One of Osborne County’s most popular early-day businessmen was Chauncey W. Baldwin. Chauncey, or “Chan,” as he was commonly called, came to Osborne asa young man. Sixty-six years later he was still in business, setting the all-time Kansas record for a pharmacist in continuous service.
Chan was born November 4, 1853, at Riga, New York. He received his education in the Conandaigna, New York, schools and at the age of sixteen was offered a job by telegram in Onarga, Illinois. He worked at the drugstore there for five years as he mastered the pharmacist trade.
In 1874 Chan came to Osborne and with Al Wilson opened the town’s first drugstore. Baldwin and Wilson Drug was over a day’s ride farther west than any other competitor in northwest Kansas, and they soon became acquainted with every phase of human life to be found in a frontier town. Their first customers were homesteaders, trappers, Indians, and buffalo hunters. After two years Wilson sold out and Chan took over sole management of the Baldwin Drug Company.
At first Chan’s motley class of customers either lounged on the counters or squatted on the floor with feet underneath them in true western style. As the town matured chairs and good manners became more evident. For entertainment the settlers organized literary societies, singing bees, debating tournaments, and music concerts. The young Baldwin contributed much to these amusements and the popular young man was considered the soul of town society. He caught the eye of Miss Lola Brodrick and they were married June 7, 1880, in Osborne. They had one daughter, Bernice.
Chan was an active Mason and served on the city council. He was a charter member of the Kansas Pharmaceutical Association and bought one of the original franchises of the Rexall chain. At the company’s 50th anniversary celebration, Chan was the only original franchisee still with the company. And it was Chan Baldwin who, in July 1882, introduced to the citizens of Osborne County the “delicious new drink” called ginger ale.
In 1915 his wife died. Chan then married Mrs. Nell Morgan on March 7, 1916. The store continued to prosper and had changed little over the years, except that the customers now sat comfortably at tables with checkerboard tablecloths while the kindly druggist reposed in his rocking chair and regaled them with tales of the early days. Chan Baldwin passed away July 30, 1940, and was laid to rest with honors in the Osborne Cemetery. His widow retained the store until 1949, when after 75 years in the Baldwin family it was sold. The business, now called Main Street Drug, still operates in Osborne at the same location it has occupied for over 135 years.
Harold Dermont Arend was born October 3, 1893, on a farm northwest of Downs in Ross Township, Osborne County, Kansas. The son of Franklin and Susanne (Bowers) Arend, Harold, or “Dutch” as he was known all his life, attended the local schools and graduated from Downs High School in 1913. Between 1914 and 1917 he taught school in Osborne County at Greenwood Rural School, District Number 44, and in the Osborne city school system. He was a student at the University of Kansas in Lawrence when the United States entered World War I in 1917. Dutch enlisted and became a fighting “doughboy” in the American Expeditionary Forces to France, where as a first lieutenant he saw action in the Argonne Forest and elsewhere and was a Purple Heart recipient. After his discharge in 1919 he was employed for a time by the McPike Drug Company of Kansas City, Missouri. On June 28, 1926, he married Hildegarde Krobst in Kansas City. Hildegarde had experience in the ladies’ ready-to-wear business, so the couple settled in Dallas, Texas, where they operated a wholesale ladies’ ready-to-wear house for ten years.
In 1937 the Arends moved to Beloit, Kansas, and opened a ladies’ ready-to-wear shop. Later Dutch also operated the 24 Grill restaurant. A life member of both the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas and the Kansas Congress of Parents and Teachers, Dutch also became a major figure in local affairs, holding membership in the Beloit Lions Club (as charter member and past president), the Masonic Lodge, the Order of the Eastern Star in Downs, and the Mystic Shrine at Salina, Kansas. He was a member of the board of directors for the Beloit Community Hospital and was active in both the Boys Scouts and American Legion organizations at the local, district, and state levels. Dutch also served three terms as president of the Beloit Chamber of Commerce and was a director in the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, as well as a member and chairman of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce Industrial Council.
“H. D. Arend has probably given more time and talent to state and community work than any other one person in Mitchell County. He was selected in 1950 for the Who’s Who in the Midwest and the reason for the choice is [that] he was among the best known men and women of the Central and Midwestern states in all lines of useful and reputable achievements and was selected on account of special prominence in the creditable lines of effort.” — Beloit Daily Call, October 3, 1955.
In August 1942 Dutch began serving the first of three terms as Mitchell County Representative in the Kansas legislature. In the legislature he was noted both for his wisdom and school experience in working with the various committees that dealt with school district reorganization and for his term as chairman of the House Committee on Education. For ten years he was the local Home Service Director for the American Red Cross, and in July 1947 he was appointed Mitchell County Probate Judge to serve out an unexpired term of office, which ended in November 1948. A stroke in 1951 slowed down his busy life, possibly brought on by over-exertion in his zeal to serve his fellow citizens. He was in and out of hospitals after that, and spent a year in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in hopes of improving his health. Harold Arend died in Beloit on February 11, 1956. He was buried in the Downs Cemetery.
Ted Allen, world class horseshoe pitcher, horseshoe manufacturer, performer at rodeos, theaters, sports and horse shows, exhibition and trick shot pitcher, was inducted into the National Horseshoe Pitchers Hall of Fame as a charter member in 1966.
Joseph Theodore Allen (always known as Ted) was born March 29, 1908, to Will and Esther (True) Allen on a wheat farm in Osborne County, Kansas, near Natoma. His family later moved into Natoma where his grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Solon True lived. Will was a well known horseshoe pitcher and his five sons and five daughters became quite good at the game. Ted started pitching when he was seven and learned to beat the best of them. At age twelve he was thrilled to hear one expert say, “If I had that boy, I’d take him to Chicago.” Little did they know that Chicago was where Ted Allen would first win a World Championship at the World’s Fair in 1933. He was just twenty-four years old and would compete in thirty-one world championships.
Ted won ten times in the first nineteen years he competed, finished second five times, third and fourth twice. His name appears in the Guinness Book of Records as having won the most World Championships, and many of his other records have never been broken.
The Allens moved to Colorado in 1922. While farming and attending school, Ted was state champion eight years out of ten, losing those times to his brother Ira. In 1932 the family moved to Oregon for a short time, and Ted won that state’s championship. They moved to California, and it was while there that he won his first World Championship.
All his life he had wanted to be somebody, and he thought his horseshoes could make that possible. He worked hard and began performing in many shows from coast to coast. For four years in a row, he strutted his ability in Madison Square Garden and the Boston Garden, performing in such shows as the Roy Rogers and Gene Autry extravaganzas. Although short in stature, Ted was a big man in horseshoe circles and on the show circuit. He instructed many famous people, including Roy Rogers, on the proper way to pitch. One time he was asked to stay and meet President Franklin Roosevelt, but his schedule made it impossible.
Ted excelled in about thirty different tricks with horseshoes. Some of these were: lighting a match with his steel missiles; knocking cigars from between the teeth of people courageous enough to serve as his targets; ringing a peg by tossing between a man’s legs; whipping the arched bit of steel forty feet to hit a dime; and tossing ringers around a pop bottle, until one bottle broke and he wouldn’t do that any more. Allen’s big regret was that he didn’t find a show willing to let him race in on a galloping horse and shoot ringers from the saddle. He said his average was fifty percent in practicing that stunt.
In the late thirties, Allen designed and began manufacturing his own pitching shoes, which later became the “most used of all shoes” by pitchers. He began this venture in Denver, Colorado, in 1937 and later moved to Boulder, Colorado. There are only two shoes known in existence that are stamped with “Denver” on them. He insisted on making a first-class shoe by doing all the work himself–he ground his shoes outdoors, painted, packaged and mailed them . The first ones were advertised for $2.25 a pair, which included postage. At the time of his death, he had orders for one thousand pairs that he hadn’t been able to fill.
Allen took his championship responsibility very seriously, believing that it was his job to look and act respectable. He lived cleanly, worked hard at keeping physically fit and especially wanted to see that young children respected him for clean living. On one occasion in Detroit, hundreds of kids crowded and jostled him, wanting autographs. Finding it hard to write, he climbed a big sign hoping to get above and reach down. The kids climbed up, too, and the sign fell down. Ted also put in his stint in the army where he served as a male nurse in World War II.
One of his goals was to travel, and this he did. For forty years he was on the road, averaging thirty-five thousand miles a year. He gave over five hundred radio broadcasts and was the first man to pitch on television. In all his exhibitions and personal appearances, not counting millions who have seen his five newsreels and two movie shorts, it has been calculated that around eighteen million people saw Allen’s act; besides this, there have been two hundred thousand people who saw him in tournaments. He set a record of public appearances never equaled by any other horseshoe pitcher. He also performed longer than other champs.
Ted’s seventh World Championship in 1955 was his most convincing by far. He had seven 90% games, four of them over 95%. He had twelve other games over 85%. He was known as “Babe Ruth of Horseshoes.” Ted held many records, four of which remain unbeatable. He tossed seventy-two consecutive ringers in 1955; his 187 ringers in 200 shoes and eighty-five doubles in 1955 will stand forever since this type qualification is no longer used. His total victories in those thirty-one years stood at 771 in 989 games; the next closest was 488 wins. Never was Allen beaten in a play-off game.
During his later years, Allen loved to visit and spin yarns about his earlier life. One of his memories goes like this: “A rabbit hopped into my back yard one day when I was practicing and on impulse I let fly with a shoe. It was a ‘ringer’ and I had the critter for dinner.” One of his hobbies was capturing rattlesnakes and milking them of the venom, which he sold to the University of Colorado. After one trip to Oklahoma, he returned with a gunny sack full of snakes in his car trunk. Unbeknownst to him, one of the snakes had escaped from the sack and the next time he opened his trunk, he got the surprise of his life! Fortunately he wasn’t bitten.
Ted always planned to write a book but just didn’t get around to it. He did write many articles for horseshoe magazines. He continued to make his horseshoes with very little help from anyone else. Today, his nephew continues to manufacture the popular “Ted Allen” shoes at a much higher price than when the business began.
Ted Allen passed away on January 26, 1990, in Boulder, Colorado, of a heart attack. He will always be remember as a “giant” in the horseshoe world.
History has not recorded a great deal about Chattie Ellen Cowden. Nevertheless she left her mark on the community of Downs and northeast Osborne County.
Chattie was born September 27, 1857, and married Dan Allen January 24, 1882, in Sheridan, Iowa. In February 1886 the couple moved to Downs, where Dan went to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. They had two sons, Earl and Vivian.
A community-minded woman, Chattie belonged to several clubs and organizations. Around 1900 Chattie, along with Mrs. Katherine Chapin and Mrs. Alma Duden, took active measures toward establishing the first library in Downs. She gathered the names of twenty-five supporters who were willing to subscribe to ten dollars of library stock, payable annually for five years. Churches, clubs, and individuals donated books and periodicals, and after three years 1500 volumes were collected. They were loaned out from a frame building on Morgan Street with Chattie as librarian.
A formal library association was formed in January 1903, with Chattie being elected as the first president. She declined the office but continued as librarian. The next year she encouraged Downs city officials to ask for funds to establish a Carnegie library. A subsequent gift of $6500 from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation led to the building of the Downs Carnegie Library, which was dedicated in 1905.
Chattie was so fond of the color lavender that she was known in Downs as “Lavender Chattie”. She continued as librarian after her husband’s death in 1921, finally retiring in 1937. She went to live in Scandia, Kansas, where she died March 9, 1946. Her remains were brought back to Downs and were buried in the Downs Cemetery in a family plot. A portrait of Chattie currently hangs in the Downs Carnegie Library in tribute to this lady’s dedication to the public.
Future Kansas Minority Leader John O. Adams was born on September 24, 1889, in Langley, Ellsworth County, Kansas, and was the eldest of five brothers and also the eighth member of the Adams family to carry the first name of John. When he was very young his parents moved the family to a home near Delphos, Kansas. His father became the proprietor of a general merchandise store there and later served as mayor of the town. John, or “Jack” as his friends called him, attended elementary and high school in Delphos and then enrolled at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he intended to earn a degree in law. His studies were interrupted, however, when the death of his father from blood poisoning forced him to return home and take over management of the store.
On June 3, 1916, John married Pansy Alice Marshall in Shawnee County, Kansas. In 1917 John and Pansy moved to Fort Morgan, Colorado, where John went to work for the J. C. Penney Company. Four years later he joined the J. B. Byers Clothing Company at Yuma, Colorado. Then in 1924 John took over the management of the Byers store in Osborne, Kansas, which he operated for five years until the Byers Company merged with the J. C. Penney Company. He then continued to operate the local J. C. Penney store for the next 19 years. His wife Pansy had died in 1941 and John married Margaret (Marge) Pfortmiller on June 12, 1946, in Osborne.
John was also active in the social and political affairs of Osborne County. He served on the Osborne City Council and local Board of Education as well as president of the Osborne Chamber of Commerce. “I was county chairman of the Democratic Party when Democrats were scarce,” he once said. “Bob Clark, Charley Smith, Hud Turner and I used to meet every election year in the telephone booth to get someone to run for office.”
In 1950 John himself ran for the Kansas Legislature’s 84th State Representative District seat as a write-in candidate and was elected by a substantial majority in the Republican-dominated district. He was re-elected to six subsequent terms and in the 1957 session of the legislature he became the Kansas House Minority Leader for the Democratic Party, serving in that capacity through three regular sessions, three budget sessions, and one special session of the House. John was an extremely modest man who probably had more friends of both political parties than any representative who has ever served in Osborne County. He was serving his sixth term when he was stricken with a heart attack and died at his home in Osborne on July 17, 1961. John was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.
“John was a wonderful man. He was the finest legislator that Kansas ever had. The people of Kansas will miss him greatly, for he had excellent judgment in legislative matters, and was a man of great integrity.” — George Docking, then governor of Kansas.
Letter to the Editor
Word has just reached me here on the West Coast of the death of Representative John Adams. It was my pleasure to serve in the [Kansas] House of Representatives during his first two terms. Since that time I followed his unselfish role as a devoted public servant with interest.
During fourteen years as a county newspaperman, a participant in state and national politics and lately as a metropolitan newspaperman, it has been my privilege to know some of the biggest names on the public scene. I was able to measure them as men. Unfortunately some of the so-called “big men” of this time failed to measure up to the image they cast on front pages of the nation’s newspapers. Others were much bigger than anyone realized.
John Adams was a big man. He had the deepest sense of principles of any man I’ve known. When Kansas history is written, John Adams should hold a place equal to Arthur Capper, William Allen White, Jerry Simpson, Alf Landon and others whose names are associated with the colorful history of the state.
I think John Adams gave his life to Kansas. Many times he wanted to retire to his Osborne home. But each time he would respond to the demands of his party to continue playing a major role in the shaping of legislation. He worked on when his health demanded that he quit.
Osborne, Kansas, should be proud of John Adams. The state is proud of him. His party is proud of him. I am proud of him. We will all miss him.
Sincerely, Milo W. Sutton, former State Representative from Emporia [Kansas].”
In the annals of Kansas history the name Hiram C. Bull has been remembered chiefly for the unusual manner of the man’s death – for being killed by his pet elk. Yet over 130 years after that event Hiram Bull is still revered in Osborne County for much more: for his leadership, his vision, and his generosity. And so it is appropriate that this most prominent of the original settlers of Osborne County was the first name considered and agreed upon for induction into the Osborne County Hall of Fame.
The charismatic Bull was born August 19, 1820, in Laona, Chautauqua County, New York, one of eleven children of Thomas and Sally Bull. His father, Thomas, was one of the first settlers in Chautauqua County, arriving in 1808. Hiram received his academic education at Fredonia, New York. He read law in the office of a Mr. Mullet in Fredonia and in 1843 he was admitted to the New York bar. For two years he practiced law in Chautauqua County before opening a practice in 1845 at Johnstown, Pennsylvania. On September 16, 1845, Hiram married Mary Johnson at Laona. Mary passed away shortly afterwards and by year’s end Hiram had moved west to Wisconsin.
Hiram settled in Milwaukee and practiced law there for four years. He then married Emma Chamberlain at Janesville, Wisconsin, but this marriage ended after four years with Emma’s death. In 1850 he was elected to the Wisconsin Legislature as a state representative. In 1852 he spent a year in California, then returned to Wisconsin and on May 9, 1853, he married Sarah Fifield, a member of one of Wisconsin’s most influential families, at Janesville, Wisconsin.
The next year found the Bulls living first in Milwaukee and then in Madison, Wisconsin, where Bull opened a lumber business. By 1856 he operated lumberyards in Janesville, Madison, and Milwaukee. That fall he was elected state senator from Madison and Davis County and soon became a powerful voice in state affairs.
During these years in Wisconsin Hiram was commissioned quartermaster general of Wisconsin, an appointment he held through three gubernatorial terms. He was one of the early officers and benefactors of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin and served as a delegate to the Second Wisconsin Constitutional Convention. In 1858 Hiram was a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for governor but lost the nomination by one vote to eventual Governor Alexander Randall.
In 1859 the Bulls moved from Wisconsin to St. Louis, Missouri, and then on to New Mexico and Arizona Territories, where Hiram was appointed Adjutant General of the Army of the Southwest. He was on a trip to St. Louis when the Civil War broke out. Hastening home, he conferred with Sarah, resigned his commission, and in August 1861 he enlisted at Dubuque, Iowa, in Company C of the 9th Iowa Volunteer Infantry as a first lieutenant. In January 1862 he was promoted to captain, a position he held that March during the Battle of Pea Ridge [Arkansas], where a musket ball shattered his right hip as he led the charge of the 4th and 9th Iowa Regiments on the second day of the battle. Two months later he was promoted to the rank of major and given the job of Additional Paymaster for the United States Volunteers of the Union Army. In this capacity he served a year in Washington, D.C., before being transferred to Utah, Oregon, and California during the remainder of the war. He was discharged from service at San Francisco in August 1865.
After a period of time in Massachusetts and Iowa the Bulls headed west once again, this time settling in Leavenworth, Kansas, where Hiram opened a lumberyard. Ever restless, he soon entertained the idea of founding a town in this new and growing state. After a search of likely sites across southern Kansas, he entered into discussions with Union Pacific railroad officials. They soon convinced him to seek a location along their proposed route into the Solomon River country of north-central Kansas.
In the summer of 1870 Hiram stopped at Cawker City, Kansas, where he met Lyman T. Earl, a Michigan native also interested in starting a town. The two teamed up and headed west, following the course of the South Fork Solomon River. On September 12, 1870, they staked out the first townsite in Osborne County, Kansas. A coin toss determined for whom the new town would be named, and Bull City soon became the major distribution and supply center for the settlers throughout much of northwest Kansas. On November 29th the first log structure on the new townsite was begun, but a major snowstorm left it uncompleted until the following year and forced the Bulls to spend the winter in a tent. But in January the one-story building, twelve feet wide and twenty-four feet long, was finished.
“It was a long, low shingled-roof building made of logs, one laid on top of the other, the cracks between being filled with chunks of wood plastered over with mud. It had two rooms, one for their living quarters, the other for a general store–the only one for many miles around. There were two doors: the south one for the residence; the other, the store entrance. As one walked in, the ‘post office’ was on the right. This consisted of a dry-goods box with pigeon holes for the mail.
On the left were shelves with all kinds of dry goods, such as men’s overalls, shirts, red bandanna handkerchiefs, pins, needles and thread. Coarse linen thread was put in skeins about six or seven inches long . . . Everything was placed very neatly on the shelves, including the tobacco in the northeast corner. At the time there wasn’t even a counter.”–Nettie Korb Bryson (1942).
In the back room there was a bed with oil and vinegar barrels and such things, and when the mail came in once every other day, it was dumped on the bed and sorted. When they set the stove up the pipe was too short to reach the chimney, so they put a box on the floor and set the stove on it. Mrs. Bull would stand on another box to do her cooking. Hiram was the first town postmaster and used his former military title to good effect in promoting his town. Mrs. Bull minded the store while the General (as he was universally known) hired drummers to haul goods from Russell, Kansas, to Bull City in freight wagon trains numbering fifteen to twenty wagons each, pulled by either horses or oxen, that could be heard coming for miles.
“In the spring of 1871 the General and Lyman Earl had a well dug . . . The well was thirty-five feet deep, nicely walled up, with a neat wellhouse over it and a wheel and rope and two buckets, as there was no pumps here at that time, and a nice stone watering trough, three and one half feet square and four feet long, neatly dug out. Travelers and strangers often watered at this well and the General would go out hat in hand and invite them to settle and to trade with him.”–Nettie Korb Bryson (1935).
The General was the acknowledged leader in advocating the settlement of northwest Kansas. In 1872 he was elected Osborne County’s first probate judge. In the spring of 1875 Bull declined being appointed the head of the consulate at Honolulu, Hawaii. He did, however, accept the Republican Party nomination as Representative from Osborne County to the Kansas Legislature in 1876 and was duly elected to that position, serving the first of two terms as county representative. In 1879 he finished fourth in nominations for the Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives. He was the heart and soul of Bull City and northwest Kansas and was as much beloved for his occasional outbursts of colorful language as he was for leading in the singing of “Marching through Georgia” whenever the opportunity presented itself.
Bull was well known for his sense of humor. When talking with prospective settlers he would invariably point to his wife and ask them what other frontier town could boast of something so unusual as “a female Bull.” During a session of the state legislature, Bull let it be known that he would vote for a pending herd law “as long as the Bull is allowed to roam free.” In 1876 a circus came to Bull City and the General saw several children who gazed longingly at the big tent but could not afford tickets. Bull asked the ticket man to count the children as they went into the tent. Delightedly the children ran in, and after they were all in the General began walking away. “Here pay for these kids!” called the man. Bull turned and said, “I did not say I would pay for them, I said, ‘Count them as they go in.’” The General and the man argued the matter for some time before Bull paid the bill – as he intended to all along.
In January of 1879 the Bulls adopted a four-year old girl, Lenora Elzora Mackey, after her natural father could no longer care for her, and renamed her Nora Lillian Bull. For her and the other children of the community the General had a few years earlier enclosed a park on the east edge of town in which he kept tamed wild animals – elk, buffalo, antelope, and others – inside a tall white picket fence. He did this as he wished them to remember how the land was before the white man had come to the area. The male elk was a special pet that Bull had raised by hand, and was a favorite of the children, who could handfeed him. The General built a large frame house that reflected the growing prosperity of the area, and then Bull City received the long-awaited news that a railroad would reach them by that December. The future seemed bright for both the town and its leader. Then came the morning of October 12, 1879.
“At about half past eight or nine o’clock Sunday morning General Bull’s hired man, Robert Bricknell, entered the park for the purpose of caring for the elk. He immediately discovered that there was something unusual about the appearance of the animal [the male elk], which showed hostile signs, compelling him to retire from the park. Bricknell hastened to inform the General of the fact, and arming themselves with heavy clubs both went again to the park, the General remarking that he could subdue the animal.
Without a sign of warning the now infuriated beast made a charge at the men, striking General Bull and knocking him down with great force. The elk then drew back and made a second attack on General Bull, this time with increased force, using his antlers with terrible effect, piercing the prostrate body of the General through the breast until the prong protruded, then tossing his form high into the air and throwing him over its head. The elk then resumed his attack on Bricknell, inflicting terrible injuries, whilst . . . George Nicholas, who had witnessed the occurrence, ran to the rescue with a heavy club of hard wood four and a half feet long and about two inches in diameter, with which he expected to so disable the enraged animal as to compel it to desist. With redoubled fury and madness, however, the elk caught the club in its antlers, making indentures in it and rolling it on the ground with great force.
At this time there were two bodies lying prostrate, and with equal heroism and courage William Sherman hastened to the combat. The elk served Sherman the same as the other men, catching him in his immense antlers and throwing him over the fence. George Nicholas was tossed upon the fence.
Mrs. Bull was meanwhile a horrified spectator of the terrible tragedy and wild with grief and terror ran to the village crying for help . . . .” — Osborne County Farmer, October 16, 1879.
“Lew Korb kept his horse in our stable; he came in a hurry for his horse to go for the doctor. Dr. Martin lived in the little house upon the bluff one-half mile north of Bull City. I hurried down to the park as soon as I could. Others had got there ahead of me. They had lain the General outside of the fence and carried Nicholas and Bricknell to the house. I went over where the General was laid. They had him laid on a broad board and wanted another hand to help carry him to the house. They asked me to help, which I did. We carried him to the house and into the upper room, took off his clothes and saw his wounds, which were many.
By this time the doctor had got there and was down in the basement caring for Nicholas and Bricknell. I went down and the doctor showed me their wounds. They were badly gored and both later died.
A young man named Sherman, a carpenter . . . had an account book in his vest-pocket which likely saved him. There was a dent or cut in the book. He was quite badly bruised.” — Cassius P. Austin, then thirteen years old, from a notebook entitled Old Time Memories (1935).
General Bull received forty-four wounds and was killed instantly. Robert Bricknell suffered thirty-two wounds, while George Nicholas had sixty-six. After great trouble the elk was caught and tied in the center of a stout rope cable between the house and a tree. He was later shot and killed. The death of Bull and the other men made national headlines as Harper’s Weekly and other major publications of the time dispatched reporters to the scene. The funeral services for the three men, the largest ever held in northwest Kansas, took place the following Wednesday. The three funeral wagons, drawn by black horses, were at the head of the funeral procession, followed by a multitude of Civil War veterans marching out of respect for the General.
“The largest concourse of people it has ever been our lot to witness on a similar occasion, assembled to pay the last tribute of respect to the deceased, and all the places of business in the town were closed and draped in mourning. Owing to the extent of the throng the services were held in a large unfinished livery barn. It is estimated that upwards of two thousand persons were in attendance . . . Reverend Mr. Morrill of the Beloit Episcopal Church conducted the services. His discourse was preceded by brief eulogistic remarks from Reverends [Robert] Osborn and [Richard] Foster . . . When the procession moved toward the place of internment, about a mile northwest of the village, the foremost portion had reached its destination ere the rear had fallen in line.” — OsborneCounty Farmer, October 16, 1879.
When the Sumner Cemetery was platted the remains of the three men were reinterred there. Bull’s memory was held in such esteem by the citizens of Osborne County that fifty years later funds were raised and a granite monument was dedicated over his gravesite. At the same time it was discovered that a former citizen of the town, Thomas M. Walker, was in possession of the set of elk horns that had killed the three men, having come across them years before in a store in Muscotah, Kansas. He was contacted and in March 1930 the horns were shipped back to Osborne County, where they are on display in the Osborne County Courthouse.
Sarah Bull ran the general store for a few more years before she and her daughter moved back to Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1883. She passed away there on June 6, 1912. In 1885 the town of Bull City changed its name to Alton.
“After he [Bull] attained an age when men usually retire from business he came to Kansas, and after some changes finally went into the new county of Osborne, and established himself far up the [South] Solomon miles away from any settler . . . He keenly enjoyed his life, loved his kindly neighbors, and felt a boyish enthusiasm over the wonderful resources and prospects of Osborne County. One of the pleasantest recollections in this writer’s life is a ride on a beautiful morning in autumn from Osborne City to Bull City in the General’s company; he standing up in the vehicle, his white hair streaming in the wind and his face aglow with his theme, as he enlarged on the beauty of the country which he had seen transformed from a grassy wilderness . . . He was thoroughly identified with Kansas, and every Fourth of July he was accustomed to address his fellow citizens on the glories of this new country. It is needless to say that his death is a greater blow to Osborne County than that of many a younger and, possibly, abler man . . . His memory will long be preserved in northwestern Kansas by those who knew him as a public-spirited citizen and a brave, courteous, true-hearted old gentleman.” — Atchison [KS] Champion, October 1879.
The concept of an Osborne County Hall of Fame (OCHF) came into being in1996, the 125th anniversary of the formal organization of Osborne County, Kansas. The idea was conceived to honor 125 of the past and present major figures in the county up to that time. To determine who these individuals were the county was divided up into six regions. In each region a committee of volunteers chose OCHF honorees from that region and then researched and wrote their life stories.
The guidelines agreed upon in 1995 for when considering inductions in the OCHF were as follows:
1. Inductees must either have been born in Osborne County or have lived in Osborne County at least one year.
2. Inductees can be either living or dead.
3. To warrant consideration a person has to have (a) given outstanding service to their community and to Osborne County, or done so on a regional, statewide, national, or international scale; (b) performed a feat in their field of expertise that has garnered them (and through them, Osborne County) special significance; and (c) achieved recognition or notoriety through long-term association with a particular occupation.
4. Singular inductee selections are preferred, except in rare cases where two persons either helped each other or followed in each other’s footsteps in such a way that their stories were tightly intertwined. These can then be inducted together, with each committee free to exercise their own judgment of such cases.
5.Impartiality is stressed during selection. Be it a politician, teacher, farmer, hairdresser, ditchdigger, whatever—if they fulfilled the criteria within the guidelines they are to be considered. Nor should someone be inducted merely because they are related to one of the people on the board or committee that is deciding who potential inductees are to be.
As the various committees finished stories these were then sent to Von Rothenberger, Hall of Fame Director, who then contacted the three county newspapers, who in turn agreed to run a certain number of stories once a month throughout 1996. By the end of the year the stories some 75 OCHF honorees had been published.
Enough public enthusiasm for the stories was shown that during the following year, 1997, the book “The Osborne County, Kansas Hall of Fame” by the All-Volunteers of the Osborne County Hall of Fame was published by Closson Press. In the book the stories of the previous 75 honorees were repeated and expanded, and 50 additional stories were debuted, bringing the Hall’s members to 125.
For four years the concept lay dormant. Then in 2001 it was revived by the members of the Bull City Community Foundation of Alton, Kansas, who were searching for a tourist attraction for their town. It was decided to hold an annual banquet at which three to five new OCHF members would be honored, with the idea of generating enough public interest to actually create a physical Osborne County Hall of Fame Museum & Archives in downtown Alton.
From 2001 through 2006 banquets were held each year in a different city in the county – in Alton (2001 & 2002), Osborne (2003), Natoma (2004), Downs (2006), and again in Alton (2006). In 2007 no banquet was held; however, the honorees were celebrated at the Osborne County Courthouse Centennial Celebration. In 2008 and 2009 no banquets were held due to a waning enthusiasm for the concept. In 2010 an attempt was made to revive the OCHF and six new honorees were voted on and agreed upon, but shortly before that year’s honorary banquet was to take place the host city of Portis declined to continue to participate. The banquet was cancelled and that chapter of the OCHF was closed.
From the beginning those involved with the Osborne County Hall of Fame held its principles to the following Mission Statement: “To Record, Recognize and Preserve the Stories of Past and Present Osborne County, Kansas Residents Who Have Impacted Social, Economic, and Political Development at the County, State, National, and International Levels.”
After 2001 the OCHF honorees were selected by a committee of knowledgeable people who represented all parts of Osborne County. The process turned out to be much harder than one would think, due to the surprising number of gifted people, when viewed from the county level, that were annually presented for consideration. Director Rothenberger was responsible for the list of those to be considered, and many hours of research every year was conducted to maintain the list. Volunteers such as Deanna Roach, David Readio, Larry Bales, Homer Smuck, and many, many more were instrumental in seeing that the banquets were successful and belief in the overall idea stayed firm for nearly a decade. The stories that follow are due to their hard work and will stand as a testament of pride and satisfaction in the legacy of the Osborne County Hall of Fame.
Not Only the Famous but the Those who Should be Famous best describes the astonishing array of past and present notable people have been brought to the attention of the general public through the OCHF, many of whom otherwise would have been forgotten and forever unappreciated. So sit back and enjoy each future story of these marvelous OCHF honorees as they appear here and think about the people that you encounter every day who are doing amazing things that should be celebrated.
Von Rothenberger, Director, Osborne County Hall of Fame