Category Archives: Uncategorized

#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.

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

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

Western Kansas is Setting for Story By Macy Anderson

Vintage postcard of downtown Kinsley, Kansas in 1929

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Stanley Earp Opens New Ford Garage By Zovia Waters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kinsley Shocked by Stanley Earp Arrest By Brady Kraft

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

Stanley M. Earp, prison mug shot, 1923.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earp is Reformed Man By Alex Pickering

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

Leavenworth Prison

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

Stanley M. Earp

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

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

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

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


Brady Kraft
Macy Anderson
Zovia Waters
Alex Pickering

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

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

#87 Community Comes Together to Learn and Share

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

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

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

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

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

Lots of questions answered and memories shared at the exhibit.

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

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

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