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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thankful and blessed with help from the Osage City community

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,
ECAT volunteers and board members

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

Relax on the river: Quenemo celebrates life along the Marais des Cygnes

Quenemo will be celebrating the town’s riverbank heritage with the Marais des Cygnes River Valley Festival, scheduled for 2-10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The day full of fun and entertainment features historical reenactors, live music, vendors, parade, dancers, and touch-a-truck. Quenemo historical items will be on display at the community center, presented by curator Mike Ragan. A Quenemo alumni gathering and open house is scheduled 2-5 p.m.. Everyone is invited to come to Quenemo Saturday and enjoy the day. Here is the schedule:

Scranton celebrates 150 years with community birthday party

Scranton’s celebration of its 150th anniversary this Saturday will feature fireworks, a live band in the park, car show on Main Street, and the Scranton History Museum on display at the school. The city’s sesquicentennial celebration also includes free family activities at City Park and Scranton Attendance Center.

Scranton was founded in 1872 as a coal mining town. By the early 1880s, the population had grown to almost 2,000 people; it now numbers 653, as reported by the 2020 census.

Here’s the sesquicentennial celebration schedule:

Zion Lutherans celebrate church’s German heritage

Members of Zion Lutheran Church prepare for Germanfest in authentic German attire, from left, Donna Silver, Burlingame, and Toni and Larry Wendling, Lyndon.

VASSAR, Kan. – In the late 1880s, several Lutheran families in the area of present day village of Vassar, which was platted in 1886, requested that a Lutheran pastor from the Topeka area come to preach God’s Word and baptize their children.

The first divine service was held March 30, 1884, almost 140 years ago, in the home of Fred Matthias. Zion Lutheran Church was formally organized in 1893 as “Die deutsche evangelische lutherische Germeinde ungeaenderter Augsburgischer Konfession zu Vassar, Osage County, Kansas”.

Zion Lutheran Church will feature its German heritage and history with a celebration in the Vassar community 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, outdoors in the block just west of the church. The event will include German food, a polka band, beer garden, children’s activities, and local craftsmen featuring their handiwork for sale. The event is open to the public. For more information, see www.facebook.com/zionlutheranvassar.

Archeologist to speak on investigations along Santa Fe Trail in Osage County

Celebrating Scranton’s sesquicentennial

The Osage County Historical Society will present “An Evening with Dr. Shannon R. Ryan Ph.D” at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, at the Scranton Attendance Center, 104 S. Burlingame Ave., Scranton, KS. This event is taking place as part of Scranton’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Dr. Ryan is a noted registered professional archeologist with R. Christopher Goodwin and Associate, Lawrence, Kan. She will speak about her recent archaeological investigations into four Osage County sites along the Santa Fe Trail.

During the main speaker, a children’s program will be presented by Lynsay Flory, OCHS program director. Light refreshments will be served, and a silent auction will be held to benefit the historical society.

This event is free of charge, but freewill donations will be accepted. For more information, contact the Osage County Historical Society at 785-828-3477 or researchosagechs@embarqmail.com.

Lap the Lake ride features beauty of Melvern Lake and Osage Cuestas

Registration is open for the second annual Lap the Lake bicycle event that starts and ends at the Melvern Lake Marina and set for Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

This year’s event includes a 51-mile and 6-mile ride, along with the original 27.5-mile course. The course options challenge all level riders, and allow riders to enjoy the beautiful Osage County backdrop and views of Melvern Lake along the way.

Prizes will be presented for overall male and female winners; there will also be a bib number raffle. Participants and volunteers receive a T-shirt. Sign up to ride or volunteer here https://register.chronotrack.com/r/66716.

Registration table opens at 7 a.m. Oct. 1, with the ride’s start and finish at Melvern Lake Marina; register by Sept. 7 to receive swag.

The courses include the Challenger Deep, 51 miles, $55, start 9 a.m.; Mariana Trench, 27.5 miles, $45, 9:30 a.m.; and Stayin’ Shallow, bike, run or walk, 6 miles, $25, 10 a.m. Participants must complete entire course to be eligible for a first-place prize.

Hidden History: Early inhabitants wove the fabric of Osage County’s past

Every property has a story, every house has a story, woven by the individuals that make their mark at that specific location. In the southern part of Osage County, Kan., the impact of written human history starts with the Sauk and Fox.

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. This land contained 500 acres of rich farm ground used by the Sauk and Fox for farming until the Treaty of 1868, a deal which would lay the groundwork to remove the tribes to Oklahoma. Despite the signing of the treaty in 1868, the majority of the Sauk and Fox were not moved from the area until 1869. The land was then sold by the government to incoming settlers.

Julius Gandion, early Lyndon  farmer/stockman. Photo Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 1906.

One of the first settlers to be granted a land patent (purchase of land from the government) was Julius Gandion. Julius was a native of France who arrived in Osage County in 1871. His farm was located approximately three miles south of Lyndon, a property that now has a large two-story ranch house upon it. That house, while not Gandion’s, would become the center of a larger story.

After only 20 years, Julius Gandion moved on from his property due to personal struggles. Edward H. Perry, an agent for a real estate company in Topeka, heard about the newly available property and jumped at the chance to purchase it in 1892.

Edward constructed a new eight-room house on the property. The ranch became known as one of the most improved farms in the county. It boasted all kinds of fruit and shade trees and a lovely blue grass and tame grass lawn.

Jones Trust grants funds for exterior preservation work at historic Arvonia

Arvonia Historic Preservation Society is the recipient of a grant that will support the exterior restoration plan for the Arvonia Township Hall and Arvonia Calvinistic Methodist Church. Announced June 28, 2022, The Walter S. and Evan C. Jones Testamentary Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee awarded the $30,000 grant to AHPS, as a designated fund of the Emporia Community Foundation.

Susan Evans Atchison, AHPS president, said the gift brings the organization closer to the funding needed to reach a goal of completing exterior preservation of the structures.

“On behalf of the board of directors, and all of our volunteers, I would like to thank the Walter S. and Evan C. Jones Testamentary Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee for its commitment to community roots and the importance of preserving these historic buildings for future generations, and incredible gratitude for their continued generosity to this geographical area for so many worthy charitable causes,” Atchison said.

Mi’Chielle Cooper, AHPS board member, said the grant will open opportunities for the organization to direct other fundraising toward Welsh-American historical programs, educational activities and community events.

The Arvonia School, Calvinistic Methodist Church, and Arvonia Township Hall are listed on the Kansas Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places. Arvonia was founded as a Welsh community in 1869.

K-31 to close July 25 near Osage City for highway realignment project

The Kansas Department of Transportation plans to close a portion of state Highway 31, beginning Monday, July 25, in Osage County, weather permitting. The closure is just east of Osage City and will span approximately seven miles from South Indian Hills Road to U.S. Highway 75.

The closure is part of the K-31 realignment project, and the highway is expected to be closed until early November. Through traffic can follow a marked detour on U.S. Highway 56 through Burlingame and Scranton. KDOT uses state highways for official detour routes for safety, weight and maintenance concerns.

KDOT urges all motorists to be alert and obey the warning signs when approaching and driving through a highway work zone. For more information about road construction projects across Kansas, see www.kandrive.org or call 511.

Gravestone specialist teaches preservation techniques at Burlingame Cemetery

Participants in cemetery preservation workshop gather at Burlingame Cemetery. Photos by Wendi Bevitt.

Fifty people gathered at Burlingame Cemetery, June 8, 2022,  to learn how to preserve gravestones and monuments. Jonathan Appell, of Atlas Preservation, presented the free cemetery preservation seminar.

Participants reset a Civil War marker using a tripod lift.

For the past 20 years, Appell has worked to preserve gravestones and monuments across the United States, and is the leading preservationist in his field. With his work, Appell has developed simple and effective hands-on techniques and encouraged others to preserve America’s burying grounds. His workshop is part of a cross country tour to complete 48 gravestone preservation workshops in 48 states in 48 days, teaching people how to clean, repair and reset gravestones and monuments in their own backyards.

The Burlingame workshop was attended by individuals of varying backgrounds, representing a majority of the towns in Osage County, and communities from Kansas and Missouri. Several large monuments were leveled, many more cleaned, and one mended.

The event was video documented by Wade Fowler, also known as the Millennial Stone Cleaner, who plans to post the video to his YouTube channel at a future date. Also in attendance were social media personalities, Alicia Williams (aka Lady Taphos) and Amanda Brown (aka Healthy Headstones) who provided additional educational support at the event. The event was sponsored by the Osage County Historical Society and Buried Past Consulting.

Melvern works together to honor service members on Memorial Day

By Bella Reeser, Club Reporter
Melvern Jr. Highline 4-H Club

Mud boots and rain coats were needed, but nothing stopped the Melvern community from coming together to honor those at the Melvern Cemetery who have served our country. On Saturday, May 28, 2022, members of the community placed flags on the graves of local community members who had served.

Grateful citizens work together to honor those who have fallen

Sprinkles and mud puddles didn’t stop local adults and youth from coming out May 26, 2022 and together decorating Oak Hill Cemetery, near Quenemo, Kan., for Memorial Day. Youth helpers included Bella Reeser, Olivia Lacey, Levi Arb, Gentry McNally, Gradey McNally, Braelyn McNally, and Allie Reeser. Adults not pictured, Caleb McNally, Mike Reagan, Heidi Arb, and Dwayne and Lori Meiers. Photo submitted by Bella Reeser.

Euclid Lodge donation helps Osage County’s past to be remembered

L.D. Nicolay and fellow Euclid Masonic Lodge members Charles Hanna and Paul Oldham present a grant to Osage County Historical Society members Eileen Davis and Ann Rogers; member Bunny Givens, right. Courtesy photo.

The Osage County Historical Society received a $1,000 grant from the Euclid Masonic Lodge, Lyndon, Kan. Representatives presented the check to members of the historical society, Eileen Davis and Ann Rodgers. The grant will be used to help develop and execute new educational programming for children and families.

Reading schoolmates invite alumni and staff to annual banquet

The Reading alumni banquet will be held Saturday, June 4, 2022. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m., and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Reading School gymnasium. Olpe Chicken House is serving the meal and there will be musical entertainment. Anyone who attended or worked at Reading School is invited. The cost of the meal is $18 per person. Attendees are asked to mail reservations and payment to Reading Alumni Association, PO Box 44, Reading, KS 66868-0044. Deadline for reservations is May 15, 2022.

Arvonia School kicks off 150-year celebration with outdoor concert

The Arvonia Historic Preservation Society has plans for several events for the 150th anniversary of Arvonia School. The celebration will begin with a concert by Tina Barrett and Zak Putnam.

Everyone is invited to attend the outdoor concert 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 24, 2022, in front of the Arvonia School, and bring lawn chairs or blankets and a picnic, snack and refreshment of choice.

Located in the Welsh settlement of Arvonia, Kan., is the Arvonia School. Built in 1872, the school is one of the few remaining buildings designed by pioneer Kansas architect John G. Haskell. It is one of the earliest-known architect designed schools in the state. The building was constructed by Welsh craftsman James Rice. It has become a Kansas icon, immortalized in the art of photography and legend of the region. The school is on the Reigister of Historic Kansas Places and the National Register of Historic Places. The building has been restored in the past several years.

In case of rain, the concert will be moved to the township hall. For more information, contact Susan Evans Atchison at 620-794-3917. Arvonia is located four miles north of Lebo and is on the southwest side of Melvern Lake.

More activities are planned this year to celebrate the beautiful historic school building, including another concert in the fall.

Overbrook Rural High School plans May 27 all school reunion

The Overbrook Rural High School All School Reunion is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Friday, May 27, 2022, at Overbrook Public Library.

Registration is $5 per person, payable at time of event. No meeting is planned, just light refreshments, conversation and reconnecting.

All ORHS alumni, teachers and spouses are invited. To register, call or text 913-972-0974.

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