William Hardesty Layton – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 6, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the second of the five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

In Memoriam: William Layton

Translation and adaptation of the article published by Paz Mediavilla in Babab magazine (babab.com/no00/william_layton.htm) by Von Rothenberger

William_LaytonIn November 1993 I had the opportunity to speak with the teacher William Layton in what would be his last interview. A few months later he ended his life at his home in Madrid, Spain on June 15, 1995. He was 82 years old.

During the interview Layton informed me without, of course, letting me share in his decisions on the latest efforts to keep all his affairs in order and under control. For example, Layton was finalizing details with Yale University to which he would donate his correspondence with the writer Thornton Wilder – 150 letters from 1942 to 1973 (two years before the death of Wilder). He was also was finishing writing a play, “Don Quixote of Denmark Hill”, whose protagonist is the writer John Ruskin.

And, moreover, one of the cornerstones of his life, he was teaching drama at the Theatre Lab that he founded. During that interview I was informed that he was going to start to study “Uncle Vanya.” With this work, he said, he would close a circle, since it was the work with which he got his first big break.

Because of his personality, devoid of any desire for fame, his work has not had the widespread it should have had. So this article will serve to remind all the people who are not aware of his work and the high regard that he has earned for his contribution to the development of theater in Spain, which is evident in the good work of the professionals who are his students.

William Layton was an author, actor, theater director and teacher of the best Spanish actors and directors of the moment. Fondly named are the numerous actors and directors who trained with him and are successfully performing different functions and receiving recognition on the world stage, such as Juanjo Puigcorbé, José Pedro Carrion, Chema Muñoz, Ana Belén, San Segundo, Juan Margallo, José Carlos Plaza, Nuria Garcia, Alfredo Simon, Carlos Hipolito, Enriqueta Carballeira, Juan Pastor, Amparo Pascual, Antonio Valero, Carmen Elias, Julieta Serrano, Ana Marzoa, Berta Riaza, etc. He also encouraged people who have contributed to the development of theater in this country as Vicuña or Juliá, and who continue to work for it, such as the master choreographer and stage movement, Arnold Taraborrelli.

American by birth, living in Spain since the sixties, Layton received numerous awards for his work, including Best Director of the Year (1979) by Spectator and Critic for the Radio Spain production of “Youth Radio of Spain” (1979) and the 1990 Daedalus Award. In February 1989 he received the prestigious Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts from the King of Spain, Don Juan Carlos de Borbón.

A life devoted to theater predates that time. What follows is a sketch of what he told me was roughly his life and career development.

William Hardesty Layton was born on December 23, 1913 in Osborne, Osborne County, Kansas, United States. His parents were Walter and Helen Olivia (Amos) Layton. William, together with his siblings (brothers Harold and Robert and sister Helen), was raised first in Osborne and later in Salina, Kansas, where his father served as mayor, and then in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He graduated from the University of Colorado in 1936 with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Layton William birth announcement Osborne County Farmer Thursday Dec 25 1913 Page 4
William Layton’s birth announcement in the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of Osborne, Kansas, on Page 4 of the December 25, 1913 edition of the paper.

Layton traveled to New York where he began his training as an actor and made his first works. On a trip to London with his friend, writer Thornton Wilder, he was introduced to the European theater and there starred in a production of Wilder’s play “Our Town”. He took a break during World War II, where for four years he joined the Marine Corps of the United States, enlisting on October 19, 1942, later storming the beaches at Iwo Jima, and finally being discharged on March 15, 1946. The explosion of a grenade near him produced deafness with which he lived the rest of his life.

Layton William New York Passenger lists Roll T715 1897 -1957 1946
Record of William Layton arriving back in New York City from a second trip to London in 1946. Taken from New York Passenger Lists, Roll T715, 1897 -1957, National Archives.

Returning to New York Layton resumed his work as a professor at the American Academy of Dramatic Art and at the American Theatre Wing, and was a member of both the Alfred Dixon Speech Institute and the Neighborhood Playhouse. He worked as an actor in various theater productions such as “American Way” (1939), “Mr. Big” (1941), “The Duchess of Malfi” (1946), “Command Decision” (1947), “Summer and Smoke” (1948), “The Man Who Came to Dinner” and “The Glass Menagerie”. After the war Layton could not readjust to life in America, and it was fortunate that during this time in New York Layton met Agustin Penón. This meeting changed Layton’s life, as he was introduced to the person who gave birth to his interest in Spanish culture. 

William and Agustin collaborated in performing a radio drama for the Quaker Oats cereal company which was called “Don Quaker”. For a time they toured South America, and Penón had the opportunity to share his fascination with Layton for the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. At this time Layton starred in the Brazilian television series Pancho and the Man. In 1955 Agustin Penón went to Spain and began research on Lorca and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the poet’s death. He convinced Layton to visit Granada and, from that moment, Layton began his interest in Spain to where it ended in transferring his residence to there.

Layton William with Agustin Penon
William Layton (standing) with Agustin Penon.

Upon Agustin Penon’s death in 1976 Layton received Penon’s personal archives, including all of his research regarding Federico García Lorca. Layton took this material and together with fellow writer Ian Gibson compiled the book “Agustin Penon: Diaries Lorquiana Search”, which was published in 1990.

Layton studied with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York in 1956. For a time he alternated his stays in Madrid and New York, until he permanently settled in Spain. In October 1960 Layton founded the Studio Theater of Madrid (TEM), where he taught along with fellow actor Miguel Narros. Layton was also present at the founding of the Independent Studio Theatre (TEI), the Little Theatre and Theatre Stable Castilian (TEC). He became known at that stage to Germán Bonin, the then-director of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts (ESSN), who invited him to work with him in Barcelona ​​at the Institute of Theatre, where he met Puigcerver Fabia, a man of great prestige in the Catalan scene. From 1968 to 1984 Layton worked as a teacher for the National Film School in both Madrid and Barcelona, Spain.

The most successful of Layton’s work in Madrid was the production of “Uncle Vanya” by Anton Chekhov with Castilian Stable Theatre Company (TEC). Also celebrated was his production of Edward Albee’s “Zoo Story,” which ran three times in his lifetime – 1963, 1971 and finally in 1991, starring José Pedro Carrion and Chema Muñoz, at the National Theatre Maria Guerrero.

In 1989, a month before receiving the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts, Layton opened at the Spanish Theatre directing the play “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” It was a great success, as was his next play, “Zero transparent” by Alfonso Vallejo, an author for whom he felt a special admiration.

These plays were followed by a series of collaborations,  including “Hamlet”, “The Oresteia” and “The Merchant of Venice”, with his onetime student, José Carlos Plaza,  during the period when Layton led the National Drama Centre.

In Madrid Layton founded the William Layton Theatre Lab, where, as I said, were trained many of the best actors and directors Spain currently has. Through the success of the Lab and his many other efforts Layton is now considered to be the father of the modern Spanish theater.

In 1990 Layton published his book “Why? Trampoline Actor: A Way of Life on the Stage”. “For me, theater is experimentation, collaboration, reading, concept search,” Layton once explained. “No ‘test’ but play, experiment, try things in terms of what artistic reality is being created. I attend several times the first week to give notes to the actors, then I go less often. The best feature has to be the last.”

Let this article serve to remind the world that the teacher Layton is still alive in the memory and the work of many of us.

 

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William H. Layton Movie and Television Roles:

1961             Siempre es domingo   Spain (uncredited)

1963             Confidencias de un marido   Spain

1966             Lola, espejo oscuro  [Lola – dark mirror]   Spain

Layton William H movie photo #1
William Layton in a scene from one of his 1960s movies.

1967             Las que tienen que servir    Spain

1968             Los que tocan el piano   Spain

1969             Esa mujer   Spain

1969             La vida sigue igual  Spain

1970             La Cólera del Viento [The Wind’s Fierce; also known as Wrath of the Wind]                              Spain, Italy

Layton William H movie photo #1 movie wrath of the wind 1970 b
William Layton in a scene from the movie Wrath of the Wind (1970).

1970             Transplant   USA

1971             A Town Called Hell [A Town Called Bastard]  UK, Spain (uncredited) 

1971             Man in the Wilderness   USA

1972             La Casa sin fronteras [The House Without Frontiers] Spain

1972             Travels with My Aunt   USA (uncredited)

1973             La Campana del infierno [Bell from Hell]  Spain, France

1973             Los camioneros (TV series)   Spain

1973             Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe [The Scarlet Letter]  Germany, Spain

1974             Apuntes para una tesis doctoral    Spain

1974             Cuentos y leyendas (TV series)   Spain

1974             Los pintores del Prado (TV series)    Spain

1974             Open Season      Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA

1974             The New Spaniards      Spain                          

1975             La adúltera     Spain

1975             Los pájaros de Baden-Baden    Spain

1977             Curro Jiménez (TV series)   Spain

1977             Hasta que el matrimonio nos separe   Spain

1977             La Gioconda está triste   Spain, Italy

1977             La saga de los Rius (TV series)    Spain

1977             Las locuras de Jane    Spain

1977             Hasta que el matrimonio nos separe [We did not separate . . . to divorce] Spain

1978             Memoria    Spain

1979             El juglar y la reina (TV series)     Spain

1979             Los mitos (TV series)     Spain

1980             F.E.N.    Spain

1983             Bearn o la sala de las muñecas [Beam or a room of dolls]  Spain

1984             La conquista de Albania     Spain

1989             Autumn Rain   Spain

2008            Heaven on Earth    Canada

                     (Nominated by the Directors Guild of Canada for 2009 DGC Team Award)

 

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Mr. Layton (a conversation with Carlos Hipólito)

by Marcos Ordóñez

March 20, 2014

(Reprinted from the website: blogs.elpais.com/bulevares-perifericos/2014/03/)

I’m re-reading Why? Trampoline of the actor, the compilation of texts and theatrical exercises that William Layton published in 1990, and I realize that last December was the centenary of his birth. Professor, actor, stage director, translator and playwright, American, Kansas. He studied in New York, at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Neighborhood Playhouse, where he trained in the teachings of Stanislavsky under the tutelage of Sanford Meisner, one of the heterodox of the Actors Studio. He arrived in Spain in the mid-fifties, with the help of his friend Agustín Penón, the first great Lorca researcher. In Mérida, he was dazzled by the way of listening to the scene by Mary Carrillo, who starred in La Alameda, by Anouilh. In that festival he discovered “that the Spanish actors were capable of titanic efforts but they got bored with the continued work”. In 1959 he settled in Madrid and created the first “laboratory of actors” of this country, along with Miguel Narros and Betsy Berkley. Forty years later, several generations of actors and actresses had deepened (and even revolutionized) their way of interpreting thanks to him. In 1995, suffering from an almost absolute deafness and with mobility difficulties, Layton committed suicide so as “not to be a burden,” as he wrote in his farewell note.

I want to know more about the American teacher. So I call Carlos Hipólito, who was his disciple from a very young age. He responds with his usual passion and cordiality.

Hipolito Carlos by
Carlos Hipolito

“I love talking about Mr. Layton! There are still people who do not know how important it has been for the theater of this country. I had the great luck that I was formed when I began to take my first steps as an actor, at eighteen, that is, at the best moment and with the best educator imaginable. Starting with him was a gift. I feel privileged, and I believe that everyone who has learned from him will tell you the same thing. You know that Layton, Narros and Betsy Berkley created the TEM (Teatro Estudio de Madrid), whose first promotion was presented in 1964 with Process by the shadow of a donkey, Dürrenmatt, directed by a very young José Carlos Plaza.

 

What comes now seems like a soup of letters. I began to receive classes ten years later in the TEI (Independent Experimental Theater), which was born in 1968 as a split of the TEM, and in turn would become the TEC (Spanish Stable Theater). These classes were somewhat itinerant. They began in the TEI room, the Little Theater of Magallanes Street, which had a capacity of seventy people, but the seats could be removed and thus expanded space. From there we went to the dance studio of Karen Taft, in Libertad 15, where she also taught movement with Arnold Taraborelli, American as Layton, of Philadelphia, and tried the functions of TEI. Later Layton Laboratory was created, which started, if I remember correctly, in the Spanish test rooms and then in Carretas 14, which was when I disengaged a little, for work reasons, but whenever I could go back to continue learning.

My professional debut was in So Five Five Years, directed by Miguel Narros, in 1978. Doing two daily functions seemed to me something extraordinary. At that time they were already the TEC, with a management team formed by Narros, Jose Carlos Plaza, Layton and Taraborrelli. Narros and Plaza used to sign the montages, and Layton and Taraborrelli always collaborated in directing. They were all great, but Mr. Layton, as we all called him, was extraordinary. He was a teacher and a sower. Now anyone is called a teacher, but there are very few who are really teachers.

The first thing that caught my eye was his appearance. Very elegant, with great authority. Eyes piercing, [like a] hawk. And a grave, precious, persuasive voice. Not only did it revolutionize the art of acting in Spain, but it made us see very clearly the links, the legacies. He showed us where we were coming from. He told us that there were a number of actors who were our elders: they had never stepped into a class, but they were the best teachers we could have. And that is not usual. The usual thing is to try to erase all of the above, especially if the person who says it is a foreigner. There are many schools that despise what others do, as if they were the only possessors of theatrical truth. And he was just the opposite, a man of immense generosity, constant. He would get excited and tell us, “You have to run to see what Berta Riaza does in that role. He is doing exactly what I ask you to do.” He adored Mary Carrillo, Berta Riaza, and Gutierrez Caba.

Mr. Layton taught me what I call the “fundamental principles”, beginning with the approach to the text. It made you discover, line by line, what the character was silent. He said: “If a text is well written, you will detect not only what the character says but what he decides not to say, which is much more important, because it is what defines him and makes him really interesting. But it’s not always easy to see.”

Another day he told us: “Many actors have the tendency to want to tell the whole character, to “illustrate” it, and then the interpretation becomes redundant. Do not “explain”, nor forget that the public also thinks. They not only have to listen to you but they have to be moved: they have to think with you, and wonder what you are thinking”. It combined in an incredible way to delve into the psychology of the character with an absolute practical sense of how to handle an actor on stage.

He had the pride of one who knows he knows, but deep down he was very humble: “There are many people who say that I am the one who has brought the Method to Spain,” he said. “They are wrong, because the Method does not exist. What is the Method? It’s naming common sense. The Method does not exist because there are so many methods as actors. Each of you will find your own method through what you learn here with me, what you learn in another school and, above all, on stage. Note that two actors who have studied in the same school never work in the same way. Even the same actor, by his vital circumstances, never prepares the characters in the same way: it depends on whether he does it in the spring or in the winter, if he has had an illness or is healthy . . . there are always a thousand variables.” He always taught to relativize everything, not to put big caps on things.

There was another startling thing about Mr. Layton. He had spent many years in our country and was fluent in written Castilian, because he did a lot of translations, but he still spoke a very American Castilian, a Spanglish that was not always easy to decipher. To finish it off, a grenade left him deaf in Iwo Jima. Many people asked me: “This man, how can he teach and direct?” They did not believe me when I told them that he had a capacity for observation and listening that touched the paranormal. He listened with his eyes. He studied the placement of the body and always knew if you were in the right tone. And what he said coincided fully with what the other directors of the team had warned.

As teacher and director he had an infinite patience. When an actor did not understand something, he went to the basics to help him get to where he wanted to take him. If the actor had not done the initial work on his own, he’d done the whole process with him from the beginning. Being patient is a way of being respectful. And he knew how to lead each one in a different way: that is one of the greatest qualities of a director.

There were two eras in my relationship with him. The first was in the classes; the second, on stage. In the TEC I did The Tartar Lady, of Nieva, the Don Carlos of Schiller and Long Trip to the Night, of O’Neill. They were directing Narros or Plaza but, as I said before, Layton was always there, and helping you to break down each scene. In the second stage a friendship was formed, because in the rehearsals there are many dead times and I was fortunate to be able to talk much with him about life and the trade.

He could be laconic, very cowboy. And hard; he had been a Marine and that marked him. Respectful always, but hard. He hated the sensibility. Under that initial layer of roughness was an emotional man and close.

He taught me to value discipline, respect for work, for the stage, for the public. To never yield to the easy, to demand of you. To overcome you always, but without comparing yourself with anyone. He said: “Never try to be more than another. That is absurd, it leads nowhere. You have to compare yourself with your previous work. If you try to be better than another you are bound to fail, because there will always be someone who says that the other is better than you, and that will sink you. You do not have to compete.”

He put me on guard against the facility: “There are actors to whom everything is very simple. The director tells them something, they catch him on the fly and they act for him. That’s great, but they run the risk of believing that resolving what the director asks them is worth it. You always have to be vigilant, because the search never ends”.

After a rehearsal of Long Trip to the Night he said something that I tried to follow strictly: “Carlitos, the best job is the one that is not noticed. I hope that the public that sees you acting never thinks “what a good actor he is”. You have to try that the stage does not leave the actor, but that the public always sees the personage and that they create it to him. When they finish, if they want, they think about how good the actor is, but not during the scene. Do not go out and make a show of faculties. You never have to “show” the job. The viewer has to think “how simple it is, how easy it seems to be,” however much it has cost you. If they tell you that, you have done well. On stage we play to be others, and when you play, even if you get tired, you get tired at ease. “

Many years have passed but I still think about him. He did not give me crutches to walk on stage: he gave me legs. Thank you, Mr. Layton.

Layton William Why Trampoline Actor
The cover of a modern reprint of William Layton’s 1990 book “Why? Trampoline Actor”.

 

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In March 2017 a new book on William Layton and his work in the Spanish theater was released.

Layton William Implantation

William Layton: The Implementation of the Method in Spain

by Javier Carazo Aquilera (Editorial Fundamentos, Madrid, Spain, 2017)

The history of interpretation in Spain and, hence, the formation of actors, changed radically when in 1958 an American named William Layton decided to settle in these lands to teach a technique that until then was only known by actors and films American: the famous Method. But not the Actor’s Studio Method commanded by Lee Strasberg, but the one learned with Sanford Meisner. And with it Spanish theater resumed that modernizing current that had been cut off with the outbreak of civil war in the 1930s and the subsequent dictatorship, drowning the efforts of Cipriano de Rivas Cherif, Margarita Xirgu or Maria Teresa Leon.

From the first trip to Spain in 1955, Layton perceived the shortcomings of Spanish actors and the need for a long overdue renovation in the technique of interpretation. Beginning in 1960, with the successive founding of his own schools-theater groups, plus his teaching experience in public places and the adhesion of Miguel Narros and José Carlos Plaza, two key names in his career and in the Spanish scene, he managed to implant and develop a methodology for actors who today stand as a majority in dramatic art studies.

Among his contributions are the creation of one of the first private theater academies, the application of the Method in the stage montages and a dignification of the actor – a profession quite badly beaten in Spain. In adapting to the idiosyncrasy of the interpreter here, this teaching eventually drifted into the Layton Method – an own formula that has jumped to the dramaturgy (in the curricula, in the texts or in the scripts) and to the direction of scene, with the indispensable analysis of text and the table work. – by Editorial Fundementos.

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William Layton

Because of his limitations with language, deafness

and humility, he was a team man

Marcos Ordóñez

elpais.com/cultura/

27 April 2017

Among the great theatrical shocks of my adolescence was Edward Albee’s play Historia del zoo, in January 1974, in charge of the TEI (Independent Experimental Theater), directed by William Layton, with Antonio Llopis and José Carlos Plaza, in The Poliorama in Barcelona. I had not seen anything so intense as that, so full of truth. And Antonio Llopis seemed to me a unique actor, out of series. That is why I have fallen on the new book William Layton, the Implantation of the Method in Spain, by Javier Carazo (Editorial Fundamentos), perhaps the most complete text on the American master, and all those who by his side carried out one of the most exciting adventures of our Theater. I fear it is unknown to the younger generations.

To speak of the great Cowboy of Kansas is also to speak of the group formed by Miguel Narros, Jose Carlos Plaza, Arnold Taraborrelli, French Pillar, Paca Ojea, Begoña Valley, Francisco Vidal and a very long list of professors and interpreters who continue learning or spreading their teachings in The Layton Laboratory. Because of his limitations with Castilian, his deafness (because of a grenade in Iwo Jima) and his essential humility, Layton was, therefore, a team man. He always said: ‘I am a good director, though not very good; a regular actor and a great teacher.”

Javier Carazo’s book tells the story of “Mr. Layton”, his theatrical passion, and also shows the essence of his “fundamental principles”: how to bring truth to the stage, how to preserve the freshness of a text after a hundred or two hundred representations. In this book I have learned, for example, that the “table work” of History of the Zoo lasted two months.

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SOURCES Robert Gaylord Layton, Englewood, Colorado; International Movie Database; Wikipedia; Marcos Ordóñez, “Mr. Layton (a conversation with Carlos Hipólito)” (www.elpais.com, 2014); Marcos Ordóñez, “William Layton: Because of his limitations with language, deafness and humility, he was a team man” (www.elpais.com, 2017); http://www.babab.com; http://www.editoralfundamentos.es; http://www.laytonlaboratorio.com; http://www.prabook.com.

 

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Wilda Juanita (Stockbridge) Carswell – 2017 Inductee

(On this date, August 5, 2017, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present for the first time anywhere the first of the five members of the OCHF Class of 2017.)

Our next inductee has been a dynamic and effective leader since childhood and continues to be an advocate for quality of life in the community and county that she has called home for the past eight decades.

Wilda Juanita (Stockbridge) Carswell was born May 4, 1935 on the farm of her parents, Edgar & Ruth (Glodfelty) Stockbridge, in Hawkeye Township, northeast of Alton, Kansas. Their farm was the 1871 homestead of Edgar’s grandparents, Ira and Abbie Stockbridge. Wilda attended the old rock Alton Grade School and later Alton Rural High School, where she was a cheerleader and active in the school band and in school plays. Wilda served as an officer and district president of the Future Homemakers of America (FHA) and was awarded the State FHA Homemaker Degree in 1952.

 

Carswell Wilda 1936 18 months old Edar & Ruth Stockbridge parents
Wilda at age 18 months with her parents, Edgar & Ruth Stockbridge.

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“Little Wilda Stockbridge spent Wednesday at the Jamie Boland home while her mother attended community circle.” – Wilda’s first public mention, in the Grant Center social column of the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of October 13, 1938, Page 6.

Carswell Wilda 1941 1st day of school note lunchbox
Wilda and her lunchbox on her first day of school, 1941. 
Carswell Wilda 8 years old 1943
Wilda Stockbridge at age eight years old.

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“Hobbies are nice and everyone should have a hobby. Miss Wilda Stockbridge of Alton has a hobby of collecting paper napkins. They make a nice collection. She had about 125 and would be glad to receive any from friends. Remember her when you are on your vacation. Write the store, place or town on them.” – Osborne Farmer-Journal, June 26, 1947, Page 6.

*  *  *  *  *

Wilda graduated from Alton Rural High in May 1953 and on June 7, 1953, she married Deryl Carswell at the Alton First United Methodist Church. Deryl’s grandfather, John Thomas Paynter, had homesteaded in Osborne County’s Grant Township in 1894. The farm’s original sod house was replaced by a new frame house in 1900. Deryl’s parents moved here in 1919 and stayed until 1953, when they moved into Alton. Deryl and Wilda then took over the farm and raised their four children – Donita, Janel, Darwin, and Jay – there. At present Wilda’s growing family includes twelve grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Carswell Wilda senior photo 1953 AHS
Wilda’s 1953 senior high school graduation photograph. 
Carswell Wilda & Deryl wedding 1953
Wedding photo of Wilda Stockbridge and Deryl Carswell, 1953.

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Salina Journal

October 14, 1956

Elect Officers

OSBORNE – At the last Rural Life meeting, officers elected were: President, Max LaRosh; Vice-President, Wilda Carswell; Secretary, Joyce Hays; treasurer, Phyllis Lund; reporter, Don Peterson; and recreation chairman, Deryl Carswell.

The Rural Lifers will hold their annual Halloween party on October 26th at the Legion Hall in Osborne. There will be a professional square dance caller. There will be social dances also.

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In 2000 Deryl & Wilda were the recipients of the Goodyear Co-Opera­tor of the Year Award by the Osborne County Conservation District/Natural Resources Conservation Service. In 2002 they were given the Century Farm Award from the Kansas Farm Bureau in recognition of their farm being owned for over 100 years by the same family. After 50 years of farm life Deryl and Wilda retired in 2003 and moved to a new home in Alton.

Carswell Wilda & Deryl Century Farm Certificate 2002

Carswell Farm Auction Hays Daily News 18 April 2004 Pg. 31

When she was 11-12 years old Wilda became a member of the Sumner 4-H Club and remained a member for seven years. Her four children followed in her footsteps and became members in their turn. Wilda and Deryl became 4-H leaders for a short time after they were married, and over the next several years Wilda continued as either a project or community leader. Eventually she earned her 35-year 4-H leadership pin, a rare and amazing accomplishment. Wilda considers her love of working with youth to be the highlight of her 4-H leadership years. Sumner 4-H celebrated their 50-year anniversary while she was a leader. The club has received many awards and contributed much back to the community over the years and remains active in the Alton area in the present day.

The Osborne County Fair is always a highlight of the 4-H year. Wilda exhibited at the fair when she was a young 4-H member and has continued to do so every year since then. She still works the Fair annually by helping with the Open Class Culinary Department. Wilda has entered exhibits in the Kansas State Fair through the years as well, winning a ribbon for her jelly collection.

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Osborne County Farmer

July 16, 2015

Carswell named Grand Marshal of Fair Parade

The Osborne County Fair Board has named Wilda Carswell this year’s grand marshal for the 2015 parade that will take place at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 24.

Wilda, a lifelong resident of the Alton area, takes great pride in her community. She herself was a 4-Her with the Sumner 4-H Club growing up, which her four children later became members of themselves and two of her granddaughters are members of now.

Wilda has hardly missed an Osborne County Fair since it began and still helps each year with the open class entries. She is also a civic leader, having participated in numerous organizations and boards and still finds time each Wednesday morning to have coffee with the residents and staff at Progressive Care.

Most recently Wilda celebrated her 80th birth­day in early May with an open house hosted by her four children and their spouses, Donita (Rod) Shike, Janel (Alan) Burch, Darwin (Denise) and Jay (Paula) Carswell along with most of her 12 grand­children and five great grandchildren.

An avid supporter of many organizations, Wilda can also be found attend­ing many of her grandchil­dren’s activities. As this year’s grand marshal, the roles will be reversed as they show their support for her and encourage everyone to come to the Osborne County fair and parade, July 22-27.

*  *  *  *  *

For many years Wilda has been a supporter of the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service – or K-State Research and Extension for short. She was a member of the Willow Dale Extension Homemakers Unit and has served on the Osborne County Extension Council both as a director and as council president.

Since 1970 the Kansas PRIDE program, a volunteer grassroots effort to improve the quality of life in local communities, has been a partnership between the Kansas Department of Commerce, K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Masons, and private sector companies and associations which operate in Kansas. The Alton PRIDE Committee was formed in 1985 and has long been a vital part of the community. Wilda was a charter member of Alton PRIDE and in 2017 is serving her 23rd year as its president. She has also served on the State PRIDE Board of Directors.

*  *  *  *  *

Alton to Celebrate its Summer Jubilee

by Joy Leiker

Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas

August 22, 2002 – Page One

ALTON – When a group of Alton residents worked to form the community’s PRIDE organization 17 years ago, they pledged to keep their rural community alive with events and celebrations.

This weekend the group will host its annual Summer Jubilee, an event that Wilda Carswell, the organization’s president, says is an occasion for more than just those in the small Osborne County community to celebrate.

“People are pretty excited about it anymore,” she said. “We get good support from the area around us.”

Their tactics to attract regional attention apparently work, as Carswell estimates as many as 1,500 people come through the community during some point of the festivities.

For a community that numbers 117 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, welcoming a crowd more than 10 times its size definitely is a big deal, Carswell said. The Jubilee’s entertainment events are scheduled throughout the day Saturday. Each year the Jubilee is focused on a daylong theme, and this year organizers centered their attention on “Family Pride.” As a result, the local community hall will be transformed into a family pride gallery of photos and collectibles that showcase the history of families. The collection Includes mostly photos, but also items “that people are proud of,” she said. But organizers prefer to change more than just the theme of the event each year. As a result, every Jubilee includes at least one new attraction or event on the schedule “so it keeps interest going.”

This year residents submitted photos for the community’s first photography contest. Winning entries will be labeled and on display this weekend. Another new event, organized specifically for the youngest Jubilee participants, is Kiddyland, an area full of carnival games and other child-friendly events. Kiddyland will open at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the northeast corner of Alton City Park.

Pending no emergency calls, the new Eagle Med helicopter plans to land at the Alton-Osborne Junior High School football field, and the Osborne County Rural Rescue and Ambulance Services will execute a Jaws of Life demonstration.

Carswell said there are some events organizers wouldn’t dream of changing. Hundreds of visitors line Mill Street in Alton for the 10:30 a.m. parade Saturday, a regular event for the annual Jubilee. The parade – the official kickoff to the annual Jubilee – typically includes 130 entries. Although reservations for the parade don’t number 100 yet, Carswell said there are many regular participants who are notorious for showing up even without a reservation.

Immediately after the parade, Alton alumnus Ray Kurtz, a retired Kansas State University instructor, will talk about his family pride and boyhood in Osborne County. His presentation will precede the announcement of the parade’s winning entries.

This year a silent auction will replace the regular oral auction, and Carswell said organizers hope the new format not only allows more people to participate but also raises more funds for the community. All proceeds from the auction “go back into community improvement.” The silent auction features both handmade and donated items and runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

Events are scheduled throughout the day. Local musicians will perform half-hour shows in the park during the afternoon, and other organizations will sponsor activities as well. The Bull City Roughriders, a local saddle club, will coordinate horse games for riders, and the Osborne County Rural Fire District sponsors a lunch stand as well as a 9 p.m. Saturday street dance.

The Bull City Opry group will present its annual entertainment at 7:30 p.m. Saturday on the tennis court. This year, it’s entitled “Family Feud Weddin.” There is no charge for the event, but Carswell said the group will accept contributions.

A community church service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday under the tent in the park officially closes the celebration weekend. The Reverend Richard Taylor, a retired United Methodist minister from Topeka, will be the featured speaker during the non-denominational service. Taylor was instrumental in preserving a Woodston area barn that later was destroyed by fire caused by lightning.

While the daylong event is sponsored by the PRIDE group, Carswell said its annual success is dependent on the work of other local entities.

“We sponsor it, but there are other groups that do a lot of these things too,” she said.

A complete schedule for the Alton Summer Jubilee is available online at: skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Alton/ Jubilee2002.html.

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Russell Stover Cousin finds History in Alton

by Jeremy Shapiro

Hays Daily News, Hays, Kansas

December 8, 2002, Page 3

ALTON – The seventh cousin twice removed of Russell Stover looked right at home digging his fork into a big piece of chocolate pie. After all, Don Harless was practically family at the second annual Chocolate Festival here Saturday.

The town of 117 residents decided to throw a little bash for its most famous native son, Russell Stover. A long table full of brownies, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate fudge cake and chocolate muffins were among the goodies to choose from. Chocolate lovers had a hard time picking what to chose. In the end, many bought more than they intended to.

“The table was just covered with chocolate at the beginning,” said Sally Bradley, a PRIDE member helping out. “It was a sight. We didn’t have enough room.”

The festival seemed a little more official with the presence of Harless. A friend of Harless in Ness City gave him an article on the festival published in the Kansas Governor’s Journal, and they decided to make the trip. Harless, 65 wasn’t aware of the link to Stover until his wife started researching family history a few years ago. Further research revealed that he also happens to be a distant cousin of Daniel Boone.

“When you really start getting looking into the history, you realize we all are brothers, sisters and cousins,” Harless said.

Harless was given a tour of the property his kin lived in the first two years of his life. Although the house is no longer there, a sign commemorates the birthplace.

“It was nice to walk the same ground as him,” Harless said. “This is family history.”

Russell Stover was born May 6, 1888, in a sod farmhouse approximately 10 miles south of Alton. Stover’s father, John, moved to Alton from Iowa in search of fortune. He purchased some farmland in Osborne County for $1,500. Devastating drought forced John to move back to Iowa three years later.

While the Stover candy empire started in a small shop in Denver, Alton residents are proud to call their town his birthplace.

Wilda Carswell, PRIDE president, said that for many years they had the idea of creating a chocolate festival, but they never set it into motion until last year. Once the idea became a reality, the town came together to support it, Carswell said.

Many of the baked goods for sale also were entered in a cookie contest. This year 39 adults and nine kids turned in entries, hoping to win a $25 first prize.

Nadine Sigle, the Osborne County Home Economics Extension agent, and Marion Gier, a home economics teacher in Downs, had the job of judging best cookie.

Sigle and Gier took their duties seriously. They looked at the attractiveness, flavor, texture and ingredients. Gier said fresh ingredients will gain better marks. Sigle said they don’t overlook the size of the cookie either. Super rich cookies should be in smaller portions, they said.

Contestants must provide the recipe along with the cookie. Sigle and Gier carefully examined a recipe before dividing up what appeared to be oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Each took a bite and they then huddled to discuss it.

Meanwhile, about the only non-chocolate lover in the room was musician Leland Baxa. Baxa serenaded the crowd with Christmas tunes on his keyboard. When asked if he had any chocolate related music, Baxa said he was wondering what kind of music goes well with chocolate.

“Actually though, I’m not a big chocolate fan, but I know I can’t say that too loud,” he said softly, Carswell said she heard a couple of other towns holding chocolate festivals close to Valentine’s Day, but as far as she knew there wasn’t another one tied in with the Christmas season.

The Alton gift basket store was also open, with handcrafted items made by area crafters.

State Representative Dan Johnson, Republican-Hays, took the opportunity to buy a few Christmas presents. He said he was impressed with all the local talent who made the crafts and baked goods.

Russell Stover Candles of Kansas City sent 192 small boxes of chocolates in Santa tins to distribute at the festival.

“Maybe next year we can get a representative to come out,” Carswell said. “I don’t think they knew what we were doing.”

Inevitably the conversation eventually turned toward Stover himself.

Carswell said one thing she liked about Stover is he would continually try to find new products.

“Yes he was rich and famous, but he didn’t rest,” she said. “Not many people know he was the founder of Eskimo Pies. He later sold it off, but he was always looking for new products.”

*  *  *  *  *

Wilda joined the United Methodist Church when a young girl and has attended regularly ever since. In the past she has served as Sunday School teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, Director of Bible School, Trustee, and President of Administrative Council. Wilda currently serves on the Pastor Parish Relations Committee, works with the annual Christmas program and the quilting group, and serves as a lay leader. She has been very involved in the United Methodist Women (UMW), having served on various committees and as treasurer, vice-president, and currently as president. Wilda served as the secretary of the Concordia District of UMW for four years and the Kansas West UMW Conference Membership, Nurture & Outreach Co-ordinator for three years. Her favorite Bible verse is I Corinthians 13:13:

There are three things that

remain – faith, hope, and love,

and the greatest of these is love.

From 1979 to 1987 Wilda served on the USD #392 School Board, serving one year as its president. After her move to Alton in 2003 Wilda was elected to the Alton City Council and served there for over ten years. In 2006 she was honored with the Homer E. Smuck Cultural Award for her lifetime of community service. A decade later Wilda was awarded the first Faye Minium Spirit Award by the Solomon Valley/Highway 24 Heritage Alliance.

Wilda has lived her entire life in the three adjoining townships of northwest Osborne County – Hawkeye, Grant, and Sumner. She is known for her cooking, canning, sewing, and yard/gardening. Wilda’s hobbies include quilting, reading, sports events, and traveling. She especially likes tour groups for travel and in her journeys has seen most of the United States. And Wilda is of course a proud supporter of her grandchildren’s many activities.

Wilda continues to give of her time, talents, and service to the Alton community and to Osborne County. In 2017 the Deryl Carswell Family was one of the 28 founders of the Osborne County Community Foundation, a vehicle for charitable giving capable of benefiting the entire county. It is our pleasure to honor her and her example with this well-deserved induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Carswell Wilda Birthday
Wilda and her family, gathered to help her celebrate a recent birthday.

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History of Alton PRIDE

(compiled by Deanna Roach, May 2017)

In 1925 a group of local Alton ladies saw the need for a city park and through their initiative volunteers came forward to clear donated lots in the center of town. Thus, the Alton City Park was born.

The successful park ladies of 1925 had their mothers to look to for inspiration, for it was the generation of women before them that formed the Alton Library Association in 1898. From their efforts, a library building was voluntarily staffed from 1900 until 1966.

In 1983, a new generation of Alton women took a look at the City Park and didn’t like what they saw: overgrown weeds and stickers, dead trees and broken down playground equipment. After nearly 60 years of wear and tear, the park was clearly showing its age.

These women formed a group and came up with what they called an “idea” to improve the park, which was carried out by volunteers. The group stayed focused on the park and before long they were encouraged by the Osborne County Home Economist to join the Kansas PRIDE Program.

In 1983 and 1984 this unofficial group of women hosted an annual community wide “play day” that took place in the newly renovated park.

In 1985 the initial group of nine women officially organized into “Alton PRIDE” and held their first annual Alton Summer Jubilee. Of those nine women, three have remained active PRIDE members, three are still involved on a part-time basis, and three have moved away. Several other women and men in the community have also been PRIDE members for many, many years.

In 1986, Alton PRIDE joined the Central Kansas Library System and created a space for books to be brought into the community on a rotational basis. The library space changed over the years until it was finally permanently housed in the Alton Community Room Annex. Since 2009, the Alton Library has had an “official” volunteer librarian, Dorothy Mitchell, who was recognized as a 2013 Kansas PRIDE Community Partner. The library is open every Wednesday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. and has “regulars” that come in every week.

Alton PRIDE’s State Award Trophies:

Community of Excellence: 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009.

Star Awards (for special projects): 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007

[Awards listed above always came with a monetary prize. The state PRIDE program changed their awards program after 2009 and did not give out community awards until 2013.]

Community of Excellence: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018

Cultural Star Capital Award: 2013, 2014

Built Capital Award: PRIDE has won three of these. One is for 2012 and another trophy is undated, while the third award was earned in 2017.

*  *  *  *  *

Osborne County Farmer, January 20, 2000

Working with the System

by Sandra Trail

Deryl and Wilda Carswell can’t imagine doing anything but what they are doing – farming. Not only can Deryl not imag­ine doing anything else, he can’t imagine doing it any other place. In fact, he’s never lived any other place.

“Grandpa bought this place and built this house in 1900,” Deryl explains. “When Wilda and I got married in 1953, my folks moved to town and we moved in.

“It’s just never entered my mind to do anything else. I like the challenges and trying new things. And, you are your own decision maker – sometimes with the government.”

It’s just this cooperative attitude towards government programs that earned Carswell this year’s Goodyear Co-Opera­tor of the Year Award, which is awarded by the Osborne County Conservation District/Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Carswells have a diver­sified operation. They have livestock and feed their own grain  – wheat, corn and milo. Most of the corn they raise is irrigated, but they have put out some dryland recently.

At the same time, the Carswells have stopped raising hogs and now concentrate on cattle in their livestock opera­tion.

To help get the most out of each area of their operation, the Carswells have used a variety of programs to accom­plish beneficial conservation efforts.

In recent years, much of the work has been taken over by the Carswells’ sons, Darwin and Jay.

“That means Dad gets to help out whenever they need him,” explained Deryl.

It also means he and Wilda will get to travel a little more. They’ve taken trips in the past with Pioneer Seed groups and may do more of that now. Deryl has been a Pioneer Seed dealer for 38 years.

Deryl and Wilda have also been active in their commu­nity. Deryl currently serves on the Grant Township board and has served on the church board, Farm Bureau board and as a leader for Sumner 4-H. He never served on the Alton Fire District board, but was active in the organizational effort and is a supporter of the district.

Wilda also served 35 years as a Sumner 4-H Community Leader, has been on the Os­borne County Extension Coun­cil and served on the PRIDE board.

Both feel community ser­vice is important and hope it is an ideal they have passed on to the young people they have been around.

In addition to their sons, the Carswells have two daughters: Donita Berkley and her hus­band farm at Tescott and Janet Burch, Hays, is a CPA. They also have 11 grandchildren.

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HANDKERCHIEF QUILT CRAZE

by Carolyn Williams

September 24, 2008

“You won the door prize, Dorothy!” The other Dorothy (Dibble) exclaimed as Dorothy Mitchell’s name was drawn at the Crossroads Quitter’s Guild Quilt Show in Stockton last year. Her prize? A Free Machine Quilting on a quilt of her choice within the next year. What a gift!

Although Dorothy Mitchell was new to the Alton community, having come from Granite City, Illinois just the year before to live closer to her niece, Mary Hartzler, she was not new to quilting. She had been involved in quilting bees and helped organize shows since she retired from teaching Physical Education in the Granite City area some 30 years previous. This was a real challenge to her. When she moved to Alton she had cleaned out many unnecessary items in her home, but she had kept the handkerchiefs her mother had passed on to her, thinking to make something as a memorial to Josephine Sharleiville Mitchell, her mother.

With the help of the other Dorothy, Dorothy Dibble, from the Quilting Bee held every Monday afternoon at the Alton United Methodist Church Dorothy’s quilt came together beautifully. Dorothy M chose the fabrics, and Dorothy D sewed the handkerchiefs exactly where they would be showcased the best. Dorothy Dibble “got the bug” to make her own quilt. Quilting is not new to her either. When her husband Everett was serving in WWII, she began a quilt, getting only so far as making quilt blocks. When he returned from the service and their children began arriving, sewing garments for the family took precedence. It was only much later when Dorothy found those early quilt blocks that she decided to do something with them. However, time and temperature had made the fabric weak. When she washed them in preparation to finish the project, they fell apart!

That really peaked her interest in making her own. She too, had many handkerchiefs from her mother’s and her own drawers to choose from. Instead of using only one handkerchief per square, she used two at diagonals from each other – thus a Double Handkerchief Quilt. She exhibited that quilt at the Rooks County Fair this year.

Not to be outdone, Wilda Carswell decided to compose two quilts­ – she has two daughters! The first quilt she exhibited at the Osborne County Fair, July 22-25. She was awarded the quilt with the best use of color by the Solomon Valley Quilt Guild which meets in Downs every month. She, too, made a double handkerchief quilt since she had so many from both her “stash” and from her mother Ruth Stockbridge’s “stash” as well.

Many of her handkerchiefs came as a result of a near tragic accident. In 1943 the young mother Ruth was riding with her daughter Wilda on her boy’s bicycle when a truck hit them. Ruth was badly injured with broken bones. To comfort the young mother, many in the community sent her Get Well cards with a handkerchief enclosed. Many of those handkerchiefs found their way into the two quilts Wilda made last winter. The quilt she exhibited at the fair is now hanging in her 100-year-old mother Ruth’s room at Progressive Care in Alton. The second quilt is made with the same color sashing and backing using the remainder of the handkerchiefs from that unfortunate period in the lives of her and her mother.

When we quilt together at the Alton UMC, new and exciting ideas seem to come bouncing into our fingers and into our brains. Maybe more Handkerchief Quilts will result from that first quilting prize!

Church ladies and Quilting seem to just go together, don’t they? It’s certainly been that way in Alton for the last 60-70 years. I visited with some of the quitters lately as we worked on a quilt for Zane Alan Poor, the latest baby in the area. Doris Holloway gave me some information that seems to validate the above statement.

She told me that every church in Alton at one time or another had a ladies quilt group that met in the church basement. The former Evangelical United Brethren, previously the Congregational Church had an active group of 12 or 13. When that church merged in 1967 with the Alton Methodist Church to become the United Methodist Church of Alton, the groups continued as one, with some continuing and others going on to other ventures. The UMC ladies continue to meet and quilt as they have quilts scheduled.

The names of the quitters have changed over the years. One of the ladies, Ruth Guttery, has moved away, so Dorothy Dibble keeps us organized and quilting. Others have not continued due to health, arthritis being one of the culprits that keeps us from quilting like we’d like to; other ladies have passed on their abilities to daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters. Others have simply passed on and we remember them with little short stories about their “quilting quirks”, such as, “So-and-so always sits there, you need to sit somewhere else.” One day as I was threading a needle directly from the spool, the thread suddenly disappeared! Another person had picked up the spool to cut her length before she threaded it! We laughed and vowed to remember the “quirks.

The UMC ladies have completed some of the local PRIDE quilts. New ladies in town such as Dorothy Mitchell, a new resident, are welcomed to the quilt frame. Others join when they retire and begin their own quilting adventures. A break time about two hours into the session always brings out something new, either homemade or purchased snack with tea or coffee.

My first adventure with the Alton UMC quitters was helping to set up the first quilt I made as a wedding present for a granddaughter, whoever married first. I found out that I had not measured correctly, so had to add material to the backing to fit the top. Luckily, Ruth Guttery had come prepared for this novice with her sewing machine and iron. I was able to sew right there, press it, and help to set it up on the quilting frame. Now, I think I know a bit more as I prepare to help set in the next granddaughter’s wedding present. I say laughingly that the unmarried ones will be old maids if they wait for me to complete one for each of them!

Nowadays, the quilt guilds have begun to take over the quilting bees that the church ladies of not-so-long-ago held. Even the quilting is different! The advent of machine quilting has begun to eliminate the camaraderie of the many Monday afternoons quilting in the church basement.

Regardless, one of the missions of the church basement is always to have room for the quilt frame and the ladies who stitch the history of Alton.

*  *  *  *  *

SOURCES: Wilda Carswell, Alton, Kansas; Deanna Roach, Alton, Kansas; Carolyn Williams, Alton, Kansas; Hays Daily News, August 22, 2002; Hays Daily News, December 8, 2002; Osborne County Farmer, October 13, 1938, Page 6; Osborne County Farmer, June 26, 1947, Page 6; Osborne County Farmer, January 20, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, July 16, 2015; Salina Journal, October 14, 1956.

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Orville Leon and Betty Joy (Zweifel) Pruter – 2016 Inductees

(On this date, November 23, 2016, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fifth and last members of the OCHF Class of 2016.)

 

Our final two Osborne County Hall of Fame inductees join an exclusive club. This humble husband and wife team has the rare honor of being the 27th and 28th people to be voted into the Hall while still living. Their story reflects the often surprising amount of personal impact that each one of us has in so many ways on so many others in the course of our lives, be it through school, church, government, or community affairs; i.e., in every aspect of living in today’s world. They have been—and are—community leaders in every true sense of the phrase.

pruter-orville-high-school-graduation
Orville Pruter, senior year photograph, Natoma High School Class of 1953.

Our husband and father, Orville Leon Pruter, was born November 17, 1935 at Natoma, Osborne County, Kansas. He was the eldest son of Alvin and Yvonne (Goad) Pruter, who had two more sons, Ivan and Keith. Orville grew up on the family farm located three miles north of Natoma. He attended all of his schooling in Natoma, except his junior year of high school when he attended Miltonvale High School and Miltonvale Wesleyan College in Miltonvale, Kansas. He came back to Natoma for his senior year and graduated with the class of 1953. After graduating Orville went to work helping area farmers and working in the oil fields surrounding Natoma for several operators, including Oscar Rush, the Brown Brothers, and Bowman’s Well Service.

senior-1954
Betty Zweifel, senior year photograph, Waldo High School Class of 1955.
betty-1953-jr
Betty when a junior on the Waldo High School Girls Basketball Team.

Our wife and mother, Betty Joy Zweifel, was born on June 26th on the family farm of Robert and Bernice (Clow) Zweifel during the hot summer of 1936, four miles south of Waldo in Russell County, Kansas. She was the eldest child of the four siblings—Betty, Barbara, Peggy, and Robert Jr. Betty attended Paradise Dell rural school her first four years. When the rural school closed Betty was enrolled in 5th grade at Waldo Elementary School and completed the rest of her early education in the Waldo school system. Betty lettered all of her grade school years and all four years of high school in basketball. She was very active in all of the school activities, be it music, drama, sports, basketball, volleyball, softball and track. Betty graduated as salutatorian of the class of 1954.

Betty was also very involved in 4-H. She was a member of the clothing judging team which placed first in the state in 1950 and was 3rd in the state in clothing judging.

 

State Clothing Judging Champion

“First place in the State 4-H Clothing Judging Contest held during the Kansas State Fair was won by the above Russell county team. They are Louise Robinson, Prospectors 4-H Club; Carl Lindquist, Smoky Valley 4-H Club; and Betty Zweifel, Paradise Dell 4-H Club.

This team had a combined total of 1,020 points out of a possible 1,200. They judged six classes pertaining to clothing design and construction principals and gave reasons for their placing on two of those classes. Individual scores for the girls were given with Betty Zweifel ranking third high in the state, Carol Lindquist was fourth and Louise Robinson ranked 20th. The girls were the three highest individuals in the Russell County judging contest, making them eligible to enter the state contest.”—Natoma Independent, October 19, 1950.

 

Betty’s cherry pie won first in the state baking contest in Manhattan in 1953. She was named a member of the state’s Who’s Who in 4-H Clubs. Betty was the only member of the Paradise Dell 4-H Club to complete her 4-H work whose parents were both charter members of the club.

After high school Betty enrolled in the nursing program at Fort Hays State College the fall of 1954, and at that time she was the only girl in her family to ever go to college. But her plans changed when she met Orville Pruter in the fall of 1954. They were married on June 5, 1955, in the Amherst Evangelical United Brethren Church south of Waldo and made their home on a farm three miles north of Natoma. Orville went to work in the oil fields and also helped his Dad on the farm. They milked cows and had a flock of chickens, and on Saturday nights they could sell the cream and eggs, buy their groceries, fill the car with gas, and go to the show.

pruter-wedding-photo-1955-bw

Zweifel – Pruter Wedding Sunday

“In a double ring ceremony Sunday afternoon, June 5th at 2:00 o’clock, Miss Betty Zweifel, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert G. Zweifel, of Waldo, was united in marriage to Orville L. Pruter, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Pruter of Natoma. The wedding took place in the Amherst Evangelical Church near Waldo with the Rev. L. W. Life of Russell officiating before an altar decorated with baskets of yellow and white gladioli and white candles.

Mrs. Kenneth Phillips, pianist, furnished the music and accompanied Miss Jane Trible of Palco who sang “The Lord’s Prayer” and “Through the Years”. Taper lighters were Sharon Zweifel and Marian Clow, cousins of the bride. The bridal gown, fashioned by the bride and her mother, was of white crystalette with full length tiered skirt and portrait neckline. A crown of orange blossoms held the chapel length silk illusion veil in place and a single strand of pearls completed the bride’s ensemble She carried a white Bible and French carnations with orchid and white streamers.

Miss Marilyn Zweifel, who served her cousin as maid of honor, wore a ballerina length gown of yellow crystalette fashioned like the bride’s gown and carried a bouquet of white carnations. Ivan Pruter served his brother as best man. Ushers were Everett Pruter, Jr. and Wayne Zweifel.

For her daughter’s wedding Mrs. Zweifel chose a dress of navy crystalette with a white carnation corsage. The groom’s mother wore a navy and white nylon dress with a white carnation corsage.

A reception was held in the church basement following the ceremony. The wedding cake was served by Mrs. Jack Fink of Paradise and Mrs. Charles Shaffer of Waldo poured punch.

The bride, a graduate of Waldo High school, attended one year at Fort Hays Kansas State College. The groom graduated from Natoma Rural High school with the class of 1953 and has been engaged in farming.

After a honeymoon to the Black Hills the couple will be at home on a farm north of Natoma. For their wedding trip, Mrs. Pruter chose an ensemble of avocado green with white accessories and wore an orchid corsage.”—Natoma-Luray Independent, June 9, 1955.

 

In January 1956 Betty & Orville were blessed with a little boy. Dale was the first of five boys that were born over the next seven years—Dale, Gale, Daryl, Douglas, and Kevin. A little girl was adopted, Susan Lajoy, but she passed away in July of 1965. In between babies Betty went back to college majoring in Education. In the fall of 1957 she started teaching at the Plante School South of Plainville on a 60-hour certificate. In that time they had also moved three times before settling into living north of Codell, Kansas on Medicine Creek on the Bother place. The next few years were spent raising the family and teaching, and going to college weekends and summer. Orville was working in the oil fields and farming. The Pruters moved again in January 1959 into Natoma. In August of 1960 they moved to Plainville, Kansas and Orville went to work for Western Power & Light as a lineman and continued to farm on weekends. Betty was still going to school and teaching. In August of 1963 she graduated from Fort Hays State College with a BS in Education.

Betty and Orville have been active in their church and community all of their married life. When the five boys were growing they were in charge of the youth ministry at The Church of the Nazarene in Plainville, Kansas. Besides youth ministry, they sang in the choir, directed the choir, taught Sunday School, were church treasurers for over 30 years, served on the church board, and played the organ for services. Orville was music director and lead the music for church services.

After working for the power company for fourteen years Orville and the family moved back to the Pruter family farm three miles north of Natoma in the fall of 1974. Their oldest son graduated from the Plainville High School that spring and the other four boys enrolled in the Natoma school system. Betty was hired to teach 5-8 Language Arts in the Paradise Middle School. Orville started driving the activity bus for the Natoma schools, which he did for the next twenty years.

pruter-orville-bus-driver
Orville Pruter drove the activity bus for the Natoma school system for twenty years.
pruter-betty-teacher
Betty Pruter was a longtime teacher in the Natoma/Paradise school system.

In the spring of 1998 Betty retired from teaching after 39 years. She had taught in two rural schools, the Plante School in Rooks County and the Blue Hill School in Ellis County, the Plainville Grade School, Kindergarten in Natoma, the Zurich (Kansas) Grade School, and then 24 years in the Natoma / Paradise school system. Betty is a lifetime member of both the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA) and the National Teachers Association. She is also a member of the Hays Reading Association and of the Gamma Chapter of Delta Kappa Gama for Osborne and Rooks Counties.

Both Betty and Orville were longtime leaders in the Eager Beaver 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Orville served as the chairman of the Natoma Medical Board and as a member of the Osborne County Rural Water District #1 board. He ran for District #3 Osborne County Commissioner in 1996, but was unsuccessful.

 

Orville Pruter

3rd District Commissioner

“Wanting to better represent his area of the county, Orville Pruter of Natoma is seeking to represent the third district of Osborne County as a commissioner. Pruter said another reason he was seeking the position was to work on county efficiency.

Born and raised in Natoma, Pruter said he looks forward to working with the public. He also said he prided himself in getting along with others and felt that the position of commissioner would be a challenge. Pruter added he always tries to be cooperative and do what he thinks is right.

A graduate of Natoma High School, Pruter has worked in the oil fields as well as for a utility company in Plainville. Moving back to Natoma in 1974, Pruter has farmed continuously since 1955. He also operated a motor grader for the county and currently drives an activity bus for the Natoma school district, something he has done since 1975.

Pruter and his wife, Betty, are the parents of live sons. He is a member of the Plainville Church of the Nazarene and the Natoma Medical Board.

When asked what he felt was the biggest issue facing the county, Pruter replied the economy was definitely the biggest issue and said that he realized something needed to be done to help the situation.

If county valuation continues to drop, Pruter said he would look at advocating higher taxes as well as cutting budgets and programs He felt reviewing both would be necessary to determine a solution, realizing a certain amount of money is needed to maintain county efficiency.

Pruter said the current landfill situation is also another problem facing the county today.

Feeling qualified to serve as Third District County Commissioner, Pruter said that his area of the county needed more representation and he felt he was in a position to do so.

Pruter described himself as honest, caring and concerned, and that he had ‘feelings for people.’”—Osborne County Farmer, October 31, 1996.

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Orville Pruter ran for the District 3 Osborne County Commissioner position in 1996. 

In the summer of 2000 Betty followed Orville’s lead and ran for Osborne County Commissioner  in District #3.

 

Voters head to the polls Tuesday

Write-in candidate seeks spot on general election ballot

“The only announced write-in candidate to date is Betty Pruter, who has announced her candidacy for County Commissioner, Third District. Pruter hopes to receive enough votes as a write-in to become the Republican candidate for third district commissioner.

Pruter decided to run because she feels incumbent Jack Applegate, Democrat, needs some opposition and because she would like to see someone from Natoma on the board.

‘Sometimes, it feels like Natoma, because we are at the opposite corner of the county, is left out,’ said Pruter. ‘I know, though, that the district extends across the south and on the west to include Alton. I’d want to represent all the people in the district and will listen to all my constituents and do my best to represent everyone.’

Pruter is in favor of better roads and equal law enforcement in parts of the county. Specifically, she would like to see a deputy stationed in Natoma. The current deputy that serves that part of the county lives north of Luray.

She also feels that the health and extension departments need to be expanded. ‘I know that costs money, but ‘where there is a will, there’s a way.’

Pruter is not In favor of cutting the budget, but does think the funds might be better allocated.

“We need to study the budget and find a different way of using our resources.” she said. “I also think women have a different way of looking at things and maybe we need a women’s viewpoint to find the answers to some of these problems.”

Pruter is adamant about the need to pay closer attention to government mandates. She doesn’t think the county can afford to ignore them or lag in coming into compliance.

“Most of the time, they are for the benefit and safety of the public,” she said. “Sometimes it’s good to be on the ground floor, rather than waiting.”

Pruter was born and raised south of Waldo and has lived in the Natoma area most of her married life. She is a retired school teacher who still substitutes and is an active farm partner with her husband, Orville.

She is the mother of five boys and has 14 grandchildren. One son is an educator in Holcomb, Kansas, another runs the At Risk program in Syracuse, Kansas, another teaches Tae Kwan Do in Blue Springs, Missouri; one has just returned to the area to farm; and the fifth is employed by the county.”—Osborne County Farmer, July 27, 2000.

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Betty earned the right to be on the county ballet in November 2000 as a write-in candidate. And she won! In doing so Betty became only the second woman to ever be elected an Osborne County Commissioner. She set another record by being the first woman to ever complete a four-year term as Commissioner, and broke the glass ceiling in 2004 when she was re-elected to a second term—the only woman to achieve this in the 132 years of Osborne County history up to that time.

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Betty Pruter (second from left) was one of the seven duly elected Osborne County officials to take the oath of office in January 2001.

As commissioner Betty was instrumental in getting the official 911 directional signage for roads in rural Osborne County and served on numerous regional committees and boards. She was the county delegate to the Northwest Kansas Planning and Development Commission at Hill City, Kansas, and to the Solomon Valley Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Council. The RC&D is a unique program led by local volunteer councils and administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The purpose of an RC&D is to address local concerns and to promote conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources; improve the general level of economic activity; and enhance the environment and standard of living in all communities in the council’s designated region. Betty was a founding member of the Solomon Valley RC&D Council in 2002 and worked tirelessly to help the organization receive authorization with the Natural Recourses Conservation Services (NRCS).

Betty attended the Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. in February, 2003. She served on the Solomon Valley RC&D Council as Vice-President and was a voting Council member representing the Osborne County Advisory Committee. Her leadership was proven valuable on several RC&D projects, including the Regional Geographic information System (GIS) meeting, Natoma Grade School Playground Renovation, Osborne County Courthouse Celebration, Farm With the Family Workshop and Osborne County Career Fairs. Both Betty and Orville represented the RC&D at many local, regional, and state events. Betty was inducted into the Solomon Valley RC&D Hall Of Fame on February 10, 2009.

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Gary Doane and Orville Pruter getting the beans ready for the public feast at the Osborne County Courthouse Centennial Celebration in the fall of 2007.

“It was a privilege for me to work with Betty while we served together as Osborne County Commissioners. I enjoyed getting acquainted with Orville at that time as well. They have a special place in their hearts for preserving the traditions and historical values of our county, and passing along a great heritage to the next generation. Betty and Orville have served Osborne County and their community in many capacities. They have been and continue to be true servant leaders where God has placed them. Congratulations, Betty and Orville, on your election to the Osborne County Hall of Fame.”—Gary Doane, Osborne County Commissioner, 2004-2008.

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The Osborne County Commission in session in the Osborne County Courthouse, Osborne, Kansas in June 2007. From left to right: Bryan Byrd, Osborne; Gary Doane, Downs; and Betty Pruter, Natoma.

Both Betty and Orville have been members of the Natoma Community Center committee and helped with many Kansas Day annual programs—often baking bread and churning butter, among other activities. In 1990 Betty began working with the Osborne County Literacy Center. In 2002 she was appointed to the Osborne County Advisory Board and in 2003 she served on the board for the Osborne County Coalition. Beginning in 2004 Betty served on the board of directors for Osborne County Growth and Preservation, Inc. and in 2005 on the board for the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation.

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Betty and Orville Pruter worked the Osborne County information booth at a number of Kansas Sampler Festivals over the years.

From 2000 to 2010 Orville and Betty were active members of Osborne County Tourism, Inc. and the Northwest Kansas Tourism Council. They became members of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and attended the annual Kansas Sampler Festivals held across the state, helping to set up and man the Osborne County booth. While at the Sampler Festival they handed out brochures and informed people about the many things to see and do in Osborne County and what a great place it is to live. In 2006 Betty received a Special Service Award for recognition of her longterm efforts to promote tourism to the region.

 

Kansas Bankers Association Conservation Award Winners

Windbreak Awards

Orville and Betty Pruter

Gale and Teresa Pruter

“The first 2004 windbreak award is to be presented to Orville and Betty Pruter and Gale and Teresa Pruter around the farmstead, near Natoma, that is occupied by Gale, Teresa and family. The windbreak is made up of four rows of trees. The inside row contains 196 lilacs, the two inside rows have 245 eastern red cedars, and the outside deciduous row is made up of 65 hackberry [trees].

They also installed 4,000 feet of weed barrier fabric. This windbreak was planted in 1995 and now protects the area around the farmstead and machine shed. Cost share assistance was received by the Pruters through the State Water Resources Cost-share Program.

The Pruters have done an excellent job of maintaining the windbreak and have had a good survival rate of the trees.”—Downs News and Times, January 13, 2005.

In 2009 Betty and Orville were honored by receiving a Century Farm Award for the Pruter family farm located north of Natoma, recognizing their longterm family commitment to farming there for one hundred years. That same year they moved back to live on the farm and are the third generation to do so. The farm’s big barn is notable in itself, as it replaced an earlier barn destroyed by a tornado on May 21, 1918. This new barn was built with the innovative “no-sag roof” concept invented by local architect and fellow Osborne County Hall of Famer Louis Beisner and is an outstanding example of Beisner’s ground-breaking architectural style.

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Two photos of Orville Pruter at work on the Pruter farm, utilizing old and new equipment to earn a living amid the ever-changing farming trends. Above can be seen the historic Pruter Barn in the background. The barn was built in 1918 and is a rare early example of the “no-sag” roof concept, in which the roof is held up by interlocking braces along the inside of the roof rather than by vertical columns down the middle of the hay loft. This architectural breakthrough is now a basic component in all large building architecture everywhere.

In 2011 Betty Pruter and Linda Sharits started working on creating a library for the city of Natoma. With the help many volunteers the library has grown to be the meeting place for the community, and in 2016 it officially became the Natoma Public Library under the administration of the city. Betty and Orville are also active in the Heritage Seekers Organization, a all-volunteer community group that was given the Polhman building in Natoma by the Polhman family (also Osborne County Hall of Famers) and in which they have established the Pohlman Heritage Museum.

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Orville Pruter (second from left) rides on one of the many floats that the Natoma Heritage Seekers organization has entered in the annual Natoma Labor Day Parade over the years. 

On May 29, 2005, Betty and Orville celebrated their golden anniversary of marriage. They remain active in the community and region. They are in charge of the government food commodity program, and both are on the board of the Northwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging. Betty is the clerk of Round Mound Township and is a member of the Silver Haired Legislature, representing Osborne County. They keep busy with community activities, volunteering at the library and museum, and helping their son care for the family farm.

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Betty Pruter demonstrates making homemade bread.
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In January 2016 Betty Pruter helped the kids at Natoma Grade School learn how to make butter and homemade bread. 
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The Orville and Betty Pruter family.

It is our pleasure to welcome such worthy additions into the Osborne County Hall of Fame. Betty and Orville Pruter, enjoy the parade of acclamations. You have earned them.

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County Wide Objectives Chosen

“The Osborne County Chairperson of Osborne County Growth and Preservation, Inc., Betty Pruter, is inviting all interested citizens of Osborne County to a meeting on Friday, June 11, in the Osborne Carnegie Library at 7:30PM to choose two county objectives be accomplished between July and December 2004. At this meeting the two objectives that were to be completed between January and June will also be evaluated.

At this meeting the Osborne County Strategic Plan will be reviewed and revised as needed. We welcome new ideas and cordially invite all citizens interested in the common good of Osborne County to attend this meeting. ‘We in 2003’ has proven that we can make good things happen.

Help us fulfill the ‘More in 2004’ motto by becoming an active participant with us in these endeavors.”—Osborne County Farmer, June 10, 2004.

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Kansas Blue Hills Foundation Comes to County

“Something new has come to Osborne County! Five people have united their hearts and their talents to create the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation. Their mission is to secure the Future of Osborne County for those who live here, for those who are planning to return, and for those who are making Osborne County their new home. It is doable! It can be done!

The Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, county-wide organization authorized by the IRS to receive tax deductible contributions from individuals, families, businesses, corporations and other foundations. Three of the five foundation organizers attended Dr. Don Udell’s three-day Foundation Workshop and all five attended his nine-day Grant Writing Workshop.

The foundation’s founding five board members believe that there is a pool of human resources in Osborne County which can be shaped into a dynamic force that will reverse the economic and cultural downturn experienced in these past decades. The Foundation will be the vehicle to train and empower local leaders, establish permanent endowment that will endure forever, and generate and achieve a new vision or progress and prosperity for Osborne County.

Over the past twenty years there has been a significant outmigration from rural America to the metropolitan areas of the country. During these same years rural Kansas, Osborne County has seen (1) a massive transfer or wealth out of the county, (2) dramatic cuts in programs funded by the Federal and State governments, and (3) growing percentage or the population becoming sixty-five years of age or older.

These are sobering realities, and unfortunately many residents have come to believe that the county’s decline in population, jobs, economic opportunity, and quality of life is irreversible. This pessimism is destructive to the county in general and to the residents individually. It is our conviction that the people of this county can find the hope, energy, courage and the resources required to reverse this damaging attitude.

Now is not the time to be passive! We must awaken the same pioneering spirit that permitted our ancestors to overcome the obstacles they faced when they settled this county.

The Kansas Blue Hills Foundation governing board members are dedicated to improving the communities in which they live. The board members are: Carolyn Williams, Alton, who is very active in the Bohemian Cultural Center and restaurant enterprise and a former school teacher; Frances Meyers, Downs, who is an IRS agent and eBay entrepreneur; Betty Pruter, Natoma, who is a partner on the family farm, former teacher and currently serves as a County Commissioner; Laura McClure, Osborne, who is a former State Representative, worked as Economic Development Director for the City of Osborne, and is the President of the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation; Dr. Joe Hubbard, the member at-large, is a former Arizona State Director of the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and for twenty years owned/managed a private 501 (c)(3) counseling organization.

Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is currently requesting contributions from individuals, businesses, and other foundations to make securing the future a reality in Osborne County. The Foundation Board is embarking on a three year Capital Campaign Drive. The goal is to raise three million five hundred thousand dollars in the next three yean. Three million will be used to establish a permanent endowment fund for Osborne County, and the remainder will be used as seed money in the foundation’s nine Fields of Interest as well as for administrative costs.

Over the next ten years, billions of dollars will transfer out of Osborne County due to (1) the death of residents whose relatives live outside of the county, (2) businesses closing with no successor, and (3) the out-migration of our youth. A major reason for establishing a County-Wide Endowment Fund is to retain some of this wealth within Osborne County. Donors will have the opportunity to give to this endowment fund through estate planning, memorials, and gifts. Contributions to the foundation are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

As this endowment fund grows, the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation will distribute the earnings in the form of grants to qualified applicants living in or serving Osborne County. Grants will be made in the Foundation’s nine Fields of Interest which are: (1) Community Development, (2) Economic Development, (3) Rural Development. (4) Arts and Culture, (5) Education, (6) Environment, (7) Health, (8) Recreation, and (9) Religion. These Fields of Interest provide donors with a wide variety of program-areas they may wish to sustain.

The mission of the Kansas Blue Hills Foundation is: ‘To be an innovative leader in supporting and promoting activities in Osborne County, that foster economic, social and spiritual growth by empowering individuals, businesses, organizations and government entities.’

We invite you to participate with us in this challenging and rewarding endeavor.”—by Laura McClure, Downs News and Times, March 24, 2005.

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SOURCES:  Betty & Orville Pruter, Natoma, Kansas; Gary Doane, Downs, Kansas; Laura McClure, Osborne, Kansas; Della Richmond, Natoma, Kansas; Von Rothenberger, Lucas, Kansas; Carolyn Schultz, Lucas, Kansas; Natoma Independent, October 19, 1950; Natoma-Luray Independent, June 9, 1955; Natoma-Luray Independent, July 7, 1955; Natoma-Luray Independent, October 17, 1957; Natoma-Luray Independent, January 8, 1959; Natoma-Luray Independent, August 4, 1960; Osborne County Farmer, April 28, 1988; Osborne County Farmer, October 31, 1996; Osborne County Farmer, July 27, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, August 10, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, November 16, 2000; Osborne County Farmer, January 11, 2001; Osborne County Farmer, March 13, 2003; Osborne County Farmer, June 10, 2004; Osborne County Farmer, January 13, 2005; Downs News and Times, January 13, 2005; Downs News and Times, March 24, 2005; Osborne County Farmer, May 26, 2005; Downs News and Times, March 7, 2006; Osborne County Farmer; March 5, 2009; Osborne County Farmer, June 11, 2009.

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John M. Galer – 2016 Inductee

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

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

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

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

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

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The Battle of The Monitor and the Merrimac

By John Galer [written in 1918]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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 John Galer, Osborne, Kansas

Company A, 11th PA Cavalry.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mrs. John Galer Dead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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J. M. Galer Passes Away

Civil War Veteran and Early Osborne County Settler Answers Final Call

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lila Marie Leaver – 2014 Inductee

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

 

 

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

 Lila Leaver Thinks Teaching is the Greatest Profession

By Dave Magruder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Teacher Medal to Lila Leaver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 My Other Mother

By John Henshall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

John A. Dillon – 2014 Inductee

On this date, August 19, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the third of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014:

 

Dr. John A. DillonThe son of 1996 Osborne County Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Alfred C. Dillon and Mary (Shafer) Dillon, John A. Dillon was born December 24, 1872, on the family homestead in Corinth Township of Osborne County, Kansas.   He graduated Osborne, Kansas High School in 1889. After teaching rural school for a year he entered Kansas Medical College, from which he graduated in 1893.

That fall John decided to join the thousands of boomers who wanted to try for homesteads when the Cherokee Strip of northwest Oklahoma was opened to settlement.  The great land rush began at noon on September 16, 1893, with more than 100,000 participants dashing across the southern Kansas state line, hoping to claim land.

“Dr. John Dillon and Frank Leebrick leave today for the [Cherokee] Strip. They are unsettled in their minds as to whether they will stay there.” – Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 7, 1893.

“Word comes back to Osborne that John Dillon succeeded in establishing his person on a fine quarter section of land in the Strip, Saturday last, and that Frank Leebrick made a good thing by taking a load of provisions into the new country. The rumor circulated on our streets the first of the week to the effect that John Dillon had both legs broken in the mad rush for new homes, was set afloat by some sensational crank. It was a canard.” – Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 21, 1893.

“John Dillon and Frank Leebrick are on their way home from the Strip, and are expected to reach Osborne today.”  –  Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 28, 1893.

After his adventure John then served a year as house physician in Christ Hospital at Topeka before becoming a practicing physician together with his father in Osborne.  After three years of this training he entered the Kansas City Dental College and 1900 became an accredited dentist.

In 1901 John moved to Washburn, North Dakota where he served as county health officer while he ran a medical practice.  On May 29, 1901 John returned to Osborne, where he married Margaret Ogden. Together they raised three sons, Ogden, John Jr., and David.

In 1905 John took the opportunity to travel to Europe, where he spent more than a year in post-graduate work in both the London Hospital at London, England, and in Berlin, Germany.  Two years later John returned to the United States and located at Larned, Pawnee County, Kansas, where he opened a medical practice.

In Larned John became a valued member of the community.  He served on the Pawnee County Board of Health, the Larned Library Board of Directors, the Larned City Council, and on committees for the Larned Commercial Club.  John was a stockholder in the First State Bank of Larned and served as a trustee for the Larned Presbyterian Church.  He was affiliated with the Lodge, Chapter, Knight Templar Commandery, and the Wichita Temple of the Mystic Shrine.  John was also a member of the Subordinate Lodge of Odd Fellows, the Great Bend Lodge of Elks, and the Knights of Pythias.

In 1912 John was elected to the first of two two-year terms as Pawnee County Coroner.  Then in 1927 he was appointed chief administrator for the Larned State Mental Hospital, a position that he held until 1944.  The Dillon Building at the hospital bears his name.

The Dillon Building at the Larned State Hospital near Larned, Kansas.
The Dillon Building at the Larned State Hospital near Larned, Kansas.

In 1934 John was given the prestigious honor of being elected a Fellow in the College of American Surgeons.

For years John had been submitting medical stories and anecdotes to the Kansas Medical Journal.  These were gathered together and published as two books, Foibles For the Kansas Doctor (1920) and Doc: Facts, Fables and Foibles (1926).

The following is from the Journal of the American Medical Association, July 30, 1927, Volume 89, No. 5, Page 396:  “Doc: Facts, Fables and Foibles.  By John A. Dillon, M.D. Cloth, Price, $2.  Pp. 168.  Boston: Richard G. Badger, 1926.

“Under the non de plume “RenigAde”, Dr. John A. Dillon for several years has published sketches in the Kansas Medical Journal.  These have been outstanding in their philosophy and in their humor.  Some of them have been republished in part in the Tonic and Sedatives column.  Any physician who wishes to while away a few hours in thorough enjoyment of a revelation of medical foibles will find his money for the purchase of this book exceedingly well spent.  Examples of the humor and epigram of this volume are the following:

“The American College of Surgeons has practically done away with fee-splitting, as it is called.  The result has been that most physicians have felt themselves  called upon to do their own operating and new surgeons are almost as common as filling stations.

“The swell girls you have met through the medium of your friend, the fizz mixer, are also fairly well known around the soft drink palaces and can usually be found running in droves about dish washing time.  They are mostly good girls who quit school in the seventh grade on account of headache.

“The practice of medicine is a jealous mistress and will not tolerate intrigues with golf, baseball nor anything else that tends to divorce affection from the legally adopted spouse.

“No patient with a symptom complex sufficiently grave to call the doctor will accept the services of one whose breath smells like something the cat found under the granary.

“To ask a badly bow-legged man to point the knees toward each other and pivot on his metatarsal would, of course be useless instructions for the reason that we have never known a bow-legged man who knew what pivot was.

“The average golf player can make about the same score with a boat oar and a potato masher as he can with a gunny-sack full of niblicks and stances.”

 

 

After his retirement John lived quietly in Larned until his death on December 3, 1951.  A funeral attended by a large gathering followed as John A. Dillon was laid to rest in the Larned Cemetery.

 

John A. Dillon's tombstone in the Larned Cemetery.
John A. Dillon’s simple tombstone in the Larned Cemetery.

 

Upon his death the Larned paper had the following to say of John’s passing:

“In the passing of Dr. John A. Dillon Larned has lost one of its foremost citizens, a man who attained full measure of success in his profession, in public service as head of a great institution, and as a citizen or his community, county and state.

“Of Larned’s newer citizens and its younger generation, many were denied the privilege of knowing Dr. Dillon. Since his retirement from the state hospital post nearly six years ago, failing health prevented him from taking his accustomed place in community life.

“But although the youth of the community did not know Dr. Dillon, he never lost touch with the activities and achievements of youth on the athletic field, and in the school room. An ardent devotee of competitive athletics, he followed the progress of the high school teams long after he was unable to attend the games. He always spoke of the high school teams as ‘our boys.’

“The doctor’s associates remember him best for his sense of humor and. his talent for human relationships. He had other talents, which he shared liberally. He loved to sing, his favorite songs were those made famous by the late Harry Lauder. He wrote a book about his experiences as a country doctor that was published long before

Dr. [Arthur] Hertzler developed the same theme. He was a frequent contributor to medical journals, wrote a humorous column for his home town newspaper, and was an active member of church and club.

“A successful man himself, he derived vicarious pleasure and satisfaction in the successes and achievements of others after he was forced to give up active participation.”

SOURCES: Osborne County Farmer newspaper, September 7, 1893, September 21, 1893, September 28, 1893, & June 14, 1934; “Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. …”, Standard Publishing Company, Chicago (1912, pages 359-360); Kansas Department For Aging & Disability Services; Fort Larned Historical Society; Santa Fe Trail Center; Larned State Hospital.

Arlene Louise Sollenberger – 2013 Inductee

(On this date, October 15, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fourth of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2013)

Sollenberger Arlene portraitArlene Louise Sollenberger was born in Natoma, Osborne County, Kansas, on November 19, 1920, the only child of Versa (Dorr) Sollenberger and Jesse C. Sollenberger.  Both of her parents were well-known musicians in their own right.  After growing up in Osborne and graduating from Osborne High School, Arlene earned a bachelor of music education degree from Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kansas, with majors in piano and clarinet.

Arlene then taught school at Garfield in Pawnee County, Kansas, and at Stafford, Stafford County, Kansas.  Returning to college, she earned a Master of Music Education degree and Master of Artistic Voice degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Music at Ann Arbor, Michigan.  For the next nine years Arlene taught at the Michigan School of Music and was a soloist with symphonies, oratorios and recitals.  She also sang with quartets including one that appeared regularly on the radio and two others at churches.

In 1956 Arlene applied for and received a Fulbright Scholarship for a year’s study at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich, Germany.  She was then appointed Associate Professor of Music, Voice, at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1959, becoming a full professor in 1968.

“A further entry in Texas Christian University’s fine arts festival for this year devoted to the arts in Italy was presented Monday night in Ed Landreth Auditorium.  The event was an Italian song recital by Arlene Sollenberger, soprano, with Adrienne Mora Reisner at the piano.  The operatic aria, “O Don Fatale” from Verdi’s “Don Carlo”, was quite the high spot of the evening, in which the singer’s stunning personality made a basis for some magnificent singing.  The wide range and brilliant top notes earned an ovation.”Fort Worth Telegram, August 13, 1965.

After 27 years at the university Arlene elected to retire in 1986, retaining the title of emeritus associate professor of music.

Arlene was a member of the Fort Worth Music Teachers Association and regional governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  The National Federation of Music Clubs gave her life membership following a concert at their Texas state convention.  Arlene’s many other memberships included the Overton Park United Methodist Church; Sigma Alpha Iota sorority (received the Sword of Honor); Phi Kappa Phi sorority; Pi Kappa Lambda sorority (served on National Board of Regents; Tau Beta Sigma sorority (honorary member), National Association of Teachers of Singing; National Federation of Music Clubs (life member); Altrusa Internations, Inc. of Fort Worth; Women’s Club of Fort Worth; the E. Clyde Whitlock Music Club; and the Euterpean Club of Fort Worth (director of Euterpean Singers).

Among the honors Arlene received was being named to Who’s Who, South and Southwest, 1980, Personalities of the South (11th edition, 1980).  She was also the recipient of both the 1981 Contribution to the Arts Through Music from the Personalities of America and Bethany College Alumni Association’s Alumni Award of Merit in 1988.

In 1984 Arlene gave the funds to install the organ and carillon in the United Methodist Church in Osborne, Kansas, as a memorial to her parents, Jesse and Versa Sollenberger.   She passed away at the age of 81 on Wednesday, December 12, 2001, in Fort Worth, Texas.  Services were held at the Overton Park United Methodist Church in Fort Worth.  Arlene was then laid to rest next to her family in the Osborne Cemetery at Osborne, Kansas.

As a final gesture to her hometown, Arlene’s last will and testament created a trust which directed that three-fourths of the annual net income of the trust was to be distributed to Unified School District No. 392 for student scholarships, while one eighth was to go to the United Methodist Church at Osborne, Kansas, and the final one eighth would go to the Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society of Osborne, Kansas.