Milbrue Mae (Paget) Heitschmidt – 1996 Inductee

Milbrue Mae (Paget) Heitschmidt was born to Albert and Pearl (Clow) Paget on November 27, 1905, in Valley Township, Osborne County, Kansas, and grew up in Covert, Kansas, where she graduated from the Covert Rural High School in 1924.  Milbrue went on to Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas, where she received a teaching certificate, and then taught school for many years.  She later became a graduate of Fort Hays State College.

Milbrue married Ernest Heitschmidt in her parents’ home in Covert at high noon on July 28, 1929.  That occasion also marked the beginning of another hobby/career.  She made and decorated her own wedding cake and probably never dreamed of becoming so well known in quite a wide area as the one to seek out if you needed a special cake for a special occasion!  She quit decorating cakes professionally in 1986 after fifty-seven years, but that didn’t stop her from making them for many get-togethers.  For her ninetieth birthday, she insisted on making and decorating the cakes for her own party.

Following their marriage, the Heitschmidts farmed for several years in the Waldo and Codell, Kansas, areas before moving to Natoma, Kansas, in 1952.  After moving to Natoma, they operated the Natoma Implement Company besides continuing to farm.

Milbrue was always very interested in working with youth.  Being an excellent cook and seamstress, she was a 4-H leader for a total of fifteen years.  She also worked with Future Homemakers of America (FHA) chapters.  She was also very proud of her involvement with the Rainbow Girls and was always there for them.

Milbrue was also always very interested in education.  After retiring from regular teaching, she continued to substitute until she was sixty-eight years old.

A highlight of Milbrue and Ernest’s lives was their 50th anniversary celebration in 1979.  It was held at the elegant Das Koelling Haus Restaurant in Natoma and was attended by over 300 relatives and friends.

Ernest passed away on January 29, 1980.  Milbrue kept the business going at her home for another six years, then sold the business and her home, moving to Manhattan, Kansas, to be near her daughter Dorine.  Never content to be idle, she quickly became active in the Welcome Wagon Club, Senior Citizens Club, Quilters Club, Christian Women’s’ Club, and the Order of the Eastern Star in Manhattan.

At the age of eighty her brother-in-law coaxed Milbrue to go to Topeka and compete in the Kansas Senior Olympics.  She entered the javelin, shotput, and discus, and won two gold medals and the trophy for being the oldest female participant.  Then she went on to national games in St. Louis; Syracuse, New York; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana – winning still more medals.  After the Syracuse games she was invited to carry the torch to open the Missouri Senior Olympics in Kansas City.

Milbrue attended the Kansas state competition every year and four national events from 1987 through 1998, bringing home gold, silver, and bronze medals.  In 1995 she competed in the U.S. National Senior Sports Classic V held in San Antonio, Texas.  Held every two years, the competition drew 8,500 participants.  Milbrue was the oldest in the 85-90 age group and earned the gold medal in the javelin and bronze medals in both the discus and shotput events.

Milbrue passed away on in Manhattan on October 28, 2001, and was laid to rest in the Natoma Cemetery at Natoma, Kansas.  Her spirit and example of seizing the opportunities that life offers continues to define the best in the past and future of Osborne County history.

Robert Roy Hays – 1996 Inductee

Modest and unassuming, Robert Roy Hays rarely pushed himself forward. But in spite of his quiet demeanor the citizens of Osborne County looked to him for council and leadership during the first sixty years of the county’s history. A friend and confidant to governors, senators, and vice-presidents, Hays makes a worthy addition to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Hays was born August 29, 1845, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The son of Scotch-Irish immigrants John and Eliza (Kernahan) Hays and brother of John J. Hays, Jr., Robert headed west with his family to Muscatine, Iowa, in 1852. The next year it was on to Omaha, Nebraska, and then to a farm eight miles south of Nebraska City, where the young Robert spent the rest of his boyhood. During the Civil War Hays served as a private in Company F of the Nebraska Cavalry.  When the war ended he became a jeweler in Brownsville, Nebraska. In the spring of 1872 he came to Osborne and entered the hardware business. From 1874 to 1877 Hays served as Osborne County Treasurer. In 1879 he made a tour of California and then returned to Osborne, where he was appointed postmaster in 1880, serving two years.

In 1882 Hays was named by President Chester Arthur as the new Receiver of the U.S. Land Office in Kirwin, Kansas, the same position that his brother John J. Hays Jr. was in charge of only a few years before.  The busiest such office in the state, Hays collected more than a million dollars in homestead claim fees in his four years and five months as Receiver.  At the end of that time a federal audit in Washington, D.C., went over his account books and found that they were correct to the cent, as had been his brothers’ earlier.  The Hays brothers were famous for their integrity.

Hays was a Republican when it came to political affairs. He was an active participant in every district, county, and state convention held in Kansas during his lifetime, working closely with such contemporaries as John J. Ingalls, Preston Plumb, Charles Curtis, and Alfred Landon. In 1888 he was elected to his only state office, serving two terms as state senator. Hays was the first person ever elected to that office from Osborne County.

Hays became a charter member in the Osborne Congregational Church in 1872. He was a lay delegate to the International Council of Congregational churches meeting at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1908. Hays was also a longtime member of the Masonic Lodge and the G.A.R., and aided E. O. Henshall in securing the Osborne Carnegie Library building for the community.

Concerns over his perennial bachelorhood were dispelled when on November 8, 1916, he entered into marriage with Minnie (McHenry) Rhodes at the Congregational Church in Osborne. Their years together were spent traveling across the United States and Europe between work with civic and county organizations back home. In 1933 they were both given life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society.

Robert Hays died June 18, 1934, at the age of eighty-nine years at his home in Osborne. Tributes lamenting his passing poured in from across the state as he was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

John James Hays, Jr. – 2008 inductee

John James Hays, Jr. was born August 26, 1842, in Newburgh, New York. The son of Scotch-Irish immigrants John and Eliza (Kernahan) Hays and brother of Robert R. Hays, John headed west with his family to Muscatine, Iowa, in 1852.  The next year it was on to Omaha, Nebraska, and then to a farm eight miles south of Nebraska City, where John spent the rest of his boyhood.

During the Civil War John served as a private in Company F of the 2nd Nebraska Cavalry.  In 1871 he moved to Osborne County, Kansas, and that fall he was elected as one of the first three Osborne County Commissioners.  In March 1872 John and his brother Robert were dealers in agricultural implements.   Later John was appointed receiver at the U.S. Land Office in Kirwin, Kansas, a position of national importance in which he handled over a million a dollars a year in business during the 1870s. When he resigned the position an audit found his bookkeeping to be accurate to the exact cent.

For his entire life John one of the most influential men in civic and business affairs across the county and region.  He was Worshipful Master of the local Masonic Lodge numerous times and was a member of several fraternal organizations in the area.  In 1878 he helped the Osborne Congregational Church raise the money to erect the first church structure in the city.  By the late 1880s John was a cashier with the State Bank of Osborne.  He continued to be a “mover and shaker” until his death on June 21, 1932 in Osborne.  He was buried in the family lot at the Osborne Cemetery.

Martha Bates Hatfield – 1996 Inductee

Martha Bates Hatfield was born February 22, 1888, in Osborne, Kansas.  She was one of the four children of Jerome and Mable (Smith) Hatfield.  Martha attended the Osborne schools and was known for her exceptional singing.  Upon graduation she toured on the Chautauqua circuit and with concert companies.  In 1909 she began dividing her time between teaching music in the Osborne schools and touring.  Her fame as a singer continued to grow and in 1911 she was accepted into the Kansas City Conservatory.  Martha studied at Kansas City for a year in operatic training under Ottley and Louie Collier Cranston.  On April 16, 1912, she made her debut in Kansas City singing the lead role of, appropriately enough, the comic opera “Martha.”  Her debut was a great success. “NEW SOPRANO MAKES A HIT;” “MISS HATFIELD SCORES;” ran the newspaper headlines.

“The inspiration that is inseparable from the debut of a talented singer was felt on both sides of the footlights,” wrote the Kansas City Star, “and Miss Martha Bates Hatfield, until last night wholly unknown to the public in Kansas City, won well-deserved applause.”

Now a full-fledged member of the Kansas City Grand Opera Company, Martha joined the company on tour and repeated her triumph in Chicago and Washington, D.C.  After a year with the company Martha then joined the faculty at the State Normal College in Emporia, Kansas.  From 1913 on she continued performing on the summer Chautauqua circuit, interrupting her schedule for special events such as performing at the dedication of the Osborne Carnegie Library in July 1913.  Martha always made herself available to her hometown, whether singing at weddings or at teaching music at the local schools.  In return for her generosity the ladies of the town organized a concert for Martha at the Militorium in Osborne.

Martha Hatfield as a child.

“The Militorium was crowded last night at a complimentary concert given for Miss Martha Hatfield.  The concert was hurriedly gotten up by the ladies of the town as an expression of appreciation for the untiring and generous assistance Miss Hatfield has always accorded musical circles in Osborne.  Very little time could be spent in preparation for the event, as Miss Hatfield leaves for Kansas City Sunday night to pursue further musical studies.  She has always been very generous with her talents and it is not recorded anywhere that she ever refused to assist at any public or private entertainment.  The crowded house was a testimonial of the esteem in which she is held in Osborne.  The program was charmingly given.  Of course, the events of the evening were the musical numbers by the lady of honor.  ‘The Garland of Old Fashioned Roses,’ by Miss Hatfield and chorus, from the ‘County Fair,’ given here a year ago, was very beautifully rendered.  The musical numbers consisted of a selection by the Citizens’ Orchestra, piano solos by Misses Rochford and Ballou, solos by Mrs. W. A. Layton and Mr. Arthur Bell; a violin solo by Miss Mary Lough, an impersonation by Miss Marie Kelley, a duet by Miss Hatfield and Miss Powers, and a quartette composed of Mesdames W A. and W. H. Layton and Misses Hatfield and Powers.  Aside from the other pieces in which Miss Hatfield assisted, she sang four solos in her artistic manner.  There was a short sketch, “Dinner for One,” given by Mrs. W. H. Layton, Miss Irene Henshall and Messrs. Roy Hays and Allen Clark.  Miss Henshall cleverly sang a couple of specialties accompanied by Mr. Clark on the piano.” — Osborne County Farmer, July 2, 1914.

Martha continued in lead roles of grand opera until 1918, when she gave up her operatic career to become a nurse during World War I.  She was stationed in Kansas City to help with the influenza epidemic, awaiting the call to sail overseas with a Red Cross contingent, when she was herself stricken.  She recovered but by then the war was over.  In September 1920 Martha was again engaged at the State Normal School in Emporia as an instructor of voice, a position she held until 1926 when she was diagnosed with cancer.  Martha returned to Osborne to rest at her parents’ home, where she died on October 12, 1926, at the age of thirty-eight.  She was buried in the Osborne Cemetery.

Frank Newell Hatch – 2001 Inductee

The son of Dennis and Olive Hatch, Frank Newell Hatch was born in Sanford, Maine, on June 25, 1845.  At age 16 he volunteered for the Civil War as a private in Company A of the 5th Maine Infantry.  After two years of action pneumonia forced him to take a medical discharge and return to working at his father’s blacksmith shop in Maine.

In 1867 a desire to see the West caused him to move to Waterloo, Iowa.  There he married Miss Emmagene Rice on July 26, 1868.  The couple went on to raise five children.

In 1872 the family began a journey to California.  They stopped for a year in Blue Rapids, Kansas, and the following year intended to do the same in Osborne.  But when the townsfolk found out that Frank was a blacksmith they begged him to stay a while longer.

So over the next 18 years Hatch went into business with a drive and vigor that was impressive even then in the rapidly-growing frontier town.  He cut and dressed the limestone and erected four of the most imposing structures in Osborne up to that time – an eight-sided stone flour mill, then located where the Sunflower Hotel now stands in 2012; a two-story stone building to house his blacksmith shop; another two-story stone building for the hardware store he operated with his partner, Emanuel Smith, and a three-story stone building next to those, which served as the location for two other businesses and as the Hatch family home.

By 1883 Hatch had rebuilt the two 2-story buildings, combining them into one structure, and made the second floor into the Osborne Opera House.  In between the traveling companies that entertained at the Opera House the second floor was used as a roller skating rink.

Hatch’s first invention of note was an improvement on the popular Grasshopper plow.  Used specifically for the plowing of virgin sod for houses, his plow would cut the ground 3 inches deep by a foot wide.  Frank sold a large number of these during the 1870s and 1880s.

His second invention of note made him even more popular and gave him an indelible footmark inKansashistory.  In the summer of 1887 he glanced around his blacksmith shop and taking a small vapor engine, a flatbed wagon, some parts of a still, and other items, created the first self-propelled vehicle ever built in Kansas.

“In 1887 there lived in Osborne a man by the name of Frank Hatch, a genius of the first water, and among his inventions was the automobile, as every Osborneite can inform you . . . He ran it through the streets of Osborne and also made several excursions into the country.  I don’t see any use of letting some Frenchman with a name like a Chinese puzzle have the honor of inventing this machine when it belongs to the short grass country out in Western Kansas.” – Charlie Scott, writing to the newspaper the Concordia Kansan in April 1900.

“The steam wagon so successfully manufactured and run by Frank Hatch still draws it’s fair share of attention when he chooses to sail around the streets without a team.  The steering gear is peculiarly simple and effective, Frank being able to run the engine and guide the chariot without overexerting himself in the least.” – Osborne County Farmer,June 2, 1887.

The first self-driving vehicle ever built in Kansas, by Frank Hatch, seen standing on the vehicle second from left. It “terrorized” the streets of Osborne in the summer of 1887.

In 1891 Frank made his third invention when, on a dare, he and two assistants cast their own cannon.  It was used at celebrations in Osborne until 1901 and then was given to the courthouse museum.  In 1910 the cannon disappeared from the courthouse and was rumored to be residing in a barn in Russell County.

In 1901 Frank at last moved his family to the West Coast, settling in Washington State.  There he ran a lumber mill and two shingle mills.  Frank died on March 14, 1906 at Fir, Washington, and was buried in the Anderson Cemetery at East Stanwood, Snohomish County, Washington.

A blacksmith, a stonemason, a miller, a lumberman, and an inventor, Frank Newell Hatch is a striking example of the self-reliant frontier settler of 19th Century America.

Wayne E. Hartzler – 2006 Inductee

Longtime Alton, Kansas businessman Wayne E. Hartzler was born October 6, 1916, to Peter and Alma  (Funk) Hartzler.  Wayne operated a dairy when he decided to try something new.  With his two brothers the Hartzler Bros. hardware store was opened in Alton in the spring of 1946.  Later the name was changed to Hartzler’s Store.  In 1975 son Eldon joined the family business, which in 2012 celebrates 66 years of serving the Alton area.


The following was written by Wayne Hartzler, with help from his lifelong partner and wife, Asa.

“After operating a dairy in Osborne for several years, I decided I didn’t want to milk cows the rest of my life. In the fall of 1945 I sold the dairy and spent the winter looking for a farm to move on.  My brothers, Harold and Wilbur, operated a hardware in Woodston, and a number of people from theAltoncommunity wanted them to open a store in Alton. They asked me if I wanted to join them to open a store in Alton, which I did.

In the early part of 1946 we purchased the building where the store is at now [the 1874 native stone Smith Building, then located in the southwest corner of the intersection of Mill & Nicholas; the building burned down in the late 2000’s]. Mrs. Elsie Johnston had a cafe in the north part of the building. We told her she could use it as long as she operated the cafe.

It took several months to get the south part ready.  The rock wall on the back had crumbled and the roof was on the ground.

Opening day was in the spring of 1946. It was shortly after the war and a number of things were scarce. Our suppliers furnished us with small appliances, teakettles, and hard to find things.

On opening day we let people sign up for articles they wanted. Then we had a drawing to see who would get to buy them. For the next year or so people signed up for washers, dryers and refrigerators. We would sell from the top of the list.

A and B Battery Packs were big business as there was very little electricity in the country. When REA started coming to the rural areas, people started trading their gasoline irons for electric. Some of the first things people wanted were electric pumps and running water for the house. Next were bathrooms.

We put up a large light fixture display from the ceiling.  One switch would turn on the display at one time.  One lady came in to pick out a fixture for her house, so I turned the display on. She just looked at it for awhile and finally said, “It’s nice, but I don’t know where I’d put it.”

Wayne Hartzler in his store in 1967.

Alvin Welker clerked in the store when we first opened. When we started doing more service work, Vein Eaton was hired. In 1950 Forrest Stanfield started working. He worked until he retired, over 30 years. Lucille Stanfield worked a number of years also.

From the beginning we sold Skelgas butane and propane. For advertising Hartzler’s and Skelgas furnished the Little League Baseball team with advertising uniforms.

Raymond Sprick drove our transport truck many years.  He passed awayMarch 17, 1975, while on the job.

The Boland’s, Carl, Jerry and Elmer, all worked as delivery men. Elmer started working in 1952 and is still with us.

Eldon came home from college in 1975 to take Raymond’s place.  Wayne sold out to Eldon January 1, 1982.

It was a short time after Wilbur’s death that the name was changed from Hartzler Brothers to Hartzler’s Store.”


Although Wayne“retired” when he sold the store to his son, he often afterwards could still be found working there, an Alton inspiration for all.

Wayne E. Hartzler died on Sunday, March 25, 2012, and was laid to rest in the Sumner Cemetery at Alton next to his wife Alsa, who passed away in 2006.

Dan Bogue Harrison – 1997 Inductee

Dan Bogue Harrison, son of William Oric and Augusta Jane (Garfield) Harrison, was born January 29, 1865, on the family farm in Chittendon County, Vermont.  One of a family of six boys and three girls, his boyhood days were spent among the hills and valleys of the beautiful Green Mountains.  At the age of sixteen years he moved with his family to Holley, New York.

After school Dan headed west and in December 1885 located at Concordia, Kansas, where he was employed as assistant cashier at the Cloud County Bank. He then spent a short time at the State Bank of Ellis, Kansas, and in a bank at Jamestown, Kansas, before arriving in Downs, Kansas, with his brother, Dwight, in 1872 to help their father establish the State Bank of Downs.

On October 7, 1894, Dan married Artie T. Dillon in Downs.  To this union three children were born, Catherine, William, and Dan, Jr.   The family settled into a comfortable and prosperous existence as Dan busied himself with several business ventures.  He served as a director of the Downs Artificial Ice and Storage Company, the Downs Electric Light and Power Company, the Rice and Johntz Lumber Company, and the Glen Elder State Bank.  He was also a charter member and director of the Kansas Banker’s Surety Company.

Dan was a member of numerous fraternal organization, including the Order of the Eastern Star, Isis Shrine Temple, Elks Lodge, Modern Woodmen of America, the Royal Arch Masons, the Knights Templers, and the Downs Masonic Lodge of which he was a Past Master.  He was involved in civic improvements and government, serving on the Downs city council and school board, as city treasurer, and two terms as mayor.  His name appears on the cornerstone of the Downs Carnegie Library and the Congregational Church, of which he was a member for fifty-three years.  In 1919 he was honored with inclusion in the book series Kansas and Kansans.

In 1904 Dan was elected to the Kansas State Senate for the first of two terms.  While he was in the Senate he was a strong voice in financial affairs and served on the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.  A great lover of outdoor life, for many years he made annual trips to Colorado to fish and hunt.  He also made several trips to Minnesota, but in his later years he spent all his leisure hours working among his flowers and in the garden.  After a long and fruitful life, Dan Harrison passed away December 20, 1945, in Downs.  A large crowd of mourners attended his burial in the Downs Cemetery.

Dwight Harrison Hardman – 1996 Inductee

Osborne industrialist Dwight Harrison Hardman devoted most of his career to the lumber business, although he spent some time in the construction field as well. He built up the Hardman Lumber Company, of which he was the president; and he was absent from his commercial duties at the time of World War II to serve as an officer in the United State Navy.

Dwight was born on February 19, 1897, in Phillipsburg, Kansas, and was the son of Marion W. and Geme (Edick) Hardman. His father is the subject of an accompanying sketch. Attending the public schools of his native city, he graduated from high school there in 1915.  He then entered the University of Kansas, where he was a student for two years. He left to enter naval service for the first time in World War I.  Assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, he was chosen for officer’s training while there and transferred to Northwestern University.

Except for a period of some twenty years spent in highway construction and the building of government airports, the remainder of his active career was devoted to the development of the lumber and building materials business.  In 1925 Dwight went into partnership with a man by the name of Hall to form the Hall-Hardman Construction Company, headquartered in Alton.

On April 8, 1922, Dwight Hardman was married to Mabel Parker at Junction City, Kansas.  They established their home in Alton, residing there until 1945 when they moved to Osborne.  In 1940 Alton had a new airport, built one mile west and one mile north of town.  The airport began with Jess Daffendoll, who had a long time “bug” for flying.  While shopping for a plane and talking about the idea, the “bug” also hit Dwight Hardman.  Between the two the airport was conceived and the field laid out.  Since Dwight owned and operated a large contracting business in the area he furnished the machinery and cleared away tons of cacti, filled in holes, and rolled the ground until it resembled a billiard table.  A number of people became interested in flying after the two inaugurated it, including Marian Hardman, Dwight’s sister.  Dwight was a charter member of the Everett Storer Post Number 87 of the American Legion atAlton, and the legion hall, now called Hardman Hall, was made possible through his generosity.

Most of his career, however, was identified with the Hardman Lumber Company. This firm had been started in 1909 with three yards. He played an active part in building up the organization prior to re-entering the United State Navy at the time of World War II.

It was in November, 1942, that he was sworn in as a lieutenant commander in the United States Naval Engineering Corps., and soon afterwards Dwight was appointed officer in charge of the 57th Battalion of Seabees (Construction Battalions). Assigned to duty in the Pacific, he spent one year in the New Hebrides, and moved with his battalion from there to the advance naval base on the Isle of Manus.  Commander Hardman returned to the United States in September, 1944, and shortly afterwards was ordered to the School Military Government, Princeton University.

On returning once again to peacetime pursuits, Dwight became president of the Hardman Lumber Company in 1945. In 1947 he completed the construction of new headquarters in Osborne. Previous to that time the firm’s main offices had been at Downs. By 1956 the lumber firm operated about thirty yards in western Kansas, eastern Colorado and Nebraska and carried on a large wholesale business as well as retail.

Dwight was a member of the Kansas State Chamber of Commerce, and as a veteran of naval service in two World Wars, he belonged to Everett Storer Post No. 87, American Legion. He was a member of Downs Lodge No. 204, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Consistory of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite at Topeka, Commandery No. 59 of the Knights Templer, at Osborne, and Isis Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, at Salina. He was also a member of the lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at Phillipsburg, and had been a member of Phi Gamma Delta social fraternity from his college days.

In his politics, Dwight was an independent Republican, and was a conservative in his views on foreign policy. He was a progressive, however, in his attitude toward social trends. A few years before the end of his life he became a member of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Something of the nature of his character and his active mind is suggested in these lines from a review of his career in the columns of a local newspaper:

“Dwight was not provincial in his thinking, but rather catholic and universal. His vast studies of world history, economics and politics gave him an insight into modern diplomacy and daily drama that but few seem to grasp in our time . . . Dwight learned courage from his parents, he learned fortitude in the Navy and in business . . . His business associates and ardent friends feel a deep loss . . .”

In 1955 the Hardmans were flying to Washington, D.C., where Dwight was to be a delegate to a United States Chamber of Commerce meeting, when Dwight passed away at the Hotel President in Kansas City on April 29, 1955.  His funeral was held at the Downs Congregational Church and he was buried in the Downs Cemetery.  In 1959 Dwight’s widow gave the land for Hardman Park to the City of Osborne in his memory.

Marion “Billy” Willford Hardman – 1996 Inductee

The Hardman Lumber Company and its affliated corporations, once operating in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado, was one of the largest businesses of its kind in the Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska area. It owes its origins to the activities of Marion Willford Hardman, who was not only a leader in the lumber industry but in political and municipal affairs and in the Masonic world. Though the business is today headquartered at Osborne, Mr. Hardman centered his activities at Phillipsburg, a city which he served as Mayor.

“Billy” Hardman was born August 25,  1868, in Rochester, Iowa, and was the oldest of seven children born to Nathaniel and Ellen (Willford) Hardman.  The family moved to Kansas in 1871, taking homesteads near Jamestown in Cloud County.  Eight years later they moved to Downs, where Nathaniel Hardman opened the Pioneer Store with a line of general merchandise and drugs.  In 1882 he was killed in an accident in the railroad yards and Billy had to go to work full-time at the Howell Lumber Company to provide for his mother and siblings.  He was fourteen years old.

In 1887 Billy went to Sheridan Lake, Colorado, and spent two years managing a lumberyard.   He then returned to Downs and worked for the E. P. Craney Lumber Company.  In 1892 he formed a partnership with Henry Welty and W. H. Noll known as the Central Lumber Company.  On February 6, 1895, Billy married Geme Edick in Phillipsburg, Kansas.  They had three children, Dwight, Marian, and Mary.  The Hardmans lived in Phillipsburg while Billy managed the local lumberyard.  By l903 the Central Lumber Company partnership had dissolved and Billy was left with three lumberyards in Osborne, WaKeeney, and Phillipsburg.

Joined by his brothers, Claude and Arthur Hardman, Marion Hardman established a chain of lumber yards in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado. He became president of the board of directors of this company. In 1903 the company headquarters was located in Phillipsburg, Kansas, with Marion Hardman as company president.  He was also a director of the State Bank of Downs and the Glen Elder State Bank. At Phillipsburg, Mr. Hardman achieved such prominence as to be elected mayor.

Billy’s leadership in the fraternal world made him one of Kansas’ best known Masons.  A Master Mason, he joined the Downs Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, on August 23, 1890, and was the first member to recieve the fifty-year service button.  He held all offices in the Phillipsburg Commandery, Knights Templar; was advanced to the thirty-second degree in the Topeka Consistory, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite; became a Noble of Isis Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Salina, and served as patron of the Downs chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. He also belonged to the Concordia Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

In 1917 Billy moved his family to Downs, where the company was headquartered until 1947, when it relocated to Osborne.  In forty-five years the Hardman Lumber Company had expanded from its original three yards to forty-two yards scattered across Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska.  The company also owned a fir mill in Oregon, a red shingle mill in Washington, and timberlands in British Columbia.

Straightforward and honest, the editor of the Downs News once summed up Marion’s character in one word: “gentleman.”  Marion died March 22, 1945, in Downs and was laid to rest in the Downs Cemetery.  A vast business which helped and continues to help in the development of the West and the Middle West is his legacy to the nation.

Lewis Hanback – 1996 Inductee

“In the summer of 1865, soon after the close of the Civil War, in which he had played a gallant part as a Union officer, Lewis Hanback came to Kansas to practice law.  For many years he was one of the eminent members of the Kansas bar, and he was also known and esteemed in public affairs.  He was one of the members of Kansas history during the latter half of the [nineteenth] century.” — Kansas and Kansans, 1919.

Lt. Lewis Hanback of the 27th Illinois Infantry during the Civil War.

Lewis Hanback was born March 27, 1839, in Winchester, Scott County, Illinois.  He was the oldest of six children by William and Ann Hanback.  His childhood was spent at Winchester and Madison, Indiana, after which the family moved to Quincy, Illinois.  The father, William, died there May 1, 1855, and his wife passed away the following March.  The family broke up after the parents’ death and the children became separated.  Lewis was seventeen when he went to work as a farm hand.  His education was not neglected.  He had previously attended the local school at Winchester and later he graduated from the Cherry Grove Seminary in Knox County, Illinois.  During the winter of 1860-61 he taught a term of country school.

Hanback enlistedApril 19, 1861, at Jacksonville, Illinois, when the Civil War began and the first call for troops came out.  He joined the “Harding Light Guards,” later Company B of the Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  When his term of three months ended Hanback re-enlisted in Company K of the 27th Illinois Infantry.  The same day Hanback was mustered in as orderly sergeant he participated in General Ulysses S. Grant’s attack on Belmont, Missouri.  Afterwards he was commissioned a second lieutenant of his company and promoted through the grades.  Hanback served with Grant in Kentucky and at the sieges of Island Number 10 and Corinth, Mississippi.  He then served on the staffs of Colonel G. W. Roberts, General C. G. Harker, and General L. P. Bradley, and took part in the battles at Stone River and Chickamauga and in the siege of Chattanooga.  Under General Phil Sheridan he served in the battle of Missionary Ridge.  Hanback reached the rank of captain when his enlistment time ended and he was mustered out September 20, 1864, at Springfield, Missouri.

After the war Hanback attended law school in Albany, New York, for a year.  On August 9, 1865, he married Hester Cooper of Chapin, Illinois.  Thirteen days later the couple moved to Topeka, Kansas, where Hanback was admitted to the Kansas bar and opened a law practice.  In 1867 he served as justice of the peace, then city attorney  and as Shawnee County Probate Judge from 1868 through 1872.  Lewis became Assistant Chief Clerk to the Kansas House of Representatives and later Assistant Secretary to the Kansas Senate.  In March 1878 Hanback was appointed Assistant U. S. District Attorney for Kansas.

While in Topeka the Hanbacks saw three of their children not live beyond infancy. Three other children lived to adulthood–Clara, Edwin, and Grace.  The family went to Salina, Kansas, in 1879 when Hanback was appointed Receiver for the United States Land Office there.  His formal entry into politics came in 1882 when he was elected to the at-large berth Kansas then had in the U.S. House of Representatives.  A Republican, he moved his family to Osborne in May 1883 and was re-elected to a second term the next year.

In 1887 Hanback was defeated and retired from active politics.  At Osborne he remained active in Masonic Lodge, Loyal Legion, and Grand Army of the Republic circles.  He turned down an 1889 offer to become editor of the Osborne County Farmer but instead continued in great demand as a speaker who could make an audience laugh or cry at his discretion.


“He spoke extemporaneously and his eloquence electrified his audiences on patriotic occasions . . . As a boy I once heard him rehearse a battle scene in which the late Governor Lyman U. Humphrey [of Kansas] carried the flag across a bloody terrain, the speech being a prelude to an introduction of Governor Humphrey to an audience.  When Hanback reached the climax every man in the room was standing on his chair shouting at the top of his voice.  It was the most exciting moment we have ever witnessed at a political meeting.

It didn’t last long after Humphrey began speaking.  He was a very poor speaker and dealt largely in statistics, with the result that his audience was soon peacefully sleeping.  Hanback as a word painter has had few equals in Kansas.  We shall not see his like again.” — Charles E. Mann, Osborne County Farmer, September 1914.


Lewis Hanback as U.S. Representative.

Hanback’s virtuosity with words served Osborne well.  Literary debates were the rage of the day and the rivalry between Osborne and Smith Center was intense.  In 1889 the Osborne Literary Society went to Smith Center for a much-anticipated debate.  Hanback, disguised and hidden, was suddenly introduced as the last Osborne speaker.  The Smith Center crowd cried foul and were in a somewhat riotous mood, but after Hanback finished speaking a roar of applause greeted his oration.  All was forgiven and the night ended peacefully.

In 1891 Hanback moved back to Topekaand resumed his law practice.  After a period as Adjutant General of Kansas he moved to the Kansas City suburb of Armourdale, Kansas, dealing in law and real estate.  His last public appearances were at the Ottawa (KS) Chautauqua and at Chetopa, Kansas, where he addressed a meeting of the GAR.  He contracted typhoid fever and two weeks later Lewis Hanback passed away at his home in Armourdale on September 6, 1897, shortly after he was named to Who’s Who in America.

Hanback was originally buried in the Armoudale Cemetery, but in 1910 a dispute arose over a proposal that he be buried elsewhere. Kansas City,Topeka,Wichita, and even Osborne all vied for the honor.  In the end Congressman Hanback was reburied in the Topeka Cemetery under a suitable monument next to his wife and three children.