William Hardesty Layton – 2017 Inductee

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

In Memoriam: William Layton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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William H. Layton Movie and Television Roles:

1961             Siempre es domingo   Spain (uncredited)

1963             Confidencias de un marido   Spain

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

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

1967             Las que tienen que servir    Spain

1968             Los que tocan el piano   Spain

1969             Esa mujer   Spain

1969             La vida sigue igual  Spain

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

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

1970             Transplant   USA

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

1971             Man in the Wilderness   USA

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

1972             Travels with My Aunt   USA (uncredited)

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

1973             Los camioneros (TV series)   Spain

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

1974             Apuntes para una tesis doctoral    Spain

1974             Cuentos y leyendas (TV series)   Spain

1974             Los pintores del Prado (TV series)    Spain

1974             Open Season      Spain, Switzerland, UK, USA

1974             The New Spaniards      Spain                          

1975             La adúltera     Spain

1975             Los pájaros de Baden-Baden    Spain

1977             Curro Jiménez (TV series)   Spain

1977             Hasta que el matrimonio nos separe   Spain

1977             La Gioconda está triste   Spain, Italy

1977             La saga de los Rius (TV series)    Spain

1977             Las locuras de Jane    Spain

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

1978             Memoria    Spain

1979             El juglar y la reina (TV series)     Spain

1979             Los mitos (TV series)     Spain

1980             F.E.N.    Spain

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

1984             La conquista de Albania     Spain

1989             Autumn Rain   Spain

2008            Heaven on Earth    Canada

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

 

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Mr. Layton (a conversation with Carlos Hipólito)

by Marcos Ordóñez

March 20, 2014

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

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

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

Hipolito Carlos by
Carlos Hipolito

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Layton William Implantation

William Layton: The Implementation of the Method in Spain

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

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

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

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

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William Layton

Because of his limitations with language, deafness

and humility, he was a team man

Marcos Ordóñez

elpais.com/cultura/

27 April 2017

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

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

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

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

 

John A. Dillon – 2014 Inductee

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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“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.

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(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.

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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.

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.

Howard Herman Ruede – 1996 Inductee

What can we set down in cold print about Howard H. Ruede that will do the man justice?” – Bliss VanGundy, Osborne County historian.

H. H. Ruede Dead
End Came to Local Editor of the Farmer Thursday Night after an Illness of Two Weeks

“Howard Herman Ruede was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, June 25, 1854. He was the eldest child of Herman and Marie (Smith) Ruede. He was educated in the Moravian Parochial Schools in the town of his birth. He afterwards learned the printing trade, with which he was connected until coming to Osborne County in March 1877. He settled in Kill Creek Township where he resided on a homestead until June 1901 when he removed to Osborne, Kansas, where he has since lived, and has been connected with the Osborne County Farmer practically all that time. On April 10, 1870, he united with the Moravian Church of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, of which he remained a faithful member until he united with the Presbyterian Church in Osborne in 1901. He passed away at his home in this city on Thursday evening, April 9th, aged seventy years, nine months and fifteen days. He leaves to mourn his passing his sister, Miss Ruth Ruede, his brother George F. Ruede of Wichita, Kansas, and his nephew, Eugene Ruede of Omaha, Nebraska.

“Howard H. Ruede, who has been connected with the Osborne County Farmer more or less intimately for nearly half a century and who was personally known by more people in Osborne County than any other man, passed away at his home in this city on Thursday evening, April 9, 1925, at 11:30 p.m. He had been in poor health for several weeks, but in spite of it he remained at his work in this office until Saturday night, March 28th, attending to his duties as usual. He had been suffering from the effects of a severe cold which bothered him for two or three weeks, but he was a man who never complained nor shirked a duty, and while those of us who worked with him every day noticed and remarked a hoarseness and cough that was unusual, none of us suspicioned that he was approaching his fatal illness. On Monday morning, March 30th, he was unable to come to the office. He was feeling badly and had a high temperature. He thought if he would lay up a few days he would be able to come about the middle of the week. This was what we all hoped for, but while the fever subsided somewhat and there were now then hopeful symptoms, he seemed to gradually lose strength, and all hope was abandoned by relatives and friends by the beginning of the second week. He was conscious much of the time, but whether he was rational or wandering in his mind, his thoughts were with his work at the Farmer office, where he was happiest in his life work.

“Howard Ruede was not what is known as a ‘mixer.’ He knew himself hundreds of people, and could call most of them by their first name, but unless one worked at his side for years it was impossible to know his true worth. He was the most conscientious man this writer ever knew. He was absolutely dependable and trustworthy in all that those terms imply. Those who met him daily liked and respected him for his unfailing courtesy and his proverbial good humor. Those who worked by his side and came in daily contact with him, loved him for his tireless devotion to duty, his loyalty to his friends and his convictions and his unwavering fidelity and integrity. He was a man of absolute clean mind and clean life. He was possessed of a fine education and had added largely to his stock of knowledge by wide reading and by observation. Had he been obsessed with a desire for wealth he could have turned his shrewd mind in that direction and amassed a fortune, but he cared nothing for money except as it ministered to his simple needs. Financially he could not be called a successful man, but measured in good deeds and in character he towered like a giant, and his life in this community was one of its most valuable assets and one worthy of emulation. He will live in the memory of those who knew him best long after the names of many so-called successful men have been forgotten.

“Dozens of people have asked us in the past few days, ‘Who will take Howard’s place on the Farmer?’ To all we have been obliged to give the same answer: No one can take Howard’s place. Someone can perhaps come in and take up the daily routine of visible duties that were his, but his wise counsel, his intimate knowledge of Osborne County men and Osborne history, and his daily example of fidelity to duty, are things that passed out with him, and can never be replaced. He was like eighteen-carat gold; the more one came in contact with him, the more one applied the acid test, the more one valued his actual worth. Truly it can be said of him in the words of Marc Anthony:

‘His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world:
This was a man!’”

– Charles E. Mann in the Osborne County Farmer, April 16, 1925.

 

In March 1877 Howard Ruede stepped off the train at Russell, Kansas, hitched a ride to Osborne, and filed a claim on land in Kill Creek Township amid other settlers from the Bethlehem area. That same year he began working as a printer for the Osborne County Farmer, walking the fourteen miles between Osborne and his homestead in the Kill Creek community. Over the next two years Ruede kept his family back in Pennsylvania informed of his activities on the prairie through a long series of letters, until his parents and siblings also came west and joined him on the homestead. In 1879 he donated land along the west edge of his homestead for the establishment of the Zion Mennonite Cemetery, now called the Kill Creek Presbyterian Cemetery.  A bachelor his entire life, Howard Ruede worked for the Osborne County Farmer for nearly fifty years, frequently writing articles of historical interest that displayed a sense of humor and attention to detail.

 

Howard H. Ruede

“The passing of Howard Ruede removes the last connecting link between the Farmer of the pioneer days and the present Farmer of modern times. The Farmer was a pretty puny infant when Howard first stepped into the little shack that housed it way back in the summer of 1877. The office then stood about where the Olds grocery store now stands. He was but twenty-three years of age and had learned to set type back in Pennsylvania. He worked on the paper in 1877-1878 a good deal of the time. He told me only last February that he made his living off the Farmer the first two years he was in Osborne County.

Then he decided to try farming and went out into Kill Creek Township to break the virgin sod. He stuck to it with his usual faithfulness and for twenty-five years he worked early and late and went against all the privations and hardships so prevalent among the pioneers of those days. Then he removed to Osborne and ever since has been connected with the paper. In fact, he was really connected with the Farmer during his stay in Kill Creek, for he was the Kill Creek correspondent all those years and his items were sent in regularly and if pasted in one string would reach a goodly distance. So Howard’s connection with the Farmer outranks all others, approaching almost fifty years – forty-eight, to be exact.

But the Farmer boasts of long service from those who have been connected with it. Frank H. Barnhart, the founder, stayed with it about sixteen years. Charles Landis was with it for nineteen years and owned it about sixteen years. Tom Skinner had the longest consecutive years of service. Unless I am badly mistaken, Tom was with the paper from 1882 until 1921. I started on the Farmer in October 1897 and have been owner since August 1, 1904. But Howard Ruede was the historian of the paper. He remembered everything that happened during the babyhood days and on down through all the years up to the very hour he left the office the last time to return no more. He was the most reliable and accurate person with whom I ever associated. He was always right on hand when you wanted him and when told to do anything he never forgot the errand. You could set your watch by his daily routine. Day after day and year after year everything left to him was done at the appointed time. He kept all his work right up to the minute, and he did it so quietly and systematically that he was never in a hurry. He could remember every advertisement and paid local in the paper and its price; he knew whether his local event or that one had appeared in the columns and just about when. He knew nothing about politics or baseball or football, but he knew so much else that those trivials were never missed. Of late years he never appeared to be busy, but when he was absent for a few days the little things he always looked after piled up until they became a mountain and very seriously affected the usual routine of work.

The thing that made Howard so reliable and dependable was that he never tackled anything he didn’t know. He always stayed with the duties and work he could handle and experiment was something he knew nothing about. He either did it or he did not. Consequently he made few mistakes. Howard was so regular on his beat and in his haunts that he will be sorely missed. The arriving and departing trains will miss him, the post office lobby will miss him and the business houses will miss him on the first of every month. His soul was as clean and spotless as the morning sun and no dishonest thought or sinister feeling ever entered his mind and he has entered upon his reward with all the glory and honors of the greatest that ever trod the earth.” – Bert Walker in the Osborne County Farmer, April 16, 1925.

The sod house built by Howard Ruede on his homestead as it appeared in 1895. From left to right are: George “Bub” Ruede, Howard Ruede, and Ruth Ruede.

In 1928, three years after Howard’s death, University of Kansas economist John Ise was in Osborne conducting research for his forthcoming book Sod and Stubble.  He spoke with Ruth Ruede, Howard’s sister, who showed Ise the letters Howard had written to the family in Pennsylvania those many years before.  Ise took the letters and, by combining them with some of Howard’s newspaper articles, had them published as the book Sod-House Days: Letters from a Kansas Homesteader 1877-1878 in 1937.

Still in print over 75 years later, both Sod-House Days and Ise’s own Sod and Stubble are together considered to be two of the finest literary works on the homesteading life of the Great Plains ever written in either the United States or Canada.  It is for this reason that Osborne County is known as The Homestead Literature Capital of Kansas.

In 2006 the Rediscovering Sod-House Days Self-Guided Driving Tour was established in the Kill Creek community for readers around the world to discover the actual sites of people, places, and events made famous by Howard Ruede and his writings.  It was designated an Osborne County Heritage Backway in 2012.

Calvin Reasoner – 1996 Inductee

The only known photograph of Calvin Reasoner, when he was a member of the 1873 Kansas Legislature. Photo courtesy of “kansasmemory.org, Kansas State Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply”.

The annals of Osborne County history cite many individuals of exceptional ability. Few, however, can match the versatile Calvin Reasoner. Clergyman, newspaper editor and reporter, attorney, author, judge and politician, Reasoner left his impression on the early history of Osborne County and rightfully takes his place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

Calvin was born May 13, 1837, in Adamsville, Muskingum County, Ohio. He was the sixth of eleven children born to Jacob and Nancy (Hill) Reasoner. Little is known of his early life, other than that he was a college graduate with several degrees of merit, including Doctor of Laws. On March 8, 1863, Calvin married Venetia Shearer in Jackson County, Ohio.  Together they raised four daughters, May, Florence, Clara, and Elsie.

After their marriage the Reasoners moved west to Leavenworth, Kansas, where from 1864 to 1869 Reasoner was pastor of the First Christian Church. In 1870 he moved his family west again, this time settling in Tilden Township in Osborne County, Kansas. There Calvin joined with others and founded the town of Arlington. To insure the stability of the new town he and his partner Frank Thompson opened a general store, and in 1871 Calvin became the town’s first postmaster.

It was on the steps of Reasoner and Thompson’s general store that the organization of Osborne County took place on May 27, 1871. Much to Calvin’s consternation. however, Osborne City was selected the temporary county seat and not Arlington. To champion Arlington’s cause, the first newspaper in the county, the Osborne County Express, appeared with Calvin Reasoner as editor. The county seat contest was spirited, but in the third and final election held in November 1872 Osborne City garnered 267 votes to Arlington’s 214 and dashed its supporters’ hopes forever. The Arlington post office was discontinued and the town quickly faded away.

Calvin accepted defeat graciously and moved his family to Osborne City, where he opened a successful law practice and real estate business. He served as editor of the Osborne Times newspaper in 1873 and was elected mayor of Osborne in 1881. In 1873-74 he served both as the county representative to the Kansas Legislature and on the board of trustees of the Kansas Institute for Education of the Blind. In 1876 he compiled the newspaper series Historical Sketches of Osborne County in which was preserved much of the history of the county’s first five years.

In 1881 the Reasoners divorced. Calvin then married Ellen Jillson on December 16, 1882, in Massachusetts. This marriage also ended in divorce four years later. By 1888 Reasoner was working in Washington, D.C., as a special correspondent for the Topeka Daily Capital. The 1890s saw Calvin move to Utah, where he served as a probate judge in Ogden and wrote influential political articles urging less state government control by the Mormon Church. In 1896 his self-published book, Church and State: The Issue of Civil and Religious Liberty in Utah, influenced many Utah legislators in writing that state’s constitution.

Calvin Reasoner later lived in Warrensburg, New York, and in Sanford, Florida, where he lived with relatives.  He died there December 6, 1911, and was laid to rest in Sanford’s Lakeview Cemetery.   To date there is no known photograph of Calvin.

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Selections From “HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF OSBORNE COUNTY”

by Calvin Reasoner

Introduction:  Since the announcement a few weeks ago that an effort would be made to preserve a record of the historical details incident to the earliest settlement of our county there has been a commendable interest manifested in the mater by a number of our most intelligent citizens, and we can promise you a series of articles in which the most important historical matters can be preserved.  Let it be noted, however that in this series we will endeavor to follow no particular method whereby a systematic presentation would be secured.  Some articles will be furnished to us entire and will be published as presented and due credit be given to each contributor.  When the whole is spread upon the record, however scattering, it will not be difficult to systematize and put in proper shape. – C. R.

The first item we shall mention is the pecuniary condition of the early settlers in general.  It is no disgrace to those who came first into our county to say that the majority of them were very poor in this world’s goods, however blessed they might feel to be in their hopes of another and better life.  At the present, after half a dozen years of settlement, but few are well circumstanced.  Few have more than the barest necessities of life.  A very limited number have the comforts of life and scarcely any are able to afford the luxuries.

It must be expected that a majority of the settlers in a new country, and especially in a homestead country, will be poor.  Before the homestead law was enacted lands were often sold to the highest bidder and men of capital as well as those of moderate means would purchase lands.  The wealthy would buy large tracts and hold them for a rise in prices through settlement and the poor would buy each a farm for a home.  It was consequently by the improvements of the poor that speculators would get an advance on their lands.  But in a homestead country no man can get more that a small amount of land and in order to hold that he must live upon it.  Thus a man of wealth can scarcely invest his means until lands begin to change hands.  Some capital may be invested in the purchase and sale of goods, but even this kind of business is very much limited by the general destitution.

The markets . . . so far as there were any, were very remote from the settlers of our county–as they are still–but in 1870 and 1871 there was very little produced for sale, even if there had been a good market.  The principal staple was buffalo meat, and this was carried down the Solomon [River] valley as far as Solomon City [110 miles away] or sometimes to Junction City [160 miles], both places being trading points.  Buffalo meat was carried in wagons, sometimes in the raw state, and frequently it would be dried.  The latter would sell at from six to ten cents per pound and the former at from three to six.  Occasionally prices would vary from these figures but these were about the average.  The employment was therefore better than nothing and it was all that was available at the time.  Hence a great many of the settlers in 1870, 1871, and 1872 became of necessity buffalo hunters.

Let us draw a picture which has often been verified in our past history.  Here comes a covered wagon slowly moving up the road which was recently merely a buffalo hunters’ trail.  There are two persons walking and a boy driving.  Inside you notice, as the team approaches, that there are women and children; also bedding, boxes, tools and traps of various kinds; a shovel and a broom stick out behind and a small chicken coop hangs on at the rear.  The little cavalcade halts in our presence and inquires for vacant lands.  They want to get ‘timber and water.’  You tell them that there is plenty of vacant land with timber and water at a certain point and then inquire how far they have come.  Well they have driven some two or three hundred miles in search of a home and now they have got to their destination and they feel like laying the foundations of a new home.  They don’t feel discouraged by the entire newness of the country but indicate a determination to make the best of it.  They drive on to the place indicated and soon take hold on the surroundings and show they are able to take advantage of everything that offers in the building up of a new home.

You visit them in few weeks and find that they have used timber enough to build them a comfortable house capable of withstanding the winds, the heat and the rains.  They are breaking some ground and planting corn in the sod.  If the season is favorable they will get some ten or fifteen bushels per acre of sod corn and this will suffice to feed the team and perhaps a cow; and if it be not far to mill some of it will be ground for bread.  If there are no mills the corn can be parched or boiled.  I have known families to live all winter on little else than boiled corn and thankful to get even that meager supply.  If the season should fail to be one that would produce corn our settler will have hard times.  They have no money, perhaps.  Probably they did not bring five dollars into the country with them.  Some brought considerable money and soon consumed it in living expenses and then were quite destitute.

What then must our poor family do?  There is no work that will bring any remuneration.  How many poor settlers a few years ago contemplated life from this unhappy standpoint.  If the settler could get to haul a load of goods or freight of any king for a merchant or anybody else this would be of help; anything he could turn his hand to.  In this state of things it was very convenient to turn buffalo hunter, and for two purposes–one to supply the family with food, the other to have something for market to supply other things.

The year 1870 was tolerably good for wheat in the lower part of the Solomon valley, where it had begun to settle up and be cultivated, but it was dry through June and July.  In the vicinity probably corn would not have made more than half a crop.  Rains began early in August and continued through the fall.  All through the early part of the summer hot winds prevailed.  Some of the rains in the latter part of the season were exceeding heavy, so that the ground in many places was flooded with water.  During the latter part of this year 1870 Mr. [Frank] Stafford settled with his mother and her family on Little Medicine Creek near the mouth.  About the same time Baronet Gow, Will Garrison and Joseph Hart settled there, and these were the pioneers on Little Medicine.  They were soon joined by Wiley Wilson and others.  The winter was remarkably mild and pleasant and very favorable for the maintenance of stock without grain.  Gow had two yoke of oxen and had no grain to feed them, but they lived through and came out in the spring in good order, having had nothing but buffalo grass to subsist on.

Gow was a great devotee of the ‘weed.’  He had been out about a month and was severely punished for want of it when he succeeded in getting half a dollar and came out post haste down the valley to the writer’s store to get tobacco–I should have said ‘tobaker.’  His chagrin can scarcely be imagined when he got to the store and found that he had lost his money.  His words fell thick and fast and most of them indicated that he had been brought up under some of the numerous forms of orthodox religion.  A caddy of bright navy seemed to intensify his disappointment.  On being handed an immense plug his dental outfit set to work in good earnest as though the making of ‘amber’ was the chief end of man and to expectorate it around the height of human happiness.  It was not expected at the time that the plug would ever be paid for but it was and hundreds of dollars more within the next two years by this same honest, hardy, good-natured Baronet Gow.  Mr. Frank Stafford was one of the first three commissioners appointed by the governor and was subsequently elected to the same office by the popular vote.  He still resides in single blessedness on Little Medicine.” — Osborne County Farmer, March 3, 1876, and July 7, 1876.