Wabaunsee County Historical Society and Museum

Wabaunsee County Historical Society and Museum Friends...I would like to ask for your help! We don't have a working WCHS & M page, so let's get one going! I hope to post information often!
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Even Greg thinks these weeks go too fast!Yikes!  It's Photo Friday??!!  I guess I sort of forgot that it was Friday.  It...
01/06/2020

Even Greg thinks these weeks go too fast!

Yikes! It's Photo Friday??!! I guess I sort of forgot that it was Friday. It happens when you achieve my level of ripeness. My wife emailed me, saying maybe I should change the name to Slacker Saturday.

Oh well, here goes, today's photo is a view by Gus Meier from the 1890s of the St. John Lutheran Church in Alma, Kansas. Construction on this particular building began in January of 1878 and proceeded slowly throughout that year. After the roof and steeple were completed, on July 23, 1878, the building's steeple was struck by lightning. The Alma News of July 24th, reported on the damage, saying "In the storm yesterday afternoon the steeple of the new Lutheran church now building, was struck by lightning, shivering one of the main posts, and running down both sides of the door frame to the ground. No other damage."

Repairs were made and construction resumed, and this building was dedicated on Sunday, March 30, 1879.

Today's photo comes to us courtesy Paul Gronquist, and I really appreciate his generosity.

Have a great weekend!

If you can't be here... let me share a few more of our pictures!  Just a disclaimer--they are always better seen in pers...
12/27/2019

If you can't be here... let me share a few more of our pictures! Just a disclaimer--they are always better seen in person!

These weeks are certainly strange when we are only open two days and one of those days falls on a holiday!  Still, Greg ...
12/27/2019

These weeks are certainly strange when we are only open two days and one of those days falls on a holiday! Still, Greg hasn't taken the week off!
Thanks as always, Greg!

Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! I have a neat little photo for you today. It's a view of the Hinerville District 15 schoolhouse, located near Alma on Highway 99, one-half of a mile north of Interstate 70. Notice that the door to the school was decorated with a festive holiday ribbon and bow, and there's a sweet little 1947 Crosley "woody" station wagon parked in front of the school. The Crosley company was a leader in the industry, producing America's first economy car. Unfortunately, in the post-war boom which was characterized by fifteen-to-twenty-cent-a-gallon gasoline, fuel economy wasn't a feature that consumers sought. Crosley Motors produced automobiles from 1939 through 1952, except for the war years. Crosley was also known for the production of the first "sport-utility vehicles", like the woody seen here.

I hope everyone has a great holiday.

And here's the other picture from Greg!  Sorry!
12/19/2019

And here's the other picture from Greg! Sorry!

Meanwhile...while I'm posting, let's catch up with Greg!     Thank you, Greg, for watching over Wabaunsee County and pre...
12/18/2019
A Day in History: February 4, 1921, Fire Destroys R. C. Day Garage in Eskridge

Meanwhile...while I'm posting, let's catch up with Greg!
Thank you, Greg, for watching over Wabaunsee County and preserving so many of our pictures and so much of our heritage.
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! I have a great photo for you today. It's a view of the aftermath of a February 4, 1921 fire that struck R. C. Day's Ford dealership located at 212 S. Main Street in Eskridge, Kansas. In this remarkable photo we see that the building, itself, was gutted by the fire, and that the brick facade was braced with a telephone pole to prevent it from collapsing into the street. In this view, we see from right to left Day's Garage, Robertson's Paint and Wallpaper, Wright's Barber Shop, the Cozy Cafe, and Waugh's Implement Company.

Perhaps more amazing yet is the fact that Day rebuilt his garage after the fire, and the brick facade was somehow salvaged and remains on the front of the building today. I believe the last occupant of the building was a business called Countertops Unlimited.

I recently read a detailed account of the fire in the Eskridge newspaper of the day, and I've presented excerpts from that article along with four photos of the fire which I obtained years ago from an old friend, Eskridge merchant, Dean Dunn. You can see those photos and read the account on my Flint Hills Special website:
https://flinthillsspecial.com/2019/12/12/a-day-in-history-february-4-1921-fire-destroys-r-c-day-garage-in-eskridge/

Have a great weekend!

On Friday evening, February 4, 1921, the Ford dealership belonging to Robert Day in Eskridge, Kansas burned to the ground in a blaze which destroyed seventeen vehicles and threatened the downtown b…

Sometimes I feel like my phone reassembles a haunted house!  I change a page and everything is different!  Open a door a...
12/18/2019

Sometimes I feel like my phone reassembles a haunted house! I change a page and everything is different! Open a door and you can't go back!
Here are the rest of those quilting photos! I knew they were somewhere...just a matter of finding the right room!

Have I shared pictures of these ladies lately?
12/18/2019

Have I shared pictures of these ladies lately?

It sure is hard to keep up with Greg!     It's Photo Friday!  I have a great photo for you today.  It's a photo from 193...
12/09/2019
Gas Station Bandits Strike Eskridge

It sure is hard to keep up with Greg!

It's Photo Friday! I have a great photo for you today. It's a photo from 1931 of Cloyce Meeker standing in the driveway of his Sinclair gas station located at 122 Main Street in Eskridge, Kansas. Today, the U.S. Post Office sits on this lot. Meeker purchased the station in 1931 from Harold Duff. The station was located at the northeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Main Street, while Haubold & Burnett owned a Standard Oil station on the southeast corner of the same intersection.

I've recently written a story about a gang of gas station bandits from Emporia, Kansas who planned a series of robberies of the six gas stations which operated in Eskridge in the fall of 1931. You can view that story at my website: https://flinthillsspecial.com/2019/12/06/gas-station-bandits-strike-eskridge/

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

-by Greg Hoots The year was 1931. The Great Depression had changed the face of America. Hardworking folks who had never experienced unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and the inability to feed t…

And...just like that - it's time for winter hours!  Tuesday and Wednesday for this week.  Beginning next week?  Tuesday ...
11/26/2019

And...just like that - it's time for winter hours! Tuesday and Wednesday for this week. Beginning next week? Tuesday and Wednesday until March!

And here's the book!
11/26/2019

And here's the book!

Greg's a little early this week.  Enjoy!It's Photo Friday, early edition.  I have a great photo for you today. This is a...
11/22/2019

Greg's a little early this week. Enjoy!

It's Photo Friday, early edition. I have a great photo for you today. This is a view looking south at the 200 block of Main Street in Eskridge, Kansas while a parade is underway. I believe that this photo was taken on the 4th of July in 1886, making it one of the oldest photos of Eskridge that I've ever seen. The four stone buildings at the right are what has been called the Earl block, name for William H. Earl, a prominent early businessman who operated his dry goods and grocery business in the building at the far north end of the block. Earl came to Eskridge in 1869 and settled at "the Corners" where he opened a small store. When the new town of Eskridge was established in 1880, Earl was one of the first businesses to establish themselves on the new Main Street.

There is a lot to see in this photo. Notice the livery stable building at the corner of 3rd and Main, and beyond that to the south, there appears to be no houses on the street except for the Mitchell residence at 6th and S. Main. This is a fabulous early view of a block in Eskridge that was not often photographed. This photo comes from the collection of Charlie and Jan Waugh of Eskridge. They loaned the photo to Bruce Waugh, who allowed me to copy it. I owe everyone a note of thanks.

Have a great weekend!

Board member Paul Miller sent this note about an addition to the museum!It is a photo and a reference of a book that was...
11/21/2019

Board member Paul Miller sent this note about an addition to the museum!
It is a photo and a reference of a book that was written by Gary Damron. His wife is a descendant of the Hankammer family. He has donated his book to the museum and it is available to take home and read. It is a historical fiction and there are several family names who play a part in the book who were all some of the founding families of Wabaunsee County.

This is a story of a family that had a vision and saw it through to the end. The Hankammer Family had no other choice but to give up their homeland and move to another country with only the possessions they could put into a travel trunk, in order to start a new life. Upon arrival in America, they took what little they had and traveled half-way across this continent by flatboat and wagon train to settle on the western frontier with little or no understanding of the turmoil and strife around them between a government wanting to push west and a native resident not willing to give up their land.

Wilhelm and Anna Sibilla’s son, Adolph, left home to be a soldier in the U.S. Army, joining company K of the 11th Kansas volunteers, a German Regiment, and fought in the war between the North and South. His letters home to his brother-in-law John Schwanke and his sister Wilhelmina Schwanke, expresses his feelings, misunderstandings, the environment he lived in, and desires to move forward once the war is over. His letters are featured in Appendix I of this book. These letters have been translated from the original German text to English.

The story doesn’t end here. A restless Adolph mustered back into the Army and ended up at the Platte River Bridge in Wyoming only to fight one last battle to secure safe passage for the settlers moving west, which was propagated by the Sand Creek Massacre in Southeast Colorado.

11/15/2019

It has been a while since I've taken the time to thank you all for checking with us here from time to time! We have over 600 likes on this page, which is pretty good considering thats almost double what we had last year! So thank you!
If you receive the paper, please be advised that we arent on winter hours quite yet! They begin December 1... not too far away!

Here's Greg!  Thinking of warmer days...Hi, Everyone, It's Photo Friday, early edition. I have a great photo for you tod...
11/12/2019
Wabaunsee Outlook: Transient Camp #5 Newsletter, April 21, 1935

Here's Greg! Thinking of warmer days...
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday, early edition. I have a great photo for you today. It's a view of the spillway at Lake Wabaunsee, a photo probably taken in 1938. In this view, one can see the Kraus farm at the far left as well as the old bridge which crossed the south branch of Mill Creek as it exited the spillway.

Today's photo comes to us courtesy a Kansas author and researcher, Amy Heaven, who is writing a book about Gardner Lake, a "sister lake" to Lake Wabaunsee, both reservoirs being first constructed by the Kansas Emergency Relief Committee and finished as Works Progress Administration projects. Ms. Heaven, a Photo Friday group member, recently traveled to Maryland to the National Archives repository for "New Deal" project photos and documents and discovered this photo of the Lake Wabaunsee spillway which she generously copied for us.

Incidentally, recently Ms. Heaven emailed me digitized versions of two copies of the Wabaunsee Outlook, the newsletter for the KERC camp. I've placed both of those on my Flint Hills Special website, and they are quite interesting. Here's a link to one, and if you wish to view the second copy, just click on the Home tab after you've viewed the first, and you will see both listed near the top of the scrolling list of site contents. This is the link for the April 21, 1935 edition.

https://flinthillsspecial.com/2019/11/01/wabaunsee-outlook-transient-camp-5-newsletter-april-21-1935/

Have a great weekend!

11/11/2019

Happy Veteran's Day!

I have mentioned the genealogy files recently, but I don't think I told you about all of the books!  These are family st...
10/30/2019

I have mentioned the genealogy files recently, but I don't think I told you about all of the books! These are family stories. What a collection! These books are in addition to the files we have. The information (before you ask, as one young lady did, if we stalk you!) is public, except what has been donated by families.

Now this was something of a shock!  I haven't seen this much open floor for quite some time!  The quilt moved back.
10/30/2019

Now this was something of a shock! I haven't seen this much open floor for quite some time! The quilt moved back.

The cold weather kept the quilters in today, but I managed a couple pictures of the new one!  It's adorable...but still ...
10/30/2019

The cold weather kept the quilters in today, but I managed a couple pictures of the new one! It's adorable...but still work!

Aren't  modern conveniences wonderful?  And so convenient!  I am sometimes reminded that the under-20 crowd (or maybe 30...
10/21/2019

Aren't modern conveniences wonderful? And so convenient! I am sometimes reminded that the under-20 crowd (or maybe 30!?) has never lived without a microwave, a dishwasher or a DVD / dvr player! Then again, I never used this fine machine from yesteryear! I rarely iron, but sure glad I never had to use this press! Looks like a smashed finger just waiting to happen! If you want one for your own, however, I recently saw one in an antique store...

It might be windy, cool and cloudy (in other words, a normal fall day in Kansas!), but we still had a nice turn out for ...
10/20/2019

It might be windy, cool and cloudy (in other words, a normal fall day in Kansas!), but we still had a nice turn out for the WCHS Fall Tour! The tour included cemeteries near Newberry, the church and convent, and Paxico. I joined in for the cemetery tour and have a few pictures to share. If these just make you curious, we have more information at the museum.

I have mentioned our genealogy files, and they were the source of a previous picture.  These days , most of the entries ...
10/18/2019

I have mentioned our genealogy files, and they were the source of a previous picture. These days , most of the entries are birth, marriage and death notices. Here are examples from one file. If you have had family in the area, there's a good chance you are in our files! (Well, your family, anyway!)

10/18/2019

Don't forget! The Fall Tour is Sunday! You will get up close and personal with the cemetery! Event details are listed! No bus this year, which is not a bad thing!

Yes, I've been gone, but Greg is on the job!  He's even early this week.  Thanks, Greg!Hi, Everyone, It's Photo Friday, ...
10/18/2019

Yes, I've been gone, but Greg is on the job! He's even early this week. Thanks, Greg!
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday, early edition. I have a couple of really good photos for you today. Both of the images were taken in early 1961; one shows the underground "coffin" silo of an intercontinental ballistic missile located 30-miles southwest of Topeka near Keene, Kansas in Wabaunsee County. The silo held an Atlas-E missile, the first ICBM in America's arsenal of rockets which carried nuclear warheads. This missile site was one of nine which was operated by the 548th Strategic Missile Squadron from Forbes Air Force Base at Topeka. When this photo was taken, the site was still under the control of the civilian contractors who built the underground fortress, and this photograph was taken by a General Dynamics photographer, Dave Mathias, working in coordination with the Air Force.

The second photo shows this same General Dynamics photographer seated inside an Air Force chopper with his camera in hand, preparing for take-off while photographing the missile sites. Dave had served in the Air Force as a photographer before going to work for General Dynamics, photographing their Atlas missile projects. Dave's first assignment for General Dynamics was to photograph the nine missile sites surrounding Forbes AFB, after which he was transferred to Salina, Kansas where he photographed the installation of twelve Atlas-F missile sites located near Shilling Air Force Base. After the sites at Shilling were operational, Mathias transferred to the General Dynamics manufacturing facilities in San Diego, California, where he photographed the General Dynamics/Convair factories which manufactured the Atlas. After finishing his stint with General Dynamics, Dave returned to Topeka where he owned and operated a commercial photography business, Photo 1, for more than sixty years, making him the longest-practicing professional photographer in the history of Topeka.

Dave is just a great guy and an exceptional photographer, and he generously shared these two photos with us, and I extend a thanks to him.

Finally, within the next two weeks, I will be publishing a story, Fifteen Minutes Till Doomsday, on my Flint Hills Special website, which will tell the story of daily life inside the nine missile sites at Forbes AFB. I have conducted extensive interviews with a Missile Combat Crew Commander (MCCC) at one of the nine sites, and the story of daily life in the missile silos is both gripping and revealing. The article is heavily illustrated with period photos from the Atlas sites. I hope to have the story ready to "fly" within the next ten days, and I will let you know when that happens.

Have a great weekend!

Strange... Here are the other pictures!  I always wonder where they went!  No name for the baby.  Mr. Seaman is in the s...
10/11/2019

Strange... Here are the other pictures! I always wonder where they went! No name for the baby. Mr. Seaman is in the second one!

I am happy that you find something of interest in these pages.  Im also happy to track down answers - if I  can!  And yo...
10/11/2019

I am happy that you find something of interest in these pages. Im also happy to track down answers - if I can! And your patience is also appreciated!
Cindy asked about the oldest picture(s) from the area. Now that's a challenge! I`m going to post a few, Cindy, but I wont swear that these are even among the oldest of our pictures. There are a few pictures in the genealogy files, but I didnt dig into those. These came off the computer. You can find others at kansasmemories.org. You are also welcome to come in and check out our collection. Allow lots of time!
The last one includes a picture of Fred Seaman, who served the school district many years ago. Yes, he has a school and district named after him.

Keri - there is information about the salt works and well at the museum.  We even found a few pictures!  Thanks, Nyla!
10/09/2019

Keri - there is information about the salt works and well at the museum. We even found a few pictures! Thanks, Nyla!

Address

227 Missouri Ave.
Alma, KS
66401

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(785) 765-2200

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