G. J. Barton – 2016 Inductee

(On this date, October 20, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fourth member of the OCHF Class of 2016.)

Part One

“Tucker” Barton – The Early Years

by Mary Ellen (Barton) Titus, sister

 G. J. Barton was born November 21, 1936 in Lucas, Kansas, just two blocks from the Garden of Eden and 22 miles from Paradise – Kansas, that is. Herb Barton, Tucker’s father, was at a high school football game when his wife went in to labor. A neighbor, Mr. Tucker, went to get Herb and quickly drove him home. When the little red-headed boy was born he was nicknamed Tucker in honor of Mr. Tucker. He would use that nickname in his youth. His parents formally named him G. J. Barton – just the initials only – after his grandfather, George Joshua Barton.

When Tucker was about three years old the family moved from Lucas to Osborne, Kansas. There his parents operated Barton Wholesale, a fruit and vegetable warehouse, and his father had a trucking company which brought fresh fruits and vegetables from Colorado, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.

A young “Tucker” Barton.
Tucker Barton played on the local American Legion baseball team in Osborne, Kansas.

Tucker was Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn all rolled into one. He had bright red hair, lots of freckles, and a mischievous smile that would light up any dark spot. Everyone in Osborne was his friend. He was always curious about everything, which more than once got him into some kind of minor difficulty. Tucker was a good student without any effort when something caught his interest, involved in sports and school plays and clubs. He was a member of the Osborne Methodist Church and very active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship.

Tucker Barton, #31 on the Osborne High School football team.

Tucker graduated from Osborne High School in the spring of 1954 and worked for his father until the spring of 1955. He worked at the warehouse and as a second driver on his father’s trucks.

At the very end of May 1955 Tucker and his friend Everett Waugh were involved in a terrible accident near Pryor, Oklahoma. They had stopped for a four-way stop and then started across the highway. An oil truck came from their right and hit them. A terrible explosion ensued and the driver and his son in the oil truck died. Tucker and Everett both were injured and terribly burnt. They both spent many months in and out of St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma undergoing plastic surgery.

In the fall of 1956 Tucker went to school at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas. Tucker was a serious cook and lived with a house full of boys in Hays and did most of the cooking. His mother, Mary Ellen, was a wonderful cook and he had learned much about cooking from her.

While he was at Fort Hays State Tucker took a test to enter the army as a helicopter mechanic. In spite of the condition of his hands, as a result of the accident in Oklahoma, he passed the test, enlisted in the army and went to Fort Leonard Wood for basic training. [An aside: During World War I, Herb Barton drove Colonel Leonard Wood around in a motorcycle side car at Fort Riley.]

After basic training the man now usually called “Jay” went to Fort Rucker in Alabama for helicopter mechanic training. He spent time based in Hawaii, and then went back to Fort Rucker to become a helicopter pilot.


Part Two

“Jay” Barton – The Adult Years

by Kathy Barton, wife

Jay completed helicopter flight school, and from age 21 to age 41 Jay served in the army as an aviator, eventually attaining the high rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4.

To circumvent Air Force objections about armed aircraft, the Army’s first unit of armed helicopters in Vietnam with a misleading name: The Utility Tactical Transport (UTT) Company. Activated in Okinawa on July 25, 1962 were operating in Vietnam by mid-summer 1962. Jay got his orders for Vietnam soon after flight school and served the first of his two tours of Vietnam in 1962-1963 in the U.S. Army’s UTT unit. His call sign while in Vietnam was Playboy.

“Jay” Barton in Vietnam.
Jay Barton poses with his helicopter during his first tour of duty in Vietnam. Jay’s call signal during this time was “Playboy”, the emblem of which can be seen on the ‘copter next to his right hand.

On January 2, 1963, Jay performed in such an extraordinary manner under fire while flying a combat mission that he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded only for extraordinary heroism and achievement above and beyond the call of duty. Jay was specifically cited “for heroism while participating in aerial flight.”


Osborne County Farmer, July 11, 1963, Page One:

Flying Cross to G. J. Barton

George (Tucker) Barton, Warrant Officer serving with the United States Army at Saigon, Vietnam, was awarded on June 22 the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic action on January 2, 1963.

The citation was given “for heroism while participating in aerial flight.” Brigadier General Joe Stillwell, Jr., presented the award at the Tan Son Nhut Airport, Saigon.

Colonel Robert H. Shell gave the following as reason for the award:

“Warrant Officer Barton distinguished himself by heroism while participating in a heliborne operation on January 2, 1963. Warrant Officer Barton was the copilot of a UH-1 helicopter providing armed helicopter escort for troop carrying CH-21 helicopters engaged in an aerial assault near Ap Bac, Vietnam.

“As Warrant Officer Barton’s aircraft approached the landing zone intense ground fire from fortified Viet Cong positions was received. Two CH-2l’s were forced down in the landing zone and were unable to proceed.

“With full knowledge of the mounting dangers, Warrant Officer Barton made a firing pass on positions to provide covering fire for the downed crews. Warrant Officer Barton’s craft sustained a hit that struck the machine gun ammunition boxes and caused them to burst into flames. All though one UH-1 had already been shot down, Warrant Officer Barton, with professional calm, continued his firing passes while the burning ammunition was being jettisoned.

“Throughout the day he continued his escort mission and completed several medical evacuations while under insurgent fire. Warrant Officer Barton’s devotion to duty and courage under fire reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service.”

Barton is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Herb Barton, Osbome. He is a 1954 graduate of Osborne High School. He attended Fort Hays State College before entering the service January 26, 1957.

Jay Barton’s Distinguished Flying Cross certificate.


When his tour in Vietnam was completed in the fall of 1963, Jay was then assigned to the Kansas City Air Defense Command, which was headquartered at the Olathe Naval Air Station, Olathe, Kansas.


Osborne County Farmer, November 26, 1964, Page 3:

Tucker Barton Receives Fifth Oak Leaf Cluster For Combat

Army Chief Warrant Officer G. J. Barton. 27, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herb B. Barton, 11 Hall Street, Daleville, Alabama, received the fifth Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal during ceremonies at the Olathe Naval Air Station, September 17. An Oak Leaf Cluster is given for each additional award of the medal after the initial presentation.

Barton received the award for his meritorious achievement while engaged in aerial combat support of ground forces of the Republic of Vietnam during his recent assignment in Vietnam.

He served in Vietnam from December 19, 1962, until November 10, 1963. Currently he is serving as a helicopter pilot with the 55th Artillery s Fifth Missile Battalion at the Olathe Naval Air Station.  Barton entered the Army in February of 1957.

To receive the honor a soldier must participate in at least 25 combat missions. Barton participated in 162 missions to win the fifth cluster.  He and his parents are former residents of Osborne.


While stationed at Olathe Jay met Kathy Treat, a medical social worker at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas. They were married on June 19, 1965. Less than two years later Jay received orders for a second tour in Vietnam. After transitioning to the Chinook helicopter, he headed back to the combat zone.

Jay Barton receiving the Civil Defense Award from the State of Missouri.
Jay Barton plotting a flight plan, April 1966.

Jay served in the 196th Assault Support Helicopter Company (ASHC) in 1967-1968. After a short training period, the 196th deployed to Camp Lane in the Republic of South Vietnam in January 1967. Jay’s call sign for this second Vietnam tour was Flipper 53. It was on January 19, 1968 that Jay once again demonstrated himself as a hero and was awarded a second Distinguished Flying Cross.

Portait photograph of Jay Barton in his military uniform.

When Jay’s second Vietnam tour was over he returned to the United States and was again assigned to the Kansas City Air Defense Command for a short time, before being reassigned to the Dayton/Cincinnati Air Defense Command. It was in Ohio that on April 21, 1969, a daughter, Karen Suzanne Barton, was born. Before her first birthday the family headed to Fort Eustis, Virginia for Jay to attend the Aircraft Maintenance School to become an Aircraft Maintenance Officer. The next move was to Fort Stewart, Georgia for stage 1 of fixed wing school, and then on to Fort Rucker, Alabama for stage 2. Upon completion of fixed wing school, Jay was assigned to the flight detachment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he was the maintenance officer and flew fixed wing aircraft.

While stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Jay was chosen to be one of two pilots to ferry a twin engine military plane all the way from the Beech airplane factory in Wichita, Kansas to Ankara, Turkey, a then-unheard of flight in a small aircraft at the time. He and his co-pilot, CW2 P. R. Lefebvre, wrote an article about their trip that was published in the July 1972 edition of the Army Aviation Digest. There were some very tense moments such as loss of radio contact, temporary loss of engine power, and various weather-related issues that could have dumped them in the icy water among the icebergs.

[The story of Jay and Lefebvre’s “ferry flight” can be found reprinted in full at the end of this biography.]

By the time Karen was two years old she had lived in five states, and then in January 1973 the family was on the move again, this time for Jay to attend the Warrant Officer Advanced Course at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Finally in late summer of 1973 they settled in Aurora, Colorado, where Jay was assigned to Readiness Region VIII Flight Detachment. There he flew out of Denver’s Stapleton International Airport until his retirement on May 31, 1978, having flown approximately 970 successful missions flown in his 20-year military career.

Besides the two Distinguished Flying Cross medals mentioned above, Jay was also awarded the following commendations:

  • Air Medal (with 28 Oak Leaf Clusters)
  • Master Aviation Badge
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal with Silver Service Star
  • Vietnam Campaign Medal
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  • Good Conduct Medal
  • Vietnam Cross
The Barton family  – Kathy, Jay, and Karen.

Jay rarely talked about his military career and achievements after his retirement from the Army. The Bartons remained in Colorado and Jay worked for several years as a district manager for a mobile home-moving company. When the company downsized and eliminated his job, he decided he didn’t want to work for someone else anymore, so Jay went into partnership with a retired marine who was repairing lawn mowers and other small engines in a tiny shop in Aurora. They soon moved to a larger building, hired another mechanic, and began selling lawn mowers, snow blowers, chain saws and other power tools. After some time, Jay bought out his partner’s share of the business. The business continued growing, but in 1992 he was forced to sell it due to health problems. He had been on oxygen for one year by then.

Jay’s new challenge was finding purpose with his health limitations. He was on oxygen full time and no longer had energy for much of anything. Then his doctor urged him to start walking. He only went one block and back home the first time, but because he was determined, he kept increasing the distance until he could walk two miles. Soon after, he learned of a study being conducted at National Jewish Hospital for patients with emphysema and thus began a long association with National Jewish. Long after the study was concluded, he continued to go there every day to exercise, and gave credit to exercise for living so long while impaired. Nineteen years on oxygen is a very long time.

Jay Barton in 1979 at one of his favorite pastimes – cooking!

Jay had a great sense of humor; he loved history and politics, doing crosswords, watching football and playing cards. His favorite TV show was Jeopardy, and he knew 99% of the answers. He was a member of the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association and enjoyed working in the kitchen, cooking and baking, and his wonderful desserts and peanut brittle became legendary among his friends and family. Jay won prizes for his pies at the church picnics, won first place in more than one chili cook-off, and won the hearts of many people for his nut brittle. One Christmas Jay estimated that he had made 70 pounds of nut brittle to give away.


Jay Barton’s Famous Nut Brittle Recipe

2 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup 3/4 cup water

2 tablespoons butter or margarine 2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups mixed nuts/peanuts (roasted & salted)

Mix sugar, syrup, and water in heavy 4-quart pot. Bring to a rolling boil on high heat, turn heat down to medium high (on our stove I use #7 setting). Cook at this setting for about 13 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. At this time you should be able to spin a thread with the liquid (candy thermometer will be at about 270 degrees).

Turn the heat down to medium low (I use # 4 on our stove) and stir the nuts into the liquid. Cook at this setting for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice (use a regular table knife to clean off the spoon or the candy will stick to it).

At the end of 5 minutes stir in the butter and baking soda. The candy should fluff up. Pour immediately onto a cookie sheet with sides and allow to cool. After candy cools break it up into small pieces.

Yield about 2 1/2 pounds.


At some point after his retirement, Kathy decided that since Jay liked to cook more than she did, and had more time, it only made sense that he should be the one to prepare the evening meal. He agreed, and did so until his health issues made it too difficult.

Jay was an overcomer. He overcame a near-fatal accident, two tours in Vietnam, and the loss of breath brought on by emphysema. He persevered through these trials and more in his life, but he came to realize in his latter years that he needed and wanted help from his Heavenly Father so he committed himself to Jesus. Jay faithfully attended church and Bible study at the Harvest Fellowship Church in Brighton, Colorado for as long as he was able.

G. J. Barton passed away on December 23, 2010 in Aurora, Colorado. A military service was held on January 3, 2011 at the Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado, where he was buried with honors.

Closeup of text on the military tombstone for G. J. Barton, Fort Logan National Cemetery.

It is with the utmost respect that we honor G. J. Barton, a military veteran of distinction, as he takes his rightful place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.



CW3 G. J. Barton

CW2 P. R. Lefebvre

(First published in the U.S. Army Aviation Digest, July 1972, ppgs. 24-29)

[NOTE: The T-42A Cochise was a military version of the Beechcraft Baron 95-B55 for use by the United States Army as an instrument training aircraft. The Army Aviation School took delivery of 65 aircraft, while a further five were bought for delivery to the Turkish Army.]

HOW DID WE feel about a “once in a career” flight to Turkey? We were indeed excited and impressed, but apprehensive. The apprehension came from realizing the largest body of water ever crossed by either of us was Possum Kingdom Lake. Now we would be flying one of two brand new T-42s across hundreds of miles of open ocean. The other T-42 was to be flown by Captain John Tykowski and WOl Robert Wimpy.

Both T-42s shown on the ground at the Beech Factory Airport in Wichita, Kansas, as the crews planned their flights from Kansas to Turkey.

Many questions had to be answered and much interservice coordination arranged, for the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group (USAF), Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, was to handle the flight routing, navigational briefings and flight following.

The first question was, how do we get to Ankara? Were we to use the southern route – South America across to Africa? Or were we to use the northern route – Labrador to Lajes in the Azores? Or finally the Arctic – Greenland to Iceland, then to England? The answer to this was provided by the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group. We were to start our trip from Langley and proceed as follows: Loring Air Force Base, Maine; Goose Bay Air Force Base, Labrador; Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland; Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland; Lossiemouth, Scotland; Weisbaden Air Force Base, Germany; Naples, Italy; and finally Ankara, Turkey.

Map showing the flight plan from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia to Ankara, Turkey.

Several other questions also needed to be answered. For example, how were the aircraft equipped for an extended overwater flight to include fuel range, radio gear, survival equipment, etc.? Most of the answers were provided by the Beech Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft had internal auxiliary fuel cells with 120-gallon capacities. This provided a 10-hour plus fuel endurance. Radio equipment on each aircraft consisted of dual VHF navigation receivers, dual VHF communication radios, 64-code transponder, ADF receiver and a 10-channel preset high frequency (HF) radio. At that time all looked well, with the exception of survival equipment. All major questions were answered and any further information or guidance required would come from the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group in Virginia.

Armed with the knowledge provided by Beech Aircraft and the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group, we kissed the little woman, threw the white scarf over the shoulder and proceeded to Wichita, Kansas, to pick up our aircraft from Beech.

At Wichita we received a thorough briefing on the internal auxiliary fuel system. In addition, we were informed of an overgross condition of 700 pounds. When fully serviced the aircraft center of gravity was on the aft limits. A test flight/currency ride followed and then we were off to Langley Air Force Base and a briefing for the next two legs to Loring Air Force Base and Goose Bay Air Force Base. We picked up our survival gear, overwater and arctic equipment, then attended the briefing. We were informed that our 10-channel preset HF radio would not net with the flight following facilities to be used.

A search of the supply system with the help of the U. S. Army Aviation Systems Command (AVSCOM) at St. Louis, Missouri, indicated the earliest we could possibly receive any new crystals would be three weeks. However, we were fortunate enough to locate a company that would provide us with the proper crystals in two days and arrangements were made to purchase them.

Langley Air Force Base, Hampton, Virginia. Photograph (c) copyright 2007 Dean Heald.

The men of the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group at Langley were very helpful in helping to clear up other problems and getting us on our way. However, they gave us a feeling that we wouldn’t make it to Turkey. Everywhere we went they would shake their heads and say, “A two engine airplane on a four engine ocean!”

Loring Air Force Base near Limestone, Maine, now closed. Photograph (c) copyright 2006 Ray Burly.

The trip to Loring Air Force Base was uneventful because we were still in the States and VOR navigation was excellent. Weather kept us in Maine an extra day, then we went on to Goose Bay Air Force Base. This flight was routine except for the fact while at the minimum enroute altitude (MEA) we were not in radio contact with anyone nor could we pick up the navigational facilities. Back to pilotage. While enroute we were VFR under the cloud deck and we saw some of the most beautiful countryside either of us had ever encountered. We flew over a mountainous area that hosted thousands of lakes with no visible habitation. The one single most impressive thing was the visibility. The only restriction was our own eyesight.

Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay, Newfoundland.

At Goose Bay we were met by a 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group representative. The next morning we received our briefing on the next two legs of our flight. These would take us across the North Atlantic to Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland, and then on to Keflavik, Iceland. The flight to Sondre Stromfjord would require five hours with 600 miles of our trip over water – very cold water, for this was iceberg country. We were more apprehensive about the successful completion of our mission than at any other time. Things looked even worse when we were informed our high frequency radios could not be fixed to net with the North Atlantic flight-following service, however, we might be able to pick up New York Airways on its secondary frequency.

During our briefing at Goose Bay we were told we could pick up Kook Island radio beacon at Char. (Char is an oceanic reporting point approximately 100 miles off the coast of Labrador.) The straight line distance between Char and Kook Island is 500 miles. We were somewhat concerned about the navigational portion of the briefing at Goose Bay; after all, who ever heard of picking up an NDB [non-directional beacon] at that distance?

Once again we were ready for liftoff. The weather was forecast to be clear at our altitude. Our alternate Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, was forecast clear, so we took off. About 45 minutes prior to Char, you guessed it – we went IFR [instrument flight rules (IFR) is one of two sets of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations; the other is visual flight rules (VFR)]. We arrived at Char on time and turned toward our next checkpoint. At Char we tuned in Kook Island beacon not really believing we would pick it up. Much to our surprise Kook Island came in loud and clear at a range of 500 miles.

We were then assured of making it: our ADF [automatic direction finder] was tuned, our clock was in working order and our mag compass full of fluid. But then our internal auxiliary fuel system started to leak inside the cockpit. Shortly after finding the leak our high frequency started to smoke and it burned up. With the fuel fumes we weren’t about to try the radio again because we thought the lack of air circulation caused the high frequency to overheat. We had radio contact with the other aircraft so all was well.

About 200 miles out of Char the layers started to break up and we would break out only to see buildups in front of us. But there was no turning back now. We secured all the loose gear and readied the aircraft for turbulence penetration.

All this was in vain for the clouds were as smooth as glass – not a bump.

We continued our flight, reporting our position to our friends in the other aircraft via VHF and they relayed our position to New York Airways. We broke out of the clouds about 100 to 200 miles off the coast of Greenland and we could see the island.

Visibility was so clear we took a visual wingtip bearing and this further assured our position. We also were very interested in the icebergs we saw floating below; they looked quite large even though we were cruising at 11,000 feet. They reminded us of the 1 hour and 30 minute survival period should we be forced down in the water.

Suddenly we got an urgent call from the other aircraft that it lost both engines, was still AI and was going in. There was a USAF Duckbutt on strip alert at Goose Bay but its flight time to our position would have exceeded the survivability time.

We tried unsuccessfully to establish some sort of radio contact. After about 3 minutes they called to tell us they got both engines back and were continuing with the flight. By this time we were beyond the point of no return. It was quite a scare and unexplainable. A check of the internal auxiliary fuel system to see if the fuel had been turned off revealed it hadn’t. When it was switched back on it worked fine.

The rest of the flight was uneventful except for the approach and landing at Sondre Stromfjord Air Base which was unusual in several ways. VFR minimums at Sondre Stromfjord are 4000-3, due to the fact that the terrain around the airfield elevation is 165 feet with peaks from 2,000 to 8,000 feet surrounding it on two sides. The icecap which is 2,000 to 9,000 feet was on the third side.

The view of the surrounding area from the airfield is spectacular. You can stand on the parking ramp, look to the east and see the icecap of the world; a fjord to the west with a water temperature of 32 degrees; and looking in all directions see nothing but treeless, barren rock cliffs. For you fishermen the fjord at Sondre Stromfjord is a fisherman’s paradise where a 10-pound Arctic char is a baby and is thrown back.

Sondre Stromfjord Air Base, Greenland.

The next day it was off to Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland . . . mostly a routine flight. While flying over the icecap our single engine zero climb altitude was 1,000 feet below ground level – and that would be some heavy flying if we lost an engine.

We had to cross 300 miles of solid ice with only two very small radar sites where humans could be found; one was in our flight path and the other was 100 miles to the south. After takeoff we climbed to 13,000 feet and proceeded to Iceland. On climbout the heater became inoperative. At 13,000 feet the outside air temperature (OAT) was minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit – and for a 5-hour flight that is cold!

Two events remain outstanding in our minds. First, the visibility – you could actually see the curvature of the earth with no obstructions and no haze. Just fantastic! The second was an optical illusion that one encounters when dealing strictly with one color; depth perception is nil. We saw nothing but pure white. Even though we at times were 4,000 feet above the icecap, it would appear that we were contour flying.

We arrived at Big Gun ADF on the eastern coast of Greenland and proceeded on course. Thirty minutes out of Iceland we encountered a strange icing condition. We entered a light fleecy cloud and exited less than five seconds later and the whole airplane was covered with clear ice . . . not just the leading edges but the whole airplane, every square inch.

Our descent was uneventful but the landing was of great concern in both our minds. Flying at 13,000 feet with an OAT of minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit and no heater for almost 5 hours, your feet become ineffective except for them being a shoetree. Luckily the wind was down the runway and a crosswind landing was not necessary at Keflavik.

Rvk airport ´04
Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland.

Due to bad weather in England our takeoff for Lossiemouth, Scotland, was delayed six days. On climbout we again noted fuel fumes in the cockpit, only this time it was worse . . . almost nauseating . . . so we returned to the airfield. Our companions were 30 minutes ahead of us and elected to continue.

We waited two more days in Iceland and conferred with the Beech Aircraft Corporation and AVSCOM about our problem. There was no explanation.

During our 8-day stay we had a chance to really see Iceland. The name “Iceland” implies a wasteland, barren and ice-coated, but we found the island extremely green and beautiful. The people are friendly and – believe it or not – the average temperature at Keflavik is higher than Chicago’s.

When the weather improved we took off. All went well until we were halfway to Scotland. We had a dual instantaneous engine failure, no cough, no sputter, no fuel pressure drop – just immediate silence.

Knowing all the serious problems we were having with the internal auxiliary system, the only thing we could think of was to get off that system. We hit the boost pumps and switched to the aircraft’s main tanks. Both engines started without a problem, although I can’t say the same for my heart . . . and that poor seat cushion was never seen again. The rest of the flight was good IFR time and a GCA [ground-controlled approach] was made into Lossiemouth to 100 feet scattered, 200 feet overcast and one mile visibility conditions.

Royal Air Force Base Lossiemouth, Lossiemouth, Scotland.

The Scottish countryside is a beautiful place. The rolling hills were covered with foliage as if made of velvet, and imaginary leprechauns were popping up from behind every rock, tree and underpass. It was truly a paradise.

The next day began as usual with a weather briefing and it was forecast, according to the Royal British Navy, as a “cup of tea” along our routing to Weisbaden. All went as briefed until we were halfway across the English Channel. Instead of the stable status and fair conditions forecast, we ran into a line of heavy thunderstorms. We were told to turn eastward for a vector through the line. We did and were vectored into a fairly large cell which gave us several bad moments. The rest of the flight to Weisbaden was a series of dodging thunderstorms that weren’t supposed to be there. Our arrival at Weisbaden surprised the 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group representatives for they couldn’t believe we took off with such bad enroute weather.

The former Wiesbaden Army Air Field, now called Clay Kaserne, Wiesbaden, Germany.

Because of the serious problems encountered with the internal auxiliary fuel tanks, we had the system defueled and scheduled additional fuel stops in Pisa, Italy, and Athens, Greece. We received our final flight briefing at Weisbaden for the trip into Turkey and the additional diplomatic clearances needed for our extra stops.

The flight to Naples was routine and impressive since neither of us had ever seen the Alps. Roughly we followed the eastern French border to St. Tropez, then to Corsica and finally into Pisa. Throughout our flight in France we were never out of sight of an airfield. While on approach to Pisa there was quite a bit of neck stretching to see the leaning tower, however, the duties of landing the aircraft came first. The job of refueling was accomplished with hand signals because neither us nor the Italians could speak the other’s language. This language barrier presented an additional problem in reading back our IFR clearance.

Pisa International Airport Galileo Galilei, Pisa, Italy.

When all of this was behind us, we departed for Naples only to arrive there with thoughts that Mt. Vesuvius had erupted; the visibility was terrible! After an exciting night in “Old Napoli” we caught a cab for the airfield and unexpectedly experienced 45 minutes of bumper-to-bumper cars at 60 miles an hour. Goodbye to Naples!

Naples, Italy, with Mt. Vesuvius in the background.

Our flight path followed the coast of Italy southward to the toe of the boot then across to Athens. The major portion of this leg was routine until the sky filled with thunderstorms. After our experience over Amsterdam we decided to go VFR underneath. The last 100 miles from Araxas to Athens was low level along the water to our destination. Ah – beautiful Athens . . . it left us a little older, wiser and poorer when we departed for Ankara, our final leg.

The former Hellenikon Air Force Base, now Ellinikon International Airport, Athens, Greece.

All things went well until we arrived at the Turkish coast at Izmir; we went IFR and at the same time the whole world stopped talking to us. The next words spoken to us were from Ankara approach control. After a successful approach and landing we were met by a representative from the Joint U. S. Military Mission for Aid to Turkey plus a swarm of Turkish customs officials. We landed at Esenboga Airport and the final flight was to the Turkish Army Flight Training Center.

Ensenboga international Airport, Ankara, Turkey.

Well, that’s the end of our story. We left R21054 in the hands of the Turkish government. In all we spent 49 hours and 50 minutes in the air from Kansas to Turkey. We met some fine people and saw some beautiful countryside. Our last look at that proud bird was over our shoulders; she indeed was beautiful, but her appearance was somewhat marred by the fact that we spent many uncomfortable hours getting her to Turkey. Still, the trip home was nice as we sat back and relaxed on a 747 while someone else worried about getting us across all that water.


SOURCES:  Kathy Barton, Brighton, Colorado; Mary Ellen Titus, Manhattan, Kansas; “Ferry Flight”, with P. R. Lefebvre, U.S. Army Aviation Digest, July 1972, pages 24-29; Salina Journal, July 23, 1963, Page 9; Osborne County Farmer, November 26, 1964, Page 3; Kansas City Times, January 7, 1965, Page 24; Kansas City Times, June 19, 1965, Page 30.


Carl Edward Creamer – 2016 Inductee

(On this date, October 11, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the third member of the OCHF Class of 2016)

Carl Edward “Ed” Creamer was a decorated World War II prisoner-of-war and is already a member of two Halls of Fame. Now this Osborne County native son is accorded the utmost respect by his birthplace with an induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Ed was born in Portis, Osborne County, Kansas on January 26, 1921, to Forrest Herman Creamer and Lola (Warner) Creamer. His father Forrest was a World War I veteran, a member of Company G, 139th U.S. Infantry, 35th Division.

Forrest and Lola Creamer, 1919.

Forrest was captured during the Battle of the Argonne Forest on September 29, 1918, and remained a prisoner-of-war in Germany until his release in April 1919. He died of pneumonia on March 12, 1921 when Ed was just a few weeks old. Ed and his older half-sister, Zada, were placed with relatives. When Ed was six years old, he went to live with his grandparents, William and Blanche Creamer, who lived on a farm three miles east of Portis.

Ed Creamer in 1922.
Ed and his class at the Portis (Kansas) Grade School, date unknown. 

Ed grew up in the Portis area and attended the Portis Grade School. He liked to fish and hunt and was a pretty good athlete. It ran in the family; he spent a lot of time with his uncles, Lawrence and Clifton, and Lawrence Creamer was a gifted athlete. He once had a basketball scholarship to the University of Kansas that was lost due to a knee injury, but went on to play with the “Portis Dynamos”, a legendary local barnstorming semi-pro team.

When Ed was thirteen years old his mother Lola married David Hatch and the family, together again, moved to Filer, Idaho. Ed graduated from Filer Rural High School in 1939.

Ed in 1935 in Idaho.
Ed’s high school diploma from Filer High School, Idaho, in 1939.

He joined the U.S. Navy on September 3, 1940, in Twin Falls, Idaho, and first went to the AFEES in Salt Lake City, Utah, and then to Boot Camp and Ordnance “A” School in San Diego, California, after which he had the rank of Apprentice Seaman, S 2/c, S1/c.

Ed in the U.S. Navy, 1940.

On March 3, 1941, Ed was ordered to VP-41 (Patrol Squadron) at Seattle, Washington, and then sent as part of the PBY-4 Beaching “Boot” crew for a short deployment to Sitka, Alaska, with the rank of Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Petty Officer (AOM3). In June 1941 Ed was deployed with VP-41 at Kodiak, Alaska, and then on Kodiak Island December 7th, 1941. On May 24, 1942, VP-41 received their first Catalina PBY-5A amphibious flying boat and moved their operations to Dutch Harbor, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands.

Ed was assigned to this Catalina PBY-5A amphibious flying boat at Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

On June 2nd Ed was assigned to a VP-41 flight crew. The next day, June 3rd, the VP-41 PBY-5A went on patrol, and was shot down by Japanese fighters. Ed was one of the three survivors of the nine-man crew. He was able to stay afloat in the Bering Sea for four hours before he was picked up by the Japanese cruiser Takao and taken as prisoner-of-war to Ofuna, Japan.

[Ed’s years as a prisoner-of-war, told in his own words, will appear at the end of this biography.]


After three years as a Japanese prisoner-of-war Ed entered the naval hospital in Oakland, California in September 1945 and then the U.S. Naval Hospital at Seattle, Washington, for rehabilitation.

Ed as photographed at the Seattle Naval Hospital, 1945.
ED shown here on leave back in Filer, Idaho in 1945.

The following month Ed was received a Presidential Appointment to the rank of Chief Petty Officer (AOC). In March 1946 he transferred to the Naval Air Station at Sand Point, Seattle, Washington, as both the Base Medical Administrative Assistant and as Ordnance Chief in Charge of Pistol, Rifle, Machine Gun, Skeet Ranges and Magazines.

In October 1948 Ed was assigned to Fleet Composite Squadron Five and transferred to the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field, California, as Special Weapons Chief in charge of all ABC, including crew training, records and ABC handling equipment. He was also designated the ABC Defense Chief.  Three years later Ed received orders to join Heavy Attack Training Unit One at Norfolk, Virginia, as Chief of Ordnance in charge of records in Special Weapons and ABC Handling Equipment, including all inventory, maintenance and repair.

The following year, in 1952, Ed was assigned to Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron 51 at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Sanford, Florida. In March 1953 he received a temporary Presidential Appointment to the rank of Gunner, Warrant Officer Pay Grade One and transferred to the U.S.S. Cabot CVL 28 at the Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard as Aircraft Ordnance and Training Officer. This temporary duty and rank ended in mid-1954 and Ed then transferred to Fleet Composite Squadron 62 at Jacksonville, Florida, as Leading Chief and Training.

Over the final six years of his active naval career Ed served with Attack Squadron 106 at the Naval Air Station at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, Florida, as Ordnance Chief, and then with the U.S. Naval Auxiliary Air Station at Barin Field in Foley, Alabama, as Ordnance Chief and CPO Club Manager. His final assignment was with Attack Squadron 196 at the Moffett Field Naval Air Station at Sunnyvale, California with FFT Attack Squadron 152, at the Naval Air Station at Alameda, California.

Ed’s first marriage was to Mary Lou _____, with whom he had a daughter, Tona. In 1955 he met and married Jeanette Heuring, and adopted her three children, Richard, Barbara, and Roger. Both Richard and Roger went on to their own naval careers, each attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer, the same as their father.

On July 1, 1960, Chief Petty Officer Ed Creamer was transferred to Fleet Reserve and retired from the U.S. Navy after twenty years of service. He lived the rest of his life at Jacksonville, Florida. Ed was a life-member of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Association and the American Legion, and was a frequent guest speaker at Jacksonville, Florida area military bases’ POW-MIA remembrances. He attended the PatWing 4 and VP-41 final squadron reunion in 1999, where he met and shook the hand of the Japanese Zero pilot that shot him and the crew of his PBY-5A from the sky on June 3rd, 1942.

There have been three books written about his capture and interment in Japan:

  1. We Stole to Live – Joseph Rust Brown
  2. War Comes to Alaska, The Dutch Harbor Attack – Norman Rouke
  3. The Thousand-Mile War, WWII in the Aleutians – Brian Garfield


In 2011 Ed was one of the first six inductees into the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Hall of Honor for his actions prior to and after his capture. In 2012 he was inducted into the Association of Aviation Ordnancemen Hall of Fame.

The Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Hall of Honor, with Ed’s plaque on the left.
Ed’s plaque in the Association of Avation Ordnancemen Hall of Fame.
David Hatch and Ed Creamer showing off the mess of fish they caught, 1960.

Throughout his life, Ed was an avid sportsman, golfer and bowler, and never met a stranger, just friends he hadn’t yet met. Carl Edward Creamer passed away August 23, 2012 in Jacksonville. He was laid to rest in the Jacksonville National Cemetery with full military honors for his dedication and commitment in serving The United States of America.

Ed Creamer’s funeral service, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida, 2012.
Carl Edward “Ed” Creamer’s tombstone, Jacksonville National Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida.
In 2013 Ed’s family donated several items of his to the National Prisoner of War Museum at the Andersonville National Historical Site in Andersonville, Georgia.

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My Days as a POW in a Japanese Prison Camp

by Carl E. (Ed) Creamer

I reported for duty at Dutch Harbor, Alaska on May 28, 1942. Less than a month later – June 2nd – we were attacked by Japanese fighter planes. On the same day, I was aboard a Navy PBY aircraft on my way to another assignment, when we were attacked by the Japanese planes. The pilot made a crash landing in the Bering Sea. Soon I found myself in a life raft watching the plane sink into the water. After floating for about four hours I was picked up by a Japanese cruiser. In a few days I arrived in Japan and was taken to a prison camp named Ofuna.

The following three years were interesting but no less rough. They were made interesting by the American pilots routine bombing that kept us on our toes at all times. Their aim was so good we were bombed out of five different camps. I became what might be called a “traveling prisoner-of-war”.

Photograph of Ed Creamer taken during his internment as a Japanese prisoner-of-war.

On September 16, 1942, it was my turn to leave Ofuna. The group I was in included five Americans, two Englishmen and two Canadians. The Japanese took us to the Yokohama baseball stadium. That same day 200 Englishmen arrived from Hong Kong. Americans from Kiska, Alaska were also there. (Kiska was one of the two islands at the end of the Aleutian chain that was later invaded by the Japanese. The other was Attu.) Americans who survived the Bataan Death March also came. Eventually about 250 men called the ball stadium home. Not long after, five civilians from Wake came after Japan had captured that Island. They were in very poor condition.

We worked in many different places while at the stadium. We worked as stevedores unloading salt from the barges while others worked in the Yokohama shipyard. I preferred working in the peanut oil factory. We all soon learned how good peanut oil was on rice. The peanut oil that followed me back to our prison home after work was enjoyed by the other prisoners. It was one of the more healthy foods available to us. Eating peanuts all day helped me stay healthy. Five civilian prisoners had beri-beri and a lot of the peanut oil was used to help them. Overall the stadium was not a bad place to be, if you could call a POW prison good.

In February 1943, the Japanese moved 38 men to Camp 5. I was among the 38 selected. In this group were 11Americans and we stayed together for the rest of our confinement. (Their names are listed at the end of this story.) The remaining 27 were English. Some of the Englishmen died during the next 2 1/2 years we were imprisoned. All of the Americans survived. It took us over an hour to walk to this new camp. When we arrived, we found that it was a Canadian camp. They had been captured at Singapore and brought to Japan to work in the shipyard. The walk to work took us an hour. We got along well but during the winter months the snow was knee deep keeping us wet all the time.

The Japanese office-in-charge was a baseball fan and always wanted to play ball, always yelling for the Americans to come out and play ball with him. During the baseball games, the guards didn’t bother us very much. When we had trouble with them, we would let the Japanese officer-in-charge know and he soon had them down on their knees.

There was much sickness during our stay here, most of it was pneumonia.  About 104 Canadians died that year. During all the sickness the Canadians were unable to work, but our 38 men worked through it except for one American who contacted pneumonia. He later recovered and was back to work in a couple of weeks. I was the only American to come down with yellow jaundice along with three Canadians. Two of them died. The other Canadian and I were lucky; we lived to tell about it.  Through all the sickness and bad weather we were subjected to at Camp 5, we still had our original 38 men.

In April, 1944 we moved again after surviving almost two years in three different prison camps. The original 38 of us left Camp 5 for Camp 11, known as the Shibawa Camp. It was built and maintained by the Shibiwa Engineering Works. We still had about an hour to walk to work. In September 1944, 99 Javanese Dutch from the island of Java arrived and on October 2nd we greeted 50 Australians, and two more Dutchmen. I do not remember where the Australians were when they were captured.

We started getting interpreters in the camp. They were sent back to Japan from America when the war began. Our first one had been a senior at UCLA and was one of their top wrestlers. He was cruel to us and we were glad when he left.  Our next was a Mr. Tuda. He was an older man and a very good opera singer. He had lived in the states for many years and was to be married to a girl who was a senior at Ohio State. He was a very well educated person. I talked to him about his stay in Florida before being sent back to Japan. We got along very well during the rest of my time. We eventually established a friendship although under adverse conditions.

During my stay at Camp 11 the sergeant who was second in command chose me to be his cook and housekeeper. His name was Uno. I got along very well with him and ate all the time I was cooking if I didn’t get caught. I also helped out the men who needed more food when I could. I didn’t have to walk every day to the plant and back so it helped me stay healthy. I thank Sgt. Uno not only for myself but also for many of the men who did not know some of the things he did for them.  He was not a saint, but things might have been worse had it not been for him.

Mr. Tuda once said to me, “Creamer, if you think you are watched, you should see how I am being followed.  They also watch my mother’s house where I stay, night and day”. We became friends and talked a lot when we were not in crowded quarters. Tuda came in the mornings and the first thing he would say was “Creamer, let’s go down to the restaurant for coffee and donuts. I sure do miss my morning coffee”. This man saved me a lot of grief and helped me keep many of the prisoners out of trouble.  During this time we met a young boy about 10 years old.  He worked at the Shibawa Engineering Works. He said, “Yank, when are we going back to the United States? These people here don’t even speak English”. He had been born in New York. I learned by meeting this boy [that] the Japanese even detained people who were not prisoners and had no business being there.

On November 21, 1944 we received 564 Red Cross packages for 181 men. By this time we had lost 10 men. The 38 men we started out with were still alive. Later, we received one Red Cross package for two men.

We had Christmas off and were issued a Red Cross package. You quickly realize how wonderful it is when you are in a place where things like that are not common day occurrences. I enjoyed that Christmas more than the other two.

It wasn’t long before we started seeing planes. The American planes did bomb runs some distance from us and we were not affected. One night just before we dozed off, we heard a lone plane flying. It sounded as if it would fly right over our camp. Then we heard a bomb begin to scream. We dove under our blankets to keep glass from cutting us if the bomb didn’t kill us. The bomb hit about 30 feet beyond our hut and blew out every window in that building.  We all jumped up to see who was dead, but no one was hurt. One person had a few scratches. He was in the benjo (toilet) when the bomb hit and it blew him out through the door. We knew it was an American plane by the sound of its engine. We were beginning to see more and more planes as the days went by. We would be outside our barracks in the daytime and see American planes on bombing raids. Many times both day and night the Japanese guards would fix their bayonets and charge at us as if they were going to kill us.  They might have, but we never waited long enough to find out. Often, we saw many of the allied planes shot down and a few men parachute out who were captured and became prisoners. We saw engines burn off planes and scream to the ground. We also saw a plane fly over us and take pictures. We could almost reach up and touch it.

One afternoon the sirens started their mournful sound to tell us of in-coming planes. About half a dozen fighter planes started strafing an anti aircraft gun site located a block from our camp. The slugs were whining all around us. We were in our small bomb shelter which would not keep any bombs from blowing us up but did keep us from being hit by 50-caliber slugs. They kept strafing for about 20 minutes then left. I do not know whether they got rid of the gun or not. The Japanese were very mad at us after this attack. Bullets hitting concrete gives you an eerie feeling, in fact it scares the hell out of you. We found a few 50 caliber slugs in our compound after the raid was over. We had not been bombed up to now, but our peaceful living was coming to an end. We were destined to be traveling fast and far for the next few months.

That night everyone and everything was peaceful. We had no thought of being the bulls-eye for the burning of many acres of Tokyo and Yokohama. Around 11p.m, the sirens sounded the alert. Alert means planes are in the area, or over Japan. The red alert had not sounded. We were supposed to get up, put on our clothes and be ready to fight fires or leave the area. Fighting fires with a mop and a bucket does not work, especially when planes are dropping tons of fire bombs. The bombs were exploding north of us and seemed quite some distance. We felt we would not be bothered, so we didn’t finish dressing and sat talking about it when we realized the Yanks were dropping bombs in a circle. It seemed we were about the center of that circle. They were dropping fire bombs. Crates of them broke up as they fell. When the bombs came out of the crates, they would scream on the way down. It scared the Japanese as bad as we POWs. You really want a fox hole to get in and cover up fast. About a mile from our camp was a tire factory.  A load of bombs was dropped there to start a fire and every time it died down a little, another load was dropped to start the fire again.

By this time we had put on our clothes and were on the parade grounds with buckets and mops waiting to put out fires if the buildings started to burn. I never got a chance to use the fire equipment because the bombs began to drop all around us. As minutes went by, the noose was tightening.  Our Japanese guards were starting to worry. They were bombing within a few blocks of the camp when the guards herded us out of the camp and down the road at a run. We did not even have time to get our clothes and left without blankets or anything. They headed us to a swamp about a half-mile away, the only place where bombs were not falling. When we were a block away, a plane load of bombs hit the camp right where we had been standing. It was raining by this time and we had no blankets or heavy clothes to keep us warm.

We huddled together and tried to keep warm. It was about midnight. The planes did not leave until 5:30 A.M. We settled down and slept a couple of hours, and when the sun came up, the Japanese had us on the march. We headed out around 8 a.m. We marched through the burned out area where every house and busine.ss was burned to the ground. We walked about one-and-a-half hours and came to Camp 5, the Canadian camp, again. All day we were very careful what we did and how we acted. The Japanese were mad about the bombing raid; maybe hurt would be the right word. The Yanks had leveled Tokyo. Later on in the day, they finally got around to giving us something to eat.

We stayed at this camp a couple of weeks getting clothes and blankets replaced. Some of the men had been taken by truck to the old camp to pick up what could be used again. Not much was worth bringing back. All of our clothes and blankets were gone and all of the Red Cross packages had been burned.

In a couple of weeks, we were on the march again. Our new camp was deep in the heart of Shibawa Engineering Works about three quarters of a mile from the front gate. Shibawa had put a fence around a building I will call the barracks. There was building right on the canal for a bathhouse and toilet. The cook house was one building by itself. Then about 20 or 30 feet from there was our barracks. On the south side of our building was the canal which ran from Tokyo Bay to Yokohama shipyard. On the west side was part of the shipyard docking. On the east was Tokyo Bay. North, between all the buildings, was the exit out of the factory. So to leave the camp in case of an air raid, our only way out was three quarters of a mile north to the gate, one-and-a-half  miles west between gas tanks on the north and truck factory, shipyard and other factories on the south. That brought us to open area. To the north of us were 15 to 20 storage tanks. We were really surrounded.

The Japanese got us settled down and we started back to work doing what we had been doing before. This was around June, 1945. The barracks were divided so the guards had the east half and we had the west. The American and English lived by the partition at the center of the building. Next the Javanese, then at the west end, the Australians. By this time we had lost many men through sickness and transfers. Most of our losses were the Javanese. We were down to 130 people from our original 191.

Life went on, working, sleeping and watching planes across the canal bombing the hell out of the peanut oil factory. We had not been bothered yet. We held many safety drills, all of them at night. The Japanese would rout us out of bed, muster us on the parade grounds then march us about two miles until we were completely out of the industrial area to an open space. Then we would muster to see that everyone made it there. We would be there for an hour or so then march back to the camp. We would get back to bed about 3 a.m. This happened three or four times.

On July 3rd, we had eaten, showered, and were waiting for lights out and talking about home and other things when an Englishman made a statement that later turned out to be true.  He said, “We are going to get the hell bombed out of us tomorrow.” Conversations stopped and someone asked him why did he think that and he said, “Tomorrow is the 4th of July, Independence Day for you Yanks, and they will level this place.”

Lights went out about 9 p.m., and I believe most of us were asleep. Around 11 p.m. the siren sounded the alert. When this happens, we were to put on our clothes and muster on the parade ground and be ready to leave the area. That was why we had all those safety drills. We had just started to put on our clothes when the siren changed to red alert, meaning the planes were coming in to bomb. We jumped under our blankets so the shattered glass would not cut us. We heard the first plane diving on us then heard them pull up, then the bomb screaming. We knew we were done. As it happened, the first bomb hit in the canal, the next in the compound, and the next two hit the buildings in the factory. No one was hurt by the first plane. We started putting our clothes on again. Most of the men were dressed by the time the second plane started its dive. We dove back under the blankets. We heard those bombs screaming and some yelled “This is it, goodbye.” That bomb hit the building right where the Australians were quartered. About a fourth of the west end of the building was blown apart.

Under this building was a reservoir about half full of water. I believe more people would have been killed except the space between the water and floor took part of the shock. As it was, at least 20 Australians were killed. Some of the Javanese Dutch were also killed. This had taken place in about 10 minutes with two planes bombing us. When the bomb hit the building all the prisoners who were able to walk or crawl headed for the only door left.  As I hit that door with about 20 others, another plane was in a dive. Everyone yelled to “hit the deck.” All the people who were outside hit the deck as a bomb exploded in the compound.  A piece of that bomb went over our heads and cut one man’s legs off between the knee and the thigh. That same piece of bomb fragment tore a hole in a small building about the size of a wash tub.

When the plane had gone we jumped up and waited to see what was next, and then we took the wounded man inside. He did not live very long. We had an American doctor in our camp. He had been the doctor for General Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines. He was a captain in the Army. He and some of the boys tried to do what they could for the wounded while the planes kept bombing. We were doing this in the dark, searching for people scattered all over the compound, in the water, under the roof and many other places. Some of the crew was marched out of the area and stayed until the planes had gone. The bombing continued until 5 am.

That raid lasted about six hours. Not all of these planes came over our camp. They were bombing about one-and-a-half miles in width from east to west and about two miles north. Planes were bombing from the south using the canal as a land mark.  We were fortunate not to have lost the entire POW camp.

The Yanks were not bombing us, but the buildings about 100 yards beyond us. We just happened to be in the way. As the planes were coming in, we were trying to save as many men as we could. Each time a plane dived on us, we would hit the deck until the metal and dirt quit flying, and then go back to work. We had found 32 men and took them back to the barracks. By noon, 12 of these men were dead. So with the 20 Australians we lost when the bomb hit, our total loss was 32 people. Australians and Javanese were the casualties.

When it was light outside, we counted the bomb holes inside our fenced in area and found 20 holes large enough to bury a one-and-a-half ton truck. That does not count the ones that hit the canal. About 25 to 30 runs had come in directly over our barracks that night. The Yanks lowered the boom on the shipyard, Shibawa, the truck company and a couple of other companies. North of us, many of the tanks had been destroyed. Also, around those tanks was a POW camp; 29 Americans were killed there during the raid. We did not learn there was a camp there until after the raid. Our 11 Americans, and a doctor we picked up along the way, were still alive.

We stayed in this camp about three or four days to account for all the prisoners. When all the dead were identified, the Japanese made us take them across the canal to the Yokohama side and cremate them. I did not make the trip. That was one job I could do without.

Now the traveling prisoner is ready for a new camp; always heading for a new camp site. If it wasn’t for being a prisoner, I could have been on a camping trip. We didn’t have to march this time. I believe Shibawa provided the trucks to take us to our new camp. It was quite a distance from Shibawa and in an area that had not been bombed. The site was a residential area surrounded by small hills on the south.

A large cave was in one of the hills. The camp had two barracks, one on the north side for us and one on the south side for the guard quarters. It also had a cookhouse, bathhouse and toilet. There was a large parade ground between the two barracks. We were a long distance from any industrial area so we didn’t have much to do. It was first time in three years we had that much time to ourselves.

One day, a Japanese told us about many people getting killed by two huge bombs. He said that the American people were very bad to kill so many people. We finally got one of the Japanese newspapers and found that two atomic bombs had been dropped.

The Japanese did not mistreat us at this time, but we knew something was in the air. One morning we got up and went outside for exercise; the weather was overcast at about 1000 feet. It was as if a blanket had been thrown over us. There was no sunshine whatsoever. A little later we heard many aircraft overhead. We had no idea whose planes they were or why they were in the area. Since there was no bombing and we were not sure what to think. The next day was again overcast. We could not see the planes, but they were up there, really buzzing around. No bombs, no guns, and it was very disturbing not knowing what was going on. We were wondering if we were going to be blown out of another camp when the overcast lifted. We kept quiet and careful about our actions. Maybe that helped because this became our last camp.

About 11 a.m. we were called out for muster. The Japanese were all in their dress uniforms and swords. Some of the guards were putting a table and table cloth with a radio in the parade grounds. After muster we were marched to the cave. One guard stayed with us standing outside. While we were waiting to see what was going to happen, one of the Javanese Dutch said that the Japanese were getting ready to surrender. When the radio started blaring, all the Japanese came to attention.  Every time something was said, they would salute and bow. Finally, the speech was over. We were told to come out of the cave. We went down to the parade ground to wait and hear what had been said over the radio. The officer-in-charge told us how good the Japanese had treated us during our stay and that now the war was over and we should be friends. Then he told us that all the guns had been removed from the camp. The weapons in camp would be swords and bayonets for our own safety.

That is when our doctor took over the camp. The Japanese gave us paint and brushes to paint PW on the roofs of our buildings to identify that we were prisoners of war and not to bomb us. While we were painting PW, we got the idea to send the pilots a message requesting coffee, sugar and cream. The next day our sign was answered. These items were already coming in by the time we got out of bed. There must have been a daylight launch from the carriers. The fighter pilots had put the items in the cockpit. Coming low and slow, they flipped the plane upside down and here came coffee for breakfast! This went on for almost two days. We finally had to mark out coffee, cream and sugar. The compound was getting full of these items which had broken when hitting the ground, but we drank coffee all day and night. It sure was good!

Later torpedo bombers started coming in with sea bags stuffed with food, candy, newspapers, notes, clothes, smokes and whatever they could get their hands on. Each plane had four sea bags in the bomb bay. They just kept coming all day long. Then the big birds started dropping food and clothing on chutes. These landed all over the hills. For two days we hauled packages, parcels and boxes. It looked like we were a supply depot. We had enough shoes to outfit an army. We stuffed ourselves. We made donuts and everything we could think of. We made pancakes with sugar syrup. For us it was like Thanksgiving.

Then came the day we had waited for so many days and nights. We were going home or at least we were going out to the ships in Tokyo Bay. We all cleaned up with a shave and a shower, got our gear tied up that we were taking with us and mustered in the compound.  We were waiting for the Japanese bus to pick us up and take us to the docks. The bus was late and while standing waiting we talked about home and other things.

Soon a large plane marked with a red cross appeared overhead. This plane was flying toward the south, wiggling its wings in salute, and kept on going. It was such a pretty sight to see our planes without worrying if one of the bombs would be yours. The pilot circled the plane back north of us and headed back south directly to our camp. No one had any idea what would happen in the next few minutes. Those 90 plus men standing and watching came about as close to losing their lives as we did when bombs were dropped.

All at once the bomb bay doors opened and what looked like a house was a large platform with food and clothes. The plane was low and directly above us. The parachutes snatched boxes of canned goods and clothing off the platform. The chutes tore loose from the platform of canned goods which had six or seven boxes on each. We were stunned; no one could move. There was no place to run and hide. It was too late to try for the gate into the hills. All the Japanese were in their office when about six cases of canned peas went through the roof in to the office where they were having tea.  All of us were running around bumping into each other, dodging cartons or whatever came down. The Japanese officers came out of their building like scared rats, yelling and asking what was going on. They got out in the compound just in time to see the finish of the drop. Only one person was hurt.  A Red Cross medical kit hit a Javanese Dutch on the wrist and broke it. While all this was going on, one of our boys made the statement “Hell, the Yanks couldn’t kill us all with bombs so they tried it with Red Cross supplies. We fooled them.  We are still among the living!”

The bus finally arrived.  We didn’t pick up the material that was dropped. We did take the medical kit. The doctor wrapped up the injured man’s broken arm. We arrived at the docks and what a sight to see! All those American ships anchored in Tokyo Bay. There were many landing craft at the docks. We were standing waiting for someone to tell us what to do when we heard a voice say, “Get in the damn boats, what do you need, a special invitation?” When I got in the barge I asked one of the sailors who that was doing the yelling. He said “Aw, that was only Bull Halsey.” I said “OK, let him yell.” I was not about to say anything about my favorite sea-going sailor.

On the hospital ship we encountered rough waters. One time we would be looking at the deck and next we would be looking at the keel. It reminded me of being in the Bering Sea when the Japanese cruiser picked us up. Finally they lowered the stretchers down and one at a time and we were finally aboard the ship, and started to change clothes. They wanted to burn ours because of the bugs.  We stayed on the hospital ship overnight.  We slept on the top deck out under the stars and with a full belly. This is where 12 Americans who had been through a lot of tough days and nights parted company.

MacArthur and Bull Halsey got into an argument about taking the prisoners out of the camps before the armistice was signed on the battleship Missouri.  Finally, Halsey told MacArthur to do as he damned well pleased with his Army and Air Force and the Navy would take care of everyone else. And that is just what happened. The next day I was sent with some of the others who were fit to travel – ones who did not need hospitalization. We were taken to an airfield in Japan and put on a plane for the United States and home. The pilot asked if we would like to see Tokyo and Yokohama from the air. We agreed that we needed to see what was left of the area we had been bombed out of so many times. What a bare black looking place. Then we talked the pilot into flying over Mount Fuji.

I arrived at the naval hospital in Oakland, California on September 10th.  I went to Seattle Naval Hospital next and stayed there until February 1946. I returned to duty at Seattle Naval Air Station. I met many of the men who had been in Squadron VP-41.  I stayed in the Navy until I retired in 1960 then I said goodbye. Twenty years was enough for me . . . or so I thought.  Many times since then I would have been very happy to go back.

I always assumed that the Canadians or English were the hardiest people, but three years in confinement taught me the Americans were far superior.

Eleven Americans left the Stadium Camp in February 1943, and were together until August 1945 when we went our separate ways to return to our families.

Eight men survived the Bataan Death March:

  • Charles L.V. Barlow               SGT PVT        Lenox, Tennessee
  • Robert M. Juarez                     PVT                 Saticoy, California
  • Bryon Woods                          PVT                 Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • John Pimperal                          PVT                 Chicago, Illinois
  • Hilton S. Elmore                     PVT                 Glenwood, Oregon
  • Eugene Odor                           PVT                 Newport, Kentucky
  • Fred Thompson                       CPL                 Deming, New Mexico
  • Walter Higgs                           CPL                 Rome,  Georgia


Two men survived the invasion of Kiska, Alaska:

  • Walter Winfrey                       2nd Class Aero           Staten Island, New York
  • Mike Palmer                            1st Class Seaman        Prineville, Oregon


I survived a plane crash in the Bering Sea, Alaska:

Carl E. Creamer                      3rd Class AOM           Filer, Idaho


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SOURCES: Jeanette Creamer, Jacksonville, Florida; Richard Creamer, Milton, Florida; Roger Creamer, Green Cove Springs, Florida; Barbara Weedman, Jacksonville, Florida; Aviation Ordnance Hall of Fame, http://www.aaoweb.org/AAO/Hallfame/; Maritime Patrol Association Hall of Honor, http://www.maritimepatrolassociation.org/hallofhonor/; Osborne County Farmer, March 21, 1921; Florida Times-Union, August 26, 2012.

John M. Galer – 2016 Inductee

(On this date, October 6, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the second member of the OCHF Class of 2016)

Farmer, soldier, teacher, pastor, politician, and businessman. John M. Galer had done it all in his long life – a useful life that has more than earned a spot in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

John M. Galer was born on March 22, 1840, near what is now Penn State University in Center County, Pennsylvania.  His father David Galer was second generation American-born and his mother Jane was fourth generation American-born. They both had German heritage and were part of what was known as the Pennsylvania Dutch community. His mother’s father and uncle had served in the Revolutionary War. John was the eldest of a family of seven children. When he was 14 years of age his parents moved to Bridgeport, Wisconsin, later moving to the Cox Creek area near the town of Littleport in Clayton County, Iowa. Here he grew to manhood and helped with the family farm.

In September 1861 John volunteered for Civil War duty and joined an all-Iowa cavalry unit. His enlistment records show that he was 5 feet 7 inches in height and weighed 140 pounds, with blue eyes, a sandy complexion, and flaxen hair.  John was made a private – later being promoted to the rank of corporal – and assigned as a bugler. That unit was the 11th Pennsylvania Independent Cavalry, the 108th Volunteers also known as “Harlan’s Light Calvary”, under authority of the Secretary of War. John was in Company A. The 11th was mainly from Pennsylvania but Company A was from Iowa, Company M was from Ohio, and parts of Companies E and F were from New York and New Jersey.

On October 14, 1861 the 11th Pennsylvania was sent to Washington, D.C. On November 17th it was sent to Annapolis, Maryland, to be transported to the Fortress Monroe Virginia area where it was assigned to Camp Hamilton. This was part of the build up for Union Army General McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. John personally witnessed the legendary sea battle between the ironclads USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac) that took place in Hampton Roads on March 8th and 9th, 1862.

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The Battle of The Monitor and the Merrimac

By John Galer [written in 1918]

In the spring of 1862, our regiment, [the] 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry, were camped on the North Shore of Hampton Roads. Company A, our company, lay within 7 or 8 rods of the water line and had an unobstructed view of the whole of Hampton Roads, We had learned through scouts and spies that the enemy were building an ironclad war vessel near Norfolk on the Elizabeth River, 12 or 15 miles south of Hampton Roads.

In the afternoon of March 8, we saw a heavy smoke coming from Norfolk and soon the Merrimac made her appearance and with her the Yorktown, Jamestown and other smaller Confederate vessels. Union vessels in the Hampton Roads consisted of the Cumberland, Congress, Minnesota, (all 84 gunships) and other smaller Union craft.

The Merrimac steamed directly toward the Cumberland and Congress near Newport News and made the attack on them. Soon nearly all the vessels in the Hampton Roads were mixed up to some extent, in the fighting, which lasted several hours. The Merrimac put the Cumberland in a sinking condition and called on the captain to surrender, but the captain answered, “No sir, we will go to the bottom first,” and they kept on fighting and firing until the muzzles of their guns were near the water.

A part of the crew swam ashore and were saved, but the greater part, among whom was a brother of Uncle Jimmie McIntire of Alton [Kansas], went down with the vessel.

The Congress kept up the fight until the Merrimac set her on fire by firing red hot shot into her and caused her to surrender, and she was burned to the water’s edge. But a few of her crew were taken prisoners as the guns from Newport News made it too hot for the enemy to venture out to take them. Most of the crew were rescued by small boats from Newport News. The smoke from the vessels and firing obscured the fighting to such an extent that we could not see all of it.

The Minnesota in the maneuvering ran aground, where she remained till in the night. The enemy vessels went back to Norfolk in the evening.

We were an anxious bunch for the reason that there were only about 5,000 of us, while only 2 or 3 miles behind us was General [John B.] Magruder with 35,000 ready to attack us as soon as the Merrimac made it safe to do so, which she expected to do on the morrow.

In the morning of the next day (March 9), the enemy vessels made their appearance, the Merrimac steaming directly toward the Minnesota and firing a challenge at long range. Just then a queer looking craft, the Monitor, which had arrived during the night and had taken position behind the Minnesota, moved out toward the Merrimac, placed a solid 11-inch shot on the side of the iron monster and waked her up to the fact that she had something different from wooden vessels to contend with, and they were soon engaged in heavy fighting to see which should prove victorious.

They kept up a very hot battle, being on the move all the time as ships in action always are, sometimes very close together, pouring the solid shot on each other’s iron sides with little or no effect. This continued till 3 or 4 p.m. when the Monitor succeeded in placing a shot in the stern of the Merrimac and put her in a leaking condition and caused her to give up the fight and start for Norfolk and never engaged in another fight.

The battle with the Merrimac is too grand for pen to describe though partly hidden by a smoke screen caused by the continuous cannonading.

On the morning of the second day, several rebel steamers decked with flags and carrying finely dressed passengers arrived expecting to see the whole Union fleet wiped off the map. When the Merrimac started to retreat, the finely-decorated steamers with the fashionably dressed sightseers went away in a hurry.

At the end of the first day, death or prison seemed certain and we felt very despondent, but when victory came on the evening of the second day, we sure had a time of great rejoicing.



 John Galer, Osborne, Kansas

Company A, 11th PA Cavalry.


P.S. – Hampton Roads is a body of water extending west from the Atlantic Ocean, nearly circular and about 14 miles across.


John Galer’s handsketch of the Hampton Roads, Virginia area, where the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac took place. North is at the bottom of the sketch. John created the sketch on his son-in-law Ray Tindal’s business stationery in 1918.

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John served in the Union Army as a volunteer in Company A, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry for nearly four years. Most of this time was spent in the Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Williamsburg, Richmond and Petersburg Virginia areas as well as expeditions in the Camden, South Mills, Edenton, and other parts of North Carolina. He was honorably discharged in 1864 – “sent home to die”, as he said – suffering a serious relapse of measles which had taken the lives of many men in his Company.

John soon recovered and went to Clayton County, Iowa, where he taught school for ten years. Esther Gifford was one of his seventeen-year-old pupils. They were married on April 19, 1866. When she earned her teaching certificate in 1869 Esther also taught for three years until the birth of their first child.

In 1877 John and his brother-in-law, Sylvester Palmer, rode by horseback to Osborne County, Kansas, where they looked over the land and, liking what they saw, filed on two homestead claims. They then returned for their families and in late spring 1878 started the long trek to their new land in three or four covered wagons. The two families lived in tents while building their new homes. John promised his wife that their home would be of stone, as she was deathly afraid of snakes. The house was at first only sixteen by eighteen feet in size. As the family grew rooms were added, and the family also enjoyed having the first windmill in the area. John had faithfully kept diaries of his early life and Civil War experiences, but they were destroyed in a flood soon after the family’s arrival in Osborne County.

The stone farmhome that the Galer family moved into in 1878 on their homestead. This photo was taken in 1916 just prior to the home being torn down.

They built a sod schoolhouse where all community gatherings were held. John taught school for two years, without pay, until the district was organized. He became a lay-preacher and often conducted church services there when the minister could not come.

In October 1889 John Galer was voted in as the Osborne County Republican Party’s nominee for Osborne County Clerk in the 1890 general election. Those plans were laid aside when Zachary T. Walrond resigned his position as the Kansas House of Representatives member from Osborne County, having been appointed Attorney General for the Indian Territory. After considerable debate John Galer was appointed to fill out Walrond’s unexpired term, which ran until December 1890. John served in the House with distinction and then declined to run for re-election, choosing instead to return home to his Mount Ayr Township farm.

John Galer when he represented Osborne County in the Kansas House of Representatives, minus the beard and now sporting a moustache.

Esther Galer was only 49 years old when she died of a heart attack in November 1898.

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Mrs. John Galer Dead.

An unusually sad occurrence was the death of Mrs. John Galer of Mt. Ayr Township, on Saturday evening. Mrs. Galer, her two daughters, and two of her sons were in Alton Saturday afternoon making Christmas purchases, and providing numerous things necessary for a grand time to be had at the Pleasant Plain school house Christmas Eve.

They started homeward at about five o’clock in the evening, and when about three miles south of town, just beyond Ed. Ives’ place, Mrs. Galer was suddenly stricken by an attack of neuralgia of the heart, to which she had been subject, and fell from the wagon. She was picked up in great pain and made as comfortable as possible in the vehicle and all haste was made toward home. Mrs. Galer’s condition became rapidly worse, and she asked to be taken to the nearest house. The party drove as rapidly as possible to Clate Gregory’s and she was carried into the house, where she expired almost immediately

A most heartrending scene here presented itself. A loving mother surrounded by her beloved ones in the midst of preparation for a joyful commemoration, was called hence by Him whose birth-time she loved to honor.

The sad announcement was hurried on to the husband who awaited her coming in the home her presence had brightened for so many years.

Mrs. Galer was a refined and well educated woman, and the twenty years or her life spent in Osborne County has always been exemplary of the best that culture and a true conception of the responsibilities of life can offer. She was a member of the M. E. church and the leading spirit in the church work of that community. For the past seventeen years the infant class in Sunday school had been her especial care, and many a young man and young woman has carried with them into the world the influence of her teachings and motherly counsel.

She was born in Iowa, September 1, 1849. She leaves a husband and eight children to mourn. Her remains were laid to rest in the Pleasant Plain Cemetery on Monday. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. Dugger of Natoma. – Alton Empire, December 22, 1898, Page One.

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John, at age 59, was left alone to raise the five children still living at home after his wife’s death.

The eight children of John and Esther Galer. Front row, from left: Earl Galer; Olive (Galer) Smith; Ella (Galer) Beisner; Charles Morrell Galer. Back row, from left: John Galer, Jr.; George Galer; Esther (Galer) Peach; Clarinda (Galer) Tindal. Photo taken in 1907.

In November 1903 John moved to Alton, Kansas and went into business for the International Harvester Company in partnerships first with John Hadley and later with Charles Thomas.

John Galer’s hardware and implement store in Alton, Kansas.
Charles Thomas and John Galer in front of their store in Alton, Kansas.

“John Galer, while working in his store last Saturday, just before noon, was stricken with an attack of heart trouble, and fell unconscious, remaining so for perhaps ten minutes. He revived, however, and was about the store the rest of the day.” – Alton Empire, May 13, 1909.

John Galer in his last years with three of his children – Clarinda, Earl, and Charles.

John retired in 1910 and for the rest of his life lived with family members in Alton, Osborne, and Downs. He enjoyed always being the oldest veteran in all the area parades, and often made presentations in schools, usually being requested to retell his story of the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack. John died at the home of his son in Downs, Kansas on November 29, 1929.

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J. M. Galer Passes Away

Civil War Veteran and Early Osborne County Settler Answers Final Call

John M. Galer, well known and loved Osborne County man, passed to his reward Friday morning. Mr. Galer had been bedfast for only a few weeks previous to his death and until that time retained his faculties in a remarkable way for one of his age. He went to Kansas City a few weeks ago for an operation and since has not been able to be out much. Tuesday of last week he became decidedly worse and death came early Friday morning.

Mr. Galer came to Osborne County at an early day and reared his family here. He was loved by all who knew him for his jovial disposition and kindly ways and will be missed by all who knew him. He homesteaded south of Alton and for a number of years made his home in Alton. He was one of the few remaining veterans of the Civil War and was a member of the G.A.R. Funeral services were held from the Methodist Church in Osborne Sunday afternoon in charge of Reverend Leroy F. Arend, pastor of the church, and assisted by Rev. Ludwig Thomsen of the Congregational Church. The Masonic Lodge, of which the deceased was a member, had charge of the services at the grave. Masons from Alton, Downs and Osborne lodges were present and the oration was given by H. A. Meibergen, of Downs. Three of his comrades, Selah B. Farwell, Benjamin F. Hilton, and Robert R. Hays, attended the funeral. Burial was made in the Osborne Cemetery by the side of his wife who had recently been removed from the Pleasant Plain Cemetery to the Osborne Cemetery.

The following is [taken from] the obituary that was read at the funeral services:

The eldest son, Earl F., died at Lambert, Oklahoma six years ago. Those left to mourn his passing are: Mrs. L. C. Beisner, Natoma Kansas; Mr. W. E. Smith, Hays, Kansas; George G. or Skidmore, Missouri; Charles M. of Downs; John F. of Burr Oak, Kansas; Mrs. C. A. Peach of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Mrs. Ray Tindal of Osborne with whom he has made his home for the last ten years. All were present with their father during his last illness except George, who was unable to come. He also leaves 31 grand children and 13 great-grandchildren.

In 1880 he was converted and joined the Methodist Church of which he has since been an active member, transferring his membership to the Osborne M. E. Church several years ago. On 1886 Mr. Galer was ordained as a local pastor, and often filled the pulpit for other ministers when necessary.

Mr. Galer has been a Mason for over 60 years, having joined the lodge in Iowa, later transferring to the Alton lodge where he was a charter member, and at the age of 70 was conferred the honor of a life membership in that order. He was also a member of the Eastern Star and served several terms as Worthy Patron.

He was a charter member of the General Bull Post No. 106 G. A. R. at Alton, Kansas until it disbanded, after which he joined the O. M. Mitchell Post No. 69 at Osborne, Kansas.

In 1903 with his three younger children, he moved to Alton, Kansas, where he made his home until the marriage or his youngest daughter in 1910, since that time making his home with his son, Charles and daughter, Mrs. Ray Tindal.” – Alton Empire, December 5, 1929, Page One.

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 “John Galer is no more. He was one of the finest men to settle in Mount Ayr [Township] in the early days, although he was not one of the earliest settlers. Yet 1878 is considered early . . . Mr. Galer was a progressive farmer. He was always experimenting with grains and grasses, trying to find out the kind best adapted to this part of the country. We remember way back in 1900 when we were the trustee of Mount Ayr Township. Mr. Galer came to us with the idea of purchasing a road grader for the township. We studied the situation over with him and the result was we purchased the first road grader and were derided for so doing, but time has proven it was a good move. Mr. Galer was one of the first township officers, having been appointed to office when the township was organized . . . He was always held in respect by all who know him. After he left the farm he engaged in business with J. M. Hadley for a while. Mrs. Hadley sold out to Charles Thomas and the firm name was then Galer and Thomas for some time. They were in the pump and windmill business and the name of Galer and Thomas may yet be seen on many windmills . . . He is gone and the least that can be said of him is that he was a good man. We heard him say once that a man that didn’t care for children or flowers was no man at all. He was a lover of both; also, he could always be heard whistling – a sure sign of a cheerful disposition. He was a deep thinker and in an argument was always willing to believe his opponent had as much right to his way of thinking as he had, but like Henry Clay, he would rather be right than president. John Galer will be sadly missed by his many friends, but his ending at an old age is the culmination of a long and useful life.” – Charles E. Williams, 1996 Osborne County Hall of Fame inductee, in the Mount Ayr Department column of the Alton Empire newspaper, December 5, 1929, Page Four.

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SOURCES:  Chris Beisner, Surprise, Arizona; Richard Smith, Manhattan, Kansas ; “John Galer”, The People Came, Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society, Osborne Publishing Company, Osborne, Kansas (1977), page 313; Alton Empire, December 22, 1898; Alton Empire, November 12, 1903; Alton Empire, May 13, 1909; Alton Empire, December 5, 1929.

Samuel Willis Chatfield – 2016 Inductee


(On this date, October 4, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the first member of the OCHF Class of 2016.)

The gravestone for Samuel Chatfield. Photograph courtesy of Lorna Puleo.

A community leader in his home county for decades, Samuel Willis Chatfield then became one of the first homesteaders of Osborne County, Kansas. There he was soon called upon to help organize and establish the first county government. 145 years later his contributions to the county’s founding are being rewarded with an induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Samuel was the third of five children born to Abraham and Jerusha (Cotton) Chatfield. He was born August 31, 1829, in the small New York town of Prattsville, in Greene County. There both the Chatfield and Cotton families were noted families, and young Samuel grew up well versed in hard work, having learned the trades of the barber and carpentry, as well as studying to be a medical doctor, though he never earned his medical degree. He was 21 years old when he was elected a City of Prattsville Town Supervisor in 1850 and began serving his first term in the Town Hall.

In 1853 Samuel met and married Charlotte Bligh, with whom he raised six children – Willis, Charles, Eben, Eliza, Elizabeth, and Mary. Shortly after Mary’s delivery in 1863 Charlotte passed away, and it would be two years before Samuel took a second wife, Elizabeth Newcomb, who became a second mother to the six children. In 1873 a seventh child, Austin, joined the family.

For reasons not entirely clear, sometime after his second marriage in 1865 Samuel devised the idea of going west and proving up a homestead claim. In the late 1860s he set off for Branch County, Michigan with other Chatfield family members. From there he moved to Kansas in the latter half of 1870, settling on a 153-acre homestead in northern Osborne County. His family remained behind when he set out west, and it would be nearly fifteen years before they came west themselves to join him.

When Samuel settled on a homestead in the northeast quarter of Section 6, Township 6 South, Range 12 West, he was one of the first one hundred settlers in Osborne County. At this time the county had not yet politically organized – the boundaries having been surveyed and defined just three years prior – and therefore was legally attached to neighboring Mitchell County as “Manning Township”. But as more and more settlers poured into the newly-settled region over the next year they soon desired their own government, and on June 2, 1871 a great meeting was held at (1996 Osborne County Hall of Famer) Calvin Reasoner’s general store in the town of Arlington. At this meeting the first set of preferred county officials was agreed upon and forwarded to the governor for approval, along with a petition to officially organize Osborne County.

The homestead record of Samuel Chatfield for his Osborne County claim, dated March 1, 1879.

Over the previous year Samuel’s skills as a carpenter, frontier doctor, and natural leader had shown him to be a notable asset to the region, and also being the first and only professional barber in the county did not hurt. His stock among his fellow men was such that at the Arlington meeting he was chosen to be one of the first county commissioners, along with (1996 Osborne County Hall of Famer) Frank Stafford and Charles Cunningham. This appointment was confirmed by the Governor of Kansas in September 1871, who designated the three as “special commissioners” to govern the county until the first official county commissioners could be elected in the November 1871 general election and take their places in January 1872. Samuel was designated chairman of the board of special commissioners.

One of the first duties of the special commissioners was to divide the county into townships that in turn would be grouped into three commissioner districts. Samuel designated the township that included his homestead Bethany Township, and the township to its east he named Ross Township. These two townships comprised the First Commissioner District. In 1872 the western portion of Bethany Township organized itself into a new township, Lawrence, so designated by Samuel and included in the First District.

At the time there was a prolonged fight being waged to determine which town would be declared the permanent county seat. To bolster their claim the town government of Osborne City offered the special commissioners their choice of any block within the city limits, to be given to the county upon which to build the county courthouse and other buildings. On November 22, 1871, commissioner board chairman Samuel Chatfield selected the square on West Penn Street (today’s Main Street) still being used for the county’s purposes.

Also at the time of the Arlington meeting a local government was being organized on Samuel Chatfield’s own farm. The Bethany Post Office was established just to the south of his farm on June 2, 1871, and the southeast portion of his farm became part of the community of Bethany, also established at this time. In 1872 Samuel stepped down as a special commissioner. He proved up his homestead claim and continued to work as a barber and carpenter, even taking on building construction as a line of work.

“The Cawker City Sentinel says that Cawker City has voted bonds for $5,000 to build a school house. On Saturday last the contract was let to Mr. Samuel Chatfield, of the town of Bethany, contractor and builder. The house is to be of magnesian limestone, put up in the most substantial manner, and provided with the latest improved school furniture. Work is to commence immediately, and the house will be completed by the first of August.” – Atchison Daily Champion newspaper, 19 March 1872, Page 5.

Over the next few years Samuel opened a wagon shop in Bethany and frequently visited his family in New York. In 1879 the Union Pacific Railroad built a line through the area that bypassed Bethany on the north. To secure a railroad depot at that site Samuel Chatfield and Philander Judson laid out the new townsite of Portis, which included the eastern half of Chatfield’s land and the western half of Judson’s farm. The plat of the new town was finalized and dated October 11, 1879.

Samuel Chatfield continued to prosper, even being named Bethany Township Justice of the Peace on August 16, 1883. Four years later he felt the need to return to his former home in Bronson, Michigan, where he then lived for the next 16 years. While there he could not quite escape the public eye, though for a rather unusual reason:

“Samuel Chatfield, of Bronson, Michigan, has in his possession one of the first copper coins ever made in the United States. On one side are thirteen links representing the thirteen States of the Union; the words, ‘United States’, and on a small ring, ‘We are one.’ On the other side are the words ‘Engio,’ ‘1777,’ a ‘rising sun,’ and ‘Mind your own business.’” – Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, Rochester, New York, October 3, 1888, Page 5.

In 1903 Samuel moved back to Portis and for a time enjoyed a quiet retirement among his old friends there. Sometime after his 80th birthday in 1908 he moved back to his birthplace in Greene County, New York. Samuel died in Maplecrest, New York, on January 4, 1918, and was buried in the Big Hollow (now called Maplecrest) Cemetery at Windham, New York.

Big Hollow Cemetery, now called Maplecrest, in Windham, New York. Photograph courtesy Lorna Puleo.

SOURCES: Lorna Puleo, Durham, New York; ancestry.com/localities.northam.usa.states.northcarolina.counties.forsyth/; U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records; The Essentials of the of the Early History of Osborne County, Kansas, unpublished manuscript, compiled by Von Rothenberger (2011); Cawker City Historical Society, Cawker City, Kansas; Atchison Daily Champion, March 19, 1872; Downs Times, August 5, 1880; Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, October 3, 1888; Osborne County Farmer, July 19, 1906; Portis Independent, May 16, 1908.

New Osborne County Kansas Hall of Fame Book Now Available!!!

The new book The Osborne County Kansas Hall of Fame: Expanded Edition 1996-2015 is at last available for purchase! The 572-page softbound book showcases the 169 members of the OCHF through 158 stories and over 200 black and white photographs, including (for the first time and only in this book!) the stories of the Class of 2015, the three newest members of the Hall of Fame – Meryl Garey, Gary Hulett, and Sarah (Donley) Woolley!

The cost for the book is $30.00 plus $7.00 postage and handling. Copies may now be purchased through the Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society at the Carnegie Research Library, 307 West Main Street, in Osborne, Kansas. To order the book send cash or check (sorry – NO credit/debit cards) to: OCHF Book, OCGHS, 307 West Main Street, Osborne KS 67473. To call and reserve a book for later pickup, contact the Carnegie’s land line at (785) 346-9437.

All proceeds from this book benefit the Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society and the Carnegie Research Library!

So, please, share this news with all those you know will be interested!!!

Cover Front

Cover Back

Francis Albert Schmidt – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 24, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the fifth and last of the members of the OCHF Class of 2014:


Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.
Francis Schmidt with his trademark bowtie.

He has been called one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.  He forever changed both college and professional football with his invention of the I-Formation and sowing the seeds for the West Coast Offense.  And, he was born in Downs, Osborne County, Kansas.  We welcome Francis Albert Schmidt to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Francis was indeed born in Downs on December 3, 1885.  His father, Francis W. Schmidt, was an itinerant studio photographer.  His mother, Emma K. Mohrbacher, a native Kansan.  Francis and Emma would have one other child, a daughter, Katherine.

Francis as part of the University of Nebraska football team in 1905.
Francis as part of the University of Nebraska football team in 1905.

As a photographer the elder Francis stayed in a particular location for only a few years before moving on.   After stops in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Kansas, the family was living in Fairbury, Nebraska, when young Francis graduated from Fairbury High School in May 1903.  A year later he enrolled in the University of Nebraska.

Francis participated in football, baseball, basketball, track and the cadet band at the University of Nebraska while earning a law degree in just three years, graduating in 1907.  Due to his mother having a serious illness Francis put aside his law career and helped his father with the photography studio in Arkansas City, Kansas, and taking care of his mother, who died later that summer.  He helped the local high school football team that fall, as they had no coach, and even coached the boys and girls high school basketball teams that winter, leading the girls (with his sister Katherine as the center) to an undefeated season and the Kansas state championship.

For the 1908-1909 school year Francis was offered the position of high school athletic director.  He held it until the spring of 1916 and continued to coach both football and basketball with amazing success.  Then Henry Kendall College in Tulsa Oklahoma, hired him to be their football, basketball, and baseball head coach.  His time there was interrupted by World War I, through which he served as a military instructor in bayonet, rising to the rank of captain. After the war he returned to Henry Kendall College (later renamed the University of Tulsa) and his 1919 football team roared its way to a record of 8-0-1.  In the 1919 season Kendall defeated the vaunted Oklahoma Sooners, but a 7-7 tie with Oklahoma A&M that year prevented a perfect season.   Francis became known as “Close the Gates of Mercy” Schmidt because of his team’s tendency to run up the score on inferior teams. During Schmidt’s three years at Kendall the football team won two conference championships as they defeated Oklahoma Baptist 152-0, St. Gregory 121-0, and Northeast Oklahoma 151-0, as well as a 92-0 defeat of East Central Oklahoma  and 10 other victories by more than 60 points each time.

Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.
Francis and his team at Henry Kendall College in 1920.

It was around this time that Francis married Evelyn Keesee.  The couple would have no children.

Francis was then hired to be the head football, basketball, and baseball coach at the University of Arkansas , where he compiled a 42-20-3 record in football for the Razorbacks from 1922-1928 and a 113-22 record in basketball – winning four Southwest Conference Championships in basketball in 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1929 – as the school’s first-ever such coach.

From Arkansas Francis went on to become the head football coach at Texas Christian University (TCU) where he won nearly 85% of his games. Schmidt did everything to extremes, including recruiting. He refereed high-school football games, but spent much of his time telling select players why they should commit to TCU in the days before athletic scholarships.  In five years at Texas Christian, 1929-1934, Francis compiled a 46-6-5 record and won two Southwest Conference championships.

At this time Ohio State University was a backwater in terms of major college football.  Desperate to build a winning program, they took a chance on Schmidt, their third choice for the head coaching job.   At 6 feet 2 and 200 pounds, Schmidt was a large man with a prominent nose and distinctive drawl.  Schmidt used his World War One bayonet drill instructor experience in running his practices.  This, together with a loud, raucous and colorful approach to the English language, created an imposing character the likes of which had never been heard on the serene and conservative Ohio State campus. “He was Foghorn Leghorn in a three-piece suit and bow tie”, recalled one former player.

Schmidt arrived in Columbus on February 28, 1934. Within hours, the coach had distinguished alumni, faculty members and reporters on their hands and knees combing the carpets of a hotel conference room. Asked for his offensive strategies, the Downs, Kansas native dropped to the floor, pulled nickels and dimes from his pockets and diagramed his innovative visions for the Buckeyes. The Columbus Dispatch columnist Ed Penisten depicted the bizarre scene:  “He was a zealot, full of excitement, confidence and quirks. Converts began to join him on the floor including OSU assistant football coaches.  He moved the nickels and dimes around like a kaleidoscope.”

Francis soon proved his genius for offensive football.  In his first year at Ohio State he stunned the opposition by displaying – in the same game – the single wing, double wing, short punt and, for the first time ever, his own invention: the I-formation.  He used reverses, double reverses and spinners, and his Buckeyes of the mid-nineteen thirties were the most lateral-pass conscience team anyone had ever witnessed.  He threw laterals, and then laterals off of laterals downfield, and it was not unusual for three men to handle the ball behind the line of scrimmage.   In his first two years he got touchdowns in such bunches that Ohio State immediately was dubbed “The Scarlet Scourge.” He was a bow-tied, tobacco-chewing, hawk-faced, white-haired, profane practitioner of the football arts – modern football’s first roaring madman on the practice field and the sidelines, and so completely zonked out on football that legend ties him to the greatest football story of the twentieth century:

So caught up was Francis in his diagrams and charts that there was hardly a waking moment when he wasn’t furiously scratching away at them.  He took his car into a filling station for an oil change but stayed right in the car while the mechanics hoisted it high above the subterranean oil pit to do their work.  Francis Schmidt, immersed in his X’s and O’s, simply forgot where he was.  For some reason he decided to get out of the car, still concentrating on his diagram.  He opened the door on the driver’s side and stepped out into the void, which ended eight feet south of him in the pit.  He refused to explain the limp which he carried with him to practice that day.

At Francis’ first football banquet after a sensational first season capped by a glorious 34-0 shellacking of Michigan, Schmidt bawled forth two classic and historic comments.  “Let’s not always be called Buckeyes,” he brayed.  “After all, that’s just some kind of nut, and we ain’t nuts here. It would be nice if you guys in the press out there would call us “Bucks” once in a while.  That’s a helluva fine animal, you know.” Ringing applause. And then:

As for Michigan – Well, shucks, I guess you’ve all discovered they put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.” Bedlam.  It was the apparently the first time the homely Texas line had ever been uttered in public and it swept the nation.  It also launched a “Pants Club” at Ohio State; ever since 1934 each player and a key booster who is part of a victory over Michigan is awarded a tiny little golden replica of a pair of football pants.

The Schmidt Gold Pants Charm given to every member of an Ohio State team that defeats Michigan.
The Schmidt Gold Pants Charm is given to every member of an Ohio State team that defeats Michigan.

The Ohio State Buckeyes became a national sensation in 1935. They won their first four games, setting up an undefeated showdown against Notre Dame. The game attracted a capacity crowd of 81,018 and has been often called “The Game of the Century.”  The Buckeyes surged to a 13-0 lead, but their advantage vanished in the fourth quarter. The Irish scored twice in the final two minutes to beat the Buckeyes 18-13. The Buckeyes regrouped and won their final three games, including a 38-0 pasting of Michigan, to win a share of the Big Ten title – their first in 15 years.

Schmidt, however, was haunted by the Notre Dame loss. It was the first in a string of big-game losses, and critics started to question whether his reliance on laterals, shovel passes and trick plays worked against top-quality opponents. Schmidt never worried about “getting back to basics,” because he didn’t stress them. His long practices were light on fundamentals such as blocking and tackling. Perhaps fueled by paranoia, Schmidt didn’t delegate authority, which often reduced his assistants to spectators at practice. He kept the master playbook locked away; players’ copies contained only their specific assignments and no hint at what their 10 teammates were doing. Among his shortcomings, Schmidt never understood the importance of mentorship and discipline. In Schmidt’s last seasons, key players became academically ineligible; others showed up late to practices. Team morale suffered. After the 1940 season in which the Buckeyes won four games and lost four, Schmidt resigned amidst heavy criticism from both fans and the administration.  His total win-loss-tie record with the Buckeyes was 39-16-1 with two Big Ten championships.

The only position that Francis could then find as a head coach was at the University of Idaho.  In 1941 his team posted a 4-5 record, and in 1942 they finished 3-6-1.  Then the school suspended football because of World War II.

Francis never coached again, ending with a college coaching record of 158-57-11.  He stayed on campus to help condition service trainees, but barely a year later he fell into a long illness and died at St. Luke’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington, on September 19, 1944, at the age of 58. Francis was laid to rest beside his parents in the Riverview Cemetery at Arkansas City, Cowley County, Kansas.

The legacy of Schmidt has endured thanks to Sid Gillman, a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach who was a Buckeye end in the early 1930s and an assistant under Schmidt.  Gillman is considered the father of the modern passing offense, and specifically the West Coast Offense which he used as a head coach.  He always gave credit to Francis Schmidt that the principles of that offense were based on what he was taught by Schmidt.  Gillman’s teachings had significant impact on the careers of later National Football League icons such as Al Davis and Bill Walsh.

Francis Schmidt’s imprint on the collegiate game remains well into the modern era as well. In the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State used three trick plays – a hook and lateral, Statue of Liberty, and wide-receiver pass – to stun Oklahoma 43-42.  Schmidt had made all three plays famous while using them at Ohio State.

75 years after Schmidt coached his first game at Ohio State, a new book profiling his life was published. Frantic Francis, written by Brett Perkins (University of Nebraska Press, 2009) examines not only his career but also his effect on the modern game

Francis Albert Schmidt was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.  He is also a member of the Halls of Fame at Nebraska, Tulsa, Arkansas, Texas Christian, and Ohio State. And now he is the newest member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.
Francis when he was head coach at Ohio State University.
Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis.  Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.
Evelyn Keesee Schmidt, wife of Francis. Photo courtesy of Caroline Cain.
News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University.  Courtesy Caroline Cain.
News story about Francis and Evelyn Schmidt while he was coach at Ohio State University. Courtesy Caroline Cain.
The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt's induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.  Courtesy of Caroline Cain.
The official 1971 letter announcing Francis Schmidt’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Courtesy of Caroline Cain.
Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.
Cover of the book Frantic Francis, published in 2009.


Schmidt Francis Albert tombstone
The grave of Francis Schmidt in Arkansas City, Kansas.

SOURCES: Barbara Wyche; Frantic Francis, written by Brett Perkins, (University of Nebraska Press, 2009); Columbus Dispatch, Thursday, September 3, 2009;  Topeka Daily Capital, May 16, 2012; The Spokesman-Review, November 6, 2009; University of Arkansas Athletics Hall of Fame; University of Tulsa Athletics Hall of Fame; College Football Hall of Fame.

Lila Marie Leaver – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 20, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the fourth of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014:



(The following was taken from the Osborne County Farmer, May 31, 1973, Page One)

 Lila Leaver Thinks Teaching is the Greatest Profession

By Dave Magruder

Leaver Lila Marie portrait photo    Lighting and enlightening the way for Osborne County folks for almost 70 years best describes the activities of the Lila Leaver family.

She retired in 1972 as a long-time Osborne school teacher and her mother was also an early county rural instructor. Her dad brought electricity to the area when he Introduced Delco light plants in 1914 and later displayed the first commercial radio set in Osborne about 1922.

At age 64, she says 57 of those years have been spent in a classroom either as a teacher or student and 52 of them were experienced in Osborne. And, she thinks teaching is the greatest profession there is. Pointing out that the Lord sent his son, Jesus, to teach Religion and the Methodist faith have played almost as important roles in her life as schools and education. She was baptized when a few weeks old and starting as a sixth grader she has a continuous span of 52 years holding Sunday School classes.

“I guess it was taken for granted I was going to become a schoolteacher. I was always a great admirer and worshiper of teachers while I attended school and, of course, my mother taught and she was a good influence. It has always been my life,” she explained.

When Lila was born February 9, 1909 – the first of two daughters – her father, Martin, was farming east of Osborne in Penn Township. The Leavers moved to town in 1914 when the dad acquired the Delco sales and service territory that included Osborne, Smith, Mitchell and Rooks Counties. Along with setting up the gasoline powered energy producing plants with their rows of storage batteries, he would also wire homes and buildings.

For rural folks in most of the region, this was the only electric power available until REA energy came along in the 1930s.

His unveiling of the first radio in the county was a howling success, so to speak. It was an Atwood-Kent set that oldtimers will recall came with a large attached speaker. The wireless was displayed at the county courthouse for one and all to hear. Hooked up to a storage battery, the great moment came for the set to be switched on to the then only radio broadcasting station in America, KDKA in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania.

Lila laughs in recalling the sum total of the reception was squawks and squeaks and the only thing that saved the day came when an announcer’s voice [on November 2, 1920] rose above the din to say: “This Is KDKA, the Westinghouse station in Pittsburgh.” That was a thrill to hear a voice transmitted from so far away as perhaps seeing the first spaceman step on the moon.

Her dad was also in the plumbing and heating business prior to his death in 1929.

The mother, the former Ethel Woodward, was a Glasco girl, who after graduating from high school there came to the Osborne area to teach after taking tests for a certificate. Two of her brothers and a sister went to her as students and they were given to understand at the Woodward household, they would give their sister no static in the classroom.

All of Lila’s preparatory studies were in Osborne schools, graduating from high school in 1927. She went on to the University of Chicago to win a Ph B degree, bachelor of philosophy. In 1931 the sun was shining pretty bright for the young educator as she came home and signed a contract to teach history and government at Plainville High School for $14 a month that fall.

It is interesting to note that her college education was worth about $100 a month, since other teachers around the county without benefit of higher learning were being paid about $40 a month at the time.

However, not all was well even with teachers who were college educated. What with the depression and drouth conditions. She was not offered a new contract the following term as the Rooks County system decided to get along with less staff members in order to cut the budget. In fact, she found that teachers with degrees and only one year of experience were not in much demand, so she was among the horde of unemployed until the fall of 1933 when she became a fifth grade instructor in the Osborne elementary school, starting at $70 a month.

She held that position nine years before being elevated to the high school level once again, instructing history and government studies as well as a class in the junior high 15 years. Her high school tenure was to last 30 years and she ended her career with a salary of around $700 a month, which tells the story of the drastic changes in economics of one career. Lila’s association with Osborne schools has been liberally spiced with the sort of service that is a part of the industry out of the classroom that is assumed goes along with teaching.

All nine years of the grade school stint saw her act as a Girl Scouts leader. She has sponsored all of the high school classes along with coaching class plays. In addition to the latter activity she wrote and produced pageants and programs for the grades and high school, relating to special events, holidays and local history.

She remembers the eight years she was sponsor of the junior class and carried the added responsibility of arranging for the junior-senior prom. There was no dance, with the emphasis on a dinner banquet and program entertainment. The meal was prepared by home economics girls and teachers and all of this wasn’t as near the problem as it was to raise the necessary $75 to $100 to pay expenses during the hard times

For several years she assisted with the Girl’s Reserve, the prep arm of the Y.W.C.A. and later headed the program when it became Y-Teens for 10 years. She also was sponsor 12 years for the Kansas State Activities Association youth agenda in Osborne. Another one was supervising the Alpha Club, a scholastic honorary.

It may seem strange what with teachers getting con­tracts out of high schools and even grade schools, but when Lila got her bachelor sheepskin from the University of Chicago, she couldn’t teach in Kansas without a summer of work in the state and she took this at the University of Kansas.

She attended summer school at the University of Colorado in 1942 and three years later began work on a master’s degree first at the University of Michigan and then at Fort Hays State College to be close to home as her mother was ailing. The advanced degree was awarded in 1952.

Being near her widowed mother was one of the com­pelling reasons she remained in Osborne so long as a teacher. However, she said the [Great] Depression setback at the start of her career taught her a lesson of staying where one had a job and after the hard period was past, she had grown to like what she was doing among her own people.

After the mother passed away in 1959, she bought a smaller home to better suit her needs.

There have been many highlights along the way such as the summer she taught at the Girl’s Industrial School at Beloit in remedial reading. “I learned a lot myself, especially the eye opener that all the girls didn’t come from big cities.” she said “It gave me, too, understanding what the school was trying to do for the girls.”

Other learning experiences have come through world travel along with jaunts in the U.S.A. On one tour she visited ten European nations and another was an around-the-world affair that touched 11 countries, affording the opportunity to visit in diplomatic circles and with foreign government leaders.

Last fall, she took an 8,000-mile bus trip through Canada in 35 days and in the future hopes to visit the Holy Land and Mid-East, a trip she had planned during the time war broke out there years back.

A side benefit from her travels has come from her photography hobby, showing slides in educational programs at school and to civic and social groups.

In 1946 Lila participated in a workshop at the University of Kansas and studied effects of the atomic bomb on society.  She wrote a resource unit called “Citizenship in the Atomic Age” for use in the Kansas high schools.  Lila was asked to address the 178th District Rotary International Conference at Abilene on the atomic bomb in 1955.

In 1962 she received the Freedom Foundation Valley Forge Teacher’s Medal for promotion of citizenship and patriotism. She was recom­mended for the honor by the Osborne VFW Auxiliary.



(Osborne County Farmer, October 4, 1962, Page One)

Teacher Medal to Lila Leaver

“Miss Lila Leaver, local big school instructor, has been recognized to receive the Valley Forge Classroom Teacher Medal, according to Stanley Abel, high school superintendent.

“There are 266 American teachers named to receive this national recognition and only three of them from Kansas. Osborne is most fortunate and honored in having a recipient in Miss Leaver.

The award is given for exceptional service in furthering the cause of responsible citizenship, Patriotism, and a greater understanding and appreciation of the American Way of Life.

“All recipients of Freedoms Foundation awards are designated by a distinguished jury composed of state Supreme Court justice and the national heads of patriotic veterans and club organizations.  Nominations are submitted by the general public. Here in Osborne the VFW Auxiliary is responsible for entering the names for nomination.

“Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge was founded in March 1949. It is a non-profit, non-political and non-sectarian organization created to bring about a better understanding of the basic principles underlying our Republic with its democratic methods.

“Miss Leaver has taught social science in the Osborne school system for the past 29 years and is beginning her 30th year this fall. Prior to Osborne, she taught one year at Plainville.

“The presentation of the medal will be made at a later date, according to Mr. Abel. On behalf of Osborne County we extend our thanks to this outstanding teacher for her significant work.”

Lila said it was a thrill to be honored at an open house by Osborne teachers when she retired a year ago and she related that letters from former students, some from many years ago, are always welcomed to make her days brighter.

Asked if she knows how many pupils she has taught in Osborne, Lila said she regrets now that she never kept track. In addition to the professional teaching organizations she has been affiliated, she began a new experience last year as a member of the city library board. She is proud of her work as county chairman of the 1973 cancer crusade that has exceeded its goal.

Other activity includes being treasurer of the American Field Service committee for foreign ex­change students, with the American Red Cross and P.E.O. Sisterhood. Now an adult church teacher, she serves on the Methodist board.

Lila has been such an unselfish volunteer as to keep her from some of the personal enjoyment she has an eye on in the future, such as doing ceramics with the Golden Years Club. She figures there is still plenty of time left to reach unfinished goals.


*  *  *  *  *

Lila Marie Leaver either went to school or taught a total of 57 years.  Fifty-two years were in the Osborne public schools, 13 years as a pupil and 39 years as a teacher.­

Lila said her biggest thrill in teaching was to have former students return to say “I became a teacher because of you and hope to teach like you did.”  She still received mail from many former pupils.  Lila believes her students thought her a strict disciplinarian but was told from her pupils that they appreciated it and learned from it.

Lila was quoted as saying, “School has been my life. I guess I never thought of anything but being a teacher. Just took it for granted. I think teaching is the greatest profession there is. When God sent his Son to earth he sent him as a teacher. I am thankful it was my privilege to be a teacher for 40 years.”

Lila was a member of the United Methodist Church. Her faith and her church were an important part of her life She had taught in Sunday school most of the time since she was in the sixth grade. She held every office ex­cept superintendent of cradle roll and home department. Lila held many offices in the church organization. She taught Vacation Bible School many different years as well as being the superintendent of Bible school. Lila taught the New Day Adult Bible study class for 16 years. She was also the official photographer for the church from 1978 to 1981.

Lila was a lifetime member of the Kansas State Teachers Association (KNEA) and a retired member of the National Education Association and National Retired Teacher Association. On June 9, 1978, Lila was elected to the Kansas Teachers’ Hall of Fame at Dodge City, Kansas. This was the highlight of her teaching career and her life.


*  *  *  *  *


(The following was taken from the Osborne County Farmer, April 27, 1978, Page One:)

OSBORNE: Lila Leaver likes kids; a short talk with her revealed that, while not a startling, unprecedented, or even uncommon trait for a teacher, it may just be the one which got her elected to the 1978 Kansas Teacher’s Hall of Fame in Dodge City.

Leaver, a life-time resident of Osborne, retired in l974 after 40 years of teaching, is still able to philosophize.

“I think my idea of youngsters . . . that the vast majority of them are good and want to do what’s right. I don’t understand them always, but have faith in young people. Maybe they’ll do a better job of straightening out the world than we did . . . I’ve had some mighty fine ones through the years.”

On June 9th she will be inducted into the Hall. She contributes the honor to many people, whom she named and thanked, plus many career events.

“Leaver said her biggest thrill in teaching was to have former students return to say “I became a teacher because of you – and hope to teach like you did.” She said she still receives mail from “quite a few” former pupils and enjoyed teaching them. The fact that “Osborne backs their schools 100 percent’’ added to her pleasure, she said.

Studying for her master’s degree in summers and finishing it at Fort Hays State University, Leaver used it to land a job as a social studies teacher in Osborne High School, where she taught for 30 more years. While there she served as assistant principal two years and principal two years. For years she sponsored Girl Scouts, Kayettes, and the junior class without pay, in the days when that was part of the job.

“I really got to know the youngster through extra-curricular activities,” said Leaver, “some of them turn out to have some ability you don’t realize in the classroom.”

“Current History”, an elective in 1950, proved to be her favorite class. “We had a lot of fun, but they did an awful lot of work too . . . really, I enjoyed all my classes,” Leaver said.

Leaver believes her students thought her a strict disciplinarian. “But I think children and young people appreciate it,” she added, “at least that’s what many of them told me later.”

With her career a thing of the past, Leaver now lives alone, traveling and taking pictures as hobbies. Probably her activity, though retired, led to the remark on one of her Hall of Fame recommendations which read, “she brought a unique philosophy of life to her tasks at all times – humility was the hallmark of her life – the second mile was its measure.”

Lila Leaver became an honorary member of the Phi Beta Kappa in 1931 while at the University of Chicago. Lila was initiated in 1936 into the Chapter CR of PEO Sisterhood. She held many offices in PEO and remained an active member.

In the summer of 1955, Lila taught remedial reading at the Girls Industrial School in Beloit.   Lila was a member of the Kansas Heading Circle Commission of the State Department of Education to select library books for Kansas Junior High Schools from 1965 to 1967.  She received hundreds of books from publishers to build her own library and she gave the books to the Osborne Public Library and Osborne School Library. She also gave books to many friends and relatives.  She also was a member of the Osborne Public Library Board of Directors.

In 1972, Lila was honored at a retirement open house. She was especially honored to have her sister and nephew play a melody of her favorite songs on the piano and organ. In 1983, Lila was elected the first Beta Sigma Phi Woman of the Year based on her contributions to the community

Lila was chairman of the Osborne County Cancer Crusade and served as treasurer of the American Field Service.

Travel and photography were Lila’s main hobbies.  She had the privilege to travel over much of the United States and tour around the world and to meet many famous leaders in­cluding Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, Mr. Zakir Hussain and Mr. V. V. Giri.  She took many pictures in all parts of the world and gave many travel illustrated talks with slides to many groups in Osborne and surrounding towns. Of all the places Lila visited, the Holy Land was the most memorable to her.

*  *  *  *  *

Lila Marie Leaver died at her home in Osborne on February 23, 1985, at the age of 76.  She was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.


*  *  *  *  *



(The following was taken from the Osborne County Farmer, May 10, 1990, Page 10-A)

 My Other Mother

By John Henshall

The assignment written on the blackboard was frightening. At first glance, it looked impossible.

It read, “Pick a subject, write a two thousand-word theme on it and be prepared to deliver at least a 15-minute speech on your chosen subject.”

It was May of 1945 in Lila Leaver’s American History class at Osborne High School. There were only a few more weeks of school left and it looked like Miss Leaver was saving the “worst” to the very end.

I was a senior in her class that year, very glad World War II was coming to an end and elated I would not have to put up with school assignments much longer. Grade school, Junior High, now high school had all gone by so quickly. Much of the time, I had managed to slip and slide through most of my school work. This laxity was quickly pointed out to me when I first met Miss Leaver when she taught in fifth grade.After getting into a fight with Dick Glenn during recess one day, Miss Leaver pulled me aside and said, “Johnny, why is it you are always getting into trouble? Why is it is always YOU that causes me so much grief. And your school work could be much better if you’d only try.

I didn’t answer her, but had plenty of thoughts to myself: “Who does she think she is? Why is she always picking on me? Doesn’t she know who I am? Doesn’t she know I’m the tallest kid on the basketball team? I’ll be glad to get out of this grade.”

I was only 11 years old when I was Miss Leaver’s “main pain.” Then, in 1945, I was again one of her pupils as she was now teaching in high school. Aside from being older, a little taller and a little skinnier, I was doing my best to refrain from overworking the gray matter of my ever-shrinking brain.

I raised my hand to inquire, “Miss Leaver, does that mean two thousand words or two hundred? She replied, “I didn’t make any mistake. It means two thousand. Why don’t you surprise me this time? Do some hard work and turn in something good. Why don’t you just make this your ‘farewell address’ to Osborne High School?”

The 22 other students in the class roared with laughter. I even laughed. Why not? I had laughed at almost everything else during my school years.

After classes that day, while restocking shelves at Ora Taylor’s Meat Market, I got to thinking about what had happened. I started to realize, whether I liked it or not, I was about to become a graduate of the Osborne school system. Though I was now 18 and a senior, I didn’t feel that old. In a way, I didn’t want to graduate I was frightened by the fact that, for the first time in years, I would not he going to school m Osborne next year. World War II was drawing to a close. Germany had been defeated. Great man Franklin Roosevelt had just died. Bad man Adolph Hitler had committed suicide in his underground bunker in Berlin. And 18-year-old boys were still being drafted to help in ‘the final assault on Japan.’ It seemed appropriate to do a theme on the war.

I thought of the many changes in our lives and the advances in technology that had occurred since the start of the war in 1941. Radar, jet-powered airplanes, synthetic rubber, newer, improved medicines and all progressed during the conflict and contributed to our final victory. I would call my theme “Victory through Progress.”

I constructed a notebook made up of pictures clipped from Life and Look magazines. I scoured through old newspapers and looked up some facts in The Book of Knowledge. I tied it all together with a few corny jokes lifted from The Readers Digest and prepared a speech fit for a college professor.

In about two weeks, I was called on to give my report. Miss Leaver sat in the back of the class, her grading pencil in hand. I gave the class about a 20-minute talk (about 15 minutes without the jokes). Several days later, Miss Leaver posted the grades on her bulletin board. I had received an “A,” one of the few “A’s” I ever received in school. It meant a lot to me, but not as much as the note I later found taped inside the front page of my project. It read, “You have a very fine notebook. It is neat, complete and well organized. Doesn’t it give you a lot of satisfaction to do a task well? (signed) L. Leaver, 1945.”

The notebook and theme I prepared nearly half a century ago has long since vanished, but I still have her hand-written message posted in my high school scrapbook.

The long struggle Miss Leaver had been having with her “problem child” was finally over. She had found the key that unlocked the door for me to that wonderful world of learning.

The “key” was a simple four-letter word called WORK.

Lila Leaver was a teacher for four decades. She taught 38 of those years in the Osborne school system. She was once quoted as saying, “School has been my life. I never thought of anything but being a teacher. I just took it for granted. I think teaching is the greatest profession.”

Miss Leaver and I became good friends as the years passed. I would often stop by and visit with her at her home. I remember how anxious I was to introduce her to my wife in 1956.

A few years before her death in 1985, I told her again that I appreciated her interest in my school work and that I was grateful she never gave up on me. She was always so happy to know one of her “bad boys” had turned out okay.

Mother’s Day is Sunday. Everyone thinks their mother was the greatest in the world and this is as it should be. I will think of my mother often on Sunday. And I’ll wish I could talk to her one more time, one more precious moment, to tell her how much I loved her.

I will also be thinking of “my other mother.” The patience, attention and guidance given to me by Miss Leaver during those formative years of my life have etched a deep and lasting memory.


*  *  *  *  *


OTHER SOURCES:  Carol Conway, Beloit, Kansas; Phillip Schweitzer, Osborne, Kansas.