#91 Local History’s Mysteries, Bread Crumbs & Rabbit Holes

Identifying Three Unknown Men in an 1890 Kinsley Cabinet Photo

by William F Wolfgang, PhD

– Part 1 –

I first came to Kinsley in June 2019. At the time, I was researching for my Ph.D. on the subject of American theater history. I had recently discovered a footnote in a 1968 UCLA doctoral dissertation indicating that the town of “Kingsley, Kansas” was the site of a remarkable Shakespeare festival.

The basic facts of the event were fascinating, yet, the festival had been lost to history. I needed more information outside of the press coverage memorialized on newspapers.com to learn more.

To fully understand the events of the five-year (1912-1916) theatrical event, I emailed Kinsley’s Library Director, Joan Weaver, and inquired about any materials. That began the process of uncovering a truly incredible story.

I soon established that Kinsley was the site of a transformational movement at the intersection of American entertainment, civics, and artistic engagement. There was enough for a book on this intriguing time in America’s history! Since last summer, I’ve been writing life stories and reviewing the work of the festival’s director, Kinsley native Charles Edwards (1880-1926), and his family. 

My research in Kinsley has been invaluable. Visits to the Edwards County Historical Society, Joan Weaver’s assistance, and many others who shared remembrances from an earlier era also significantly contributed.

Since then, I’ve searched online for the period’s Kinsley artifacts to supplement these findings. Sometimes this quest leads to compelling discoveries for the upcoming book and the occasional mysterious rabbit hole. Unfortunately, many of these findings will not make it into the final text.

Figure 1 – Three Hutchinson teachers in Kinsley, November 1890. From left to right, Oliver Winslow Jones, Daniel Alpheus Baugher, and Hartwell Sherman Rogers.

Long-Lost Historic Bread Crumbs

I had one advantage: the photo was taken at the studio of D. H. Atkins. This proprietor only operated in town from November 1890 to March, providing a short window for when the image could have been taken.

Additionally, this photograph mystery offered another advantage; the three men did not appear to be related. I surmised their relationship had to be occupational in nature. Also, the style of their attire suggested they were engaged in some formal profession of some kind but were not incredibly wealthy.

As I scoured a historic local history text, I noticed a resemblance between the man at the center of the photo and Daniel Alpheus Baugher. He was Kinsley school’s longtime superintendent at the turn of the twentieth century (who had incidentally supported Charles Edwards with theatrical productions in town).

Operating under the hypothesis that the man in the center was Baugher, I checked his whereabouts during late 1890 using newspapers.com. Unfortunately, I uncovered that Baugher was teaching school and living in Hutchinson, seemingly disproving my theory. Now, back to square one.

But when I dug deeper, I discovered that the Southwest Kansas Teachers Association held a large regional conference in Kinsley in November 1890. Also, one D. H. Atkins had just opened his photography studio.

Since Baugher was a teacher at the time, he potentially attended the convention. So, I returned to my original hypothesis. I then gathered a list of Baugher’s male colleagues in the Hutchinson school system to see if I could confirm another man in the photo. I determined a finite group of five potential candidates. I did thorough searches for each one.

Then, I found what I was looking for –- mystery solved!

In a Wichita newspaper, I discovered an unmistakable photo of the man on the left. He was also a teacher on the 1890 Hutchinson teacher’s roster, and his name was Oliver Winslow Jones. As Sedgewick county treasurer, he had just been arrested for embezzling taxpayers’ money.

With Baugher and Jones clearly confirmed, I then tried to locate the man seated on the right. I had three male Hutchinson teachers remaining to research. I moved on to a man named Ellsworth Hull. After an hours-long exhaustive search, no luck, no photo chronicled in the papers. Maybe the third man’s identity would never be confirmed.

Still, my mission needed to be completed, so I pressed on. As I searched for the next man on the teacher’s list, Hartwell Sherman Rogers, I determined that he moved to Larned after his tenure in Hutchinson. In Larned’s papers, I noted that Rogers became a successful Pawnee County Attorney and aspiring politician.

And, suddenly, there it was: a photo of Rogers. Again, it was apparent. The man seated in the 1890 cabinet photo was indeed Hartwell Sherman Rogers.

The previously unidentified men in this long-lost 1890 photo from Kinsley were Hutchinson teachers Oliver Winslow Jones, Daniel Alpheus Baugher, and Hartwell Sherman Rogers. They had come to Kinsley for a teacher’s convention and memorialized their experience with a photograph at a brand-new studio. Who could blame them; the owner often had bargains such as a dozen photos affixed to cardboard for $1.50–what a steal!

While following clues and historic breadcrumbs absorbed me, the real significance of this photograph remains the fascinating lives of these three men.

(Continued next week…)

#90 What’s in a Name?

D.D. Morse Lithograph depicting Kinsley in 1878.

The Kinsley Library often gets queries to satisfy a patron’s curiosity or to settle a bet.  Last week I was intrigued by a phone call with a question I had never thought about before.  I soon found out I was not alone in not knowing the answer when I asked several people, including those attending the PCA After Hours at Good Company if they knew the answer.  The question was: “What do the people of Kinsley call themselves?”

I know that people are called New Yorkers, Chicagoans, Milwaukeeans, Topekans, Wichitans, Detroiters, Los Angelenos, Denverites, Buffalonians and my personal favorite, Michiganders.  But what do we call ourselves? 

            All I could think of to tell the caller was we are “people of Kinsley”.  I could not recall ever hearing any demonymic for the inhabitants of Kinsley.  Demonymic is my new word for the day.  A demonymic denotes the people or inhabitants of a city or area.

            Where could I find out if we ever had a demonymic?  The answer might be in one of my favorite resources, newspapers.com.  When I searched the database, I was not disappointed.  I found the first reference in The Edwards County Leader, April 5, 1877, just four years after the city was founded.  It appeared in an article which asserted that Martin and Edwards had a better price for lumber than what could be found in Larned.  It stated “…bear in mind, that we Kinsleyites have special rates.  Just pin that in your hat for future use, it may do you good.”

            The editors of every paper in those early years used Kinsleyite.  Many times, it appeared in the phrase, “an old Kinsleyite” when it referenced a person who had been here in the early days of the city. 

            In the Valley Republican (May 10, 1879), the editor wrote, “Some twenty-five or thirty Kinsleyites went to Dodge City, Thursday to see the circus.  Those that went up on the afternoon train expecting to see the show at night, were disappointed.  The show had gone.” 

            In 1880, after the town burned, I found this reference.  “The Kinsleyites never do anything by halves.  When they have a fire, they make it as large as the town will admit of, and sometimes stretch the blanket.” (Edwards County Leader, June 17, 1880)

            In 1889, there appeared to be exploration for salt. “Larned is still boring for ‘salt’.  Why don’t the Kinsleyites bore some for salt?  It will never do to let a little town like Larned get the bulge on Kinsley.” (Kinsley Graphic, Feb. 22, 1889)

            Kinsleyite seems to have been used often when there was a rivalry.  The editor of the Greensburg Rustler was offended when a Kinsleyite remarked that Kinsley was to soon have six roads (i.e. railroads) in Kinsley.  Lon Beard, editor of the Kinsley Mercury (March 26, 1887) responded.  “We are sorry our sister city, “little sister” city so to speak, should allow so trifling a circumstance to ruffle her feelings.  What she needs is a good sound spanking, but we’ll be lenient with her this time.  Run out, now, and play that you are a great big city, with every-so-many railroads, and if anybody says anything naughty to you, don’t ‘sass back’ again, and some day, when you grow up and get ‘big’ like Kinsley, you will thank us for having given you good advice.”

            Maybe this sesquicentennial year would be a good time to recognize and revive the demonymic of Kinsleyite as we celebrate 150 years of people calling Kinsley home.

#89 The Investigators’ Report on 1923 Auto Theft Ring in Kinsley, Kansas

As part of the Kinsley Library summer reading program, four teens decided to research and produce a video documentary on an auto theft ring in Kinsley in 1923. The library only had basic information from the local papers, so Macy Anderson, Brady Kraft, Alex Pickering, and Zovia Waters set out to find out more. They used newspapers.com, visited the Edwards County Registrar of Deeds and District Court, and took a tour of the Ford garage with its tin ceilings, mezzanine offices, large hydraulic lift, and the ramp used to drive the stolen cars into the basement. You can read their script below or watch their production here.

Western Kansas is Setting for Story By Macy Anderson

Vintage postcard of downtown Kinsley, Kansas in 1929

             Before the turn of the twentieth century, western Kansas was beginning to boom. Homesteaders had established their farms and ranches.  Developers had created towns and established businesses.

            This is when Stanley M. Earp was born on November 1st, 1890 in Ulysses, Kansas. He was the son of George Washington Earp and Anna Earp. He had a sister, Mable, born a year before himself and a brother, Walter E, born after him but who died within 24 hours.

            Stanley went into the United States Army during the time of the Mexican Border War in 1916.  He was discharged from the army because of a slight injury to his arm.  

Before marriage, Stanley worked as a representative for the Firestone Tire and Rubber company traveling around Kansas selling tires.

            Stanley met Marion Helen Judd in Dodge City.  She was a 1914 graduate of the Dodge City High School.  She also attended Washburn College and the University of Kansas.  She wrote a society column for the Dodge City Journal.  The couple was married on July 19th 1918 in her parent’s house in Dodge City.

       

             The wedding was reported to have been quite elaborate.  The color scheme was pink and white.  The house was decorated with pink and white flowers. The bride wore a gown of white satin and carried a bride’s bouquet.  
            When the wedding processional was played, four small boys, one being the bride’s brother, acted as ribbon bearers.  Two popular songs, “I Love You Truly” and “Because” were sung.

             The couple moved to Kinsley and lived at 822 Colony where they had a baby girl, Bette J. Earp in 1921. 

Stanley Earp Opens New Ford Garage By Zovia Waters

            In May of 1919,  Harold Kerr and Stanley Earp bought the storage and vulcanizing business of the Kinsley Garage.  Kerr and Earp planned on taking charge on the first of June. Kerr was a well-known man in Kinsley.  Earp had been to Kinsley frequently as a selling agent for Firestone auto tires. The two men put in full equipment to do tire work and gave a lot of attention to that line.

            By February of 1920, Stanley Earp was one of Kinsley’s most enterprising young businessmen. Even though he had been in Kinsley for less than a year he had shown his business ability and made lots of friends who were happy to see him take a step up in the business world.  He had staunch supporters in this new venture.

            In April, Earp purchased the property at 302 Sixth Street which was opposite to the Graphic office, now Arrowhead West.  They took down the existing frame building and assembled a substantial brick building on the site for his Ford auto and truck business. This new building greatly improved that part of town.  Kinsley appreciated him putting up a good building as it added considerable value, not only to his property but also to every piece of property in downtown Kinsley.

The Ford Garage Stanley Earp built. Picture taken in 2009.

            Earp’s family was also growing. In July, 1921, he drove to Dodge City on a Monday morning and brought home Mrs. Earp, and their new baby, Bette Jane.  Mrs. Earp had been staying with her parents. The little family settled down to a good life as respected members of the community.

Stanley Earp was described as a man with a heart as big as his body.  He had become president of the Kinsley Chamber of Commerce. He turned his new building over to the chamber for an Indoor Circus and Carnival on June 12, 1922 despite the fact that it meant no little inconvenience and delay in opening his business to

have the event.  It provided a good social atmosphere between the people of this city and the neighboring territory.  No one worked harder than Stanley to make the carnival a successful undertaking.  The band gave a concert as a prelude after which the various amusements were put on. The party went on from about 7:30 until 12 o’clock that night.           

After the event, Earp began moved his business into the new Ford building. This was a very big task.  Moving so many vehicles had to have been hard work.  The new building was one of the finest garages in western Kansas and decidedly a credit to the town and community.  It was the last word in convenience and commodity, splendidly lighted and arranged with an idea of comfort and elegance seldom seen in towns many times larger than little old Kinsley.  Stan Earp served the citizens with 100 percent efficiency.

This was a big venture, but those who knew Earp best realized he had the vision of the possibilities for future achievements.   Everyone thought that it would not be many years before he would be wishing he had more room than he had provided at that time when he built it. The local Mercury newspaper congratulated Stanley on his progressive, up-to-date ideas, and wished him abundant success in his new business.  Everything was going well for the young businessman.

Kinsley Shocked by Stanley Earp Arrest By Brady Kraft

          All of Kinsley was shocked to learn when Stanley Earp was arrested in Denver on October 10, 1923 on charges of being implicated in an automobile theft ring.  Many of the stolen cars were found in Kinsley. It was reported that they were stolen and sold through Earp’s Ford dealership.

Stanley M. Earp, prison mug shot, 1923.

          Earp’s bond was set at $10,000 for violating the automobile transportation act. John Nesbit of Larned, Kansas was also arrested for driving a stolen Ford car from Denver to Larned. Earp confessed that he received $30,000 from the sales of the stolen cars. It wasn’t long before federal agents had found 28 stolen Ford cars mostly sold by the members of the ring to dealers along the Santa Fe trail.  In the end, 32 of the stolen cars were found in Kinsley and five were found in Larned. 

          According to the officers, Earp had come to Denver after learning about Brownlee’s arrest to get in touch with Brownlee and arrange plans to get away. Earp was arrested and he blamed Cleveland Stephenson Tippet, alias Frank S. Brownlee, for his downfall. 

          Tippet had occupied a cell adjoining that of Earp’s in the Denver county jail following their arrest.  He had been caught in the act of making away with a Ford coupe on the Denver streets.  He confessed that he had taken 90 stolen cars to Earp over the last two years. This confession led to breaking up the ring.  Sixty-five stolen cars were recovered and that made a total of 200 cars being found.    

          A hearing was held at the Byron White United States Courthouse in Denver.  Stanley M. Earp, as well C.S. Tippet, pleaded guilty to the court. Tippet said his system was to steal a car then deliver it to Earp’s place in Kinsley.  Tippet would steal another car in Kansas and then drive it to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he said he had another “fence” to get rid of it there.  He then appropriated a third car in New Orleans, and drove it back to Denver where he would dispose of that car.  He then started on his rounds once more.

          Earp had a clever way of hiding the crimes in Kinsley.  His new Ford building had a full basement.  In the back was an entrance with a ramp leading down to it.  The stolen cars were driven down into the basement until they could be sold.  What remains of that ramp is still in the old building, but the entrance no longer exists.

Stolen cars were driven down the ramp into the basement of the Ford Garage.
The Investigators in tunnel: Rosetta Graff, Brady Kraft, Macy Anderson, Zovia Waters, Alex Pickering, and library director Joan Weaver.
Alex in basement by old hydraulic life.
Tin ceiling in Ford garage.

          At the courthouse, Stanley Earp also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas. 

          After Earp’s arrest, W.M. Walters of Dodge City and F.W. Walters of Alva, Oklahoma took over the Earp Motor company, and it remained a Ford dealership with various owners in Kinsley until 1999.

Earp is Reformed Man By Alex Pickering

            For such a promising young business man, it was certainly unfortunate for Stanley Earp to end up in federal prison.  But his story did not end in the penitentiary.          

Leavenworth Prison

            Earp was released from Leavenworth Prison in the summer of 1928 after serving four-and-one half years.  He and his wife moved to the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan sometime after his release. They lived at 455 W Maplehurst in Ferndale, Michigan.

Stanley M. Earp

Earp worked in banking and mortgage firms. When he finally got settled, he worked for the Federal National Mortgage Association. He eventually became a director of the American Savings and Loan and retired as the president and board chairman of the Citizen’s Mortgage Corporation.

            Stanley M. Earp was living in Birmingham when he died at the age of 76 on March 3, 1967.  He is buried there beside his wife, Marion, who had died before him in 1965.

            After being in prison, Stanley Earp must have decided to turn his life around, and he became a reformed citizen.  At the time when he was arrested, it was reported that he had felt sorry for his wife and daughter for what he did.  However, Marion had stated with him, and she must have been thankful that they were able to have a new life in Michigan.

            Stanley Earp’s life is a good example of how anyone can make a mistake and then go on to have a productive life.

MEET “THE INVESTIGATORS”

Brady Kraft
Macy Anderson
Zovia Waters
Alex Pickering

#88 Kinsley’s Connection to Britain’s Longest reigning monarch

I’ll put this out there for those who follow the blog. With summer reading in full swing, I do not have time to research and post articles. However, today, J. Schafer of Kansas Public Radio in Lawrence aired a fun story involving Kinsley history and Queen Elizabeth. I helped him a little just a little, and he sent me a link so our patrons could hear it. Listen to the long version as I know you will enjoy it.

https://kansaspublicradio.org/kpr-news/odd-kansas-connection-queen-elizabeth-ii

#87 Community Comes Together to Learn and Share

Last Saturday, June 7, a crowd gathered at the library to view an exhibition of the 1887 architectural drawings of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway depot in Kinsley.

14′ 6″ Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Depot blueprint of the profile of the railroad as it traversed the country.

A big thank you to architect Ed Carlson for a wonderful presentation.  His expertise answered many questions about the drawings, why Kinsley had such an elaborate depot, and its transformation over the years until its demolition in 1999.

“Viewing the drawings vertically instead of flat on a table, makes me appreciate them even more.”

We also want to thank John Vician of Crystal Lake, Illinois offering these drawings available to us.  They are already on they way to the Kansas State Historical Society for proper preservation.  Mr. Vician would like the citizens of Kinsley to send the $500 purchase price to the “Make-a-Wish Foundation.  If you would like to contribute to that, please bring your donation to the library or send it to Kinsley Library, 208 E. Eighth St., Kinsley, KS 67547

Lots of questions answered and memories shared at the exhibit.

We also need to thank Humanities Kansas for expediting a grant which allowed us to digitize all 12 the drawings.  They also helped us fund having four printed and framed for permanent display in the library.  They are a wonderful addition.

Four prints framed and suspended on chains in front of the windows at the library. The city guys did a great job hanging them for us.

If you were not able to attend last Saturday, you can still visit a virtual exhibit of the drawings and companion informational exhibit at www.kinsleylibrary.info

#86 All Aboard for the Kinsley Depot – Part 2

                I hope many of you can come by the library this coming Saturday, May 7, to see the exhibit of the twelve 1887 architectural drawings of the Kinsley A.T.S.F. depot. This is a one-afternoon event from 1-5 p.m. because right afterwards, we will be sending the drawings to the Kansas State Historical Society for archival preservation.  Architect Ed Carlson will talk on the drawings and depot from 2-3 p.m.     

Floor Plan, 1887 Architectural Drawing of Kinsley Depot

 

Architect Ed Carlson will be speaking on May 7 from 2-3 p.m. on the depot and drawings at the library.

                Last week I explained that John Vician had called to offer these drawings to the library.  In addition, there will be a surprise attraction to the exhibit.  A rare, 8-foot blueprint of the “Profile of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Completed in the Office of the District Engineers in Topeka, Kansas, 1884” will also be displayed. This fragile artifact depicts all the location of all the depots of the Western Division, detailing the elevation and mileage from Atchison. 

                I have come to know a little about Mr. Vician in telephone conversations these last few weeks.  I wish he could be here with us Saturday, but because he can’t, I would like to tell you a little about him and how he came to have these artifacts.

John Vician rescued the architectural drawings from being thrown out 54 years ago.  He lives with his dog Lucy in Crystal Lake, Illinois.

                John grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, graduating from Schurz High School in 1955.     He was an all-around athlete, and he said that he “always keeping Wrigley Field in mind.”  After attending some junior college classes and doing a stint in the army, he went to work for the A.T.S.F. Railway Co. in 1966.

                “I had made an appointment with the office engineer to seek employment in the chief engineer office,” he said. “Right after the interview, he asked me when could I start?”

                One of his first jobs was to help clean out a warehouse full of old railroad documents.  Gurneys were filled up with papers, drawings, and documents to be thrown out.   Mr. Vician had an interest in the architectural drawings he found in them as he had taken drafting in high school.  He had also served in the army at Fort Sam Houston as a MOS 810 Draftsman making graphic teaching aids for the army doctors and nurses.  Mr. Vician chose to save these old drawing rather than throw them away.  He took them home and has had them with him for the past fifty-four years. 

                Mr. Vician ended up working for the A.T.S.F. for thirty years in the Engineering Department. He was in the Railway Exchange Building in Chicago from 1966 to 1983.  Then he worked in the Crane Building at the Corwith freight yard until 1988.  When the A.T.S.F. consolidated and reorganized, he was transferred to Topeka.  His work there was with the maps, showing the lines, deleting lines, and indicating the locations of railroad crossings, signals, etc.  He was transferred to Kansas City in 1992 and remained there until his retirement in 1996.

                “The Santa Fe was like a family,” he said. “They were good to work for.”

                After we received the twelve architectural drawings, Mr. Vician also sent some more things he had found Including the large 8-foot blueprint that will be on display this Saturday.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Profile.png
This fragile, eight-foot long blue print “Profile of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad Completed in the Office of the District Engineers in Topeka, Kansas, 1884” will be on display Saturday.

                All of these artifacts will be given to the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka.  We had agreed that $500 would be a fair price for them.  Mr. Vician told me last Friday that he would like the community of Kinsley to donate that amount to the “Make-a-Wish Foundation.  He wants it to be Kinsley’s gift to the charity, not his.

                These artifacts are such a treasure for Kinsley and Kansas history.  We are so appreciative that Mr. Vician thought about offering them to us.  Their new home at the Kansas State Historical Society will insure their preservation into the future. 

                We will still “keep” them here in the four framed prints which go on permanent display in the library this week.  They will also be accessible on the library website along with a companion exhibit depicting some of the depot’s history.

The A.T.S.F. Kinsley depot with its 1919 lower profile and shortly before demolition in 1999.

#85 – All Aboard for the Kinsley Depot – Part 1

            Several weeks ago, I began with “I spent much of the weekend working on an exciting archival project which I’ll be telling you about in a future article.”  The future is here, it is time to share it with you.

            First of all, let me tell you that my library job is never boring.  I go into work with my day all planned, and suddenly, it all changes.  That was what happened on March 2 when I received a call from retired Santa Fe Railway worker, John Vician of Crystal Lake, Illinois.  He wanted to know if the library would like to purchase the original architectural drawings of the Kinsley Depot built in 1887?

            “We sure would!” I told him, “if we can afford them.”         

            I asked architect and Kinsley historian Ed Carlson to contact Mr. Vician who sent snapshots of the drawings to him.  After making some arrangements, Mr. Vician sent the drawings to Ed’s home in Olathe on March 11.

            I was married to an architect, and I know how excited their creative minds can get.  Ed opened up the shipping tube and found twelve large, ink drawings precisely executed on special architectural linen paper.  They were also very curled having been rolled up for 130 years.  When Ed carefully laid them out and weighted them, he found quite an historical treasure.

            Now this 1887 depot, none of you remember.  It was very fancy for a town the size of Kinsley.  It had a high roof with an impressive center tower.  Both were removed in a 1919 renovation and replaced with a much lower roof.  That lower-profiled building is the one that you may remember.          

            A bit of history.  The A.T. & S.F. Railway reached Edwards County in 1872.  In October, a colony of 500 people arrived on it to establish a town called “Petersburg”.  They had chosen to name it after T. J. Peters, a director of the Santa Fe railroad.  However, a post office in Kansas already had that name, so in January 1874, they settled on “Kinsley”, naming it after E. W. Kinsley of Boston who had donated money for the Congregational Church.

            The “Daily Commonwealth” in Topeka ran an article on March 3, 1874.  “The rapid immigration to the Arkansas valley is calling on the A.T. & S. F. railroad company for increased facilities to meet the demands of business.”  It continued to report that a contract was let for a wood-frame depot to be built at Kinsley, formerly Petersburg, and was to be completed by May 1.  Early maps show this simple depot was located on the northside of the tracks where Colony Ave. crosses them. 

1884 Sanborn Insurance map show the first depot located where Colony Ave. meets the railroad tracks.

            Thirteen years later it would be replaced with an impressive brick structure built west of where 8th St meets the tracks.  You are invited to see the original plans for that building at an open house on Saturday, May 7, from 1-5 p.m. This will be the only opportunity for the public to view the 130-year-old drawings in Kinsley.

Ed Carlson will speak at the library from 2-3 pm on May 7 on the recently acquired
architectural drawings of the Kinsley Depot pictured in this vintage postcard.

You’ll want to be there from 2-3 p.m. when Ed Carlson tells how the small town of Kinsley came to have such a large, ornate depot, how it was constructed, and how it changed in the 1919 remodeling.   

One of the twelve large architectural drawings of the A.T.S.F. Kinsley depot
that will be on display at the Kinsley Library the afternoon of May 7 from 1-5 p.m. 

            The A.T. & S.F. Railway would close the depot in 1982 and the B.N.S.F. would demolish it in 1999.  Many of you remember that as a very sad day, like losing an old friend.

            Neither the library nor the Edwards County Historical Museum is equipped to properly preserve and store these fragile drawings.  After the exhibit, Ed will be delivering them to the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka.

            In order to still “keep” them here in Kinsley, I applied for a Humanities Kansas Cultural Preservation Grant.  After it was awarded, I took the drawing to the Cimarron Library where Sara McFarland used their large scanner to digitize them.  From those scans, we have had four of the drawings printed to size and framed for permanent display in the library.

Detail Drawing #1 showing the skylight.

            All twelve digital images will soon be accessible through the library’s collection catalog and on a webpage dedicated to depot history on the library website.  I also hope to have Ed’s presentation available there, as well as my companion exhibit of the many roles the depot has played over the years in the lives of the citizens. 

            Research has determined that these drawings are worth about $500.  But their real value is in how they tell the story of Kinsley, in the railroad and architecture history they reveal, and in their innate beauty.  We are so grateful to Mr. Vician for offering them to us.

            Mr. Vician plans to donate the purchase money to the “Make a Wish Foundation.  We are not allowed to use grant funds to buy the drawings.  If you would like to contribute to their purchase and also help Mr. Vician realize his charitable dream, we are accepting donations.  The Kansas State Historical Society Is looking forward to having Kinsley donate them to the state’s collection.

#84 Library History Brings Back Memories

            In a bond issue that passed by only 8 votes, the Kinsley Library finally got its own, permanent home on March 22, 1954.  No one can deny that the building has served the community well for the subsequent 68 years.  It was tax money well spent.

            Elsie Jenkins, librarian from 1941-1967, supervised the Boy Scouts in efficiently moving the books to 208 E. 8th St.  They were in alphabetized boxes so that the books could go directly into their correct position on the new shelves.   

            The new building was described as “remarkably attractive and tastefully arranged…so that its operation would conform to the particular needs of a small library usually in charge of just one librarian.”

Mrs. Elsie Jenkins behind the circulation
desk in the new library in 1954.

            The original layout remains the same today.  The high-quality maple furnishings have held up well.

             In subsequent years, book browsers were added in memory of Kermit Wilson, Edna Brown, and Elsie Jenkins. In more recent years, Victor Hirsh adapted an original LP music browser into a work table for the genealogy room.  An atlas stand/lectern (built by Bill Olsen) was donated in memory of Gerald E. Herrmann, and an entertainment cart was built by Gene Bender.

            One part of the original building which some folks may not know about is the “Music Room” located just west of the entry. This small room was furnished in memory of Evelyn Carlson and contained a record player, head phones and a stool for listening to LP albums.  Now that purpose has given way to housing the library server and other electronics.  However, this library director has not had time to “deal with” the vinyl records, which have come back in vogue, and can still be checked out.   

            In 1954 a 16 mm film projector was purchased and used to show films at the library.  Films, projector and screen could be borrowed.  I have used the projector to look at vintage home movies of Kinsley. The library also had a film strip projector which the old folks will remember as projecting 35mm film – no sound, just images. 

            The room in the northwest corner began as a place to store the past issues of magazines.  When internet access to periodical databases became available, it was no longer needed for that purpose.  It is now a genealogy/local history resource room containing many resources generated by Ed Carlson.   

            The 15’ high shelving in that room is not very accessible even on the very cool, rolling library ladder. We have left the old issues of Look, Post, and Life magazines up there, and each week the magazines from 50 years ago are placed on the table for browsing.

            This room has also housed the microfilm reader since 1955 when the earliest extant county newspapers were put on microfilm.  The current machine also scans and prints the microfilm up to 2021.

            Elsie Jenkins began keeping a burial card (retroactively) on everyone buried in Edwards County. Eula Westphal digitized the file in 2003, and it is kept up to date and available on the library website.  The Hillside cemetery records were digitized by sexton Ray Wetzel. Mary Graff photographed the gravestones and all were put on the library website in 2004.

            Mrs. Jenkins also started a record book of memorial book donations in 1954. donations Currently there are four volumes, a testament to the public support given to the library over the years.  Memorial donations remain a financial source for purchasing new books.

Edna Brown, Library Assistant and Head Librarian, 1940-1972

            When Mrs. Jenkins retired in 1967, Edna Brown, who had been hired as assistant librarian in 1940, became the librarian She would serve for a total of 32 years, retiring in 1972.

            In 1969 the Kinsley Library became a charter member of Southwest Kansas Library System which is supported by the county’s rural taxpayers.  Through a grant from the system, those rural taxpayers indirectly support the 3 county libraries (Kinsley, Meadowlark in Lewis and Henry Laird in Belpre).

            Over the years, the system has provided summer reading materials, books to rural residents through the mail, interlibrary loan service, rotating book collections, and help for any activity or issue the library has had.  It remains an important resource today.

            Mrs. Jenkins and Mrs. Brown had provided summer reading for many years, but the system began supplying ideas for this programming and still does today. 

Beverly Craft, Library Director, 1972-1997

            Beverly Craft became the library director in 1972 and served until 1997.  She wrote weekly book reviews for the newspaper.  She continued and enhanced children’s programming.  She saw computers come into the library and began the online catalog and check out system. 

            Miss Craft oversaw many art exhibits in the library and created the Vivian Elsbury print art collection for check out.  When the 12 prints faded, their rack was turned into the children’s reading kiosk in 1999.

The history of the library can be seen in what the library has checked out over the years: framed art prints (pictured here), books and magazines, 16 mm projector, filmstrip projector, record player and LP albums, cd albums,  books on cassette tape and cd, and movies on film, vhs, and dvd

            It was a fortuitous move when Miss Craft hired Rosetta Graff as librarian in 1973. She served for 47 years as the circulation librarian and a local historian until her retirement in 2020. In 1997 she was given the difficult task of training me.

Rosetta Graff, Librarian, 1973-2020

            Over the years, talented teens have also helped to furnished the library.  The KHS metals class created the outside book drop in 1974.   Humphré the foyer bookworm was created in 2001 by Marc Adams and Beth and Paul Strong under the mentorship of Bruce White. KHS Industrial Arts classes made a table for the genealogy room in 2008 and the shelf-end poster displays in 2011. Teens did the landscaping and created the Little Free Library in 2017.

            Many volunteers did the research for the Digital Map of Historical Kinsley programmed by Don Benish. Many people have and continue to offer oral histories, photographs, documents and stories for the archive.

            I regret this article leaves out so many contributions by librarians and citizens. All have made the Kinsley library a truly community library.  A more complete offering can be found on the Library Board History and the Library Timeline on library website.

             It is my joy and privilege to be a 25-year part of this Kinsley Library adventure.

#83 The Kinsley Library – Finally a Real Home

Last week’s article left off in 1927 with the library gaining public tax support and being housed in a room on the north side of the gymnasium. 

The Kinsley Woman’s Club continued to supplement the meager tax levy with fundraising teas and activities.  The importance of the library to the school children and high school students was always emphasized as well as the patronage of the citizens for books and magazines.

By 1930, the school board needed that room and asked the city to find another place for the library.  The library board advocated for a bond issue to build a library, and it was put on the ballot of the city election in April, 1930.  It was narrowly defeated by 27 votes. 

Mrs. Lillian Riley, Kinsley Librarian, 1937-1941

In 1934 the library board with the support of the Woman’s Club engaged architect Fred Wilson, in Washington D. C. to design a building.  You might remember him from a past article as Sally Frame’s Uncle Fred.  He offered to provide blue prints if the dream could become a reality.  The lot where the USDA Service Center is now located was offered for the location. 

The city commissioners told the board that they would need to garner signatures on a petition to put a bond issue on the ballot.  Whether they did or not, I do not know.  However, the library continued to be located in the school throughout the 1930s.

            In January, 1941 new rules for the library were set.  Those rules have changed little since.  Books are still checked out for two weeks.  Fines for overdue books have gone from 2 cents to 5 cents per day.  Families outside of the city limits use to be required to pay $1 per year for a library card, and now no fee is charged for non-city residents.  Then and now, children under the age of 14 need a parent’s signature to receive a library card.

 It is impossible to say how long the library would have remained at the school if it had not been for the school burning in a fire on February 13, 1941.  Only the walls of the school and the gymnasium were left standing. 

The Kinsley High School burned On February 13, 1941, but the library located
on the north side of the gymnasium survived. Photo from Kathy Rehmert collection.

When it looked like the gymnasium might also burn, students and citizens carried the 7000 library books, back issues of magazines, and furnishings to new quarters in the upstairs of City Hall at 507 Marsh Ave.  

After the fire, the library was moved from the school to the second floor of City Hall at 507 Marsh.

The book cases were cut down to fit the smaller space, and just one week later, librarian Lillie Riley was checking out books again.   It took a month to get everything back in order. The upstairs location prohibited access to the library for some citizens.

Later in 1941, a new librarian, Elsie Jenkins, took over and began advocating again for a librarian building.  In 1945 she reported to the board, “Now of course what we need most of all, is a place of our own, on the ground floor, where all people can have use of the library service.”

Mrs. Elsie Jenkins, Kinsley Librarian, 1941-1967

Later in 1941, a new librarian, Elsie Jenkins, took over and began advocating again for a librarian building.  In 1945 she reported to the board, “Now of course what we need most of all, is a place of our own, on the ground floor, where all people can have use of the library service.”

In January, 1951, the secretary of the library board, Milton Martin, wrote a letter to veterinarian H. W. Ruhe expressing consternation over his offer for property for a library where the Vocational Tech building is today. I cannot resist quoting the letter in its entirety. 

“I’m the Sec. of the Library Board and as such occasionally I get a job to do I don’t like.  Al (Al Wilson, city manager at the time) reported to us that you would like to donate your lot at 8th and Colony for the use of the library.  Believe me, we appreciate that offer – but on behalf of the Library Board I’m declining it.  Why?  Well, Darn it, we haven’t got the dough to build a building. If we can scare it up, we don’t even have enough to heat it and light it.  We draw only $2000 each year from the city – and the tax levy is as high as it can be put.  We have to pay our librarian at least half enough to live on – and we have to satisfy our customers by buying a new book once in a while.  And there went all our money!  So Doc, we’d better just stay in our firetrap hideout for a while.  Being in the same building with Al makes him happy, I guess – ‘cause he pays our light and gas bill – janitor service, tis another thing we don’t need much of.”

Finally, in January, 1953, the City Commissioners proposed a new city building.  Woods and Starr Architects of Hays drew plans for a city hall with police department and fire station.  The library was to be next to but entirely separated from the city offices and the downtown area.  It would have a separate entrance on a residential street.

“The library should be identified with the residential area, while the city offices deal primarily with the business section,” said Woods.

A public informational meeting was held and someone asked if the library would be on ground level, and it was assured that it would be. A bond issue of $125,000 was voted on February 17, 1953. It passed by only 8 votes.

On March 20, 1954, an open house was held at the current city hall with connected library on land donated by Ed and Ella Lippoldt.  Those eight votes gave the community a library building that has served it well for 68 years. 

#82 Kinsley Library – Congratulations and Best Wishes

            I left off last week’s history with the library on the second floor of the Edwards, Noble & Co. building being managed by club women. 

            In March, 1923, Captain E. F. Ewing, superintendent of schools, was chairman of a committee to try to establish a city library.  He offered a large room in the new gymnasium for no cost except heat and light.

            A petition was circulated to establish a one mil tax levy which would raise $2,191 for a city library.  It was necessary for 25%, or 125 of the 500 registered voters, to sign the petition. 

            “It would cost each tax payer, on each thousand dollars valuation of his property, the sum of forty cents a year, less that the cost of one good picture show, and for the men, the price of cigars for a day.” (Kinsley Graphic, March 8, 1923)

            On March 21, the successfully signed petition was turned over to the city commissioners who placed the question on the April 3 ballot.  It’s amazing that they could get something on a ballot just two weeks before the election.  However, this also gave the supporters little time to promote a “yes” vote.  There was a good turnout of 589 voters, but the library was narrowly defeated 286 to 303. 

            The Wednesday Night Club kept the desire for a library alive.  Margaret Hills was a member and had served Kinsley as its second librarian since 1912.  That June, the club held a fundraising card party in the Knights of Pythias Hall (upstairs of 105-111 E. Sixth St.)  Bowers of spring flowers decorated the rooms including peonies, iris, bluets, and “Miss Florence Erwin’s Oriental poppies, gorgeous blossoms, in pale pink.” The event raised $45.

The northside of the gymnasium offered a home for the library.

            Margaret Hills died on January 28, 1925, and so she did not live to see the library move into the north room of the gymnasium on February 17, 1925.   Miss Jessie Fravel, president of the Wednesday Night Club, became the third librarian.  She and club ladies did all the cataloguing of the books. 

            By December there were 2000 books in the library.  To raise money to buy books, children and adults were charged 5 cents a week to check out books on the “new book” shelf. 

            A new City Library organization was formed with representatives from all the clubs.  A second library mil levy election was held on April 5, 1926. This time it carried with a big majority and now “…the burden of carrying the library will be undertaken by all the people instead of the members of the Women’s Clubs who have given so generously of both time and money in the past…” (Graphic, April 5, 1926)

A mock wedding was held after Kinsley citizens passed a
one mil levy to support a public library on April 4, 1926. 

            On April 15, seventy-five club ladies gathered at the home of Mrs. Roy Hatfield (822 Colony Ave.) to celebrate the victory.  At the door, they were given an invitation to the wedding of Miss Gotta Library and Mr. B. Bigger Kinsley (portrayed by Marguerite Ehlers Coover and Elsie Nahar, respectively). 

             I cannot resist describing the event seen in the wedding picture.  It was taken by local photographer, John Cox “by flashlight”.  A little research explains that Cox would have sprinkled powder into the trough of a T-shaped flash lamp, held it aloft, and then triggered a brief and (usually) harmless bit of pyrotechnics.

            According to both the Graphic and the Mercury on April 22, 1926, this mock wedding was acted out by ladies whose names you may recognize from earlier articles.  It began with the singing of “O Promise Me” and the traditional Wedding March. 

            In the picture, the rector with a Vandyke beard and waxed mustache  was Sue Bidwell.  It was reported that her impersonation caused gales of laughter.

            On the left are the two bridesmaids, Ruth Workman and Gladys Fravel, carrying arm bouquets of pink roses. The page, Naomi Garrison, carries the ring on a satin pillow.

            Next to the groom is Mrs. Del Hoffman portraying “Mother Club”.  Beside her is the dashing best man, Eula Leslie.  The woman on the far right is the Matron of Honor, Mrs. Dick Griffee. 

             The humorously costumed woman with a hat in the left background is Mary Vang.  Mrs. B. F. Tatum, second from the right, stands resplendent in a plug hat, diamond stickpin and gentleman’s attire and mustache.  These two played the roles of “objectors” as in, “speak now or forever hold your peace” objectors.  The rector managed to smooth over their objections, and the library was wed to the City of Kinsley.

            In January, 1927, the city began financial support of the library.  The first board members appointed by the mayor were Mrs. Mary Vang, Mrs. Eva Smith, Mrs. Elsie Nahar, Mrs. Martha Gibson, Miss Jessie Fravel, D.A. Baugher, Mrs. Clinton Little, and John Stoner.  Miss Fravel resigned as librarian in May, and Mrs. Lillie Riley took over and remained the librarian until September, 1941. 

            Ninety-five years ago, the doors of the public library opened on the northside of the gymnasium.  Today, our new library sign proudly proclaims “Est. 1927”.  Next week, the story continues with fire, location changes, and another close vote.  

A new sign library sign went up last week just in time for the 95th birthday celebration.