Author Archives: Joan Weaver, Kinsley Library Director

# 58 100 Years Ago, Smallpox Virus is the Concern

               If you are of a certain age, you probably have a small scar on your upper arm.  It is barely noticeable, but if you are like me, you remember how you got it.  I was five years old and had to get a smallpox vaccination in order to go to school. 

            My vaccination came to mind when I was reading the Dec. 8, 1921 issue of the Kinsley Graphic.  It reported an outbreak of smallpox exactly one hundred years ago in the fall of 1921 in Kansas City.

            Smallpox was a terrible disease. About 3 out of every 10 people who got it died. People who survived often had severe scarring.  Smallpox was spread through coughing and sneezing or sometimes through contaminated clothing or bedding.

            By 1921, smallpox was not as common because in 1796, the English doctor Edward Jenner developed a vaccine from cowpox that protected a person from smallpox.  At the time, he dreamed of the day that “the annihilation of the smallpox, the most dreadful scourge of the human species, would be the final result of this practice.”

            The smallpox vaccine was given using a special two-prong (later 5-prong) needle and instead of puncturing the skin once, multiple punctures delivered the vaccine just below the epidermis, usually leaving a small round scar.

            It does not appear that Kinsley ever had a severe outbreak of smallpox, but occasional cases did occur.  Ray Wetzel told me that some of those buried in Kinsley’s first cemetery (1878-1886) died of smallpox.  

This 1883 advertisement from the Graphic for Darby’s disinfectant fluid claimed to cure just about everything including smallpox and the pox marks it caused.

            The Dec. 1, 1893 issue of the Graphic wondered why smallpox cases still existed when the vaccine was available.  The paradoxical answer given was because the vaccination was so successful. 

            “So nearly has it banished small-pox that no one now fears that disease, and a general carelessness prevails regarding it.”  Simply put, people had forgotten how deadly it could be and were not getting vaccinated.

             From 1899 to 1904, there were 164,283 confirmed cases in the U.S, and some thought the number was five times that high.  Vaccinations were then mandated and a certificate was required to go to work, attend school, ride on trains, and go to the theater.  To thwart those who forged a certificate, they were required to show their vaccination scar. 

            In March, 1905. Dr. Charles Mosher suspected two cases in Kinsley and asked Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine to come to Kinsley to confirm.  Dr. Crumbine was the Kansas Secretary of the State Board of Health and is well-known for his “Don’t Spit on the Sidewalk” bricks to help curb tuberculosis.  Dr. Crumbine arrived and determined that Frank Heath and Powell Class did have a mild form of small pox.

Pharmacist Hattie Mosher and husband Dr. Charles Mosher are pictured here in
Mosher Drug Store, 124 E. Sixth St. (currently Twice is Nice)

            Dr. I. M. DeTar. Edwards County Health officer at the time, ordered a strict quarantine.  He wrote in the Graphic that, “while the disease is here in a modified form, yet none of us want it, and the way to insure it not spreading is to observe the quarantine direction closely.”

            With the vaccine readily available, there was no reason to have had the 1921 Kansas City outbreak which caused 271 cases and 96 deaths.  By December it had spread to Topeka, Wichita, Hutchinson, Dodge City and other Kansas towns. 

            Dr. DeTar approached the school board and “In order to protect our community from an epidemic of this disease, it was decided to commence next Monday the vaccination of school children. The Board of Education will furnish the vaccine, and the doctors of the city will give their services free, so there will be no expense to the children.” (Graphic, Dec. 8, 1921)

In 1921, Dr. DeTar led the school board in providing smallpox vaccinations to all Kinsley school children. To learn more about Dr. DeTar, you can visit the beautiful memorial Lisa Sparke recently had placed in South Park.

            A world-wide effort to eradicate smallpox was undertaken after World War II.  Through widespread administration of the smallpox vaccine, Dr. Jenner’s dream was finally realized when the smallpox virus was declared “extinct” in the U.S. in 1952.  Routine vaccination for smallpox was stopped in 1972 and the scar no longer appeared on children’s arms.

            The World Health Assembly declared the world free of smallpox in 1980. Many people consider smallpox eradication to be the biggest achievement in international public health.

#57 Larned Tired Iron Show will Display Tractorcade Exhibit

                Recently, Seth McFarland, director of the Santa Fe Trail Center in Larned, called to talk to me about some of the events and displays we have had at the library.  In the course of the conversation, he told me that they would be hosting a Tired Iron Show on October 9 and 10.  When I first came here, I enjoyed the Tired Iron Shows at the Edwards County Fair.  It was both fun and interesting to see the antique tractors and equipment in action. 

                While we were talking, I thought about the Tractorcade exhibit the library mounted in 2013. The tractors that drove to Washington, D.C. in 1979 were modern compared to those in the Tired Iron parades, but they also represented another generation of farming history. McFarland asked to borrow that exhibit for their Tired Iron Show this weekend.  This will give people an opportunity to learn some more agricultural history.

                The local Tired Iron Club started thirty years ago, in 1991, when Joe Heinz and Raymond Wetzel, Sr. were talking about their growing collections of restored old tractors sitting in sheds.  At the time, Joe had about 20 antique tractors, of which 6 or 7 had been completely restored.

                The two men decided it would be fun to show them off at the Edwards County Fair, so they proposed the idea to five other men:  Charles Schmitt, Dale Wetzel, Wayne Ploger, Curtis Kallaus, and Harold Schinstock.  Soon Pete Heinz, Tom Stejskal, Paul Wetzel, Ray Wetzel Jr., Jimmy Wolfe, and Jack Wolfe joined in, and these 13 men formed the Tired Iron Club.  Joe Heinz was elected the first president.


Original 13 members of the Tired Iron Club. Left to right are Paul Wetzel, Raymond Wetzel, Dale Wetzel, Wayne Ploger, Curtis Kallaus, Harold Schinstock, Tom Stejskal, Pete Heinz, Joe Heinz, Charles Schmitt, Jimmy Wolfe, Jack Wolfe and Ray Wetzel, Jr.  (Photo:  Edwards County Sentinel, March 5, 1998)

                The first show was held as a one-day event during the Edwards County Fair in July, 1991.  The twenty-eight tractors and twenty stationary engines displayed just west of the grandstand brought back memories of harvests and threshing machines.       

                By the second year, the Tired Iron Club had grown to fifty members from seven counties.  Joe Heinz remarked in the Sentinel, that it was not uncommon to see fathers and sons working together, handing down the skills of the past, at this two-day show.  Charlie Schmitt became the president.

Joe Heinz stand beside his 1927 John Deere D Tractor (Photo: KInsley Mercury, April2, 1992)

                The show kept getting bigger and it was moved to the area around the pink building and expanded east of there.  One special attraction of the 1995 show was a 3/8 scale Case tractor that was completely built by hand by Dennis Franz of Newton.  It took over 2,500 hours to make this remote controlled miniature, right down to a little man steering and nodding to the crowd.   

                Tractor pulls were popular features of all the shows.  According to Ray Wetzel, Jr., the first tractor pulls used a step-on sled, where onlookers would just step on to add weight. “It was the most fun, but the insurance company did not want to cover the liability so it ended.” Later it made use of a sled with regulated weight.  In 1997, the Kinsley Graphic reported that winners came from Kinsley, Mayfield, Hutchinson, Bucklin, Pratt, Olmitz, Macksville, Otis, Haviland, Larned and Johnson, Kansas.

Galen Graff competes in the 1997 Tractor Pull. (Kinsley Graphic, July 15, 1998)

                By 1998, the club had grown to over 185 members. That year the club hosted the Regional Early-Day Gas Engine and Tractor Show shortly after the Edwards County Fair.  This regional show drew people from and even greater area.  Jack Wolfe’s 1890 sawmill and Homer Delaney’s thrashing machine were crowd pleasers. 

                After 1998 coverage of the Tired Iron Show in the local paper seems to be limited to the tractor pulls.  Joe Heinz passed away in 2001, and surviving members said that the 2002 show was carried out in his memory.   Over the years, club presidents also included Gerald Piepmeier, Barbara Delaney, Jeff Mead, Ray Wetzel, Jr. and finally Jack Kersting was the last president.

                After 1998, Pete Heinz and Ray Wezel, Jr. both told me that it was hard to keep the club going.  There were just not enough people for all the work involved.  Members were getting older, and there were not younger people stepping up to take their place.  The cost of event insurance also became prohibitive. 

                At the same time, a similar club had started in Larned.  They approached the Kinsley club to combine the two clubs.  According to Pete Heinz, “Larry Carr was instrumental in carrying on the Tired Iron Club in Larned.”

                Antique tractors are history, but so is the story of the Tired Iron Club.  The library would like to expand the information about this club in our archive.  We will be digitizing four VHS tapes of shows in the 1990s to make them accessible in today’s technology.  We’re asking people who have additional information, memories, and pictures about the club to share them with us.  We especially would like to know more about the transition from here to the Larned club. 

                Seth McFarland invites all of us to attend the show at the Santa Fe Trail Center this weekend.  “If you were part of the Tired Iron Club or the Tractocade,” McFarland said, “I would really like to meet and talk to you.” 

                You’ll find him among the old tractors and the myriad of activities which include demonstrations of wheat threshing, corn shelling, both horse and steam traction engine plowing, wood carving, blacksmithing, sawmilling, the amazing anvil shoot and more.  Take the kids and grandkids for a fun day.

#56 Shakespeare Scholar Makes Return Trip to Kinsley

We were happy to welcome William Wolfgang, Ph.D., back for a return visit to Kinsley last week.  Two years ago, he came to the library to do research for his doctoral dissertation which discusses community-based Shakespeare festivals.  He has now earned his degree and is teaching at a university in Maryland. 

 “I came back to continue exploring the Kinsley festival (and early community theaters in the US),” he said.  “My intent is to prove that Kinsley was indeed the ‘first modern Shakespeare festival’ in the United States.”

Edwards County Historical Society Museum director, Julie Miller, looks on as Dr. William Wolfgang consults his database to identify the cast pictures of “Caprice” and “The Ballad Monger”

He is continuing to do research in theatre history with the goal of publishing a book.  He assures me, that Kinsley will definitely be covered as it was “at the center of what was at the time a developing movement which eventually blossomed into the ‘Little Theater’ and ‘Community Theater’ movements all over the United States and still exists today.”

Dr. Wolfgang spent several hours researching in our library files for more information about Charles Edwards and the role he played providing theatrical production here, in Kansas City, Oklahoma and other places.  Charles never seemed to stay long in one place, but he always returned to Kinsley to direct and act in plays.

Charles (1881-1926) was the son of R. E. Edwards, a wealthy cattleman, banker, and businessman in Kinsley.  The family lived at “Trail’s End”, the large house which still stands at 324 E. 4th St.

R. e. edwards home, “Trails End”, 324 E. 4th St.

Dr. Wolfgang told me that Charles aided in designing that family home with an emphasis towards entertaining. We both recognize the porch design as being very like the Elizabethan stage that Shakespeare performed on.

Meadow Brook outdoor theater, where the Shakespearean plays were produced in Kinsley, was east of 721 E 8th St.  At that time, Coon Creek ran through that area north of Tenth St.  Later it would be straightened to stay south of Hwy 50.

 The audience sat on the south side of the creek, and the performers were on the north side.  Dr. Wolfgang shared the only image he has found of that outdoor stage as it appeared in the Kansas City Star Sun.  It depicts the production of “Twelfth Night” in 1916.

Stage for “Twelfth Night” at Meadow Brook, from Kansas City Star, August 6. 1916

Charles Edwards often returned to Kinsley to produce plays using the local talent.  The Edwards County Historical Society Museum had photographs of two unknown local productions in their collection.

Charles Edwards directs and acts (center figure) in the Kinsley High School Production of “The Ballad Monger” in 1912.

 It was was exciting to watch him solve the mysteries by identifying the productions using his very detailed database of the plays Charles Edwards directed and/or acted in.  It’s always good to put names to artifacts in a collection.

Publicity pictures for “Caprice” (1914) were taken in the entry of the Edwards home, 324 E. 4th St.  Seen here are Lee Drake, Charles Edwards, Juanita Johnson, and Chester Mairs.  The servants on the stairs are Tom Mairs, Jerome Wilson (Sally Frame’s father) and Grace Drake.

Dr. Wolfgang left Kinsley last Wednesday for Topeka where he spent time reading the diaries of Charles’ sister, Marion and going through other papers and images.  He tells me that he will be sharing these recent discoveries with us. 

#55 The Hot Lunch Room Part 2

Science tell us that our sense of smell is closely linked with memory, probably more so than any other of our senses. The Spudnut article of three weeks ago backed that up, and this week, it is the smell of Mable Schroeter’s cinnamon rolls that everyone remembers.

“What a flashback to the smell of hot rolls and those cinnamon rolls cooked by Mable Schroeter and her crew,” wrote Hyla Winters.  Kim Eslinger Pepperd agreed, “Those ladies served some wonderful meals to a huge number of hungry kids.  I can smell Mable’s hot rolls!”

“All the meals were from scratch and delicious!”  wrote Lisa Cornelius Sparke.  “I especially liked the scalloped potatoes & ham and the chili with cinnamon rolls,”

Lisa and Randy Westfahl both loved to dip their hot rolls in pudding. Lisa admitted that this may have been weird, but Randy agreed, “It was great.”

Becky Rogers couldn’t think of ever eating a bad meal at school.  “We always had salmon loaf on Fridays too!”  Along with the salmon, Michael Boman recalled Friday menus including mac & cheese, peanut butter, and fish sticks.

Randy Westfahl loved the Spanish Rice. Roger Shepherd remembered “The wonderful food especially a turkey, dressing and gravy dish.  I always asked for seconds.  Also if there were peanut butter sandwiches left over, they were often brought to the classrooms of the younger students for snacks.”

“They had freshly fried chicken for lunch,” remembered Mary Kallaus.  “They had a big strainer behind the counter for getting out the chicken gizzards for those that liked them, and I loved them!”

It was not lost to the kids that Mable showed her love for them through her food. Sharon Hearn said the lunches were “…made with love by Aunt Mable.”  Kathy Rishel wrote, “I always loved Mable!  She knew all our names.”  Becky Rogers reported that “The kitchen staff always greeted you with smiles and made you feel welcome.”

Randy Westfahl did disclose that Rock A. Westfahl did not care for some things on the lunch menu.  It appears that he had a seat of honor at one of the back tables for those who didn’t clean their plate.  Kathy Rishel admitted to also owning a spot there. I don’t think kids today are asked to sit at a back table until they clean their plates.

Some students also worked in the school lunch room.  Rosetta Graff helped to serve lunches in exchange for her lunch.  Ron Fisher also remembered washing milk bottles after he ate.

All kids, including St. Nicholas students, ate in the hot lunch room on First Street up until 1964 when the high school cafeteria was built.  Junior and Senior high school students walked, ran, drove or rode with someone to get there.  Harold Jensen said he gave rides on his Allstate motor scooter.

“I usually was able to get a ride with someone.” Bernard Owen told me on the phone.     “It was a real race to see who could get there first.”  

Loren Pepperd voiced a universal them about that four-block race from the high school to the lunchroom.  “I’m surprised that no one got killed or seriously hurt.  However, there were many trips, stumbles, and falls running to get a place in line.” 

“It was so dangerous,” Mary Kallaus told me in the library.  “The young fellows were pretty much racing, and they didn’t slow down. You ran and jumped on the tailgate of a pickup.  And you better be hanging on as you bumped over the railroad tracks.  However, I don’t think anyone ever fell off.”

Dr. Otis LoVette emailed the following:  “When I was 16, I had a 50 model Nash bought from Ford ($125) while I was working as a car washer there.  We drove to the lunch room on a regular basis.  Larry and Wayne Houdeshell often rode with me.  Once, Larry (a big guy) piled in and broke the front seat backward.  Oh well, it had reclining seats and I was able to repair.”

Jeanne Eutace went to St. Nick’s and was bussed to the lunchroom.  “I can still see in my mind’s eye those cars coming down Colony.  There were kids on the hoods, on the trunks.  Kids would be jumping out of the cars before they had stopped.”

“It was the highlight of the noon recess,” wrote Mark Plogger, “for the ones of us in grade school.  We would stop doing what we were doing just to watch the high school kids race to the lunch room.  We always said that we couldn’t wait until we were old enough to do the same thing.  But alas, it ended when we got to 8th grade.”

Quentin Hirsh recalled one incident when he was being bussed there from St. Nicholas.  “It was always fun to watch high school kids dash from the high school to the lunch room.  I remember sitting on the bus watching one day when two cars wrecked right at the stop sign.  One stopped and one ran into the back of them about 50 ft. from the bus I was on.  JayLynn O’Conner was one and I forget who the other driver was.”

Steven Frick remembered that “In 7th grade, on occasion, it was too cold to walk up there so he would go to a little restaurant (Davis Café) that was located south of where the Kinsley Bank is now located.  Many others enjoyed the 5₵ Spudnut or candy from Duckwalls or the grocery store.

The hot lunch room also brought up a memory of Darlene Carlson who wrote, “I came to Kinsley to teach in 1954. I first met Leonard Carlson when he was giving Wayne Herron (Junior High Principal) a warning ticket for parking on the wrong side of the street at the lunchroom at Northside School.” At the time, Leonard was a Kinsley policeman and had been widowed a year earlier. The two were married in August of 1957. I’m sure there are other stories of romance blooming in the lunchroom.

After the high school cafeteria was built in 1964, only the Northside (Lincoln) students ate there.  Southside and St. Nicholas were bussed to the high school.  According to the phone book, the building became the superintendent’s office in 1972 until 2003 when it moved back to the high school.

This “remote” librarian is signing off now for a couple months to devote her time to the children’s summer reading program.  But may I suggest two very different ways you can have fun and support the library during this time.   1) Help with the summer reading program in June, and/or 2) Volunteer to read the Kinsley newspapers of the 1950s and 1960s to create an index.  Call 620-659-3341 or come by the library to sign up for either or both.

#54 The Little Hot Lunch Room (Part 1)

Easter Sunday night, I sat at the laptop and pulled together the many comments people shared on Facebook about the hot lunch room on First Street.  From 1949 to 1964, students from Southside, Northside (Lincoln), St. Nicholas, and the Junior-Senior High School all ate in this little building.  I didn’t grow up here, but I very much enjoyed reading your memories and appreciate you adding to the library archive.

Leslie Zumwalt Golden remembered the lunch room was painted green (weren’t they all?).  Rosetta Graff told me that the seating was at picnic-style tables.  An interesting little detail was offered by Roger Shepherd.  “When they built the lunch room tables, Mable’s son, Verlin (Butch, later Lee) Schroeter and I were taken to the lunch room to see if we could sit high enough to reach the top of the table to eat.  We were in the first grade and some of the little ones.”

Galen Boehme, senior graduation picture from the 1963 Kinsley High School yearbook.  Do you know that most of the KHS yearbooks are digitally available on the Kinsley Library website by following the Genealogy & Local History link, School Records page?

When I arrived at the library this Monday morning with my article pretty much done, I found a typed page of recollections written by Dr. Galen Boehme.  I have decided to hold off on my article of your memories for one week, and instead share what Galen Boehme, Class of 1963, wrote.

 “When the noon bell rang at the high school, we students had one of two choices to move to the lunchroom four blocks north of the high school building – either walk (it was most likely a fast walk) or drive.  Some students had cars but could drive only to and from home and the high school building – not during noon hour.  Thus, these students and many of the freshmen usually bonded with the students who could drive to the lunchroom—and usually the cars were loaded with friends of the driver.

“The primary challenge in reaching the lunchroom was the mail train.  The east-bound mail train came through Kinsley at 12:02 noon – and the train gave a series of long whistles – likely to warn us students of its passing through town.

Lunchroom cooks:  Mrs. Proberts, Mrs. Schroeter, Mrs. Gunkel, and Mrs. Elliot (1963 KHS Annual)

“The cooks knew our names and frequently called us by name as we went through the line.  We entered through the east door and exited through the west door after we dropped off our dirty plates and silver.  We can’t forget head cook Mable Schroeter with her cinnamon rolls and chili.  She identified each on of us by name as we passed her.  Mrs. Lorene Gunkel always had a smile on her face as she would collect and wash the dirty dishes.  Mrs. Elliot and Mrs. Proberts were dependable helpers, working with efficiency.  Seating was never a problem as the movement of the students from the various school buildings throughout Kinsley was orchestrated with precision.

“Lunch period never seemed rushed.  We always seemed to have time to spare before the afternoon classes began.  Some students would on their way back to the high school building drop off to purchase an item at Duckwalls or at Hearn’s Grocery.  Back at the high school building, some students would sit in their cars or meander around the front door, visiting with friends.  At the same time, we knew that we had to be back in class on time or we would face the stern remarks from Mr. Wayne Wingo, the assistant principal in charge of attendance.

“The lunchroom on First Street held precious memories for several KHS students.”

I thank Dr. Boehme for taking the time to record his memories. 

Next week, “Little Hot Lunch Room – Part 2” will appear to remind you (or if you’re like me, you learn about) other aspects of eating school lunch in the 1950s and 1960s.  That gives you senior citizens another opportunity to call, come by the library, or Facebook post your memories.  And if you know the recipe of Mable’s cinnamon rolls, there are a lot of people who would like me to publish her secret.

Galen Boehme, senior graduation picture from the 1963 Kinsley High School yearbook.  Do you know that most of the KHS yearbooks are digitally available on the Kinsley Library website by following the Genealogy & Local History link, School Records page?

#53 Spudnut Memories

Last week’s “Spudnut” article really drew a lot of attention on Facebook.  Many people wrote comments about eating them before and after school, during open-lunch, at sports and play practice.  They remembered how they were always warm and their wonderful smell.  Here’s a few of the comments that were posted.

            Lisa Cornelius-Sparke: “My Great Uncle Ed Troutman owned the Spudnut Shop when it first opened and painted Mr. Spudnut on the building.”

            Sherry Miller: “I remember visiting my grandparents and eating those delicious donuts!  Always loved the painting on the building and the funny name!”

            Bev Byrne: “I had to keep an account of how I spent my allowance in Jr. High.  10 cents, Spudnut; 10 cents, Spudnut; 10 cents, Spudnut; over and over.  Caramel cinnamon was my favorite, bought just after getting off the bus from Offerle.”

            Kim Eslinger Pepperd: “Ed Troutman used to let me have the drops of caramel frosting that dropped off the cinnamon rolls and landed in the pan below.  Just a piece of heaven.”

            Nancy Shreve Craft: “Love this.  We got Spudnuts and ate them on the bus to Offerle when I was in Jr. High.  Soooo good!”

            Tom Barnes: “I remember mom binging them home after bowling in Kinsley…They were always a treat! warm and delicious!”

            Lori Henning Pine Clark: “Every time we would go to the Dr. in Kinsley, we’d stop in and get our bag to go…absolutely delicious!”

            Cathy Rehmert: “They were the best doughnuts in the world.  Have never tasted one as good as they were.”

            Loren J. Pepperd: “I gained a pound every time I ate one!”

            Would you believe that over eight thousand people enjoyed sweet memories of Spudnuts on Facebook, a record for “Remote Librarian” posts.    

            This week marks one year and 52 articles that I have written about our interesting local history.   I began when we had to close for a month because of the pandemic, hence the name of “remote” librarian.  I loved doing the research and making discoveries.  I hope I have opened up the extensive local history resources available to you at the library and on the website. 

            Now with summer just around the corner and vaccines bringing the pandemic a little under control, the library plans to offer an extensive, in person summer reading program.  This has already begun to take over my time, so I will not be writing a weekly article.  I very much appreciate all the assistance you have given me in research and all the kind words of appreciation you have offered me during this past year.

You are requested to share with the library your memories of lunchtime in this building on First St. which served as the hot lunch cafeteria for all Kinsley schools from 1949 to 1964. 

            That being said, I would really like your help with the last topic I had thought about pursuing this week.  When I came to Kinsley, the superintendent’s office was in the little building west of Lincoln (Northside) Elementary School on the corner of Colony Ave. and First St.  It was originally built in 1949 to serve as the hot lunch cafeteria for Kinsley’s two elementary schools, both the junior and senior high school and St. Nicholas Parochial School.  Students were bussed there in shifts, and high school kids jumped in their cars and drove.  It was the lunchroom until 1964 when the existing cafeteria addition was built at the high school. 

            How this small building accommodated so many kids baffles me?  How many kids took advantage of a hot lunch and how long did they have to eat?  Who were the cooks and how was the food?  Did some kids bring their lunch, and if so, where did they eat?  Did some kids go home?  Knowing teens, I imagine there were some adventures or shenanigans (besides buying Spudnuts) going on during that open lunch period. Can they be told?

I hope you will share your lunchtime memories with me on Facebook, by coming by the library, calling 620-659-3341 or emailing director@kinsleylibrary.info.  If I get a good response, I just might have to write Column 53.   And perhaps the “remote” librarian column will reappear next fall as the “research” librarian.

Cafeteria and classroom addition build in 1964.

#51 A Taste from the Past

“Best go-to place in the world for lunch and after school,” Ed Carlson.

“Very good!  Habit forming.  We got out of school for the noon meal, and we’d skip over and get them.” Ted Taylor.

Those are a couple replies I got when I asked people, “What was Spudnuts?” 

Many years ago, Rosetta Graff had brought in a 1964 picture of the Mr. Spudnut shop that her daughter, Miriam, had taken in high school.  Rosetta told me it was located in an old Sinclair Station, on the corner of Colony and 8th St. across from the high school (small, empty lot east of old Sunflower Hotel).  But I still didn’t understand exactly what it was, so when I was looking for a topic this week, I decided to find out. 

Mr. Spudnut shop, 107 E. Eighth St. Photo taken by Miriam Graff in 1964.

Wikipedia told me that Mr. Spudnut was a franchise business begun by brothers Al and Bob Pelton of Salt Lake City in 1940. They perfected a doughnut mix made of wheat flour, dry potatoes, powdered eggs, milk solids and other ingredients.  Their stores popped up all over the Midwest, but I never happened to have had the good fortune of visiting one.

I did quite a bit of sleuthing to find out about Kinsley’s Mr. Spudnut shop which was owned by Edwin and Hazel Troutman and their son, Ed Jr. 

Ed and Hazel Baker had both graduated from Kinsley High School in the Class of 1923.  My imagination tells me they were high school sweethearts as they were married on October 19, 1924 by the probate judge in Dodge City.  Their marriage announcement in the Kinsley Mercury described Ed as “One of the enterprising young business men of Kinsley who is bound to make his mark in the world.” They had their only child, Ed Jr. in 1929.

Ted Taylor told me that Ed was a sign painter.  His brother, James Taylor, had painted the original 1939 Midway USA sign 2 miles west of Kinsley on Highway 50.  But it was Ed Troutman in later years who would go out and repaint that sign. 

Mary Buxton poses with the original 1939 Midway sign, located 2 miles west of Kinsley.  It was painted by James Taylor and kept up by Ed Troutman.

No one seemed to know exactly when the Troutmans started their Mr. Spudnut franchise.  I decided to look in our bound copies of the KHS Breezes for an ad.  The first one appeared in the November, 1954 issue.  That took me to the Mercury on microfilm, and I was lucky.  The Nov. 18, 1954 issue reported that Edwin Troutman, his son, and Bill Josefiak of Rozel were hosting a grand opening with free Spudnuts and coffee for their new business on Saturday from 2-4 p.m..

Spudnuts were described as large, fluffy, airy and never soggy or greasy.  One reason they were so good was they were always fresh, being cooked at 6:30 a.m., 8 a.m., noon, and 3 p.m.  They sold for 68₵ a dozen.  Besides regular doughnuts, they also had an apple turnover.  The shop had a walk-up window where customers ordered and received their bag of Spudnuts.

The Mr. Spudnut shop disappeared from the Kinsley phone book in 1973 which leads me to believe it closed the year before.  Ed died in 1983 and Hazel died in 2003.  They are buried together in Hillside Cemetery.

All of this research left my mouth watering, so I decided to make some potato doughnuts.  Many recipes are available on the internet, and I settled on one from the 1877 Five Roses Cookbook which was widely published in newspapers across the county.  Of course, this recipe uses fresh ingredients, not the dry ones of the Spudnut mix.  Maybe you’d like to make some this weekend. (Note: Other recipes use yeast and eggs. Oil temperature should be 165-175 degrees. This recipe makes about 36 doughnuts and holes.)

For some spring pandemic relief, fry up a plate of potato doughnuts.

Potato Doughnuts (eggless)

2 cups hot mashed potatoes
2 cups sugar
1 cup sweet milk
2 Tablespoons butter
2 level teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Five Roses Flour to make a soft dough

Mix as usual. Roll out ½” thick. Fry in hot grease.  The potatoes keep the doughnuts soft.  These keep fresh much longer than if made with eggs.

# 50 Sentenced to Hang – But would they?

William Harvey, age 19, and Carl Arnold, age 17, were the two young men who murdered Kinsley’s mayor, John F. Marsh on Monday night, Oct. 22, 1894.  Both boys had grown up in good families in Lane County and were living with their families in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma).      

            Inspired by reports of successful robberies, they went on a week-long crime spree. They stole two horses in Medicine Lodge, and held up a man and robbed a store in Wellsford.  Then in a robbery attempt gone wrong, they shot and killed Marsh as described last week. 

            John Marsh was so respected, that had these men been caught that night, they probably would have been lynched.  But they evaded capture and rode on to Lane County where they robbed a rancher of $40 and kept him tied up all day until they left.

            They arrived in Russell Springs Friday night where they roused the suspicions of the county clerk and deputy sheriff who kept them under surveillance until a mob of eight men from Lane County arrived. Fearing that this mob might lynch them, they surprised the sleeping men and took them into custody.

            On Sunday the prisoners were taken to Garden City.  On Monday morning, a guard made up of Mrs. Marsh’s Bidwell relatives escorted them back to Kinsley on the 6:30 a.m. train.  The Bidwells used “all their influence to prevent further lawlessness and by going upon the streets and asking their friends to see to it that the dignity of the law be maintained and no doubt preventing an attempt at lynching…. It was also the wish of Mrs. Marsh that the law be allowed to take its course.” (Tiller and Toiler, Nov. 9, 1894).

                Justice moved faster in those days.  On Nov. 13, 1894, Judge Vandivert convened district court in Kinsley one hour before the regular time in order to frustrate any would-be lynchers. Harvey and Arnold pled guilty, and Judge Vandivert sentenced them to hang with these words:

William Harvey (left) and Carl Arnold (right) pled guilty and were sentenced to death for the murder of John F. Marsh (Kinsley Graphic, Nov. 16, 1894)

            “I say to you now, candidly too, that so far as I am concerned you need never expect any help from me in the way of procuring executive clemency.  I shall insist that you be executed, and that failing, as long as I live I shall insist that your punishment be continued, because you have murdered my friend and neighbor whom I have loved as a brother, and you have robbed this community of one of its best citizens.” (Graphic, Nov. 16, 1894)

            The two were put on the 9 a.m. train and hurried to the penitentiary at Lansing.

            At this time, Kansas law required that the condemned be kept in prison for one year, and then the governor had to issue a warrant to have the warden carry out the execution.  But no Kansas governor had signed such a warrant under this law.  Consequently, the death penalty had not been carried out, which may have been the intent of the lawmakers who originally passed the law. 

            After one year, Judge Vandivert, accompanied by E. T. Bidwell, visited the governor and formally demanded he carry out the execution.  They presented a petition signed by 600 Edwards County Citizens. The governor agreed that if “any criminals ever needed hanging the Kinsley murderers did, yet as no governor had ever signed a death warrant, he would not establish a precedent for capital punishment.”

            Then Edwards County Attorney A. C. Dyer demanded to have the prisoners returned to Kinsley to have the sentence carried out.  When this was refused, Dyer brought an action in the Kansas Supreme Court which ruled “that no court has the power to fix a time for the execution of a death-sentence before the governor has named a day for carrying it into effect….” Arnold and Harvey now faced life in prison.

            In 1901, Arnold’s lawyers and his mother petitioned Governor Stanley to pardon Carl because he was so young at the time of the crime and had not intended to kill Mayor Marsh.  Without even allowing the Graphic editor, James M. Lewis, to present a protest document signed by nearly everyone in Kinsley, the governor denied the pardon request.

Wood inlaid table made in Lansing Penitentiary by William Payne Harvey and given to Governor Stanley around 1900. (Kansas Historical Society Collection)

            In 1907, the death penalty was abolished in Kansas, and Governor Hoch became aware of a book, “Kansas Inferno,” and a poem that Carl Arnold had written.  After meeting him in prison, he decided to commute both his and Harvey’s life sentences to eighteen years.  They were released in May, 1909.   It is not known what became of them.

            No one was hanged in Kansas from August, 1870 to March, 1940.  The death penalty was reinstated in 1935 when it could be imposed by juries.  Among the fifteen executed from 1944 until it was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 were Richard Hickock and Perry Smith who murdered the Clutter family in Holcomb.  They were hung on April 14, 1965 in the Lansing facility. Two more famous murderers, George York and James Latham, were hung on June 22, 1965 after their cross-country killing spree.  These were the last executions in Kansas despite Kansas being the last state to reinstate the death penalty in 1994.

#49 John F. Marsh, A Victim of the Wild West

                It was a nice October evening in 1894 in Kinsley when John F. Marsh left his store, Marsh and Bidwell mercantile, at 213 E. Sixth St. (Navanod Treasures) to walk home.  John was a successful business man, but he also was a man who loved his home and family.  Perhaps he was thinking of them as he locked the door at 9:30 p.m.  He would not go 200 feet before two young ruffians with the intent of robbery demanded he throw up his hands.

                 “Marsh grappled the nearest man, receiving a 32 ball though the fleshy part of his left forearm, throwing him partially around, when his second assailant shot him with a pistol of a large caliber in the small of the back, the ball passing through his body and lodging under the skin of the abdomen.  The robbers ran immediately to their horses and made their escape (16 Oct. 1894, Kinsley Graphic).

                When it comes to outlaws and gunslingers, we tend to think of Wyatt Earp and Dodge City, but as this shows, Kinsley also had its share of lawless behavior. 

                Twenty-six-year-old John Marsh had left Ithaca, NY to come to Kinsley in 1878 in the hopes of improving his poor health.  The clean air and climate soon worked its wonders. 

                In November, 1879, the Edwards Brothers of Kinsley sent John to work at the lumberyard they had opened in Leadville, Colorado the previous March.  According to a letter from A.W. Garrison of Kinsley, the silver boom had Leadville going from a population of zero to 20,000 in the past 18 months.  There had been a definite need for lumber.

In 1876, Edwards Bros. & Nobel erected the first brick building downtown on the corner of Sixth St. and Marsh Ave.  It was torn down in 1910-1911 and replaced with the present building (Circle K Auto).

                John returned to Kinsley in December and bought into the firm of Edwards Bros. and Noble.  The Marsh name was added to the store located on the corner of Marsh St. and 6th Ave.  

                In 1882, John had an opportunity to help the law when attorney and county treasurer J. W. Crawford had his pony stolen on May 31.  Crawford offered a $100 reward and a warrant was issued for the arrest of the thief.  Sheriff Billing asked John to aid in tracking the thief, and they took off the next day in a buggy.   “With Indian sagacity they trailed the thief without sleep or rest for about 70 miles.  Then changing teams, they hastily pursued him through the night….”(June 8, 1882, Kinsley Republican-Graphic)

                About midnight they caught up to the thief sleeping under the wagon of an emigrant just two miles west of Wichita.  When he was awakened with two six shooters leveled at him, the thief quickly gave up.  He was returned to the Kinsley jail and the pony was back in Mr. Crawford’s stable. 

                The newspaper report ended with, “He said he is sorry he stole the pony, he means sorry he was caught.  If every man who loses a horse will show the vim, energy, perseverance and determination shown by Crawford, Billings and Marsh in this case, night riders will hunt beasts of burden in other counties.”

                If John got some or all of the reward, it probably came in handy as he married Sue Bidwell on Sept. 14, 1882.  I imagine she discouraged this type of adventure after that.  (You might remember that Sue Bidwell was aunt to the actress Sue written about last week.)  The Bidwell’s would lose a child in August, 1884 and then have baby Mabel in October, 1885.

Marsh and Bidwell General Merchandise was built at 213 E. Sixth St. in 1892 by John Marsh and his brother-in-law, E. T. Bidwell.

                In 1886, John would partner with his brother-in-law, E. T. Bidwell, to open Marsh and Bidwell Mercantile.  In the following years he would become a respected and loved member of the community.  He supported many civic projects, sang in a quartet, became an officer in the Edwards Mercantile Bank, served as a councilman, and became major in 1893.

                Then came the tragic night of Monday, October 22, 1894.  W. J. Potter, a Denver potato salesman, had spent the evening with John.  He had just left him for his office at the Alamo House (217 E. Sixth St, Navanod Treasures) when he heard two shots.  He and other citizens ran immediately to aid John who was able to talk and recount what had happened.  He recognized the men as two he had seen that day loafing around the Alamo Hotel (where they were registered under assumed names). John was carried to his home which was located on two lots on the NE corner of Heath St. and Fifth Ave.  He expressed worry and sadness for his family before dying the next day.

                 Meanwhile, the robbers had fled the scene. They were spotted east of Greensburg on Wednesday evening. From there, they robbed a Mr. Green in Lane County, and finally showed up in Russell Springs on Friday evening.  They put their horses in a livery barn and strolled around town. 

                Two citizens, N. G. Perryman and J. W. Jones, thought the strangers answered the description of the young men who had murdered the Kinsley’s mayor.  After sending someone to get a better description, they watched the men and even invited them to a lyceum at the courthouse.  Perryman and Jones kept an eye on them as they bedded down in the stable haymow.  Shortly before dawn, they cautiously climbed up, pulled the blankets off the sleeping men and took them into custody.  The men had a 32 and a 38 and showed their guilt by asking how Mr. Marsh was doing.

                 Carl Arnold, 17, and William Harvey, 19, were arrested.  Both had lived in Kansas and recently been at the Oklahoma Strip.  They had never been in trouble before that week when they decided to become robbers.  They went to Medicine Lodge, stole two horses and robbed a man in Welsford before getting to Kinsley and murdering John Marsh.  He was buried by his infant daughter in Hillside Cemetery.

                You’ll have to wait until next week to hear the rest of Arnold and Harvey’s story and how their case affected capital punishment in Kansas.

               

               

# 48 From Kinsley Cottage to English Manor

         Last week, I introduced you to Sue Bidwell, a talented local actress who was in cast pictures in the Ely box of photos.  I wondered what happened to her after performing in Charles Edwards’ plays in 1924.  Her life turned out to be very interesting for a Kansas girl.

Sue Bidwell performed Violet in Charles Edwards production of “Clarence”at the Palace Theater in 1924

            The first Bidwell who came to the area was a cattle-ranching uncle, Edward T. Bidwell.  who settled near Coldwater in 1876. 

            In 1878, Ed’s father, George E. Bidwell, brought the rest of the family to a farm north of Kinsley.  One of Ed’s brothers, George H., went into business in Mullinville where he married Matey Harp in 1895.  They would have two sons before having their daughter, Sue Jeannette, on December 26, 1900. 

            Tragically, the next year, George contracted Typhoid fever and died at his father’s home in Kinsley.  He left his widow with three young children to raise. 

            Ed, who suffered a near-fatal fall from a horse in 1884, gave up cattle and went into business with his brother-in-law, John Marsh in 1892 in Kinsley.  He and Matey married on Sept. 12, 1903, making Sue’s uncle also her stepfather.  T would have two daughters, Myra and Avis.

            Throughout high school, Sue performed in the plays, was active in debate and sang in the school and church choirs.   She graduated in 1919 as the class secretary-treasurer and then attended the University of Kansas.  She would be home in Kinsley in the summers to perform in Charles Edwards’ plays.  I could not confirm the rumor that she was Edward’s secret love.  He was 19 years older than she. 

            In 1924, Sue was living in Kansas City and acting with the Chanticleer Players.  A reviewer from the Kansas City Times reported: “Sue Bidwell and Jay Sinnagan had the leading roles in the playlet (‘Where Do We Go from Here’) and handled them very nicely, except that both fumbled their lines occasionally.” (Feb. 27, 1925). 

            I could not easily find any other references as to what Sue did after that.  It would be ten months later that she would learn of Edwards’ suicide in Tulsa on New Year’s Eve.

            It was quite fortuitous that in the summer of 1928 Sue decided to visit her widowed Aunt Sue (Mrs. John Marsh) in Tulsa.  There, she met and quickly fell in love with William Ernest Victor Abraham (known as Weva).  He was an Irish geologist with the large Burma Oil Company and was lecturing in Tulsa on petroleum engineering.

            They married on December 3, 1928 in Los Angeles, and left on a honeymoon spent sailing on a Japanese steamship to Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, Shanghai, and Bangkok before arriving back at Weva’s home on the Irawaddy (Ayoyarwady) River between Rangoon and Mandalay (Nyaung U) in British Burma (Myanmar).  Here she would have servants and enter into the comfortable life of English society.

            By 1933, they had three children, Susan, Sally, and Tom.  From 1931-1937, Weva was a lieutenant-colonel in the Upper Burma Battalion of the Burma Auxiliary Force.  In 1937, he was promoted, and they returned to Dorsetshire, England. That year, they received an invitation to attend the coronation of George VI. 

            In 1940, Weva rejoined the army as a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers.  The German blitz drove Sue to return with her children to the safety of Kinsley to stay during the war.  Weva would remain behind to serve in Greece and Egypt.

Matey Bidwell home at 401 S. Heath where Abraham family stayed during the war.

            On August 15, 1943, the Kansas City Star looked back on the refugees stay here during the war. When they arrived the children “spoke with a distinct British Accent…. Now (their) command of American slang is complete and thorough…. Susan has learned to make her own clothes and play the piano.  Sally sings in the Episcopal church and the Congregational church choirs and belongs to all the small girl activities in town.  Tom is an enthusiastic Cub Scout who has just learned to do high dives.  Their mother keeps house, no small chore in a community where groceries are no longer delivered.  She also works in a Victory garden of her own sowing, is Scout Mistress of the Kinsley Cub Scouts and takes them swimming once a week in the town swimming pool….”

            “For more than a year Mrs. Abraham was unable to receive any money from her husband, Great Britain having a stern law against exporting any money.  She helped make up for the embarrassing lack of cash by giving lectures in various towns in Western Kansas on what the war meant to Americans, life in Burma, and similar subjects on which she knew plenty.” 

Article about the Abrahams in the Kansas City Star, August 1, 1943

            In the fall of 1942, Weva flew on a military mission to Washington in the same “sleeping car plane” that had carried Winston Churchill to Moscow a few weeks earlier.  On that trip, he was also able to visit his wife and children in Kinsley.

            Weva rose to the rank of Major General, and in 1942, he became Sir William when he was awarded Officer in the Order of the British Empire because of his actions in Tunisia during the war.

After the war, the Abrahams lived in Kencot Manor House built in 1508 in Gloucestershire.  In 1955, they entertained the Burmese Prime Minister U Nu and his wife there.

The Abraham home after the war at Kencot Manor, Gloucestershire, England

       Sue kept in touch with her family in Kansas until her death on February 19, 1965 at the age of 64.  She is buried in Hillside Cemetery.

             Weva would marry again, and his second wife would see him knighted in 1977 by Queen Elizabeth