(On this date, August 18, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the second of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014)
William Henry Coop was born in Portis, Osborne County, Kansas on May 22, 1935. The son of Henry and Dorothy (Hoel) Coop, William moved around quite a lot in his life, living in Oregon, Washington, California, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas in addition to Kansas.
He spent the majority of his career in several prestigious aerospace industry leadership roles before co-founding the Entronics Corp of Dallas, Texas in 1984 with his wife, Nora (Adams) Coop. The couple were also certified commercial pilots who raised two children, William and Kathryn.
William’s aerospace achievements peaked in the 1970s when he led the team of engineers responsible for the design and deployment of the soil sampling equipment for NASA’s two Viking Explorer spacecraft that successfully landed on Mars in 1975. William’s name is engraved on plaques attached to both Viking Landers, which still remain today on the surface of the Red Planet.
In later years the Coops moved to Camas, Clark County, Washington, where William passed away on June 23, 2012. He was laid to rest in the Fern Prairie Cemetery at Camas, Washington.
SOURCES: Portis Independent newspaper, May 23, 1935 & May 30, 1935; Marge Albright, Downs, Kansas; Straub’s Funeral Home, Camas, Washington (www.straubsfuneralhome.com); http://www.findagrave.com.
(On this date, August 17, 2014, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world the first of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2014)
Lemuel Kurtz Green was born November 1, 1860, at Stovers Town, Blair County, Pennsylvania. The son of Phineas and Nancy (Kurtz) Green, he moved with his parents in 1877 to a farm near Bull City (now Alton), Kansas.
“A fervent Methodist with a solid work ethic, Lemuel attended the local school, and his first job aside from that of the home farm was that of workman in a saw mill and corn mill. In compensation he received his board and eleven dollars a month, but his pay was largely in cornmeal, sorghum molasses and cottonwood lumber. About the time that Lemuel engaged in this work his father needed a shovel to dig a well for the home farm, and as cash for the purchase was lacking, Lemuel approached Hiram Bull, who had been a distinguished union officer in the Civil War and who was then engaged in business in Bull City, the town he co-founded. Bull listened to the talk of Lemuel and readily agreed to extend him the requested credit in the purchase of the shovel.” – From a letter by Adaline Green to Orville Guttery, May 22, 1934.
Lemuel was then employed four years for William Bush at the Alton Roller Mill, located a mile south of Bull City on the South Fork Solomon River.
In 1882 Lemuel moved to Graham County, Kansas, where he claimed a homestead and a timber claim and lived in a sod house. The next year he married Adaline Dirstine in Osborne County. They would raise two children, Ralph and Lawrence, to adulthood.
Lemuel proved up on his two claims and then traded them for a flour mill in Lenora, Kansas. Three years later he turned his interest in this mill over to his father and his brother, Irvin, and in 1890 returned to Bull City, now called Alton, and purchased the Alton mill from his former employer, William Bush. Lemuel operated this flour mill for the next 12 years, serving on the Alton city council as well as mayor.
“We are told that L. K. Green sold the old mill property, including the feed grinder, to Hollis Snyder and one of the Emrick’s, of Mt. Ayr. Alton Empire, January 23, 1902, Page 5.
“When L. K. Green, of Alton, after looking the state over with a view to erecting a large flouring mill, decided that Osborne, Kansas was the most desirable place, his wisdom was applauded by the businessmen of this city. The reasons for his choice were obvious. In the center of a fine wheat producing section, with no flouring mill of any size close at hand, and with a railway company lending its cooperation, there is no great wonder at Mr. Green’s selection. After surmounting some difficulties in the way of securing a proper mill site, in which the citizens of Osborne gave generous financial aid, the Solomon Valley Milling Company was organized February 15, 1902, with the following officers: President, L. K. Green; secretary and treasurer, C. W. Landis; directors, F. W. Gaunt and S. J. Hibbs, of Alton, Allen Clark, L. K. Green and C. W. Landis . . .
“Upon the completion of the organization of the company, steps were immediately taken toward the erection of one of the finest flouring mills in this section. A short description of this mill, which is fast nearing a finished state, will prove of interest to the readers of this issue of the Farmer. The total ground dimensions of this building are 64 x 72 feet. The main part of the building is 32×56 feet, with three stories and a basement. The warehouse will have a capacity often minded, and withal a good business man, carloads of manufactured products, and he seems to have been fitted by nature the mill will have a wheat storage capacity of 30,000 bushels. The engine and boiler room will be in a detached stone building, thus lessening the danger from fire. The motive power will be furnished by a steel boiler, 5 x 16 feet in size, of a high pressure type and carrying 160 pounds working pressure. The engine is a Corliss compound condensing, with 130 horse power. The mill will have a capacity of 200 barrels per day, and will be equipped with five wheat cleaners, nine stands of rolls, eight purifiers, three sieve bolting machines, and all the other necessary appliances . . .
“The company is putting in a full rye grinding outfit, and will make the manufacturing of rye flour a specialty. It expects also to do a large custom business, although of course its main dependence will be export trade. The product of this mill will be high patent flour of the very finest quality, strictly straight grade and a fancy baker’s grade. Work is being rapidly pushed on the building, and it is expected that it will be completed and in operation sometime between July 1 and 15. With an eye to business, the Missouri Pacific railway has already put in a switch 600 feet long for the exclusive use of this mill . . . Osborne County Farmer, May 15, 1902, Page 12.
Lemuel started experimenting with electricity by wiring his home and lighting it with electric current from the mill. He then installed electric lights, an early electric washing machine and even an unsuccessful electric-powered dishwasher. Lemuel followed this by stringing wires for lighting homes within a mile of his mill at Osborne. Convinced of the potential for electric power, he sold his flour milling operations in Osborne in 1908 and purchased the Concordia Electric Light Company for the princely sum of $21,500. This company owned the H. M. Spalding hydroelectric plant on the Republican River. Lemuel soon installed transmission lines to serve several nearby towns. To help finance the system, he convinced local voters to approve bonds to build the transmission lines. His construction crew often included his two sons, Ralph and Lawrence.
Prior to Green’s purchase the company generated power only dawn to midnight and was closed on Sundays. Green bought power from another flour mill and began selling power to neighboring towns. Within a matter of years, L.K. Green & Sons Electric Light and Power was serving 22 communities in northern Kansas.
In 1916 Lemuel sold the Concordia plant for $550,000. With this cash he then bought the Reeder Light, Ice & Fuel Company in Pleasant Hill, Missouri and with his sons formed the Green Power & Light Company. Lemuel then built Baldwin Lake, which was used for hydroelectric power as well as provide water for the community.
In 1922, looking to expand with a generating plant at Clinton, Missouri, Lemuel took the company public under the name West Missouri Power Company. The company would expand through southwest Missouri.
After four years he sold this company to the Fitkin Group again, which merged with the Missouri Public Service Company. Later this company became UtiliCorp, which later became Aquila, and now is part of Great Plains Energy, currently one of the largest utility companies in the world.
In his later years Lemuel retired to Escondido, California where he bought a 2,000-acre orange grove.
Lemuel Green passed away on July 5, 1930, in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, and was laid to rest in Forest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City. He now joins his son Ralph Jerome Green in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.
(On this date, October 16, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the fifth and last member of the OCHF Class of 2013)
Herman Darrell “Joe” Hale was born April 12, 1925, in Woodston, Rooks County, Kansas, the third of four children born to Carl Raymond Hale and Mayme E. (Dunn) Hale. Joe was baptized in the United Methodist Church, at Downs, Kansas, where he served as captain of the football and basketball teams and playing baritone in the school band. The football team distinguished itself his senior year with a perfect record – unbeaten, untied, and unscored-upon.
After high school graduation in 1943 Joe enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He rose to the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade, Service and Supply Ship, in the Pacific theater until his discharge in 1946. Joe then attended the University of Kansas at Lawrence on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in business. Joe began work with the John Deere Company and later moved to Salina, Kansas, where he later worked for the Douglass Candy Company. In 1951, he met and married Joyce Vanier. Together they raised six children.
That same year, Joe joined Joyce’s father’s Western Star Mill Company in Salina, where he became vice president. The Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) in Decatur, Illinois, purchased Western Star in 1970. Two years later, Joe was named president of ADM Milling Company. He became company chairman in 1989 and retired in 1996. Joe was credited with building the company into a world-wide leader in the flour and grain milling industry.
Related to his field, Joe served as president of both Millers’ National Federation and the American Corn Millers Federation, now both part of the North American Millers Association (NAMA). He was an honorary lifetime member of NAMA.
Joe also was chairman of the board of Sunflower Bank; president of Star A, a ranching and farming operation; and vice president of the American Royal Association. He served as a director of the following companies – Archer Daniels Midland, Commerce Bancshares, and Lyons Manufacturing Company. Other directorships Joe held included the Wheat Industry Council, the National Pasta Association, the American Baking Association, the Biscuit and Cracker Manufacturers Association, the American Institute of Baking, and St. John’s Military School.
Joe was a founding member of the Rolling Hills Congregational Church in Salina. He was a member of the Saddle and Sirloin Club, Mission Hills Country Club, Garden of the Gods Club, Vanguard Club, Man of the Month Club, and the Kansas City Club. He was a former member of the Wolfcreek Golf Club, Oxbow Hunting Club, Equity Investment Club, Country Cousins, Privy Council, and the Black Sheep baking industry organization.
Joe supported many institutions throughout his life, and his support was honored through several lasting legacies both large and small: the fences around the Downs City Park and the Downs Cemetery in Downs, Kansas; the Hale Arena at the American Royal in Kansas City, Missouri; the Hale Achievement Center and Hale Music Media Center at the University of Kansas; and the Hale Library at Kansas State University.
“Joe graduated from the University of Kansas, but several of his children went to K-State. He wanted to do something for K-State. His support had to be directly for students, so he contributed to a directly oriented student project that became Hale Library as we know it today. He and his wife, Joyce, came forward in 1992 as anonymous donors for the major portion of the $5 million in private funding needed to build the library. They are the reason that we finally have a facility that can accommodate the students at K-State.” – Brice Hobrock, Dean of KSU Libraries, 1999.
Gary Hellebust, president and CEO of the KSU Foundation, also said in 1999 that Hale was a true supporter of academics and was an inquisitive, intelligent person. “He was a bigger-than-life character. He was warm, but somewhat reserved – very inquisitive. He wanted to learn just so he would know and increase his awareness.” He was very pro-academic and wanted to support the library because he felt it would be supporting all academics at K-State and not just one part.”
H. D. “Joe” Hale passed away November 20, 1999 at St. Joseph Health Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 77 years old. His impact and generosity will influence many future generations to come.
(On this date, October 7, 2013, the Osborne County Hall of Fame is pleased to present to the world for the first time anywhere the third of the five members of the new OCHF Class of 2013)
Thomas Marshall Walker was born on a farm in Owen County, Kentucky, August 15, 1846. His family became identified with Kentucky when it was a new western state. His grandfather, William B. Walker, was born in England and came to this country with an older brother. In Kentucky William located at Lexington, and became superintendent of the cloth manufacturing plant in which Henry Clay was financially interested. William had learned the trade of weaver at Manchester, England.
Thomas was the fifth in a family of seven children born to Delville and Lucinda (Sparks) Walker, both of whom were natives of Kentucky. Delville Walker was a prosperous farmer. On the slavery issue he took a firm stand on the side of abolition and became one of the early members of the Republican Party.
Thomas spent his boyhood on a Kentucky farm until he was fourteen. One story maintains that and he had only the advantages of a country school, while another states that he was educated by a private teacher. Upon leaving home he joined an older brother in Shelby County, Kentucky, and while there had further advantages of school attendance for six months. Like many successful Americans Thomas’ beginning in commercial life was of the humblest. Working in a store at wages of $10 a month, sweeping the floor, building fires, and performing numberless other duties, he gained by that apprenticeship a knowledge of business which came to flower in later years in Kansas. After three years Thomas became associated with his brother in a general store and tobacco warehouse, where he remained five years. With this experience as the foundation, and such capital and credit as his work enabled him to acquire, he then set up in business in Kentucky as a general merchant on his own account. Thomas finally removed to Louisville, Kentucky, and became member of the firm of Reed & Walker, wholesale produce and provisions. The business was in a fair way to prosperity but after three years Thomas found his health so undermined that he concluded to follow professional advice and seek new opportunities in the West.
When twenty-five years of age Thomas went to Colorado. He left there in 1876 and went to St. Louis, Missouri, and three years later arrived within the borders of Kansas in 1879. He traveled by railroad as far as Hays City and then drove across the country to what was known as “Bull City,” a locality named after Hiram C. Bull, a famous Kansan who subsequently came to tragic end when gored by his pet elk. The Central Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad was just being extended to Bull City, and that point was considered a favorable location for business and had already attracted about 100 inhabitants when Thomas joined his fortunes with the town. Bull City is now the town of Alton in Osborne County. Thomas set up in business as a general merchant and attempted to supply all the varied demands of a frontier community. He proved equal to the situation, and the store he conducted at Alton proved the foundation of his success. Thomas later served as Alton mayor and was the principal resident of Alton in the years after the death of Hiram Bull. In Osborne County during the lean years that followed his early settlement there he showed the quality of his public spirit and his practical charity by extending credit to many who were absolutely dependent upon their crops for a livelihood, and when weather conditions prevented the harvest such people would have touched the extremities of misery but for his intervention. Thomas also began investing in land and became the owner of very large cattle ranches in Osborne, Rooks, and Graham Counties in Kansas, and was also one of the first men to plant alfalfa in the western part of the state.
From merchandising and farming Thomas’ participation in banking followed almost naturally. In 1884 he embarked in the banking business by founding the Bull City Bank. In 1889 Thomas bought the First National Bank of Osborne, Kansas, and served as its president for fifteen years, when he sold the institution.
In 1885 Thomas married Carrie Nixon, a daughter of John and Matilda (McConnell) Nixon, Smith County farmers. Carrie was born, reared and educated in Chicago, Illinois, and was a lady of culture and refinement who also possessed good business qualifications. Two children graced their union: Thomas Delville, who died at the age of eighteen; and Henrie O., later the wife of William A. Carlisle and engaged with him in the lumber business in Washington, Kansas.
After moving to Atchison, Kansas in 1901 Thomas acquired the interests of Mr. Fox in the McPike & Fox Drug Company. That same year he was voted treasurer and a member of the board of directors of the McPike Drug Company of Kansas City, Missouri. In 1917 he bought the controlling interest in the McPike Drug Company, and became its president. In 1903 Thomas bought an interest in and was made president of the Savings Bank of Atchison, the oldest state bank in the state. From 1907 until his death he served as director of the Commerce Trust Company of Kansas City, Missouri, having been one of its charter members and organizers. He also served as president of the Globe Surety Company of Kansas City and as a director of the Thomas Trust Company, also of Kansas City. Thomas was also president of the First National Bank of Hoxie, Kansas, of the Citizens State Bank of Selden, and numerous other financial interests.
From the time he cast his first vote, Thomas was a stanch adherent of the Republican Party and worked in its interests, but considered himself to be never tied by party allegiance in local elections, as he believed in putting the man with the best qualifications into office, regardless of party, and thus securing the best local government. Thomas was active in both the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks fraternal organizations, and held chairs in both lodges.
In 1930 Thomas came across a famous relic from his days in Bull City/Alton, Kansas, and took it upon himself to save a valuable piece of Osborne County history. The following account of the incident was related by Alton resident Orville Grant Guttery in his book Tales of a Town Named Bull City (Ad Astra Publishing, 2011, ppgs. 40-41).
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“A few years after the Elk killed the three men at Bull City, and while T. M. Walker had a drug store [in Atchison, Kansas], a traveling man from a drug house came into his store and said ‘T. M., there is a man in [Muscotah] who has a drug store and he has bought more than he can pay for. I wish you would go over and buy him out.’ The traveling man and T. M. knew each other well; he said he would go and look over the store.
“He bought it, [accepted] the invoice and paid for the goods, then said to the man in charge (the owner), ‘You go ahead and run this store and when you get any money you pay me what I have in it and it is yours,’ for which the man was thankful.
“As they were looking Mr. Walker saw a pair of elk horns and spoke about them, and the man said ‘those horns have a history – they are the ones taken from the elk that killed those men at Bull City.’ T. M. said, ‘I want to buy them.’ The man said, ‘You can have them.’ T. M. said, ‘I will pay for them.’ He gave $5.00 for them.
“I thought for many years I would like to have the horns from the Elk, but had no idea they were in existence. Some years ago a statement was made that T. M. Walker had the horns. I wrote him and he said he had the horns and would send them to us, and when we were ready to dedicate the [Bull] monument at the [Sumner] cemetery I asked Charles E. Williams to write Walker and ask about the horns. He crated them and expressed them to C. E. Williams, prepaid. The invoice read: ‘Shipped from Atchison, Kansas Way Bill and No. 6134 3/6 Dated 3/8/30 Shipper W. W. Blair. Weight 190 Lbs. Freight $3.88 paid.’”
These very same elk horns can be seen today in the Osborne County Courthouse in Osborne, Kansas.
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After a long and prosperous life Thomas Marshall Walker passed away at the age of 94 on July 6, 1931 in Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri. He was laid to rest in the Mount Moriah Cemetery at Kansas City.
Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas. Lewis Publishing Company. Chicago: 1900. 750 Pages. Transcribed 2008 by Penny R. Harrell.
Pages 584-585 from Volume III, Part 1 of Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc.. . . with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago: 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed by Kita Redden, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 1-28-1999.
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 inAmerica. 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.
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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.)
The Great American Pastime, baseball, took on a new meaning in the lives of Osborne County citizens as they followed the storied career of one of their own, Richard Haynes Wykoff. Richard, or “Dick” as he was universally known, was born August 10, 1903, near Beloit, Kansas. His parents, Charles and Ethel (Haynes) Wykoff, moved to Osborne two years later, where Dick attended the local schools.
Dick possessed a rich bass and while in high school he was persuaded to enter a regional vocal contest at Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kansas. Much to his surprise, he took second place. He was a member of the 1923 Osborne High School football team which went unbeaten in eight games and also lettered in basketball, baseball, and track. He once drop-kicked a football fifty-five yards against Phillipsburg.
In 1925 Wykoff tried out with the Class D Salina Millers, a professional baseball club in the Southwestern League. He signed a contract for $175 a month as a starting pitcher. His pitching record of 15-10 got him signed up for the 1926 season also. In 96 games Wykoff compiled a 25-6 record, while leading the league in home runs (28) with a batting average of .380. He also played eleven games as an outfielder, twelve games at second base, and thirty games at third. By then major league scouts had discovered this hidden talent, and in July 1926 the Cincinnati Reds bought his contract from Salina. It was the highest price ever paid for a Southwestern League player.
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“In Richard Haynes Wykoff . . . the Cincinnati Reds may have picked up another Babe Ruth or a Pete Schneider. Wykoff is primarily a right-handed pitcher, but most important of all, a jack-of-all-trades on the diamond. He specializes in clubbing the pellet at a terrific clip. Wykoff appears to be another Ruth or Schneider in the making for the simple reason that he can hit and play other positions in an emergency. He demonstrated his versatility in convincing style last season. he proved the second best pitcher in the Southwestern, and one of its most dangerous sluggers. The dynamite he carried in his bat made him so valuable that he was used in the outfield, at second base and at third base at various times during the campaign.
“As a pitcher all that Wykoff lacks is experience. He has all the necessary wherewithals of a successful moundsman, speed, control, a nice mixture of curves and a nifty change of pace . . . Wykoff, a lad of excellent habits – he does not smoke, drink, or chew – is five feet, ten inches tall, and weighs 175 pounds . . . .” – James J. Murphy in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 3, 1927.
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For the 1927 season Wykoff was farmed out to the Class A Springfield (Massachusetts) Hampdens where he won 19 games and was recalled by the Reds before the end of the season. In 1928 he was again assigned to Springfield with a one-year contract for $2700. That year he broke his knee for the second time (the first was in 1926), an injury that prevented him from having a long career in the major leagues. After his injury healed Dick finished the season with Class AA Columbus, Ohio, where he finished with a .385 batting average and lost an exhibition game to the New York Yankees by a score of 3-0 on a line-drive home run by Babe Ruth. He later said he threw a fastball just to see the great Babe hit a home run.
Having signed a contract worth $500 a month (a phenomenal amount in those days), Dick felt he could afford to take care of a family. On July 14, 1928, he married Grace Hudson in Osborne. The couple had three children, Julia, Mildred, and Gary. Wykoff spent the 1929 season with Columbus, and the 1930 season with Pueblo, Colorado. From 1930-32 he was with the Omaha (Nebraska) Royals, who went bankrupt midway through the season and the baseball commissioner ordered Wykoff released. After a short time back in Osborne he earned a spot on the roster of the House of David Bearded Aces, a traveling semi-pro team managed by the legendary pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander. He toured with the House of David from 1933 to 1949, once pitching against Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs. In a game which showed the major-league caliber of both pitchers, Paige bested Wykoff by the score of 1-0.
In 1949 Dick retired from baseball and bought a farm located six and a half miles west of Alton, Kansas. He became a barber in 1951, opening shops in Alton and Osborne. In 1962 he moved his family back to Osborne, where he retired from his second career in 1970. He died June 12, 1983, in Hutchinson, Kansas, and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.
Darrel LeVerle Wolters, a lifetime teacher and coach, was born in the Portis, Kansas hospital on July 24, 1942. Dr. Burtch, another Portis County Hall of Famer, did the delivery. Portis, Kansas was always known for basketball because of the legendary 1920-1930s Portis Dynamos, who ruled Kansas semi-pro teams with numerous championships over cities with populations thousands of times larger. In fact LeVerle Wolters, my dad, played in the 1930s on this well known team. So it was probably in the blood that I was going to like basketball. At early age, my uncle gave me the nickname of “Spook” because I was so shy. I am still known in this area as Spook. The disadvantage was when I entered high school I was only 51” tall. I realized that being small in stature, I would have to practice more than my competition. So I played and practiced ball every day, several hours a day. LeVerle owned the Wolters Lumber Yard, and every Wednesday and Saturday mornings it was packed with boisterous and back seat coaches. A new school was built in 1951, which was envy of many schools because of atmosphere and gymnasium. By the way, it wasn’t hard to know what the town considered important in the school system, the gymnasium laid smack in middle of all the classrooms that were built around the gym. The little quiet town of Portis (less than 200 people) had three churches and most put on their best clothes and attended church on Sunday morning, honoring God.
It was in the lumber yard, as I remember, that I realized if you were going to amount to anything or get recognition you better be pretty good at basketball. As a youngster I can remember many Saturday mornings as everyone would huddle around the old wood and coal stove, the excitement would soon lead to laughter as someone’s coat would start to smoke as they had backed up too close to the stove in the passion of stories, of the night before ball games. Someone would beat out the fire with their gloves and the stories of heroics would go on. Portis had no football in the school system, as a severe injury back in the 1930s to a young athlete caused the school board to abolish the sport. So in the fall, baseball was played and there were not many nearby opponents, so we would travel in cars long distances to find competition. Coach Stark would take his station wagon, and rest of the transportation was by students driving to games in their own old car; so we would jump in with our buddies. We had no buses. As servicemen returned from World War II, every town had town team baseball games. I would follow my dad to all them and developed a love for baseball as well as basketball. Then in the 1950s as everyone got older it changed to softball.
As my high school years commenced, I became a part of some outstanding basketball teams, going to State in both of my junior and senior years. Portis was in Class BB and the State Basketball Tournament was played at Dodge City Auditorium. Portis was a part of the North-South Solomon League. It was made up of these schools – Woodston Coyotes, Lebanon Broncos, Gaylord Beavers, Agra Purple Chargers, Kirwin Wildcats, Kensington Goldbugs, and Portis’ biggest rivalry, the Alton Wildcats. Kensington is the only school that still has an attendance center.
It was after success in high school I knew I wanted to coach basketball and give young kids the same experiences I had. Upon my high school graduation and turning down a couple of scholarships, I chose Fort Hays State for college because it was closer to home. Remember, my nickname is Spook.
In 1963 I was married to the lovely Diana (Suzi) Holloway, from Alton Kansas. We have four children: Melody, Dusty, Jason and Mandy. In 1965 my long time dream of coaching and teaching became a reality, as I was contracted to teach and coach at Utica High School. I coached all Junior and Senior High sports, including baseball, basketball, cross country and track. I was fortunate enough to have coached Dave Burrell for six years, the all time Kansas High School Season Scoring Average leader at 33.3 points per game. After six years teaching and coaching the Utica Dragons, I moved on to coach four years at Wheatland (a consolidated high school for the towns of Grainfield, Gove and Park, Kansas). There I was head boys basketball coach as well as track. I taught Biology and Physical Education. After limited success, I came back from western Kansas and was hired to run Ken’s Department Store in Osborne, Kansas. There was no teaching vacancies available on my return to my home county. After three years as a haberdasher, I then managed House of Diamonds, a jewelry store, for two years. I enjoyed the business world, but always wanted to get back into teaching. There is nothing like working with young people. Watching their lives change into young men and women is awesome, and I am always just hoping you might make a little difference. And to teach in my home district is extra special. I always looked at teaching as a tremendous responsibility. The parents are entrusting you with the greatest commodity they have, their children.
At Osborne I taught 7th and 8th Grade Science and Physical Education. I assisted with basketball and football. I taught 23 years in Osborne U.S.D. School District #392 before retiring from teaching in 2004 and from coaching basketball in 2007. I coached High School Golf for 19 years, with our best finish a 3rd place in the State Golf Tournament in 2000. In the late 1980s I coached high school girls basketball for the first time in my career. In four years I had good teams but state play was elusive. In 1997 some parents came to me and asked if I would consider coaching the girls again, as the teams had been struggling.
After saying yes, the next decade was truly a dream come true. Darrel was blessed to have some talented athletes who were as crazy about basketball as he was. Not only were these kids basketball players, but they were intelligent and filled with amazing tenacity! I would encourage them to practice all summer and they would get up 6:30 A.M. to lift weights and shoot hoops for hours. They were disciplined and loved to compete. The Osborne girls practiced harder and longer than any of their opponents. Often there were three hours a night of basketball practice and they never complained. It was such an honor to coach them and even more important to see how successful they are today, as family leaders and successful in their professional careers.
It was at this time that Osborne Lady Bulldogs not only took the community by storm, but provided me with the dream of letting my players experience State Play that I experienced nearly 40 years ago at Portis High School. I will never forget in 2000, the moment that we won the State Championship undefeated, looking up at the score board in Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, and thanking God, that a little boy from a little village had attained what he dreamed of all his life. Along with my team, my family, my assistant coach Jamie Wolters, and all the fans that funneled down Highway 24 for the 130 miles trip east from Osborne; only in America could this happen.
The stats look something like this. An undefeated State Championship and 26-0 in 2000; a winning streak of 51 straight games; the runner-up in the 2001 State Tournament with a record of 25-1; another State Championship in 2002; the runner-up again in 2003; winning six Mid-Continent League titles; a overall 98-6 record in the four-year span; playing in four straight State Championship Title Games; six overall trips to the State Basketball Tournament; and compiling a record of 260 wins and 72 losses in 14 years of coaching the Lady Bulldogs, with never a losing season. I was named Coach of the Year twice in the Salina Journal and Wichita Eagle newspapers. I coached two Kansas Coaches All-Star games in Topeka, as well as one at Colby. I received Coach of the Year honors from the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association twice. I was basketball clinician at the Kansas Coaches Association Clinic in Topeka, as well as at Fort Hays State University. In year 2000 The Osborne Lady Bulldogs and their coach were rewarded with a trip to the chambers of the Kansas Senate and the Kansas House of Representatives for special recognition as undefeated State Class 2A Basketball Champions.
Longtime and successful girls’ basketball coach of the Smith Center Redmen, Nick Linn, said of Coach Wolters, “I don’t ever remember a game where Coach Wolters had his players anything less than 100% ready. They were always well-prepared. Coach emphasized great defense. You have to score to win. Problem was, they wouldn’t let us score. Offense wins games . . . Defense wins championships”.
Many of my athletes went on to play college ball and excelled at every level. Many school records both team and individual were recorded. I am most proud of the kind of teams we put on the floor. I received many cards, calls, and letters about how the teams played with so much enthusiasm. Many noticed how they always dressed up for game day, and carried themselves with pride and loyalty. They were gracious in victory and humble in defeat. Most people don’t realize what truly makes a great teams. Everyone can’t be a star on a basketball team and there are many unselfish role players that are just as much or more important to the team. We had a ton of them. They were the ones who inspired, gave out the assists, rebounded, played tough defense, worked hard so that our teams could be successful. I loved those gals, because they had the heart of David. We were so fortunate to have support of businesses and community and on game nights brought us all together, to pull for each other. I feel very humbled to have had this ride with these beautiful kids along with God’s Grace, they still call me COACH.
Since retirement coach I like to hunt, fish, and camp, as well as following my eleven grandchildren in academics and athletics. I love being active in the Grace Brethren Church, giving back just a little of what the Lord blessed me with in my teaching and coaching profession.
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Darrel Wolters on His Osborne High Bulldog Teams
The first year, 1998, we were defeated in finals of Sub-State in the last couple minutes to Valley Heights High School by the score of 76-71. That was the last motivation that this group of girls needed. As they say, the next few years is history. The 1999 Lady Bulldogs went 19-5 and earned their first trip for Coach Wolters as their leader. In the first round at the State Tournament in Bramlage Coliseum it was a heart breaking loss of 60-59 in overtime to Jackson Heights High School. Members of that State team were April and Amber Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Stephanie Corwin, Alisha Spears, Kristi Hartzler, Skylar Boland, Mellisa Legg, Angela Gashaw, Jonna Webb, Amanda Smith and Malea Henke. Little did we know at that time, but motel rooms, restaurants, and Bulldog Mania would soon set into Osborne County every March.
The turn of the century was a fairy tale come true. In 2000 the Lady Bulldogs became the first basketball team in Osborne High history, boys or girls, to go undefeated, 26-0. Osborne won the preseason tourney, league tournament, overall Mid-Continent League Champs, and the Sub-State tourney. In the first round of the State Tournament the Bulldogs annihilated Valley Heights 64-35 in Manhattan, Kansas. In the semifinals they outplayed Garden Plain, a very quality team, 51-41. The finals saw hundreds of Osborne Bulldog fans fill the their side of Bramlage Coliseum for the match with Moundridge. Moundridge started five seniors and featured Laurie Koehn, who went on to star for four years with the Kansas State University Wildcats. Maroon and Gold went Wild! The final score was 61-54 for Coach Wolters’ first State Championship, as well as for Osborne High School. It was the most talented and toughest team I ever had. I give all the credit to them, and so thankful the good Lord allowed this time, this place, with this group to share once in a life time event. Not many times in life can you be perfect! The members were: Amber and April Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Mary Wilson, Kristie Hartzler, Ashley Noel, Jessica Spears, Melissa Legg, Brooke Ubelaker, Jonna Webb, Amanda Smith and Alisha Spears. The team bought Championship Undefeated Rings, and were rewarded with several school and community celebrations.
2001 started out like 2000, as this new team won 25 straight games without a defeat, ending with a 51-game winning streak. Again they won the preseason, league tourney and league title, along with the sub-state tournament. In the first round of State, the Bulldogs defeated Valley Heights 65-35. In the semi-finals the Lady Dogs set an all time Class 2A defensive record by holding Inman to just 22 points for the entire game. It was a masterful exhibition of pressure defense that completely stymied our opponents. This record still stands for all State Playoff games. The finals of the State Championship was a heart breaker, as Garden Plains handed the Bulldogs their first defeat in 52 games by score of 54-45. After playing three games in three days we seemed to be just a step slow. I feel we could and should have beat them on most nights. We ended the season 25-1, another super year! Team members were: April Roadhouse, Brittany Dietz, Ashley Noel, Kristen Henke, Mary Wilson„ Denise Hartzler, Anne Zeiger, Jill Smith, Brooke Ubelaker, Jessica Spears, Alisha Spears, and Hanna Wilson. Expectations were growing at OHS.
2002 was another dominating year for the Osborne girls, winning all four tournaments and their second State Championship in three years. Hundreds of cars funneled down Highway 24 to the Little Apple. The opening round at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan saw Osborne defeat Onaga 61-41. In the second round Osborne whipped Sublette 68-54. Sublette had Shayla Lenning, who went on and became an All-American for Emporia State University. The finals was between Osborne and the Ness City Eagles, who also had one loss. It was an exciting game, but the Bulldogs pulled away late in the game with a 55-38 trouncing. Members of that team were: April Roadhouse, Brooke Ubelaker, Ashley Noel, Mary Wilson, Karie Ubelaker, Denise Hartzler, Rachel Noel, Meridith Musil, Jessica Spears, Krisa Ubelaker, Lacey Sechtem and Jill Smith. The Cinderella streak continued. With another State Championship, everybody in the State of Kansas knew about the Osborne Lady Bulldogs.
The 2003 Bulldogs’ record ended at 23-3. After winning the league tourney, league championship, and Sub-State Tournament, Osborne returned to State for their fifth straight year. In the sub-state tournament Osborne bombed Lincoln 75-45 in the first round; the semi-finals found Osborne beating a good Sacred Heart team 53-50. The finals of sub-state was Osborne 53 and Valley Heights 46. Again the Bulldogs marched to the State Tourney finals for the fourth straight year. In the first round we doubled the score 76-36 against Uniontown. In the semi-finals Osborne ousted St. John 69-63. In the finals, a powerful Moundridge team won by score of 73-55. This give these Senior girls two State Championships and two runner-ups, with an unbelievable record of 98-6. Seniors were Denise Hartzler, Ashley Noel, Brooke Ubelaker, Jill Smith, Jessica Spears. Others are Tracey Conway, Karie Ubelaker, Rachael Noel, Krisa Ubelaker, Michele Princ, Meredith Musil, and Kelli LaRosh.
After retirement coach Wolters wanted to try and get another group to state and it took four years, with a one point loss in the finals of sub-state in 2006. In 2007 they put it together and returned to Manhattan and the Class 2A State Tournament. The first round, the Lady Maroon and Gold defeated St. John 61-57 in a hard fought game. The semi-finals was another back and forth game as Osborne lost 52-46 to Oakley. The Bulldogs won third place at State with a 57-47 win over Cimarron. This team consisted of Jannica Schultze, Demi French, Traci Mans, Paige Noel, Amberleigh Plowman, Hanna Thibault, Stephanie Plowman, Katie Wolters, Jeni Wolters, Tana Spears, Emily Girard and Blake Nichols. These girls worked real hard to keep tradition going.
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Kansas Enrolled Bill #1841 Session 2000
Effective: April 6, 2000
SENATE RESOLUTION NO.1841
A Resolution congratulating and commending Coach Darrel Wolters.
WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters has been selected by the Wichita Eagle as the Girls Coach of the Year and by the Salina Journal as the All Area Girls Coach of the Year; and
WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters coached the Osborne High School girls basketball team to the 2000 class 2A Kansas High School Activities Association Championship. The team completed a perfect 26-0 season by defeating top-ranked and four-time defending state champion Moundridge 61-54 in the class 2A championship game; and
WHEREAS, In 29 years of coaching, Coach Wolters has taken teams to the state tournament in baseball, cross country, track, golf and basketball, but the 2000 girls basketball championship was his first state championship. Wolters got out of coaching in 1990 because he thought it was time for him to retire from coaching but three seasons ago was persuaded by parents to return to coaching. In six years at Osborne he has a 101-34 record. During the season he may not get to bed before 4 a.m. because of looking at game films and entering data in the computer. During the summer he follows his players in league play and sends them packets of information in the mail; and
WHEREAS, Darrel Wolters and his wife, Suzi, have four children and seven grandchildren. Their home is at Portis, approximately 10 miles north of Osborne, which is Wolters’ home town: Now, therefore,
Be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Kansas: That we congratulate and commend Darrel Wolters upon his selection as Coach of the Year and for his devotion to young persons’ dreams; and
Be it further resolved: That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to send five enrolled copies of this resolution to Darrel Wolters at Osborne High School, 219 N. Second, Osborne, Kansas 67473-2003.
Senate Resolution No. 1841 was sponsored by Senator Janis K. Lee.