Lemuel Kurtz Green – 2014 Inductee

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Advertisements

Richard Haynes “Dick” Wykoff – 1996 Inductee

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

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

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

*  *  *  *  *

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

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

*  *  *  *  *

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

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

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

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

Lee Arlo Wykoff – 1997 Inductee

Lee Arlo Wykoff was born March 10, 1898, in Mayetta, Jackson County, Kansas.  He was the eldest child of Charles and Ethel (Haynes) Wykoff.  The family moved from Mayetta to Mitchell County, Kansas, and then to Osborne, Kansas, where Lee became an outstanding athlete in football, baseball, and track.  He graduated from Osborne High School in 1918 and enrolled in Washburn College at Topeka, Kansas, and became the football team’s starting fullback.  In 1920 he earned Little All-American honors at his position and later enrolled at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.  On February 17, 1920, he married Nada Hayes in Topeka, Kansas.  They had two children, Dorothy and Robert.  After graduation from college Lee began a career in professional wrestling.  The first few years were a learning experience.

“The wrestling match at the Crystal Theatre last Wednesday evening between Lee Wykoff of Gravette, Arkansas, and Albion Britt of Luray [Kansas] drew the largest crowd that ever assembled at a like sporting event in this city.  The paid admissions were in the neighborhood of $165.00 and a good share of the crowd was composed of ladies who appeared to enjoy the sport equally with the men . . . Britt was on the offensive every minute after they finally got into action and won the first fall with an armlock and head chancery after forty-six minutes of strenuous work . . . Britt won the second and deciding fall in twenty-five minutes, using an armlock and body scissors.  Britt showed up to mighty good advantage in every stage of the game and easily outclassed Wykoff in quickness and knowledge of the game, and apparently his equal in strength and endurance.  Wykoff is strong, persistent, and courageous, but did not appear to have the finish of his stockier opponent.” — Osborne County Farmer, April 22, 1926.

But over time Lee emerged as one of the nation’s greatest scientific wrestlers whose strength was feared by any opponent unlucky enough to fall in his grasp.  He stood six feet, one inch and weighed 195 pounds in college, bulking up to 225 pounds at the height of his wrestling career.  Lee was noted as a good influence for youngsters in that he did not smoke, drink, or chew.  For a short time he wore a mask and wrestled under the name of “The Big Bad Wolf.”  But it was under his own name that Lee at last reached the pinnacle of his profession between 1940 and 1945, when he was declared champion heavyweight wrestler of the world by the Western Association of Chicago.  During that period Lee was also named world champion twice by the Boston circuit of professional wrestling and in Los Angeles he won the International Heavyweight Championship, a title he held for four years.

“It isn’t often that a little town like Osborne turns out a world champion,” said the Osborne County Farmer at the time, “and we can be pardoned if we boast a little and take on a little reflected glory.” 

Lee settled his family on a forty-acre hog farm on the outskirts of Kansas City, Kansas.  His wife Nada died in 1935 and Lee then married Eleanor Lampert on September 17, 1938.  During World War II he helped the war effort by working in a bomber plant in Kansas City.  At the end of 1947 Lee retired from wrestling and worked his farm, supplementing his income by working in security for an assortment of employers.  Lee was an active member in the Masonic Lodge and for a time he was president of the Retired Wrestlers Club.  He was a deacon in the White Church Southern Baptist Church, where his funeral was held after Lee passed away April 30, 1974, in Kansas City.  He was interred there in the Chapel Hill Cemetery.  Together with his brother, Dick, the Wykoff brothers’ legendary feats in sports will be remembered in Osborne County for many years to come.

Lee Wykoff in this official photo from the 1930s.

 

Oid Lee Wineland – 1996 Inductee

A fourth-generation native of Osborne County who has been a public servant in both his career and as a volunteer for over fifty years to the people of Osborne County has indeed earned himself a place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.  Oid Lee Wineland was born October 28, 1920, to Clyde and Hazel (Tucker) Wineland on the family homestead in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas.

Oid attended the Hillsview rural school and graduated from Alton [Kansas] High School in 1939.  Also in 1939 Oid was awarded the American Farmer Degree, the Future Farmers of America’s highest award.  He then attended Kansas State University, where he briefly played football and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in January 1943.  He entered military service in the army and received a reserve commission as a second lieutenant after graduating Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in May 1943.  That same month he returned to Alton and married his high school sweetheart, Letha Thayer.  Together they raised two sons, Ron and Jim.

Oid served in World War II with the 121st Infantry in the Rhineland, Central Germany, and Northern France campaigns.  After dismissal from active duty in 1946 Oid remained in the Army Reserve until April 1, 1953.  He became a member of the Alton American Legion chapter and has been in charge of the chapter’s firing squad for over fifty years.

On January 21, 1946, Oid became a rural mail carrier for the Alton post office, a job he held until March 29, 1986.  In his forty years as a carrier he was exemplary in his work and earned an Expert Driver Award-Million Mile Safety Award from the National Safety Council.  He also farmed wheat on rented land and worked alongside his father and then on his own on the family farm in Kill Creek Township all his working life.  An active member of the United Brethren Church in Alton, Oid has served on the Alton City Council and as the town’s mayor.  For twenty-one years he was elected to the local school boards, serving as School District Number 392 president for two terms.  He also held the office of Region Seven Vice-President of the Kansas Association of School Boards.

Oid helped local youth through the Pee-Wee and Cookie baseball programs in Alton.  At various times he could be found as the assistant coach, groundskeeper, scorebook keeper, equipment manager, umpire, supplying first aid, or whatever else there was to do.  “I enjoyed that about more than anything I ever did,” relates Oid.

Now in retirement at his home in Alton, Oid and his wife enjoy gardening, yard work, traveling, and visiting with family and the many friends he has in made over the years in the Alton area.  Always a source of pride and respect among his peers, Oid Wineland remains a strong voice in the affairs of Alton and the northwestern part of Osborne County.

OID WINELAND IN WORLD WAR II

(By Jim Wineland)

Oid Lee Wineland was an infantry officer in the United States Army in World War II from 1943-1945.  He was awarded the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters.

From August 1944 until the end of the war, he served in Europe as a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry ”Gray Bonnet” Regiment, of the 8th Infantry Division.  This unit faced some of the toughest infantry fighting of the war.  During Oid’s time with the 121st Infantry, 718 of its men were killed-in-action or died of wounds suffered in combat in France and Germany.

Oid first saw action in August 1944 during the siege of the French port of Brest.  After that city fell, the 8th Division participated in the capture of German units on the Crozon Peninsula south of Brest.  Operations in France ended in September.  The division moved to Luxembourg and held a defensive position.  On November 20th, Oid moved with the 121st Infantry as it entered Germany near Huertgen, where a furious battle had been underway since September.

At the Battle of the Huertgen Forest, the 2nd Battalion played an important role in the capture of the village of Huertgen, Germany.  For its action on November 21-28th, the 121st Infantry received the Presidential Unit Citation, the nation’s highest award for a military unit.  On December 1, 1944, Oid was one of a few remaining officers who led the battered 2nd Battalion while it was surrounded by the enemy in the woods east of the village.  It was a harrowing day, but the battalion held on.  On December 6th Oid was seriously wounded in the leg by German artillery near Huertgen and evacuated.  After several weeks in hospitals in Belgium, France, and England, he returned to the 121st Infantry on January 26, 1945.

In 1945 he participated in the fighting near the Roer River Dams; the drive from the Roer River to the Rhine River; the house-to-house combat in the Ruhr Pocket east and north of Cologne, Germany; and, finally, the rapid drive to the Elbe River and into North Central Germany at the war’s end in May 1945.  Oid led what became a highly decorated platoon of black soldiers in a segregated unit within the 121st Infantry from March until the end of the fighting in Europe.  On May 8, 1945, Oid became Company Commander of F Company, 121st Infantry.  Oid returned to the United States in the summer of 1945 with the regiment.  The 8th Infantry Division was at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, preparing to join the war in the Pacific when Japan surrendered in September 1945.  Oid was discharged from active duty in January 1946 and returned to Alton, Kansas.

Oid Wineland during World War II.

Charles Edward Williams – 1997 Inductee

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

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

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

“The Cedars.”

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

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

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

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

Zachary Taylor Walrond – 1996 Inductee

“Zachary Taylor Walrond was born in Hart County, Kentucky, April 3rd, 1847.  His birthplace is about six miles from Glen Lily, the birthplace and home, when not in public life, of [former Vice-President] General Simon Bolivar Buckner of Confederate fame and about twenty miles south of the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln.  Conrad Walrond, the father of Z. T. Walrond, was a prosperous farmer of a genial happy disposition.  It was always a joy to the young people to visit the home of ‘Uncle Conrad.’  It meant a season of sunshine and good fellowship.  The Walrond family are thought to be of English descent.  Emily Mitchell, the mother of Z. T. Walrond, was of a Scotch-Irish family, her mother, Rachel Crawford, was of the old Virginia family, bearing the name, which has produced so many men distinguished in Church and State, Art and Literature.

Z. T. Walrond was known in early boyhood as ‘Taylor’ Walrond, in compliment to his namesake, the twelfth president of the United States.  As he grew older he seemed to dislike the name and he was called by his abbreviated first name, ‘Zac,’ with the unanimous consent of those most directly interested, who soon learned to use the new name by which he was ever afterwards familiarly known among his relatives and friends.  His early education was in the common schools of his native county.  Later during the Civil War he entered the Male and Female High School at Columbia, Kentucky; at that time this town was one of the centers of learning for the Green River Country in Kentucky.  After a time at this school he returned to his father’s farm and engaged at this occupation until  the fall of 1867 when he again entered the Academy at Columbia.  While in school he united with the Presbyterian church and being of exceptional promise as a student and with rare social qualities he was solicited to become a candidate for the Presbyterian ministry, to which he consented and was taken under care of the Presbytery with this calling in view.  His zeal in study overtaxed his powers and he suffered a physical breakdown and left the school in the spring of 1868.  After this he engaged for some time in active outdoor life to regain his health, teaching school in the winter until the spring of 1870, when he decided to seek his fortune in the West, coming to Kansas in the spring of 1870.  He has left on record April 3, 1870, as the exact date of his settlement in Kansas, this being his twenty-third birthday.  At that time the Arapaho and Buffalo roamed at will over the hills, valleys and plains of Western Kansas.  In company with two brothers of the name of Crosby he selected a preemption on the North Solomon River in Osborne County.

Z. T. Walrond was one of the first, if not the first to obtain full legal title to land in this county [Osborne] from the United States.  His patent is dated January 20, 1872, and bears the name of [Ulysses] S. Grant, then president.  Albert Wells and J. J. Wiltrout, now a banker at Logan, Kansas, were among his comrades and neighbors at that time.  They were all then young men, fond of adventure, and with high hopes for the future.  They lived in a stockade in what became extreme northwestern Bethany Township as a defense against Indian raids, enduring the privation of frontier life for the purpose of a home and independence in a material way.  He gave the name of Bethany to the township and post office [later known as Portis], being appointed the second postmaster and first justice of the peace in that vicinity.  After paying out on his preemption he homesteaded adjoining land and remained on his homestead until the fall of 1873.

Z. T. Walrond was elected register of deeds, November 4, 1873, and took the office in January 1874, making his home in the city of Osborne after that time.  Later in the year 1874 he had built the residence in Osborne which still stands at the corner of First and East Streets.  In December 1874 he was united in marriage to Mary Duncan Smith of Horse Cave, Hart County, Kentucky, immediately bringing his bride to Osborne to occupy the new home.  During all those early years Z. T. Walrond took an active part in laying the foundations of organized society.  He was in the forefront of every movement for the public kind, generous and hospitable.  He had a warm place in the hearts of the people.  He himself has said he never had better friends anywhere than the early settlers in Osborne County.  He loved them and was loved by them in return.  He held the office of register of deeds two terms, retiring in January, 1878.  During these early years he studied law and was admitted to the bar.  After retiring from the office of register of deeds, he formed a partnership with the late [Robert] G. Hays (who died a few years ago at Oklahoma City) for the practice of law; later this partnership was dissolved.  On January, 1879, he entered into partnership with J. K. Mitchell, and this partnership continued four about four years under the firm name of Walrond & Mitchell; later Cyrus Heren came into the firm and the business was conducted under the firm name of Walrond, Mitchell & Heren.  This partnership was dissolved January 1, 1890.

Z. T. Walrond had a retentive memory and kept a record of current events, from which between 1880 and 1882 he compiled a history of Osborne County and Northwest Kansas known as the Annals of Osborne County, a history of the decade of the 1870s that is a mine of information for all later historians.  He was elected county attorney of Osborne County in fall of 1880 and held this position for two terms, from January 1881 until January 1885.  He was elected county representative to the Kansas Legislature November 2, 1886, re-elected November 6, 1888, and was a member of the Legislature when appointed United States District Attorney for the Indian Territory by President Harrison in the spring of 1889.  During his second term in the legislature he was a candidate for Speaker of the House, but was defeated because he would not pledge himself in advance in the matter of appointments under control of the Speaker, deeming it of more importance to be free to use his best judgment in such matters and preferring defeat to being fettered.  His action in this probably aided in calling attention to the character of the man and in securing his selection as United States Attorney on the recommendation of the United States Senator, Preston B. Plumb, who was particularly anxious for a man with unquestioned integrity and firmness to be chosen as United States Attorney for the Indian country.  Mr. Walrond held the position of U. S. Attorney for four years, until  the spring of 1893, when he was relieved by the incoming Cleveland administration, being succeeded by a Democrat.

After his retirement from public office he continued to reside at Muskogee, Oklahoma, engaging in the practice of law, being called into the public position again as Referee in Bankruptcy and afterwards chosen police judge of Muskogee.  He discharged his duties in every public trust with honor to himself and to the satisfaction of his fellow citizens.  He was frequently attorney for the Indians and enjoyed their unbounded confidence.

He leaves to mourn his loss his wife and one daughter, Lucile, three children–Virgil, Warren, and Annie–having died in infancy and whose remains rest in the Osborne Cemetery.  He has a sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Hutcherson, residing at Portis, Kansas, a brother Madison in Nebraska, another sister, Mrs. Martha Hatcher and one unmarried sister, Alice, still living on the old Walrond homestead in Kentucky.  An older brother, Thomas, was a Federal soldier in the Civil War and died before the war closed from disease contracted in the service  The circle of his friends is only limited by the extent of his acquaintances which is not confined to state lines.  He had been in failing health for several months and spent some time at Sulphur Springs, Arkansas, during the last summer in the hope of regaining his health but gradually became weaker.  He suddenly became worse on Monday, November 2nd, and was taken to the hospital in Muskogee, where he had a specially trained nurse and the best of medical skill, but nothing could prolong his life and he peacefully and without a sigh breathed his last on one o’clock on Friday morning, November 6, 1914.  While he lay in the hospital his friends made his room a bower of roses.  Flowers beautiful beyond description covered his grave.

As before stated he connected himself with the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, there being no church of that faith when he came to Osborne, he united with the Congregational Church and remained with that body until his removal to Muskogee, where he reunited with the Presbyterian Church, was chosen an Elder and at one time represented his Presbytery in the General Assembly as a Commissioner.  He became a member of the Masonic fraternity in Kentucky and remained a member all his life.  His pastor, Reverend J. K. Thompson, conducted the funeral service and his body was escorted to the grave in the Greenhill Cemetery by the entire local membership of the Masonic Lodge.  The Bar Association of Muskogee was present in a body.  Hundreds were unable to enter the outer portals of the church.  At the conclusion of the church service the body was placed in care of the Knights Templar and their brother Masons.  The active pallbearers were uniformed Knights Templar, while the honorary pallbearers were deacons of the church of which Judge Walrond had been a member for the last twenty-five years of his life.  He was the oldest lawyer in the state of Oklahoma in rank of admission to the bar in that state.  Few men have gained and held so high a place in the esteem of all classes of people through a long period of years.  He was always kind, gentle and considerate of the feelings of others, rarely wounded anyone or made an enemy; at the same time he was always firm for the right as he saw the right.

One of nature’s noblemen such as we do not look upon every day but whose lives leave the world richer for all time by reason of their sojourn here.  Requiescat in peace.”

— John Knox Mitchell, cousin, in the Osborne (KS) County Farmer, November 19, 1914.

Bliss Albro VanGundy – 1997 Inductee

Bliss Albro VanGundy, born October 14, 1885, on a farm near Milton, Atchison County, Missouri, was the son of John and Serilda (Jones) VanGundy.  In 1888, the family moved to Tarkio, the largest town in the county, where Bliss attended and graduated from grade school.  In 1902 the family moved to a farm in Winfield Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  Bliss entered Osborne High School that autumn and graduated with the class of 1906 as valedictorian.  For a few years following graduation, Bliss worked on the family farm, intending to make farming his life occupation.  In 1910, however, he managed several business stations for the Farmers Union, including positions as assistant manager at the Farmers Union wholesale produce house in Kansas City and as manager of the Osborne general store.

In May of 1918 the postmaster suggested to Bliss that he enter the Osborne post office as a replacement for a clerk who was called to military service.  Bliss did so, and this “replacement situation” became his life’s work for the next thirty-six years.  During these years, Bliss served as Clerk, Civil Service Secretary, Assistant Postmaster, and for the last sixteen months as Acting Postmaster, finally retiring on April 30, 1954.  Bliss also participated actively in the United Methodist Church, serving for forty-two years on the official board and taking a keen interest in helping care for the financial records of the Sunday School and the church.  On October 18, 1918, Bliss and Pearl J. Nelson of Bloomington were married in Osborne County.  To this union four children were born:  Dorothy Josephine; Eugene Alleyn; Arthur Leroy; and Virginia Frances.  The extended family included eleven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.  Following a second stroke, Pearl passed away on February 22, 1962.

Following retirement, Bliss did considerable work on the VanGundy family tree.  Becoming interested in early day residents of Osborne County, Bliss wrote three hundred articles about such residents during the 1960s and 1970s which were published in the Osborne County Farmer under the title “Osborne County Pioneers.”  In conjunction with this, Bliss compiled a “ready reference file,” as he called it, on Osborne County citizens and special events that had occurred in Osborne County history between the years 1910 and 1980, together with some earlier references.  At the time of his death the card file had grown to over three thousand index cards.  He gave the file to the Osborne Public Library, where it is consulted on a daily basis by historians, genealogists and others curious about the events that shaped local affairs for nearly a century.

Bliss had three brothers:  Phil, who died in 1967; Harry, who died in 1979; and Frank, who died on December 9, 1982.  In July of 1971, Bliss moved from Osborne, his home for sixty-nine years, to El Cajon, California, where he made his home with his daughter, Dorothy, and her husband, Wesley, for nearly nine years.  He passed away in El Cajon on June 25, 1980, just four months short of his ninety-fifth birthday, and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.