Frank Avery Paschal – 1996 Inductee

Frank Avery Paschal was born December 26, 1895, in Valley Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  The son of William and Dorcas (Transue) Paschal.  Frank was educated in the rural one-room schools.  He then attended Kansas Wesleyan College in Salina, Kansas, and Fort Hays State Teacher’s College at Hays, Kansas.  From 1916 through 1935 he taught at Vincent and Duffy one-room rural schools and was an administrator at both Covert and Alton town schools.  He married Louisa L. Robinson in 1917, and the couple had three daughters – Marie, Frances, and Florence Ann.

In 1935 Frank was elected County Superintendent of Public Instruction.  He served five terms, ending in 1944.  He was then appointed state school supervisor for the Kansas Department of Education.  In 1947 Frank became secretary to Governor Frank Carlson on the now-U.S. Senator’s staff in Washington, D.C.

In Washington Frank served in many official positions over the next eighteen years.  He was Chief Clerk of the Republican Party and for a time was Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Post Office.  For fourteen years he served on the Civil Service Committee, where he helped draft and analyze postal and civil service legislation, conducted hearings and wrote legislative statements and even a few speeches.  He retired in 1969 as Executive Assistant to the U. S. Senate.

Frank remained active in the Masonic Lodge and the Order of the Eastern Star.  He was a past president of the Downtown Topeka (Kansas) Optimist Club and had served as president of the Kansas County Superintendent’s Association.  After a lifetime of public service Frank enjoyed a quiet retirement.  He passed away February 24, 1987, in Naples, Florida, and was buried in Topeka’s Mount Hope Cemetery.

Russell Scott Osborn – 1997 Inductee

Combmaker, book canvasser, lumberman, brickmaker, military veteran, Congregational minister, stonemason, politician.  All these were the trades of Russell Scott Osborn, born July 3, 1833, at Margaretville, Delaware County, New York.  As a young man Osborn moved to Harvey County, Illinois.  There he met and married Sabrina Letitia McKinley, a cousin of President William McKinley, on February 14, 1857.  Russell and Sabrina had eight children – Nettie, Ella, Nathan, Catherine, Oscar, Carl, Charles and Katie.

With the start of the Civil War, Osborn enlisted in Company C of the 17th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  He then re-enlisted in Company F of the 140th Illinois Infantry, being discharged in December 1864 with the rank of captain.  In 1865 he moved his family to Story County, Iowa, where Osborn engaged in the nursery business.  During their stay here he was ordained a minister in the Congregational Church.

On August 7, 1872, the Osborn family came to Kansas and settled on a homestead located four miles west of Bull City in Sumner Township, Osborne County.  They lived on the homestead for the next twenty years.  Osborn supplemented his farming income by working as a stonemason.  He built the Ash Rock Church in northwest RooksCounty, the First Congregational Church in Stockton, the Alton stone mill, and several stone houses in the vicinity, including his own.

As a Congregational minister, Osborn helped organize churches at Ash Rock in Rooks County, New Harmony in southern Smith County, and at Mount Ayr in Osborne County.  He was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Congregational Churches in Western Kansas.  Osborn preached wherever he went, and from 1890 to 1892 he served as minister of the First Congregational Church in Stockton.

Osborn had considered himself a Republican in political matters, but when he was about 60 years old he became involved in the Farmers’ Alliance Movement in an attempt to help the plight of farmers during a financially depressed era.  With the rise of the Populist Party in 1890 Osborn and many other Kansans switched sides.  In 1892 Captain Osborn became Kansas Secretary of State on the Populist Party ticket. His career as a politician found him involved in the infamous Legislative War of 1893. The Republican and Populist Party members of the Kansas House of Representatives battled over who would gain control of the House.  The discord escalated to the point of physical violence with the Republicans breaking down the doors to Representative Hall with a sledge hammer and the two factions taking up arms against each other.  The governor finally called in the state militia to restore the peace, and the Kansas Supreme Court determined that the Republican Party had the legal majority in the Kansas

Osborn served only one term as Secretary of State.  He retired from politics and continued to live in Topeka.  In 1898 his wife died and Osborn moved back to the old homestead in Osborne County, where he lived for six more years before moving to Stockton.  He died there May 20, 1912, and was buried in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Sumner Township, Osborne County.

In 2011 Osborn’s great-great granddaughter Patsy Redden compiled a biography on his life entitled “Captain Osborn’s Legacy.”

Lester W. Nixon – 1997 Inductee

Lester W. Nixon was born June 1, 1897, to the Reverend Thomas Jefferson Nixon and his wife Mary on a farm southeast of WaKeeney, Trego County, Kansas.  Lester’s father was a Methodist circuit minister serving rural communities in Trego, Graham and Rooks Counties.  Lester graduated from Natoma, Kansas, High School in 1916 and became certified as a teacher.  He began his teaching career in a one-room rural school outside Natoma.  In 1918, when his family moved to Salina he enrolled in Kansas Wesleyan College to earn his Bachelor’s degree.  However, he was drafted into the U. S. Army in early fall reporting for induction a few days before World War I ended; he was sent home a few days later.  He resumed his studies at Kansas Wesleyan College that winter and graduated in 1921 with majors in English, drama and teacher education.

That fall Lester resumed his teaching career at Covert, Kansas, High School in Osborne County as a teacher and principal.  In 1922 he moved to Natoma as superintendent of the city school system, and then to Potter, Kansas, in 1923 as high school principal.  While at Potter, he met his future wife, Maudine L. Smith, who was a teacher at the high school.  They were married June 1l, 1924, in the Smith Chapel southeast of Marshall, Missouri.  Since Potter – and many other rural Kansas schools at that time – had a policy prohibiting the hiring of husband and wife teachers in the same school system, they moved to Sun City in Barber County, Kansas, where they both taught in the high school.

Lester and Maudine moved in 1926 to Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Lester attended Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City, earning his Master of Education degree in 1927.  That year Lester was elected to Phi Delta Kappa, a national honorary education fraternity.

In June 1928 the family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where Lester’s father was operating a chicken farm but was in ill health Lester spent the spring and summer of 1928 in Boulder helping his father run the chicken farm and taking post graduate courses at the University of Colorado.

Lester became interested in teaching at the college level and accepted a position at the then-year old El Dorado (Kansas) Junior College (now Butler County Community College) for the 1929-30 school year.

The depression years were not particularly kind to junior college enrollments, so Lester also taught some English classes in the El Dorado High School.  Lester continued his professional education, taking post-graduate courses at Emporia State University, Friends University, and the University of Colorado; he also taught several summer sessions at the University of Colorado.

Lester gained renown throughout the Kansas junior/community college system for his expertise in developing outstanding drama and debate teams; in fact, his 1938, 1950 and 1955 debate teams place first in the National Junior College Debate Tournaments.  He was deeply interested and concerned with his students, and encouraged them to complete their college degrees and go on to rewarding and challenging careers.  Lester received many honors in his lifetime from his peers and others for his achievements in education, including being nominated Outstanding Kansas Teacher of the Year in 1959.  Several times he turned down opportunities at four-year universities to stay in El Dorado. He retired from teaching at last in 1967.

During his years in El Dorado, he was very active in the community and served on the boards of many civic organizations; he was a strong supporter and member of the Bradford Public Library, the El Dorado Community Concert Association, the Knife and Fork Club, the El Dorado Little Theater, and the First United Methodist Church.  In recognition of his outstanding achievements as a college teacher and community leader, in 1982 the college named its library as the L. W. Nixon Library in his honor.

Lester Nixon passed away in El Dorado on June 27, 1999, at the age of 102 years old. He was laid to rest in Walnut Valley memorial Park in El Dorado, Kansas.

Mildred Viola (Adams) Morgan – 2002 Inductee

It is a distinct honor to celebrate the life of a woman who for fifty-six years unflinchingly gave so much of her time over to doing the little things that others rarely try to take the time to do, for the betterment of all.

Mildred Viola Adams was born April 22, 1922, on a farm in Bates County, Missouri, the fifth child in a family of seven boys and five girls. Her parents Bennie & Ivie Adams saw to it that she and rest of their passel received an education, first at the local one-room schoolhouse, and later at high school in Rich Hill, Missouri. After graduation Mildred went to the big city—Kansas City—when she met and married her husband, Jack Leroy Morgan, on September 1, 1946.

After Jack graduated college in 1950 with a degree in pharmacy the couple moved first to Wichita, later arriving in Osborne in June 1955 where Jack began work in Hilsinger Drug Store. Here Jack and Mildred raised their daughter Patti and Mildred became a volunteer cook, the first one ever, at Parkview Manor in Osborne. In 1967 she joined the Organization of Gray Ladies, a volunteer society under the American Red Cross that whose purpose was to alleviate pain and sorrow. This group of trained volunteers worked side by side with the nursing staff at the rest homes in Downs and Osborne to care for the sick and elderly. Mildred quickly learned that often it was the little things that a volunteer could help with most—the bingo games, serving coffee, playing cards, reading to a resident.

While a caregiver at Parkview Manor (later called Parkview Care Center) Mildred often went above and beyond her assigned duties. She visited Parkview several times a week, helping with the little things that were needed back in 1967, along with taking those who needed a ride to doctor or dentist appointments, picking up people needing a ride to Parkview or to the activities at Solomon Valley Homes, where she kept up the card games and bingo nights going as well. From 1979 to 1996 she was the Parkview Activity Director, and even after her retirement from that position she continued to help where needed.

“She did so many ‘second mile’ and ‘behind the scenes’ deeds for the resident family that it is impossible to list them. However, whatever the need she saw, she took care of it. Her attention to detail was outstanding.” – Betty Jo Banks, administrator, Parkview Care Center.

Mildred was the Osborne County Heart Fund chairperson for many years and also worked with the local American Cancer Society for over 30 years.

You saw Mildred when and wherever a volunteer was needed. She helped with numerous bake sale fundraisers with her cakes and pies. At one time she instigated a fundraiser for a lad who was terminally ill with cancer. She also helped some families who had moved to Osborne and did not read or speak English. When anyone was in the hospital or ill, Mildred had a card in the mail for them or delivered a pie or casserole to their door, or she greeted them with a glass of homemade jelly. When on her daily walk from her Osborne home she would always carry a bag with which to pick up trash she found along the way.

When taking part in projects and social gatherings Mildred was always counted on to do more than one person’s share. She was active in the Osborne Christian United Church and volunteered time to work at the Market Place in Osborne. Mildred was appointed to the Silver Haired Legislature for Osborne County and was a member of the Solomon Valley Highway 24 Heritage Alliance, the North Central Kansas Tourism Council, and Osborne County Tourism, Inc., where her advice and insights were in valuable. She volunteered at the Kansas Sampler Festival for fifteen years, no matter how far away the Festival was being held from Osborne, and helped both set up and man Osborne County’s display there, handing out brochures and other information while informing people as to the many attractions that Osborne County offered.

Mildred often amazed people as she was blessed with the energy of a person fifteen to twenty years younger. She enjoyed good health up to just a few days before her final illness, with her passing occurring on April 30, 2011. Mildred was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

Martin M. Mohler – 1996 Inductee / Jacob Christian Mohler – 1997 Inductee


Martin and His Son, Jacob Christian, Each a Secretary of Agriculture in Kansas

Martin M. Mohler.

“One of my prized possessions is a group picture of three young men.  Underneath is inscribed ‘The Second Graduating Class of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois–1861.’  One of these young men was my grandfather, Martin M. Mohler.  Martin was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, on March 20, 1830.  The founder of the Mohlers in this country was Ludwig Mohler, who come to America from Switzerland in August 1730, settling in Pennsylvania.

Martin moved with his parents to Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in 1840 and began teaching school at age seventeen.  After six years he entered the Mount Morris Rock River Seminary for a two-year course of instruction.

He then attended Northwestern University, after which he then returned to Pennsylvania and engaged in teaching at Lewistown High School.  On May 15, 1862, he married Lucinda C. Hoover and the couple had five children.  In 1864 he was appointed Mifflin County Superintendent of Schools to fill a vacancy.  He was reelected to two more terms before stepping down in 1869.  That same year he bought and assumed charge of the Kishacoquilla Seminary until 1871, when failing health induced him to move to Kansas.

Mr. Mohler was interested in politics.  A letter of his reports ‘I attended the National Convention at Chicago, which nominated Abraham Lincoln for President and had the honor of shaking his hand at a reception held in Evanston.’  In June 1871 Mr. Mohler, his wife, and their two-year old daughter, Margaret (my mother) came to Kansas, first stopping in Lawrence, then upon hearing of the Pennsylvania Colony’s settlement in Osborne County, moved west and settled on a half-section homestead in Corinth Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  He improved his land, planting trees, flowers, crops, and surrounding it with hedges.  I shall never forget the stories my grandmother told me about life on a farm in the 1870s.  One day an Indian walked into her home, stuck his hand into a bowl of what he thought was sugar, took a big mouthful, spit out the salt and tramped out muttering ‘Bad, bad squaw.’  Another time my grandfather took his daughter, Margaret, to see the Indians dancing around the campfire.  Suddenly one Indian began chasing her.  Her father called to her to drop her little red shawl.  She did–this is what the Indian wanted.  After this, my mother would always hide under the bed when Indians came to her house, because ‘I wanted to keep my long, black hair.’

This sod dugout in Corinth Township, Osborne County, Kansas, was the home to two future Kansas Agriculture Secretaries in the later 1870s/early 1880s. Father Martin Mohler stands at left while son Jacob Mohler can be seen at far right.

Mohler continued to farm and served as County Treasurer of Osborne County for two terms, from 1878 to l881.  Also during this time, four more children were born:  Laura, Jacob, Frank, and Reuben.  All the children received their early education in District 32, Fairview School, a one-room school built on the corner of the Mohler farm.

Martin Mohler was described as a successful farmer with progressive ideas.  In 1877 he joined the State Agricultural Society, which was later taken under the support of the state.  In 1888 he was chosen to be Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture of Kansas, the first from the western half of the state.  The family moved to a farm southwest of Topeka, Kansas, but later moved to 1611 Mulvane in the College Hill District.  Margaret (Mrs. W. A. Neiswanger) lived next door.  Laura soon married and moved to Califomia but Jacob and Frank attended Washburn University.  At graduation Frank received a Rhodes Scholarship and studied at OxfordUniversity in England.  Later he was in China for years with the Y.M.C.A.  Jacob played on the football, basketball, and tennis teams at Washburn.

During Mr. Mohler’s regime, he felt the methods of Kansas farming required many changes, so he applied himself to the study of soils, seeds, and seasons and suggested improved methods.  The Sixth Biennial Report of the Kansas Board of Agriculture, under Martin Mohler’s direction, was awarded a medal and diploma at the Paris Exposition in 1889 as the best of its kind in the world.

Martin Mohler was a Presbyterian, a Mason, and a member of the Kansas State Historical Society, and the Sons and Daughters of Justice fraternal society.  He retired from his position as Agriculture Secretary in 1894 and passed away March 20, 1903, in Topeka, and was buried in the TopekaCemetery.

Jacob “Jake” Christian Mohler.

Jacob Christian Mohler, son of Martin, was born April 7, 1875, on the family homestead in Corinth Township.  He began working for his father’s successor, F. D. Coburn, in 1892 while attending Washburn.  In 1901 he was promoted to assistant secretary, and when Mr. Coburn retired in 1914, Jacob, always referred to as ‘Jake,’ became the second Mohler to be Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture of Kansas.  It was during Jacob’s early years that the phrase ‘Kansas Grows the Best Wheat in the World’ was coined.  He later was quoted, ‘It’s the wheat that makes us famous but it’s the corn that makes us rich,’ and he dug up statistics to prove it.  Jake, as his father before him, was never known as a desk farmer; he got out with the men of the soil, studied their problems and tried to find a solution.

Jake was married October 30, 1901, to Ruth Pearl McClintock (whose father was a noted surgeon in Kansas) at Topeka.  They had three children:  John, born December 13, l904; James, born November 4, 1907; and Marcia, born June 27, 1916.

Jake was chairman of the State Entomological Commission and editor and compiler of regular publications of the State Board of Agriculture.  During World War I he was secretary of the Kansas Council of Defense, chairman of the U.S. Food Administration, and president of the National Association of Secretaries and Commissioners of Agriculture.  He was director of the Central Trust Company of Topeka and was a member of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce, the Scottish Rite Masons, the Topeka Red Cross, and the Kansas State Historical Society.  In 1933 he was given life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society.

On January 14, 1948, a tribute to Jake Mohler was presented at the 77th Annual Meeting of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture in Topeka.  An editorial written on the impending program had this to say concerning the Kansas Agriculture Secretary:

‘No artist on earth is capable of reducing the personality of Jake Mohler to a few square feet of canvas.  The imprint of Jake, stamped into the soil of 82,158 square miles of Kansas, is carried in the hearts and minds of several generations of her people.  During all of the long and useful years of his life he has sketched his own portrait, often gaily and always colorfully, and the brush strokes of his service to Kansas have been bold and clear and enduring. No doubt Jake himself would rather be boiled in oil than ‘done’ with it.  But in his heart will be pride and gratitude, and there will be a tear in his eye as Kansas reciprocates with this gesture of affection for the man who has loved this state and has labored for it during more than a half a century.’

W. Laird Dean, distinguished banker and director of the Santa Fe Railroad, said of Jacob Mohler at his tribute:  ‘I take off my hat to him as the man who has done more for the state of Kansas than any man now living and any man of who I know who has passed away.’

In 1950 Jacob Mohler retired after fifty-seven years with the Kansas State Board of Agriculture.  He died January 18, 1953, in Topeka and was laid to rest in the Topeka Cemetery.” — Written by Mary Neiswanger Ihinger in the Bulletin of the Shawnee County (KS) Historical Society (1951; with information added 1997).

William Henry Mize – 1996 Inductee

William Henry Mize certainly helped put Osborne County on the map in its early days. William was born March 28, 1846, in Proctor, Owlsley County, Kentucky, to William and Caroline (Jacobs) Mize. There he grew to manhood and in 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Once he was captured by a unit of Confederate soldiers, which included some of his cousins. “It’s good to see you, Willie,” one of them told him, “but not in the company you keep.”

After being mustered out of service at the war’s end William moved to Kansas. At Junction City he met and married Louisa Ann Panton on January 3, 1872. They had five children, William, Walter, Granville, Mabel, and Ethel. In 1882 William relocated his family to Osborne, Kansas, where his parents had already settled. The Mizes first bought a farm southwest of town but soon moved into Osborne and rented out the farm.

Early in life William became a member of the Methodist Church and upon his arrival in Osborne he became a valuable layman in the church there. He is credited with rebuilding and thus saving the history of the church’s early years after the original records were lost in a fire. He worked as a farmer and later in Osborne he became an insurance agent and land speculator. One of his passions was writing. While many of his manuscripts never saw publication some did; the most notable was Gold, Grace, and Glory, which was published August 8, 1896, by G. W. Dillingham Publishers of New York, New York. The novel tells the tale of Methodist Church youth and their social lives as they traveled to various points in the Osborne County area.

From 1903 through 1906 William served two terms as Osborne County Clerk. His deputy was his daughter Mabel. But he achieved his greatest fame as a loyal and accomplished member of the Masonic fraternal organizations. At this point in time membership in the ancient Masonic movement was highly prized and essential for furthering any careers in business or politics. The local Masonic Lodge was often the catalyst for new ideas and needed improvements in the smaller towns and cities across America. William Mize joined the Masons in 1868 and remained a member for fifty-two years, carrying over his membership wherever he later moved to. He joined Saqui Lodge, Number 160, in Osborne in 1884 and rose to the highest positions available within the Masonic fraternity ever achieved by an Osborne County citizen. He advanced in all degrees except the Scottish Rite, and only failed there because in his time the rite could only be conferred upon a candidate in Scotland itself. William served every office and capacity and three times served as Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Kansas, the head of all Masonic activities in the state. The DeMolay Lodge for Masonic Youth in Osborne was founded by Mize and was later renamed for him. His influence in Masonic matters reached beyond Kansas across the Midwest and in doing so further enhanced Osborne County as a notable place to live and work.

William Mize died April 12, 1920, in Osborne. An elaborate Masonic ceremony accompanied this most distinguished Mason to his final resting place in the Osborne Cemetery.

John Knox Mitchell – 2009 Inductee

“John Knox Mitchell was one of the most influential men “behind the scenes” in Osborne County history.  A resident of Osborne city for more than forty years, he died at his home early Saturday morning, March 4, 1922, after an illness of ten weeks, aged 78 years.  He was born in Hart County, Kentucky, on June 17, 1848, and was the son of James and Mary (Masters) Mitchell.  After his school days were over Mitchell engaged in teaching, then studied law and graduated at Columbia law school in 1875.  Three years later he came to Osborne and entered into a partnership with Attorney Zachary T. Walrond, his cousin, who was one of the very earliest settlers in Osborne County [and later fellow member of the Osborne County Hall of Fame].  Mitchell was admitted to the Osborne County bar in 1879 and was considered one of the best posted lawyers in this part of Kansas.

Mitchell was a lifelong Presbyterian and soon after his arrival in Osborne he subscribed his name to the charter roll of 21 members when the Osborne Presbyterian Church was organized by Rev. J. M. Batchelder.  He was an ardent Sunday School man, teaching for many years and serving as superintendent of the Sunday School.  He was elected ruling elder of the congregation in 1885 and held that office twenty years.  As a Mason he was well known in Kansas, affiliating with the three branches of the order in Osborne, and being a member of Cyrene Commandery Knights Templar of Beloit.

On April 15, 1891, he married Sarah Frances Brown of Natoma at the Knebworth Farm.  They had four children, two of which died young, and raised to adulthood daughters Dorothy (later Mrs. George Bailey) and Muriel.

The John Knox Mitchell family. Clockwise from left: J. K. Mitchell; daughter Muriel; wife Frances; and daughter Dorothy. Photo courtesy of the Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society.

Mitchell was a successful and influential attorney in Osborne for over 40 years.  In addition to being a lawyer he was also a Notary Public in 1878-1879.  In terms of public offices Mitchell served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas State Historical Society from January 1909 to December 1912.  In 1917-1918 he served as Osborne County Attorney, and in 1919-1920 Mitchell served as Osborne County District Court Judge.

For more than forty years Mr. Mitchell practiced law in this city and was devoted to his profession.  He was not considered a great advocate but was well versed in the fundamentals of law, and a large familiarity with court reports so that he was a good counselor.  He also had an extensive knowledge of history, biography and literature.  Perhaps no one in this county had a library covering so large a range of subject.  He was a man of pronounced individuality; strong convictions with courage to defend the right as he saw it, he was often misunderstood, and in political campaigns and times of agitation on other subjects in the community he was criticized, and being with an intimate acquaintance with him of nearly half a century I seldom heard him speak an unkind word to anyone.  Often times he would come, deeply wounded, and his only comment would be, “Why did they want to do that?”  He was public spirited, interested in and contributing so far as he was able to the improvements in his city.  He had an abiding faith in things unseen, was devoted to the church of his choice as one of the avenues through which Christianity would triumph, in the world.  A number of people (some locally and elsewhere) have been the recipients of his generosity.  Some years ago he became interested in two young men and through his instrumentality they went to college in Kentucky.  One of these, Henry Buell, is pastor in a Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, California; the other, Frank Duffy, has been successful.  Although born and reared in the South, he was for the Union one and inseparable, and always an American.

From December 14th until the time of his death Mitchell was confined to his bed.  Almost a constant sufferer during all that long siege he was in an eminent degree, kind, gentle, courteous to his attendants.  To suffer in silence, without murmur or complaint is an evidence of a great soul, with a deep underlying faith.  Those of us who knew him intimately and understood the nature of his life will, as the days go by, miss good fellowship and counsel.

Last Saturday just before dawn his spirit took its flight.  Bryant describes his last moments.  “Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him and lies down to pleasant dreams.” – written by Robert R. Hays [fellow member, Osborne County Hall of Fame].

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When John Knox Mitchell passed away three brothers and one sister were left to mourn his departure – M. L. Mitchell of Columbia, Kentucky; W. H. Mitchell of Sterling, Kansas; James Mitchell, who home is in Missouri; and Mrs. Mary Murrell of Canton, Oklahoma.

John Knox Mitchell’s funeral services were held at the Presbyterian Church on Monday afternoon, March 6, 1922,  at 2:00 o’clock, conducted by the pastor, Rev. E. M. Scott, assisted by all the pastors of the city and Rev. Joel Mitchell of LaHarpe, a cousin of the deceased.  Special music was furnished by the choir composed of Mesdames Woodard, Lee, Cady and LaBore, and Messrs. Zimmerman and Walker, with Mrs. W. P. Gillette at piano.  The Masonic fraternity, of which deceased was a member, attended in a body.  The sermon by Rev. Scott was very beautiful and touching and a fitting eulogy on the life of one who was ever faithful to his trust.  The casket bearers were from the Masonic Fraternity, and the lifelong friends of the deceased, as follows:  S. P. Crampton; C. W. Baldwin; C. W. Eckman, Harvey Bottorff; L.E. Woodward; and S. D. Botkin.  The floral offerings from friends, relatives, and the various organizations were many and very beautiful.  The services at the grave were in charge of the Saqui Lodge No. 160, A. F. & A. M., and were very impressive.  The oration was delivered by Worshipful Master D. C. Roy and interment was made in the family lot in the Osborne Cemetery.

The Mitchell family home in Osborne, Kansas. Photo courtesy of Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society.


The Mitchell family at the train station in Osborne in 1914, saying goodbye to youngest daughter Muriel, who was leaving for college. Photo courtesy of Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society.

Melvin “Tubby” Miller – 1996 Inductee

It is with justifiable pride that the citizens of Osborne County can look back on a long history of notable contributions to the arts. Yet all too often an individual’s years of effort in this field has gone largely unnoticed or unappreciated by most people. Until recently few outside of his hometown of Portis had heard of animator Melvin Miller or his role in drawing Porky Pig and other cartoon characters. For sixty many decades now his work has captivated and delighted audiences worldwide, and thanks to the diligent labor of close friends the man behind the gift of so much joy and laughter has became known and honored.

Melvin was born May 6, 1900, to Dan and Nora (Bell) Miller. He received the nickname of “Tubby” due to his being round as a tub as a boy. In school his talent for sketching became evident as he filled his textbooks with drawings of the lesson he was learning at the time. Melvin graduated from Portis High School in 1918 and attended the Kansas City Art School in Missouri. He was then hired by Leon Schlessinger Productions in California.

Upon arriving in Hollywood he changed his name for professional reasons, and Mel Millar was seen on theaters screens across the country. Under Schlessinger Mel worked on numerous “Looney Tunes” and “Merry Melodies” cartoons. For many of these he sketched the famous Porky Pig. Some cartoons also featured the character Portis Pig, named after his hometown. And whenever a Porky Pig feature was being shown near Portis the people there would call and tell each other so that few would miss seeing Mel’s creations.  Later Mel moved on, working a while for Walt Disney Productions and then teaching at the Hollywood Art School. He married Helen Hefner in 1957 and continued to live in Burbank, California.

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‘Little Slocum’, Other Cartoons By Mel Millar Slated for ‘News’

(Van Nuys News, May 5, 1949)

There’s a new little youngster coming to Van Nuys—a perky, happy little fellow in a big sombrero, and you’re going to see a lot of this happy chappy in the weeks to come, because he is going to be here and there and ‘round-about in the Valley to greet all present residents and newcomers.  His name? “Little Slocum”!

He is a pen-child created by Mel Millar, nationally known cartoonist and illustrator, and has been devised by Millar to tell the thousands of Valley residents about Slocum Furniture Co. at 6187 Van Nuys Blvd., and of the wide selection of home furnishings to be found there at attractive prices.

Pictures Each Issue

Little Slocum’s pen-master is a Valley man himself, and everyone has seen his clever, laugh-provoking cartoons in such leading newspapers and magazines as The New York Times, Collier’s, and many others.

Now readers of The News will see Millar’s famous drawings in each issue of this newspaper, and will enjoy them thoroughly, as they will enjoy Little Slocum’s periodic appearances in these pages to act as an alter ego to the cartoons, and to carry the Slocum Furniture message to the public.

As for Mel Millar, he has led an interesting and varied life. Born in the Sunflower State at the turn of the century, he began his artistic attempts on the side of a barn with a piece of rock.

Finishing high school, he served a short hitch in the Navy, then came out determined to pursue art as a career and specialized in cartooning at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.

Draws For The Best

From here Millar went into an agency, was with a film advertising firm, then came to Hollywood in 1931 and worked in animated cartoons at Warner Brothers.

In 1944 he returned to free lancing and since that time has drawn illustrations for Talking Komics, and has sold to Collier’s, This Week, Argosy, New York Times, King Features, Fortnight and others. Also had his own cartoon business in Pasadena for a couple of years, and taught at the Hollywood Art Center School.

“I have a theory that cartoons are the best attention getters, and I sincerely hope everyone will enjoy meeting up with Little Slocum as he greets you in these columns, and also will enjoy the creations I shall draw for publication in The News,” was Millar’s statement today in discussing this new series.

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From time to time Melvin came back to Portis to visit and to attend alumni reunions, where he always entertained his friends with stories and made presents of his drawings. He published several cartoon books and did drawing until his retirement.

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Mel Millar’s Cartoons Span 3 Decades of Good Humor
By BETTY RADSTONE (Valley News, December 28,1967)

Clever cartoonists make most of us feel merry the year around. One of the best-liked American cartoonists has lived and worked in Burbank for the past 32 years. He is Mel Millar who resides at 120 S. Beachwood Drive with his wife Helen and their two cats.

In some ways Mel looks and acts like some of the cartoon characters he draws. Five-foot-six in height and almost that dimension in girth, he lives his humor. When Mel explains a gag, he laughs and shakes — much as Santa Claus — like a bowlful of jelly. His favorite hobby is eating.

The 67-year-old cartoonist, who has created some 10,000 cartoons during his career, wanted to be a cartoonist since he was a boy. In particular, he wanted to be a political cartoonist.

Millar has worked at one of the largest animation studios in Hollywood, has written books on cartooning, and has had many of his cartoons published not only nationally but reproduced in publications throughout the world.

One popular book he has written is a pocketbook, “How to Draw Cartoons.”

Millar is known not only as a magazine, trade journal, and advertising cartoonist, but as the cartoonist’s cartoonist. He receives mail regularly from aspiring young artists as well as from world-famous cartoonists.

Often, Millar receives letters asking, “would you please send me all you know about cartooning in the enclosed stamped envelope?” he said.

In 1920 Millar graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. This was just a few years after Walt Disney’s graduation from the school. In fact, for about a decade Millar seemed to follow Disney’s footsteps from school, to work in Kansas City, to California.

Millar worked for the United Film Ad Service in Kansas City, Mo., from 1927 until he came to California in 1931.

His first job in California was at Warner Bros., where he stayed until 1945. His duties at the studio included being a cartoonist, a gagwriter, and storyman.

During his employment at Warner Bros., he drew well-known cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig.

Syndicate Work

Since 1945, Millar has set up shop in a studio in his Burbank home and has become a free lance cartoonist.

His work has appeared consistently in leading publications across the United States. You can find his work in the Saturday Evening Post and his drawings also have been used by King Features and other syndications.

During the past several years his works have been published nationally in a quarterly advertising booklet called “Happy Days.”

Several years ago, Parade, a national Sunday supplement magazine, asked opinions of America’s leading comedians as to what cartoonist they thought the funniest.

Interpret Differently

The late Ed Wynn, dean of all comedians, picked Mel Millar. As a result, a page of Millar’s cartoons, selected by Wynn, was featured in Parade.

“No art school can make a cartoonist. They only teach one to draw,” Millar stated. He said cartoonists interpret differently than other artists and views cartooning as an art within an art.

“A cartoonist is an artist, but an artist is not necessarily a cartoonist,” Millar said

“Artists reflect themselves, whereas cartoonists reflect the situation in a gentle satire,” he added.

Need Experience

As far as “what” makes the cartoonist, Millar said:  “It is the humor or satire of the idea that makes the cartoonist. And the originating of the ideas comes from observation and accumulated experiences of the various things one has seen or done.”

He said that cartoonists have an art of visualizing the humor in situations which many people miss until they actually see it in the cartoon.

The professional cartoonist must be versatile, refreshing understanding, and have a wide range of interests, according to Millar.

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Melvin died December 30, 1980, and was buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Burbank. Through the efforts of old friends Hud and Nina Turner a limestone memorial was erected in the Portis city park in 1992 to Melvin “Tubby” Miller, so that the accomplishments of a jovial native son will be long remembered.

This and the following are cartoons drawn by Melvin Miller / Mel Millar.


This and the following drawings are taken from “Looney Tunes” and “Merry Melodies” cartoons drawn by Melvin Miller / Mel Millar. In a number of these cartoons he would insert an inside joke or nod to his hometown of Portis, Kansas.




This and the following are book illustrations by Melvin Miller /Mel Millar.

The Porky Pig Marker in memory of Melvin Miller, located in the city park of Portis, Kansas.

Elouise D. Miller – 2010 Inductee

Elouise Miller retired from the Hays School District in 2009 after 60 years of teaching. She was born near Alton in northwest Osborne County in 1932. At age 17 she took her first teaching position.  In 1970 she became one of the first teachers to wear a pants suit to school “I taught their class PE and I was down on the floor with her students a lot,” she recalled. “The request had to be passed by the school board, which required the pantsuit to match because I couldn’t wear just any pair of pants with a shirt.” It was a purple pantsuit.

Elouise was named a Kansas Master Teacher in 2007 and is also a member of the Kansas Teacher Hall of Fame.  In her long career she taught over 2,600 students.


After 60 Years, Teacher Hanging Up Her Crayons

Diane Gasper-O’Brien, May 26, 2009, Hays Daily News:

There’s a laminated sheet of paper on a closet door in Elouise Miller’s classroom, displaying an excerpt from Robert Fulghum’s book, “All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

It’s a teaching philosophy Miller has lived by for a lot of years.

And as Miller’s long career in education winds down this month, it’s been a principle often referred to the past several weeks by those who know her.

Miller, 78, has taught elementary school students for 60 years, including the past 53 in one building – Lincoln Elementary in Hays – and has taught more than 2,600 students during that time period.

She decided earlier this school year this would be her last year of teaching.

Not because of health problems or anything like that. In fact, just the opposite.

“I’m still having fun, but I have to retire sometime,” said Miller, who will turn 79 later this fall.

“I didn’t want to (take a chance of getting) sick and have a substitute have to fill in for me for a long period of time,” she said. “That’s too hard on the kids.”

It will be hard for those in Hays USD 489, especially at Lincoln, to imagine a school year beginning next fall without Miller.

But they weren’t thinking about next year yet this month, throwing party after party in her honor.

“You’d have thought no one ever retired before,” said Miller, who welcomed the many chocolate goodies her colleagues gave her in retirement baskets last week.

Everyone who knows Miller knows she’s been in the business of teaching youngsters a long time.

But an incident that made it clear just how long was when one of her students from her first class in Osborne County showed up at a reception for Miller earlier this month at Lincoln.

“She hasn’t changed in years,” Larry Nichols from Alton said.

Nichols was a second-grader in Miller’s first class at Liberty Bell School, 10 miles northwest of Alton, during the 1948-49 school year.

“I thought it was a neat coincidence that I could attend a retirement reception for my second-grade teacher and my 50th class reunion (from high school) in two weeks’ time,” Nichols said.

Kindergarten ‘a good fit’

After teaching first grade her first nine years at Lincoln, she moved to the kindergarten level in 1966.

She’s been there ever since.

It’s a good fit, said Miller, who likes the honesty of kindergartners.

“If they don’t like something, they’ll tell you,” she said.

“They’re eager at this age, and they like school,” Miller added. “They still have the same basic needs; they need love and attention.”

And Miller seems to have been born with an overabundance of those traits.

“You know the thing ‘everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten,’ ” fellow kindergarten teacher Heidi Wamser said of Miller’s adherence to Fulghum’s philosophy. “Totally true, totally true.”

Wamser, a former student of Miller’s, has gotten to teach in the room next to Miller’s the past three years.

Wamser’s oldest child, Easten, also studied under Miller his kindergarten year in 2007-08.

“I wouldn’t have had him anywhere else,” Wamser said.

That’s because Miller has firmly adhered to Fulghum’s fundamental ground rules.

Share, play fair, don’t take things that aren’t yours, put things back and clean up your own mess are just a few of the traits on Fulghum’s list that Miller pointed out last week.

“If adults would follow these, we would have a lot less problems in the world,” Miller said.

She tried her best for 60 years to make sure her students learned the basics of life.

Miller’s early life

Elouise D. Miller was born on November 24, 1930, one of six children in the Clarence S. and Laura Areta (Sparks) Miller family in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas, where she graduated from the local high school. After a nine week summer school course at Fort Hays State College Elouise began her teaching career at the age of 17.  She first taught school at Liberty Bell, School District #81, and Mount Hope, School District #6, in rural Osborne County for two years, then five years at Woodston, Kansas. At age 24 she moved to Hays in 1955 to finish her bachelor’s degree at Fort Hays Kansas State College.

After two years of teaching in one-room country schools in Osborne County, then in Woodston for five years, she moved to Hays in 1955 to finish her bachelor’s degree at Fort Hays Kansas State College.

She got a job the next year as a first-grade teacher at Lincoln, where she stayed the rest of her long career.

The move to Hays was a big change for the small-town country girl.

“We went from no indoor plumbing and carrying coal for heat to this,” Miller said with a smile, sweeping her hand around her room that now features central air and heat, a restroom right off her classroom and all kinds of technological teacher aids.

She adjusted quite well.

Learning: A lifelong trait

Once in Hays, Miller set about earning her master’s degree in education, as well as an education specialist degree in reading.

Not long after receiving her specialist degree, Miller said a friend of hers tried to talk her into teaching at the college level.

“She said that anybody can teach kindergarten, and I wanted to bop her,” Miller said.

Miller, and anyone who knows her, would beg to differ.

Children learn best when they have a strong foundation of the basics, Miller said.

“It’s the same things my teachers taught me,” she said simply. “They just call it something different now.”

One of those “somethings” is the question of the importance of teaching phonics.

“I know it’s been in and out and in out out, but I think it’s important,” she said. “So I’ve always taught it.”

“A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time in her classroom,” said Fred Kaufman, superintendent of USD 489 since the mid 1980s. “At that time, my observation would have been that she may have been doing this for a long time, but she is ahead of us all.”

“She was doing things we thought we were just discovering,” Kaufman added, “and she’d been doing them for years.”

Miss Miller’s room

Miller’s classroom is a youngster’s dream come true.

Tables and pint-sized chairs are only a small part of this classroom, where a whole lot of learning is done away from their desk area.

In addition to the normal kindergarten curriculum, Miller still teaches her own physical education, art and music. An upright piano sits in the middle of the room.

Students call homemade cardboard study carrels their “private office.”

There is a stage, home to hundreds of puppet shows over the years, and a playhouse, complete with a small replica of a refrigerator, stove and sink and microwave.

An elephant made out of sawhorse and padding, Miller estimates to be more than 50 years old.

During activity periods, Miller splits up the students in different groups.

“That way, they find out everybody is fun to play with,” she said.

Sounds like that could be on Fulghum’s list.

He obviously had someone like Miller in mind when he wrote his book.

Life as a teacher

Miller never married.

“I always said (a husband) would have divorced me, because I’m here all the time,” she said.

Miller usually was the first staff member to school every morning.

“I’d plug in the coffee, and I don’t even drink coffee,” she said.

She also usually was the last to leave at night.

After a day of teaching, Miller would break up her evening with a trip to the swimming pool at Fort Hays State University for a round of aqua-sizing.

A lover of the arts, Miller regularly attends events sponsored by the Hays Arts Council and plays and musicals at the university and local high schools.

But if there weren’t any extracurricular activities on her schedule, she often would stop back by school on her way home from the pool.

“(School) is too close to every place I go,” she said with a smile. “It’s on my way home from church, from the store.”

Miller paused.

“I just really like it here,” she said.

She’ll be back

Miller says she won’t be a stranger.

“I won’t substitute,” said Miller, who plans to travel in retirement.

She’s already visited all 50 states and every continent but Antarctica.

“But I’ll be back to visit,” she added.

Some teachers are glad for the end of the day, and the end of the year, to come.

Not Miller.

She always taught right up to the last day, the last hour, the last minute.

This year was no different, directing the students as she accepted retirement gifts from parents as they came to pick up their children.

“Here, this is for you,” Austin Christian said, pushing a brown bear into Miller’s hands after his mom, Jessica Christian, gave her a plant.

“It’s going to be an adjustment next year,” admitted Elaine Rohleder, in her 16th year as principal at Lincoln. “Miss Miller knows exactly what to do, has this routine and knew what to do for these new kindergartners.”

Miss Miller memories

Miller plans to return to school throughout this week, to clean out 60 years of books and supplies.

“People are always asking to borrow things from me,” she said.

“They always say, ‘Go to Miss Miller’s room. She’ll have it,’ ” Miller said. “And I usually did.”

Miller glanced around one of several storage rooms in the school which she claimed as hers.

Many of her library books date back to the days of having 45 RPM records inserted in sleeves in their back cover.

“I’m leaving a lot of these books,” she said. “Someone will be able to use them.”

Those won’t be the only memories of Miller.

“We won’t have our sounding board, and we’ll miss that,” Rohleder said. “But we will never forget her. There are memories all around of Miss Miller. She’s going to be a legend.”


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Elouise D. Miller also taught Fort Hays State Summer Lab School and for the Hays Summer Reading programs. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree, Masters Degree and Specialist in Education Degree from Fort Hays State College. Elouise also studied at The University of London, Zhejiang University of China and on an Around the World Study Tour.

Her awards include: Outstanding Young Educator for Kansas; the Kansas Teacher’s Hall of Fame; Kansas Master Teacher; Who’s Who in America; the Phi Delta Kappa Cunningham Award; a Delta Kappa Gamma Scholarship and the Phi Kappa Phi.

Elouise was a member of the First United Methodist Church, United Methodist Women, the Sisters of Survivorship, Ellis County Historical Society, Sternberg Museum, the Hays Arts Council, Friends of the Hays Public Library, Cancer Council of Ellis County, a Life Member of National Education Association, a Life Member of Fort Hays State University Alumni, Past President of Hays Teachers Association and Past Delta Kappa Gamma State President. She was a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity of Ellis County, Community Assistance Center, Hospice Hays Medical Center and a Salvation Army bell ringer.

Elouise Miller passed away on Friday, May 1, 2015, at the age of 84 in the Hays Medical Center at Hays, Kansas.  Her body was donated to the KU Medical Center in Overland Park, Kansas.

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Former Teacher Fondly Remembered

by Diane Gasper-O’Brien, Hays Daily News, May 3, 2015

She arrived at school so early she beat the morning janitor to work. She was the model to whom many turned, to learn how to teach kindergartners.

Talking about Elouise Miller, the rock star of longevity in teaching 5- and 6-year-olds, is easy for anyone who knew her.

This weekend was no different as people remembered the 84-year-old teaching legend who taught elementary school children for 60 years, and more than 50 in one building — at Lincoln Elementary School in Hays, a fixture in the first-grade and kindergarten classrooms.

Miller, 84, died Friday after a second bout with cancer. Her funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church, Hays.

One of Miller’s favorite sayings was an excerpt from Robert Fulghum’s book, “All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.”

Diane Frantz, a kindergarten teacher at Lincoln for 19 years from 1984 to 2003, said a lot of what she needed to know about teaching kindergarten, she learned from Miller.

“I could go on for days and days talking about what I learned from Elouise,” Frantz said. “I guess I could compare it to the depth of the ocean.”

Frantz, who now teaches kindergarten in the Phillipsburg school district, said nearly every day she thinks about something she learned from Miller.

“She had a natural ability to manage her students in a respectful, gentle and calm way,” Frantz said. “There were no discipline issues in her class.”

Frantz said Miller not only taught her students life skills, but her advice was heeded by adults as well.

“ ‘Be a role model, not only for your students, but for your school, family and community,’ ” Frantz said, quoting some of Miller’s philosophies. “ ‘Volunteer in your school and community when needed. And, eat lots of chocolate.’ Anyone who knew Elouise knew she loved chocolate.”

When she said teaching was her life, Miller wasn’t kidding. She never married. When she retired in 2009 at age 78, she said a marriage never would have worked because “I’m (at school) all the time.”

“She was so dedicated, she was always there before I got there at 7 every morning,” said Randy Pfannenstiel, custodian at Lincoln.

It wasn’t until after Miller retired that Pfannenstiel arrived at Lincoln in the mornings before Miller. But Miller continued to frequent Lincoln, and it was almost like she never left.

“She was always there,” said Kathy Clark, school nurse at Lincoln for 22 years before retiring in 2013. “She would come back to do recess duty, just to visit.”

“Oh, yeah, and everybody loved seeing Elouise. She was always so positive about everything,” said Elaine Rohleder, principal at Lincoln since 2000. “She would stop in every so often, to visit and reminisce.”

Now, friends and former colleagues are left to reminisce about Miller.

“She was a mentor for all of us,” Clark said, “not only for education, but for a lifestyle, caring about kids, people in general.”

Frantz agreed.

“Elouise and I had a unique bond, even after leaving Hays,” she said. “She continued to give me great advice about teaching kindergarten and life in general. I can truly say she was my best friend and will be missed by many.”

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Darrel and Ruth (DeBey) Miller – 2005 Inductees

This is the 100th post on the Osborne County Hall of Fame website.  For such an auspicious occasion we can think of few better as the subject than Darrel and Ruth Miller.

Darrel and Ruth (DeBey) Miller were born 1930 and 1933, respectively, near the Kansas communities of Lebanon and Dispatch. Darrel graduated from Oriole rural grade school, Lebanon High School, Kansas State University, and attended graduate school at Michigan State University. During Army service he served on the staff of Stars and Stripes daily newspaper. Later he held other newspaper jobs in Downs, Osage City, Perkins (Oklahoma), Topeka, and Hutchinson.

Darrel and Ruth bought the Downs News and Times in 1958 and subsequently purchased the Lebanon Times, Cawker City Ledger, and Smith County Pioneer newspapers. Darrel edited and published the Pioneer for more than 32 years. He was a past president of the Kansas Press Association and was a recipient of the association’s Master Editor Award. Darrel was also a past president of the Downs Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow. He served as a member of the Solomon Basin Advisory Committee for 10 years, on the Downs City Council, was a past president of the Downs Historical Society, and a member of the Downs Historical Railroad Foundation. He was also the author of four historical books on the Downs region.

Ruth first attended Green Ridge rural school northwest of Downs before attending school in Downs. She attended college briefly at Oklahoma State University. Ruth worked with her husband Darrel at the Downs News and Times from 1958 until 1972, when she became managing editor of the Downs, Cawker City and Lebanon newspapers for more than 32 years until retiring in 2004.  She also operated flowers shops in Downs and Osborne.

Ruth was active in the Downs community and has served as an officer of the Chamber of Commerce and the Parent-Teacher Association. In 2003 Ruth was chosen to receive the Kansas Press Association’s Boyd Community Service Award.

Darrel and Ruth Miller raised three children and were the proud grandparents of seven grandchildren. For several decades they proved to be community leaders in every sense of the term, and Downs and Osborne County prospered all the more for it. After a long life of service Ruth died on February 2, 2013. Darrel followed her in passing on July 24, 2017 at Hays, Kansas. Both rest a well-earned sleep of peace in the Downs Cemetery  at Downs, Kansas.