Tag Archives: Osagepedia

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.”

Hidden History: Proud chief forever claims home in final resting place

The year 1869 marked the removal of the Sauk (Sac) and Fox tribes from Osage County to Oklahoma, all resigned to their fate except those under the leadership of a man named Mokohoko. This chief among the tribes had come to love this land that he had been forced into and adopted as his own. His fight to preserve his people’s rights to their land became one of the last stands of the American Indian in Kansas against Euro-American expansion.

Mokohoko, whose name means “He who floats visible near the surface of the water”, was the principal chief of the Sauk tribe. He belonged to the Sturgeon Clan, a clan designated for leaders of the Sauk. Mokohoko was a key supporter in the Black Hawk War, a brief conflict in 1832 that took place when the Sauk leader Black Hawk tried to reclaim tribal lands in Illinois that had been ceded in a previous treaty. Mokohoko was stubbornly traditional, holding tight to the culture of his people. This often put him at odds with another Sauk and Fox leader, Keokuk, who tended to be more lenient towards the white man’s ways.

In the winter of 1845-46, the Sauk and Fox tribes were removed to a reservation in Franklin and Osage counties consisting of 435,200 acres located at the upper reaches of the Osage River. The first Sauk and Fox agency was in Franklin County, and later, in 1859, moved near Quenemo.

Mokohoko and his band settled on the banks of the Marais des Cygnes River, stretching for 10 miles upstream and downstream of the area that would become the town of Melvern. This land contained 500 acres of rich farm ground used by the Sauk and Fox for farming. This prime ground produced so much corn that the tribe was able to sell the surplus to the government and early settlers of the area.

Hidden History: Auto polo drives into Osage City as latest commercialized craze

The action of auto polo was guaranteed  to “make spectators’ hearts pump at 60 miles per hour.” Photo thanks to Library of Congress.

By Wendi Bevitt

Have you ever guided an open-framed automobile at the rate of 40 miles an hour through a jungle of pine trees while a wild-eyed passenger riding shotgun accurately lops off the branches of the passing trees with a scythe? If so, then you can appreciate what it was like to be a driver in the most exciting and dangerous spectator sport in the early 20th century – auto polo.

Auto polo arose as the “must see” event after it was first played in Kansas in an event sponsored by Jones Auto Exchange, of Wichita, Kansas, in July 1912. Jones employees Carl Evans and Roltz King had created a new form of auto polo, building on a concept originating in Massachusetts in 1902.

The earlier version utilized a one-seat steam powered car called a “runabout”, with play taking place in an area roughly the size of a football field where participants hit a ball approximately as big as a basketball. This new version was played using Model T cars stripped down to the frame to allow for higher speed and better maneuverability. Each car consisted of a team of driver and mallet man. The mallet man often balanced himself on the edge of the vehicle to take a swing at the ball while the driver maneuvered the vehicle.  Jones Auto Exchange’s business manager, Ralph Hankinson, was the man who would successfully promote this exciting spectator sport in its new form.

Ralph “Pappy” Hankinson was the first child of Euro-American ancestry to be born in Russell, Kansas, in 1879. After his schooling, Ralph traveled and worked at various jobs, and then jumped in on the ground floor of auto sales in 1907. It was during this time that Ford Motor Company was preparing to release the first mass-produced automobile, the Model T, at the end of 1908. Ralph found employment at Jones Auto Exchange, a company that became one of the top sellers of Ford vehicles in the early days. Jones did so well selling Ford vehicles that they built a large warehouse, the largest structure of its kind in the Midwest at the time, from which to sell automobiles and refinish and repair all facets of the automobile.

Ford Motor Company produced more cars than all other manufacturers combined, and part of the reason they were so successful was the durability of their cars. Jones Auto Exchange and the company’s promotion of auto polo was a unique way to demonstrate the durability of the Model T. Auto polo was, however, a highly expensive sport, often requiring cars to be entirely rebuilt after a match (which could be taken care of at Jones’ premier shop). Often salesmen with the auto exchange participated as drivers for the auto polo cars. Players would participate in a year-round training before playing so the game would live up to the anticipated hype of “60 seconds of action in every minute of play.”

On the local front, Theodore Bloom and Fred Anderson were selling Model Ts at their Osage City Garage, at least by 1912, starting at a price of $620. Plans were made for Ralph Hankinson to bring his captivating sport to Osage City in May of 1915. A crowd of five to six thousand was expected for the “rain or shine” display. Local businesses such as Howard Mercantile held special sales in anticipation of the event, enticing shoppers with ads stating “You auto come!” and children mimicked the sport in the street in homemade “polo wagons.”

Hidden History: Melvern doctor breaks restraints of public service

By Wendi Bevitt

In 1885, Osage County elected its first candidate of African descent to a county office. Quintus M. Hutcherson was born into slavery in Tennessee in 1850. He was a newcomer to the county, having escaped the deteriorating conditions in the south after the end of post-Civil War Reconstruction, the time during which political and social transformation of the southern states was being overseen the newly rejoined federal government.

Reconstruction concluded with the Compromise of 1877, which removed federal troops from the south and allowed any gains made during Reconstruction to be undone, particularly leading to deteriorating conditions for those of African descent.

The outspoken, and Republican, Dr. Hutcherson eventually made many enemies in his hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee, and finding that residence there was neither safe nor pleasant, moved his family west.

Quintus and his wife settled in Melvern, Kansas, the only family of color at that time in town. While he settled in the area and took up farming, Quintus had been trained as a doctor. Formal training for African Americans at this time could only be obtained at certain medical universities. Eclectic physicians, a persuasion similar to modern day chiropractors, however, did not necessarily require formal schooling. It is uncertain which category Quintus’s medical experience was in, but it was not requirement for the public office. It would assist him, though, in besting his opposition.

The Republicans of Osage County were eager to back a candidate that would gather the African-American vote. Quintus was agreeable but hesitant, “I am not in any hurry for an office, although if I could get it, I would take it and do the best I could.”

The Republicans knew the potential for a winning African-American candidate was there. In 1871, shortly after people of color were given the right to vote with the 15th Amendment, a much-esteemed man of African descent from Burlingame, Kansas, Moses Turner, had run for the office of county clerk and narrowly missing being elected. So when nominations for county offices were made, the party discarded their previous candidate and heartily threw their backing behind Dr. Hutcherson.

Hidden History: The Kid, The Pimp, and the Osage City lawman

By Wendi Bevitt

Osage County had a crime problem. It was the summer of 1883, and hardly a town in the county was untouched by some sort of criminal activity. The economic and population boom brought by the railroads and the coal mines had also brought a surge of individuals looking to make a profit via unsavory means.

Burglars, also known as “sneak thieves”, frequently broke into residences, and horse thieves were plentiful. Citizens were encouraged to protect themselves, which led to the formation of vigilance committees or posses to protect towns and retrieve stolen goods.

Town streets at night were hazardous for pedestrians. The dark was cover for those who wanted to disappear into its shadow. People of questionable character would gather on both sides of the sidewalk, singing, whistling and swearing at passersby. Street walkers and prostitutes were common. Respectable women, in particular, were afraid to walk on the streets at night for fear of being harassed.

Frequent lawbreakers became infamous in the county papers. Johnson, “The Pimp”, and his one woman employee wandered from town to town searching for clients, frequenting the streets and local establishments to the point of annoyance. He and others of the same profession would also take up residences at vacated properties for seclusion.

When Pimp Johnson set up a tent along Salt Creek as his headquarters, a public outcry went out to push them into the creek, promising the support of the community for the people following through with disposing of the couple.

Another character known as “The Kid” was a gentleman gambler that dressed in the highest style, from his matching clothes to his fine gloves. The Kid, like Pimp Johnson, would patronize the saloons and other establishments that allowed gambling. The Kid’s amiable nature gave him a certain leeway with the authorities, and when he and his friends were locked up, they would sing, dance and cause such a commotion that houses neighboring the jail would be kept awake until the wee hours of the night.

While most of the county’s towns were affected by this crime wave and used their best attempts at law enforcement, Osage City’s law officer stood out as an example of the quintessential lawman of the time. Marshal Jack Williams worked hard to control the undesirable element within the Osage City limits.

Marshal Williams assumed the office of Osage City marshal in 1880. He was fair, just, and a strict enforcer of the law. Williams wasn’t frightened by angry mobs or other men of money and influence that tried to affect his pursuit of enforcing the law and keeping the peace.

Hidden History: Young man in early Bleeding Kansas turmoil finds final rest at Quenemo

By Wendi Bevitt

Civil War veteran Charles Howard Dickson is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery outside of Quenemo. If given a chance, no doubt Charles could tell you many different stories of the experiences in his life. However, the one he’d probably tell you first is the exciting tale of his involvement in the rescue of a man and mark the beginning of what was known as the Wakarusa War in Kansas.

Charles’ family moved to Kansas Territory in March 1855 with an immigrant aid company, intent on making Kansas a state free from slavery. The Dicksons settled on a claim in Douglas County, south of Lawrence.

While Charles and his father worked on making the claim ready for their homestead, they stayed in a tent on the claim. Charles’ mother and three siblings resided in Lawrence until the homestead was suitable. Charles’ father would be gone occasionally overnight, leaving the 16-year-old Charles to watch the claim. Threatening storms were the only thing that would make young Charles leave his post, when he would take refuge at the neighboring home of James Abbott and his family.

It was because of this situation that Charles was one of the few people involved in what was known as the “Branson Rescue” from beginning to end. Jacob Branson was a nearby free-state settler. Branson’s friend, Charles Dow, had been shot in mid-November over a land claim by Franklin Coleman, who was a pro-slavery advocate. Coleman fled to Westport, Missouri, seeking to secure an arrest warrant for Jacob Branson. The reason for the warrant was that Branson sought to kill Coleman for murdering his friend. However, it is more likely that the arrest was to silence Branson, the principal witness for the murder of Dow.

Not long after the murder, the local residents attended the Dow murder investigation, James Abbott among the attendees. While the older men were at the investigation, Charles Dickson was a guest at the Abbott home when a knock was heard at the door. A neighbor had arrived, announcing that Sheriff Jones of Westport was on his way with a group of men under cover of darkness to arrest Jacob Branson for the attempted murder of Franklin Coleman.

Mr. Abbott and some of the men who had attended the Dow murder investigation arrived at the Abbott home not long after and rushed to the Branson house to intercept the sheriff and his posse. They were unsuccessful and found themselves instead in hot pursuit with an attempt to rescue their friend.

The free-state group of about 10 or 11 men eventually met up with the posse and demanded that since Jones could not produce the warrant that he claimed to have, the sheriff release their friend. A long period of threats and “impressive language” was exchanged between the two parties, with the free-state group doubling in number by the end. Branson was reluctantly freed, with Sheriff Jones vowing to return to Kansas Territory with a mass of men in retaliation for this act.

Hidden History: Toe-tappin’ leads Lyndon’s cobbler to his career choice

By Wendi Bevitt

In an era when a favorite pair of shoes was meant to last past the time when they lost their sole, the Royal Shoe Shop served the community of Lyndon. Previously owned by a Mr. Leslie L. Barnes, it was purchased in 1923 by Clyde Morand, a fresh graduate of the Kansas School for the Deaf.

Clyde was the son of Elmer and Gertrude Morand, and was born in Kansas in 1903. Elmer hosted barn dances throughout the summer, entertaining the community with music and laughter. However, after a time, Elmer and Gertrude noticed that Clyde was not able to hear the joyous sounds and share in them.

The Morands heard of Dr. William H. Cook, a recent immigrant to the area who specialized in eyes, ears, nose and throat, and drove to Beloit to see what could be done for their son.

The family shortly thereafter moved south of Topeka, which undoubtedly offered more resources for their deaf son. In 1913, Clyde started attending the Kansas School for the Deaf, in Olathe. This boarding school had been created in 1866 and was the first of its kind in the state. In addition to teaching the students sign language and typical school subjects, they were also taught a trade that would help them after they graduated. Vocational training included baking, sewing, printmaking, and shoemaking – which is the trade that Clyde would learn.

The shoemaking department was established early on in the school’s history, its lead teacher being Charles “C. H.” Hyer. Mr. Hyer moved to Olathe in 1872 and began teaching the students how to make and mend shoes. C. H. opened a cobbling shop on the side and was assisted by his brother Edward. In 1875, a cowboy stomped into Hyer’s boot shop complaining about his boots and petitioning Hyer to create a better boot. C. H. determined that the best style had a pointed toe, higher and sloped heel, and stitching up the leg. The style was a hit and propelled Hyer’s boots to a favorite among cowboys and those keeping the Wild West alive in film. Hyer’s prosperity in boot making did not sever his relationship with the school, however. Hyer boots continued to be involved in vocational education in the industrial department.

Carbondale Lions to unveil new community bulletin board at fall festival

Carbondale Lions and other volunteers work to put the finishing touches on the club’s community bulletin board project. Courtesy photo.

As a service to the community, the Carbondale Lions Club has been working on replacing the community bulletin board, which was located on private land east of the U.S. Post Office. The family of Robert Sherwood, who are the current landowners of the bulletin board location, have generously agreed to allow the placement of a community bulletin board structure on their property.

The Carbondale Lions have been assisted with much volunteer time by professional sign builder, Rick Altis. Lions Club members along with Albert Sherwood, Santa Fe Trail High School student, Logan Reed, and other community volunteers, set the bulletin board in place on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018.

In recognition of the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance by the Kansas Volunteer Commission, the Lions kept busy working to complete this service project in September, in time for the community’s annual fall festival. There are a few finishing touches needed before the bulletin board is ready for community use. The Lions will monitor postings and ask those wishing to post to only attach papers with a home or office-style stapler or with tape. For safety reasons, nails are not allowed.

Another Lion service project is fall festival that will take place at Carbondale City Park this Saturday, Oct. 6. The festival was postponed from last month due to rainy weather.

Activities will begin with the children’s parade at 3:30 p.m. There will be vendors, Lions funnel cakes, Carbondale Police Department and fire department displays, inflatable bouncy houses and slides for all ages, and the farmers market, all starting in the afternoon. The main parade begins at 6:15 p.m., with staging at 5:30 at the city swimming pool, followed by the talented band, Delta Haze.

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.

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.

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.

Hidden History: Former Lyndon mayor, fire marshal orders sanity in Fourth celebrations

By Wendi Bevitt

In the early 1910s, commissioners at Kansas City, Kansas, started pushing for a sane Fourth of July celebration. Up to this time regulations were very limited. Fire related deaths had been reported as 4,500 in 1903, but with increasing fire awareness had dropped to 1,500 in 1914. Kansas City’s “Sane Fourth” model proposed limiting usage of fireworks as well as a cleanup day on the eve of the celebrations to remove trash and other fire hazards in urban areas. At this time, most buildings in Kansas were wood frame, and the chance of accidental fires was a real threat.

In 1915, newly appointed fire marshal Lewis T. Hussey adopted the Kansas City plan and started promoting its benefits in time for the July 4th holiday.

Lewis Hussey grew up in Coffey County, Kansas, graduating from Burlington High School in 1888. His family moved to Osage County, where his father, Jerry, became register of deeds and Lewis served as deputy until 1893.

Lewis eventually became city clerk and later mayor of Lyndon. As mayor, he led the way to the installation of a city water and sewer system, which had mixed reviews among the citizens of the town. He was also elected to serve as state representative from Osage County and also served as state oil inspector.

During his civil service, Lewis pursued a career in insurance, establishing the Metropolitan Accident Association. He then joined others in organizing the Osage Fire Insurance Company in 1908. His experiences as a civil servant and in the fire insurance field made Lewis a perfect choice for Governor Arthur Capper to appoint him as state fire marshal in 1915. Capper had already started instituting portions of the safety measures of the Kansas City fire prevention plan, such as a statewide clean-up day in April, but Lewis was the perfect person to enforce what had begun.

In his new job, Lewis took protecting Kansas citizens very seriously. He admonished that a “safe and sane” 4th of July celebration was the most consistent way for Kansas to observe the day and that it might be “too much to expect a complete return to sanity after the free range that has been indulged in the celebration in years past, but an effort needs to be made in most cities and towns for a more moderate and intelligent form of celebration.”

Hidden History: Kansas county named in honor of Civil War private, Osage County native

Rev. Josiah McAfee, inset, as a Kansas legislator, honored the sacrifice of one of his recruits by naming Rooks County after him.

By Wendi Bevitt

Fifty-six Kansas counties honor the names of soldiers from the Civil War. Only two, however, bear the name of men who held the rank of private – Rooks and Osborne. Rooks County, while located in the western half of the state, is forever connected to Osage County as the recipient of the name of Osage County native, John Calvin Rooks.

John Calvin Rooks, familiarly called “Calvin”, was born in Pennsylvania and came with his family to Kansas in 1858. His parents, John and Delilah, set up their farm two miles south of Burlingame when the county was still known as Weller. The family became members of the Burlingame Baptist church and faithfully attended.

In mid-September of 1862, Calvin enlisted in Company I of the 11th Kansas Volunteer Infantry. Many men from both Burlingame and Grasshopper Falls (modern Valley Falls in Jefferson County) were recruited into this company by the Rev. Josiah B. McAfee.

The new recruits were taken to Fort Leavenworth where they received brief military training and then were deployed to the battle fronts in Indian Territory and Arkansas. Company I saw action at Old Fort Wayne, Indian Territory (Oklahoma), on October 22 and then at Cane Hill in Arkansas on November 28.

Each time the company established a camp, a Thursday night prayer meeting would be held in a large Sibley tent, led by the Rev. Josiah McAfee, who served both as 1st Lieutenant of Company I as well as chaplain. Being a Christian man, Calvin attended each meeting. At the prayer meeting on December 4, Rev. McAfee was shaking hands with each of the attendees and asking them to relate his religious experience. Private Rooks told Rev. McAfee that from the age of nine, he had chosen to be a soldier for Christ.

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: Osage County boy’s curiosity unearths enormous discoveries

Barum Brown, left, and Henry Osborn at Como-Bluff during the American Museum of Natural History expedition of 1897. At front, limb bone of Diplodocus. AMNH photo.

By Wendi Bevitt

The fossil record in Osage County might be relegated to small marine specimens, but one young man’s fascination with them led to prehistoric finds of gigantic proportions, and the title of “Father of the Dinosaurs”.

In 2017, an Osage County native named Barnum Brown was memorialized by signage on U.S. Highway 75 through the work of Washburn Rural Junior High School students. Barnum Brown, a paleontologist also known as “Mr. Bones”, gained national notoriety for his discovery of the first identifiable Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in southeastern Montana.

Barnum grew up just outside of Carbondale, Kan., the son of William and Clarissa Brown. William Brown was known for his profitable business of outfitting wagons heading westward, providing land for the town of Carbondale, and being a successful coal mine operator.

Barnum Brown, Mr. Bones, as a student.

Barnum, the youngest of the Brown children, was named for Phineas Barnum of circus fame, reportedly because the circus arrived in town on the day of his birth in 1873. From a young age Barnum began collecting fossils, and his collection eventually overflowed from the family home and was relegated to the family laundry building nearby.

Referring to his childhood collections, Barnum once said, “I followed the plows and scrapers, and obtained such a large collection that it filled all of the bureau drawers and boxes until one could scarcely move.”

Hidden History: Burlingame’s ‘Aunt Emily’ endeared for her strength and virtue

By Wendi Bevitt

You probably haven’t heard of her, but Aunt Emily Ford was one of the most beloved citizens of Burlingame, Kansas. At a time when prejudice and segregation ran rampant throughout most of the country, the color line however did not exist for Aunt Emily in her adopted community, and she held a special place of honor and respect there.

Aunt Emily Ford was a spry little figure, with toil-scarred hands and a kindly face. “To know her [was] to love her” and later in her life, the local newspapers would run lengthy articles on the occasion of her birthday celebrating her many years, or an interview inquiring about her past.

“I shouldn’t think anyone would want to hear about slaves and slavery,” she said, but the reply was, “Yes, but everyone especially those of the younger generation know little of slavery and such an article would be of interest to the readers.”

This is her story.

Emily was born in North Carolina in 1813. Her family was owned by a family named White. The Whites treated their slaves harshly and used them for hard manual labor clearing trees and grubbing out shrubs when they moved to Tennessee.

As was the custom for slave owners, when Mr. White’s daughter was married to a man by the name of Farmer, she was given Emily as part of her dowry. Emily was two years older than her new mistress, and the two had shared a childhood together. Because of this familiarity, Emily found herself in a much more hospitable environment in her new home. Emily served as a cook in the Farmer household. The family moved to the Springfield, Missouri, area in 1837. It was there that she was allowed to marry another local slave, Daniel Ford.

When the area was invaded by Union soldiers in 1861, the Union forces freed slaves on the farms they encountered. Daniel Haney, of Burlingame, was with the 1st Kansas regiment when their company came upon Daniel Ford hauling potatoes in from the fields with his master’s wagon.

“Come with us to freedom!” was the call. Daniel Haney helped the Fords load all their children, earthly possessions, and even the feather mattress from the big house into the master’s wagon and the family followed the soldiers to a new life.

Their eventual arrival in Burlingame found the family without much means to start their new life. Instead of letting them remain relegated to their poor status, the people of Burlingame gave them a fair shot at success in their new life.

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.

Hidden History: Family builds fence wire empire from Melvern headquarters

By Wendi Bevitt

If only for a moment in time, Melvern was famous, made that way by the ingenuity of the Warner family and the farm equipment empire they began there.

Priscilla Warner and her husband Emery began their married life in Tazewell County, Illinois. When the Civil War began, Emery signed up to fight for the Union and served as a drum major with an Illinois regiment. Tragedy struck the family and Emery perished from fever in New Orleans in 1863.

Not long after the war ended, newly widowed Priscilla Warner was looking for a place to start over. Flat broke; she packed up her possessions and her five boys and headed from Illinois to the newly opened Indian lands in Kansas. In 1870, she settled on Sand Creek near Waverly. She spent the last of her limited funds on a cook stove, sack of flour and strip of meat for her family.

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