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Hidden History: Doodlebug, the little train that touched ‘every person’s life’ in Melvern

Photo of the Doodlebug M.177, in 2011, at Los Angeles, Calif., by Jd from RR Picture Archives.Net.

When Leona Knight Shaffer was a young girl in Melvern, Kan., in the 1930s, her father, Edward, was employed by the Santa Fe Railroad as a section laborer. One of the rewards for her dad’s labors was a pass issued to him, his wife, and minor children.

For a long time whenever Edward or his family wanted to go anywhere on a train, they had to order a pass, but later passes were issued annually with the eligible names on the pass. With the passes, the family had the opportunity to travel wherever the passes were honored.  Most of the time the family rode on the local Doodlebug.

Doodlebug M.177 was a passenger train that was built in 1929 and designated by the number M.177. It ran from Emporia to Lawrence, 1930 to 1933 and  in 1936, Kansas City to Newton, in 1937, and Burlingame to Alma,  1941 to 1943.

The following is Leona’s account of Melvern’s “Doodlebug”, which “touched every person’s life” in Melvern, she said.

The little train, or “doodlebug,” as we called it, made a daily run through Melvern, between Emporia and Lawrence. This train was the only mode of transportation for most of the people in this small town, because of the majority of the men worked on the Santa Fe in some capacity, and most of them didn’t have automobiles.

The little train was pretty small, but we all thought it was “just right.” I can recall the train having an engine, coal car, baggage car, and the passenger car. At the back of the passenger car was a railing where people could stand if they wanted to. There was no need for a larger train. If a person were going anyplace very far, there was always more passenger trains that were available. Most of us were not going anyplace other than the little towns close by.

One thing on the little train that fascinated us smaller children was the fact that there was a real honest to goodness modern toilet at the end of the passenger car. None of us were used to such a modern convenience. All we had was a “path” to the outhouse behind the house. As soon as we got on the train and got our seats, one of us would have to go to the toilet. It was so nice to sit on a nice modern stool seat with some water in the bowl. We were used to just an old hole and it was a smelly place at that. We all took turns going to the restroom.

The wives of the Santa Fe employees got the most use of the doodlebug. On Saturday afternoons after payday, the women rode the little train over to Ottawa to do their shopping. Some bought their groceries, others got clothing or household items, others just went for the ride to get out of town for a while. This was a pretty good form of recreation. The ladies could catch up on all the gossip because most of them didn’t have a telephone. A few had radios, but lots of them did not even have electricity, and of course the wonderful invention of TV was unheard of. For many of the ladies, this was the only time that they met for conversation, and they thoroughly enjoyed it.

Chamber hosts disc golfers for fall tournament at Osage City

Players get ready to tee off at the fall Chamber disc golf tournament. Osage City Chamber photo.

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce has announced its Fall Fling Fest Disc Golf Tournament was a success. Approximately 20 participants enjoyed a beautiful but windy day, Oct. 9, 2021, for the tournament at the Jones Park Disc Golf Course, at Osage City, Kan.

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce hosted the tournament with many prizes for winners, and everyone went home with a raffle item donated by Flint Hills Beverage.

Winners were determined for three levels of participants.

Men’s advanced: Jacob Wade, first place; Wyatt Orender, second place; David Hastings, third place.

Men’s intermediate: Todd Hensley, first place; Luke Orender, second place; Kurt Kitselman, third place.

Women’s intermediate: Kelli Orender, first place.

Men’s novice: Jason Butterfield, first place; Devin Trout, second place; Noah Powell, third place.

Women’s novice: Marisa Zimmerman, first place.

Closest to the pin winner: Noah Powell.

Men longest drive: Jason Butterfield.

Women longest drive: Kelli Orender.

The Osage City Chamber would like to thank the sponsors that supported the tournament and are looking forward to a larger participation for 2022.

Overbrook Fair 4-H Pet Show gives opportunities for learning, confidence building

A pet show exhibitor at the Overbrook Osage County Fair, held Aug. 14, 2021, explains how she cares for her pet chicken. Michael Turner photo.

By Pet Show Superintendent Marty Young

The last show of the Overbrook Osage County Fair was held Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at the Overbrook Fairgrounds show arena. Twenty-one children participated in the show, 11 enrolled in 4-H and 10 in the open class. A wide variety of pets were on display, including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, goats, chickens, fish, even a hermit crab and a miniature donkey. An awards ceremony was held after the show. All of the children were awarded ribbons and refreshments were served.

The pet show at the Overbrook Osage County Fair has steadily increased in popularity over the last few years. This year was by far the biggest show in recent history. The 4-H Pet Project provides an opportunity for younger children to gain experience in areas such as public speaking, project learning, leadership, and confidence-building, all while having fun.

Osage County Fair exhibition results, July 7-10, 2021, Osage City, Kan.

The Osage County Fair Association has released the following results of this year’s Osage County Fair exhibitions and judging for 4-H and open classes. The fair was held July 7 to July 10, 2021, at Osage City, Kan. Participants’ 4-H clubs abbreviation key is below.

Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club: Neighboring clubs hold joint meeting at Melvern Lake

Melvern Jr. Highline and Lyndon Leaders 4-H club members enjoy a presentation on the history of Melvern Lake, presented by a park ranger. Bella Reeser photo.

Melvern Jr. Highline September 4-H Meeting

By Bella Reeser, Club Reporter

On Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, the Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club held their monthly club meeting at the Overlook Shelter House at Melvern Lake. At 5:02 p.m. both the Melvern Jr. Highline and Lyndon Leaders 4-H clubs had the honor of a program presentation of the history of Melvern Lake by a Melvern park ranger. At 5:34 p.m. the September meeting was called to order by President Braelyn McNally. The club began their meeting with The Pledge of Allegiance and 4-H Pledge led by Leader Caleb McNally.

Secretary Amelia Arb called roll, members and parents were to answer with ‘If you could have one super power, what would it be?’ There were 12 members and eight adults present.

Amelia read the minutes from the last meeting; they were approved as read. Braelyn read the treasurer’s report; it was approved as read.  Reporter Bella Reeser stated she submitted one article to the newspaper.

In historian report, Historian Allie Reeser shared 4-H memories from Gaylene Ryan, former MJH leader.

In leader’s report, Lisa Reeser reminded members to read over meeting notes sheet: Thank yous to all awards contributors, Kansas State Fair is this week, record books are due September 22, newspaper forms are due Sept. 22, and at the next meeting we will create posters for National 4-H Week.

At 5:49 p.m. it was moved and seconded to adjourn the meeting. Both clubs then enjoyed a BBQ hot dog cook out for refreshments, then walked down to the beach to swim for recreation.

The Melvern Jr. Highline’s next club meeting will be 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, at Melvern Community Center.

Meet a local 4-Her: Cole Thompson, 4-H ambassador

Cole Thompson has been in 4-H for eight years and is a member of  Willing Workers 4-H Club, in which he held the position of junior president

Projects taken to the fair this year included apple bars and a steer.

Favorite 4-H activity for the year: “As a 4-H Ambassador of Osage County I enjoy helping pass out ribbons at the fairs. Being able to hang out and talk with the younger 4-Hers is always a lot of fun.”

Best 4-H memory this year? “My favorite memory this year was not only being selected as a 4-H Ambassador for Osage County, but being selected as a CWF delegate, where I will be able to go to Washington, D.C., this next summer!”

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Kevin Whitmer, hunting the elusive Luna moth

Willing Workers 4-H Club member Kevin Whitmer has been in 4-H for five years. He holds the office of treasurer. His projects include entomology, foods and nutrition, poultry, rocketry, and horticulture.

Favorite activity: “My favorite activity was learning how to make homemade pizza at a foods project meeting.”

Favorite projects: “My two favorite projects this year were entomology and foods. This year I finally caught the elusive Luna moth, which is rare in this part of the state. In the foods project I was able to perfect my angel food cake and receive a purple at the county fair.”

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Paige Thielen, first year of 4-H is one to remember

My name is Paige Thielen, a member of the Willing Workers 4-H Club. This was my first year in 4-H. I had a fun year because I was able to take a pig and I love pigs. This is a picture of pig named “Pig.” He got reserve grand champion market hog at the Overbrook fair. I baked cookies and got a purple. I was the recreation officer this year for my club. It was a great year.

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Avery Thielen, award winning pet photographer

My name is Avery Thielen, a member of the Willing Worker 4-H Club. This is my fourth year in 4-H. This is the best year I have had so far, especially in photography. I got grand champion on a picture of our dog “Molly.” Her picture went to the state fair and got a blue.

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Karley Lowry enjoys 4-H camp

Karley Lowry, member of Burlingame 4-H Club, has been in 4-H for two years. Her fair projects have included horse, beef, poultry, goats, bucket calf, pet, cooking. She serves as treasurer of her 4-H club.

Karley’s favorite 4-H activity from this year: “Going to 4-H camp for the first time!”

Her best 4-H memory this year was “winning reserve champion in pets with my pet goat, Hershey.”

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Horse, livestock and poultry showman Katie Lowry

Katie Lowry is a six-year member of 4-H and in the Burlingame 4-H Club, where she holds the office of president.

Projects taken to the fair this year included her horse, beef heifers, poultry, and goats. Her favorite 4-H activity from the year was showing her heifers, and participating in VetMed Rocks camp at KSU.

Her best 4-H experience this year was: “Winning a buckle at the Osage County Fair for high point winner at the horse show, and receiving grand champion poultry. That was my first time showing a chicken!”

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Allison Reeser, future botanist

My name is Allison Reeser, and I’m a member of the Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club. This is my seventh year in 4-H and my third year in horticulture. Horticulture is a critical project for me to take and learn from because I want to become a genetic botanist. In my horticulture project, I have learned many skills that will help me with my future plans, such as how to prune a plant or flower, clean your herbs before using them, and dry and store herbs for the winter properly.

My favorite project I showed this year for horticulture was my purple basil. At the Osage County Fair, my purple basil received grand champion in horticulture. I then went on to take it to the Overbrook fair, where it received a blue. Finally, I had the honor of taking it to the Kansas State Fair, where it received a blue.

I’m excited to see what my next year of horticulture has in store for me.

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Isabella Reeser, friend of all birds

My name is Isabella Reeser, and I’m a member of the Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club. This is my fourth year in 4-H and my fourth year in poultry.

It all started in April of 2017; my mom and dad gave me six chickens for my seventh birthday. My dad built a pen for them, and my sister and I learned how to take care of chickens. So when October 2017 rolled around, and I finally got to be in 4-H, chickens was one project I wanted to be in! My sister and I feed, water, and tend to my chickens (and her ducks) every day.

About May of 2018, my mom and I began watching YouTube videos trying to figure out how to show and what all preparation goes into showing chickens. We learned how to properly bathe them, dry them, show them, put them in and out of cages, and even what I was to wear during the showing.

Fast-forward to now, my sister and I have a flock of about 40 birds made up of chickens, ducks, and guineas. I took my Buff Orpington hen to the Osage County Fair, at Osage City, where she received a purple, reserve grand champion chicken, and reserve grand champion bird in the poultry division. While at the Osage City fair, I participated in showmanship and received reserve grand champion.

On Sept. 10, my family and I traveled to Hutchison and the Kansas State Fair. My Buff Orpington hen received a blue at the Kansas State Fair. While at the state fair, I was also a member of the Frontier District Poultry Judging Team, where we placed third as a team, and I placed 11th overall. I also gave a demonstration on how to bathe poultry and received a purple.

I can’t wait until the next 4-H year to show my birds again!

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Mya Montgomery, Cloverbud loves Clover

Mya Montgomery is a two-year Cloverbud 4-H member in Burlingame 4-H Club. Projects she has taken to the fair include her bucket calf, and poultry and baking.

Her favorite 4-H activity from the year was her bucket calf, but she can’t wait to show her horses, Bougee and Hondo, next year, when she’ll be old enough for regular 4-H! Her best 4-H memory or experience this year was winning a purple ribbon with Clover, her bottle calf.

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Hailey Montgomery, poultry exhibitor

Hailey Montgomery has been in 4-H for four years, and is a member of Burlingame 4-H Club. Projects she has taken to the fair include horses, breeding heifers, bucket calf, poultry, and baking. Hailey’s favorite 4-H activity this year was showing horses and her heifer, Candy, at the fair. Her best 4-H memory or experience this year was winning reserve grand champion poultry at the Overbrook Fair with her hen.

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Braelyn McNally, grand champion steer exhibitor

Braelyn McNally is a five-year 4-H member and serves as president of Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club and secretary of the 4-H council. Her fair projects have included beef, clothing buymanship, foods and nutrition, and meat goats.

Favorite 4-H activity of the year: “County fairs, where I get to display the projects I have worked on all year and have them judged. I also have lots of fun with my 4-H friends hanging out at the fair.

Best 4-H memory or experience this years: Winning grand champion with my steer, Duele, at the Overbrook Fair!

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Gradey McNally keeps busy with fair exhibits

Gradey McNally, Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club member, has been in 4-H for three years. Projects he has taken to the fair include beef, clothing buymanship, foods and nutrition, and meat goat. He has served as his club’s recreation leader.

Favorite 4-H activity from the year: “I had lots of fun this year at our county fair with friends, and going to the southeast area judging contest, learning about crops and horticulture and making new friends.”

Best 4-H memory or experience: “Receiving a purple with my blueberry muffins, and winning champion and reserve champion with my steer.”

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


Meet a local 4-Her: Levi Arb, custom craftsman

Levi Arb, a three-year member of 4-H, is in Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club, where he holds the office of recreation leader. His projects taken to the fair included a hat rack made with a live-edge hackberry slab and deer antlers.

Favorite 4-H activity from the year: “My favorite activity from this past year was going to Melvern Lake and having our meeting at the shelter house and getting to swim at the beach afterwards.”

Best 4-H memory or experience: “I enjoyed making my hat rack and taking it to the Osage County Fair in Osage City. I liked to talk to the judge about how I made it and I was excited when I got reserve grand champion!”

Celebrating National 4-H Week
Oct. 3-9, 2021


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