXIII, No. 1181, August 16, 1879. Source Library of Congress.

After the conclusion of the Civil War there was a period of Reconstruction that attempted to graft the South back into the Union. The transition was disastrous, and at the forefront of other troubles with Reconstruction, individuals of African descent faced racial violence and the creation of the Black Codes (which mirrored previous laws governing slaves). Many chose to leave the south for a chance at a better life in Kansas in what was called the “Black Exodus.”

These migrants were dubbed Exodusters and started to arrive in Kansas as early as 1873. The most widely known Kansas Exoduster settlement at Nicodemus began in 1877, but black migration to Kansas didn’t begin in earnest until 1879.

Multiple Exoduster settlements were made in the state, and while Osage County received many Exodusters, it was not home to an “official” settlement. It was, however, the location of the only business enterprise of its kind in the state, solely owned and operated by Exodusters.

When the Exodusters arrived in Osage County in 1879-1880, many came to Osage City (the town of Burlingame, while welcoming to blacks during the Civil War, did not want the new arrivals).

Most Exoduster men in Kansas found labor positions, predominantly in agriculture. In Osage County, however, the coal resources were just beginning to be tapped in earnest and mining opportunities seemingly abounded. Osage City was an infant town that was booming with the coal industry. Within less than a decade, it boasted 77 new buildings, a great influx of new citizens, and ample opportunities for employment from local stone quarries to five coal shafts. And the coal jobs in the area paid well – double what was offered in the surrounding areas.

Osage City became a very appealing place to settle. But there was a problem. The established coal mines didn’t really want black miners. And so, a group of the earliest members of the Exodus created a mining colony that they called Liberia (named in honor of the colony in Africa established for freed slaves).

This community and mine were the only one of its kind in the state – fully owned and operated by men of African descent. There were two attempts at a Liberia settlement in Osage County. The first Liberia was located just south of the community of Dragoon (south of Burlingame), situated on lands purchased for one of the large coal companies.

The Liberia miners faced multiple hazards. The men were inexperienced and forged their own way with mining. In the over 60-foot-deep shaft, an accidental fall could be disastrous. Also, the community, while relatively close to Burlingame, had no easy access to the town to retrieve supplies. At the time Liberia was established in 1880, there was no safe bridge for regular foot or horse traffic, and crossing Dragoon Creek was accomplished by using the railroad bridge, which could prove deadly.

The first Liberia ended within a few short years and some of its members decided to return to the South, discouraged by lack of opportunities for people of color. When the settlement was disbanded, the buildings were sold and taken to the nearby community of Peterton and repurposed.

For those who remained, working at the Osage City mines was not an option for everyone, as there were only two mines at this time that allowed black men. Determination to make a Liberia mining settlement work led to another attempt in 1885, outside of Barclay, south of Osage City.

Hidden History: Superior townsite fades away with founder’s Kansas dreams

Superior School, Osage County, Kan. Photo by Wendi Bevitt.

The very first attempt at a settlement in what is now Osage County was called Council City. But Council City had a problem. The settlement company that funded and planned it was disorganized, and no one could quite decide where the best location should be – or even if it should be called Council City! After multiple attempts at establishing a location, in an area that covered nearly half a township between Switzler and Dragoon creeks, principal settlement seemed to find a resting place at approximately where Burlingame is today. At the head of the Council City enterprise in the earliest days was James Winchell.

Winchell had been with the settlement company since its arrival in Kansas in the fall of 1854. Shortly after their arrival, the members of the company each selected their preferred tracts of land. Winchell chose a large, wooded parcel located near the confluence of the two creeks. It was not only beautiful but contained significant advantages for building. He was eager to start organizing the town and became its first postmaster.

But when Philip C. Schuyler arrived in Council City in the spring of 1855, he had his own ideas for Council City. Both Winchell and Schuyler were very driven individuals, and it soon became evident that their ambitions would not be able to be combined.

Winchell abandoned Council City at the Switzler location and instead decided to put the resources available on the southern end of the proposed Council City tract for his own town.

His first attempt would be in 1856 with a town named Fremont in honor of General John C. Fremont. In the spring of that year, Winchell served as a delegate to the first national Republican convention. It was at that convention that Fremont was declared the Republican nominee for the presidency. Winchell’s support for Gen. Fremont prompted him to use that name for his town. However, John C. Fremont did not win the presidency, and likewise his namesake town also lost momentum.

Rapp School rings bell once again as students learn about old-time schooling

Lynsay Flory, who acted as the teacher during a visit to Rapp School, leads students in singing lessons. Photo by Wendi Bevitt.

For the first time in several years, on Oct. 10, 2022, Rapp School opened its doors to host a field trip day. Rapp School is a historic one-room school located on U.S. Highway 56, about five miles west of Osage City.

The Rapp School Preservation Association worked with Lynsay Flory, of the Osage County Historical Society, to arrange the field trip for local homeschooled students.

Students shared sack lunches, played on the playground, enjoyed practice lessons, and generally explored a different kind of schooling. All had fun as they experienced what school was like more than 60 years ago.

For more information about Rapp School, see In Osage County: Rapp School, District No. 50, 1871-1962

Thankful and blessed with help from the Osage City community

ECAT would like to say thank you to the community for your continued support these last two years. 2021 and 2022 have been challenging for ECAT as it has for everyone.

With the shut down due to COVID and now with the economic impact ECAT has found it necessary to think outside the box and find new ways that we can continue to serve the community. During COVID we continued to provide food boxes by having designated pickup days, as well as a volunteer always available to give out food boxes. The holiday program was a great success.

Beginning in November we will begin our 2022 holiday signup program. Food is not as easily obtained as in past years, but we know that with all the community support we continue to receive, our holiday program will continue to be a success and no family will go without food and no children without Christmas gifts.

None of this would be possible without the continued support of the community, organizations, businesses, individuals, USD 420 students, Girl Scouts, and churches.

ECAT volunteers (who always go above and beyond) could not accomplish any of this without the Osage City community – you are awesome and we are blessed.

Thank you,
ECAT volunteers and board members

For more information, contact the Ecumenical Christian Action Team at 306 S. Martin St., Osage City, Kan, or 785-528-8164.

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