Author Archives: Joan Weaver, Kinsley Library Director

# 99 The Oliphant Block – A 1923 Improvement for Kinsley –  Part 1

                When looking for a topic for this week’s article, I went to the Kinsley newspapers of 100 years ago to see what was happening.  Using, which is available to all Kansas residents through the Kansas State Historical Society website, I found that in the spring of 1923 a business area on 600 Colony Ave was being redeveloped and would be called the Oiphant block. 

                The editor of the Kinsley Mercury described this west side of Colony, which extends north of the high school to the railroad tracks, as having old dilapidated frame buildings that “had stood there for more than a third of a century offering neither commodity or beauty.”

                One exception existed.  In 1913 Roy Hatfield had built a brick carpentry shop, north across the ally from the high school.  This building no longer exists and is an empty lot.  According to the 1920 Sanborn Insurance map, going north from Hatfield’s, there were frame buildings housing an electric supply business, an auto radiator repair shop, the Midland Hotel, a carpentry/paint shop, a restaurant and finally ending with a threshing machine warehouse angling next to the railroad tracks.

Advance Threshing, built in 1910 on the Santa Fe right-of-way at Colony Ave. and Sixth St.

                The August 31, 1922 issue of the Kinsley Graphic reported that H. B. Oliphant (Hugh Bartes Oliphant, 1854-1933) and his sons, Hugh, Jr. (1884-1959) and N. D. Oliphant (Norman Dix, 1885-1847) purchased land on the north side of Hatfield’s.   H. B. had built many homes in Kinsley and he was looking to improving the city’s look and future. 

600 Colony, the Oliphant Block c. 1924. Building on left is the Hatfield Carpentry Shop, next brick buildings were built by H. B. Oliphant in 1923.

                The Oliphant brothers wanted to house their Kinsley Ice Cream and bottling works in their own building. They constructed the brick buildings which still stand at 626 and 624 S. Colony Ave.  The creamery was housed in the south building and consisted of an office in front (17’ X 22’) with the creamery, ice cream factory and bottlings works in the rear (22’ X 90’).  The office work was done by Mrs. N. D. Oliphant (Clara) and daughters Ethelyn (KHS 1924) and Velma (KHS 1924).

Ethelyn and Velma Oliphant, Kinsley High School 1924 graduation pictures.

                Norm Oliphant was the general manager and in charge of the creamery which was managed by Luther McAdoo, who was described as ”one of the best butter makers in the game.” The plant’s modern equipment could produce 1000 lbs. of butter a day.  The surrounding towns and every grocery store in Kinsley carried the famous Blue Ribbon brand of butter manufactured by Norm and Hugh Oliphant.

                The foreman of the ice cream business was Don Kerr.  Sufficient sweet cream and milk had to be secured for the large business.  The editor wrote the following description of the plant:

                “Two brine freezers are employed in manufacturing the ice cream which turn out 100 gallons per hour.  When the ice cream began going into the packers, it didn’t take but a moment to see it was but a twinkling until ten gallons of ice cream was ready to be placed in the hardening room.”

                The brine freezers mentioned above worked on the same principle as the old home ice cream makers with salt brine used to lower the temperature.  More than four train cars of crushed rock salt (perhaps from Hutchinson?) were necessary to pack out the ice cream each year.

                The shipping room in the back was arranged so that a large truck could be loaded within the building.  The shipping floor was the same height as the bed of the truck to minimize lifting.

                The second story of the building was used for storing cartons, syrups, and other supplies.

                Hugh Oliphant was in charge of the bottling works part of the business where the ingredients for pop, near beers and ginger ale were mixed, bottled and distributed.  “Near beer” is what we call three-two beer (3.2 % alcohol by weight or 4% by volume).  Near beer was a mild beer compared to the beer before WWI which was strong even by today’s standards.

                During Prohibition, 1920-1933, the sale of beer was banned, but not the ingredients for making it.  Malt syrup was advertised and sold as a baking ingredient, but it was used to make beer.  Near beers with their lower alcohol content could be produced and sold legally during Prohibition. 

                The bottling works department was quite a large business itself.  It took almost 2000 cases to keep this department in operation throughout the season and shipments were “made on almost every train leaving Kinsley daily.”

                (To be continued next week as we progress north up the block.)

Shining a Light on the Past: ‘Lafalot’ with Ila Taylor in the Sandhills – Part 3 of 3

By William F Wolfgang, PhD

Last week, we left Ila Taylor Hann Haun all settled into her life with her second husband, T.S. Haun.  She was the library chairwoman, president of the Kinsley Women’s Club, and an advocate for the women’s vote.  But world events stretched Ila’s personal resolve when her son departed for the muddied and bloodied trenches of France. The first World War raged and Gus left Lafalot for the front lines, starting with the Battle of Cantigny. He wrote home to his mother as often as he could. At times, when appropriate, his notes would be published in the Kinsley papers.  Captain Augustus Hann barely escaped his service on the battlefield after being gassed and suffering several broken ribs.

Perpetually seeking to find light in the dark, Ila wrote patriotic music to honor the service of the American troops who risked everything. Her sheet music, “Our Yankees are on Their Way Home Again,” was published in April 1919 and featured a photo of Gus in uniform; it was a celebration. Storefronts throughout town proudly displayed the work of the town’s first published composer.

The cover of the sheet music composed and published by Ila Taylor Haun in 1919.

At times, when appropriate, his notes would be published in the Kinsley papers, which was previously covered in the library blog (see: #51 “A. P. Hann Writes from the Crossing). Captain Augustus Hann barely escaped his service on the battlefield after being gassed and suffering several broken ribs.

Unfortunately, the merriment was bittersweet. Around the same time the music was published, Ila’s second husband died at sixty-nine. Shortly after that, in early 1921, Ila Taylor Haun married for a third time, this time to businessman Allen Renick of Lawrence. 

Ila Renick said farewell to her loving community and to “Lafalot in the Sandhills.” The couple relocated to Ponca City, Oklahoma.

Irrepressible as always, Ila found a new circle of friends in a writer’s club. There she shared her poems like “Sanctuary,” and “The Voice of the Pioneer Woman.” But perhaps most revealing, she wrote a piece alluding to her lifelong aversion entitled “Fleeting Shadows.”

Ultimately, she was never afraid to do what she needed to do. In 1937, at age seventy-five, she filed for divorce against her third husband, claiming he was habitually drunk. The divorce was granted, and the court also permitted her appeal to “restore” her first name, Ila Carmichael Taylor, discarding the remaining nomenclature of all three husbands. When she passed away four years later, in 1941, she was mourned by her beloved son, the veteran Captain Augustus Hann.

Ila’s postcard and her legendary “Lafalot” parties which I previously wrote about intrigued me, but her life story inspired me. Currently, her file in the Kinsley Library has only one poem, a tiny fraction of what she wrote throughout her life. More so, we still have no attributable photograph of her. By telling her story, someone may recall a folder, notebook, or dusty box, that could shine more light on the life and literary contributions of a talented writer and an incredible woman.

Note:  The library reiterates Dr. Wolfgang’s call for searching old scrapbooks, photo albums, and dusty boxes for items that bring our local history to life.  It is how the library archive was created and how it continues to grow. We also want to thank Dr. Wolfgang for all the research and writing he did for this series of articles.

Shining a Light on the Past: ‘Lafalot’ with Ila Taylor in the Sandhills – Part 2 of 3

By William F Wolfgang, PhD

(Continued from last week)  As Ila Taylor Hann settled in to life in Edwards County and organized her English literature writing projects, her son Gus dove into project after project on the property south of Kinsley, along the river. In early 1908, he built “one of the largest and finest granaries in the county” for Charles F Eslinger in just eleven days. As he erected the granary, he also helped the Kinsley community and Charles Edwards produce the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta H.M.S Pinafore by constructing their set pieces for the stage. Marion Edwards (Shouse) commented that his work was “unusually good.” Gus would go on to produce several shows as Edwards’ scenic designer.

Ila returned after a months-long research trip in the east for a publication, and Gus was as “happy as a lark.” The Kinsley Graphic supported Gus Hann as the model of a perfect son: “It is refreshing in these degenerate days to find a boy who is not afraid to let it be known that he loves his mother.”

While Gus busily assembled the 5,000 catalpa and 2,000 mulberry trees for the family’s land, he sent two “chore boys” on summer vacation to help his mother at home. Ila settled in and became the president of the Country Woman’s Club. She often opened her bungalow, which she and Gus had now joyously dubbed “Lafalot in the Sandhills.” Friends from all over town would regularly make the trek south of Kinsley, on horseback or whatever method pleased them, to “Lafalot.”

Ila dedicated her energy to showering any shadow she found in radiant morning sunlight. At a Women’s Club Federation meeting, Ila took to the stage. She told an assembly of women a cheery story “of a tired woman” who visited a neighbor. The neighbor said, “Oh, dear, come in: my veranda hasn’t been swept this morning.” “Never mind,” replied the other woman, “I was looking at your honeysuckles.” Ila then encouraged her audience “to look at our honeysuckles in Kinsley.” In her mind, something beautiful could always be found if only people could slow down and look. 

The Kinsley Women’s Club. c. 1910. Kinsley Public Library. As a member of this group, Ila likely is in this photo. Photo:  Edwards County Historical Society.

In 1911, after being single for nearly two decades, Ila remarried. Her last name would not change much, though, as the lucky man would be Thompson Sanford Haun (as opposed to her current last name, Hann), a western Kansas pioneer, lawyer, and the founder of Jetmore.

After her second marriage, like her name, her life was not altered significantly. She continued with literary and poetic work. She also became a well-known speaker and received invitations to speak at many events, including an annual appearance at the Edwards County Farmer’s Institute and conferences throughout the state.

Anyone who had a cause desired Ila’s skills as an organizer and advocate. So, her appointment as chairwoman of the Kinsley Library Association in April 1914 surprised no one. By 1916, Ila would preside over the Kinsley Women’s Club meetings in town as progress with women’s causes became more palpable. Yet, life was about to become more complicated. (To be continued next week.)


#96- Shining a Light on the Past: ‘Lafalot’ with Ila Taylor in the Sandhills – Part 1 of 3

by William F. Wolfgang, Phd

For several years, I’ve been searching through long-forgotten scraps of ephemera and old manuscripts for my upcoming book on Charles Edwards, Kinsley’s theatre director and impresario from the early 1900s. Recently, intriguing people and their fascinating stories have lodged themselves in my mind, and, perhaps, there’s no better year to share than Kinsley’s 150th Anniversary.

One example of this is Kinsley’s poet-author-composer-orator, Ila Carmichael Taylor. Despite the shadows of personal tragedy, Ila Taylor raised two children as a single mother while serving as a beacon for other women seeking careers before they even had the right to vote.

            Ila was born in the small village of Washington, New Jersey, amid the Civil War in 1862. The seventh of eight children spread out across twenty-three years, she was always surrounded by family growing up. For the rest of her life, there would be nothing more important to her. Around the time she would have finished schooling at age sixteen, her brother Ed Taylor, eighteen years older than her, took his family west in search of the opportunity that eluded him. His destination was a small five-year-old town called Kinsley.           

The young and creative Ila chose to stay behind in New Jersey, as there was still opportunity for her at home. Soon, she married Louis Hann, the First National Bank of Washington’s head cashier. Her new husband wasn’t just a cashier, however; he was also the son of the bank’s founder and a local judge. Ila had married well, or so she thought. After the birth of her daughter Louise and her son Augustus (“Gus” for short) in ’86 and ’88, respectively, in 1891, the Hanns’ marriage collided with hardship. The tiny village erupted into scandal. Rumor persisted that Mr. Hann had thrown his wife down a flight of stairs during an altercation. The papers further noted that he had “otherwise cruelly treated her.” As a result, Ila fled with her children to New York.

Seeking a divorce, Mr. Hann concocted a plan to frame Ila for infidelity, which would give him custody of their children. As Ila went about her daily business, her estranged husband had her “shadowed” by nefarious “private detectives” who were then to testify against her in court with maliciously fabricated lies.

The September 20, 1892 edition of the Jersey City News sensationalized the trial with articles like “Shadows on Wedlock: More Disgusting Testimony by the Detectives in the Hann Divorce Suit.” During their time on the witness stand, the “private detectives” proceeded to slander Ila’s character. Ultimately, the vindictive Mr. Hann and his cronies failed, and Ila received custody of the children.

After the terribly public divorce proceedings covered in the smallest and largest papers, Ila penned a healing poem, which the popular Munsey’s Magazine published in February of 1894. She named her verse “Morning,” and lyrically described how each “coming of day” vanquishes the shadows, no matter how deep or long they may be. When her father passed away later that year, he had a line similar to this poem inscribed on his gravestone. Ila’s words served as his light even in death.

As the nineteenth century faded into the twentieth, more adversity awaited. Ila had more shadows to conquer. First, her estranged husband died of “softening of the brain.” Later, she lost her sister in a terrible accident and then, a year later, another brother passed away.

In 1900, Ila was living comfortably with her two children, presumably working in an editorial capacity with some of New York’s largest newspapers, as she would later tell her friend, Kinsley’s one-time newspaper editor Charles Edwards. In a few more years, her daughter Louise would be married and off to make her own home. 

When 1906 arrived, Ila’s son Gus was now eighteen and had a keen interest in farming and carpentry. But to explore this, he needed a job and to escape his childhood in the bustling city. Ila’s brother Ed, who moved to Kansas nearly three decades earlier, had the answer: visit Kinsley. Mother and son stayed with their relatives on their homestead south of the Arkansas River and fell in love with the community. Then, they decided to permanently leave behind New Jersey and dark reminders of the past. (Part 2 next week on settling in the Sand Hills.)

Front and back of a Kinsley postcard featuring the M. E. Church from Ila Taylor to her relative Ida Taylor written at her bungalow “Lafalot in the Sand Hills in 1908. (Wolfgang personal collection)

A note on sources for this article in 3 parts: This article was composed based on accounts and documents found in Richardson’s The Great Next Year Country,, the postcard in my personal collection, Ila Taylor’s file at the Kinsley Public Library, my research file on Charles Edwards, and Newspaper sources from Kansas, New Jersey, and Oklahoma. 

#95 Pilots, Planes and Flying Clubs – Part 3

Some of the members of the Kinsley Flying Club discussed in last week’s article would join the Flying Farmers. This organization began when thirty Oklahoma farmers organized the first state Flying Farmers in 1944 at Oklahoma A&M. Kansas would organize in 1946 and hold their first fly-in in Hutchinson that year. It would soon become both a national and international group.

The main goal of Flying Farmers was to promote the use of aircraft in agriculture and sponsor both education and research in agricultural aviation. The members were people who got at least 51 % of their earnings from agriculture-related work on the one hand, and flew either for business and/or pleasure on the other. Flying Farmers also became useful for viewing aerial soil conservation, and sometimes they would serve in emergency medical flights.

Farmers had adapted to the airplane early on and soon farm women made up about half of the pilots. Clara and Charles Schmitt of Kinsley are a good example of a flying couple who have been member of Flying Farmers since 1970.

They began by taking flying lessons together from Milton (Bud) Pinkston of St. John.

“Charles finished in 1970, a few months before I did in 1971,” said Clara. “It was expensive to rent a plane for flying hours, and I had children to care for which slowed me down a little.”

Their first plane was a 4-seater Cessna. “We used it to check on cattle,” said Clara, “and to just run around in. It didn’t use a lot of gasoline, and I could get it out of the hangar by myself. Sometimes Charles would fly our son Leon and Randy Gray (they worked on the farm) to Dodge City just to get a hamburger for lunch.”

“One year, the cattle were good and the crops were good,” said Charles, “so we traded that plane in for a brand new 4-seater Cessna 172SP Skyhawk XP11 with a variable-speed prop. You could land on roads and it took a shorter runway.”

Charles also used the plane to buy cattle in Nebraska and Arkansas. “We had cattle out at Kalvesta,” he said, “and I could log the flights down and take them off our income tax as a business expense. I think I put 1400 hours on it.”

The Schmitts first stored their plane in a hangar at the Larned airport, but then were able to rent one in Kinsley. Clara commented that the Cessna 172 was bigger and took more gasoline. She could not get it out of the hangar by herself. Another expense was the plane had to be inspected every year.

Clara & Charles Schmitt c. 1980

In 1973 Clara was the Kansas Flying Farmer Queen. Charles served as District 6 director from 1977-1979, second vice president in 1980 and first vice president in 1981. Other members from Kinsley included Jim and Christina Lippoldt and Vincent and Rose Elpers.

Kari, LaVeta, Elmer & Rx Hahn, c. 1980

Elmer and LaVeta Hahn of Belpre were members since 1955.  Elmer served as District 6 Director in 1956 and 1957 and was elected vice president in 1964 and president in 1965.  He organized and hosted a fly-in at his farm and in every area of the state.  LaVeta was also the Kansas Queen in 1961.

Early on, the Flying Farmers had a mission to fly for charity.  In 1954 they sponsored a “Flight of Dimes” to open the March of Dimes campaign.  From the late 1960s through the 1980s they flew “Donation Flights” where passengers donated a penny a pound to the Capper Foundation for Crippled Children.  The Schmitts participated at the Larned airport and the Great Bend airport in these activities.   

“We’d give people rides and they’d give us money.” Said Charles.  “The year I was president, we had a good year. There were six different districts in Kansas.  Each district would set these charity flights on a certain day in October.  We got enough that time that we ended up at $106,000 total.”

Flying Farmers held annual conventions in the states, and the Schmitts would go to Kansas conventions and to neighboring state conventions.  The also went to five international conventions. twice for International conventions.

Charles and Clara agree that they loved every minute of being involved with the Flying farmers. “Those were the best years of our lives,” Charles said.  “I said as a kid that if I could fly an airplane – or farm- I’d be happy, and I got to do both.”

The Flying Farmers donated all of their archive to the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, KS.  I hope to make a trip to this museum to find more information and pictures of our local participation in the organization.

#94 Pilots, Planes and Flying Clubs – Part 2

“From the Library Archive” gives the impression that the library already has the information contained in articles on file.  To some degree, this is true.  But more often than not, interest in the topic elicits new information which adds to the library archive.  In fact, it is this discovery of new things that makes the writing of an article not only a lot of work, but also fascinating, and rewarding.  Thanks to Bill John Bidleman and his daughter, Lucinda, this week’s article is accompanied by photographs of the wooden hangar at the airport and some of the early pilots.

Men standing in front of the original flying club hangar.  Chester Bidleman is in suit and hat holding papers, 
Detail of photograph

Many years ago, Bill John told me that he had wanted to join the air force ever since he was 8 years old. The flying club allowed him to log 250 flying hours, and he had no problem passing the test.  But when he went for the physical, he was told that his eyes were not good enough. 

He said that at first he was disappointed, and then he was mad.  In 1951, he enlisted in the Army Airborne Infantry and learned to parachute.  Over the next three years, he jumped 31 times, but was never sent overseas.  Later he would try to organize a parachuting club in Kinsley, but it never got off the ground.

The flying club which had been formed in 1944 continued to spur interest in flying and by 1947 many members were beginning to own their own planes. The Saturday evening Post reported that nearly three-quarters of the single-engine airplanes built that year had been snapped up by farmers.

Chester Bidleman on left and Willy Weyrich on right.
This image was taken with infra-red film at Anthony. “The sky is very black.”  Fall, 1946
Back:  Rankin Greislinger; L-R: Bill John Bidleman, Bliss Ransom, Bob Couch with plane behind them. 

Farmers found many uses for an airplane which could roll easily into their implement sheds.  Area farmers mainly used them to inspect and manage cattle.  They were also used to hunt coyotes which led to a tragic accident on New Year’s Day in 1945. 

Kenneth Lambert (KHS 1936 ) had purchased a two-passenger Aeronca on December 10, 1945 in Phoenix, Arizona and flown in back.  He had 70 hours of flying experience and was keeping the plane at the Kinsley Flying Club field.  Vernon Hagewood (1938 graduate of Fellsburg) was a passenger in the plane.  They were spotting coyotes for hunters when they crashed in the sand hills five miles south of Kinsley. 

Several witnesses reported that the plane was “hedge hopping” across the area before the crash.  Inspectors from the Civil Aeronautics Administration found that the plane had not stalled before impact, but was not under full power.  The plane had just come out of a turn and the propeller had hit the ground more than once before nosing into the ground.

After all these years, Charles Schmitt, another Flying Club member, remembered with great sadness how he had been in Kenneth’s wedding to Pauline King on June 15, 1939 and then was a pall bearer for him just six years later.

I’m looking for pictures and information about the Flying Farmers for next week’s article.  Please go to those family albums and memories and help me add more to the library archive.

#93 Pilots, Planes and Flying Clubs  –  Part 1

The Kinsley Graphic on April 3, 1930 announced that the first Edwards County owned airplane arrived in Kinsley that week.  It was a Swallow TP owned by Joe Watson, an established Kinsley business man and oil speculator, and Roy Grybowski, who had a pilot’s license (pictured below – 1927 KHS graduate) .  It had been manufactured by the Swallow Airplane Company in Wichita.

The plane had dual controls and was yellow and black.  Plans were for it to take passengers and distribute advertising material.  Grybowski flew it from Wichita to Kinsley in one hour and a half.  He landed in the field one-half mile south of town on highway No. 1 (today, Hwy 183). That same day, Grybowski successfully passed a new test to renew his pilot’s license as his was due to expire in two weeks.  The new license had more stringent restrictions including “an absolute prohibition of any stunting with passengers.”

 An advertisement in the July 26, 1930 Graphic, indicated that Grybowski was a Swallow sales representative and it encouraged airplane ownership. 

Advertisement in June 26, 1930 Kinsley Graphic (Note the image of the plane has been replaced with one of better quality.

A side note: by the time of the 1940 census, Roy Grybowski was married, living in California and working in the oil fields. He would lead a long life, dying in Santa Barbara, California in 1996.

In November, 1944, the interest in flying had caught on in Edwards County, and a Flying Club was formed.  There were 15 aviation enthusiasts as members including Rhinehart and Pearl Mehl, Clara and Clarence “Shorty” Michaelis, Bill Weyrich, Huston Sterritt, Herbert Wetzel and Chester Bidleman, names gleaned from articles written in several papers. Chester’s son, Bill John, thought his father joined the club “because he knew how much of an airplane nut I was. With him in the club, I had my foot in the door.”  Other early members were Dr. Schnoebelen, Myron Burr, Ross Strate, and Gordon Coats.

On December 31, 1944 the Hutchinson News reported that Huston Sterrett, owner of the Palace Theatre used a plane in an emergency.  “The film failed to arrive for the Wednesday evening show.  It had been missent.  Telephoning around, he located it at Kiowa.  There was only a little time before the show would start.  He obtained a plane at Larned, flew to Kiowa and back, and had the film on hand on time.”

At that time, Michaelis reported that the club bought a Taylorcraft two-place fabric covered plane with a 65 horse engine from Lefty (Elmer) Fatzer.  They used that plane for a year or two, and then bought a new plane from Taylorcraft in Pennsylvania for $2,200.

1944 Taylorcraft airplane advertisement

The club set up a frame and corrugated metal T-hanger west across the highway and a little south of where the airport is today.  The late Gordan Coats said. “You had to watch when you came in to land because Howard Bentley had alfalfa there and you had to land between hay bales sometimes.”

A one-half mile long and 495’ wide runway ran north and south with a short east-west runway (1/4 mile by 300’) on the south end.

In 1947, the Flying Club moved their location across the highway to approximately where the current airport is located.   In the same article, Bill John Bidleman said, “We (Bill John and Michaelis) put the hangar on timbers and with two tractors pulled it across the road and down the field.  Don Alt and I, who were the youngest members of the club, looked around and saw the plane sitting in the field where the hangar had been and decided we were going to fly it over to the new location.  I think there were a few hearts in peoples’ throats when they saw what we were doing. But the conditions were right for a soft field landing and we got the plane to the new location without any trouble.” According to Bill John, Ott cranked the propeller and he piloted the plane.

A dirt runway was created by the Flying Club using a tractor with a roller.  This location became the Kinsley Municipal Airport in October, 1947

(To be continued next week)

#92 Local History’s Mysteries, Bread Crumbs, and Rabbit Holes: Part 2

Identifying Three Unknown Men in an 1890 Kinsley Cabinet Photo
By William F Wolfgang, PhD           

Last week Dr. Wolfgang reported on his search to identify three men in a vintage photograph taken by D. H. Atkins in his studio in Kinsley in 1890.  Because he has done extensive research into Kinsley history during the time of Charles Edwards, the subject of a book he is writing, he noticed a resemblance of one man in the picture to Kinsley’s longtime Superintendent of Schools, Daniel A. Baugher.  In 1890, Baugher was a teacher in Hutchinson.  Dr. Wolfgang was able to place him in Kinsley attending a conference of the Southwest Kansas Teachers Association in November, 1890.  More research in, led him to discover the names of the other two men in the photograph who were also teachers in Hutchinson.

The Three Hutchinson Teachers

Oliver Winslow Jones (1862-1945) remained a mathematics teacher and a principal for some years in Hutchinson before becoming an accountant in Wichita. He eventually ran for public office, using the postcard below in his campaign. He had four children, one of which, Dr. Donald Forsha Jones, would become a successful geneticist who changed the trajectory of American agriculture. Dr. Jones worked at Harvard, developing the first high-yield sweet corn hybrid.

Oliver Winslow Jones’ campaign postcard for Sedgwick County Treasurer

As his successful son redefined agricultural science, the father would fall into disrepute. Oliver Winslow Jones saw an opportunity to make money with a cunning but ill-advised scheme to cover a deficit in Sedgwick County’s tax revenue. Despite his best efforts, an auditor noticed his embezzlement of approximately $40,000. After a regionally high-profile trial, a judge sentenced him to five years at the prison in Lansing.

After getting out of prison around 1920, Jones retired with his wife in Kansas City.

Hartwell Sherman Rogers (1864-1948) left his position as a teacher in Hutchinson to become a high school principal at age 27 in Larned. Two years later, he took up his own law office. Next, the young lawyer ran for county attorney in an election where nearly all candidates were defeated by populists. As a result, he was the only local Republican elected in Pawnee County in 1896.

Rogers would later run for state senator but found opposition during the primary process, losing to Fred Dumont Smith of Kinsley. This seat would later be claimed by Kinsley’s most famous politician, Democrat Jouett Shouse. Rogers and his wife had at least two children, Ruth and James.

Daniel Alpheus Baugher (1863-1950) was the only man from the photo whose life would be almost entirely devoted to education. As his former colleagues Jones and Rogers moved on to new professions, Baugher permanently relocated from Hutchinson to Kinsley. He became a well-loved teacher, principal, and school superintendent in town for over two decades. As an educator, scholar, athlete, and musician, Baugher worked alongside Charles Edwards, the subject of my book, developing the Kinsley school system and bringing it into the twentieth century.

Baugher was meticulous, joyous, and an inspiration to his students and community. In the 12 July 1911 edition of The Kinsley Mercury, the paper’s editor Charles Edwards declared that Baugher would win if Kinsley held a “Most Useful Citizen Contest.” In 1922, after triumphantly leading the schools for two decades, Baugher retired and went into a different field. He opened a small grocery store and served the community in yet another way. With his wife, Elsie, Baugher raised two children, Lulu and Howard. 

There’s Always Another Mystery to Solve

Kinsey’s fascinating past is composed of local and national treasures that should be researched, cherished, and shared, especially during this sesquicentennial year. While some accounts are filled with train robberies, grasshopper plagues, auto thefts, presidential visits, defrauding taxpayers, and record-setting theatrical pageants, others present everyday citizens working to make their community a better place.

As someone who has been impacted by these stories, I’m grateful for all those in Edwards county who have worked so diligently over the years to preserve them.

I look forward to sharing more of my research with the Edwards County community and the rest of the country in the coming months and years.

#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 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 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,  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.