THE seventy-first annual meeting of the Kansas State Historical Society and board of directors was held in the rooms of the Society on October 15, 1946. The annual meeting of the directors was called to order by President Jess C. Denious at 10 a. m. First business was the reading of the annual report by the secretary.
During the past year the Historical Society has been able to resume some of the work that had to be abandoned during the war. Material and labor shortages delayed a few projects. Shipment of the microfilm camera was held up nearly a year, the job of painting and repointing the exterior of the Memorial building was postponed for eight months, and the contract for repairing and painting the interior of the building has not yet been let. However, it is expected that most of the work authorized by the 1945 legislature will be completed by the end of the fiscal year.
President Jess C. Denious reappointed Robert C. Rankin, Charles M. Correll and Gen. Milton R. McLean to the executive committee. The members holding over were Judge John S. Dawson and T. M. Lillard.
Appropriation requests for the next biennium were filed with the state budget director in October.
A 20 per cent increase in the salaries of all employees was requested. This is less than the increase in living costs. On the average, the salaries paid by the Historical Society are below those for comparable jobs elsewhere. An appropriation of $38,000 was requested for additional steel stacks for books. When the Memorial building was built the third floor above the library was left uncompleted, pending the need for more shelving. That was thirty years ago. Since then the library has doubled in size. The shelves are now so badly overcrowded that it is impossible to classify or house the books properly, and many of them have been stored in the basement.
Two thousand dollars was asked for cleaning and repairing the Goss collection of birds in the museum. This is one of the finest collections of the kind in the country. All the specimens are very old and fragile and the work can be done only by an expert taxidermist.
An increase of $1,000 a year was requested for the "Continuation of Wilder's Annals." Part. of this money will be used to increase the salaries of the two annalists and part will be used for a part-time typist. Appropriations by the 1945 legislature included $4,000 for repairing and redecorating corridors, offices and public reading rooms. This work will be done this winter. Not included were the museum. the G. A. R. hall and several of
the offices. Some of these walls have not been painted for thirty years. Three thousand dollars for this work was requested.
An increase of $750 a year in the contingent and maintenance fund at the Old Shawnee Mission was requested. All labor and materials have advanced in price and it has become impossible to maintain this property satisfactorily on the present fund. Next summer it will be necessary to buy a new power mower, which will come out of this appropriation.
An appropriation of $1,000 was requested for reroofing the East building at the Mission. Bids received last spring ran all the way from $900 to $1,500. An appropriation of $550 for repairs and maintenance at the First Capitol building was requested. This will include bringing electricity to the property from Fort Riley and completing repairs and painting on the buildings.
During the year 2,618 persons did research in the library, an increase of nearly 900 over the previous year. Numerous inquiries were answered by letter and there were many requests for loans from the loan file on Kansas subjects. In the Library of Congress catalogue, 71,398 cards were filed. From newspapers, covering the period of May, 1945, through March, 1946, 2,181 clippings were mounted. These include many biographical sketches of Kansans in the armed services as well as news stories recording postwar conditions in the state.
Typed and printed genealogical records were presented by the Daughters of American Colonists, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames and the Society of the Sons and Daughters of the Pilgrims. Bound volumes of the journals of the Woman's Relief Corps from 1885 through 1943 were given by Mrs. Ida Heacock Baker.
A Gerrit Smith collection of 55 printed broadsides, letters and pamphlets was received from the Syracuse University library. These are of interest because of Smith's connection with John Brown and territorial Kansas. Mrs. Florence Fox Harrop gave pamphlets and miscellaneous publications containing writings by Philip Fox, noted Kansas astronomer. Miss Olga House gave 42 books from the collection of her brother, the late Jay E. House. Of particular interest is a scrap book containing theater programs of the 1880,s from Topeka theaters.
During the year 353 pictures were classified, catalogued and added to the picture collection. These include many photographs of Kansas-made aircraft, ordnance works and other wartime subjects. The picture collection is in constant use by writers and by publishers of newspapers, books and magazines. Among those who have used pictures of early Kansas scenes are the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad; Scribner's for its Album of American History; the Kansas Industrial Development Commission; the World Book Encyclopedia, and a number of newspapers.
Kansas statistical rolls for 1939, consisting of 3,048 manuscript books, were received from the state board of agriculture. Kansas mortality schedules for 1870 and 1880 were filmed, as mentioned in the report of the microfilm division.
Fifty-one manuscript volumes and 2,020 individual manuscripts were received during the year.
Thirty-four manuscript volumes, the records of Dr. John A. Read of Tecumseh, were given by his sons, F. E. and A. V. Read. The volumes cover the period 1867-1918 and include birth records, day books, ledgers, medical formulae, etc. Two early maps of Tecumseh were included in the gift.
Angelo Scott, Iola, gave 123 letters, 1883-1939, and miscellaneous papers of his father, Charles F. Scott. Much of the correspondence refers to political matters and includes letters from Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover and others of prominence in state and national affairs.
Approximately 1,600 separate items from the papers of Jay E. House were given by his sister, Olga House, Topeka. The collection includes correspondence, 1919-1926, and miscellaneous papers. Jay E. House was on the staff of the Topeka Daily Capital from 1901 to 1919 and during that period served two terms as mayor of Topeka.
Papers relating to the early history of Appanoose township, Franklin county, were received from Esther Kratz. These include minutes of the Appanoose vigilance committee, 1874, 1875, and early township records.
J. C. Mohler, secretary of the state board of agriculture, presented 195 letters, cards and statements received in his search for Kansas families who had occupied the same farm for seventy-five years or longer. These contain valuable information about pioneer families.
Walter McKeen, Manhattan, gave a file of birth and death notices copied from Manhattan papers for the period 1859-1909.
Fourteen letter-press books from the office of Charles M. Hawkes were acquired. Mr. Hawkes was a broker of Portland, Maine, and New Haven, Conn., who carried on an extensive business in Kansas.
Judge J. C. Ruppenthal added to the Society's records of Russell county the lists of marriages for the years 1882 and 1883.
Other donors were: Mrs. Joseph Allen, the E. A. Austin estate, Mrs. Matilda T. Fiehler Bell, Frank Blaylock, Berlin B. Chapman, Mrs. Lawrence Claar, Marc C. Clapp, Manta J. Elder, Nathaniel C. Fleming, C. S. Gibbens, Mrs. G. S. Graham, Grant Harrington, Martha Harvey, John H. Hazelton, Mrs. Lyde H. Hertz, Irving Hill, Cecil Howes, Ottawa University Library, W. B. Lowrance, Gen. Charles I. Martin, Karl A. Menninger, Bert Moore, Nelle Puffer, Clyde K. Rodkey, Jane C. Rupp, T. L. Scudder, Beatrice Shakeshaft, H. E. Smith, Bertha C. Spencer, Mrs. F. D. Steinmeyer, Rufus Rockwell Wilson and Ruth Wright.
The microfilm camera which was ordered in May, 1945, was not received until February, 1946. It was installed in a specially equipped and air-conditioned room, and production was begun in March. By October 1, over 100,000 photographs had been made.
In one respect, the job of filming old and fragile papers is like that of a portrait photographer. The difficult part is preparing the subject for the camera. The fact that the papers are afterwards destroyed makes it more important for them to be "photogenic" than for the photographer's subjects, who at least continue to live.
In order to microfilm a newspaper file it is necessary to make it as complete and perfect as possible. Usually the files of the publisher and the Historical Society, when thrown together, make a fairly complete run. Before they can be consolidated into one file, which is called collating, both collections must be arranged chronologically. The collators then remove the bindings and compare the collections, page by page, selecting the best. If the same page in both is imperfect, but in different places, both pages are saved for filming. Where the files are of different editions the home or main edition is used, if in good condition. After the selections have been made, the pages are cleaned and repaired. If they are at all wrinkled they must be moistened and ironed, since an uneven surface will not photograph perfectly. When this is done a label is prepared, showing titles and inclusive dates. The file is then ready for filming. Running newspapers through the camera is a comparatively simple process. The division's best record so far is 2,500 pages in one day, about 700 pages to a roll of film. The completed film is mailed to Chicago to be developed. When returned, it is carefully checked. Sometimes defects appear and some of the original papers must be photographed again. This film is developed and is spliced into the original negative. After the negative receives a final okay it is returned to the laboratory, where a positive is made. The positive, which is black on white like the newspapers, is sent to the Historical Society. The negative is stored by the film company in a special vault, as an additional guarantee that the record will be preserved. Occasionally defects appear in the positive and it must be returned for replacement. When finally accepted, the positive is ready for use by the public.
The first newspaper selected for microfilming was the Topeka State Journal. All Topeka papers owned by the Society are in bad condition because they have been in constant demand by local patrons. Some of the earlier woodpulp volumes are so brittle and tattered that they can no longer be used. The editors of the Journal, Oscar Stauffer and E. B. Chapman, turned over their back files for collating last spring. By the first of October 55 reels of positive microfilm containing about 40,000 pages of the Journal, between the years 1879 and 1908, were ready for public use in the two projectors in the newspaper room. In a few weeks they will all be on film. This means that a 60year run of this important Kansas newspaper, which heretofore existed only in two fragile and incomplete files, will soon be available in permanent and legible microfilm reels, so compact that all may be stored on a small shelf.
There are a few Kansas newspapers which the Society has newer received. Files of some of these can now be borrowed and filmed. Two early-day Eureka papers lent by Edwin T. Wood of Eureka and Rod W. Runyan of Topeka have already been copied and others are ready for the camera. In addition, microfilm copies of the Chicago Daily Tribune, 1849 through 1865. which contain many articles about territorial Kansas, have been purchased.
The Society has also experimented some with smaller documents. Mortality schedules of the 1870 and 1880 federal census records for Kansas have been filmed. Three positive copies were made, one for the Society, and two for the Kansas Society of the D. A. R., who bought them for their genealogical records commission in Washington and for the Wichita Public Library. Also filmed was the annual report of the Santa Fe railroad for 1873. This is a rare booklet, the only known copy being the one owned by the Santa Fe.
It was expected that the demand for birth certificates would fall off after the closing of war plants, but there are still many requests. In fact, 289 census certificates were issued last month (September), more than in any month for three years. They are used in making claims for old-age assistance, social security, railroad retirement, pensions and insurance endowments. and for delayed birth certificates and passports.
Thirty-four hundred patrons were served by the newspaper and census divisions during the year. Seventy-seven hundred single issues of newspapers and 9,560 bound volumes were consulted; 4,442 census volumes were searched and from them 2,518 certified copies of family records were issued.
The 1946 List of Kansas Newspapers and Periodicals was published in July. It showed the issues of 688 newspapers and periodicals being received regularly for filing: 55 dailies, eight semiweeklies, 399 weeklies, two three times monthly, 27 fortnightlies, 20 semimonthlies, two once every three weeks, 98 monthlies, 15 bimonthlies, 28 quarterlies, 29 occasionals, three semiannuals and two annuals, coming from all the 105 Kansas counties. Of these 688 publications. 125 are listed as republican, 22 democratic, and 253 independent in politics; 95 are school or college, 41 religious, 21 fraternal, 10 labor, eight industrial, 15 trade and 98 miscellaneous.
On January 1, 1946, the Society's collections contained 51,008 bound volumes cf Kansas newspapers, exclusive of more than 10,000 bound volumes of outof-state newspapers dated from 1767 to 1946.
During the year, the following miscellaneous files were donated: 536 issues of the weekly and semiweekly New York Tribune, dated from 1859 to 1867, from Mrs. Charles Hattery, Topeka, the X-Rays Democrat, Topeka, from H. G. Hoskin, Burlington, Colo., and unbound issues of the Oxford Register, dated from 1912 to 1932, from E. Esther Griswold, Oxford. Among the donors of other miscellaneous newspapers were: Mrs. Florence Fox Harrop, Manhattan, and E. B. Chapman, James Colvin, Mrs. M. E. Harding, John S. McBride. N. E. Saxe and Oscar Stauffer, all of Topeka.
The 1945 legislature appropriated $8,000 for a continuation of the Annals of Kansas which had been brought down to 1885 by Daniel W. Wilder. Miss Jennie Owen was employed in July, 1945, to take charge of this work. Since January, 1946, she has been assisted by Lt. Edgar Langsdorf, who returned to the staff after serving five years in the army. The compilation is under the direction of the secretary, with the following acting as an advisory committee: Fred Brinkerhoff of Pittsburg, Cecil Howes of Topeka, Dr. J. C. Malin of Lawrence and Justice William A. Smith, of Topeka.
The new Annals has now been completed through 1890. The year 1891 has been compiled but not checked. Many of the preliminary notes for the next five years, through 1896, have been made.
The principal source is the newspapers. The Topeka Daily Capital, the Kansas City (Mo.) Times and the Wichita Eagle are used for general Kansas news and for references to important local happenings. All local references are verified in local papers. Many other publications are read for specialized information. An example is the Kansas Farmer, official organ for farm associations, and a source of agricultural and livestock news. Also, published
reports of various kinds must be searched. These include reports of all state departments, reports of state-wide associations such as the bar association, journals of the legislature, etc.
Before the work began it was necessary to determine what sources should be consulted. This survey was made by Miss Owen and it occupied nearly all her time for the first six months. It then took some time to organize the research. In the beginning it required several months to compile one year cf the Annals. Now a year requires only about six weeks. This means that approximately eight years of Annals can be compiled each year. This average of course cannot be maintained when the time comes for proofreading, preparing indexes and seeing the work through the press.
Life in Kansas is a great deal more complicated than it was in Wilder's day and the job of the annalist is not quite so simple. The editors are trying to compile a day-by-day history which will be accurate, readable, comprehensive, concise and unprejudiced. If they can live up to these adjectives the Society will have made a valuable contribution to the state.
The Kansas Historical Quarterly is now in its fifteenth year and is once more on a prewar schedule. The slick-paper illustrated section, begun last year, has proved to be a popular feature. The magazine has printed contributions from many historians. Two among them are outstanding. Both happen to be members of the faculty of the University of Kansas: Dr. James C. Malin, professor of history, and Dr. Robert Taft, professor of chemistry.
Dr. Malin, who is associate editor of the Quarterly, has printed a number of articles which have been widely praised. They include: "An Introduction To the History of the Bluestem-Pasture Region of Kansas; a Study in Adaptation to Geographical Environment"; "The Soft Winter Wheat Boom and the Agricultural Development of the Upper Kansas River Valley"; and a series of articles on "Dust Storms." Dr. Malin is author of the books: John Brown And the Legend of Fifty-Six, and Winter Wheat in the Golden Belt of Kansas.
Dr. Taft is the author of Photography And the American Scene, published by Macmillan, a notable book on the history of photography. Among his articles in the Quarterly are "A Photographic History of Early Kansas" and "Additional Notes on the Gardner Photographs of Kansas." A current series, entitled "The Pictorial Record of the Old West," has produced a number of fan letters. Although they are not from bobby soxers but from historians and others interested in the Old West, they are no less gratifying to Dr. Taft and the editors.
The attendance in the museum for the year was 32,893. There were 29 accessions. A United States flag with 34 stars which had been owned by James Stanley, a veteran of the Civil War, was given by his daughters, Mrs. Frank Cron and Mrs. Gilbert L. Blatchley. Sanford L. Timmons presented a ditty box used on the U. S. S. Topeka when she was flagship of the cruiser squadron in 1903. It is a relic of the old sailing ship, Constitution. An oxchain forged at the famous Weston Blacksmith Shop at Independence, Mo., in 1858, was
presented by J. L. Cartwright, Jr., of Sedalia, Mo. Mr. Cartwright is the son of Dr. J. L. Cartwright who was a partner in a freighting company which in 1859 employed 500 wagons on the Western trails.
During the year the following have been subjects for extended research: Biography: William Herbert Carruth; Joseph L. Bristow; William Jennings Bryan; Charles Rath of Dodge City; John R. Cook. Education: History of the Oxford High School; history of the College of Emporia; history of Walden College, McPherson. General: St. Louis and San Francisco railroad; farm-labor cooperation; Standard Oil Company; buffalo hunters; cattle industry; Kansas Editorial Association; prominent Kansas women; octagonal houses; Smith automobiles; Western outlaws; Kansas history, 1850-1860; United States military history; history of the oil industry; history of the Great Plains; Mid-Continent oil field; advertising in Kansas weeklies; road finance; Portsmouth conference.
October 1, 1945, to September 30, 1946
Now that the war is over the number of visitors at the Mission is increasing every month. Sight-seers include many club groups from Kansas City, Mo. Minor repairs and improvements continue to be made on the property. The large signs on the highway in front of each building were repaired and painted and most of the rooms in the west building were papered and painted.
The Society is indebted to the state departments of the Colonial Dames, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of American Colonists, the Daughters of 1812, and to the Shawnee Mission Indian Historical Society for their continued cooperation at the Mission.
Traffic through the Fort Riley reservation was prohibited during the war and visitors at the First Capitol building were limited to soldiers and their families. The road is again open and the number of visitors is almost back to prewar figures. Last summer the roof was repaired and all exterior woodwork was repaired and painted.
The legislature of 1945 appropriated $1,500 to repair this monument, which was blown down in a wind storm. Specifications for a new shaft were made by the state architect and the work was completed early this fall. An old pipe fence enclosing approximately five acres around the monument is badly in need of repair. So far it has been impossible to find anyone who will bid on this work. There are other minor repairs which will be made as soon as conditions permit.
The various accomplishments noted in this report are due to the Society's
splendid staff of employees. I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to them.
Special mention should be made of George Root who will retire January 1 after
fifty-five years of service. At the afternoon meeting he will give some
recollections of his early days with the Society. I also wish to commend the
heads of departments: Helen M. McFarland, librarian; Nyle H. Miller, microfilm
director and managing editor of the Quarterly; Edith Smelser, custodian of the
museum; and Mrs. Lela Barnes, treasurer.
At the conclusion of the reading of the secretary's report, Frank A. Hobble moved that it be accepted. Motion was seconded by John S. Dawson. President Denious then called for the report of the treasurer, Mrs. Lela Barnes:
Based on the audit of the state accountant for the period August 31, 1945, to August 17, 1946.
This donation is substantiated by a U. S. savings bond, Series G, in the amount of $1,000. The interest is credited to the membership fee fund.
This report covers only the membership fee fund and other custodial funds. It is not a statement of the appropriations made by the legislature for the maintenance of the Society. These disbursements are not made by the treasurer of the Society, but by the state auditor. For the year ending June 30, 1946, these appropriations were: Kansas State Historical Society, $60,810; Memorial building, $20,298; Old Shawnee Mission, $3,801; First Capitol of Kansas, $1,134; Pike-Pawnee Monument, $1,500.
On motion of T. M. Lillard, seconded by John S. Dawson, the report was accepted. The report of the executive committee on the audit by the state accountant of the funds of the Society was called for and read by John S. Dawson:
October 11, 1946. To the Board of Directors,
Kansas State Historical Society: The executive committee being directed under the
bylaws to check the accounts of the treasurer, states that the state accountant
has audited the funds of the State Historical Society, the First Capitol of
Kansas and the Old Shawnee Mission from August 31, 1945, to August 17, 1946, and
that they are hereby approved.
On motion by John S. Dawson, seconded by Mrs. W. D. Philip, the report was accepted.
The report of the nominating committee for officers of the Society was read by John S. Dawson:
October 11, 1946.
For a one-year term: Milton R. McLean, Topeka, president; Robert T. Aitchison,
Wichita, first vice-president; R. F. Brock, Goodland, second vicepresident.
For a two-year term: Kirke Mechem, Topeka, secretary; Mrs. Lela Barnes, Topeka,
The report was referred to the afternoon meeting of the board.
There being no further business the meeting adjourned.
The annual meeting of the Kansas State Historical Society convened at 2:30 p. m. The members were called to order by the president, Jess C. Denious.
The address by Mr. Denious follows:
THIRTY-FIVE years ago a young Kansan stood at the end of a newly built railroad grade and was so impressed by what he saw that the years intervening since that great moment have failed even to dim the picture. It was a busy scene, peculiarly set down in the quietness of a plains country. The mule skinners were yelling curses at both men and animals, and nothing else could be heard except the frequent thuds of earth-moving equipment. The young man was deeply interested in the activities around the railroad construction camp, but was excited more by the thoughts that were in his mind. He was convinced that a new empire was being created there. Years earlier the young man had concluded that the building of a railroad was an important civilizing influence. He had heard reports of how the building of railroads had transformed certain areas, formerly uninhabited, into fairylands of prosperity and good living. He had an urgent desire to witness and to participate in such a development, and was watching news reports to find out where the next railroad building might be expected.
So one glorious day when the young man was busily engaged in
the editorial department of the Wichita Beacon, a friend called for a brief visit and said he had heard the Santa Fe was planning to build a branch line southwest from Dodge City. The announcement was like a siren call to the young newspaper man. No other information was needed. He started the next day for Dodge City.
The first evening of that visit to Dodge City the young man sat in the lobby of the Harvey House and listened to a tale which described an earlier event in that community. It is related here because it helped to form the newcomer's first impression of Dodge City. It seemed that an evangelist had come to town and the gamblers and saloon keepers had chipped in to finance the evangelist's efforts. A contributor was Luke Short, one of the community's gentlemen gamblers. The evangelist, impressed by the gambler's generosity, immediately resolved that the chief purpose of his meet ings should be the conversion of Luke Short. Repeated efforts were made to secure his attendance at the meetings and one evening Mr. Short appeared in the audience. With him were a number of his associates in the gambling business. When the invitation was given to those who wished to repent, Luke Short went forward to the mourner's bench, bringing to the evangelist a great emotional experience. The preacher told the audience he had just witnessed the crowning achievement of his ministry. Because of it he now felt that his position in the hereafter was firmly established, and that at that moment he was better prepared for heaven than he had ever been. In responding Mr. Short said he felt the same way about it and since all present seemed ready for heaven he believed that was the best time for them to go. Accordingly he drew out a couple of six shooters and began shooting out the lights. The man who told the story that evening said the evangelist went through an opening in the wall without first opening the window and was not seen there again.
The next morning the visiting newsman was interviewing a merchant in front of a shoe store when a small, but aged Mexican passed by. He seemed unable to raise his feet from the sidewalk, but moved with a shuffling sort of walk, dragging one foot forward and then the other. "That is Ben Hodges," said the merchant "He rustled some cattle on the range south of here some years ago, and the cow hands hung him up by the heels. He has walked that way ever since."
Well, the visitor was learning some things about Dodge City's past but at that moment he was more concerned about its future.
"Yes, the Santa Fe is going to build a new railroad southwest from here," W. J. Fitzgerald reported. "We shall soon start getting rightof-way for the line." Others gave the same assurance. While no tangible evidence was at hand to show the railroad management's intentions, yet the local people told what the visitor wanted to hear and the mere prospect fanned his enthusiam.
There were two weekly newspapers in Dodge City. Both were for sale. Except for the fact that neither plant had any equipment of value, and except for the further facts that they had little circulation, extremely small advertising patronage and no credit, they were going concerns. Either one could be bought for a song but, having only part of one song, the visitor bought a half interest in one of the newspapers. The owner of the other half interest at that time was W. E. Davis, then state auditor of Kansas.
Soon Mr. Fitzgerald had organized a campaign to secure rightof-way for the railroad, a project which was carried through successfully and promptly. A grading crew was at work. The dream of a new empire created by a new railroad seemed about to be realized. But the business of the community had not yet been helped in a material way. The newspaper business was not the flourishing thing the new editor had hoped it would be. Somehow, the credit of the newspaper seemed to increase more rapidly than its earning. The credit improvement was accounted for by a report circulated about town by Chalk Beeson who had owned and operated the famous Long Branch saloon in earlier days. After prohibition had come to Kansas he became a leader in the cattle business. Beeson had been the director of the Dodge City Cowboy Band which played at the inauguration of Pres. Benjamin Harrison and because of a remarkable personality he was prominent and popular in southwestern Kansas. Mr. Beeson owned the building in which the new editor rented quarters for his newspaper at the rate of $15 per month. The landlord had confided to other businessmen that at the end of the first month the editor had mailed him a check for the rent, although he had not even called to request payment. Since he had never had such an experience with any of his other tenants, Mr. Beeson was inclined to recommend the new editor as a good financial risk. That recommendation from Mr. Beeson made the newspaper's credit secure in the community, at least where very small amounts were involved.
That first month of operating a weekly newspaper brought a major crisis in the enterprise. Youth, ambition and opportunity
gave a rosy hue to the outlook as the young editor saw it. Confident that a great development was at hand, he was impatient to rear there an institution that could contribute something to it and have a part in it. Unfortunately, the three mechanical employees did not share that outlook. Their dreams of the future were somewhat different, and apparently they saw no need of haste in building a better newspaper. The driving of the boss for better workmanship intensified the conflict. In a conference one Saturday afternoon a compositor suggested that the new boss had brought with him a lot of ideas and the quickest way to find out they wouldn't work would be for him to do the printing work himself. "I'm always grateful for suggestions," said the editor, "and I think I shall adopt the one you have just given me."
That employer never again adopted that attitude in conferences with employees. It was a mistake. How great a mistake it was became evident the next day when it was discovered that no one else in the community could take their places. The editor was stuck. Fortunately, he had had some experience in printing earlier, so he went to work alone and for three weeks printed the newspaper without assistance. It was a gruelling task involving long and anxious hours, so one day when Muskogee Red appeared in the office he was welcomed with open arms.
Muskogee Red was one of the last of the itinerant printers who roamed from one printing place to another, and from community to community. They were known as tramp printers. On their travels they were not particularly concerned about finding work, but preferred to take up a collection among printers to provide another day's subsistence. The interesting stories which the tramp printers brought from other localities always seemed to compensate for the money they took away. But this time Muskogee Red found no printers, and was persuaded to take off his coat and provide a little assistance for the wornout editor. By petting and promises Muskogee Red was kept on the job until other help could be secured. When at last he took his departure he carried with him the heaviest purse he had known for many months, but the size of the purse was no measure of the gratitude which the man he had rescued showered upon him as long as he lived. Muskogee Red had performed one of his most heroic missions.
The files of the newspaper ran back to 1878. As time permitted the editor entertained himself by looking through the files, which carried some lively reports of some of the incidents of the town's
saloon fights and dance hall developments which the editor concluded were quite worth reprinting. Exchanges were also reprinting some things taken from their own files, but none of them seemed to have the lilt and lift which characterized the stories of earlier days selected from the files for reprinting in the Dodge City paper. They made excellent copy until one day an acquaintance dropped into the office for a little visit. The visitor said there was a lot of commotion about town on account of some things the newspaper was printing. He referred to what had been reprinted in the current paper from the old files, and said that until he had read that he could not believe any newspaper would want to recall incidents in the lives of present residents of the town which were extremely embarrassing to them now that they have changed their ways of living. The story had reported some of the capricious performances of a dance hall character known as Lucky Lucy, or some such name. Further inquiry revealed that Lucky Lucy of dance hall fame had for many years been the wife of one of the prominent businessmen of the town. The old-timers had known Lucky Lucy of the dance hall era, and they also knew who she was at the time the story was reprinted. Then the visitor told how other stories from the files, which the editor had so much prized, had made things extremely embarrassing for persons who were still residents of Dodge City. The bound files of the paper which had been so innocently used in securing interesting material for publication, were closed that day and put away.
The newspaper earned a little more revenue as months went by, but collections for commercial printing were not good. Near the close of the first year the editor and the shop foreman had a conference at which it was revealed that the concern was losing money on commercial printing. "Then why don't you quit commercial printing and start publishing a daily newspaper?" said the foreman, all of which seemed like a good idea. The editor was inclined to accept the advice, but prudence prompted him to consult some of the businessmen before taking such a radical step.
The first conference on the subject was with George M. Hoover who had established the first place of business ever opened in Dodge City. The business was housed in a tent. The merchandise and equipment included a dozen tin cups and a barrel of whisky. Mr. Hoover had abandoned the liquor business when the prohibition amendment was put into the Kansas constitution, and had become president of one of the Dodge City banks.
This banker had earlier promoted a project for building a north and south railroad through Dodge City and had lost a considerable amount of money in the venture, but he was still a rich man, and one who was extremely generous in supporting community enterprises. He had such an affectionate regard for Dodge City that he later gave the city his entire fortune. His enthusiasm was quite restrained, however, when the proposed daily newspaper was mentioned. In the conference with him the editor had suggested that the building of the new railroad which was progressing rapidly was certain to bring Dodge City a considerable growth, that the larger population in prospect for the territory to the southwest offered a good circulation field for a daily newspaper, etc. "Don't do it," Mr. Hoover advised. Through the years, he said, he had known many young men who had come to Dodge City without experience in the ways of the plains people but full of ambition, and had launched enterprises with the expectation that the town would grow, that business would expand and that prosperity would rule. They were uniformly disappointed. Mr. Hoover said, "This town is supported by the employment provided by the railroad division headquarters and by the cattle business. There is no field here for other developments. This town will be no bigger and no better in 25 years than it is now, so get this notion of expansion out of your head."
Because of Mr. Hoover's reputation as a civic leader, the editor was not prepared for this. He was surprised and disappointed by the attitude Mr. Hoover revealed. Only a few days was required, however, to find that most of the other old-timers shared the opinion of Mr. Hoover about the future of that part of Kansas.
Robert M. Wright was once asked why, with so much land available, the town company had used so little of it in making such a narrow street of Chestnut street, at that time the principal business street of the town. Mr. Wright had been post trader at Fort Dodge before Dodge City was founded and had won and lost, a half-dozen fortunes. He was also the author of the book, Dodge City the Cowboy Capital. He was a member of the original company which laid out the town and could have had a wider Chestnut street if he had desired it. "Well," said Mr. Wright, "Chestnut street was made wide enough for two bull teams to pass, and it never occurred to us that a street wider than that would ever be needed."
Curiously enough, most of the old-timers in Dodge City had no faith in its opportunities for growth and progress. Most of them
advised the editor to follow a safer and more conservative program. He considered their advice carefully, and then promptly launched the daily newspaper.
The additional costs of operation brought about by a change from a weekly to a daily newspaper were considerable. New equipment had to be purchased, and obligations assumed for monthly payments on notes given to supply houses. So the publisher soon found himself with more obligations than cash. Although Mr. Hoover, the banker, had opposed the plan of starting a daily newspaper and was now in a position to say, "I told you so," the circumstances made a visit to Mr. Hoover imperative. Strangely enough, the banker seemed not to resent the fact that his earlier advice had been disregarded, but listened attentively as the publisher poured out his story of why a loan of $300 was needed. Mr. Hoover's response will never be forgotten by that publisher. There was a semblance of a smile on his face as he leaned back in his swivel chair and said: "I have known personally every man who ever had a newspaper in this town, and I have made loans to every one of them without exception. The notes are still here in the bank. None of them has been paid. But even a banker ought to be fair, and having made loans to all the other newspaper men who have come along, I see no reason for making an exception of you. So just sign here and I'll give you the $300 you want."
He didn't say, "I'll lend you $300." Instead he said "I'll give you $300," and that is what he thought he was doing.
Around any newspaper office there are interesting incidents every day, and sometimes amusing ones. The character of the incidents, however, has changed a great deal since the days when journalism was a more personal matter than it is now.
The building of a new railroad line from Dodge City southwest did not attract as much attention as similar developments closer to population centers, but in proportion to the population involved the results were perhaps as spectacular as those which have attended the construction of new rail lines anywhere.
During the first ten years after the building of this railroad Dodge City's population was doubled. It was doubled again in the next ten years. The process might have been repeated again in the terrible 30's except for the prolonged drought and the economic depression extending through those years. In spite of the war activities during the early 40's the population may again be doubled in the present decade.
The building of that branch-line railroad has added much to the agricultural resources of this state. Millions of fertile acres; formerly used only as cattle range, have helped to make Kansas known as the greatest wheat-producing area of the nation.
With the discovery of natural gas which is excellent industrial fuel and even more important as industrial raw material, with great quantities of potter's clay, silica and other minerals, including unusual deposits of underground water, southwestern Kansas may yet become a paradise for small industry.
The branch-line railroad will continue to be an influence in all such developments.
It will continue to bring more and more of opportunity to the resourceful and self-reliant people who now populate the area, people who are still not too conservative to take a chance, and who are worthy successors of that hardy race of men and women who pushed the frontier westward from county to county in order to work out their own salvation in their own sweet way.
So the young newspaper man, now grown older with the march of years, who impatiently rushed to southwestern Kansas at the mere suggestion of new railroad construction there, and who tackled every opportunity with more rashness than wisdom, has had an experience that has been pleasant and interesting, sometimes exciting and always satisfying. He is more than ever convinced that the course of empire follows the development of transportation facilities.
Following the address of the president, the report of the membership committee was given by Standish Hall, chairman:
Shortly after the annual meeting last year, in conference with President Jess Denious, Vice-President M. R. McLean and your Secretary, Kirke Mechem, a plan was developed to make available, in the various counties, memberships in the Kansas State Historical Society. The intent was to avoid any high-pressure sales program but rather to make it possible for those who would naturally be interested in our work to become members.
The first step was to set up a state membership committee and the following were asked to serve on this committee and all very graciously accepted D. R. Anthony, Leavenworth; Roy F. Bailey, Salina; Fred W. Brinkerhoff, Pittsburg; R. F. Brock, Goodland; F. L. Carson, Wichita; Charles C. Durkee, Kansas City; Frank A. Hobble, Dodge City; H. K. Lindsley, Wichita; Mrs. Roy V. Shrewder, Ashland; Donald Stewart, Independence; J. R. Stone, Topeka.
The next step was to select membership representatives in each county. In some instances, where no directors or members were available, old-timers or civic leaders were invited to serve. A great deal of interest has been shown
in this program and we wish particularly to commend W. H. Montgomery, Robert Rankin, Homer K. Ebright, Frank Hodges, Miss Ada Remington, Walter McKeen, Herman W. Cramer, H. C. Raynesford, Cecil Kingery, William E. Smith, J. C. Ruppenthal, Milton R. McLean and Robert L. Smith. Just this morning (October 15) F. H. Cron brought in eight new memberships and promises us at least eight more.
The total results lie I think more in the state-wide interest that has been developed than in the memberships received. We do however feel that the number obtained is a record to be proud of and I am pleased to report that 110 new members have been added. This is the most in any recent year.
After all there is not a county that is not
represented both in our newspaper collection and in our museum and there is not a
county that does not have a number of old-timers or the children of old-timers
who are sincerely interested in our program. Your committee feels that reasonable
efforts should be made to reach these people and give them the opportunity of
associating actively with the rest of us in the Kansas State Historical Society's
program. Memories are short and the years roll by amazingly fast. It is only
through directed efforts and a well organized program such as ours that the fine
historical background of Kansas, of which we are all so proud, can be handed down
to our children and grandchildren in the years to come.
That section of the secretary's report summarizing the work of the microfilm division was not read at the morning meeting of the directors but was presented at this time to the annual meeting of the Society, and members were invited to visit the camera room at the close of the meeting.
After reading his report on microfilming, the secretary introduced George A. Root who will retire January l, 1947, after fifty-five years' service as a member of the Society's staff. Mr. Root then spoke briefly. His remarks follow:
When I "accepted a position" with the State Historical Society in 1891, I little dreamed I was taking a life-time job. I had planned to do other things in the near future. However, I found the work congenial and interesting. Something new and interesting was bobbing up every day. I had been brought up in a printing office, and anyone who has served an apprenticeship in an old-time office where a paper was published will never forget the hurry and scurry on press day to get the paper out on time. My new job was different, and while there was plenty of work to do, it was congenial. Being the only "boy" on the job it fell to my lot to tackle anything that came along. "Variety is the spice of life," and I confess I got plenty of it.
The Historical Society in 1891, when I began, was located in the west wing of the state house, and occupied the southwest corner room on the ground floor. The board of railroad commissioners was our neighbor on the east, while across the hall to the north was the academy of science and the state board of agriculture. The east and west wings of the capitol were the only ones completed at this time. A runway, built across the areaway beneath the dome, connected
the two wings, and over the "corduroy road" of 2x12s, those passing from the east to west wing were obliged to walk.
Lyman U. Humphrey was governor at this time and served until 1893. He was succeeded by Lorenzo D. Lewelling, who had been chosen to represent "the first People's Party government on earth," as a Populist historian of the hour put it. The outstanding event of his administration was the famous "Legislative War" that occurred soon after he took office. In 1895 he was succeeded by E. N. Morrill, banker of Brown county. John W. Leedy, another Populist, was his successor. Then followed Wm. E. Stanley, Willis J. Bailey, E. W. Hoch, W. R. Stubbs, George H. Hodges, Arthur Capper, Henry J. Allen, Jonathan M. Davis, Ben S. Paulen, Clyde M. Reed, Harry H. Woodring, Alf M. Landon, Walter A. Huxman, Payne H. Ratner and Andrew Schoeppel. This makes a total of nineteen Kansas governors I have served under. During this time Kansas' population increased from about 1,428,000 in 1890 to 1,784,453 in 1946, while that of Topeka increased from about 31,000 in 1890 to over 79,000 in 1946.
One of the most pleasing features of my service with the Society was the privilege and opportunity to meet so many of the old-timers who helped shape the destinies of Kansas, when they came to attend annual meetings or dropped in for casual visits when in Topeka. During the early 1890,s the Society's meetings were not overly attended, and I had a good chance to shake hands and chat with many of them who have long since passed out of the picture, and whose names are now unknown to most of the present-day generation.
Of the Society's personnel-past and present-I can say that it has been a pleasure to have served the Society along with them, my service dating back and commencing while Judge Franklin G. Adams was secretary. He was probably the most scholarly secretary of the Society, was a pioneer of 1855, and actively identified with Kansas during the stirring days preceding statehood. He served as secretary from 1876 to 1899, and was succeeded by George W. Martin. Mr. Martin was also early in Kansas, arriving in 1857, and settling for a time at Lecompton. He was a printer, published the Junction City Union for a number of years, and also the Kansas City Daily Gazette, and bad previously been state printer for several terms. He was a vigorous writer, had a most picturesque vocabulary, and was said to have known more men in Kansas politics than any other Kansas individual. Upon his death in 1914, Wm. E. Connelley was chosen to succeed him, and served up to the time of his death in 1930. Fred B. Bonebrake, of Topeka, was chosen to act as secretary during the interim preceding the annual meeting that year. He was succeeded by Kirke Mechem, present secretary, and one I trust will serve the Society and the state for many years to come. Mr. Bonebrake passed away on August 15, 1943. He was a native of Shawnee county, his parents settling at Auburn about 1859.
Since becoming a member of the working force of the Society, I have served under every one of its secretaries, a total of more than fifty-five memorable years. And these years have been a wonderful course in Kansas history for me. Were it possible I should like to have been able to pass along to whomever succeeds me, the scattered shreds of Kansas history I have picked up during a busy life. I am close to the four-score mark in years; am the oldest relic on the state's payroll in point of continuous service, but plan to retire
at the close of the present year and devote the balance of my allotted years to getting acquainted with my family and grandchildren.
One of my earliest and most interesting jobs was helping sort the McCoy collection of manuscripts. These were letters, papers, records, etc., of the Rev. Isaac McCoy, early Baptist missionary in Kansas. These papers were stored in a trunk or two, a few boxes, and packages, and probably had never been disturbed since they had been packed before the Civil War. They had at times been stored in barns, outbuildings, etc., during the Civil War days, hidden any place to keep them from falling into the hands of anyone who might be apt to destroy them. As the Society had not sufficient room to permit of sorting, a room in an old brick residence that stood on the northwest corner of Eighth and Harrison streets was rented and the sorting done there. A Miss Maggie Merry assisted me, and the manuscripts were placed in chronological order by varieties. These were later bound in about 35 or more volumes.
Following Mr. Root's remarks, the report of the committee on nominations was called for:
To the Kansas State Historical Society: October 11, 1946. Your committee on nominations submits the following report and recommendations for directors of the Society for the term of three years October, 1949:
Upon motion by John S. Dawson, seconded by Standish Hall, the report of the committee was accepted unanimously and the members of the board were declared elected for the term ending October, 1949.
Reports of county and local societies were called for and were given as follows: Fred W. Brinkerhoff for the Crawford County Historical Society; and the Rev. Angelus Lingenfelser for the Kansas Catholic Historical Society. The secretary stated that other reports had been received by mail.
There being no further business the annual meeting of the Society adjourned.
The afternoon meeting of the board of directors was called to order by Mr. Denious. He asked for a rereading of the report of the nominating committee for officers of the Society. The report was read by John S. Dawson, chairman, who moved that it be accepted. Motion was seconded by Mrs. W. D. Philip and the following were unanimously elected:
For a one-year term: Milton R. McLean, Topeka, president; R. T. Aitchison, Wichita, first vice-president; R. F. Brock, Goodland, second vice-president.
For a two-year term: Kirke Mechem, Topeka, secretary; Mrs. Lela Barnes, Topeka, treasurer.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned.