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!


OPENING tomorrow! Tuesday, June 2! We're baaccckkkk! Regular hours are 10-12 and 1-4! It might be time for a history lesson!

Friday come and gone already!  Here's Greg!Hi, Everyone, It's Photo Friday!  I have a really great photo for you today. ...

Friday come and gone already! Here's Greg!

Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! I have a really great photo for you today. It's a view of the Security Bank, located at 121 S. Main in Eskridge, Kansas, taken in the late 1880s. The bank was established in this new building in September of 1887. George Waugh, seen standing in the doorway, founded the bank with his brother, John Y. Waugh.

Apart from the incredible appearance of this building when this photo was taken, there are a couple of notable things about this photograph. On the left (south) side of this building, one can see the edge of Mattie Trivett's general store which burned in 1906, and to the right of the Waugh's bank, one can see the edge of the Trusler building, when it had its original one-story storefront. It's virtually impossible to find a historic photo from this era of either of these adjoining buildings.

I'd like to thank Bruce Waugh for letting me have this wonderful digital copy of this historic view.

Have a great weekend!


Whoops!  It's almost Friday--and I haven't shared Greg's last post!  Thanks, Greg! Hi, Everyone, It's Photo Friday!  I h...

Whoops! It's almost Friday--and I haven't shared Greg's last post! Thanks, Greg!

Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! I have a couple of photos taken at one of my favorite spots in Wabaunsee County, Volland, Kansas. In 1968, lifelong Volland residents, Lowell and Myrtle Thierer, purchased the old Kratzer Bros. store at Volland from Otto and Mabel Kratzer into which they moved their Mill Creek Museum. In 1969, they officially opened the museum in the old Kratzer store, and there was live music for the event, provided by the Country Sundowners Band. The store looks freshly painted for the big opening. This great photo was taken by Julie Schultz, and we thank Julie for sharing this view.

The Thierers, who lived a mile or so east of Volland, had operated the museum at their home since around 1962. The Thierer family home was also the site of Molasses Days, a fall festival which drew thousands of guests to the rural community. The second photo was taken at the same store on the final day of the Mill Creek Museum when Lowell Thierer, besieged by trespassers and thieves, removed his treasured general store artifacts from his musuem. This view comes from Photo Friday group member, Rachelle Routh, who generously shared her photos of the last day at the Mill Creek Museum. A bonus view from Rachelle shows the original Volland Post Office on the store counter.

Have a great weekend!


Another area photographer--and a more recent one-- was Charlie Herman.  I knew Charlie just a bit--and I didn't know tha...

Another area photographer--and a more recent one-- was Charlie Herman. I knew Charlie just a bit--and I didn't know that he was such a camera man! Here are a few of his pictures from the museum collection.
Sadly, although I was acquainted with Charlie, I don't know much about his background. If you were an acquaintance or friend, perhaps you could share some information about this quiet man.
(Thanks to assistant curator Marci Spaw for sending the pictures!)

So... I recently showed you some of our art work.  Those folks could pick up a brush, put on some paint--and make a pict...

So... I recently showed you some of our art work. Those folks could pick up a brush, put on some paint--and make a picture! I'm not that kind of artist (I only wish!), but I can take a good picture! And we have had some amazing photographers! When you think how long the camera has been around, it really is amazing! And think how much photography has changed! We can use digital photography and come up with a "picture" so quickly!
Here is a little more information about a couple area photographers.
(Disclaimer and apologies: Lighting does make a difference! Between the lights and the sun, reflection on the glass makes this group a little more difficult to reproduce. Hope you can get the general idea.)

So... I was thinking... and nothing good ever follows that phrase!    I enjoy the Ohst pictures, of course, but we do ha...

So... I was thinking... and nothing good ever follows that phrase!
I enjoy the Ohst pictures, of course, but we do have more than just his. His time period was late 19th and early 20th century. But... I will share a few of his pictures, along with a few other favorites! And these pictures certainly should be part of a "historical" museum. They are so representative of life of their times! From The Proposal to all of those hams that Ohst painted... that's life. (Yes, he did paint several pictures with food, and ham was a favorite!)
Enjoy--and come and see all of our pictures soon!


Further news:
At the recent Board meeting, WCHS members decided to postpone the annual meeting. There was talk of combining it with the Fall Tour, or setting another date. Please stay tuned! We'll keep you posted.
ALSO--good news! Board members hope that the museum can reopen in early June! YAY!

Have you noticed that many people seem to want to make plans for something two or three months in the future?  Take scho...

Have you noticed that many people seem to want to make plans for something two or three months in the future? Take school, for instance! Some "experts" are already suggesting that school should not start in the fall. Really? Seems like a pessimistic view!
Here's Greg, though, with a look back instead of forward! I wonder who the driver could call if he had "tire" troubles?

Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! I have a pretty unusual photo for you today. It's a Kansas view of a school bus with a driver and two passengers aboard, dating from about 1908. What makes this bus unusual is that it is powered by what appears to be a team of mules.

It is phenomenal the changes that schools in Kansas have seen in the last 125 years. Even so, few people would have predicted the mass closings of elementary and secondary schools and colleges that has swept the country in the last two months. The future seems even more uncertain.

One thing is certain, a ride to school in this bus would have been a rough one.

Have a great weekend!


Have you had a chance to see our collection of canes?

Have you had a chance to see our collection of canes?

From Greg...(and, Greg--I love the hat!)Hi, Everyone, It's Photo Friday!  I have something unusual for you today, and it...

From Greg...(and, Greg--I love the hat!)
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! I have something unusual for you today, and it's probably an image that won't interest many of you. It's a photograph of me, taken in about 1961 at a gas station in my hometown of West Plains, Mo. You'll see that I'm sporting a pretty stylish hat in the photo, and it had been given to me as a present by a lifelong friend, Charles Phelps, who was also the photographer of the view.

I'm posting this because I recently authored a story about Phelps Oil Company, owned by Charles Phelps. The story, however, is autobiographical, and it tells about a slice of my life, growing up in West Plains. It's on my website: https://flinthillsspecial.com/2020/05/08/phelps-oil-company-west-plains-mo/

I prefer to write other people's biographies, but this one was pretty fun to write, as it brought many pleasant memories to mind.

Have a great weekend!



Changes... changes...
I haven't heard of any changes in our plans, but the all-school reunion in Alma has been cancelled. That would have been a month away! It occurs on the same date as our annual meeting. I'll keep you posted!

Boy, these Fridays are a little different!   But Greg always comes through!Hi, Everyone, It's Photo Friday!  There are l...

Boy, these Fridays are a little different! But Greg always comes through!
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! There are lots of burdens and inconveniences that we all face with the changes that the Coronavirus has brought to our lives. Trips to the grocery store that once brought with them a feeling of reassurance in the abundance of food, now are high-stress, high-risk, expeditions requiring the shopper to don protective masks and gloves, only to find the shelves are often bare. Less necessary tasks have just disappeared from our lives entirely. Right now, my hair is as long as it's been since college, and more than once, my wife has offered to cut it for me. It would be her first experience as a barber, and I've resorted to wearing a hat.

I fear that such an experiment might end with me looking like this guy seated in today's Photo Friday. This is a U.S. Army photo dated October of 1944 from the Prisoner of War camp at Lake Wabaunsee, showing one prisoner giving a haircut to a second POW. The barber shop looks temporary, at best. The camp was managed by Ft. Riley personell, and it operated from the early summer of 1944 through the end of the growing season in 1945, providing labor for Wabaunsee County farmers.

So far, my old UPS hat seems to be the best solution to this inconvenience.

Have a great weekend!



Just a note... I know there are many people who don't live right in the county. FYI: We have had an increase in our cases of C-19, and the meat plant has even closed for two weeks. I hope wherever you are, you can find something entertaining or enlightening to do with your time! As a retiree, I will admit that not much has changed in my lifestyle, except for the shopping! I am more careful these days, as you might expect!
Sad to say, I have heard speculation that we will be under STAY HOME orders for another two weeks--minimum! Take care of yourself! And if you need help, call! Our pastor offered his assistance to anyone who was struggling and I expect you could call any church and find a kind and understanding ear. We are all in deep water here! I am so grateful that we have electricity, running water--and our computers!
Take care. Stay well! Until next time...!


And here's Greg from last Friday. As always, Greg thanks for all you do!
SORRY! I have not made friends with this new page (and I really don't want to, but guess I'll have to!), so I am having a little trouble with the picture! It will follow on a separate post!
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! Today was kind of different. When I opened my computer, someone had sent me a Photo Friday image! What a treat! Usually, I have to do some thinking to decide what to send, but I didn't, today. Today's photo comes to me courtesy Lisa Cernich, who forwarded me the image from a Facebook post made by Jim Demaree on the Kansas History Geeks page. Mr. Demaree had several photos of Atlas missiles being placed in the coffin silos operated by the 548th Strategic Missile Squadron operating at Forbes Air Force Base at Topeka.

Today's image is an aerial view taken as a missile was at a 4-way stop sign at the intersection of K-4 Highway and SW 57th Street and Douglas Road in the center of Dover, Kansas. This photo was probably taken in January of 1961 when the first missile was bing placed in Site #6 at Keene, Kansas. There's an eyeful to see in this photo. The missile is seen on K-4 coming into the intersection from the north. It had to turn right to proceed to Keene, and as you can see, the Dover IOOF building which houses the cafe today, sits uncomfortably close to the highway, making the right hand turn more challenging. Fortunately, there was a second driver located in a compartment just in front of the rear wheels of the trailer which bore the missile, and that driver steered the rear wheels of the 75-foot trailer to accomplish this type of turning manuver.

A careful eye can notice several changes in the landscape of Dover. While the original station on the northeast corner of the intersection had been enlarged, at this time, it had not been connected to the large building to the north as it is today. Across the street, just behind the missile, one can see the hulk of the Southwest Garage building, which appears to be in the process of demolition. Today, the fire departmant sits on that lot. On the southwest corner, the IOOF hall is quite recognizable, but notice the two large buildings just to the south of the hall which today are the parking lot. On the southeast corner of the interstection, a large two-story building stands which is not there today.

Finally, there's quite a crowd waiting to watch the missile pass through town (well it's a large crowd for Dover). It was no secret that the missile was passing through town.

Thanks to Lisa and to Mr. Demaree for sharing this extraordinary Photo Friday picture.

Have a great weekend,

Greetings!  I'm beginning to think we might have spring!  And welcome to it!    I have a couple things to share from Gre...

Greetings! I'm beginning to think we might have spring! And welcome to it!
I have a couple things to share from Greg. This first one came on April 17. Come back to Eskridge...
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! I have a couple of historic real photo postcard views for you today. They were taken less than a year apart, one might say that they are a before and after view. The first is a Zercher postcard looking from the south at the west side of the 100 block of Main Street in Eskridge in 1913. On March 15, 1914, fire swept down the block in a blaze which began at about 6:30 pm and destroyed nine business buildings in a matter of a couple of hours. Only three buildings on the south end of the block survived the fire. The second postcard view from Easter Photography, shows the same block, looking from the north. The first card is from my postcard collection, the second view comes courtesy the Dean Dunn photo collection.

Have a good weekend!


I haven't been back to the museum, but I found some old pictures to share today!  They come from our collection, so you ...

I haven't been back to the museum, but I found some old pictures to share today! They come from our collection, so you will be able to check them out yourself - someday! I try to remember how fortunate we are- especially when the restrictions seem more restrictive every day! Our strollers are deluxe and our cars run well!
Maybe more important? We have the internet to share important (or not so much!) stuff!


Good rainy day to you! Hope you are managing your restrictions as best as you can!


As requested--this information comes from the Alma Area Foundation.
Alma Area Foundation committed to assisting businesses

Members of the Alma Area Foundation (AAF) Board of Directors are committed to the survival of main street, storefront businesses in Alma and have made a commitment to assist them.
The Foundation was formed in March 1994 for the purpose of promoting educational opportunities and the development of Alma area businesses. For many years the Foundation has administered and annually granted over a dozen scholarships to Wabaunsee High School seniors. Additional bequeaths to the Foundation have made it possible to assist organizations that enhance and promote the Alma Community as well as surrounding business areas.
Recently our world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 virus. Through no fault of their own, there are many local businesses that may be suffering financially because of this.
The AAF Board of Directors has identified a number of Alma businesses that have experienced loss of income due to the virus and wish to assist them. The board also realizes there may be additional main street, storefront businesses that they have not identified.
Currently the AAF is soliciting donations to assist those businesses and has announced that they will match up to $10,000 for a total of $20,000 to be granted to local businesses to help them meet the challenges of this epidemic.
The board members realize that for some individuals this may not be an opportune time to make charitable donations; however, they ask that, if you feel you are able to, you make a check payable to the Alma Area Foundation and either drop it in the night deposit box at Stockgrowers State Bank in Alma (labeled Foundation donation) or mail it to the Foundation at P.O. Box 192, Alma, Kansas 66401. The Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) organization, and all donations are tax deductible.
Businesses that are experiencing difficulties are asked to make a written request to the Foundation stating their name, address and a brief description of what challenges they are facing. Mail that request to the Foundation at P.O. Box 192, Alma, and the board will consider those requests for financial assistance.
There is no shame struggling to survive in a negative atmosphere that you have not created. There are people who wish to help businesses meet their financial obligations so these businesses may be here to serve the Alma Community for years to come.
The deadline for applications for financial assistance should be submitted by April 30. The board will revisit the situation at that time and determine, if it is necessary, to extend that deadline.
Please contact a foundation board member for additional information to make a contribution or to apply for assistance.
Board members include: Ervan Stuewe, Chairman; Paul Miller, Vice Chairman; Shannon Wertzberger, Secretary; Trish Ringel, Treasurer; Connie Miller, Scholarship Chairman; and members Alan Winkler and Tonia Michaelis

Speaking of essential--Here's Greg!  His information is always important!  Thanks, Greg! Hi, Everyone, It's Photo Friday...

Speaking of essential--Here's Greg! His information is always important! Thanks, Greg!
Hi, Everyone,

It's Photo Friday! This is a real photo postcard that I added to my collection last week. It's a view of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Maple Hill, Kansas, taken in 1907 by noted postcard photographer, John Bowers. This is one of several real photo postcards created by Bowers of Maple Hill subjects.

Bowers, born near St. Paul, Minnesota, was a prolific postcard photographer, producing hundreds of views of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. Bowers operated a studio in Topeka, Kansas in a building owned by his brother at 409 S. Kansas Avenue, and he would travel by rail to towns within a radius of about 200 miles of Topeka to take photographs and orders from local merchants for postcards. In 1906, Bowers and his family moved to Long Beach, California where he opened a successful California studio, while still maintaining his shop in Topeka.

Bowers was a fascinating character and an enterprising businessman. In 1910, he invented a machine which could print multiple postcard photos from a single negative on a long strip of photo paper, and he made a patent application for the device in January of 1911. Exactly one week after filing his patent application, Bowers suffered a tragic death at his Long Beach home, ending his illustrious career.

I'm authoring a short biographical essay about John Bowers' photograph work, his life, and his untimely death, which I should have on my website next week. I'll post another Bowers view from Wabaunsee County, Kansas next week.

Have a great weekend!



227 Missouri Ave.
Alma, KS

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 16:00
Thursday 10:00 - 16:00
Friday 10:00 - 16:00
Saturday 10:00 - 16:00


(785) 765-2200


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About this page...

IT was suggested to me that I should put a little personal information here... just to avoid misunderstandings, if nothing else! Now I do prefer to be behind the camera, so I will have to look for a picture to post, but I can fill in some details in the meanwhile...

My name is Kathy Hendricks. I have lived in the Alma area for some time, though I was originally from Emporia. I first came to Alma to teach at Wabaunsee High School... oh, many years ago! I met Larry Hendricks and we were married the next spring! Life happened: I quit teaching for a while, had a couple kids, went back to work in Wamego, came back to Wabaunsee for several years and then retired!

Then I applied for the Curator’s job at WCHS Museum. Although I had visited the museum a few times through the years, I didn’t know much about it. I accepted the job and went to work in April--the same day as the big fire! (Memorable, that!) Later I learned that my father-in-law Marvin Hendricks was a true believer in the museum! He was a charter member, no less!

I worked as Curator for a year, during which I started this page. Although I resigned from the museum, I have kept the page going. I am so pleased that people can follow (and maybe even enjoy!) what’s happening here in Wabaunsee County!

A word of warning, however: If you have a pressing concern, please do call the museum at 785-765-2200. Or send an e-mail! I do try to answer questions and reply, but I’m not always fast! I will keep trying! Hope you will stay on for the ride!

Nearby museums

Other History Museums in Alma

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Does anyone on this page know anything about the Jenkins Restaurant located in Harveyville? The earliest information in a paper I can find is Sept 1907 and I believe he sold it in March 1909.
2nd recently found photo of my grandfather, James F. Johnston and teachers, dated 1909 at Alma school.
Recently found newspaper clipping of my grandfather, James F. Johnston, when he was teacher or principal and apparently basketball coach of Alma school. No date but should be approx. 1909.
Here is pic from last week .. Dorthy Watt Farr .. doing fine at 95.
I visited Dorthy Watt Fauebach Farr last week at her home in Port Townsend, WA .. she has a wonderful history tied to Maple Hill, born there, schooled there, married there, lived there, etc. Here is a pic from last week and as young girl in MH. topt .. s Betty McClelland, Bobby McClelland bottom: Dorthy Watt, Jessie Watt. as kids growing up in MH
Here is an old pic from my parents stash. Eskridge High football team .. mid 1920s .. my dad Chet Widner in back row. Now I see football says 1926.
Hi Greg Hoots. This is the only way I know to contact you. this is Jean in Tonganoxie. I imagine you have heard of Maisie's passing. Just want to let you know how happy I was to meet you and know someone to share our stories. I am happy for all of us who knew her and can relive wonderful memories. Jean
Here is another one of the stage area in the dining room.
It was a great tour. I didn't take a lot of photos, but here is one from the workshop.
Early 1900s Newberry Baseball team. Bottom right is William I Schmitz and Bottom Left is his older brother Leo Schmitz. The are the sons of Joseph Schmitz and Mary E (Mock) Schmitz and grand sons of John Mock. A first cousin of theirs is also in the picture and as soon as I get his name I will add it.
Did you get to see Greg's last photo? Here's the message that came with it. If you are interested in more information about the POW connection in Wabaunsee County, stroll in to the museum and check it out! It's Photo Friday. I have an interesting photo for you today. It's a photo from 1944-1945 taken by Wabaunsee County Extension Service agent Howard Myers of three German prisoners of war standing beside a pickup truck on a Wabaunsee County farm. Myers managed the farm work organization of the prison camp, matching area farmers with German workers. It was Myers who was the driving force behind the creation of the lake prison camp, providing labor for farmers, county road crews and even home construction. Nationally, 371,000 Germans, 50,000 Italians, and 4,000 Japanese were brought to the United States to be held in Prisoner of War camps. The work camp at Lake Wabaunsee held 150 German prisoners. No escapes were ever recorded from the camp, but one prisoner died as a result of an injury from farming equipment. "Camp No.5" at Lake Wabaunsee opened on July 1, 1944 and closed on December 1, 1945.