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.

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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.

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Betty Zweifel, senior year photograph, Waldo High School Class of 1955.
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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.

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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.

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Orville Pruter drove the activity bus for the Natoma school system for twenty years.
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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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Carl Edward Creamer – 2016 Inductee

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

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

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

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Forrest and Lola Creamer, 1919.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ed in the U.S. Navy, 1940.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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My Days as a POW in a Japanese Prison Camp

by Carl E. (Ed) Creamer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eight men survived the Bataan Death March:

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

 

Two men survived the invasion of Kiska, Alaska:

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

 

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

Carl E. Creamer                      3rd Class AOM           Filer, Idaho

 

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

John M. Galer – 2016 Inductee

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

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

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

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

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

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The Battle of The Monitor and the Merrimac

By John Galer [written in 1918]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

*  *  *  *  *  *

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.

galer-john-children-front-left-earl-olive-smith-ella-beisner-charles-back-left-john-jr-george-esther-peach-clarinda-tindal
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.

*  *  *  *  *  *

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.

*  *  *  *  *

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

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

Samuel Willis Chatfield – 2016 Inductee

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lemuel Kurtz Green – 2014 Inductee

(On this date, August 17, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the first of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014)

Adaline and Lemuel Green.
Husband and wife: Adaline and Lemuel Green.

Lemuel Kurtz Green was born November 1, 1860, at Stovers Town, Blair County, Pennsylvania.  The son of Phineas and Nancy (Kurtz) Green, he moved with his parents in 1877 to a farm near Bull City (now Alton), Kansas.

 

“A fervent Methodist with a solid work ethic, Lemuel attended the local school, and his first job aside from that of the home farm was that of workman in a saw mill and corn mill. In compensation he received his board and eleven dollars a month, but his pay was largely in cornmeal, sorghum molasses and cottonwood lumber. About the time that Lemuel engaged in this work his father needed a shovel to dig a well for the home farm, and as cash for the purchase was lacking, Lemuel approached Hiram Bull, who had been a distinguished union officer in the Civil War and who was then engaged in business in Bull City, the town he co-founded. Bull listened to the talk of Lemuel and readily agreed to extend him the requested credit in the purchase of the shovel.” – From a letter by Adaline Green to Orville Guttery, May 22, 1934.

 

Lemuel was then employed four years for William Bush at the Alton Roller Mill, located a mile south of Bull City on the South Fork Solomon River.

In 1882 Lemuel moved to Graham County, Kansas, where he claimed a homestead and a timber claim and lived in a sod house. The next year he married Adaline Dirstine in Osborne County.  They would raise two children, Ralph and Lawrence, to adulthood.

Lemuel proved up on his two claims and then traded them for a flour mill in Lenora, Kansas. Three years later he turned his interest in this mill over to his father and his brother, Irvin, and in 1890 returned to Bull City, now called Alton, and purchased the Alton mill from his former employer, William Bush. Lemuel operated this flour mill for the next 12 years, serving on the Alton city council as well as mayor.

 

Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 2, 1890.
Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 2, 1890.

 

Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 15, 1891.
Advertisement in the Alton Empire newspaper of October 15, 1891.

 

“We are told that L. K. Green sold the old mill property, including the feed grinder, to Hollis Snyder and one of the Emrick’s, of Mt. Ayr. Alton Empire, January 23, 1902, Page 5.

 

“When L. K. Green, of Alton, after looking the state over with a view to erecting a large flouring mill, decided that Osborne, Kansas was the most desirable place, his wisdom was applauded by the businessmen of this city.  The reasons for his choice were obvious. In the center of a fine wheat producing section, with no flouring mill of any size close at hand, and with a railway company lending its cooperation, there is no great wonder at Mr. Green’s selection. After surmounting some difficulties in the way of securing a proper mill site, in which the citizens of Osborne gave generous financial aid, the Solomon Valley Milling Company was organized February 15, 1902, with the following officers: President, L. K. Green; secretary and treasurer, C. W. Landis; directors, F. W. Gaunt and S. J. Hibbs, of Alton, Allen Clark, L. K. Green and C. W. Landis . . .

“Upon the completion of the organization of the company, steps were immediately taken toward the erection of one of the finest flouring mills in this section. A short description of this mill, which is fast nearing a finished state, will prove of interest to the readers of this issue of the Farmer. The total ground dimensions of this building are 64 x 72 feet. The main part of the building is 32×56 feet, with three stories and a basement. The warehouse will have a capacity often minded, and withal a good business man, carloads of manufactured products, and he seems to have been fitted by nature the mill will have a wheat storage capacity of 30,000 bushels. The engine and boiler room will be in a detached stone building, thus lessening the danger from fire. The motive power will be furnished by a steel boiler, 5 x 16 feet in size, of a high pressure type and carrying 160 pounds working pressure. The engine is a Corliss compound condensing, with 130 horse power.  The mill will have a capacity of 200 barrels per day, and will be equipped with five wheat cleaners, nine stands of rolls, eight purifiers, three sieve bolting machines, and all the other necessary appliances . . .

“The company is putting in a full rye grinding outfit, and will make the manufacturing of rye flour a specialty. It expects also to do a large custom business, although of course its main dependence will be export trade. The product of this mill will be high patent flour of the very finest quality, strictly straight grade and a fancy baker’s grade. Work is being rapidly pushed on the building, and it is expected that it will be completed and in operation sometime between July 1 and 15. With an eye to business, the Missouri Pacific railway has already put in a switch 600 feet long for the exclusive use of this mill . . . Osborne County Farmer, May 15, 1902, Page 12.

 

Lemuel started experimenting with electricity by wiring his home and lighting it with electric current from the mill. He then installed electric lights, an early electric washing machine and even an unsuccessful electric-powered dishwasher.  Lemuel followed this by stringing wires for lighting homes within a mile of his mill at Osborne.  Convinced of the potential for electric power, he sold his flour milling operations in Osborne in 1908 and purchased the Concordia Electric Light Company for the princely sum of $21,500.  This company owned the H. M. Spalding hydroelectric plant on the Republican River. Lemuel soon installed transmission lines to serve several nearby towns. To help finance the system, he convinced local voters to approve bonds to build the transmission lines. His construction crew often included his two sons, Ralph and Lawrence.

Prior to Green’s purchase the company generated power only dawn to midnight and was closed on Sundays. Green bought power from another flour mill and began selling power to neighboring towns. Within a matter of years, L.K. Green & Sons Electric Light and Power was serving 22 communities in northern Kansas.

In 1916 Lemuel sold the Concordia plant for $550,000. With this cash he then bought the Reeder Light, Ice & Fuel Company in Pleasant Hill, Missouri and with his sons formed the Green Power & Light Company. Lemuel then built Baldwin Lake, which was used for hydroelectric power as well as provide water for the community.

In 1922, looking to expand with a generating plant at Clinton, Missouri, Lemuel took the company public under the name West Missouri Power Company. The company would expand through southwest Missouri.

After four years he sold this company to the Fitkin Group again, which merged with the Missouri Public Service Company.  Later this company became UtiliCorp, which later became Aquila, and now is part of Great Plains Energy, currently one of the largest utility companies in the world.

In his later years Lemuel retired to Escondido, California where he bought a 2,000-acre orange grove.

The Lemuel Green home in Escondido, California.
The Lemuel Green home in Escondido, California.
Another view of the Lemuel Green home.
Another view of the Lemuel Green home.

Lemuel Green passed away on July 5, 1930, in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, and was laid to rest in Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City.  He now joins his son Ralph Jerome Green in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

The 1930 death certificate for Lemuel Green.
The 1930 death certificate for Lemuel Green.

 

SOURCES:  Alton Empire, January 23, 1902; Osborne County Farmer, May 15, 1902; Western Empire newspaper, June 13, 1895; Illuminating the Frontier, https://www.blackhillscorp.com/sites/default/files/bhc-ilwe-ch1.pdf; Aquila, http://www.wikipedia.org; Tales of a Town Named Bull City, Orville Guttery & edited by Von Rothenberger, Ad Astra Publishing, 2011); Bliss Van Gundy, “Osborne County Pioneers”, Osborne County Farmer, April 15, 1971.

Garry G. Sigle – 2013 Inductee

(On this date, October 6, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the second of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2013)

Garry_Sigle_5x7_300dpiGarry G. Sigle was born in Russell, Russell County, Kansas, on October 28, 1956.  His parents were Richard and Evea Jane (Applegate) Sigle.  Garry was the youngest of five children.  Arris, Donna, Larry and Scott are his siblings.  Richard Sigle farmed 17 miles south and 5 miles east of Osborne, Kansas, near the Cheyenne United Methodist Church in Jackson Township of Osborne County, Kansas.  Evea Jane taught 5th grade at Osborne Elementary from 1962 until 1978.  Garry grew up working with his dad and brothers on the family farm throughout his grade school and high school years and even returned during the summers of college to help on the farm.

Garry played summer league baseball from 5th grade on and played junior high football, basketball and track & field.  At Osborne High School he participated in cross-country, basketball and track & field lettering in cross-country four years, basketball one and track & field 3 years.  In cross-country his highest individual finish was 3rd his senior year at the state meet.  In track & field he was the Northern Kansas League champion in the mile and 2-mile his senior year, and was the state champion in the indoor mile & outdoor mile and in the 2-mile, setting school records in both (4:24.1 and 9:33.1).  Both are still the state records for those respective events.

Garry then attended Fort Hays State University (FHSU) on a cross-country and track & field scholarship, majoring in Industrial Arts.

Fort Hays State University sports awards:

  • Four-Time NAIA All-American, twice in cross-country (12th , 1975 and 11th , 1977) and twice in indoor track & field (2nd in 2-mile, 1976, 2nd in 2-mile, 1978)
  • Was an Outdoor Track & Field Honorable mention All-American (5th in 10,000 meters, 1978)
  • Earned the Busch Gross award as the Fort Hays State University outstanding senior athlete, 1978
  • Inducted into the Tiger Sports Hall of Fame, 2008

Prior to his senior year, Garry married Linda Samuelson.  Upon graduation from FHSU, Garry was hired to be the industrial arts (woodworking/drafting) instructor at Riley County High School, where he stayed for 33 years.  He was also the head cross-country and head track & field coach.  In addition to his duties as a teacher/coach, he was also the Huddle Coach for the Riley County Fellowship of Christian Athletes for 29 years.  In 2011 Garry was inducted into the Kansas Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coaches Hall of Fame.

While at Riley County, Garry was named the Manhattan Area Walmart Teacher of the Year in 1998.  His coaching resumé includes 12 team state championships.  Seven of those have come in girls cross-country, three in boys cross-country and one each in girls track & field and boys track & field.  He has many top three team finishes at the state meet in both sports.  Garry has coached ten girls and seven boys to individual state titles in cross-country.  He has coached 33 boys and 52 girls to all-state honors (top 20 individual finishes at the state meet).  His cross-country teams have won 23 boys and 22 girls league championships.  In track & field, Riley County has had 28 boys and 28 girls win individual state championships and have had 112 boys and 113 girls earn all-state status (top 7 finishes in an event at the state track & field meet).  To finish his career, Coach Sigle had, for 17 consecutive years, at least one Riley County athlete who was an individual state champion at the KSHSAA Track & Field state meet.  Garry served as the chairman of cross-country for the Kansas Coaches Association from 1997 to 2008 and served as the President of the Kansas Cross-Country and Track & Field Coaches Association from 1996-2004.  He was the founder, editor and publisher of the Kansas Cross-Country Coaches Rankings, which he started in 1982 and continued until he retired in 2011.  In 2012 Garry was inducted into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame at the state track and field meet in Wichita.

Upon retirement from USD 378, Riley County in May, 2011, Garry was hired, starting in June, 2011, to be the Executive Director for the Kansas Association of American Educators.  That organization is a non-union professional teachers association.  He continues in that position today.

Garry has been married to his wife Linda for 36 years and together they have three sons:  Ben, his wife Cheryl and three grandchildren (Damon, Haley and Braden), who live in Manhattan; Luke and his wife Leah, who reside in Nashville, Tennessee; and Tim and his wife Lana, who live in Manhattan.

Garry has had many of his athletes move on to collegiate athletics including all three of his sons.  Ben Sigle was a multiple state champion while at Riley County and still holds the distinction of being the only freshman boy in Kansas history to ever win an individual state cross-country championship.  He is one of only a handful of those who won 3 state cross-country titles (missing his sophomore year with an injury when he placed 5th).  Ben went on to win 5 outdoor track & field individual titles in the distances.  He ran for Oklahoma State University and was All-Big 12 there.  Luke Sigle ran for Butler County Junior College and Oklahoma State University while Tim Sigle competed collegiately in golf at Cowley County Junior College.

Other former athletes include Jon McGraw who played football for Kansas State and professionally with the Detroit Lions, New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.  Jon was a state champion triple jumper and still holds the Kansas 3A state record at 47’ 6 ¾”.  Amy Mortimer was the state champion in cross-country all four years and won 9 individual distance event state championships in track and field.  Amy, during her senior year, ran the fastest mile for a female in the United States, running it in 4:42.4!  She went on to be a multiple All-American at Kansas State and finished third at the US National track & field meet in the 1500M in early 2000s.  Jordy Nelson was a multiple state champion in track & field but was better known as a Kansas State University wide receiver and now plays for the Green Bay Packers.  Jordy owns 3A state track & field records in the 100 (10.63 FAT) and 200 (21.64 FAT).

These are just a few of the outstanding athletes Garry had the opportunity to coach.  There were many, many others too numerous to mention.

*  *  *  *  *

Garry Sigle – Professional Resume:

Education

  • Licensed Private Pilot – Manhattan, Kansas 2003
  • TAC Level II Coaching School (Throws) – Provo, Utah 1992
  • TAC Level I Coaching School – Grinnell, Iowa 1988
  • M.S. in Physical Education, Kansas State University 1982
  • B.S. in Industrial Arts, Fort Hays State University 1978
  • High School Diploma, Osborne High School 1974

 Athletic Achievements

Fort Hays State University: Hays, Kansas 1974-1978

  • NAIA All-American
  • Cross Country – 1975 (12th), 1977 (11th)
  • Indoor Track 2-Mile – 1976 (2nd), 1978 (2nd)
    • NAIA All-American Honorable Mention
    • Outdoor Track 10,000 meters – 1978 (5th)
    • Busch Gross Award Winner
      • Outstanding Senior Athlete – 1978
      • CSIC Champion
      • Outdoor Track 3 mile – 1976, 1978
        • CSIC All-Conference Honors
        • Cross Country 1974 (8th), 1975 (6th)
        • 1976 (4th), 1977 (3rd)
          • Tiger Sports Hall of Fame – October, 2008

Osborne High School: Osborne, Kansas 1970-1974

  • KSHSAA Track & Field Champion
    • Indoor Track 1 mile – 1974
    • Outdoor Track 1 mile & 2 mile – 1974
    • All-State Cross Country
      • 1972 (11th), 1973 (3rd)

Kansas Fellowship of Christian Athletes:

  • Coaches Hall of Fame – April, 2011

Riley County High School: Riley, KS

  • The School District named the track the Garry Sigle Track – May 4, 2011

Kansas State High School Activities Association:

  • Induction into the KSHSAA Hall of Fame – May, 2012

 Professional Experience

Kansas Association of American Educators: Executive Director, June, 2011 to present

Riley County High School: Riley, Kansas 1978 to 2011

  • Industrial Education Instructor: Woodworking & Drafting/Computer Aided Drafting
  • Head Teacher: 2006 to 2011
  • Block Schedule Seminar Committee Chairperson: 1997 to 2011
  • Head Cross Country Coach: Boys 1979 to 2011, Girls 1981 to 2011
  • Meet Director: Invitational, Regional
  • Head Track & Field Coach: Boys and Girls 1982 to 2011
  • Meet Director: Quadrangulars, Invitationals, League, Regional, AAU
  • Head Basketball Coach: Girls 1980 to 1982
  • Assistant Track & Field Coach: 1979 to 1981
  • Assistant Junior High Basketball Coach: Boys 1978 to 1980

City of Riley: Riley, Kansas Summer 2001, Summer 2002

  • Pool Manager

KSHSAA: 1978 to 1993

  • Certified Basketball Official

Coaching Achievements

Cross Country

32  years Boys Head Coach, 29 years Girls Head Coach

6 years as coach of the Blue Valley athletes – 2004-2010

State Team Championships: Boys = 3, Girls = 7

State Individual Champions: Riley County Boys = 6, Girls = 9

                                                           Blue Valley Boys = 1, Girls = 1

State Top Six Team Finishes: Boys = 15, Girls = 19

All-State Individuals: Riley County Boys = 33, Girls = 52

Blue Valley Boys = 4, Girls = 2

Regional Team Championships: Boys = 10, Girls = 14

Regional Team Runners-up: Boys = 9, Girls = 5

League Team Championships: Boys = 23, Girls = 22

League Individual Champions: Riley County Boys = 19, Girls = 23

Blue Valley Boys = 2, Girls = 1

Track & Field

30 years Head Coach, 3 years Assistant Coach

State Team Championships: Boys = 1, Girls = 1

State Team Runners-Up: Boys = 2, Girls = 3

State Top Ten Team Finishes: Boys = 14, Girls = 17

State Individual Event Champions: Boys = 28, Girls = 28

All-State Performers: Boys = 112, Girls = 113

Regional Team Championships: Boys = 2, Girls = 7

Regional Team Runners-up: Boys = 7, Girls = 1

League Team Championships: Boys = 13, Girls = 10

17 consecutive years with at least one individual state Track & Field Champion – 1995 to 2011

Professional Honors and Achievements

  • Head Cross Country Coach for Down Under Sports (Missouri) to Australia and Hawaii – Summer 2008
  • Head Track & Field Coach for Down Under Sports (Kansas/Missouri) to Australia and Hawaii – Summer, 2009, 2010, 2011
  • Distance Coach for International Sports Tours to Scotland, United Kingdom, France and Switzerland – Summer 2000
  • Kansas Coaches Association Cross Country Chairman for the state of Kansas: 1997 to 2008
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Class 3A Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 2005
  • Finalist for National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association National Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year – 2011
  • National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Section 5 Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 2010
  • National Federation of Interscholastic Coaches Association Section 5 Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year: 1999
  • Kansas Coaches Association Girls Track & Field Coach of the Year: 1998
  • Kansas Coaches Association Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year: 1992, 2009
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association President: 1996 to 2004
  • Kansas Cross Country and Track & Field Coaches Association Secretary: 1986 to 1996
  • Wal-Mart Manhattan Area Teacher of the Year: 1998
  • Founder, Editor and Publisher of Kansas Cross Country Coaches Rankings: 1982 to 2010
  • Region 8 AAU Track & Field Championships Head Field Event Referee: 2000, 2002
  • NJCAA National Indoor Track & Field Championships Head Field Event Referee: 1991 to 1994
  • Kansas All Star Track & Field Meet Coach: 1988, 1989
  • Race Director of Riley Five & One: 1983 to 1987, 1992
  • Race Director of Bridge to ‘Burg 10K: 1980 to 1987

 Professional Presentations

  • 2013 – Testified at Kansas Senate Education Committee Hearing
  • 2013 – Testified at Kansas House Education Committee Hearing
  • 2011 – Riley County High School Graduation Speaker
  • 2011 – Testified at Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee
  • 2008 – Butler County Comm. College XC Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 2007 – Riley County High School Graduation Speaker
  • 2006 – Wichita State University Track & Field Clinic
  • 2005 – KSHSAA Coaching School Cross Country Speaker
  • 2005 – KCCTFCA Track & Field Coaching Clinic
  • 2004 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Panelist
  • 2003 – Brown Mackie Championship Basketball Clinic Speaker
  • 2002 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1998 – Fort Hays State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1997 – KSHSAA Coaching School Track & Field Speaker
  • 1991 – Emporia State University Track & Field Coaching Clinic Speaker
  • 1985 – Bethany College Track & Field Clinic Speaker
  • 1983 – K.C. Harmon Track & Field Clinic Panelist

Leadership Experience

  • KSHSAA Track & Field Rules Interpreter: 2004 to 2010
  • KCCTFCA Coaches Clinic Coordinator: 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes Huddle Coach: 1979 to 2007
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes State Conference Athletic Director: 1995 to 2003
  • Association of American Educators Member: 1995 to present
  • Westview Community Church Local Board of Administration: 1989 to 1992, 1996 to 1997, 2008 to 2011
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Coaches Camp Athletic Director: 1991
  • Fellowship of Christian Athletes National Running Camp Staff: 1986
  • NASA Teacher in Space Applicant: 1985
  • Walsburg Lutheran Church Councilman: 1981 to 1985

Articles Published

  • Minimum Requirements for Interscholastic Coaches”, Journal of Physical Education and Recreation, Noble and Sigle, November/December 1980
  • Cross Country Training”, Green Light Sports, Sigle, October 1997
Legendary Hall of Fame track coach Alex Francis with Garry at Fort Hays State University.
Legendary Hall of Fame track coach Alex Francis with Garry at Fort Hays State University.
Garry Sigle as a Fort Hays  State University runner.
Garry Sigle as a Fort Hays State University runner.
The Sigle family at the KU Relays in 2002.
The Sigle family at the KU Relays in 2002.
Garry Sigle at a track meet.
Garry Sigle at a track meet.
Garry Sigle upon his induction into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame.
Garry Sigle waving to the crowd at his induction into the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame in May 2012.

*  *  *  *  *

Garry Sigle’s Riley County High School State Championship Teams:

1994 State Cross-Country Champion Team.
1994 State Cross-Country Champion Team.
1995 State Cross-Country  Championship Team.
1995 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1996 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1996 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1997 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1997 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
1998 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1998 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1999 State Track & Field Championship Team.
1999 State Track & Field Championship Team.
2000 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2000 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2005 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2005 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2006 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2006 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2007 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2007 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2009 State Cross-Country Championship Team.
2009 State Cross-Country Championship Team.

Richard Haynes “Dick” Wykoff – 1996 Inductee

The Great American Pastime, baseball, took on a new meaning in the lives of Osborne County citizens as they followed the storied career of one of their own, Richard Haynes Wykoff.  Richard, or “Dick” as he was universally known, was born August 10, 1903, near Beloit, Kansas.  His parents, Charles and Ethel (Haynes) Wykoff, moved to Osborne two years later, where Dick attended the local schools.

Dick possessed a rich bass and while in high school he was persuaded to enter a regional vocal contest at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas.  Much to his surprise, he took second place.  He was a member of the 1923 Osborne High School football team which went unbeaten in eight games and also lettered in basketball, baseball, and track.  He once drop-kicked a football fifty-five yards against Phillipsburg.

In 1925 Wykoff tried out with the Class D Salina Millers, a professional baseball club in the Southwestern League.  He signed a contract for $175 a month as a starting pitcher.  His pitching record of 15-10 got him signed up for the 1926 season also.  In 96 games Wykoff compiled a 25-6 record, while leading the league in home runs (28) with a batting average of .380.  He also played eleven games as an outfielder, twelve games at second base, and thirty games at third.  By then major league scouts had discovered this hidden talent, and in July 1926 the Cincinnati Reds bought his contract from Salina.  It was the highest price ever paid for a Southwestern League player.

*  *  *  *  *

“In Richard Haynes Wykoff . . . the Cincinnati Reds may have picked up another Babe Ruth or a Pete Schneider.  Wykoff is primarily a right-handed pitcher, but most important of all, a jack-of-all-trades on the diamond.  He specializes in clubbing the pellet at a terrific clip.  Wykoff appears to be another Ruth or Schneider in the making for the simple reason that he can hit and play other positions in an emergency.  He demonstrated his versatility in convincing style last season.  he proved the second best pitcher in the Southwestern, and one of its most dangerous sluggers.  The dynamite he carried in his bat made him so valuable that he was used in the outfield, at second base and at third base at various times during the campaign.

“As a pitcher all that Wykoff lacks is experience.  He has all the necessary wherewithals of a successful moundsman, speed, control, a nice mixture of curves and a nifty change of pace . . . Wykoff, a lad of excellent habits – he does not smoke, drink, or chew – is five feet, ten inches tall, and weighs 175 pounds . . . .” – James J. Murphy in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 3, 1927.

*  *  *  *  *

For the 1927 season Wykoff was farmed out to the Class A Springfield (Massachusetts) Hampdens where he won 19 games and was recalled by the Reds before the end of the season.  In 1928 he was again assigned to Springfield with a one-year contract for $2700.  That year he broke his knee for the second time (the first was in 1926), an injury that prevented him from having a long career in the major leagues.  After his injury healed Dick finished the season with Class AA Columbus, Ohio, where he finished with a .385 batting average and lost an exhibition game to the New York Yankees by a score of 3-0 on a line-drive home run by Babe Ruth.  He later said he threw a fastball just to see the great Babe hit a home run.

Dick Wykoff as a member of the House of David Bearded Aces.

Having signed a contract worth $500 a month (a phenomenal amount in those days), Dick felt he could afford to take care of a family.  On July 14, 1928, he married Grace Hudson in Osborne.  The couple had three children, Julia, Mildred, and Gary.  Wykoff spent the 1929 season with Columbus, and the 1930 season with Pueblo, Colorado.  From 1930-32 he was with the Omaha (Nebraska) Royals, who went bankrupt midway through the season and the baseball commissioner ordered Wykoff released.  After a short time back in Osborne he earned a spot on the roster of the House of David Bearded Aces, a traveling semi-pro team managed by the legendary pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander.  He toured with the House of David from 1933 to 1949, once pitching against Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs.  In a game which showed the major-league caliber of both pitchers, Paige bested Wykoff by the score of 1-0.

In 1949 Dick retired from baseball and bought a farm located six and a half miles west of Alton, Kansas.  He became a barber in 1951, opening shops in Alton and Osborne.  In 1962 he moved his family back to Osborne, where he retired from his second career in 1970.  He died June 12, 1983, in Hutchinson, Kansas, and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.