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2010 - Week at the Museum

DECEMBER 21, 2010

Merry Christmas to all our “friends of history” out there!

It has been extremely slow at the Museum this week, as is typical of this time of year. We look forward to seeing some old friends as they come home to visit. I have heard from the Cheney family who will be in on Friday so we can share some photos and information we have talked about for some time.

I finally got all those file folders finished for the loose material Frances found in the Museum Library. We would like for anyone interested to stop by and see if your family has a file… if not, we will make one… if so, it probably needs to be updated. These files will come in extremely handy when we go to publish the next history book. Just having them gives us a place to put any material we find concerning a particular family, business, or event.

We have had some renewed interest in finishing our “tack room” in the building east of the Museum. Larry Dewell has offered to give us enough milled aspen to finish the walls. What a gift! Our dream is to make an agriculture museum out of that building and this room is where we need to start. It will house the saddle collection that currently resides in our “Goodnight Gallery” area. I would love to get back to having events and exhibits in that area when the saddles find a new home. I’m getting fired up… now if we just had a volunteer carpenter. :)

I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and financial support. We have all been working very hard to keep things going and make improvements… the encouragement helps. We will be closed on Christmas day, but open again on Sunday afternoon… bring in your family and share our heritage.

DECEMBER 14, 2010

We had a wonderful Open House last weekend at the Museum. We had about 100 visitors on Saturday and about 40 on Sunday. We were very pleased. We got to see some old friends and create some new patrons and it was great fun. I was surprised how many came in just to see our decorations!

With all the "getting ready for company" the Museum got a good cleaning and all straightened up so we are all prepared to greet the new year.

We turn our attention now to the Annual Banquet to be held on February 5. We have received good feedback on having our event in Plains this time. We hope to have a good crowd and see some Plains friends we don't see every year. Tickets will go on sale in January... watch this column and the website for details (www.oldmeadecounty.com).

Don't forget that we have great history books for sale here at the Museum. Many of our books are about this area in one way or another and we have several by local authors. Since we had so much fun with our decorations, and so many people mentioned buying them we thought we would make some devil's claw birds for sale. I have hand-painted some canvas "I love Old Meade County" tote bags that I will bring to the gift shop soon, and we now have some little jars of "Meade County Silica" for sale. These make great gifts for folks who call Meade County home.

We put out our newsletter this month and memberships are pouring in. If you are not on our mailing list but would like to be... give me a call (873-2359). I have shared a lot of the information in this column that we have in our newsletter, but it is kind of nice to see it all pulled together for the year... and we use our mailing list to communicate with our members on several different occasions throughout the year.

Remember the Museum when you have visitors and are looking for someplace to go! We charge no admission and can probably show them something they have never seen before.

DECEMBER 6, 2010

Another week come and gone at the Museum. Traffic has been very slow so we have just looked at the bright side and used the time to get ready for our open house.

Janae and I have been working on those "prairie" decorations. We have a tumbleweed Christmas tree... trimmed with china berry garland and hedge apple slices so far... we are working on gourds for "balls." It has been great fun and we hope the decorations will carry over for future years.

There is not a whole lot else going on around here... we are just getting ready for company so... PLEASE COME! We have some old fashioned cookies ordered from Bartel's Bake Shop and Barbara Feldman has offered a batch of gingersnaps... so we will have yummy refreshments.

Alma has designed a map to show of all the rural schools. She will be on hand to talk about the schools and hopefully collect some new stories.

We have yet to look at the contents of the 1985 time capsule. We thought we would put out a table Friday afternoon and make a display... this, too, should be great fun.

We are finalizing plans for our Annual Banquet. We have great entertainment lined up. Jim Gray from Ellsworth will be on hand to talk about Kansas cow towns. Everyone who knows Jim says he's quite the "talker" and puts on a good show. His program is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council. Remember to mark you calendar for February 5, 2011, 6:30 PM. Our meeting will be held at the Plains Community Building this year. Tickets will go on sale in January... watch the website for updates. www.oldmeadecounty.com

That's about all the news I have this week. I hope to see you all on the 11th & 12th during our Holiday Open House. It will be during our open hours 9-5 on Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday. Remember we will have the Chamber of Commerce coupon book drawing at 3:00 on Saturday... get those coupons in this week.

NOVEMBER 29, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend was eventful for us... we had lots of visitors, some connected to Meade County, some just passing through. It's always good to see folks and visit with them.

Frances is back at work and I finally got some days off. I need the time to round up all the materials for our "prairie" Christmas decorations. I went down to the Meyers ranch and LaDonna and I found lots of yucca pods and devil's claws. I'm not sure what we are gong to do with them, but I am sure we won't run out! Larry and Randy Ackerman were out hunting and stopped by to help us with the devil's claws... they were having so much fun we finally had to shut them down.

On my way back to town I stopped at a tree row and picked up some hedge apples. I took these home, sliced them and put them in my dehydrator... ended up with pretty green and yellow discs... don't quite know what we will do with them either, but somebody suggested this as something the pioneers used to do (less the dehydrator, I'm sure.)

Ann Classen and I took a trip to the northeast corner of the county Sunday afternoon. We went to the Emerson Grove where we gathered some china berries. It was a long drive, but that's the only place I know of to find them. We will string these for garland on our tumbleweed Christmas tree. While we were up there I checked out our Jones & Plummer Trail marker at Wilburn Cemetery. It looks great. We really appreciate Olis Lauppe placing all those markers for us.

All this preparation is for our Holiday Open House December 11 & 12. We will have lots to look at with the prairie decorations and the time capsule contents. Mark your calendar now! If nothing else, come by Sunday after lunch and take a stroll through... you just might learn something. We're open Saturday 9-5, and Sunday 1-5.

I finally got up the first storyboard over our "prehistoric" display. Lots of new information there. The next one I am working on is about the salt well and the silica mines... all history that needs to be told.

I started researching the Meade County WPA projects when we were preparing to tour the CCC camp at the lake earlier this year. I went so far as to print out all the newspaper articles I could find on the different projects and I hope to put it all together in a story for www.oldmeadecounty.com. To my delight we got a poster this week from Smokey Hills Public Television advertising a documentary on the WPA that will air December 8th at 8:30 pm. It's called "Work Pays America." Set your DVR's... this should be a very interesting show.

That's about all for this week. Don't be a stranger... stop by the Museum and see what's new... especially if you have some nifty prairie craft for a Christmas decoration! :)

NOVEMBER 21, 2010

Another week at the Museum behind us... my dear Francis is on vacation, so I've been working every day and getting a lot of things done.

I'm just about done with the first story board on our paleontologists. One thing I ran across that I find to be of great interest is a list of all the scientists who have worked in... what they term as the "Meade Basin." This is a very impressive list... when you Google the names you find them connected to museums and universities all over the world. Originally my research only took me to about 1962, so I emailed Dr. Robert Martin (who will be back in Meade County this summer digging) and asked him what years he worked here. Much to my delight he added on to my list and brought it completely up to date. I also completed a map of Meade County marking all the dig sites. These guys have made Meade County famous and most of us don't even know about it!

Barbara Feldman starting coming in this week to help with the rural school project. She is marking a county map with the school districts. Having worked at the courthouse for so many years, Barb is familiar with legal descriptions and probably finds this job easier than Alma or I would. Alma is working on the legal descriptions of where the buildings actually were, but Barb is concentrating on the district as a whole. This is a challenge as the boundaries kept changing to keep up with our population. We finally decided to mark several maps and then when I put it on the computer we will print it on vellum over-lays so that we can have the complete story. This might seem like over-kill, but better too much information that not enough. We have already found that this school information can be very helpful to someone looking for their family's past. People tend to hand down stories about their years in school, and these rural schools were an intimate group. Often kids would find the same eight to ten students growing up beside them, first through eighth grade.

Alma... one of my angels... has found an angel of her own in Sherry Doerflinger. Sherry works in the Register of Deeds office and has been a tremendous help to Alma with the rural school project. Her latest contribution was on the list of legals for the school buildings. Alma's eyes tend to cross when you throw too many of those sections, township and range numbers at her so Sherry is a God send. We really appreciate all she does for us.

Well, the time capsule is now sitting safely in our Library waiting to be opened. I called Dean Cordes at the City last week and he graciously had some of his street crew go to the courthouse and get it out of the ground for us. I wasn't there, so I don't know exactly how they did it, but the thing is 16" in diameter and 3' tall, so we would could have dug until Wednesday and never got it out of the ground. We will have the contents of the time capsule on display during our open house December 11 & 12th. Perhaps when we open it we can publish some of the contributors... just in case people forgot they put something in.

We expect to be very busy next weekend... hopefully people coming home to visit will come to the Museum. Remember there is no admission... and lots to see... bring your family. We will be closed Thanksgiving, but open Friday & Saturday 9-5 and Sunday 1-5. Remember our book counter when looking for Christmas presents, we have a lot of titles pertaining to local history.

NOVEMBER 15, 2010

It was good to get back to work after my brief vacation. Traffic is still a little slow at the Museum, but we have had several pheasant hunters in and, surprisingly, several locals who typically spend lots of time looking around. Sunday I met our new Meade State Lake ranger, Alex Goossen, we talked about the old CCC Camp down at the lake and it reminded me that I have never finished that story. When we had our Spring History Tour at the lake I gathered tons of research material and have yet to sit down and get the whole story in the computer. I was delighted to learn that Mr. Goossen is interested in this history and wants to do something to preserve the old camp.

One thing I have in my research materials is one of the camp’s newspapers, “The Gobbler.” I requested the microfilm through inter-library loan and printed out each issue. I have yet to request the other newspaper they had which was titled “Campie’s Courier.” I need to get on that and get this research finished.

I have been working on story boards for the prehistoric section of the Museum. Dr. Claude Hibbard was a paleontologist who worked in Meade County for years starting in the 1950’s, and I plan to incorporate his geology along with the story of our silica mines and the “salt well,” which was an enormous sink hole that appeared in 1879, just south east of where Meade now stands. We placed one of our Jones & Plummer Trail markers on the park road (19 RD) south of town… you can see the remains of the old salt well from the marker which tells the story. I’m surprised at how many people are not acquainted with this little piece for our history.

Sunday, November 14, was the day we designated for digging up the time capsule that was buried in 1985. All of seven people showed up: myself, Otis & Carolyn Meredith, Al & Elaine Sawyer, and Rebecca & Abigail Orth. We also convinced Terry Dakan, who was walking by, to join us and help dig. We removed the concrete cover and started down… down... down, with the spade one of the guys brought along. None of us were there when they buried the time capsule so we had no idea how far down it was or how big it is. After digging about two and a half feet we finally reached the cap… apparently the capsule is a piece of large PVC drain pipe with caps on both ends. We gave up at this point and have asked the City to help us get the thing out of the ground. I don’t think Don Goodnight and his helpers even thought about what it would be like digging it out when they put it in the ground. The whole experience gave us some insight as to how to record the planting of a time capsule… something we may very well do after we have looked at the contents and added a few items from the present.

The MCHS Board is planning lots of exciting events… first our open house December 11 & 14, promises to be a fun time. We hope everyone comes out and enjoys refreshments and getting reacquainted with the Museum. Then, February 5, 2011, will be our annual meeting and banquet. We will meet at the new community center in Plains for this event and we have some great entertainment lined up. We are also in the planning stages for our Spring History Tour which has been moved to the middle of May. Dr. Robert Martin will be on hand to guide our tour of some of Dr. Hibbard’s dig sites. So mark your calendars now for all these events, and in the meantime stop by the Museum and see what’s new!

November 06, 2010

I skipped a week of my column... I apologize... life got in the way. Our visitor count is still very slow, but we are looking forward to the Countryside Bible Church / EMB Centennial this weekend as well as holiday traffic as people come home to visit.

Plans for our Christmas Open House are coming along. I have farmers out there looking for devil claws, pods and gourds. I had a note from LaDonna Meyers that Larry has found me some claws.... I'll have to check that out next week. Our idea is to decorate with only what we can find on the prairie... just like our ancestors did. Maybe in the "parlor" we can have some finery, but for the most part we want to decorate like pioneers. I hope to get up to the Emerson Grove and pick some china berries... wouldn't they make a pretty string!

We have the prizes for the Chamber Coupon Book drawings on a table in the Museum lobby. They placed them here because MCHS is a member and provides a table for the Chamber to promote Meade businesses. We also have the coupon books for sale here. It depends on how many books sell as to what the odds are of winning one of the $500 worth of prizes.. right now the odds are very good! Stop by and check out the Chamber table.

I mentioned earlier in my column that we were going to some of Dr. Hibbard's dig sites on our Spring History Tour. We had set a date of April 16, but now Norman has been in touch with Dr. Robert Martin who also has worked for some time in Meade County, and he is interested in guiding the tour for us, so we may have to change the date to accommodate his schedule. A small price to pay to get such an expert guide.

Norman also peaked the interest of the KAA (Kansas Anthropology Association) and we will probably have many of their members on the tour as well. They asked if they could have their meeting in Meade County and Norman was very agreeable to that. He drives all over the state for these meetings and it would be an honor to host this group. I'm sure Meade County can handle it.

I have been working on the story boards for Prehistoric Meade County. We have some bones, and tools in a case, but no explanation of what a treasure trove of bones, fossils, etc. we have in Meade County. Did you know that Crooked Creek runs along a fault line which formed from north of Fowler all the way to the Cimarron River? The west half dropped down around 300 feet... explains why you see lots of irrigation west of the creek, and not much east of it. It also explains our artesian wells and the abundance of water at the lake when it was first developed. They say that when the lake was new, water just oozed up out of the bottom.

That's about all I have for this week... I'll be gone over the weekend, but Janae might add to this story about all the visitors we expect to have from the church centennial.

September 25, 2010

Lots of action this week at the Museum. When I came in last Tuesday I found a nice acquisition... Robert Wellman had brought in two small medicine containers, and imagine my delight when I found them labeled with Dr. Fee's name on them! William F. Fee, MD started his practice here in 1899. One container is a small bottle with a cork in the top and a faded label, the other is a small round wooden box for "Kidney Pills." I put them in the doctor's office display and could find no other privately-labeled bottles in the entire collection... what a treasure... thanks Robert! Many old timers still have fond memories of Dr. Fee, and many more, I imagine, remember his sister, Ruth, as their fourth grade teacher.

Cheryl DeLissa brought us some documents from Albert Buck. Albert had a machine shop near the DeLissa home and Cheryl found theses old papers in that building. We made a family file for Albert and put the documents there. They would prove very interesting to a descendent somewhere down the line. Thanks Cheryl!

I've mentioned Judy Adam's hired man, Victor, before... he was very helpful to us in constructing our Jones & Plummer Trail signs. Well, Judy "loaned" Victor to us again for some handy-man jobs around the Museum last week. He fixed the weather-stripping on the back door as well as the door lock... climbed the tall ladder and "debugged" several light fixtures, and removed some old wood from the front of the building. We really appreciate Judy and Victor for their efforts.

Remember when we planted the time capsule in 1985, during the Meade centennial celebration? We recently realized that it has been 25 years and it is time to dig the capsule up. Al Sawyer came by the other day and told me he has located the spot and he and I put our heads together and decided we would have a "capsule raising ceremony" on Sunday, November 14, at 2:00 PM. We will dig the capsule up and take it to the Museum to be opened and the contents to be displayed. The "burial" spot is the south lawn of the Meade County Courthouse. Mark you calendars... this will be a fun party!

Janae was on duty Friday when the Winnebago Travel Club enjoyed a long-anticipated trip to the Museum. Janae said everyone enjoyed their tour... "One lady told me she liked how it was organized. She said its one of the best she's seen. Another man said our downtown has a good appearance... it's clean."  The Hills from Plains are in this club and Anna arranged for them to come to the Museum last spring. We are always ready to accommodate a group. 

We are starting to plan for our Open House December 11& 12. We will have the drawing here for the Meade Chamber of Commerce Holiday Coupon books on Saturday (11th) at 3:00 PM. We also plan to have refreshments and perhaps entertainment... so keep us in mind for that weekend. We think it will be a great time for the Meade County community to get reacquainted with their Museum.

September 19, 2010

It's been a busy week at the Museum... not so many individual visitors but big groups. We had 85 kids go through on Friday. They were students from St. Dominic's Catholic school in Garden City... very nice and well disciplined group of third through sixth graders. I love it when the kids listen intently and are eager to ask questions. Half way through the tour I always sit them down in front of  the "dirty thirties" display and talk about the dust bowl... most of them have never heard of this before and they are fascinated.

The other group was the Lone Tree Roots & Shoots genealogy group on Saturday. They held their meeting at the Museum and Frances Elffner, Alma Regier and I talked to them about what we have been doing at the Museum... Frances with the Library, Alma with the rural schools, and myself with photos, and general organization. Of course, all these members are history buffs so it was a fun group. They were, however, a little less disciplined than the school kids... I had to explain to two different visitors that we had a genealogy group meeting here and that was what all the "cackling" was about.

Alma found some new sources of information for rural schools in the Roots & Shoots group. She is interested in anyone wanting to talk about their rural school experiences.

 I finally got Janae's story posted to www.oldmeadecounty.com. The piece is titled " A Geological History of Meade County According to Claude Hibbard" and I think everyone will find it very interesting. (Go to the website, click the link on my blog.) We are fortunate to finally have this history written out and plan to add it to our next history book. We plan to visit some of Hibbard's dig sites on our Spring History Tour. We have set the date for April 23, 2011, so mark your calendars now. Norman Dye, MCHS president, is trying to contact Robert Martin, a paleontologist who more recently has spent time in Meade County. We understand that he is planning to come again this summer to dig and Norman is hoping we can get him to attend the tour.

Norman also went to the open house of the new community building in Plains last Sunday and while he was there he booked the place for our Annual Banquet slated for February 5, 2011. We have often wanted to hold the banquet in one of the other towns, and this new facility has afforded us the opportunity to do just that.

Be sure and stop by and visit with us if you have any history to share. Our hours are Tuesday through Saturday 9-5, and Sunday 1-5.

September 29, 2010

This week at the Museum was a little short for me as I took a long weekend to attend the Feldman family campout at Two Buttes, Colorado. My work week was short and uneventful but there are always interesting things happening at the Museum. 

Janae had a note for me when I came back today.... seems a couple came in and after they went through the Museum they were so excited, "It's like being in a city," they said, "great museum!" They thought we should advertise with billboards on each end of town that proclaimed "can't miss!" Hmmmm.... how many of you are reading this and have never been to your own museum?

Tom Elliot brought back the keys to the farm lot and told me that he was done with the old press he restored. He had some great photos which his daughter, Tanya Maceau, took when she took a group of school kids to the lot to see the press work. Tom had the kids acting as the "engine" pushing the pole that turned the press. I asked him about the syrup he made and he said it wasn't all that tasty, but they made some. Hopefully Tanya will share those photos and we can share them with you. I told Tom if he wanted to restore anything else at the farm lot to just have at it... he just smiled.

Getting the press restored brought up questions about where it came from. Does anyone know? It's been called a sugar press, but some folks refer to it as a sorghum press. Joe Woodruff told Alma he recalls his Dad taking stalks to the H.H. Harder place and coming home with syrup but he was young and had never gone along on these trips so he didn't know any more about it. This prompted Alma to email Dean Harder who clarified that H.H. Harder was the father of Jake (Eva Ruth Johanssen's father) and Hank who ran a blacksmith/machine shop in Meade. Another puzzle we would love to have the pieces to.

We had someone in today that was looking for a grave and we realized that our cemetery records stop at 1998. These records were compiled by Irene Lemaster who did an exhaustive amount of work creating a database which gave the block, lot, and space number; last and first name; date of birth and date of death, and in some cases, spouse, father and mother. What a wonderful gift to our town! Irene also created the rolodex cards at the cemetery so that one can go to the shelter at the cemetery entry and look up the location of a grave. Apparently since Irene left the museum these records have not been kept up to date. I contacted Trevin Bachman about it and he said he could come up with the data from 1999 to present. I told him we would be the natural place to keep this up-to-date and we agreed to work together on it from now on.

Janae is also working on the obituaries from the 1920's through the 1950's which is a huge gaping hole in our collection. When we are all caught up you should be able to come to the Museum Library and easily look up obituaries from the 1880's to present. Now we create a PDF file of these pages as we go so we will have an electronic record as well.

Well... that's about it for this week. Thanks for all your kind words on the work we are doing and please stop by and visit your museum.... people from all over the world do and they have kind words as well!

September 19, 2010:

I've had some MCHS members stop by the Museum lately, and they all seem to be impressed with the changes we have been implementing around the Museum. We've had a few suggestions and some "history lessons" on how the things that are here came to be... all welcome comments for us.

Early this week a couple came in who had traveled to Meade for the express purpose of looking up family history. They timidly asked where they should go... perhaps the library... or maybe the courthouse? I told them I would see what we could do for them first and they were delighted about what they found at the Museum. Their name was Hockett, and we found all kinds of information on their ancestors... marriage certificates, obituaries, and pioneer stories. They were browsing through the photo displays in the lobby and found a picture of his aunt... he was absolutely giddy! It was so much fun for me to watch these two discover their family's past... it really makes the job worthwhile.

 I had another couple from Flint Michigan. They were traveling home from California and decided in Phoenix that they were not taking another freeway the rest of the way home. They spent quite a long time looking through the Museum. When they got back to the lobby, the husband pulled out his wallet to put a donation into the "pot" and he grinned and said, "I put a donation in before we went through, but now that I've seen it I decided it wasn't enough... I'm putting in some more!" That was a classic Museum moment.

It seems that Frances has the library pretty well organized. It looks so neat and tidy! I have already had people accessing the family histories and it is so nice to be able to find them so easily. All the high school yearbooks are there... we are still missing quite a few for Plains and Fowler, but we will work on that. If anyone wants a list of the missing books, let us know. Email meademuseums@yahoo.com.

 Sunday was pretty busy this week, so maybe traffic will be picking up again. In the meantime we are all busy with projects, me with files, Janae is working on obituaries and many other things, Frances with the library. I, for one, think this is almost too much fun to be called work.

September 14, 2010:

It's continues to be pretty slow at the Museum as far as visitors go, but there is still lots to do and we are keeping busy.

 The Emmanuel Mennonite Church is about to celebrate their 100th anniversary. The church centennials started back in the 1980's and it's a testimony to the faith of our pioneer fathers and mothers that one by one the churches they founded celebrate being here for a century! Cliff Friesen asked us to help him with a poster that honors the members of the EMC who were in the military, some of whom served in conflicts around the world. Cliff said, "People think that the Mennonites didn't serve in the military, but many of us did." Indeed they did, the list is quite long and it made for a nice poster. 

Every once in a while we find something to add to our folders of the rural schools. I was looking through some photos from Dennis Reimer's collection that he let me scan a couple of years ago and ran across a photo of the Angell (or sometimes called the Abbott) School, which was located 5 miles north and 2 miles west of Meade State Lake. This photo led me to identify a photo of the building that was in our stack of "unidentified" schools. It's like one giant puzzle we discover one piece at a time.

 Alma Regier, our "school historian," was obsessed with the big two-story house that was used by Meade Bible Academy for a teachers residence. History reported that it was moved in there but where did it come from?  She had emailed several people, but Dean Harder answered her and said it is pictured in the 1909 Plat Book. So I pulled that book out and we soon found it. The house was originally on the J.C. Clark farm on the SE/4 Sec. 2-T31-R27, a mile or so west of Fowler. Another piece of that puzzle put in place.

 We have a new "angel" who is working on our farm lot. Tom Elliott stopped in some time back and asked me if he could work on the sugar mill that was sinking into the ground over there. Of course I thought that was a grand idea and I am glad to report that he has the thing working now. It's supposed to have a long arm to which a mule or horse was hitched in order to power the mill, when I asked Tom what he planned to use he just grinned and said, "I plan to power it with grandkids." He must have done it because I saw a note where his daughter, Tonya Marceau, was bringing some kids down to the lot to watch the process. Thanks, Tom... anything else you want to work on just say the word!

Well... that's about it for now. Projects for this week are already piling up on our desk! Stop by and see what we've been doing at the Museum. We are open Tuesday through  Saturday 9 to 5, and Sunday 1 to 5.

September 5, 2010:

It is Labor Day Weekend as I write this and I must say...  it has been nice to have traffic pick up at the Museum this week... lots of families visiting and people traveling down the highway.

We are all plugging away at our perspective projects. Janae has starting getting the 1985 Meade County History book into the computer. We are down to one case of these books and can see a new publication looming in the distant future so we are starting to prepare. I feel like the next book will be somewhat larger than the 1985 version. If your family story is in our book, it probably needs to be updated and if it is not in our book, it probably should be. We welcome data at any time... email would be great, but we will take it in any form. Our email address is: meademuseums@yahoo.com.

Frances continues in the Museum Library. She now as a plan mapped out on a piece of paper as to how she will arrange the shelves. Every researcher who uses our Library will appreciate Frances' efforts so much! We still have those MBA Yearbooks stacked on the table. Lois Reimer was kind enough to bring us two... one we didn't have and one to replace another that was missing several photos. We have three others that have had items cut out of them.... 1950, 1962, and 1963... if anyone has one of these yearbooks and would like to donate them to the Museum it would be appreciated.

Don Hatfield came over from Fowler the other day and brought us a great old corn grinder. It's a little rusty and "froze up" but I had a visitor in today that gave me some tips about getting it working. You just never know what you will learn here from day to day.

Carl Sanders sent me a great PDF file via email. We had mentioned the train wreck in 1949, that took place between Meade and Fowler. This file is a report made by the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, D.C. about the accident. Very interesting stuff, Carl... thanks! I hope to get this PDF posted to oldmeadecounty.com soon. Train buffs will read it from top to bottom, I'm sure.  

Now that Labor Day has come and gone we look forward to fall and finding out what the season brings to the Museum. It is so much fun visiting with travelers... we have them from all over the world. We had a lady in yesterday that complimented our cemetery. She said she had been to cemeteries all over the country and beyond and not found one as well-kept and well-organized as ours... she thought it was beautiful! Sometimes it takes a stranger to make us appreciate what we have.

Speaking of strangers... don't be one! Stop by soon and see what's happening at the Museum.

August 29, 2010:

The "dog days" continue at the Museum this week... not very many visitors, but lots of work to do. Janae is busy bringing our brochure racks up to date. She has been contacting other museums and attractions, ordering current publications and getting them all on display in our racks. This is an enormous task as we currently have eighty-some items displayed and more arriving every day.

Frances continues her Library organizing. She's like me we all-too-often get carried away reading the treasurers we find and before we know it... it's time to go home! It's fun to watch the shelves get straightened up as she goes along. It will be so much more useful when she gets done.

 I seem to bounce around from one project to another and never get anything finished. This week Larry Lemaster brought in three framed displays of proof sets of old Meade County bank notes. These are notes printed with the names "Meade County National Bank, First National Bank, and First National Bank of Meade Center." He put them in separate frames with ads from the respective banks as well as charter information. I found an old stand back in the storage closet and displayed these frames in the doorway of the "bank" display. These are very interesting. Who knew we had so many different banks?

Another nice donation we got in the mail from David Todd. David's wife, Lynda Cheney Todd, grew up here. Lynda and her brother, Merrill Cheney, were here with Todd during the MHS Alumni and they went all over the county checking out old history sites. They sent us a book Todd wrote titled, "Seth Boynton Cheney -- Mystery man of the West." The book is a great addition to our library and important information for anyone looking for Cheney family history.

Alma Regier brought in a wonderful gift from the Emmanuel Mennonite Church... an almost complete set of Year Books from the Meade Bible Academy. What a treasure. We have been trying to get information about the MBA for weeks now... I guess these were on their shelves and they didn't quite know what to do with them so they gave them to us. Thank you so much... we will treasure them and make them a part of our library so that anyone who wants to can access them. Some of the books have had things cut out of them so we may try to replace them with more intact books... more about that next week.

We have good news about our Jones & Plummer Trail markers. Thanks to Victor who works at the Adams Ranch we now have four markers completed and ready to set in place. This just leaves us one marker to go and our trail will be marked through Meade County. I am pretty sure we will be the first county to get them done. (You can't see me now, but I'm jumping for joy!)

We are planning to have a Christmas Open House early in December so that we an show off all the work we have done around the Museum and show our appreciation to our patrons and volunteers.... without whom this would be a very difficult job indeed. We will have more about our plans in weeks to come.

July 25, 2010:

It's been another busy week at the Museum. I think having the Rodeo was good for us... we always get folks in when they come to town to participate.

Early last week, Frances piled a bunch of stuff on the table in the Library that she felt we could discard and had me go through them. I found a newsletter titled the "Kansas Alumni" dated February 1975... thank goodness I looked through it because I found the best article written by Florence Black. Her father was Moses Black, the surveyor who platted out, not only Meade, but many towns in Southwest Kansas. The article told of his life here and his work in Meade County. Well, I proceeded to get it in the computer and post it on my website, oldmeadecounty.com. Since I knew that Ken Campbell, our current county engineer was a big fan of old Moses, I shot him an email to check it out. Ken loved it and has offered to provide a wealth of information about Moses Black and his work in Meade County. He has even offered to document the exact location of the old trails through the county including the Jones & Plummer... information he can discern from the records Moses left us from his surveys.

Speaking of the Jones & Plummer Trail... one of our stumbling blocks to getting our trail markers up has been having the time to put together the signs and stone posts. This week Judy Adams sent her hired man, Victor, by to pick up the materials and plans to have him put together the signs. Hopefully we can get them up soon. We have one up at the Adams Ranch as well as J.W. and Paulette Vanderpool's place. We have four more ready to go and one more to find a location for... hopefully Ken's map will help us with that.

We had a nice acquisition this week... a 29-volumn set of "The Encyclopedia Britannica" eleventh edition... leather bound donated by Julia Sullivan Warner of Liberal. The following description was included when she left the books: "This set of encyclopedias was purchased by Julia Peed when she first became a school teacher in the early 1900's. Julia was born in Meade, KS, in 1886. Her parents had come to Meade to homestead. Her father, Matt Peed, was a contractor who died suddenly while building the Meade Presbyterian Church in 1887. He mother, Isabella McGaffin, was the daughter of Irish immigrants." This is a very nice addition to our Library.

Janae has been working on a new project creating a timeline of Meade County History. I think she must have read the entire MCHS history book, because I found eleven sticky notes marking errors in the text! The time line will be a "living document" that we plan to add to as we go along. One thing for sure, Janae will have a good handle on Meade County history by the time she leaves here.

That's about all for now. We're busy now trying to get the Museum ready for the Alumni weekend. We want to have plenty for visitors to look at. The photo this week is one I found of some dear old Meade school teachers when they were young. Check it out.

July 17, 2010:

We took a little break there since the "Prairie Sun" was on vacation... I'll see if I can remember two weeks work of Museum news!

Last week I had a visitor that went straight to the back and was up front again in about two minutes. I told him he set the record for going through in a hurry and he explained that he was familiar with the Museum... just looking for photos in the Rock Island Depot exhibit. His name is Jim Andrews, he's from Liberal and in interested in all things "Rock Island."  We visited awhile and I told him I would send him some depot shots from all three Meade County towns. As he left he said he was going to Pratt. I got an email soon after with photos of the train wreck at the Meade Depot in 1963 that he found in the Pratt Museum. These were great shots from the air.. probably atop the elevator. Since then Jim and I have become email pen pals, exchanging information. He has a lot of videos on You Tube... many of them from Meade County. Just go to You Tube and search Meade, Kansas and you will find some of them. One of them is just some farmer cutting wheat... I was bored to tears, but you know, somebody in New York City might find that fascinating.

Well... Jims photos made me start researching that train wreck. It was Tuesday Morning about 10:30 on June 18, 1963. What I remember about that wreck is that one of the cars was full of cantaloupe... I think everyone in town got free melon. I will include one of the photos Jim sent me. It was BIG NEWS in 1963. I shared the newspaper accounts with Jim and he was grateful. By the way... I now have a file on that wreck if anyone is interested.

Elmer Friesen and I were visiting about the train wreck and later he left me an entire envelope of Meade County "disaster" photos. He had photos of that wreck as well as another train wreck in 1949, three miles northeast of Meade, as well as the flood of 1951... remember that one? Thanks Elmer!

Alma will be glad to know that I have been working on the Rural School photo album. It's all together, but we do not have photos of all the schools. I arranged them by district number like we did our files. I think this will be popular when the alumni start visiting. Meade's is July 31st, and Plains is in August. I've been visiting with Kirk Coats and he plans to stop by when he's here for the Plains alumni meeting and share some "stuff" with me. He maintains a website for PHS: www.plainshighshool.com.

I know Alma plans to be here at the Museum on Saturday, July 31st to visit with Meade alumni about the rural schools. I have been working on wall photos of Meade Schools... they should be done by next week. Then I will work on Plains so they can be up for their reunion. We found the cutest old photo of young Madge Elliott and Ruth Fee... what a treasure!

Wow was I busy last Saturday! They were having a Pope family reunion at the lake and those folks were interested in Meade County history. I think I filled an entire page in my visitor book.

Visitors seem to come in "waves" but we've had a pretty busy summer so far. Don't be a stranger... visit the Museum... see what's new!

July 4, 2010:

It has been a little slower at the Museum this week. After all the excitement and traffic from Dalton Days it seemed quiet, but we got a lot done on our projects.

Frances is just about done with the cataloging of the old Palmer Library books. She actually found an original list of these books and we have accounted for just about every one of them. Now one can access her database on the computer in the Museum Library and search for books by title, author or subject. What a blessing! Thanks to Frances for all her hard work. She will next start on the research materials so her work is not done.

Alma, on the other hand, feels like she is about finished with the Rural School project. She has brought her master list in an Excell file to the computer in the Museum Library, so if you are looking for a student or teacher connected to a Meade County rural school, you can search them there then go to our newly organized files for more information. Alma has done us a great service by all her hard work.... and I think she's had fun doing it. I also put the data base of the Meade High School Alumni on that computer and invite the other towns to do the same. This is a great research tool. Hopefully we can update MHS after this year's reunion.

My wall of photos is about complete. It's one of those things where you don't quite know where to stop. I have mainly used town shots in this display... they used to call them "birds eye" views... taken from water towers and tops of tall buildings. I found several for all three towns.

For a photo this week I found this picture of Sid Langford and Willis Wolfe in the old gray file cabinet. They are holding a frame of some sort... my guess is it's some kind of sales award. We lost Sid recently and this photo just spoke to me... it's how I like to remember him. He always had a smile for me... sometimes a riddle or little joke... sometimes he would just burst into song. Sid was the quintessential salesman, a dear friend, and one of those characters a town never forgets. Willis Wolf... well, that's a story for another day... another unforgettable character who was so much a part of our history it will take a long time in the telling.

We found a stack of Dr. Hill's medical books in the library and we would like to relocate them to the "doctor's office" display. We are in need of a small antique book case. Anyone have something like that they would like to donate? Just a thought.

Stop by the Museum and check out the progress on all our projects. We are open 9-5 Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 on Sunday.

June 29, 2010:

I took a vacation and missed reporting on the week of June 14 to 20, maybe I can make up for it now... a lot went on this week at the Museum.

Janae has been working on her article, "The Prehistoric History of Meade County." Wow, I can't wait for you to read this. She is doing a bang-up job turning our scattered research into a cohesive story.

Our sign is back up, newly painted, with the lighted arrow blinking bright red and yellow pointing the way to the Hideout. We want to express our appreciation to everyone involved, Brad and Luke Ackerman, Dean Cordes and the City crew, Craig Unruh and the Chamber of Commerce. The city boys even repainted our "across-the-road" Hideout sign. Thanks to everyone.

The city also re-roped our big flag pole at the southwest corner of the Museum. One of those windy days I noticed the rope flying out into the middle of North Meade Center and couldn't imagine how I was going to get it back up on that high pole.... I guess when you have a bucket truck it's not such a daunting task... for the price of the rope I got it fixed lickity split! Thanks to the City... you guys are great!

We received some nice donations from Carmen Welch this week that had belonged to her mother, Clarice Cornett. We received a beautiful friendship quilt that had been done by the Ladies Aid Society of Logan Township. The quilt is yellow and white with all different colors on the blocks which were embroidered with the ladies names.. Ruby Lauppe, Clarice Cornett, Dorothy Fuhrman, Agness Feldman, Mary Lauppe, Gladys Fuhrman, Mary Etta Kiser, Sophia Feldman, Etta Lauppe, and Murrel Chatelain. Some of the blocks contained their husband's names.  We also received from Carmen a 1925 photo of all the Meade school children, the old Washington & Bennett buildings are in the background.

I've been busy working with old photos. I have moved around some artwork and mounted photos on one entire wall on the west side of the Museum. I'm working feverishly to get things fixed up before the MHS Alumni Reunion. We would like for the Museum to be a little different and offer something new to the returning alumni.

Alma Regier has about completed her research and we have built files for each of the Meade County rural schools which are available to the public. Soon we will have a data base available on the computer in the Museum Library so that people can easily look up a name and find what school that student attended, who the teacher was and what years they went to school. We have decided to put all the photos in an album by school district, so that they can be easily accessed. I keep telling Alma that what she is doing is a wonderful gift to Meade County. She has worked diligently and deserves a great pat on the back.

Dalton Days was HOT & WILD! Did you see that melodrama Saturday evening? What a hoot! Congratulations to the entire cast... it was excellent. I have already heard several comments about what they are going to do next year.

Please stop by and say hello... and check out some of the changes around the Museum. We value everyone's ideas and suggestions.

May 31, 2010:

It's been a busy week at the Museum. We didn't have as much traffic as I had anticipated for the week before Memorial Day weekend, but busy enough.

We had a very special visitor on Wednesday... Mary "Mitzie" Johnson and her husband, "Bear," came all the way from Washington state. Mitzie is the granddaughter of Fred Taintor, one of the old-time cattlemen of this area. Many of you went on our history tour down into Beaver County to explore the old Taintor Ranch several years ago. Mitzie and I have been corresponding for quite some time and she has tried several times to get out here, but something always prevented her trip. This time she made it along with several nieces and nephews who all thoroughly enjoyed getting to learn about the Taintor legacy firsthand. Larry and LaDonna Meyers graciously "put them up" one night at their ranch... which was very special for them.

Mitzie Johnson discovered her grandfather's ties to this area on my website www.oldmeadecounty.com. Like many descendents of Meade County pioneers, she was searching his name when my site came up. She said she couldn't even describe how she felt when I emailed her back after her first inquiry... she was so sure her grandfather's ranch was now a Walmart parking lot! I got to introduce her to LaDonna Meyers' book, "Cimarron Chronicles" which tells a lot about the Taintor Ranch, and when I supplied her with a link to my report on that history tour we took, she even got to see photos of the ranch... she was ecstatic. I realized when I met her that something that was all in a day's work for me greatly impacted her life. I found that very rewarding.

The Museum received several nice donations this week. I had approached Shelly Axtell at Meade County Title about buying a more up-to-date land map for our Library and she gave us one! Thanks Shelly... I put it in the frame and it has already proven useful.

I mentioned to Ann Classen that we needed a "non-electric" carpet sweeper, and she brought us one. Thanks Ann. Larry Lemaster brought in a couple of photos from his collection. They are of Agnes Wherle Todd's mother, and Larry felt like they should be in the Heritage House which was originally their home. Does anyone know Mrs. Wherle's first name?

Frances Elffner started working at the Museum this week. Frances is a retired librarian and has taken on the job of organizing the Library at the Museum. This project is long over-due and we really appreciate her efforts. We have visions of a research library that will be easy to use for anyone wanting to look into Meade County history.

Well, summer is officially here and we look forward to a busy time. Stop in for a visit and check out some of the changes at the Museum.

May 16, 2010:

I started as curator at the Meade County Historical Society Museum on May 5, and as I went about my duties this week I thought it might be fun to write my experiences down.. and as long as I was writing them down… share them with you.

To be frank, I wasn’t completely aware of what the job entailed, so the past two weeks have been quite a learning experience, but I love Meade County history and I love to talk about it and so this job seems to be a good fit.

The past two weeks we have had several school tours. We have had 170 4th graders from Sunflower School in Liberal and 13 from Homeland Christian School. The first week I wasn’t prepared to guide the kids on a tour, but this last week an angel came to me in the form of Alma Regier, and I had the help I needed to take the kids around. I wasn’t too sure of what I was doing at first, but from the complements I have received I must have done OK. The Liberal kids would split up and half go to the Hideout while the other half came to the Museum… so Marc Ferguson shared with them all about the wild, wild west down at the Hideout, and I shared with them the history of Meade County.

Alma was busy as well, when she wasn’t greeting other visitors, she was working on a project she started years ago researching the rural schools of Meade County. She dusted of her research and kick started her brain… and I think she is thoroughly enjoying getting back to something dear to her heart.

One bright spot in my week was a visit from Tim Wenzl from Dodge City. Tim works for the Diocese of Dodge City and has been doing research for a book on St. Anthony Catholic Church in Fowler. We have corresponded a lot in the past year… sharing information about Fowler, the Jones & Plummer Trail, and other points of interest from Meade County history. We had a nice visit and I gave him one of my books, “The Dalton Gang and Their Family Ties.”  To my surprise in the mail yesterday was a book he had written in 2001, about the Diocese of Dodge City. The book has a history of all three Catholic churches in Meade County and will make a great addition to our library here at the Museum. I am looking forward to his book on St. Anthony’s and I am sure I’m in good company with a lot of people in Fowler 

Tim also shared with me some information about the Dalton family. In my book I mention that I found homestead records in the Dalton name… one was John C. and Mary A. Dalton who homesteaded about 5 miles south of Plains in 1886, another was Jehn (could have been John or Jehu) and Martha Dalton who homesteaded a quarter of ground in 1890, then turned right around a mortgaged it, after which they abandoned it and it was repossessed in 1891. Robert C. and Rose E. Dalton did the same thing at the same time near Rainbelt. What Tim added to this mystery is as follows. In the record books of the Diocese was this entry; “Olive Dalton was baptized at Meade Center on July 16, 1887, by Father John Begley, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Dodge City. Her date of birth is recorded as February 10, 1886. Parents are Robert and Rose Dalton. Godparents are Matthias and Mary Classen.” What this tells us is that the Robert Dalton’s still lived in the area in 1887…. very interesting.

We are still waiting for our carpenter to get to the job of closing up the windows in the front of the Museum. Bad weather and illness are just two reasons that project has been delayed, but hopefully we will start on it soon.

J.W. Vanderpool has erected his Jones & Plummer Trail marker down at his place, and members of the Board are getting excited about getting the rest of them installed. I’d like for Meade County to be the first to get them up… it’s been a long drawn-out project.

That’s about all for this week. I’ll be working probably every day this month… so stop by and say hello. Let’s talk history!




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