KANSAS COLLECTION ARTICLES



Kansas Fact and Fancy:  Trivia questions about Kansas history

Answers to Part One



1. The seventh game of the World Series this year went eleven innings. The only one that went longer was in 1924 (twelve innings). The pitcher of the 1924 winning team was from Kansas, and has been called the greatest pitcher in baseball history. Can you name this player, give his nickname, and tell us where he was born in Kansas?

Walter "Big Train" Johnson was born in Humboldt, Kansas. He was one of the first baseball players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and rightfully so -- among the amazing statistics highlighting his career, his lifetime ERA (Earned Run Average) was 2.17. Other statistics: 801 games (14th all-time), 531 complete games (5th), 5,923 innings pitched (3rd), 416 wins (2nd), 110 shutouts (1st), and 3,508 strikeouts (7th).

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2. This famous American was commemorated by a $.03 postage stamp in the late 1940s. He attended school, was a member of the Presbyterian Church and its choir, and later operated a laundry in Minneapolis, Ottawa County, Kansas. Name this famous American.

George Washington Carver.

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3. The mobile home didn't originate in the 20th Century. When new townsites were surveyed and plotted, the promoters commonly offered a free lot to the first house in the new "city." The first house in my home town of Hutchinson was built by A.F. Horner, but not in Hutchinson. The same structure had previously won lots in three other towns before being sledged across the plains to its next location. Can anybody name one of the three previous towns?

The house started out in Brookville before moving to Florence, then Newton, then Hutchinson.

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4. When Coronado assembled his group to explore America there was a clergyman in the group. Part of that visit brought them to Kansas. After returning home the clergyman requested permission to return to work among the Kivira (Kansas) Indians. While in Kansas his group was set upon by murderous Indians and all of them escaped except for the priest who stayed behind and thereby aided their getaway. However he was murdered.
     Who is this -- the first Christian martyr on Kansas soil -- and can you name one of the three locations where this is a monument erected in his memory?

The padre was Father Juan Padilla. The monuments are located in Council Grove, Herington, and west of Lyons/north of Alden.

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5. Judy Garland starred in two movies with "Kansas ties".....name the "other" one.

The Harvey Girls, which featured that great song, "The Atchison, Topeka & the Santa Fe."

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6/7. SHE WAS NAMED FOR HER GRANDMOTHER:

Background: When a Kansas high school sophomore once glanced at his classmate named Sarah, there may have been strong chemistry in that classroom regardless of any subject matter being taught. Such interactive physiognomy would eventually lead to something of special significance.
     While the teenage girl dreamed of a career on the stage (theater -- not a horse-drawn carriage), we cannot be sure what the observant student named Frank envisioned for the future. Born right there in Arkansas City, Sarah later assumed a stage name but never quite succeeded in show business after studying her craft in Kansas City.
     A dozen years later, Frank and Sarah sure enough tied the old matrimonial knot, and then they retailed paintings and such in order to sustain their new household. (Art was framed.)
     The first offspring of Frank and Sarah (aka: Francis and Sara) was a boy named Howard. And later their new baby daughter (named for her maternal grandmother) spent a happy first Christmas with adoring relatives (two sets of grandparents) in Arkansas City. This daughter would also try becoming the Thespian her mother had aspired to be, and later she was widowed with children before marrying a successful lawyer.
     Question: Can you also identify that cute little baby girl who first saw Yuletide bright lights and glitter during an Arkansas City, KS, Christmas?

None other than the beautiful Elizabeth Taylor.

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8. A rodeo clown/animal trainer from southwest Kansas became nationally known in the late '50s, early '60s for successfully training an American Bison. This person and the bison appeared in the Saga of Andy Burnett, the Buffalo Hunter. A TV Guide in 1961 had a two-page color photo of Charlie Wooster, the cook of Wagon Train, riding the bison. The trainer and bison rode an elevator (causing quite a stir) at the Salt Lake City Tribune office. They participated in a three-way race between the bison, a mule and a horse at Denver's Centennial Turf Club which was photographed and published in Life magazine, and participated in the Inauguration Parade of President John F. Kennedy in January, 1961, where they were called back to the viewing stand by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson until security officials rushed them on.
     The trainer himself appeared in Marilyn Monroe's Bus Stop and Desert Sands. Name the trainer and his trusty steed. (The bison had a stage name; either his original or stage name) is acceptable.

Buddy Heaton is the rodeo clown, and Old Grunter (stage name Clyde) is the bison.

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9. According to at least some of his biographers, Billy the Kid was afraid of only one man. That man, a sometime member of Billy's gang, was a Kansan who left his home in Greenwood County to trail cattle west into Colorado in the early 1870s, then became involved in a train robbery between Kinsley and Dodge City before going on down into New Mexico. He met his end either by being beheaded in Old Mexico, where he was hiding out from U.S. authorities, after cheating in a game of cards (version number 1) or (version number 2) left Mexico with a herd of cattle to the northwest country where he later died an alcoholic in Oregon. Who was he?

Dave Rudabaugh.

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10. We've been talking about early desperadoes, but Kansas had a few public enemies later on as well. What Topeka-born gangster was captured by J. Edgar Hoover, himself, in 1936? He was once part of the Barker gang.

The Encyclopedia of American Crime says Alvin "Creepy " Karpis was born in Montreal, raised in Kansas who met Freddie Barker in prison where Karpis was doing a term for safe-cracking.
     Hoover flew to New Orleans to be in on the arrest. Hoover himself announced that he was under arrest. "Put the handcuffs on him," Hoover snapped, but among the horde of agents not one had remembered to bring handcuffs. An agent had to pull off his necktie to tie Karpis' hands.
     "The most obvious flaw in the FBI story, though," Karpis wrote, "lies in Hoover's own character. He didn't lead the attack on me. He hid until I was safely covered by many guns. He waited until he was told the coast was clear. Then he came out to reap the glory ...That May Day in 1936, I made Hoover's reputation as a fearless lawman. It's a reputation he doesn't deserve." For further reading see The Alvin Karpis Story by Alvin Karpis with Bill Trent.

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11. This product's location in Kansas was discovered around 1900 and it has been mined continuously since the teens. Location is somewhere in the northwest quadrant of Kansas. What is the product, what is it used for and name of town where mined?

They mined silicate in Calvert, Kansas, in Northwest Kansas; it was used in the mixture used for highway surfacing.

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12. All the strange El Nino weather got me to thinking about the different natural disasters that have beset Kansas over the centuries. I can think of at least three major ones, and a few more well-known ones. Can you name the major ones? (Extra credit available for well-known answers!)

The dust storms in the 30's; grasshopper plague in the 1870's; 1951 flood; prairie fires associated with droughts.
     Tornados: At Topeka (1966), Andover, Udall, Wichita, and elsewhere.
     Snow, ice and hail storms: the Schoolchildren's Blizzard (1888) and others. One Kansas-L subscriber noted, "I remember a blizzard while I was in grade school where the snow drifts were 6 to 10 feet high in our neighborhood -- great fun walking to school with snow drifts towering over my head. We built a snow cave in the back yard by tunneling into a huge drift. Then I remember learning to drive the winter of one of the worst ice storms -- but there have been others since then. What about the awful hail storms. I was gone from home during one of the more devasating in Hutchinson, but my little brother picked up hail stones the size of soft balls and put them in the freezer! I got to see them once when I was home for a visit in the mid sixties. If I hadn't seen them with my own eyes I would have never believed it."
     The long view: This subscriber explained his list of the major weather disasters which have beset Kansas over the centuries: "Historians do tend to take a broad view of things. Give them a century and they'll take a millennium or more."

1. Regional dessication and the disappearance of the Niobrara Sea with an extraordinary loss of marine life.

2. The collision between the Earth and an asteroid that killed off all of those dinosaurs that are scattered across western Kansas and make plowing difficult.

3. The advance of the glaciers that scoured northeastern Kansas and ruined things for kids hunting for fossils.

4. The glacial retreat that inundated the Bering Sea land bridge and made it impossible to lay the rails for the Cottonwood Falls to Constantinople Express.
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13. This trivia is wrapped up within a puzzle. The puzzle is in the form of a poem, and the information comes in the form of puns, allegories, and allusions. Most things have a double meaning, or even triple or quadruple meaning, but they all tell about an early Kansan, rather famous in his time, but almost forgotten now.

      An Early Kansan: A Puzzle
      "Lift your steins.." Oh, no! they say,
      That's untrue. A long time since,
      A plague-maker drops down this way,
      Lives among us with his prince,
      Makes the dark as light as day,

      From first light at menlo park,
      Til dusk first spread o'er the zone,
      His matchless match made a spark,
      Light on unjust things was thrown,
      Leading folks out of the dark,

      How shall we close? "R.I.P.?"
      "May Thy Gentle Spirit Rest?"
      Not for someone such as he,
      Who left this life not quite blest,
      One note short of harmony

Moses Harmen published the reform newspaper Lucifer the Light-Bringer out of Valley Falls, formerly known as Grasshopper Falls, from 1879 to 1903.
     He's almost forgotten today, but he was both influential and a stormy petrel in his day. He was particularly vehement about the inequities of the marriage laws of the time and an almost rabid advocate of greater rights for women. He attacked other things that he perceived as being unjust and so made a lot of enemies who wanted above all things to shut down Lucifer and shut up Moses Harmen. Harmen had blessed the union of his editor and his daughter, a union which, in accordance with the wishes and personal principles of all concerned was consummated without the benefit of clergy.
     Harmen's enemies used that as a weapon against him, charging him with the crime of pandering made worse by their claim that Harmen had provided his his daughter's sexual favors as part of the editor's salary. Harmen spent some time in jail, and finally left Valley Falls for Chicago. He apparently ran afoul of the law there, and died in relative obscurity. It's interesting to consider that he was in Chicago at the same time that the Nebraskan, L. Frank Baum, was writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
     Considering what Moses Harmen stood for and the things he fought against, he deserves better than "relative obscurity."

The solution to the puzzle:

"Lift your steins.." Oh, no! they say,
That's untrue.

"Lift your steins [for Dear Old Maine]" is the Maine Stein Song, made famous by Rudy Vallee, for whom it became a theme song over a very long singing and acting career. "That's untrue." Whatever is untrue is false, which gives one "Vallee false" or "Valley Falls."

A long time since,
A plague-maker drops down this way,

The most famous plague-maker in Kansas must surely be the grasshopper, and "grasshopper drops down" is "Grasshopper Falls," the early name of Valley Falls.

But another famous plague maker was the chap who visited all sorts of plagues on the Egyptians, which gives us "Moses."

But the biggest plague-maker of all is Satan. Originally Lucifer, the most beautiful of the angels, he allowed his pride to lead him to rebel against God. For this he was cast out and fell from heaven. Milton talks a lot about this in Paradise Lost. So "A plague-maker drops" may also refer to Lucifer.

Lives among us with his prince,

"prince" confirms the allusion to Lucifer, since Lucifer is "the Prince of Darkness," among other things. But it's hard to imagine Moses living with the Prince of Darkness in Valley Falls, so "prince" may be "prints."

Makes the dark as light as day,

Whatever the case, the Prince of Darkness doesn't turn the night into day, but Lucifer, in his other guise as the Bringer of Light does. So we have Moses and his prints, Lucifer the Light-Bringer, living in Valley Falls.

From first light at menlo park,
Til dusk first spread o'er the zone,

offers the dates. Edison's first successful light bulb was tested in his shops at Menlo Park, NJ, in the year 1879, and the treaty establishing the Panama Canal Zone was ratified in 1903.

His matchless match made a spark,
Light on unjust things was thrown,

If you remember the First World War song "Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag /and, smile, smile, smile /while you've a lucifer to light your fag, /smile, boys, that's the style", you'll remember that "lucifer" was slang for a match (because it was a light bringer). So Moses prints Lucifer in Valley Falls and Lucifer is a reform organ of some sort.

Leading folks out of the dark,

A confirmation that we're dealing with a Moses. "Where was Moses when the light went out? In the dark." was a popular bit of humor (?) in the nineteenth century. Also, Moses led his people out of the darkness of bondage in the land of Egypt.

How shall we close? "R.I.P.?"
"May Thy Gentle Spirit Rest?"
Not for someone such as he,
Who left this life not quite blest,

Another note that our subject's name was Moses, since Moses was denied the blessing of leading his people into the Promised land.

One note short of harmony

is the clue for Moses' last name. "Harmony" with a single letter subtracted. That's a bit weak, since the actual spelling also has one letter changed.
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14. It seems that Kansas is blessed with many interesting newspaper editors. This one once said that "Kansans have the box seats of the world's theater and can always see the figures, issues, events, causes, and cataclysms waiting in the wings for the cue from fate. For things start in Kansas that finish in history." Name that editor.

William Allen White, the famous editor in Emporia, Kansas.

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15. Kansas has the distinction of being the location of the only exorcism in U.S. history to be paid for by the military. Where in Kansas did this occur, and what is the history of the restless spirit that still resides there?

Ft. Riley is the place, and here is the story: Cholera was first diagnosed at Fort Riley July 30, 1855, and by August 30, 1855, most at the Fort were dead. Susan Fox lived with her step-father in a small frame building across the creek from the trolley station. She was engaged to be married soon, and already had a wedding dress, described as a "dark crinolin-ruffled dress." Her father was away, and her fiancee was in the nearby town of Pawnee City caring for the sick, on August 30. She died alone in her home. After her fiancee returned, he discovered what had happened to poor Susan, and buried her in her wedding dress in a small grave near the railway bridge to the trolley station.
     Afterward, the residents of the home described strange things occuring. Her own fiancee was quoted as saying "At any rate, it was a difficult passage for her, and Susan came back to her old home several times demanding to be let in." Residents heard strange noises and shrieks, and a maid ironing in front of a window was so frightened seeing Susan staring in the window at her that she through her iron through the window.
     The Post Commander, so irritated by the complaints and disturbances paid (out of Fort funds) for a priest from Junction City to perform an exorcism. Afterward they razed the building to ensure Susan's hauntings would stop. But she is still seen on many parts of the Fort, and especially around the trolley station, looking for something, or someone she lost.

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16. He has all the makings of a good movie. Born, the son of a distinguished New England clergyman, he rose to fame in the 1850's for his great oration and was put in charge of a congregation, the largest and most important in New England. His womanizing brought him shame and he came West to greener pastures. He founded a town but not the Kansas town named for him, (barely a town then, and not even town now). His previous scandal surfaced during his Kansas campaign for Senator and he headed West. It was during his San Francisco campaign for mayor though that his most fame came. Only injured by an assasin's bullet, his son would go on to murder the editor who sought to defame him again about his earlier exploits in the East.

Isaac Kalloch.

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17. This Fort Scott native, who was offered a scholarship to the Kansas City School of Law for writing the best qualifying exam in U.S. History in his senior year in high school, abandoned his newspaper writing job and a law career to join the management staff of a paper cup vending company. Eventually that company evolved into one which has been famous for decades (a singing group was even named after it!). The company's success was based in the fight against the common use drinking cup -- one cup at a public water fountain used by all comers, over and over. A Kansas pioneer in public health encouraged him, and he campaigned in the East as actively as the pioneer did in Kansas, using lantern slides at speaking events in New York and elsewhere to illustrate the evils of the common use drinking cup. Oddly enough, the organization he helped build is headquartered in the state where the Kansas pioneer who encouraged him was born, Pennsylvania. Who is this Kansan who built an incredibly successful company as a result of these efforts to protect public health?
     Extra credit: Can you guess who the pioneer was? In addition to the fight against the common use drinking cup, he also campaigned against everpresent flies and the common use towel at public facilities. Today, a prestigious consumer protection award is named for this Kansan, and is sponsored by a host of national public health organizations.

Hugh Moore was the Kansan, and Dr. Samuel Crumbine was the pioneer. Mr. Moore served as an officer and later manager of the paper cup vending companies which grew into the Dixie Cup Company, headquartered in Easton, Pennsylvania.

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18. A riddle:

      He has pastured the foal where the prairie fowl rest
      and lectured on prose at the hornetís nest.
      Many have known his gleaming knife
      that's wielded in peace; not in strife.

      Of a Kansas long past is his discourse;
      inspiration came from the mouth of a horse.
      Found in a box in a small Kansas town
      just a tiny bit has made his renown.

With apologies to all poets, living & dead, I offer the above as hints to the identity of a living Kansan of some note, whose fame has come from efforts outside his noble profession. Who is he and what is his notable accomplishment? (asked by Jim Bannister)

Don Coldsmith, retired physician, horseman, rancher and member of the English faculty at Emporia State University who has written, among many other books, a delightful series called Trail of the Spanish Bit (also referred to as the Spanish Bit Saga) which begins in the fifteenth or sixteenth century and chronicles the adventures of "the People," a fictional Plains Indian tribe. Tweny-some books later, the tribe is entering historical times in Kansas. Coldsmith has won the prestigious Spur Award for this series and has been on several best seller lists.

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19. "I served in our Civil War from June 9, 1861 to March 20, 1865. I was in nineteen hard-fought battles in the departments of the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland armies. I did the work of one, and I tried to do it well." This person moved to Kansas following the war, ran a boarding house, made arrangements with railroads for free transportation for all old soldiers who came to Kansas to settle, and was instrumental in bringing 300 families to Kansas to settle.

Mary A. Bickerdyke.

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20. What role did the cannon, "Old Sacramento" have in Kansas history?

"Old Sacramento" was a cannon from the Battle of Sacramento, at Chihuahua, Mexico, during the Mexican-American War. Col. Doniphan was in command of Kansas troops in that battle. The "Old Sacramento" cannon was later used in the Battle of Hickory Point in Kansas (though apparently not with great success), during the Bleeding Kansas days.
     Old Sacramento drifted from the courthouse lawn in Missouri where it had been placed across the border into Kansas, where it was "acquired" by the Free State residents of Lawrence. During the opening phases of the Wakarusa War, Lawrence was sacked by "Sheriff" Jones and a large "posse" of perhaps a thousand Missourians operating with the blessing of the territorial legislature. Col. Eldridge's Free State Hotel was burned, while the press of the only newspaper, The Herald of Freedom, was smashed and its type dumped into the Kaw.
     Somewhat later, the Free-Staters took the offensive and began reducing, one by one, a series of forts that the slave-staters had built to blockade Lawrence's southern approaches. The strongest of these was Fort Titus, located between Lecompton and Lawrence. The Free-Staters took up positions and brought up Old Sacramento. The newspaper's type had been fished from the river and melted down to make shot for the cannon. It was reported that, before each salvo, the commander of the Free-State forces would shout to the men within Fort Titus "Look out, boys! Here comes another issue of The Herald of Freedom!" The holders of the fort soon gave up their subscription to The Herald.
     Old Sacramento was resurrected when Kansas was admitted to statehood and the Civil War for the rest of the nation fairly begun. It was placed in an entrenchment at the foot of Massachusetts Street in Lawrence from which it commanded the land north of the river and long stretches of the river both to the east and west. Quantrell and his men came from the south, however, and so Old Sacramento never fired in battle again after the attack on Fort Titus.
     The entrenchment in which it had been placed was eventually turned into a little park, and it was joined by the immense red glacial boulder that the local Indian peoples called "Shawnamagunga" (or something like that). For some time it was fired on holidays such as the Fourth of July and in attempts to raise the bodies of people who had drowned in the river (for which, see Huckleberry Finn). It was during one of the latter events that the old gun's barrel cracked. Its muzzle and touch-hole were sealed and it remained in place as a memorial long after most people no longer knew what it was supposed to remind them of.
     It was sometime in the 1970's, I believe, that vandalism was considered such a danger that Old Sacramento was taken from the position it had held for over a hundred years and put in safe-keeping in the basement of the Watkins Community Museum, 1047 Massachusetts Street, where it can be seen by visitors to this day.




Return to Part One     See the answers to Part Two