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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.

Coalition meets to consider Osage County’s historical resources

The quarterly meeting of the Osage County Historical Coalition was held Feb. 23, 2022, at the Carbondale Library. This coalition is a group of historical societies and other entities interested in creating public awareness and preserving the history of our county.

The meeting began with considering the benefits of what Freedom’s Frontier can do for historical tourism in our county.

Next, Lynsay Flory, programming director for the Osage County Historical Society, told the group how they could access educational programming through OCHS for use in events.

Upcoming events in the county such as the Scranton and Carbondale sesquicentennial celebrations, as well as St. David’s Day events for Arvonia were discussed.

The next coalition meeting will be hosted by the Burlingame Schuyler Museum at 6 p.m. June 14. Individuals involved with historic preservation in Osage County are welcome to attend.

Information thanks to Wendi Bevitt.

Senior Center Update: Nutrition site to celebrate 50 years of Meals on Wheels

A Midland Pace representative will be at the Osage County Senior Center, March 11, 2022, to help anyone that needs to fill out Medicaid papers. Call the center if you would like to have the representative help with this.

AARP will be doing taxes at the center. They only have 30 appointments available. Anyone needing tax assistance is asked to call the center to schedule an appointment, 785-219-2440.

Osage County Public Transportation has had a lot of new faces.

At the Osage County Senior Center, visitors can usually find the following activities ongoing on these days and times. All are welcome to join in.

  • Monday through Friday, 9-10 a.m. Exercise class.
  • Monday, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Sewing.
  • Monday 9-11 a.m. Painting.
  • Monday, 5:30 p.m. Pitch, bring a snack if you like.
  • Tuesday, 12:30-3:30 p.m. Mexican Train, usually played every day.
  • Wednesday, 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Sewing.
  • Wednesdays are ceramics day, but usually always on the first Wednesday of the month.
  • Thursday, 9-11 a.m. Painting.
  • Friday, 10-11:30 a.m. Bingo; bring a $5 gift bag, everyone wins.

The senior center is a commodities distribution site. Patrons are asked to note that income limits have been raised for eligibility for the commodities program. For all eligibility requirements, contact the center. Anyone in Osage County who thinks they might qualify for the program, but can’t get to the senior center to pick up commodities, is asked to call the center.

East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging nutrition site located at the senior center is managed by Vicky Tittle. Tuttle is reminding patrons the agency will be celebrating 50 years of Meals on Wheels with a special menu of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, roll and apple crisp, on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Anyone wanting to join the celebration that day is asked to reserve their spot by March 21. In addition, Tuttle reminds everyone they are welcome at the site anytime, Monday through Friday, but are asked to call the site at least 24 hours prior to day they would like to eat. To contact the nutrition site, call 785-528-4170.

For more information about the senior center, call director Tammyra Swift-Fager at 785-528-1170, or stop by 604 Market St., Osage City, Kan.

Hidden History: Kentuckians seek Kansas townsites to escape bigotry of their homeland

At the time Kansas Territory was opened for settlement in 1854, there were two prime spots on the Santa Fe Trail in what would become Osage County – the crossings at Switzler Creek and 110 Mile Creek. Both locations had been actively used for trade by the Shawnee Tribe until their removal from the area that year. These crossings were quickly snapped up by the earliest settlers in the county to be used for their access to trade.

Switzler’s crossing became the location for Council City, a predecessor to Burlingame, and was established by Northerners intent on making Kansas a state free from slavery. The crossing at 110 Mile Creek would be settled by Southerner Fry McGee. Not long after, other settlements with similar hopes sprung up nearby along the same trail corridor. These towns were established by individuals also with Free State motivations, but seeking freedoms from other discriminations as well.

When the first counties in Kansas Territory received their boundaries in 1855, the northern most part of what would be Osage County was included in Shawnee County (although the county would not be officially organized until 1858), and Burlingame had aspirations to become the county seat or even the capital of the future state. Another developing city that desired to become the county seat for Shawnee County was Prairie City (not to be confused with the Prairie City that was located in Douglas County).

Prairie City was borne out of a desire to live without fear. In August 1855, the city of Louisville, Kentucky, an election day erupted in anti-Catholic violence that became known as Bloody Monday. The riot was led by local Democrats and followers of the Know Nothing Movement, who in their proclaimed patriotism shunned those that were not like them. The Know Nothings were originally known as the Native American Party, a group that sought to organize native-born Protestants and promote traditional values. In Louisville, this manifested itself in anger and discrimination against Catholics and anti-slavery advocates, causing a series of riots and deaths of many German and Irish Catholic immigrants.

Hidden History: Barclay, Osage County’s forgotten Quaker community

A Quaker influence has been in Osage County since the state was opened for settlement in 1854. Even before that time, however, the Quakers were active in Kansas Territory as missionaries to the Native American tribes. Quakers took the belief of “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” literally and believed that all races were equal. At the Kansas Quakers missions, followers sought to bring the Christian faith, as well as education, to the tribes.

Their position in the missions gave them early access to the newly opened lands after the signing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Their early presence here also put them in position to take a role in laying the groundwork for Kansas to be admitted as a free state. Nearly from the time slavery was introduced to the United States, the Quakers had objected to the institution of slavery. Quaker beliefs prohibited them from any force in the matter, so they found another way to take an active role in the fight against slavery – such as the Underground Railroad. In our area, Quaker missionaries were in Osage County early on, but later moved into Wabaunsee County, where they established known stops for the Underground Railroad.

The next major influence of the Quakers in Osage County would not occur until more than a decade later. When a treaty in 1859 shrunk the Sac and Fox reservation, nearly 140,000 acres of the premium parcels of the former reservation lands were snapped up by government officials and land speculators. The largest portion went to Seyfert and McManus Company, acting in conjunction with the Reading Iron Works, of Reading, Pennsylvania. John McManus was also tied to the railroad, and because of his varied interests, sought to open coal mines in the county.

Governor congratulates Carbondale for award of sidewalk improvement funds

Project to provide pedestrian access to school, library, downtown  

CARBONDALE, Kan. – Today, Gov. Laura Kelly congratulated the city of Carbondale for receiving $167,287 in cost share funds as administered through the Kansas Department of Transportation. The recently funded project will provide sidewalk improvements near critical public buildings in Carbondale.

“Congratulations to the City of Carbondale for receiving $167,287 in the latest round of Cost Share funding,” Kelly said. “By working with our local partners to invest in our communities, our Cost Share program is improving road safety, mobility, and helping recruit new families and businesses to our state. This project is proof that when we work together to make smart investments in our foundation, all Kansans see results.”

A component of the Kelly Administration’s 10-year, bipartisan Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program, or IKE, the Cost Share program is designed to help rural and urban areas advance transportation projects to improve safety, support job retention and growth, relieve congestion, and improve access and mobility. The city of Carbondale was among 20 transportation construction projects selected for the fall 2021 Cost Share recipients.

“This will improve the entrance into the community and the foot traffic, said Carbondale Mayor John Ryan. “We anticipate additional biking and walking, as well as safer access for our students.”

The project will provide sidewalks on Third Street from Carbondale Attendance Center, which serves fourth through eighth grade students, to the Carbondale City Library, and on the north side of Main Street, giving safer pedestrian access to adjacent businesses, including the local grocery store.

“Currently, kids walk in the street,” said Ryan. “This will connect our downtown district to the school and other sidewalks in the area.”

Pedestrians cannot safely access the public library at the northeast corner of Third Street and Main Street in Carbondale, as North Third Street does not currently have a usable sidewalk, nor does the north side of Main Street. There are sections on these streets that have no sidewalk and sections with cobblestone or brick have become overgrown and unusable over time.

The road to Santa Fe featured on KTWU

Spotlighting the Santa Fe Trail during its bicentennial, The Road to Santa Fe airs at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, on KTWU/Channel 11, in Topeka. Produced by Dave Kendall, a former host of the “Sunflower Journeys” series, the documentary explores the forces that spawned the trail and shaped its development. Jennie Chinn, executive director of the Kansas Historical Society, joins a number of knowledgeable historians who tell the story.

In 1821, a group of traders from Missouri ventured to Santa Fe, then governed by Mexico.Trade soon grew in what became a seasonal movement of covered freight wagons rolling back and forth. In 1846, the “Army of the West” marched down the trail after Congress declared war with Mexico. The Americans took control of Santa Fe, and by war’s end, most of northern Mexico was ceded to the United States.

As the military presence along the trail increased, so did tensions with Native Americans, which eventually led to their forced removal from the plains. Conflicts that escalated into civil war also occurred along the trail beginning in the 1850s. In 1880, when the rails reached Santa Fe, commerce on the trail came to an end, closing a pivotal chapter in American history.

“As our nation continues to grapple with issues surrounding our relationship with Mexico as well as our relations with Native peoples, we might benefit from a better understanding of how these relationships evolved,” said producer Kendall. “Those who seek to clarify our notions of who we are as Americans will find it helpful to place this into an historical context that spotlights the forces and philosophies that guided the westward expansion of the United States.”

Burlingame Library: Rescue grant provides materials fund for community patio

Workers prepare the site for the Burlingame Library’s new community patio. Burlingame Library photo.

The Burlingame Community Library was recently awarded a $25,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant for the construction of a community patio. This project was made possible by the State Library of Kansas and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The patio, to be located to the west of the library, will be completed this fall. The rules of the grant do not allow for funds to pay for construction or labor so the library is looking for volunteers to help with pavers and pergolas. Anyone interested in helping out is asked to call the library at 785-654-3400.

The Burlingame Friends of the Library will host a community patio fundraiser –  bingo and soup supper with dessert bar is planned for Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Schuyler Community Building. The soup bar opens at 5:30 p.m. and bingo begins at 6. Choice of soup, dessert, drink and two bingo cards will be offered for a $10 donation. Mascot pecans will be available for purchase. The Friends will also have their annual cookie and baked goods sale, beginning at 10 a.m., Dec. 4, during Burlingame’s Country Christmas. This year Christmas crafts will also be added.

The Burlingame Library has also been selected as one of 100 libraries to participate in round three of Libraries Transforming Communities: Focus on Small and Rural Libraries, an American Library Association initiative that helps library workers better serve their small and rural communities. This competitive award comes with a $3,000 grant that will help the library with their Longest Table event planned for the spring of 2022.

The library has also added several items to the Library of Things, so be sure and stop in the library and check out what’s available. Following the library’s Facebook page, Burlingame Community Library, is also a great way to see new items that have been added to the collection.

For more information, stop by the library at 122 W. Santa Fe Ave., Burlingame, Kan., or call 785-654-3400.

Osage County Historical Society: Setting out on the road of least resistance

Osage County Historical Society annual meeting and community gathering will be Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Burlingame Schuyler Museum, 117 S. Dacotah St., Burlingame, Kan.

The society will hold its business meeting at 4:45 p.m., followed by a soup supper at 5 p.m. The featured speaker will be local historian Wendi Bevitt, who will speak at 5:30 p.m. on “The Road of Least Resistance: Osage County and the Santa Fe Trail”.

Tickets for the event are $15 each or $20 for two tickets; available at the Osage County Historical Society, the Burlingame Schuyler Museum, or by calling 785-828-3477. Tickets will also be available at the door.

Old photo, age unknown, shows downtown Burlingame in the past. Courtesy photo.

Carbondale plans grand opening ceremony for new library

Members of the Carbondale community form a human chain on Aug. 29, 2021, to move books and materials from the old library to the new one, in preparation for the library’s grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 11. Courtesy photo.

The Carbondale City Library will hold a grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the completion of the new building’s construction. The ceremony will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at 302 Main St., Carbondale.

The new 6,000-square-feet building features seating for more than 100 people, study areas, group meeting rooms, and a multi-purpose room, including a kitchen for future classes.

The ceremony will include remarks from Board of Trustees President Lonnie Hinck, Library Director Heather Garrison, and elected officials. Refreshments will follow with a craft activity for children.

Additionally, the library will be closed Aug. 28-Sept. 10, 2021, to migrate the collection into the new building and install all new technology.

Hidden History: Young Kansas invites young Americans to settle as agrarians

As Kansas emerged, first as a territory and then a state, early pioneers sought to create towns to entice additional settlers to desirous locations. The town of Young America, in what was later to become Osage County, was one of these locations. Built on the premise that the everyday farmer could find success in selling the produce from his small estate, Young America attempted to draw in settlers to its remote location in the interior of the United States.

The first settlement of the claim later to be known as Young America was by a middle-aged man named Carter B. Griffin. Griffin came with the flood of Missourians in 1854 intent on settling Kansas to make it a slave state. Griffin chose a plot of land on the edge of the Sac and Fox reservation, on what is now the northwestern part of Pomona Lake, to establish his claim.

Settlement by Euro-Americans within Indian reservations was prohibited for individuals without direct ties to the tribes, but Griffin utilized a nearby trail that led from the Indian agency to the Pottawatomie reservation to the northwest to trade with the tribes. The nearest neighbors, Fry McGee and his family, also pro-slavery Missourians, were north of Griffin’s claim by 10 miles, also along 110 Mile Creek.

Griffin’s location, like McGee’s, was partially wooded and offered a good location for hunting and fishing. To improve his claim, Griffin built a log cabin and dug a well. After a little more than a year, Griffin left his claim and returned to property he still held in Missouri.

In the spring of 1856, the Griffin claim was assumed by a Mississippian by the name of Smith, who built an additional three log cabins at the site for himself and a number of enslaved individuals he had brought with him. Smith used his labor force to break out 45 acres of prairie land. When the tide within the territory began shifting as 1856 wore on, Smith left, selling his human property in Missouri and returning to Mississippi.

At 150, Melvern proudly represents Kansas Spirit!

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to the town of Melvern, Kansas, for achieving 150 years of township!

Since its formation, Melvern has remained a place of hospitality for all Kansans to enjoy. Whether it’s to experience Melvern Lake, prosper as a small business owner, or be a historical part of the expansion of Kansas with the BNSF railroad, Melvern’s welcoming people and community embody the heart of Kansas.

Melvern offers incredible, photogenic views, and when you’re not celebrating a new fishing season, you’re celebrating the success of the USD 456 Trojans at Marais des Cygnes Valley High School.

As Kansas State Treasurer, one of my favorite things is traveling the state to visit communities like Melvern. While a busy schedule educating our citizens about unclaimed property, Learning Quest 529 accounts, and more keeps me from being able to attend Melvern’s Sunflower Days in person, I hope to visit soon to honor your wonderful achievement of 150 years!

May you celebrate many more and take pride in being a true representation of the Kansas Spirit!

Lynn Rogers
Kansas State Treasurer

Osage City First Presbyterian Church celebrates 150th anniversary

Osage City First Presbyterian Church, 202 S. Sixth St., Osage City; cornerstone laid May 6, 1921.

Current church is 100 years old

While the cornerstone of the current Osage City First Presbyterian Church, located at 202 S. Sixth St., was laid May 6, 1921, the church was originally founded in the city in 1871.

The current church is the third building erected by the congregation. The church was a unique design of the times. Accommodations included departmental work rooms for Sunday School, auditorium, lecture rooms, balcony, dining hall, all with hope of meeting the congregation’s needs for public worship for many years to come. Noted in the church’s history is that it cost $60,000 to build the church in 1921.

The church will celebrate its 150th anniversary at a later date.

Weekly church services are held at 10:30 a.m. Sundays, and everyone is welcomed to the beautiful church.

Osage City historical downtown property shares in statewide preservation grants

The Star Block, at 520 Market Street, Osage City, center of photo, was once an early day doctor’s office, operated by Dr. Roup for a year or so sometime around the early 1890s. Photo thanks to the Osage County Historical Society.

OSAGE CITY, Kan. – An Osage City property will receive a historic preservation project grant as part of 2021 round of Heritage Trust Fund grant program.

The Star Block, a portion of the downtown in Osage City on Market Street, will receive $90,000 of the total of $1,168,492 awarded for 15 historic preservation projects across the state.

HTF grants reimburse expenses for projects that preserve or restore qualifying historic properties. The funded projects represent a diverse collection of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places or the Register of Historic Kansas Places. All awards are contingent upon available funding.

“Kansas has a unique and rich history, and with these awards, we can continue to celebrate and learn about that history for generations to come,” Governor Laura Kelly said in announcing the grants.

Osage County Places: Vassar schoolhouse, still serving as center of its community

In 1913, the town of Vassar moved ahead with its plans for a new school and requests for bids were sent out to the surrounding area. Merchant and aspiring architect Clarence Silven, of Osage City, submitted the plans chosen for the school, competing against firms from Ottawa and Topeka. Clarence also created successful plans for Osage City’s Swedish Lutheran church and the high school at Reading.

Frank Cargey, of Baldwin, was selected for the carpentry work and A. M. Duty, of Melvern, was chosen to do the concrete and brick work. As bricks emerged as a building material for schoolhouses, the sturdy material made it the style of choice. Vassar’s second school was torn down and much of the material was reused for the new building. Total cost for the new Vassar school was $3,299.

Serving as a school until 1977 with its last class of 12 students, the schoolhouse is now Vassar’s community center.

Hidden History: Vassar schoolhouse stands as monument to one-room education

Student photo of Vassar School 1939-40. Wendi Bevitt collection.

Throughout the countryside, remnants of schools of a bygone era dot the landscape. The one-room schoolhouse was the core of not only its surrounding community’s education but also a social center supported by its citizens. Sometimes the only public building in the area was the town’s school. On the edge of Vassar, Kansas, the town’s one-room schoolhouse still serves as a center of the community.

The first schoolhouse for Vassar, District 68, was located on a farm northwest of the modern day town site. A second school was built in 1884 closer to the center of the school district, a half mile northeast of what would become the town in 1887. When Pete Peterson gave land to the community in 1912 to be used for stockyards and a depot, part of it was set aside for a new school.

In 1913, the town moved ahead with its plans for a new school and requests for bids were sent out to the surrounding area. Merchant and aspiring architect Clarence Silven, of Osage City, submitted the plans chosen for the school, competing against firms from Ottawa and Topeka. Clarence also created successful plans for Osage City’s Swedish Lutheran church and the high school at Reading.

Frank Cargey, of Baldwin, was selected for the carpentry work and A. M. Duty, of Melvern, was chosen to do the concrete and brick work. As bricks emerged as a building material for schoolhouses, the sturdy material made it the style of choice. Vassar’s second school was torn down and much of the material was reused for the new building. Total cost for the new Vassar school was $3,299.

The year the Vassar school was completed, 54 percent of teachers and 42 percent of pupils in the state were in one-room schoolhouses. One-room schools typically had two teachers that split the responsibilities of teaching the different age levels. Back then, schoolteachers’ professional lives only lasted on average about four years, but they were at the core of social improvements in their communities.

Chamber installs billboards, invites highway travelers to drive 7 minutes to Osage City

Osage City Chamber of Commerce sign committee members gathered at a new billboard Sept. 21, 2020, to celebrate the recent installation of the sign and completion of a long-term project, from left, Casey Mussatto, Joe Humerickhouse, Chamber director Jeanette Swartz, Jim Lohmeyer, and Dave Azwell.

After many years of trying to secure locations, developing designs, and getting bids and references, the Osage City Chamber of Commerce sign committee has replaced a billboard that used to direct people to Osage City from U.S. Highway 75.

In September, Thomas Signs, of Manhattan, erected the billboard about a half mile north of the U.S. 75 roundabout at state highways 31 and 268 on the west side of the highway.

The sign replaced a longtime billboard that used to sit near the location of the roundabout. The former billboard was removed due to the construction of the roundabout, which was completed in 2014.

The sign committee had previously erected an almost identical sign east of the roundabout on the north side of Highway 268. In addition, the Chamber has also installed an information sign at the intersection of state highways 31 and 170 on the west edge of Osage City, and three signs at the city’s limits that denote local amenities. The signs were design by Trevor Keeffe. The city of Osage City assisted with the sign project and the city crew helped prepare the sign sites and clear brush.

The new billboard on U.S. 75 encourages everyone to “Explore Osage City”, an “Outstanding Community”, and points out “Shopping, Recreation, Industry, Schools” are only “7 Minutes” west on Highway 31. The sign also denotes the city’s website, osagecity.com along with Osage City Schools’ mascot logo.

Hidden History: Osage County hospitality served with side of Southern pride

The road to Santa Fe was forged right through the middle of Osage County, and by 1822 the route was secured, opening travel for wagon traffic. Starting in 1825, the route was surveyed and mapped, treaties were made with the Native American tribes to secure safe passage, and modifications along the route such as bridges were constructed for easier travel.

After the establishment of the trail, the land in what would become Osage County became part of a tract land reserved for the Shawnee. The Shawnee favored settlement along waterways and had long been active in trade with Euro-Americans, so trail crossings like those at Switzler and 110 Mile Creek were a natural location for settlement.

The name for 110 Mile Creek, originally called Jones Creek, received its new name indicating its distance along the Santa Fe Trail from Fort Osage, in Missouri. The location was lined with a considerable amount of timber and had a few Shawnee houses with their fields nearby. The grove at 110-Mile Creek was well known to the military and saw regular use as a camping spot.

Aside from those of native blood, no other individuals were supposed to enter reservation lands without ties to the local Indian agency or the military. Some, like a man named Richardson and his compatriot who settled at the 110 Mile crossing, found their way around this by taking wives among the Shawnee. The pair had conducted a toll stop on the trail at that location, built a story and a half tall building and another smaller one near it.

The Richardson claim was sold to a man named Fry P. McGee in the summer of 1854 in anticipation of the land being opened up for general settlement. McGee had spotted the location on a return trip from Oregon where he had previously taken his family. McGee, apparently not content with the land, returned the following year and acquired the property in Kansas Territory. McGee assumed Richardson’s claim but retained the name Richardson for the area. McGee’s arrival was not only one desiring the favorable location, but a move intent on helping secure Kansas’ admittance to the Union as a slave state.

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