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Summer 2001

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Carl Haterius: Reminiscences of the 137th Infantry

W. A. Johnson: The History of Anderson County, Kansas, From Its First Settlement to the Fourth of July, 1876

R. O. Blaine: "The Buffalow Hunt"

The 1933, 1934 and 1935 issues of the Kansas Historical Quarterly

Editor's Note

Of Kansas, Sunny Kansas, I am Dreaming
No matter where my Wandering Steps May Go
'Neath her Skies the Star of Hope is ever Beaming
In Kansas, Where the Sunflower Grows."

When I first read these words, in Sherman Peter Young's reminiscence "The Factual History of Kansas," they struck a deep chord within me that resonates still. At the time, I was far from the Sunflower State, having wandered indeed. I had lived in the scraped-flat fields of northwest Ohio, the gentle hills of southeastern Virginia ... near the river banks of Memphis and the live oak lined streets of Charleston. When I first read this verse, I had reached the low mountains of northern Alabama, by a lazy bend in the wide Tennessee River, and it was a very difficult period of my life.

"'Neath her Skies the Star of Hope is ever Beaming..." I didn't so much move back home to Kansas from Alabama, I was drawn there. Not because I felt that all my hopes would be realized there -- I've thought that line wasn't talking about fulfilling hopes, but simply having them. And every time I read that line, I was reminded of a very hard time in my life when I believed, truly, that I had lost all hope. Then someone asked me a question and I found myself answering, "I hope so." Kansas is the kind of place that understands that.

So I packed up and headed north. I expected of course, when I returned to Kansas, to be happy that I was home. I wasn't at all surprised to find those steady, sturdy Kansans for whom the Golden Rule is plain common sense. I knew what a wonderful state Kansas is, and I knew that when I settled back here, I would be where my heart has always been.

But I was completely unprepared for the beauty.

Every day -- every day -- I look out a window, walk out a door, drive down a road, and I am confronted with views that some people can only dream of. Rolling hills receding into the distance, blurred with mist ... sunny green fields dotted with great tan rolls of baled hay ... deep forests, powerful rivers, still ponds mirroring the endless sky ... every day I see these things. And every day, every time I see them, they are extraordinary.

I'll drive over the crest of a hill and catch my breath at the lovely scene below -- a long, wide valley sheltered by ridge after ridge stretching away into the far distance -- and in that moment, my soul unfolds and takes wing. I'll stand and gaze up at the graceful arching boughs of an ancient silver maple, drinking its strength in like a thirsty man finding water in the hot desert. I'll pause at a stop sign and look up at the sky, the sun shooting shafts of pale golden light through dark and light blue clouds, thinking in awe, this is how it looked during the first morning of the world. I'll pass through the Flint Hills and cannot speak -- in that eternal, endless beauty, words are meaningless.

"Of Kansas, Sunny Kansas, I am Dreaming ... " But I'm not dreaming any more. I am here. Like the compass needle seeking true North, the cottonwood sinking its roots deep into free soil, the broad river finding and settling into its natural course, I have come back to Kansas.

"One hundred years have passed since Kansas was organized as a territory. How differently we work and play today. Yet, human nature is the same. Some strive and fail; some work and succeed; some weep, and some rejoice and how few of us become masters of our souls; yet, we all respond with one accord to the stirring call of Kansas.

"Of Kansas, Sunny Kansas, I am Dreaming
No matter where my Wandering Steps May Go.
'Neath her Skies the Star of Hope is ever Beaming
In Kansas, Where the Sunflower Grows."

I am home.

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