Search Results for: "Hidden History"

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.

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.

Hidden History: Temperance crusaders attempt to axe the evils of liquor in early Burlingame

A strange twist of fate connected a Burlingame man’s patent to the town’s early temperance movement.

By Wendi Bevitt

Carry Nation, the hatchet bearing opponent of saloons and liquor, made her first raid on an establishment selling liquor in 1894. It was 20 years earlier in Burlingame, Kan., however, that two hatchet-wielding women with the same goal of protecting their homes from the abuses of drink, marched up Santa Fe Avenue and took out their aggressions on the local saloon.

By 1830, the average American over 15 years old consumed seven gallons of pure alcohol a year (three times of what is consumed today). This led to the beginnings of a push on restrictions of intoxicating drink. The momentum was stunted by the Civil War, but resurged afterward.

The town of Burlingame passed an ordinance in 1871 to “restrain dram shops and taverns and to regulate the sale of intoxicating liquors”. There was only one saloon, owned by Samuel H. Schuyler, which was licensed to sell liquor in the city, and for this privilege the city charged $300.

A group of concerned women began meeting in Burlingame in 1873 to bring about the end of liquor sales in the city. This had been spawned by the Women’s Crusade began that same year as an effort to give women, who had no direct political or social power, a chance for direct action with prayer vigils, petition campaigns and demonstrations. The women sought to persuade saloon keepers to destroy their beverages and close their doors and thereby protect their homes from the evils of liquor.

Mr. Schuyler was put on notice for his liquor sales by the ladies of Burlingame in August of 1873. Similar notices had gone out to all the establishments in Topeka which read like this: “Sir, you are hereby notified and warned that unless you desist from your present nefarious and soul-destroying business of selling whiskey, to the ruin of businesses and souls of this community, we shall visit your place of crime in a body … and invoke the aid and blessing of Almighty God to so enlighten your mind that you may be enabled to realize the great sin you are committing and forever abandon your present wicked business.”

Schuyler ignored their pleas, and in March of 1874, after the women’s group held a prayer vigil, two of the women greatly affected by the problem of excessive liquor use by their husbands decided to take action. Kate Wortz and Lizzie Allison, armed with hatchets, headed down Santa Fe Avenue towards Schuyler’s Saloon.

When the women arrived, they proceeded to smash the saloon’s front windows, Schuyler and staff watching the attack in shock from the inside. When the housewives finished their work outside, they continued inside, with Kate Wortz leading the charge. She determinedly headed next to the bar with its decanters and mirrors declaring, “I came down here to show you how my husband acts when he comes home drunk from your whiskey!”

Hidden History: Photographs and photo car make Lyndon’s Ford famous

By Wendi Bevitt

You might not recognize his name, but if your family lived in Osage County more than 100 years ago, you might have Harry Ford to thank for capturing your ancestors’ likenesses, or just glimpses into Osage County’s past.

Harrison “Harry” Ford came from the small town of Wright, Mich., which is near Grand Rapids. He served his country during the Civil War with Michigan cavalry and infantry units. He mustered out at the end of the war, having been promoted to the rank of first lieutenant.

Ford’s photo of a local family possibly includes the sister of Wyatt Earp (anyone who can verify this is asked to contact the author); photo published with permission of Paul Butler.

Harry’s arrival in Kansas was first noted in 1880 when he stayed at Patton’s boarding house in Burlington, Kan. Residents of boarding houses at this time would expect to pay from about $2.50 to $3.50 per week. While in Burlington, Harry made a name for himself as an exceptional artist and photographer, prompting some to declare him the best artist in the state.

By 1882, Harry was making trips north into Topeka with his photo car. Photo cars could be quite large at 10 by 28 feet and eight feet high on the inside, but lightweight enough to make travel easy on the mules that would be pulling the car. Sometimes photo cars were rented railroad cars converted for this purpose. Photo cars would be furnished with props, fashioning a portable studio. Skylights allowed for natural light and dark curtains were used to block light coming in from the sides. One side would be the location of the photographer’s sleeping quarters and the other a photo lab.

Hidden History: Congenial ghosts haunt Osage County socialites’ Halloween parties

“If a girl walks down the cellar stairs backwards peering into a mirror, she will see reflected therein the likeness of her future husband.”

By Wendi Bevitt

The year 1902 brought society’s newest fad to the east coast just in time for the Halloween season – the ghost party. Ghost parties were proclaimed as the “next best thing since ping pong” which had made its arrival 20 years prior. These parties were to herald the beginning of the Halloween season for the next few decades, making their appearance in Kansas in the middle of the decade.

Both young men and ladies would attend most times with the intention of making love connections. According to syndicated entertainment columnist Madame Merri, these parties would be announced by elaborate invitations either containing masks for the attendees to wear, or suggesting a costume to wear upon arrival to ensure unbiased matchmaking.

The host’s house or public venue would be decorated for fall or Halloween. Nellie Craig, of Osage City, hosted a ghost party decorated with jack o’ lanterns and fall leaves. Ethel Kelley, of Burlingame, transformed her parents’ spacious new barn into a “veritable bower of rustic beauty”, serving refreshments of apples and doughnuts, pumpkin pie and coffee. Some parties could even be decorated with just a simple white sheet for the table covering and candles to light the room.

Ghost party activities included dancing and Halloween games such as passing spooky items – a mechanical bug, a potato stuck full of toothpicks, a piece of fur, a Japanese snake, a piece of ice, a wet glove filled with sand – all thoroughly chilled for 12 hours.

C.S. Oliver, of Burlingame, held a party that included spooky activities in the cellar and attic. These parties also perpetuated superstitious games, such as one portrayed in the Charlotte News, Oct. 31, 1902, that suggests on Halloween, “If a girl walks down the cellar stairs backwards peering into a mirror, she will see reflected therein the likeness of her future husband.”

Hidden History: Osage City opera house operator finds fame for others

An old postcard depicts the Grand Opera House at Osage City; from collections of Osage County Historical Society.

By Wendi Bevitt

At one time, Osage City had two opera houses. The Howe House opened in 1879, changing its name to the Osage City Opera House in 1883. Its rival, the Grand Opera House, opened within five years. Each could hold around 700 attendees.

These establishments brought in entertainment like prima donna sopranos, witty speakers, bands, lectures on the newest scientific discoveries like x-rays, and were the sites of community gatherings.

The Osage City Opera House brought in the big names, but also was a springboard for talent, not of a performer, but of a promoter – Melville “Mel” Raymond.

Raymond Melville

Mel Raymond’s parents, Melville and Mary Raymond, moved their family from Eureka, Kan., to Burlingame in the mid-1880s. Mr. Raymond established himself as a grocer, supplying various fruits, baking supplies, cigars, tobacco, stationary and confections to the community. He held a high standard for his goods, and his candy stock alone had, according to the Burlingame Enterprise, “never been equaled by variety or uniqueness It is absolutely pure, he sells no other kinds.” Mrs. Raymond, on the other hand, supported the community by holding a “little folks sewing class” at her home two times per week.

Mel worked as a clerk in his father’s store. The younger Melville, however, was called to a life in the entertainment business at a young age. Mel started by creating his own comedy troop with friend Fred Schenck, called the Schenck and Raymond Comedy Company. Their signature piece was called “Fun on a Steamboat” where Mel pushed the envelope by performing in blackface. The group performed the act at area opera houses, touring as far as Mel’s former home, Eureka.

After that last stop, he and co-star Mary “Pet” Lamb surprised everyone back in Osage County by getting married at the Gold Dust Hotel in nearby Fredonia, Kan.

However, with “the call of the amusement world loud in his ear,” he left to join Sells Brothers’ circus a few short months later, returning to Burlingame only after the group returned to winter quarters.

Afterwards Mel started working in opera house venues, managing the Osage City Opera House and eight others around 1891. He returned to circus life as a press and contracting agent, notably for the Ringling Brothers, but also for other minor companies. He gained the reputation for being spectacular in his methods of promotion.

Hidden History: Homesteaders lay foundation for Osage County’s future

A cornerstone carved by William S. White reminds of the connection of the home’s past owners to its current inhabitants.

By Wendi Bevitt

Every home has a story. It is a standing memorial of the people that have lived and loved within its walls – each family tailoring it to meet their tastes and needs.

One Osage County family is seeing to preserve the original details that were lovingly added to their century-year-old home.

Michael and Sara Floyd bought their rural Osage County, Kan., home and 4.5 acres in 2014, and the home and barn were in much need of some love and attention. It is the Floyds’ goal to restore both structures back to their former glory.

Hidden History: Sac and Fox orphan ensures record of tribes’ life in Osage County

Julia Goodell, right, and her adopted daughter Fannie Baker both made their marks on the Sac and Fox tribes’ history in Osage County.

By Wendi Bevitt

Prior to their removal to Kansas around 1845, the Sac (or Sauk) and Fox tribes were located in Iowa. Most often they are mentioned together, but had originally been two distinct groups.

During the 1700s, French attacks on the Foxes (the Fox Wars of 1712 to 1733) in the Great Lakes Region caused the two tribes to join forces and form a close alliance that helped to affect unification.

The Sac and Fox reservation in Kansas was 435,200 acres located at the headwaters of the Osage River, the first agency being in Franklin County. In 1859, the agency was moved into Osage County, at Quenemo, with Perry Fuller (former employer of Frank James) as agent. The agency also employed an interpreter, John Goodell, to assist in government negotiations with the tribe.

John Goodell was of European descent and raised in New York. He became familiar with the language and customs of the Indians, and served as an interpreter for the government in both Iowa and Kansas.

In 1840, Goodell married Julia Mitchell. Julia was a member of the Sac and Fox tribes and was a survivor of the Black Hawk War. This war was an attempt by Sauk leader Black Hawk to lead the Sauk and associated tribes to resettle lands in Illinois that had been ceded by the tribes in an 1804 treaty. Finding a place to call home that was both acceptable to the tribe and the government was something that would plague the tribe continuously, and translating during these negotiations was the main responsibility for John Goodell.

John and Julia Goodell’s home at the Quenemo agency was an asylum for orphans, the sick, and needy. They adopted twins Fannie and Isaac Baker, children of Indian trader Isaac Baker and his Fox wife, who died after their birth. Mr. Baker pursued the fur trade, and eventually became a prominent banker in St. Louis, Mo.

In 1859, the Sac and Fox tribe paid for Fannie and a handful of other young people, including the daughter of the Indian agent, to attend Baker University. Baker University was the first college in Kansas territory having opened in 1858. Perry Fuller, the Sac and Fox Agency representative, was also living in Baldwin City at the time.

Hidden History: ‘Kiss the flag’ – Mobs enforce patriotism in Osage County

By Wendi Bevitt

The Great War may have just ended, but in November of 1918 emotions still ran high in Osage County regarding the duty to one’s country. Osage County made newspaper headlines all over Kansas for patriotism gone wild. The newspaper headlines read, “Osage County No Place for A Pro-German” and “Ben Kissed Old Glory”. Within those articles were the stories of two men that within a week had both been publicly corrected for their believed pro-German sentiment.

The “Ben” of the headlines was Ben Tucker, a farmer living three miles east of Scranton. Tucker was fed up with the government and had become so anti-government as to see no good in any of it. His frustrations led him to spout off to some Carbondale locals that he did not believe the reports of the German atrocities and he “would rather have his children taken care of by Germans than by these sons of … here”.

These men were aware that Tucker had neither participated in the recent Liberty Bond drive, buying war bonds to support the Allied effort, nor had he followed through on his contract to buy a $50 war bond previously, and they were incensed. So after the men parted ways, they resolved to teach Tucker a lesson.

The next time he came to town and the argument arose once again, one of the Carbondale men punched him. The fight was on, but Tucker came out on the losing end. With Ben bloody and battered, the winners encouraged him to retract his former statements and to kneel and kiss the flag. The promise made and the bloody flag as a testament, he was allowed to retreat home with the pledge by the patriots to not press charges against Tucker for disloyalty unless his lesson did not have the desired effect.

Hidden History: ‘Marble man’ chiseled his legacy in Osage County cemeteries

Matthew Waddle special-ordered stone from Vermont in 1902 for John and Margaret Sowell’s monument, now located at Vassar Cemetery.

By Wendi Bevitt

Matthew Waddle’s name has been relegated to Osage County’s history, but as you venture to most cemeteries within the county this Memorial Day, you’ll see evidences of his work everywhere.

Matthew Waddle owned and operated a successful monument business in Lyndon, Kan., from the 1880s until his death in 1907. The Ohio native first lived in Ottawa, Kan., where he got his start as a salesman for Hanway Brothers Monuments in 1876.  Hanway Brothers, owned by John Hanway, executed fine monuments and employed highly skilled workmen with the most up to date tools. They were the oldest marble company in the state and highly regarded for their monuments and fair dealings.  John Hanway’s father, James, was a stone cutter and had been an associate of John Brown. The Hanway Brothers firm created the John Brown statue that now stands in Osawatomie.

Matthew Waddle made Hiram Ward's stone that is in the Burlingame Cemetery. Osage County history tidbit: Ward was a staunch opponent of the gambling and horse races at the Burlingame Fair. Apparently he got that nixed, but when he died in 1895, it didn't take long for them to get reinstated.

Matthew Waddle made Hiram Ward’s stone that is in the Burlingame Cemetery. Osage County history tidbit: Ward was a staunch opponent of the gambling and horse races at the Burlingame Fair. Apparently he got that nixed, but when he died in 1895, it didn’t take long for them to get reinstated.

Before 1883, Waddle had left Hanway and was working for Fernald Brothers, of Topeka, Kan. Fernald Brothers also created grand monuments and holds the distinction of creating the Kansas memorial tablet in 1882 for the interior of the Washington Monument in the nation’s capitol.

By 1885, Waddle settled in Lyndon and struck out on his own utilizing the knowledge gleaned with Hanway and Fernald. His business grew rapidly and he was creating monuments across Osage County of “the highest class of work”. Because of his excellent craftsmanship, he also sold monuments throughout the state and held the distinction of creating “the finest monument in Franklin County”, although that monument has not been identified at the time of this article. Business was going so well, that in June of 1895, he delivered 25 monuments to Burlingame Cemetery alone.

Waddle’s marble came not only from local suppliers, but he could special order quality stone from elsewhere. One such stone was that of John and Margaret Sowell’s monument located at Vassar. The marble was ordered after Mr. Sowell’s death in 1902 from Rutland, Vermont, at a cost of $200. Transit for the stone proved disastrous however, and flooding that year led to its disappearance en route.

Hidden History: Outlaw Frank James increased education and attendance at Osage County Fair

By Wendi Bevitt

In September 1876, Burlingame held its first fair, sponsored by the local agricultural society. In the early years they promoted not only competitions for stock, dairy and produce, but brass bands, a “grand baby show”, and horse racing on reportedly the best half-mile track in the state. Attendees coming from a distance could be transported to the fair via the railroad at a reduced rate. When the Chautauqua movement, aimed at increased education among communities, became popular in the 1890s, attractions evolved to include popular speakers.

The first cultured speaker to present at the fair in 1897 was William Jennings Bryan, whom the fair association paid $500 to attend. Just the previous year, Bryan had run for the office of President of the United States. His speaking topic promoted his belief in “bimetallism” – where the monetary standard would be set on both gold and silver.

The event was a success and the fair association sought out someone to meet or surpass the previous year. Their pick was Rev. Frank Gunsaulus, a premier speaker within the Chautauqua movement.

That portion of the fair produced great financial losses however, as Gunsaulus required he be paid more than twice what was charged per person as admission to the event, which brought in just 500 attendees. The failed forum left some with the consolation that it was a paying investment that promoted the quality of learning and entertainment that Osage County could provide.

“Next year,” they said, “a like effort by an equally able orator will pack the tent.”

But the next year, they would not have a great orator attend the fair. The fair board brought the infamous outlaw Frank James.

After James had given up his outlaw ways, he had settled into a more ordinary life, and one of his pursuits was starting horse races in the Midwest. James aimed to make the races he started as honest as possible. He would stretch an immense rubber rope across the track and when the racers were at their mark, he would let the rope fly free.

The horse races at Burlingame had always held a little bit of controversy because of the nature of the competition, and having a former outlaw as the star of the show was too much for some to bear. However, having Frank James as the main attraction turned out better than the fair association could have imagined. He outdrew the orator Gunsaulus by 2,000 attendees, and the new grandstand that held seating for 500 was not nearly enough.

Hidden History: Osage City businessman’s ‘can do’ attitude produces bountiful success

J.E. Gardner, grower of fancy tomatoes, Osage City, is shown with a wagon load of his produce in this ca. 1912 photograph from the collection of Gary Lowman.

By Wendi Bevitt

In 1912, the Osage City Free Press declared, “It’s a garden for Gardner”. John E. Gardner, of Osage City, tested his hand at gardening and canning on a large scale. Gardner was a gentleman who worked on the “unalterable principle that nothing can be accomplished unless one tries,” and had already been a success at truck farming with his “fancy tomatoes”. That summer, he started by experimenting with canning around 1,000 cans of hand packed tomatoes. He made a good profit, which encouraged him in his venture. Business was going so well that within three years Gardner built a canning factory at Ninth and Holliday in Osage City to keep up with demand.

New businesses within the city had to first meet with the approval of the Trades Extension Committee, a branch of the Commercial Club, and then Commercial Club as a whole. The Trades Extension Committee was comprised of 14 men from various lines of business from around Osage City. Their responsibilities included securing new industry and improvements for the city and promotion of matters of general interest for its good.

Because of Gardner’s expansion, he was able to increase his production. His factory canned tomatoes, beans, corn, beets, onions, pickles, pumpkins and other vegetables. Many of the vegetables came from his 225-acre farm, but much came from local farmers. Gardner paid good money – $50 per ton for green beans – to the local suppliers for their produce. Sometimes the amount of produce coming to the factory was too great and the trucks had to be turned away to dump their loads into Salt Creek, but Gardner would pay the supplier anyway for their effort.

When the canning season peaked, a room was rented next to the Commerce Bank to fill with surplus canned goods. Canned goods from Gardner’s factory would ship all over the county and state and throughout country. In the early years, the factory could can as much as 450 cans in one day. Another service offered by the canning factory was for local farmers to bring in unmanageable homegrown produce to have canned at the factory instead of at home.

After the United States entered World War I, the government relied on businesses like Gardner’s to aid the war effort, and required all factories to supply 10 percent of their output. For Gardner, this amounted to sending 5,088 cans of the 1917 season’s tomatoes to Camp Funston at Fort Riley. By the next year, Gardner was sending half of his output to the government.

Hidden History: The crazy things those Osage County bachelors do for love

By Wendi Bevitt

In 1912, some eligible bachelors of Olivet found themselves frustrated. They were too long single and growing weary of their status. These men decided to join their efforts in association with their local YMCA group and created a bachelor’s club in hopes of finding a significant other.

The Topeka Daily Capitol noted the following officers and members of the Olivet Bachelor’s Club in March 1912: President, E. S. Mann, vice president, Berton Yeager, recording secretary, Benton McCauley, treasurer, J. P. Wilson, corresponding secretary, E. A. Thomas, and other members, E. A. Thomas, Ivan Calkins, L.L. Johnson, Jess Lovell, Clarence Lytle, William Elo, Oscar Schidlin, H. Mossburger, Frank George and W.W. Kitchen. The men ranged in age from 22 to 50 years old, and varied in status and description.

Ads were posted in local newspapers describing the matrimonial club members: their age, physical description, and admirable qualities. The newspaper ads encouraged interested young ladies to submit letters for their favored gentleman. A cookstove was promised to the first bachelor to secure a bride.

Hidden History: Civil War veteran, steamship foreman navigates to landlocked Lyndon

The USS Naiad as it was photographed during the Civil War.

By Wendi Bevitt

In the Lyndon cemetery stands a simple monument to Alfred Capper. This modest stone belies the unique individual lying under the sod. Frederick Alfred Capper was born in Staffordshire, England, in 1837. He and his brother Herbert immigrated to the United States in 1856, settling first in Iowa and then in Franklin County, Kansas. Herbert would become the father of 20th Kansas governor, Arthur Capper.

When the Civil War divided the country, Alfred joined the Eighth Kansas Infantry. After being wounded he transferred to the Navy, participating in the Anaconda Plan, a strategy proposed by General Winfield Scott to blockade southern ports. The plan sought to secure the Mississippi River, effectively cutting the South in two and depriving the Confederacy of incoming supplies.


Frederick Alfred Capper

Alfred was stationed as a 1st Class foreman and fireman on the USS Naiad, a tin-clad steamer that was formerly a commercial vessel known as Princess. His pension records note that he also served on the gunboat USS Clara Dolsen, and the USS Great Western and USS Grampus. Because of his service in the Navy, Alfred earned a medal of honor for bravery.

The Naiad, named for a mythical water nymph, was part of the Mississippi Squadron along with two other steamers. Naiad entered service in 1864, patrolling the Mississippi River and its tributaries, several times battling Southern riverbank artillery batteries.

The crew aboard these boats had precarious jobs, for anyone outside the confines of its metal walls were targets of snipers lurking on the banks of the river. The captains of these vessels in particular were not long lived for this reason.

Hidden History: For Opothle Yahola’s people, ‘Trail of Blood on Ice’ led to Osage County

By Wendi Bevitt

Just south of Lyndon, Kan., a sign stands commemorating the Opothle Yahola trail. Most driving past are probably unaware of the man or what led to his presence in Osage County more than a hundred years ago.

Opothle Yahola was a chief within the band of the Muscogee Creek tribe. He was born around 1798, when the Creek were still in their original territory within the woodlands of the Southeast. Opothle Yahola’s name means “good speaker”, which reflects one of his greatest traits as a diplomat and advocate for his people.

When the Indian Removal Act was signed in 1830, he started to look for a place to relocate his people other than those lands set aside for the displaced tribes in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). He ventured to Texas to acquire lands where they could live communally and in peace. His plan faced resistance from both the Mexican and U.S. governments, though, and it was abandoned. The Creeks were eventually moved along with many others along the infamous “Trail of Tears” to Indian Territory in 1837.

The Creek resided in Indian Territory until the increasing conflicts with the Civil War. Opothle Yahola’s band tried to remain neutral, but it was difficult living in their southern setting, and they tended toward siding with the federal government, which had basically abandoned that territory at the onset of the conflict.

The Muscogee Creek did own slaves, however those individuals were allowed more rights within the tribe than slaves owned among the white population. Also, the Muscogee Creek blamed their removal from their native homeland on the southern states and held no allegiance there as a result. Opothle Yahola appealed to the federal government for protection against the increasing antagonism. Abraham Lincoln responded with an offer of protection and asylum in the newly formed state of Kansas.

The tribe accepted this invitation and started their exodus to Kansas in November of 1861. This was not an easy trip, however. The Confederates were not to let these perceived traitors go so easily, and Opothle Yahola and his people engaged in three battles before they made it to freedom in Kansas.

Hidden History: Demanding to vote, Burlingame woman joins suffrage movement

As was Louisa Schuyler of Burlingame, Victoria Woodhull was turned away from voting by a group of men, depicted in this illustration from Harper’s Weekly, Nov. 25, 1871. Woodhull ran for president the following year.

By Wendi Bevitt

In 1872, 48 years before the right to vote was granted to women, Louisa Schuyler of Burlingame, Kan., marched to the polls that November election day intent on placing her vote. She was halted from doing so on account of her sex and turned away, but her actions, as well as those of many other women that election year were to put into motion a change in the political tide.

Louisa Bigelow was born in 1816 and grew up in upstate New York not far from where the woman suffrage movement began. In the late 1850s, she and her father traveled to northeast Kansas to do what they could to ensure Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state. She worked intimately with leading members of the free-state cause such as James Lane and future Governor Charles Robinson. Part of her duties included assisting in distribution of funds that were sent from the east to aid in the protection of the freedom fighters and molding lead balls for the free-state defenders.

In 1860, she married widower Philip Schuyler, of Burlingame. Schuyler founded Burlingame in 1855 with Samuel Caniff. Both Schuyler and Caniff were staunch abolitionists and served in the territorial and state legislatures. Mr. Schuyler was the first Secretary of State in the Kansas government, and later became a judge in Osage County. Mr. Schuyler died in the summer of 1872, and in the fall of that year Louisa Schuyler attempted to register her vote.

The election of 1872 was the first major election after the formation of suffrage groups. Louisa Schuyler was following a strategy laid out the previous year by the National Woman Suffrage Association, which contended that since the Constitution defined a citizen as “all persons born or naturalized in the United States”, any woman fitting those qualifications should be granted the same rights. When denied the opportunity, Schuyler responded that she was “a taxpayer … and that no man or set of men had any right to deny her the privilege of exercising [her] right.”

Hidden History: The quack of Quenemo

By Wendi Bevitt

At the turn of the 20th century, Quenemo was on the rise. The Missouri Pacific and Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroads were constructed through town not long before, and the population and businesses started growing. And then someone arrived in town that propelled this little town’s fame throughout the Midwest – Orrin Robertson.

Orrin Robertson, along with his twin sister, Ann, was born in Missouri in 1858 to parents Jefferson and Martha. The family moved to Texas where he became a local newspaper editor. His sister died in 1885 of tuberculosis and this no doubt influenced the turn that his life took shortly thereafter.


Orrin pursued healing through medicine, but not just mainstream medical practices. He supposedly collected more than 31 diplomas from institutions in America and Europe in subjects such as psychic therapeutics, personal magnetism, psychology, metaphysics, oriental mystics, spiritual science and philosophy. He became the self-proclaimed “old reliable specialist, discoverer, originator and founder of Anthropology, the Pneumo (respiration)-Psycho(spirit)-Manas (mind)-Soma (body) System”.

Using these credentials, Orrin began setting up health-oriented institutions known as “Anthropological Non-Surgical Sanitariums” in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas. He established his sanitarium at Quenemo in 1901. This campus consisted of three main buildings, with the primary building being constructed for a cost of $10,000.

During the patient’s stay at the sanitarium, qualified staff would cater to their needs, free from worries of home. The patients would benefit from state of the art technology and techniques and healthy meals. The sanitarium’s buildings could provide services for up to 300 patients.

Hidden History: The poor, the undesirable and the forgotten

Now a private residence, the Osage County Poor Farm once housed the county’s less fortunate.

By Wendi Bevitt

In 1973, Osage County closed an era on how it cared for those unable to provide for themselves, whether they be poor, orphaned, or lacking the physical or mental capabilities to live independently. This institution was known as the Osage County Poor Farm.

Prior to its establishment, there was no set system or institution for this kind of service and so it was left to the communities to care for those facing difficulty.

For its part, the city of Burlingame handled this by reimbursing its citizens who lent out goods and services or provided board in their homes to those in need. This sufficed for a time, but as population grew, there arose a cry for the county to take a more active part in caring for the needy.

In January 1876, more than 150 acres of land was purchased central to the population center of the time. The land chosen was Rice’s Grove near Burlingame, adjacent to the Dragoon Creek, where the first 4th of July celebration was held in 1855. By March, the property was ready to take in homeless residents and by April the separate quarters for those declared insane was prepared.

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