Imri Ray Zumwalt – 2007 Inductee

Imri Ray Zumwalt was born in a sod farmhouse in Corinth Township.  He attended schools in Osborne and Decatur Counties and in 1897 Imri graduated from Clyde, Kansas, High School.  In 1906 he graduated with honors from Washburn College.  While in college Imri was ordained a minister in the Christian Church, serving charges in Arizona and later in Bonner Springs, Kansas.  Following graduation he worked as a news reporter and high school principal.

Following graduation Imri worked for the Topeka Daily Herald and then published the Herington Sun for a year. He then served a year as principal of Herington High School before buying the Bonner Springs Chieftain newspaper in 1909, which he operated for the rest of his life.  In 1916 Imri published a slim, 39-page book of poetry entitled “The Call of the Open Fields.”

The poem “A Thanksgiving Prayer”, from Page 25 of “The Call of the Open Fields.”

In 1919 Imri served as Kansas Assistant State Fire Marshal.  His major public office came that same year when he was appointed Kansas State Printer, the first of three Osborne County citizens to hold that public office in the 20th Century.  In 1920 Imri was elected to a full four-year term as State Printer, and that same year he was named to Who’s Who in America.

At the time of the 1920 general election Imri fell ill and never recovered his health.  He died on May 10, 1921.  Imri’s funeral in Bonner Springs, Kansas is still the largest such event ever held in that city’s history.

The editor of the Osborne County Farmer, Bert Walker, was then appointed by the governor to succeed Imri Zumwalt as Kansas State Printer.  Walker was previously named to the Osborne County Hall of Fame in 1996.


The simple headstone for Imri Zumwalt in the Bonner Springs Cemetery at Bonner Springs, Wyandotte County, Kansas.


Alice Gannette (Dimond) Young – 1996 Inductee

Alice Gannette (Dimond) Young was a noted temperance worker and devout member of the Methodist Church from the earliest days of the Downs community’s existence.  She also was editor of the state Women’s Christian Temperance Union publication, Our Messenger, for almost two decades.

As a young woman, Alice Dimond experienced many of the events of the Civil War era during her early years in Pennsylvania and New York State, and later in Kansas.  The youngest of seven children born to James H. and Harriet (Fifield) Dimond, Alice was born at President, Pennsylvania, on April 25, 1849, and later moved with her family to New York State.  They soon returned to Pennsylvania and she graduated from Edenborough Academy, after which she then taught school in New York State.  Her future husband, Francis Asbury Dighton Young, came to Osborne County in 1871 and homesteaded southeast of where Downs later was founded.  He built a house and broke a few acres of sod, then returned east and he and Alice were married on December 12, 1871 at Stockton, New York.  To this union one daughter was born.

They came west in the spring of 1872, accompanied by her brother, William W. Dimond, and his wife Susan.  Their new dwelling was known as a Christian home where prayer and official meetings occurred.  In the late 1870s, Alice and Dighton took an active part in a campaign to prohibit the drinking of alcohol.  The Oak Dale schoolhouse was the center of this temperance movement.  When Downs was established in 1879, the Youngs sold some of their land southeast of town, at prices below its worth, to aid the town’s expansion.

Alice became editor of Our Messenger in 1903 and continued in that position, with only a few years off, until ill health forced her to resign in 1919.  During her years as editor of this temperance publication, she wielded a powerful influence for good throughout Kansas.  The paper enjoyed a prestige that made it a popular periodical and a welcome monthly visitor to the homes of its readers.  Alice was a brilliant writer and speaker, as evidenced by her speech at an Old Settlers Reunion near Dispatch, Kansas, in 1900.

Alice died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Hattie Foote, in Downs on November 13, 1922.  At that time, it was written that “Kansas owes as much to her memory for state prohibition as to any other person.”  She was laid to rest in the Downs Cemetery.

*  *  *  *  *

“In 1871 when Kansas was offering landed estates to all who cared to come to her vastless prairies, F. A. D. Young homesteaded a quarter section in Ross Township, Osborne County, and after erecting a house and putting a few acres under cultivation, returned to Pennsylvania and married Miss Alice G. Dimond, a youthful school teacher.  In the spring of 1872 the young couple, full of life and courage, made the long journey to the western border home.  From the very beginning the Dighton Young abode was known as a Christian home and was honored with prayer and official meetings.  With the discouraging scourge of drouth, grasshoppers and prevailing low prices of farm products and no railroad short of sixty miles, the Youngs never hesitated in the one great effort of taming the plains.  In the memorable prohibition campaign launched in the latter 1870s both Mr. and Mrs. Young threw their very souls into the work.  The Oak Dale school house midway between Downs and Cawker [City] was the center of activities in this vicinity.  The late William Belk was the able president of this temperance society with Eminous Courter and wife, D. C. Bryant, W. C. Chapin, the Pitts and  Cox’s; and here, too, Mrs. Alice G. Young proved her ability and loyalty to right by always having an entertaining message, with a prohibition clincher.

“In the 1880s when Downs began expanding, a Methodist parsonage estate, the Downs flouring mill with twenty-five acres, the big creamery and five acres of land, and resident homes were carved from the Young homestead.  The price received for lots and acreage was always below the actual worth, the one thought always uppermost to help in every worthy cause.  The only child, Hattie, was given a thorough musical education, which has already been passed to another generation and being enjoyed by scores of music lovers.

“When old age and its accompanying increpencies began interfering with the management of the farm, Mr. and Mrs. Young moved into Downs.  Here the latter’s ability was shown in the successful editing of Our Messenger, the state W.C.T.U. monthly periodical.  Later Mrs. Young gave the Methodist church activities such favorable weekly publicity that many were attracted to the church for the Sabbath program.

“In behalf of Mrs. Alice Young, a lifelong friend, we make this broad assertion:  that Kansas owes as much to her memory for state prohibition as to any other person and this community has lost a literary genius.  The history of Osborne County, if ever written, will never be as complete as though her gifted pen had contributed to its paragraphs.” – Del Cox in the Downs News and Times, November 16, 1922.

Bartley Francis Yost – 1996 Inductee

Career diplomats are a scarce commodity in the annals of Osborne County.  Bartley Francis Yost, a local farmer and teacher born in Switzerland, entered government service in 1909 and spent the next quarter of a century representing the United States around the world.  Bartley was born September 20, 1877, in the Swiss town of Seewiss.  He lived there with his parents, George and Elizabeth (Fluetsch) Yost, until 1887, when the family emigrated to America.  They settled on a farm three miles west of Downs in Ross Township.

Young Bartley’s education, begun in Switzerland, continued at the rural Ise School, District Number 37.  Incidents from his adolescent years are immortalized in the 1936 John Ise book Sod and Stubble. Upon graduation he worked on the family farm, and then from in October 1896 he embarked on a teaching career at the one-room Greenwood School while tending to his own farm as well.  He attended Downs High School for a year in 1898 and then studied for two semesters at Washburn College in Topeka, Kansas.

He then returned to teaching at several rural one-room schools in Osborne County:  Scott School in Delhi Township; Prizer School near Alton; Bethany Center School in Bethany Township; and at Rose Valley in Ross Township.  He then took a year off with a trip to California and Washington before returning in 1906, when he became co-publisher of the Osborne County News.  That same year he was elected to the first of two terms as Osborne County Clerk of the District Court.  On October 7, 1908, he married Irma Blau at Kirkland, Washington.  The couple had two children, Robert and Bartley, Jr.

While serving as Clerk of the District Court Bartley was visited by a government representative, who was so impressed with the young man’s abilities (Bartley had mastered five languages) that he suggested Yost fill out an application for the U.S. Consular Service, that branch of government which serves the needs of American citizens either living in or visiting a foreign country.  He was accepted and entered the consular service in 1909.

Yost’s consular work kept him traveling abroad from 1909 to 1935.  He served as deputy consul at Paris, France, and Almeria, Spain, and as vice consul at Genoa, Italy.  As chief consul he oversaw consulates in Santa Rosalia, Gnaymas, and Torrean, Mexico; at Sault Ste. Marie, Canada; at Nogales, Mexico; and finally at Cologne, Germany, where he was one of the last senior diplomats to deal with Adolph Hitler’s Nazi government before the United States broke off diplomatic relations.  After 1935 Bartley retired from the service and settled into quiet retirement in California.  In 1933 he had been given life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society, and a further honor was bestowed upon him when he was named to Who’s Who in America.  In 1955 he published his autobiography, Memoirs of a Consul.

Irma Yost passed away in 1952.  Bartley married his second wife, Elfrieda, in July 1953.  Their happiness was short-lived, however, as Bartley died September 8, 1963, in California of a heart attack.  He was laid to rest beside his first wife in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

The cover for the book “Memoirs of a Consul,” by Bartley Francis Yost.

*  *  *  *  *

(Excerpts from Bartley’s book “Memoirs of a Consul”)

On his family leaving home of Seewis, Switzerland, 1887:

Uncle Nicloaus lost no time in sowing propaganda among such people as desired to leave. He also urged Father to dispose of his extensive holdings and to take his family to the New World, where there were opportunities unbounded especially for us children. He also insisted that Grandfather accompany him to Kansas and make his home with him (Nicolaus).

I know that Father and Mother deliberated long and seriously over this momentous question, for it was no small undertaking with a large family. The interminable railway journeys and the long ocean voyage had to be faced. There was also the matter of disposing of the properties. But the gravest question of all was Mothers condition. She was expecting to give birth to another child in January 1887, and course, she would hardly be able to travel for several weeks. The momentous decision was finally made. We were to immigrate to America. And with us were several other families and young men of the village. There were protests and regrets on the part of relatives and friends, and even the city authorities, at the loss of such good and useful families. The thought of our departure filled our minds with emotion and with speculation as to what we should see and experience in our new home. It was the greatest event that ever happened in our lives.

With little delay Father disposed of his properties, and set March 17, 1887, as the day of our departure. It was a red-letter day in our lives. We were driven in horse carriages down the mountainside to the station at Landquart, where we boarded the train. The great journey and adventure had begun.

For the first few hours we swept through beautiful Swiss scenery along the banks of the historic River Rhine, with the snow-capped mountains always in full view. Sometime during the night we left Swiss territory, arriving at Strasburg, early in the morning. I can still remember Mr. John Monstien calling attention to the great German fortifications there, known as the Schanz. From Antwerp where our steamer, the Westernland, was awaiting us. I shall make the description of this our first ocean voyage as short as possible, for it is not a pleasant subject. Our ship was an old tub, about ready for the scrap heap; it was dirty and the service in our class left much to be desired. Being early in the year, we encountered much bad weather, which caused the old ship to toss like an empty eggshell. Nearly everybody was seasick. The food was plentiful, but it did not appeal to us. Poor mother, with her baby boy, two months old, suffered most of all. She was not only sea sick, but also homesick throughout the voyage and unable to come up on dick to get some fresh air. After three weeks of this torture we finally arrived at the Fort of New York.

Although this was decidedly before the days of skyscrapers, yet the skyline of New York from an approaching vessel was a fascinating study even then. Some acquaintances came to meet us at Castle Garden, which was then the immigration station now replaced by Ellis Island, to meet us and to welcome us to the Land of Opportunity. The usual immigration formalities over, we were ferried across the Hudson River to Jersey City to entrain for the Far West. I should not fail to mention here that before leaving New York, father took us for a walk across the world famous Brooklyn Bridge, Mr. Roebling’s dream come true [boarded a train headed west and] I think of this the more I realize what great courage and pioneering spirit it required to carry through this adventure. After a week or so on the slow-moving immigrant train, we arrived toward to end of April at Downs, Kansas, our destination, a wide-open prairie, with few inhabitants, few building, and few roads.

Schooling in Switzerland:

As to the place of my birth, I may be permitted to repeat a part of the introductory sketch to my “Memoirs of A Consul,” that I first saw the light of day in that picturesque village of Seewis, nestled away up in the mountains of Switzerland, where the rest of the Yost children were born. That was on September 20, 1877. Obviously, I would rather have been born in the good old U.S.A., but this was a matter beyond my control, and I am glad that my place of birth was Seewis, and not China or Africa. Even as a baby I made my parents much work and worry, and often showed my temper and willfulness. My father often told me that I was the lustiest howler in the whole bunch, and that nigh after night he had to rock my cradle, even in his sleep, while I would continue to howl.

When I had reached the proper age I was bundled off to school in the Schloss, my first teacher being Prof Yenni. He always kept a fine selection of witches on top of the brick heater, and I remember that at times he would try them out on me. The first year my desk was in the far corner of the room. To the delight of my schoolmates, when the teacher’s back was turned, I would stand up in the corner and make faces. But I did it once too often, and got caught. You may guess the rest, keeping in mind these witches on the heater. I learned to write laboriously on the grooved lines of my slate, to read and to figure. I was a chubby lad, with a bountiful crop of freckles, which I inherited from my mother. To this day they cling to me closer than a brother. About the first thing that I can remember of my “kidhood” was that one day while running down the steep hilt in front of our house, I fell and bumped my head against a sharp corner stone of the house steps, cracking my skull just over my left eye. The scar is quite visible and becomes more so as advancing age thins my locks.

I was no shirker when it came to work. I recall having a lariat and hay cap all my own to carry hay from the meadows into the barn. No doubt, I also tried yodeling, probably in the manner of a young rooster trying to crow. I also recall that once while helping my Uncle Henry to thresh they tried to make me sit up to the dinner table with the real men, but I refused, and heaven and earth could not move me. I even hid under the table until they fished me out.

But to hasten on, long before I had become rooted to the mountain slopes of Grison I was taken with the rest of the flock to the Promised Land Beyond the Seas; and I do not know how to thank Father and Mother enough for this momentous decision. I-lad it not been for this I would today probably be following in the footsteps of my ancestors, climbing goatlike up and down the mountains, keeping a few cows, haying on those hanging meadows where a misstep sends a man to eternity, carrying manure to fertilize the arid, rock slopes, bringing up a numerous family, and finally without having built me “more stately mansions, “have joined my fathers in the silent city of the dead, in the little churchyard overlooking the Landquart.

The long trip to America was full of thrills for me. I was just reaching the impressionable age when everything one sees registers in the mind. I remember distinctly the conditions under which we lived on the old Weternland for three weeks in coming from Antwerp to New York. I can still see my poor mother, seasick, taking care of baby John, eight weeks old. Our arrival at New York was for me like entering a fairyland. We walked the streets in the region of Castle Garden, which was formerly the immigration station, now replaced by Ellis Island. Castle Garden is now the Battery. We walked across the famous Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling’s great monument.

Once we had complied with the immigration regulations, and they were light then as compared with today, we were loaded into special immigrant cars at Hoboken, and the long tiresome journey to Kansas began. It was probably a week before we arrived at Downs.

Like any child of my age, I was not long in adapting myself to the new conditions and surroundings, and in learning the language. I reveled in everything that I saw, for everything was new, different, thrilling, full of interest. In the fall of 1887 I was sent to school in the little schoolhouse located on the Ise farm, and known as District 37. Because of my unfamiliarity with the language I was put into classes with primary kiddies younger than I. Miss Anne Carson was my first teacher, a kind, patient, sympathetic and competent teacher. The Carson family lived just across the river from our home. The Schoolmates and play fellows that I now recall most vividly were Albert Heiser, Clark Boomer, Frank Boomer, Ed, Charley and Walter Ise, Nate Winters, Nathan, Eddie and Wits Jones, Marian and Ed Worley, Elmer Richardson, Floyd Wagner, Dave McCormick, and others whose names have slipped my mind. The school term in those early days was for only six months. This meant long summer vacations, but they were not all play. On the contrary, we had to work hard most of the time, as soon as we were able to drive a team, or to handle farm tools or machinery.

Schooling in District #37, Ise School:

The little white schoolhouse where I received my rudimentary education would comfortable hold about twenty pupils, although I have seen as many as forty packed into it. There were a number of big families in the district in those days. There were fourteen children in the Jones family, of whom as many as eight were in school at one time; of the eleven Ise children there were as many as seven in school at a time; of the eight Yost children there were sometimes four of r five in school. I usually sat with Albert Heiser. During one of two winters I sat with Charley Ise. Charley had a quick mind and could learn his lessons in half the time that I could. This left him too much time for play and mischief He was daily getting into all kinds of deviltry, and was punished repeatedly in the old-fashioned way, with green sticks or rubber hose. Sometimes he would come prepared for it, by putting on about three shirts and three pairs of pants, or by sticking shingles into the seat of his pants. One evening he was ordered to remain in after school. This happened quite frequently. But, on this occasion, in a hurried conference be between us it was agreed that while the rest of the school was marching out, Charley was to jump out of the back window where I was to meet him with his wraps. Everything passed off according to progamme, and before the teacher realized our design, Charley was cutting across the pasture on his way home. Miss Anne Jones, the teacher, then locked the school house door and followed Charley across the pasture to his home. AS to the concrete results of the conference between Miss Jones and Mr. Ise, I an unable to say.

Once the teacher ordered Charley and me to get some switches from the nearby hedge fence; with which to punished us for some misconduct. We cut the switches full of notches, so that at the first blow the teacher struck, the switches fell all to pieces. One day just before recitation time Charley took off my shoes, of course I was not exactly asleep when he did it. When our class was called for an explanation. Charley then spoke up with’ “I throwed Yost’s shoes out the window.” The teacher then ordered him to go out after them, and the recitation went on. We were both kept in after school that night for the usual intimate talk.

My great joy was to be able to sit beside Minnie (Doll) Ise during the recitation periods. I hardly think that she experienced the same thrill.

First Year As A Schoolteacher:

That first term of school put me to the test. With more preparation than what the country school afforded, together with a month’s normal training, I struggled through my pedagogical duties. Some of my pupils were older than I, and probably knew almost as much. The teacher preceding me had had trouble over a triangular love affair, of which she was on e angle. I recall that we were nearly frozen out that winter. Gumbo Christ, the district treasurer, was delegated to provide dry wood for our stove, but he only began cutting the wood when school began, and we therefore had green wood during most of the winter, wholly in keeping with the name of our school. Greenwood. Once a month I would call at the Christ home, a combination of shack, stable and granary under one roof, to get my salary voucher for $25. He was a jovial and interesting man, an old bachelor. Usually he had a pie tin on the stove, filled with cuds of chewing tobacco, which he would dry and smoke in his pipe. About the year 1897 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the office of Probate Judge of Osborne County. But more about our green wood which merely sizzled and would not burn. The stove was also too small for the new, spacious schoolroom. It was so cold that I had to let the children keep on their wraps during school hours.

My prize pupil was Felix Gygax who later attended the Downs High School from which he graduated. After teaching school for two years he was admitted to the United States Naval Academy, at Annapolis, on competitive examination, and graduated in 1906, in time to take that memorable cruise around the world of our navy, under the administration of Pres. Theodore Roosevelt. His advancement in the navy has been consistent and rapid, his outstanding achievements many. Today he holds the rank of commander in the navy.

At a joint entertainment given in my school house by my pupils and those of the Columbia district, a serious fire broke out in the hall way, due to some one knocking over a coal oil lamp on the Felix was burning cork to blacken his face, preparatory to taking his part in “Jumbo Jum,” a Negro play. For a time consternation prevailed among the large number of people present. Everywhere I could see people breaking the windows and jumping through them for safety. There was screaming and shouting. I tried to calm the excitement, but with little effect. As the fire was in the hallway, it shut off escape. We finally got the fire under control and went on with the play, but the interest had been lost. Just fifteen years later, while I was home from Paris on a vacation and to attend to business in court, I was called upon one night for an address at an entertainment in the Rose Valley church; and strange as this coincident my seem, while they were giving the same play, “Jumbo Jum,” just before I was scheduled to speak, a fire broke out in the hallway. Crowd behavior is apparently the same under similar circumstances. People shouted and screamed, fought each other, broke the windows, and jumped through them for safety. We soon got the fire under control, and went on with the entertainment. It was a strange coincident, to say the least.

Being Elected Osborne County Clerk of the District Court:

In the spring of 1906, the political bee began to buzz in my bonnet; I aspired to the office of Clerk of the District Court of Osborne County, and made and active campaign. My opponents were Bev Ayers, the incumbent of the office, and Adolph Brown, a lawyer from Alton. The Republican nominating convention, the last one on record, was held in the old Cunningham hail at Osborne in July 1906. Below is given an account of the convention by the Osborne County Farmer, July, 1928:

“The last Republican convention held for the purpose of nominating candidates for county offices was held in the old auditorium in Osborne in the summer of 1906, nearly 21 years ago. John Ford, now of Plainville, but at that time editor of the Alton Empire, was chairman, and Chas. E. Mann, then editor of the Downs New, secretary. The fight between the “Progressives and the “Standpatters” was just beginning to warm up, although practically all Republicans favored the nomination of Taft for President, as he was the choice of Roosevelt. According to the old custom, a few of the leaders met in Osborne the night before the convention selected the organization and tentatively agreed upon the county ticket. It was composed of J.B. Taylor for representative; John Doane for county clerk; L.F. Storer for treasurer; J.M. Smith for sheriff, A.P. Brown for Clerk of Court. There was no opposition to V.K.N. Groesbeck, Probate Judge; D.H. Lockridge, register of deeds; and N.C. Else, county attorney. The last two were serving their first terms, and with Groesbeck were endorsed by both factions. When the convention met it was known that there was strong opposition to the slate prepared the night before, and the fight grew warm as the afternoon session opened up. The opposition to the slate had not been able to get together on a candidate for representative, and was not real sure of their strength anyway. When nominations were in order, J.B. Taylor was placed in nomination. There was no other name mentioned, so the nomination was made by acclamation. This gave the impression that the opposition had given up its fight, but leaders were soon to know different, for when the next name was placed before the convention the fight was on. John Doane and George F. Schultz were placed in nomination for county clerk. The latter was sponsored by the Progressives of Boss Busters, as they were then known.  The ballot resulted in the nomination of Schultz by a few votes. The atmosphere was now clear. The Boss Busters were now sure of themselves and they proceeded with reckless abandonment to nominate the entire remaining members the ticket, which was their own slate. They nominated Geo. H. Rogers for county treasurer; E.L.Curl for Sheriff, and Bartley F. Yost for Clerk of the Court. Groesbeck, Lockridge and Else were nominated by acclamation. The Boss Busters were jubilant and quite cocky after the convention was over, and they kicked themselves because they had not also picked a candidate for representative.

However, after the convention was over the factional trouble settled right down and everybody went to work for the ticket, and it was elected in its entirety. Two of the county officers elected on that ticket resigned without filling out their terms of office; George F. Schultz resigned to return to his business at Natoma, and John Doane filled out his unexpired term, Bartley F. Yost, Clerk of Court, Federal Government, in which he is still engaged, being now United States Consul at Sault St. Marie, Canada. He was succeeded by the late John A. Fouts.”

I was then new in politics and not aware of the trickeries practiced. When the first ballot for Clerk of the Court was announced, I had only about 40 votes, Ayers 25, and Brown 48. My heart sank within me. Some of my supporters seeing my distress, came to me, patted me on the shoulders and whispered into my ears not to worry, that the second ballot would show a different result; that Ayers was releasing his delegates and had instructed them to vote for me; also that a number of delegates had cast only complimentary votes for Brown and would come to me on the second ballot. All this came true and I was nominated with a rousing majority, It was a great day for me, I had announced from Bethany Township where I had lived for two years, but L.F.Storer, who aspired to the office of county treasurer, also from Bethany, fought me hard and claimed that I belonged to Ross Township. As a matter of fact, since April 11 had not actually lived in Bethany but all my interests were still there. Storer saw that it meant either him or me. He lost. He was elected to the office four years later.

That fall, after a strenuous campaign, I was elected by a good majority. After the election I made my home with sister Burga, 2 miles west of Osborne, Before taking up my office in January, I husked most of Ed Zimmerman’s corn crop. I began my first term on the first Monday in January 1907, in the old tumbledown courthouse. My term was for two years. During the summer of 1908 I announced my candidacy for a second term under the new primary election law which had been enacted by the Stubs administration, and which had just gone into effect.

How He Entered the Consular Service:

Senator Charles Curtis, while looking after his political fences in Osborne County, stepped into my office in the court house one day, and after a pleasant chat, he remarked to me; “Yost, do you speak any other language than English?” I replied that I also spoke German. He continued: “Well, this is very interesting; have you ever thought of trying for the United States consular service? If you are interested I am in position to assure you a designation for the next consular examinations to be held in the City of Washington this fall. Let me know definitely before I leave town” The Senator’s momentous proposition put me to thinking. It was no easy matter to break all the ties that bound me to the homeland and to launch out into uncharted waters. I had a county office; I was half owner of the Osborne County News; I owned a good farm; surely I could make a fair living without wandering off into foreign lands, away from Kith and kin. It was a momentous problem for me, and I had but little time for reflection. At noon I went home to confer with sister Burga. We arrived at a decision that such a step might be for my best interests. The dye was cast. That afternoon I called on the Senator at his hotel and told him of my decision. He looked me over with those keen, eagle-like eyes of his, slapped me on the shoulders and said “Bully for you, Yost; I shall write to President Roosevelt tonight and ask him to designate you for the next consular examinations”

Three weeks later I received a formal and courteous communication from the Department of State in Washington, advising me that I had been designated for the examinations to be held in November. I also received a number of pamphlets and suggestions with regard to the textbooks I should study. There were no library facilities then in the little town of Osborne, and I was unable to find the books I needed, and to send for them meant considerable loss of time. I borrowed and bought books whereever I could, and for the next two months I studied every spare moment, but I realized that it was an up-hill undertaking, and that there was but little chance of my passing the difficult test. At the suggestion of Mr. Fred Slater, a Topeka attorney, who had also been designated, being a distant relative of the Senator by marriage, we went to Washington together, three weeks before the examinations. There we had the advantage of the Library of Congress, the State Department Library and other sources of information

The examinations were given in the old Pension Building. Sam Reat looked the questions over, and suddenly developed some sort of a bowel complaint. The 36 men present struggled like Trojans over questions in international law, maritime law, commercial law, history of the world political science, commercial and industrial resources, accounting, bookkeeping, foreign languages, etc. etc. The third day at the Department of State we had to run the gauntlet of a scrutinizing commission of State Department officials and Civil Service Commission officials, who sized us up for our general appearance, personality, general address, manners, expression of thought, knowledge of current events, etc. I was ushered in with Fred Slater and a gentleman from Mankato, Kansas. “Please discuss the Balkan situation” was the question fired at the first man. He flunked, and it was passed on to Fred, and later to me. I was also called upon to discuss the Reclamation Policy of the United States Government. Fred Slater had failed in the previous examinations and was allowed to take it with me in November. In these examinations he failed also; so did the man from Mankato. In fact, out of 36 applicants, only 9 passed. I happened to be one of them, The first intimation I had of it was an article appearing in the New York World, shown me by Bert Lockridge, about three weeks after I had returned home.

*  *  *  *  *

List of Consular Service through 1927 (retired in 1935):

It may be of interest to make a list of the several government commissions that I have been granted in connection with appointments and promotions in the consular service during the past twenty years; they are as follows:

1.         June 24, 1908, Commission as Consular Assistant signed by President Theodore Roosevelt and Alvey A. Ade, Acting Secretary of State.

2.         April 20, 1909, Commission as Deputy Consul General at Paris, signed by Huntington Wilson, Acting Secretary of State.

3.         March 3, 1913; commission as Consular Agent at Almeria, Spain, signed by Philander C. Know, Secretary of State.

4.         August 21, 1917, commission as Vice Consul at Genoa, Italy, signed by President W. Wilson.

5.         June 15, 1918, Commission as Vice Consul at Santa Rosalia, Lower California, signed by Robert Lansing, Secretary of State. (On my way there I was appointed a full Consul; my work at S.R. was that of a Lookout Officer.)

6.         July 6, 1918, commission as Consul Class Eight, Signed by President Wilson and Secretary of State Frank L. Polk.

7.         November 22, 1918, Commission as Consul at Guaymas, Mexico, signed by President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Frank L. Polk.

8.         September 5, 1919, commission as Consul Class Seven, signed by President Woodrow Wilson and Acting Secretary of State Win, Phillips.

9.         October 15,1919, Exequator to act as consul at Guaymas, Mexico, signed by President V. Carranza of Mexico.

10. June 4, 1920, Commission as consul Class Six, signed by President Woodrow Wilson and Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby.

11. December 17, 1923, Commission as Consul Class Six at Torreon, Mexico, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Chas. F. Hughes.

12. July 1, 1924, Commission as Foreign Service Officer Class Seven, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Chas. E. Hughes.

13. Dec. 20, 1924, commission as Foreign Service Officer Class Seven, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Chas. F. Hughes. (After confirmation by U.S. Senate).

14. June 18, 1924, Exequator, to act as consul at Torreon, Mexico, signed by President Alvaro Obregon, of Mexico.

15. October 13, 1926, commission as consul at Sault Ste. Marie, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg.

16. January 3, 1927, Exequator, authorizing Bartley F. Yost to act as Consul at Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, signed by King George V. of Great Britain and by Mackenzie King, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Canada.

17. December 7, 1927, Commission as Foreign Service Officer Class Six, signed by President Calvin Coolidge and Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg (After confirmation by U.S. Senate.)

Charles Edward Williams – 1997 Inductee

Charles Edward Williams was born March 17, 1867, in Fairmount, Indiana, to Paul and Catharine (Stanfield) Williams. His father was a Civil War veteran. His motherwas the daughter of one of Fairmount’s co-founders. During the first year of his life Charles was so frail of body that he was laid out for dead three different times. At the recommendation  of  his  doctor,  his  parents  moved  farther west  to  Guthrie  County, Iowa, in 1868. In the fall of 1873 his parents moved to Jewell County, Kansas, near Mankato. When the grasshopper s took all of the crops in 1874 theWilliams family, along with many others, moved back to Iowa.  The lure of the West still called, and the family returned to Kansas in 1878. After trying many locations they settled in Mount Ayr Township, Osborne County, in 1893.  Catharine’s father had settled his family there earlier in 1876.

Charles married Laura Mendenhall on October 22, 1893,in the Mount Ayr Post Office, which at that time was in her parents’ home.  The Joseph and Angelina (Gregory) Mendenhall family had come by covered wagon from Iowa to Mount Ayr Township in the fall of 1873, when Laura was only six months old.  The next spring, the Mendenhall family homesteaded at “The Cedars,” where they eventually built the first frame home in the northern part of Mount Ayr Township.

Charles and Laura were the parents of thirteen children: Verdun Ray; Lola; Luther; Ernest; Herald; Bessie; Walter; Chester; George; Lelia Almina; Ethyl; Virgil; and DuWayne. Charles and Laura’s first home, where five of their children were born, was located approximately two miles west of The Cedars.  Later on, they traded homes with Laura’s father, a move that gave them a bigger house, plus put the Williams children in walking distance of the Mount Ayr School then located one mile to the south.  Shaded by stately cedar trees, some of which are still standing, Charles and Laura appropriately named their new home “The Cedars.”  On the night of May 20, 1918, they and nine of their children still living at home  were  in  their  beds when  a tornado  completely  leveled  their  farm.  They and many others in Mount Ayr, Round Mound, Kill Creek, and Tilden Townships miraculously survived this devastating storm. The Williams family lived in a makeshift dwelling for severalmonths after. Their last child, born two months later in July1918, died in November when the entire family was stricken with the worldwide flu epidemic.

“The Cedars.”

In the early 1900s Charles became the Mount Ayr news correspondent for both the Alton  and  Osborne  newspaper. For over twenty-five years he wrote weekly news items and historical articles for both papers. His history subjects were the Osborne County settlers of the 1870s era and he recorded everything from their trips to Kansas in a coveredwagon to their existence on the harsh prairie.

Decoration Day in Alton was always a big event, and this was especially so in 1930 when the monument to Hiram C.Bull, the co-founder of Alton, was unveiled in the Sumner Cemetery. As chairman of the Old Settlers meeting held that year, Charles was instrumental in having the elk horns that killed Bull in a famous incident in 1879 shipped back to Osborne County. The horns, plus the bill of lading, arecurrently on exhibit in Osborne.

A View of Alton, in limerick form, was written by Charles in 1930. This poem described the 50 businesses,professions, churches, and schools in Alton at that time and earned much acclaim. In 1936 Charles, Laura, and the three remaining children at home moved to Hotchkiss, Colorado, where Charles passed away on November 15, 1937.  Laura, the final surviving charter member of the Mount Ayr Friends Church, lived until February 26, 1960. Both are buried in the Riverside Cemetery at Hotchkiss, Colorado. Charles was named to the Osborne County Hall of Fame in 1996. – Deanna Roach, descendant.

The legacy of Charles Williams is continued today among his descendants as four generations of Williams family members receive a monthly family newsletter, an integral part of which is the shared contributions of the history and pictures of the Williams family.  Their efforts are a fitting tribute to Charles Williams, historian and writer.

Frank E. Wheeler – 1997 Inductee

Frank E. Wheeler was born April 4, 1906, in Hancock Township, Osborne County, Kansas, on the farm of his parents, Frederick and Ariadne (Holmes Hodson) Wheeler.  He got his early education at the one-room Social Hill School, District Number 31, and at the age of twelve he began collecting, trading, buying, selling, and writing about firearms, ammunition, and cartridges – a hobby that became his lifetime obsession.

Frank worked as the janitor at the Osborne Carnegie Library while attending high school in nearby Osborne.  When he was 17 he became the regular librarian and broke in his replacement in time to graduate from high school in 1924.  Then Frank clerked at the Babcock Variety Store in Osborne for nine dollars a week.  He decided to travel a bit, and 1926 worked as a cook’s helper in a restaurant at Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In the spring of 1927 Frank’s knowledge of weaponry got him a job as a powder monkey in Yellowstone National Park, where he blasted loose frozen packs of snow with explosives to clear the roads.  That summer he headed west to Hollywood, California, and spent the next five years cooking and managing restaurants.  There he married Anna Egerer and started a family.  In 1932 the Depression cost him his job and Frank decided to bring his family back to Osborne.

Frank then worked for the federal Work Projects Administration (WPA), earning $9.80 a week.  In 1936 he worked at the Holmes Bakery and the next year he and fellow Osborne citizen Frank McDaneld began a publication of a listing of cartridges for collectors, which they published for the next 31 years.

Wheeler took over management of Vern Lemley’s antique store in 1940 and began seriously building an extensive library of weapons technology.  By 1941 he had acquired over 800 pistols and rifles and continued amassing a large cartridge collection.  In September 1943 he began work at the Osborne Post Office.  Twelve years later he sent a story in to The Gun Report, an internationally-circulated monthly.  He later became an associate editor and had his own column, The Cartridge Collector, which he wrote for 22 years.

In 1956 Frank organized the first Solomon Valley Gun Collectors Show in Osborne.  This became an annual event that attracted gun, coin, and stamp collectors from across the nation for 20 years.

The Solomon Valley Gun Collectors Show was held in Osborne and was one of the largest such events in the Central United States for several years.

Frank held life memberships in the Kansas State Historical Society, National Rifle Association and the National Muzzle Loading Association, and was a member of over 60 other groups concerning weaponry.  Frank was elected charter president of the Kansas Cartridge Collectors Association when it was formed January 18, 1969, and also served two terms as president of the International Cartridge Collectors Association.

Frank retired to his legendary two-room “shanty” on the east edge of Osborne and received still more awards and recognitions, including the International Cartridge Collectors’ Association’s inaugural B. R. L. Lewis Memorial Award for personal contribution to cartridge collecting in 1972, and the Kansas Cartridge Collectors’ Association Man of the Year in 1976.  By 1973 his cartridge collection had grown to over 12,000 specimens, and his library held 2,000 old cartridge catalogs and 1,200 volumes on weaponry, ranging from an Italian book on guns printed in 1561 through to the 1970s.

Frank was an acknowledged world-wide expert on weaponry and was named to both Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who International under Who Knows–And What Among American Experts and the Specially Informed.  The shanty regularly entertained visitors from around the world who enjoyed anonymity in Osborne they would never have received in a larger city.  Frank treated all who came to see him equally with a smile and a story culled from a lifetime of remembrances.

Frank died on February 27, 1977, in Osborne and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.  After his death a three-day auction was held to disperse his personal collection of guns and cartridges.  The softbound auction booklet sent out to prospective bidders ran 59 pages long.

Bertine Pinckney Walker – 1996 Inductee

The man who made the Osborne  County Farmer one of the most powerful small-town newspapers in Kansas was born January  29, 1872, at Winneconne, Wisconsin.

Bertine Pinckney Walker was the second of three children born to newspaperman William H. Walker and Melissa (Phelps) Walker.  Known as “Bert” (perhaps with good reason), he was five years old when his father bought the Peabody Gazette and moved the family to Peabody, Kansas.  Though he died only three years later, William Walker was a major influence on young Bert, who grew up determined to follow in his father’s footsteps.  He attended school in Peabody and worked on the Gazette until 1897, when he came to Downs, Kansas.

“A young man will go from this city tomorrow to take charge of the Logan Republican.  In the young man who is going to Logan we feel more than a passing interest.  He has been in our employ for only about a month, but in this brief time we have leaned to admire his manly qualities, his industrious habits and his proficiency as a printer and a writer.  This man is Bert Walker.  – Downs News, February 18, 1897.

Bert arrived in Logan, Kansas, with only 25 cents in his pocket.  By that October the newspaper was sold and Walker was out of a job.  He went to Osborne on a freight train and got work with the Farmer.

In 1901 Bert applied for the position of paragrapher at the Topeka (KS) Capital, beating out 32 other applicants for the job.  He also started a widely-read column entitled Kansas Men and Matters.  This lasted until 1904, when he went back to Osborne and bought the Farmer for $5,000 dollars from Charles Landis, who was anxious to sell the paper.  Working as both editor and publisher, over the next 14 years Walker  built the Farmer into a financial success whose views on Republican politics and state affairs began to receive considerable notice in other parts of Kansas.

Bert was a gifted writer of editorial comment.   His style was simple, graphic, sometimes whimsical and always dramatic.  He received his greatest fame for a column he began when he took over the Farmer.  “Musings of the Village Deacon” was soon being reprinted across the state, and by 1942 some newspapers nationally were publishing the weekly antics of such fictitious characters as Old Bill Shiftless and Jasper Tightwad, along with wry observations set down by Bert’s silver-tipped pen.  Reprints of the column continued into the 1960s.

On June 17, 1913, Bert married Althea Closon in Kansas City, Missouri.  In time the Walkers had enough money that Bert hired Charles E. Mann to be the new editor and the family took a two-year sabbatical on the West Coast, settling down in San Diego, California.

In 1921 Walker was appointed to the office of Kansas State Printer and he moved his family to Topeka.  He was elected to five consecutive terms before giving up the post in 1932.  Bert also served for a time on the State Board of Irrigation.

Under Walker and Mann the Osborne County Farmer maintained a presence of prestige and influence unequaled by any small-town weekly before or since in Kansas.  Walker was further instrumental in preserving and publishing much of the early history of Osborne County that otherwise would have been lost forever.  Special editions of the Farmer in 1921, 1926, 1936, and 1941 contained articles and photographs of prominent Osborne County citizens and businesses covering the first 75 years of the county’s history.  But all great things must end, and in 1942 Bert sold the Farmer and retired from the newspaper business altogether.

Walker continued to live in Topeka and work in the Scottish Rites of Masonic faith, of which he was a member for over 50 years.  The man forever known as “The Village Deacon” died in Topeka on September 11, 1946, and was buried there in the Mount Hope Cemetery.

*  *  *  *  *

(The following article originally ran in the May 14, 1936, issue of the Osborne County Farmer.  In it Bert Walker described several of the fictitious characters who had regularly appeared in his Village Deacon column during the previous thirty-one years.)


Bert Walker in later years.

Old Bill Shiftless was one of the earliest settlers in Osborne County.  He preceded the Pennsylvania Colony by a couple of years.  Old Bill didn’t get to going good until some ten or fifteen years had passed.  There were few newspapers, inhabitants were scarce and busy and no great state issues had reached out this far on the prairies.  As soon as a few stores started up Old Bill began to get busy.  In a few months he owed all of them and never paid a cent.  He was a prominent figure at the first big religious revival in town.  He was converted the third night and posed as the town’s hero.  Bill proceeded at once to practice his new found light.  He went around to all the places he owed and promised to “take care” of his account in short order.  He wound up by asking for more credit.  He didn’t get it and. he began to grow suspicious of religion as a salvation for troubles.  He finally tackled Deacon Elam Philander, who was connected with a new bank, for a loan.  “Bill,” said Philander, “ready cash is too scarce to risk.  I can’t do it.”  Bill was sore under the collar by this time and blurted out:  “The trouble with you, Philander, is that the holy ghost never touched you.”  “Maybe not,” replied Philander, “and you ain’t going to touch me either.”  Bill backslid as soon as the revival was over.  “I was disappointed in religion,” said Old Bill, “It didn’t help me a bit any place.”  As the years went by Old Bill’s conversions became traditional.

Another of Old Bill’s rare traits was his loyalty and help in times of distress.  One day one of his cronies imbibed more shotgun whisky than he could carry and fell under the load alongside of a livery stable.  Old Bill happened along and stopped.  The stricken crony said, thickly, “Bill, help me up and get me home.” “No,” replied Bill, “I can’t do that, but I will lay down beside you if there is anything left in your bottle.”  Old Bill has the distinction of’ having belonged to every political party that ever existed in Osborne County. He was a perpetual candidate and never got three votes in his whole life.  “I got disgusted with politics,” said Bill, “and quit the crooked game long ago.”

Deacon Elam Philander came out with the Pennsylvania Colony.  The deacon was shrewd, thrifty and not a bad fellow.  He believed in doing good and practiced it religiously.  But he took about ninety per cent of his good for himself and distributed the other around the community as he saw fit.  He was so practical with his religion and his prayers that he just about ran the church.  I recall one time our preacher, a sad faced disciple who believed in prayer for all material things, had called a meeting in the church to raise some money for a stricken community in a distant state.  The preacher opened the meeting by saying, “We must look to the Lord for help in this sad hour.  I will ask Deacon Philander to offer a prayer.”  Philander arose and said very directly, “The best prayer we can offer at this hour and in this case is through the pocketbook.  I will give ten dollars and hope there are others here who will pray in the same way.”  The preacher was shocked, but the required amount was soon raised.  Then the preacher returned thanks for the answer to Philander’s prayer.

Another time the church board was going to meet at my house.  I said to Philander, very confidentially, “Brother Philander, you know I always keep a small vial of liquor at home in case of snake bite or hydrophobia.  Now the church board will be there tonight.  What do you think I had better do about it.”  “Well,” replied Philander, with one of his sharp looks into my eyes, “if I were you I would find a new hiding place for the jug in the barn.”  I didn’t like Philander’s attitude on the matter any too well, but I followed his advice and came out all right.  We had a very successful meeting.

Old Bill Shiftless is always knocking Philander and trying to get the best of him with his cute remarks.  One day Old Bill was sitting on the bench beside the old Exchange National Bank with a bunch of statesmen who were trying to save the country.  Philander sauntered up and Old Bill shouted, “Deacon, I’ll bet if I ask you to lend me two dollars right before the boys here, you won’t do it.”  “You win,” replied Philander, as he wandered on.

Portia Jason, the noted worker for the emancipation of women, was an early settler of Osborne County.  Of course, the first few years of the pioneer days didn’t afford her much opportunity for the exercise of her talents.  The women were too scarce or generally too busy to organize clubs and the idea of voting like the men never entered their heads.  But with the coming of better days and modern improvements Portia Jason came into her own. Her first master stroke was in marrying Henry Jason, a little, inoffensive, dried up sort of a “me too” chap.  When they were married Henry weighed 115 pounds and Portia 114.  Now Portia has added an even hundred by her method of diet, while Henry has lost five pounds and tips the scales at 110.  Henry can now wear his wife’s shoes, but that is about all.  The funniest thing the neighbors ever saw was the day Henry was in the back yard hanging out the clothes of the weekly wash wearing a sunbonnet.  Portia organized the Advanced Thought Club and was its first president.  She has been president ever since, too.  One day she dropped into the Farmer office with a club announcement and the results of the election.  “I note, Mrs. Jason,” said I, “that you are always named president.  Who elects you?”  “I always elect myself,” replied Portia.  “The members might make a mistake if it were left to them.”  Portia is intensely jealous of her husband.  There isn’t a woman in town who would give him a pleasant look.

But Portia knew a thing or two.  One day a dear soul who was fast approaching the final years of the thirties sought her out for advice.  “I am so lonely,” she moaned.  “I have no company and people stare at me in pity. What shall I do?”  “Simple,” replied Portia.  “Practice looking resigned and at the proper time say, ‘Things might have been different if he hadn’t been at Chateau Thierry.  He made the supreme sacrifice there.  I haven’t cared about anything since.’”  The lady brightened up and in six months everybody was talking about how her life had been ruined because her lover fell in the World War.  In a year she was married.  She didn’t make much of a catch, but it enabled her to  put “Mrs “ before her name and refer to “my husband” in company.  She is one of Portia Jason’s strongest supporters.

Portia Jason and Mrs. Deacon Philander make quite a bluff at being friends, but below the surface there is a deep enmity between them.  On the sly neither loses an opportunity to give the other a deep dig.  The real break came quite a good many years ago.  Portia and Mrs. Philander always exchanged Christmas presents.  But one Yuletime day Mrs. Jason, rushed to death with her emancipation work and club president duties, became careless.  Her Christmas gift to Mrs. Philander was the very same present Mrs. Philander had sent to her (Portia) the previous Christmas.  The next time Mrs. Philander met Portia she remarked:  “My dear Portia, I am crazy about your dear gift to me.  I loved it when I sent it to you last year, and now that you have returned it to me I love it more than ever on account of your sacrifice.”  For once Portia was put down for the count.

Jasper Tightwad is another pioneer settler who has attained more than passing prominence.  No citizen of the country has contributed more to the levity and humor of the passing years than Jasper.  Stories of his peculiarities are legion.  Jasper’s thrift has been phenomenal.  He has attended more “free” entertainments than any other person on the townsite, particularly where there was something to eat or souvenirs to be given away.  Jasper went into [Chan] Baldwin’s drug store one day to buy a sheet of sandpaper.  The mild mannered Chan waited on him and threw on the counter a stack of sandpaper.  Jasper picked up a sheet and looked at it carefully.  He turned it this way and that way to get the best view possible.  Finally he said, “It kinder looks to me like it’s imitation.”  Chan looked at him and said very meekly, “Well, Jasper, if you can tell me of anything that is cheaper than sand you can have the whole pile for nothing.”  Jasper said he would think the thing over and come back the next day and report.

During the World War Jasper did all he could in the cause of patriotism.  He bought two fifty-cent thrift stamps.  He held them until he got a little advance and then sold them.  He has confidentially told a number that he hopes some day to get a pension from Uncle Sam for what he did to help out in the dark days.  Jasper visited a dentist one day to see about a set of plates for his wife.  He wanted to know if a set could not be made so that he could use them, too.  “Wife and I have lots of time and we don’t need to both eat at the same time,” he said.

Simeon Sly is another old timer who has made more than a passing record during his sojourn in the valley.  Simeon has never been known to refuse any candidate his vote when approached on the subject.  His hearty congratulations to the winner are noted among the boys.  Always he says, “I sure did all I could for you.”

Sly is a great church goer.  He often tells about how he gives one-tenth cause.  I once asked Deacon Philander, who is church treasurer, about Sly’s giving.  “Yes,” replied Philander, “I know Sly talks about giving one-tenth, but I notice that Sly always selects the dates on which he gives the tenth.  He overlooks the days on which he makes money.  He just talks about his tenth, that’s all.”  But Simeon Sly has gotten along pretty well and is always able to fool a certain class of people.

A review of famous characters who have made history in Osborne would not be complete without reference to Old Man Blowloud, who is one of the real old timers.  Blowloud always knew everything, but generally after it happened.  He was a great man “back east,” before he came west for his health.  He could have anything back in the old home and was personally acquainted with most of the governors and United States senators and other famous men.  One day a man from Blowloud’s old home town back east dropped in and some of the boys asked him about Blowloud’s prominence back there and the big positions he had held.  “I believe he did hold a job there in the court house,” said the visitor. “I am sure he was a fourth assistant janitor for a few weeks, but he talked so much and worked so little that the commissioners let him out.”  But Blowloud’s voice still rings out on every occasion.

Time and space does not permit a very extensive writeup of these famous old settlers.  They deserve much more than they are getting.  But what is given will get results.  Old Bill Shiftless will come around with some advice on the financial situation.  Deacon Philander will deliver a wise crack and subscribe for a relative back east.  Portia Jason will tell us she is proud of the Farmer and that it always stood for the best.  Blowloud will tell us of a few mistakes, while Sim Sly will tap us on the shoulder and say, “You sure hit that fellow right where it hurt.”  All are woven into the yarn of the passing years and the town wouldn’t have been the same without them and their peculiar traits.

Hudson Orville and Nina Marie (Tetlow) Turner – 1996 Inductees

Hudson Orville Turner was born on February 8, 1900, on a farm six miles west of Portis in Lawrence Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  The son of Hudson and Mary (Caldwell) Turner, he attended the Portis schools.  During his senior year in 1919-1920 Hud was the captain/coach of the high school basketball team, which earned a trip to the state tournament.  After graduation he was a student at Ashland (Ohio) College for a term and Kansas Wesleyan University at Salina for another.  At a track meet for Ashland Hud scored 27 points, finishing first in the 100-yard dash, 200-yard dash, standing broad jump, running broad jump, standing high jump, running high jump, and pole vault.  From 1920 to 1925 Hud was a regular on the legendary town basketball team, the Portis Dynamos, and was also a formidable horseshoe pitcher.

After college Hud worked in sales.  On June 28, 1931, he married Nina Marie Tetlow at her parents’ home north of Downs.  Nina, the daughter of Fred and Katherine (Hull)   Tetlow, was born on the family farm in Lincoln Township, Smith County, Kansas, on July 17, 1908.  She graduated from Downs High School and the Kansas State Teacher’s College at Emporia.  Nina then taught school at Solomon, Kansas, and at the Downs Grade School in 1927-1931.  She and Hud had two daughters, Jeanette and Marjorie.

After their marriage Hud worked for eight years as a car salesman in Smith Center and managed the five farms owned by the Turner family.  In 1943 he was appointed postmaster at Portis and served for the next 27 years.  Hud became vice-president and a director of the Portis State Bank.  During World War II Nina served as a substitute teacher in the Portis schools and in the Portis post office as a clerk.  She also worked at the J. C. Penney Store in Smith Center.  Later Nina was the assistant cashier at the Portis State Bank and, like her husband, served on the board of directors.

For 38 years Nina’s weekly columns as the Portis news correspondent for several area newspapers  allowed thousands of people to keep track of what went on in the Portis region.  Hud served on the Portis City Council and was instrumental in promoting the Kirwin Dam and Irrigation District.

Both Hud and Nina were involved in the Order of the Eastern Star.  Hud was also a member of the Masonic Lodge while Nina was active in Delta Kappa Gamma.  At a time in their lives long past when most people would have settled into quiet retirement, both Hud and Nina remained busy with civic and social activities.  Nina served on the Portis Pride Committee, the Portis Reunion Committee, and in the Portis Christian Women’s Association.  Hud was a cooperative observer for the National Weather Service from 1972 until his death.  A passionate angler and bowler, he was state singles bowling champion in 1974 and again in 1980.  In 1982 he was team captain of the Portis Dynamos (named after the old basketball team), which won the state seniors team bowling tournament.  And at the age of 81 Hud took up public singing, performing in churches, senior centers and other public forums.

Hud and Nina Turner were active members in the North Central Kansas Tourism Council, promoting economic development through tourism across the region.  To this end they backed the establishment of a memorial in Portis to Melvin Millar, native son and animator of Porky Pig, in 1992.

Hud Turner passed away in 1998, followed by Nina in 2001.  Their decades of achievements and community service earned them many friends and admirers.  Hud and Nina will be forever held with the highest esteem and respect among their fellow citizens, who honored them in 1996 with an induction into the  Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Fern Amber (Harris) Storer – 2006 Inductee

Award winning editor, intellectual, gracious hostess, devoted wife and friend, proud native Kansan and transplanted Kentuckian, perfectionist.  Fern Storer was all that and more.  As food editor for the Cincinnati Post, Fern used those traits to give people an idea of how to do things right.

Fern Amber Harris was born March 25, 1906 in a log house in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  She was the daughter of Edward and Lydia Harris.  Fern earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics from Kansas State University in 1928.  She then taught school at Westmoreland, Kansas, before marrying Sheldon B. Storer (whom she had met in college) in Kill Creek Township on August 2, 1931.

Sheldon and Fern lived in St. Louis for six years, then moved to Covington, Kentucky, where she began a six year stint as director of dietary services at William Booth Memorial Hospital.  Later Sheldon worked for Westinghouse Electric as an electrical engineer while Fern served as home economics consultant for Family Services of Cincinnati, and in 1946 she began writing a food column for the Cincinnati Post.  During her 25 years as food editor from 1951 to 1976, Fern expanded the food section from a single column to several pages.

Fern was a registered dietitian and became nationally influential with her cooking ideas.  From 1976 to 1985 Fern published the nationally-syndicated column Microminders, in which she pioneered many of the microwave cooking ideas and recipes that later became the standards in the field.

*  *  *  *  *

“[It is] important, I think, is to emphasize the fact that Fern Storer was a registered dietitian. This alone set her apart from most of her food-editor contemporaries. The [Cincinnati] Post asked her to write a weekly food article in those beginning years, before there was a food section, because Post editors assumed she knew her stuff, which Fern certainly did. Much food coverage in magazines and newspapers was written then and still is by chefs or journalism graduates, not food majors or dietitians with 4- or 5-year academic degrees. Fern was a genius at sprinkling nutrition information, which can be technical and boring, into her food writing and recipe instructions. It was a painless way to take the medicine of how to eat what’s good for us. I remember one story Fern did on carrots that was nutritionally informative and made cooked carrots sound better than candy. It turned out to be an award-winning article . . . not easy to do with such humble subject matter. Fern knew how. Her Post readers loved her . . . long after she retired.”

“In the interests of accuracy, a passion for any historian, let the record show that Fern was an occasional judge of the Pillsbury Bake-Off, among many other local and national cooking contests. There never was a “chief judge” of the Bake-Off. It was an honor passed around among the 100 or so food editors of major metropolitan dailies in those years.” – Joyce Rosencrans.

*  *  *  *  *

 In 1963 Fern was the recipient of Kansas State University’s Distinguished Service Award.  She was also the recipient of the Award of Merit from the American Meat Institute.

Sheldon Storer passed away in 1988.  In 1989 Fern published her own cookbook, Recipes Remembered, which is still in print.  She herself passed away on May 28, 2002, in Covington, Kentucky at the age of 96 years.  Both are interred in the Osborne City Cemetery in Osborne, Kansas.

James C. Votruba, President of Northern Kentucky University, called Fern “An incredible person. She was a friend of the university and a friend of mine.  She said she lived so long because she wanted to see how life would turn out.”  Upon her death the Sheldon B. and Fern H. Storer Honors Scholarship at Northern Kentucky University was established.

Also upon Fern’s death her beloved 14.5-acre home of 61 years, with its wide acreage of flower, herb, and vegetable gardens and large numbers of deciduous and hardwood trees, was donated to Northern Kentucky University to later be used to endow a professorship at the university.  In 2003 the land was sold to the city of Fort Wright, Kentucky for $790,000.  In 2004 it was announced that the land would be made into a state historical park to showcase the Civil War-era battery preserved on the property by the Storers.

*  *  *  *  *

 Students touch piece of history

Hooper Battery is being unearthed, restored

By William Croyle
Cincinnati Enquirer staff writer
Friday, October 1, 2004

FORT WRIGHT – As 6,000 Confederate troops marched from Lexington toward Cincinnati on September 10, 1862, they stopped in Fort Mitchell.

Staring down at them from hilltops that stretched eight miles from Ludlow to Fort Thomas were 72,000 Union troops and militia. The Confederates camped for two nights before withdrawing.

Cincinnati was defended without a shot being fired.

“It was one of the most famous Civil War battles that never happened,” Dave Brown told fifth-graders from St. Agnes School on Wednesday at the Battery Hooper site. Brown, dressed in Civil War garb, is a member of the Mid-States Living History Association, a group that re-enacts Civil War history. They were taking part in Battery Hooper Day, celebrating the preservation of one of only six Civil War fortifications left in Northern Kentucky.

Students from St. Agnes Elementary, Fort Wright, and Bishop Brossart High School learned about life in the 1860s and sifted dirt for relics.

“We’re getting to interact,” said Erin Robinson, a junior from Bishop Brossart who found three bullets. “You actually get to touch a piece of history.”

“I like learning about history when you can see it like this,” said 10-year-old Michaela Beechem from St. Agnes.

The battery is a U-shaped wall made of soil, about 30 feet long and 6 feet high. Behind it is an artillery wall where two cannons were stationed. The battery and wall have been preserved underground since the late Sheldon and Fern Storer built their house and planted grass on the land in the early 1940s.  Fern Storer died in 2002 and bequeathed the house and 14.5 acres to the Northern Kentucky University Foundation.  The school sold it last year to Fort Wright for $790,000.  The money is being used for scholarships. The land and home will be a park and museum.

The battery site is being unearthed and restored by Fort Wright, NKU and the Behringer-Crawford Museum with a $32,000 grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation Center for Civic Engagement.

*  *  *  *  *

 Fern and Sheldon Storer’s former home and grounds are now the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum.  The museum officially opened on June 30, 2005, with a dedication held on August 20, 2005.

*  *  *  *  *

New Ramage Civil War Museum

A high-efficiency test kitchen, tricked out with a space-age refrigerator, stainless steel cabinetry, and wall tiles, is one of the focal points of a new museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting northern Kentucky’s role in the Civil War from 1862.

At the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum in Fort Wright, in the midst of displays of Confederate money, tintypes, a children’s card game called Spy, a medical field bag, and artillery, is the heart of the home–and a time capsule of futuristic 1950s-era kitchens–where previous owner Fern Storer tested recipes. From 1951 to 1976, Storer was the food editor at The Cincinnati Post. The author of Recipes Remembered: A Collection of Modernized Nostalgia, published by Highland House Books in 1989, Storer was also known as a pioneer of microwave cookery.  Her husband, an electrical engineer, made sure that she had a top-flight kitchen.

Like her cookbook, Storer’s kitchen is a link between now and then. It sits not far from Battery Hooper, a 6-foot-high earthen wall raised smack on Storer’s front lawn nearly 80 years before she and her husband built their home here. The fortified cannon battery, named for industrialist William Hooper, who financed its 1861 construction, is located on a hilltop overlooking the Licking River valley. One of 28 such batteries built by Union forces in an 8-mile arc in northern Kentucky to defend against Confederate attacks, Battery Hooper is one of just six remaining today.

“It is good to remember Fern Storer,” says James Ramage, in whose honor the museum was named. Ramage, a Regents professor of history at Northern Kentucky University and author of numerous articles and several books on the Civil War, including Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby (University Press of Kentucky, 1999), was instrumental in transforming the property into a museum.

“The Storers covered it over with fill dirt in 1941 so they’d have a nice lawn,” says Ramage. “And in doing so, they saved the battery for us. It’s never been pitted or dug. It’s unusual to have a Civil War site that no one’s been in searching with metal detectors.”

Since recovery operations began at the site two years ago, supervised digs involving the public have taken place and unearthed the remains of several Civil War-era artifacts.

The stately house-turned-museum sits in a park-like hush with a sweeping valley vista from the battery. Inside, an equally impressive scene awaits with framed portraits and posters lining the walls and glass cases. General Lew Wallace, who would claim greater fame almost 20 years later as the author of Ben-Hur, stares sternly from the wall. The story of the Black Brigade, forced to help defend the area and build the fortifications, is recounted next to the national flag honoring their service. There are Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) medals and a diary, all of which narrate a pivotal moment in history.

The Harris family on a day drive. Mother Lydia, Fern, Father Edward, and Grandmother Hanna (Harris) Pruett.
Fern Harris with her doll Bertha.

The Sheldon & Fern Storer home in winter.
Part of the Storer house grounds.
Fern Storer in her yard.
Fern Storer in her office.
The former Storer home is now the James A. Ramage Civil War Museum.
The Ramage Civil War Museum during the Hooper Days celebration of 2006.

Hilland Homer Stewart – 1996 Inductee

Hilland Homer Stewart was born on a farm near Harlan in Smith County, Kansas, on March 17, 1906.  At the age of two he moved with his parents, Lewis and Perle (Brumbaugh) Stewart, to Graham County, Kansas.  He received his early schooling there and graduated from Palco High School in 1925.  Hilland spent two years at Fort Hays State College before returning to Graham County, where he worked as a grocery clerk.  In the 1930s Hilland entered the Denver [Colorado] Bible Institute, from which he graduated in 1937.  He remained at the school as an instructor and was ordained a minister in 1940.  From 1941 to 1945 he was managing editor and Sunday School Expositor for the Institute’s monthly magazine, Grace and Truth.

The Reverend Stewart married Myrtle Lewis on August 17, 1941, in Lakewood, Colorado.  The couple raised three children–Constance, Samuel, and Sue.  Hilland completed his education at Sterling College in Kansas and at Wheaton College in Illinois, and also spent a term teaching classes at Harlan High School.  From 1947 through 1980 he served as pastor at churches in Cedar and Harlan in Smith County, Kansas; at the Bethany Baptist and Pleasant View Churches and in Hunter, all in Mitchell County; in Luray and at Amherst Church in Russell County; and at the Cheyenne, Rose Valley, and Grace Brethren Churches in Osborne County.  When he was called to be pastor of the Grace Brethren Church in Portis, Kansas, in 1947 he reached a special goal–that of following in the footsteps of his grandfather, David Brumbaugh, a early-day circuit-riding minister from that church.

In 1947 the Stewarts bought the equipment and shop of the defunct Portis Independent newspaper and established Stewart Publishers, a Christian publishing operation.  Hilland had learned the printer’s trade while in college and ran the Linotype himself.  In later years he performed the same task for the Osborne County Farmer.  Stewart Publishers printed Bible studies and other religious material, including Hilland’s book Life in Full Color, which was widely distributed.  But the principal product was the Mighty Mite Bible, a miniature-sized booklet designed for youngsters attending Christian Youth Camps.  First published in 1967, thousands of copies of the Mighty Mite Bible were sold all across the United States over the next two decades.  A fire in 1985 destroyed the print shop and Hilland had to take the printing business for the Mighty Mite Bible to other area printers.

Hilland was also interested in photography and prepared thousands of slides for use in illustrating Biblical teachings.  He wrote many articles on religious topics, several of which appeared in The Christian Victory, a nationally-circulated journal.  In the 1960s he was named to Who’s Who in the Midwest.  Reverend Stewart passed away on February 2, 1995, and was laid to rest in the Hammond Cemetery near Harlan, Kansas.


The tombstone of Reverend Hilland Stewart in the Hammond Cemetery, Harlan Township, Smith County, Kansas.

Arleta Ethyl (Quenzer) Snyder – 2007 Inductee

Volumes could be said of the sacrifices and generosity of the daughter of Wesley and Ethyl Quenzer, but for now we all shall have to settle for the following few brief sentences of tribute.

Arleta was born November 20, 1924 in Alton, Osborne County, Kansas.  Following graduation from Osborne High School in 1942, she worked for the family appliance business until she married Maurice Snyder on April 21, 1946.

Following their marriage the couple moved to a farm they purchased near Alton.  During their years on the farm, four children were born: Rocky Jo, who died in childbirth; Rocky Wayne; Leta Jean; and Gary.

Maurice and Arleta sold their farm in 1962 and moved the family to Arizona, hoping the warm dry weather would help Arleta’s arthritis.  After two years in Tucson and elsewhere the family settled in Willcox, Arizona, where Arleta worked as office and advertising manager for the Arizona Range News.

* * * * *

Arizona Range News – October 2, 1986

Arleta (Quenzer) Snyder, office manager and advertising manager, was honored with a retirement party on September 20th in Willcox.

Greg LaFreniere, editor-publisher of the Arizona Range News, presented her with a plaque for her 18 years of dedication, devotion and loyal service to the weekly publication and the people of the Willcox area.

She has also been associated with the San Pedro Valley News-Sun, Benson, Arizona, and the Eastern Arizona Courier, Safford, Arizona. She was formerly a stringer for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona.

She is an Arizona Honorary Future Homemaker, Willcox Honorary Chapter Farmer of the FFA, past public speaking leader for the Kansas Settlement 4-H Club and earned two plaques as Employee of the Month from the Willcox Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.

Arleta attended Cochise College in Douglas, Arizona.  She plans to spend some time in Osborne, Kansas to be near her family beginning in November.

* * * * *

Arleta returned to Kansas in 1986 and settled in Osborne. She became one of the most active community volunteers in the entire history of Osborne County, and served with a number of religious, civic, and social organizations.  Arleta continued to use her news writing skills as the Osborne correspondent for the area newspapers.  Besides her activities in the Methodist Church and with the Methodist women, Arleta was involved in the Hospital Auxiliary, the Senior Center, and the Osborne High School Alumni as well as anyone else that asked for her assistance.

Her main passion was working in the Carnegie Research Library, organizing membership drives and editing the Leaves of Lineage newsletter.  Arleta was especially admired as well for her extensive work with the elderly.

After a lifetime of giving this great-grandmother passed away on March 2, 2007 in Osborne at the age of 82.  She was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

Shortly before her death Arleta was informed of her impending induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.  In typical Arleta fashion, she thought that while it was all very nice, “There are really other people who deserve it more”.

Perhaps there are, Arleta, but few will ever match the spirit for life that you showed the world.