Imri Ray Zumwalt – 2007 Inductee

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Alice Gannette (Dimond) Young – 1996 Inductee

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

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

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

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

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

*  *  *  *  *

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

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

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

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

Elsie (Reasoner) Ralph – 1996 Inductee

The woman who became America’s first female war-time news correspondent was born April 25, 1878, in Osborne, Kansas.  The daughter of Venetia Emeret Shearer and Calvin Reasoner, Elsie Reasoner received her education in Osborne, Leavenworth, Kansas, and in Washington, D.C.  At the age of seventeen she began work in Salt Lake City, Utah, as a newspaper reporter, followed by stints at newspapers in Chicago, Illinois, and Omaha, Nebraska, where she also helped to put together the Omaha Exposition of 1898.

That same year the United States declared war on Spain.  It was the biggest news story of the year and Elsie wanted to be a part of it, so she took a temporary leave of absence from her job in Omaha and left for New York, where she got a job as a correspondent for McClure’s Magazine.

It may interest my friends out there to know that an Osborne girl is bound for the war.  I leave Saturday on the steamer Atlai for Kingston, Jamaica.  Here I will probably meet my father.  We go from here by the dispatch boat Dauntless to Santiago, where I will meet the Red Cross Society.  Am to write an illustrated article on their work in the field for McClure’s.  Have two months leave at Omaha, and think I can do the trip in that length of time.  Will be glad to bring the Osborne people any little souvenir they may desire, say a Spaniard-in-alcohol.

“Many thanks for the many kind notices you’ve been giving me.  Three cheers for Kansas, McKinley and Old Glory.  Hastily, but very sincerely, Elsie Reasoner.” –Osborne County Farmer, June 30, 1898.

Once in Jamaica, Elsie met Clara Barton and talked her way aboard the American Red Cross steamer State of Texas.  “Tonight I am going over to Santiago de Cuba and will board the Texas, Miss Barton’s boat,” she wrote in a letter to her sister in July, “Will probably don a cap and apron and go right into the field with the nurses . . . I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m the only woman correspondent that will see this war.  They call me ‘plucky’ and ‘courageous,’ but nine-tenths of the American girls would be here if they had the chance.”  Elsie then sailed to Santiago, Cuba, where she bowled over the hard-bitten press correspondents and won a place on the Associated Press packet boat.

To a bright and winsome miss of 20 years, fresh from the Sunflower State, belongs the distinction and glory of having been the only American girl to follow the boys in blue to Cuba and to make her way to the front against many obstacles and by her own exertions . . . .” — Boston Globe, September 15, 1898.

Miss Reasoner was on the Associated Press boat at the time of the battle of Santiago, but went over to do active work in the field with Miss [Clara] Barton as there was at that time a scarcity of nurses.  In appearance Miss Reasoner is short and a brunette with dark hair and eyes.” — Kansas City Journal, August 8, 1898.

Elsie worked with the Red Cross in Cuba and wrote several articles on the ravages of war.  She was interviewed by the major papers of the day and later that September she was given the plum assignment of covering the coronation of Queen Wilhelmina of Holland–again the only female correspondent present.  Elsie continued working for the Associated Press over the next few years but gave up her promising newspaper career when she married noted illustrator Lester Ralph in New York City.

The wedding of Lester Ralph, son of the late Julian Ralph, author and correspondent, and Miss Elsie Reasoner, a war correspondent, occurred at All Saints’ Church at five o’clock yesterday . . . Mr. Melville E. Stone of the Associated Press, who gave Miss Reasoner some of her greatest news assignments, gave the bride away, and Mr. William Ralph, brother of the groom, was best man.” — New York American, May 16, 1904.

Elsie took up modeling and sculpting as a hobby, and in 1908 went to Europe, where she studied in London, Paris, and Munich, Germany.  A bust of hers at the Royal Academy in London garnered international attention in 1910 and orders began to pour in from around the world, and Elsie soon became widely known in the art world.  She was also one of the first artists to work with plastic.

Mrs. Lester Ralph, the talented American sculptor now working in her own studio in London, has sold a sculptured sun dial to Otto H. Khun of the banking firm of Khun, Leob & Co. for $2,650.  He saw it in clay and was so favorably impressed with the beauty and originality of the design that he made the offer before it left the studio.

“Mrs. Ralph has received several orders for busts, including one from J. J. Shannon, the portrait painter, and she is making rapid progress as a sculptor.  Half a dozen of her completed works will be exhibited at the next Academy and the International Society show.” — Philadelphia North American, January 19, 1911.

In 1913 Elsie returned from Europe and was visiting her sister in Lloyd, Florida, when she died from phlebitis, the sudden giving away of a blood clot on the brain, on April 29, 1913 at the age of 36.  She was laid to rest in the Ralph family lot in the Fair View Cemetery at Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey.  To this day her grave along with her husband Lester’s remains unmarked.

Elsie was named to Who’s Who, International Edition, shortly before her death.  Two of Elsie’s works, a bust of Dillon Ripley and a relief entitled “The Dance of Life,” are still on exhibition by the Royal Academy in London, England.  It is only right that this talented Osborne County native be recognized at last for her accomplishments with a permanent place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.

The Kuhn Sun Dial, created by Elsie Ralph.
Bas Relief of Mrs. Margaret Leonard. Created by Elsie Ralph.

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The Utahnian

VOL. 1,   NO. 23                       SALT LAKE CITY, NOVEMBER 21, 1896        $2.00 A YEAR, FIVE CENTS A COPY


“1 saw a vision of deep eyes.

In morning sleep when dreams are true,”

These beautiful lines of John Addington Symonds are recalled by the face that looks out from our columns this morning and gives greeting to Nebraska readers from the capital of Utah.  The illustrations the Excelsior is printing every week of Salt Lake City beauties are causing much talk, so much comment among the men in fact that we almost hesitate to print more lest there be a stampede for the city by the salt, salt sea.

“And now a beam of pity pours,

And now a spark of spirit flies,

Uncounted, from the unlocked stores

Of her rich lips and precious eyes.”

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 McClure’s Magazine

September 1898

What a Young Girl Saw at Siboney.

by Elsie Reasoner

(Reporting from Santiago de Cuba, just after the great Battle of Santiago)

As the “State of Texas” steamed into port, we sighted on our starboard bow four gray, sinister battleships, while to port, a white, hopeful messenger of courage, rocked the great relief boat “Solace.” Massive cruisers and blunt-nosed torpedo boats were about us, and here and there, like swallows, skimmed tiny yachts and launches.

I talked with Miss Barton of her experi­ence. She told me how, the night after our first great battle, when hungry men needed food, weak men needed stimulant, and wounded men needed care, word came from General Shafter to seize all means of transportation and to hurry supplies to the front.

It was at this juncture that the Red Cross people arrived. When they went ashore, they found no suitable habitation for the nurses.  Yet, undaunted, the nurses packed their satchels, and went forward to their work. Under the efficient direction of Miss Barton, supplies from the Red Cross boat were sent to the front long before any other.  After superintending the loading of two carts of provisions, she took her seat beside the driver, and rode to the firing line, ten miles away.  Her story of her experi­ence is most thrilling.

“We arrived,” she said, “at night, in a drizzling rain. All along the line the wounded were lying in trenches.  A few were nursing a sickly fire of soaked brushwood.  No food nor comforts of any kind were visible.  We immediately kindled an opposition fire and unloaded one cart of provisions.  Out of the extracts and cordials we had brought with us, I succeeded in making a great kettle of excellent gruel.  Little did I think, twenty-five years ago, when doing the same thing or our boys in blue and gray, that at this time and place I should be following the same old recipe.  Our next trouble was in cloth­ing the wounded.  Theirterrible condition cannot be described.          When they were var­ied in from the battlefield, their clothes were soaked with blood and rainand caked with mud.  Heroic measures were necessary.  With a few quick slashes they were cut loose, stripped off, and thrown away.  A few surgeons were there to attend to the care of their wounds; but with no shelter, no clothes, no provisions of any kind, the poor fellows were reduced to the primitive condi­tion of the savage, and could only be laid in rows, weak, wounded, unconscious, and stark naked, upon the bare, wet ground.  I hope that never again may I see such a pitiful sight.  From some rolls of muslin we had luckily brought with us we tore strips the length of a man and covered them.  All night we tended the fitful brush fire, and made kettle after kettle of the strengthening broth.  Next day we journeyed back, and the following night I slept on a dry-goods box in the old abandoned post-office.”

In a near-by house were the fever patients, tossing restlessly, impatience of the enemy in their veins, eager to be once more in the thick of the battle smoke.  Moving noise­lessly among them, bathing here a fevered brow, administering there a helpful medi­cine, were the sisters of the Red Cross.   Deftly, quietly, and skillfully they performed their work, equal to any emergency.  One sat in a corner, with the head of a negro in her lap, carefully bathing his black face, and fanning away the troublesome insects.  He had fought gallantly; had proved that in his dusky veins flowed the true soldier’s blood.  For two hours the nurse sat, her cramped position bespeaking complete fatigue.  In an outer room, over a hot fire, others were making kettles of strengthening gruel, and still others were assisting the surgeons in dressing wounds.

At midday the heat was intolerable.  The blinding sunlight beat down in great waves, and the white sand gathered it up and threw it back with dazzling brilliance that blinded the eyes and made strong brains reel.  Not a breath was stirring.  Up the narrow street the silence was broken by strange moans and cries.  It was the hospital of the wounded Spanish prisoners.  Small, uninviting tents were scattered here and there, and in them lay weak, despairing men.  Some babbled in delirium, others cried like children with the pain of their wounds, while all of them shot out sullen looks of revenge.  Among them, with steady hands and unmoved faces, were the Red Cross doctors.  A number of gaunt, half-clad reconcentrados looked on idly.

The quiet courage of the American sol­diers, who accepted all that came without complaint, was in sharp contrast to the constant moaning of the Spaniards, many of whom were not badly hurt.

A lieutenant of one of the regular regi­ments was brought in horribly wounded.  A Mauser ball had pierced his shoulder, and half of his hip was shot away.    The sur­geons looked at him and shook their heads.  Then he smiled, and called a newspaper cor­respondent who was standing in the door­way of the tent.

“Will you send a cable message for me?” he asked.

Taking a pencil, he wrote an address and two words: “Am well,” and asked that it be sent to his wife at a frontier fort in Montana.

As we stood in an open tent, a poor fel­low was brought in on a litter.  He had a nasty wound which threatened life-long en­feeblement.  As he entered the tent he spied a friend.  “Hello, Fred,” he shouted, “where did they get you?”  “In the shoul­der,” replied his comrade.  “And you?”  “They did me in both legs.  Good shot for the Dons, wasn’t it?” was the laughing re­tort.  In all the place there was not a groan, not a word of complaint, save now and then an ejaculation of impatience lest the fighting should be over before they should have an­other chance.

[The “Miss Barton” mentioned is Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.]

*  *  *  *  *

Elsie Reasoner at approximately age 12. For many years this was the only known photograph of Elsie.
Photo of Elsie, taken in Europe.
The Willie Plantation, located near Lloyd, Florida, as it appeared in 1907. Elsie was visiting Mrs. Clara Willie, her sister, here when Elsie suddenly died of phlebitis in 1913.
The Ralph family lot in the Fair View Cemetery in Middletown, New Jersey. Elsie and her husband lie here in unmarked graves.

Hall of Fame postscript:  The compiling of the story of Elsie Reasoner Ralph was probably the most interesting and challenging of all the Osborne County Hall of Fame members.  All sources in the U.S. knew her story from the Spanish-American War until her departure to live in Great Britain, after which they had no clue.  All sources in the United Kingdom knew her story from the time she arrived there until her decision to visit family in the U.S. in 1913, after which they had no clue.  The trail of her early life in the U.S. and the manner of her passing took 13  years to traverse, ending with the discovery of her unmarked grave in New Jersey and the introduction to Elsie’s Florida grandniece that yielded, among many other things, the first known photographs of an adult Elsie.

SOURCESBoston (MA) Globe–September 15, 1898; Kansas City (MO) Journal–August 8, 1898; Kansas City (MO) Journal–August 8, 1898; Kansas City (MO) Star–April 29, 1913; Leavenworth (KS) Times–April 30, 1913; Monticello (FL) News–May 9, 1913; New York (NY) American–May 16, 1904; New York (NY) Times–April 30, 1913; Osborne (KS) County Farmer–June 30, 1898, July 21, 1898, September 15, 1898, September 22, 1898, December 29, 1898, May 19, 1904, May 1, 1913; Philadelphia (PA) North American–January 19, 1911; Topeka (KS) Capital–June 5, 1910; Florida State Library, Tallahassee, Florida; Leavenworth County Historical Society, Leavenworth, Kansas; Metropolitan Museum of the Arts, New York, New York; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; Royal Academy of Arts, London, England; Women’s Art Library, London, England.

Calvin Reasoner – 1996 Inductee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by Calvin Reasoner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darrel and Ruth (DeBey) Miller – 2005 Inductees

This is the 100th post on the Osborne County Hall of Fame website.  For such an auspicious occasion we can think of few better as the subject than Darrel and Ruth Miller.

Darrel and Ruth (DeBey) Miller were born 1930 and 1933, respectively, near the Kansas communities of Lebanon and Dispatch. Darrel graduated from Oriole rural grade school, Lebanon High School, Kansas State University, and attended graduate school at Michigan State University. During Army service he served on the staff of Stars and Stripes daily newspaper. Later he held other newspaper jobs in Downs, Osage City, Perkins (Oklahoma), Topeka, and Hutchinson.

Darrel and Ruth bought the Downs News and Times in 1958 and subsequently purchased the Lebanon Times, Cawker City Ledger, and Smith County Pioneer newspapers. Darrel edited and published the Pioneer for more than 32 years. He was a past president of the Kansas Press Association and was a recipient of the association’s Master Editor Award. Darrel was also a past president of the Downs Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow. He served as a member of the Solomon Basin Advisory Committee for 10 years, on the Downs City Council, was a past president of the Downs Historical Society, and a member of the Downs Historical Railroad Foundation. He was also the author of four historical books on the Downs region.

Ruth first attended Green Ridge rural school northwest of Downs before attending school in Downs. She attended college briefly at Oklahoma State University. Ruth worked with her husband Darrel at the Downs News and Times from 1958 until 1972, when she became managing editor of the Downs, Cawker City and Lebanon newspapers for more than 32 years until retiring in 2004.  She also operated flowers shops in Downs and Osborne.

Ruth was active in the Downs community and has served as an officer of the Chamber of Commerce and the Parent-Teacher Association. In 2003 Ruth was chosen to receive the Kansas Press Association’s Boyd Community Service Award.

Darrel and Ruth Miller raised three children and were the proud grandparents of seven grandchildren. For several decades they proved to be community leaders in every sense of the term, and Downs and Osborne County prospered all the more for it. After a long life of service Ruth died on February 2, 2013. Darrel followed her in passing on July 24, 2017 at Hays, Kansas. Both rest a well-earned sleep of peace in the Downs Cemetery  at Downs, Kansas.

Charles Richard Mann – 1997 Inductee

Charles Richard “Dick” Mann was born May 22, 1905, at Phillipsburg, Kansas, to Charles Elliott and Ethel (Lovell) Mann. He grew up in Downs, Kansas, and in 1924 graduated from the high school at Osborne, Kansas. He attended Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas, for two years, where he majored in journalism. On June 30, 1930, he married Leta Lavaughn Watson in Norton, Kansas. The Manns had three children, Marilyn, Janet, and David.

Dick became a member of one of the first survey crews organized in 1929, when the state took over the highway system. Later he did editorial work on newspapers at Norton and Osborne, and at Logan and Osage City, Kansas. In 1941 he joined the secretarial staff of Kansas Governor Payne Ratner. While on the governor’s staff he also served as Kansas correspondent for the national Republican Party magazine and was elected as state publicity director for the Kansas Young Republicans Club.

In 1943 Mann joined the Kansas Farmer magazine staff as associate editor, a position he held for twenty years. For fifteen of those years he directed the Kansas Master Farmer program sponsored by the magazine and served as executive secretary of the Master Farmer organization. Before Kansas Farmer turned the program over to the Kansas State Extension Service and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, he reorganized the concept to recognize the achievements of farm couples rather than individuals, to emphasize the partnership relationship of farm couples.

Dick became public relations director of the Division of Institutional Management, Kansas State Departrnent of Welfare, in 1963. There the State Board of Welfare asked him to design and edit a magazine called Taproots, which interpreted to the public the programs and services of all state welfare institutions, the state’s community mental health centers and the eleven state and 105 county welfare programs and services. He retired June 1, 1971.

Following retirement, Mann sold cars for several months for Tom Mix American Motors in Topeka, Kansas, before two heart attacks sidelined him for a year. He then took a ten-year part time job as editor of The Kansas Churchman, published by the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas.

During his career, Dick had a wide range of activities. He was a charter member of the Norton Lions Club, served as Senatorial District Chairman and Congressional District Treasurer of the Young Republicans Club, as president of his district’s Editorial Association and as president of the Osborne High School Alumni Association. Over more than a fifty-year period he sang in Methodist Church choirs in Norton, Osborne, Osage City, and Topeka, and served on official church boards in Osborne and Topeka. He was a Sunday School youth department superintendent at the old Trinity Methodist Church in Topeka, and sponsored the Youth Fellowship group there. He also taught at the Lowman Memorial Methodist Church, Topeka, in the 1950s.

At some time in his career, Dick was a member of the Topeka Press Club, the Topeka Camera Club, the Agricultural Editor’s Association, the Soil Conservation Society of America, the Kansas Association of Public Employees, the American Association of Retired Persons, The Kansas Social Welfare Conference, the Kansas Mental Health Association and the Kansas and Topeka Associations for Retarded Citizens. He was a charter member of the Kansas Citizens Safety Council. Dick served as treasurer of the Topeka Public Relations Society, as secretary of the National Association of State Psychiatric Information Specialists and as a Cub Pack chairman. He was a patron member of the Topeka Civic Symphony Society for several years.

Dick served as chairman of the National Monument Committee of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. This committee carried out a three-year drive to get the National Park Service to establish a national monument to the Great Plains Indians at Waconda Springs, in Mitchell County, Kansas, and to recognize other Kansas historical sites. The monument at Waconda Springs never materialized, but the National Park Service did tour Kansas historical sites and later acquired and is now restoring Forts Larned and Scott. Mann also served on the Chamber’s tourist council and chaired a special committee to promote wheat products.

For many years Mann served on the board of the Alpha Tau Omega Building Corporation in Manhattan, Kansas, which remodeled one chapter house and later built the new home now occupied by the Kansas State University chapter. Mann served as president of the corporation the year the group voted to build the new house. Because of that and other contributions, he was voted as alumnus of the year. He also served as a consultant for an advanced degree program in mental health mass communications in the journalism department at Kansas State University and for the public relations committee of the Kansas Mental Health Association. Dick was also on the staff of a Writer’s Conference sponsored at Kansas State University by the Department of English.

During his twenty years on Kansas Farmer magazine, Mann persistently promoted soil and water conservation and the development of rural water lines as the basic ingredients for a sound agriculture. He was a panelist on the first soil conservation program ever broadcast by WIBW-TV in Topeka and one of his Kansas Farmer articles on stubble mulch farming was given worldwide distribution by the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

When he was editor of Taproots, Dick worked equally hard to remove the stigma which the public then attached to mental illness, mental retardation and poverty. His articles and pictures on these subjects were designed to secure new understanding and support for those afflicted. Several of his articles were given national distribution by the Psychiatric Reporter magazine. One article on social welfare, concerning the first 100 years of the Kansas Mental Health program, was included in a textbook written for social workers, Kansas, It’s Power and It’s Glory, published in Topeka by the late John Peach.

Following a stroke, Dick Mann died July 19, 1995, at Stormont-Vail Hospital in Topeka. He was interred in the Sunset Cemetery in Manhattan.

Charles Elliott Mann – 1996 Inductee

The third of seven children, Charles Elliott Mann was born February 9, 1870, on a homestead near Blue Springs in Gage County, Nebraska. The son of the Reverend Henry and Maria (Minard) Mann, Charles was six years old when the family moved from Nebraska to Eastland, Texas. There his father took charge of the Methodist Church while Charles attended the local schools, graduating from Belle Plaine College. At the age of eighteen he went to work in the print shop of the Eastland Review. The next year the Mann family moved to Norton, Kansas, where Charles went to work for the local newspapers. He then worked for papers in Oberlin and Phillipsburg, Kansas, and at Gering, Nebraska. At Gering he met and married Ethel Lovell on April 24, 1901. They had three children, Janice, Stuart, and Charles.

In 1905 Mann came to Downs. In partnership with William Ransom he bought the Downs News. Eleven years later they acquired the rival Downs Times and merged the two weeklies. Man and Ransom’s partnership lasted a total of fifteen years, until Mann left in 1920 to become editor of the Osborne County Farmer.

A staunch Republican, Mann was elected Osborne County’s representative to the Kansas Legislature in 1918. Re-elected to a second term, Mann also served as Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives in 1923. Five years later he returned to the legislature as a state senator, serving two terms.

As editor of the Farmer Mann exerted influence across the state. He was a brilliant and talented writer whose column Down Near the Short Grass Roots was widely quoted. Mann was deeply interested in the history and traditions of Osborne County and did much to preserve the stories of the early days of the county. He was a member of the National Editorial Association and of the Rotary Club, Masonic Lodge, and Order of the Eastern Star in Osborne. In 1933 he was granted life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society.

Mann’s first wife died in 1925. On September 28, 1927, Charles married again, this time to Laura (Booz) Smith, a widow with two children, Lola and Cyril. Mann continued as editor of the Farmer until 1942, when he stepped down after 23 years. In 1948 Mann moved to Topeka and served on the public relations staffs of Governors Frank Carlson and Edward Arn until his retirement.

“I remember him as a quiet, understated man, full of dignity, who was never happier than sitting back in a chair spinning stories for a small, appreciative audience . . . [He had] a keen sense of humor. He used to joke that he always voted for the best candidate – it wasn’t his fault if those were Republicans.” – Marilyn Mann, granddaughter.

Charles Elliott Mann passed away January 19, 1958, in Topeka and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery. His death was marked and lamented far and wide across Kansas and Kansas House Resolution 15 was passed in his memory.

                                                                                                                      ORIGINAL MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS
House Resolution No. 15–Resolution Relating to the death of Charles E. Mann
“WHEREAS, Charles E. Mann, former member of the House of Representatives, and former Senator, departed this life January 19, 1958, in Topeka, Kansas, at the age of 87 years; and

“WHEREAS, Charles E. Mann was born February 9, 1870, in Blue Springs, Nebraska. He edited the Downs News from 1905 until 1920, and later was editor of the Osborne County Farmer for twenty-three years. He was a brilliant and talented writer and his column Down Near the Short Grass Roots was widely quoted in papers all over the state. Mr. Mann was vitally interested in the history and traditions of Osborne County. He moved to Topeka in 1948 to serve on the public relations staff of Gov. Frank Carlson and Gov. Ed Arn until he retired. Mr. Mann is survived by his widow, one daughter and one son, six grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one sister. He was a member of the Lowman Memorial Church of Topeka the Masonic Lodge, Order of the Eastern Star and the Rotary Club in Osborne. He served in the House of Representatives from the 84th district during the 1919 and 1921 regular sessions, and the 1919 and 1920 special sessions of the Legislature; and as Senator from the 34th district during the 1929 and 1931 regular sessions and the 1930 special session of the Legislature; and was speaker of the House in 1923; and

“WHEREAS, In the death of the said Charles E. Mann, his community and the state have suffered a great loss: Now, therefore
“Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Kansas: That we extend to the surviving relatives of said Charles E. Mann, our sincere sympathy; and

“Be it further resolved: That the chief clerk of the House of Representatives be directed to send an enrolled copy of this resolution to each of the following-named relatives: His widow, Mrs. Laura Mann, 1278 College Avenue, Topeka, Kansas; his daughter, Mrs. Janice Newhouse, c/o Mrs. Laura Mann, 1278 College Avenue, Topeka, Kansas; his son, Dick Mann, 1116 Washburn Avenue, Topeka, Kansas; and his sister, Mrs. Anna Ritter, Phillipsburg, Kansas.” — JOURNAL OF THE HOUSE, January 27, 1958.

Frank Miles Lundy – 1996 Inductee

It has been said of Elder Frank Lundy that life to him was not merely a matter of days but a sacred trust. In those many years he gave of himself to God and all those around him. Today we remember him as a pioneer minister of the cloth of the first magnitude.

Frank Miles Lundy was born to John and Rachel Lundy, October 24, 1858, in Lafayette, Illinois. He was one of a large family of children. Married to Julia Welch in Marshalltown, Iowa, on April 6, 1882, he and his wife moved to Round Mound Township, Osborne County, Kansas, in 1883. They homesteaded there, reared four children – Rawl, Paul, Dwight, and Goldie – and lived on the farm until 1919 when they moved into Natoma. While on the farm Frank served his township as trustee for a number of years. After coming to town he served on the city council and also as clerk. His wife, Julia, passed away in Natoma in 1929. He was ordained to preach in 1889 but had preached for some time before then. He, with others, established the North Central Kansas Camp Meeting. The first camp was held in 1895, and with the exception of one time he attended each year after that.

Elder Lundy, as he was affectionately called, held a position in the hearts of all who knew him. He lived his life for God and was always associated with church work in the sixty years he lived here. He was the enthusiastic force in building a church near his farm home (Victor Holiness Chapel) and later the Church of God in Natoma, serving as pastor in both churches. He also helped to establish a camp meeting grounds in Natoma where meetings were held each summer for many years. He served many congregations before retiring in 1938 after 40 years pastorate of the Church of God in the Natoma community. He married Belle Finch on October 21, 1937.

Mr. Lundy was chairman of the Foreign Missionary Board from its very beginning in 1917 and held that office for many years. He was also the presiding officer of the publishing board of the newspaper Church Herald for a number of years. This paper is still being published.

During his long life, he gave of himself to neighbors and friends, and perhaps conducted more funeral services in this section of the country than any other person. In the early days when travel was by horse and buggy, he made many trips through mud, rain or snowdrifts to help someone. At times the roads were so badly drifted that a crew of men went ahead to shovel out a path for him. Many times Elder Lundy left his own harvest field to go minister to the sick or bury the dead. He went without a murmur.

He was a preacher of righteousness and holiness. He was loyal to this cause throughout his lifetime, and was held in high esteem even by those who did not accept his doctrines. Though frail as he was, in the fall just prior to his death, he filled the pulpit for seven weeks during the absence of the regular minister. Mr. Lundy died as he had lived – honored, trusted and loved. At age 86 his life ended December 4, 1944, in Natoma. He was buried in the Natoma Cemetery. Later his widow gave land in south Natoma on which the Lundy Memorial Tabernacle was built in honor of Frank Lundy.

John Emmett Kissell – 1996 Inductee

Emmett was born September 14, 1889, on a farm in the Twelve Mile community in southern Smith County. One of three children born to James and Mary (Sutton) Kissell, Emmett’s education began in the Stone School in Lincoln Township. He later attended grade and high school in Portis, graduating as the county valedictorian. He then studied at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas, where he lettered in five sports.

On June 14, 1911, Emmett married Ina Spencer at Soldier, Kansas. The couple had two children, Helen and Max. In 1913 Kissell joined the Portis Independent as a co-editor with C. N. Akens. He bought the newspaper in October 1913, and served as editor and publisher until the paper’s last issue on July 22, 1943. He was a highly successful and respected newspaperman who in 1932 earned national recognition when the Independent was cited as one of the seven best small weeklies in the United States.

Kissell was an active community and business leader in Portis. He was a member of several organizations: the Portis Board of Education; Order of the Eastern Star; Modern Woodmen of America; Portis Methodist Church; Masonic Lodge; Portis Community Band (he played trumpet); and sang baritone for a barbershop quartet. He served as city clerk for nearly forty years and was secretary of the Kansas U.S. 281 Highway and Kansas State Reclamation Associations. He also served on the National Reclamation Resolutions Committee and was a captain of the Kansas State Guards during World War I. From 1918 through the 1930s he was manager of the renowned town basketball team the Portis Dynamos.

Kissell was president and director of the Portis State Bank for twelve years until his death. He was listed in the 1933 edition of Who’s Who in the Midwest, and that same year Emmett was given life membership in the Kansas Illustriana Society. He passed away May 23, 1959, in Portis and was buried in the Twelve Mile Cemetery in southern Smith County.



“I remember J. E., or ‘Emmett’ as he was called by family, as a ‘go and get it done’ type of person.  Once he took on a cause there was no slowing down or stopping him.

My uncle, John Emmett Kissell, visited our home in Topeka [Kansas] quite often as my mother was his only sister. In the 1930s on his way to Lawrence to visit his daughter, Helen, at Kansas University, he would call ahead and Mom would have a meal on the table when he arrived. It was not unusual for him to return to our home for the next meal of the day and then go back to Lawrence. Apparently he loved Mom’s cooking. Many times I would ride with him to Lawrence in his Model A Ford with everything wide open. It was usually a wild ride.

J. E. Kissell was a teetotaler and disliked tobacco, but otherwise was an intemperate man in most things. With a passion he loved good food, politics (Republican), quartet singing, the Portis Dynamos basketball team, KU basketball, the Portis Methodist Episcopal Church, family, and any cause that he could be involved to better his community he pursued with great fervor. In the 1940s and 1950s he was active in promoting U.S. Highway 281 improvements and also the Kirwin Dam to furnish water for irrigation.

J. E. Kissell was the owner and editor of the Portis Independent newspaper for a number of years. After it was no longer published he wrote weekly descriptive letters about where he went for meetings, what happened, who was there and what they had to eat.  Copies of these “travelogue letters” were sent to all members of the family. The letters also included news about relatives, friends and church. Even though my parents, Roy and Goldie Bell, left Portis in 1918 to live in Topeka, the letters were a great way to get news after Emmett stopped publishing the Portis Independent and we could still know what was going on in the community until the late 1950s.

J. E. served on many boards and committees. He was opinionated and stubborn, but you knew where you stood with him as he could be very outspoken. J. E. had a chance to work other places as a newspaperman. Whether it was a fear of the unknown or whether he just wanted to stay in Kansas, he chose to stay in Osborne County to write and work for the good of the community. It is a shame we do not have more J. E. Kissells to stand up for a cause and go to no end to get a change made – ’go and get it done’ type of people.

Our family is proud of his induction to the Osborne County Kansas Hall of Fame.” — Rex K. Bell, January 1996.

Frederick J. Hulaniski – 1997 Inductee

The history of Osborne County would be sadly lacking if tribute was not paid to one of the truly original characters to ever set ink to paper on the Kansas prairie.  Frederick J. Hulaniski, writer, author, judge, newspaper publisher, and mining engineer, was born January 30, 1860, in Sandusky, Lee County, Iowa.  Fred’s father, Julian Hulanicki, was an officer in the 1830 Polish uprising for which he was banished from Poland to America in 1833.   In 1838 Julian married Marcia Tuttle and the couple had six children, of whom Fred was the youngest.

Fred was educated in the military academy at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and at Omaha (Nebraska) College.  While in Omaha he learned the printer’s trade, at which he served an apprenticeship with the Omaha Herald. In 1875 he moved to Kansas and became connected with the Leavenworth Times and later was with the Topeka Capital. At the age of twenty-one Fred was employed in Cawker City, Kansas, as a printer in the offices of the Cawker City Journal. In the fall of 1880 his courtship of and consequent marriage to Miss Ruth Kerr became a local matter of great interest.

“MARRIED. – In this city, Tuesday afternoon [October 12th] by the Rev. C. I. Shackleford, Mr. Fred Hulaniski and Miss Ruth Kerr.  Fred is the ‘boss’ manipulator of metal in the Journal office.  He has for some time placed his affections where they would do the most good, and has laid the treasures of his heart and hand at the feet of the beautiful Ruth.  Ruth has not scorned or repelled the advances of her amorous young lover, but on the contrary, seeing in him the embodiment of all that is good and noble and believing to be the only person on God’s green earth who could make the little song birds sing notes of joy in her heart.  Her young affections have gone wholly out to him and not withstanding the objections of her misguided parents, she promised Fred to be his and his alone, at the drop of the hat.  Tuesday Fred, armed with a marriage license, proceeded to the house of the bride’s parents, and invited her to go and ride with him to one of the neighbors.  They started and stopped not until they arrived in this city, where they were duly united in the holy bonds of wedlock, as per above notice.  In the evening the stern parent came to town and finding the young people, he suggested to Mrs. Hulaniski that she take a seat in his carryall and go home with him and sleep with her mother. Fred considered this to be about the proper time to interpose the authority which the statutes of the state of Kansas in such cases made and provided have guaranteed unto the husband, and so consequently informed the old gentleman in very emphatic language that Mrs. Hulaniski should do no such d—-d thing.  Mr. Kerr saw through the millstone and left the house of Hulaniski to work out its own destruction, and sought relief in cursing the minister of the Gospel who had robbed him of a daughter.  Brace up children, and bear in mind that the course of true love never did run smoothly.” – Cawker City Free Press, October 14, 1880.

Fred and Ruth later became the proud parents of four children – Paul, Opal, Ruth, and Marcia. In January 1883 Fred moved his family to Bull City (Alton) in Osborne County, Kansas, and there began publishing the Western Empire, his first newspaper.

“Fred Hulaniski has bought the Bull City Key and will convert it into a six column folio, all home print, and will tack to it the name of The Western Empire. Rather a big name for such a little paper in such a little town.” – Downs Times, January 4, 1883.

“TO THE MORTALS NOW EXISTING UPON THIS EARTH, GREETINGS” ran the headline of Fred’s first editorial. He served as both editor and publisher and readily accommodated himself to Bull City, its customs and people. They, in turn, got over the initial shock of the style of their combative, flamboyant, and humorous editor and he became one of the town’s proud attractions.

“It was the last day of the year 1883, just forty years ago, that I, a lass of thirteen, first saw Hulaniski . . . There was to be a dance in the old Nethercutt building and the hotel [the Mitchell House in Bull City] was to furnish the supper. This particular hotel was my home, and being ‘in the way’ around the kitchen, my mother ordered me to go to another part of the house and practice the piano or read a book. I obeyed – most people obeyed my mother – and upon opening the sitting room door, there in an old hair-cloth armchair, one with walnut frame and white castors, sat the object of this communication.

He was a young man as cleanly cut in line and contour as any of Booth Tarkington’s heroes of the Indiana ‘80s. He wore a black Prince Albert coat and at his wrists three or four inches of white cuff – his hands, which hung listlessly over the arms of the chair, were slender, thin, white, aristocratic. His hair was almost blonde and hung in ringlets to his shoulders. I said, ‘Good evening,’ and while he answered me, he did not continue, so I took from under a pile of music – where it was hidden – my first novel, Tempest and Sunshine, and read quietly until my father and mother came in to speak to the stranger. I did not understand the trend of their conversation but it was about some newspaper rumpus in which the stranger had participated in some town – Cawker [City], Beloit, or Downs, I know not, but with a wave of his hand he used the word ‘illegitimate.’ I did not know what the word meant but it sounded big and I stored it away to use when I should next indulge myself in ‘showing off’ to the hotel guests, a stunt that frequently precipitated me into tears and an evening’s isolation in my room.

At one time ‘Huly’ had his office in a wee small place directly across the street from the Mitchell House just a shack between Gilchrist’s grocery store. About this time someone – probably Mrs. Hulaniski and some lady relatives who were visiting – presented the scribe with a tan colored cashmere smoking garment.  It had a red velvet collar and red velvet facings down the front and huge, velvet pockets; to wear with this were black velvet embroidered slippers, and sometimes he came to his office thusly attired.  I can see him – the picture is as clear as if the camera had focused it yesterday – rushing through the door of his small home, pens behind each ear, his long hair waving in the always blowing wind, as he headed up the street to interview an occupant of a farm wagon . . . .” – Lena Mitchell in the Alton Empire, January 11, 1923.

“Fred Hulaniski moved his family to Bull City yesterday morning. Mr. Kerr and daughter of Jewell County, father and sister of Mrs. F. J. Hulaniski, were visiting in town . . . The Western Empire of Bull City claims to be the only reliable paper on earth.  The Kansas Herald, of Hiawatha, makes the same claim.  One of the two men must be lying about the matter.” – Downs Times, February 1, 1883.

Thoroughly fearless in expressing his opinions, Fred used his brilliance of mind and distinctive personality to extoll his readers into discussions on the events of the day.  Not everyone was happy with Hulaniski’s stories on local affairs; three times disgruntled citizens tried to set fire to his printing plant.  He received more death threats during his first year of publication than perhaps any other newspaperman in the annals of Kansas history.  He deterred these potential perils to his person by openly wearing revolvers and secreting one or more knives in his clothing.

In the beginning Fred seldom failed to voice what he thought of his fellow newspapermen if they disagreed with him, and often they responded in kind. “Czarevitch Hulaniski” was his name when mentioned in the Stockton, Kansas, newspaper; in Downs and Osborne he was “Count Hulaniski;” and after a personal spat with the editor of the Portis Patriot he was ever after referred to as “Hole-in-the-sky.” Hulaniski’s propensity for igniting wars of words made still other newspapers wary. “We had been told that the Empire quill pusher wore horns, a brace of revolvers, and pawed the ground like a mad cow in a Bull City,” reported the editor of the Salem (KS) Argus in 1885. “We interviewed him at a distance and must say he looked every inch a gentleman – a perfect gentleman, sir.”

In the fall of 1883 Fred sought to influence the upcoming county election by starting another paper in Downs on the eastern edge of Osborne County. The Saturday Evening Lamp made its debut in October 1883, with Hulaniski again as both editor and publisher, while continuing to publish the Empire in Bull City; the only time in the history of the county any newspaperman has ever tried such a gamble. Fred soon discovered that two papers meant twice as many people came “looking for him” over his articles and he frequently had to stop off in between the two towns in Osborne in order get away from his angry detractors. The Lamp ceased publication after only five weeks; the experiment was over, but, as one contemporary author noted, the Lamp “packed more controversy and discussion into those five weeks than most publishers do in an entire career.”

Yet for all his dramatics and sometimes caustic language Hulaniski forced other newspapers to improve their quality and depth of writing and news coverage with the emphasis on more detail. His own Western Empire was widely read and remained a financial success throughout his three years of ownership.  In those years Fred made himself available for amateur theatricals, recitals, and other events that helped to maintain town spirit and pride, and served for a time as city clerk.  During the spring of 1885 scarlet fever swept through Bull City, and through those terrible weeks Hulaniski used the pages of the Empire to grieve with and to console every family who lost a loved one.  His words came even more from the heart when his only son, Paul, died of the fever and was laid to rest in the town’s Sumner Cemetery.

The gravestone of Paul Hulaniski in Alton’s Sumner Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Von Rothenberger.


The Western Empire of November 28, 1885, contained an editorial featuring the whit, irrelevance, and bluntness so typical of Fred’s editorial style: “The last issue of the Empire contained an account of a snipe hunt, wherein a lot of young bloods had considerable sport at the expense of some young dupe whose name we did not learn.  On Tuesday we received a letter from some fellow who signed “W.S.R,” and who evidently has tried on the shoe and found a perfect fit.  The letter reads as follows: ‘f. J. hulaniskyee— Want you To under stand that i Aint such A Blasted tool as you take me Too Bee And if you Ever stick Any Moore of your Slang in youre papper i Will Make It Moste Interesting for yu but i Think the Bigest fool Printed It. W.S.R.’   Now, we have not the remotest idea who “W.S.R.” is, nor do we care, but he is evidently a much greater ass than we first supposed, or he would never flare up and take unto himself a piece in a newspaper that contained no names whatever nor alluded to no one in particular.  If Mr. “W.S.R.” had kept still, no one outside of a few would have known it was him who gave himself so everlastingly dead away by holding the bag for Snipe, and we trust that in the future when he bites at old gags like this he will have common horse sense enough to button up his lip and keep mum.  However, if Mr. “W.S.R.” wishes to “Make it Moste Interesting” for the editor of this paper, we hope he will not deny himself that pleasure any longer than necessary, for if there is one thing above another we like, it is to be “interested.”

Shortly afterwards Fred sold the Empire and left Bull City, which had been renamed Alton the year prior. “F. J. Hulaniski, late of the Alton Empire, passed through the city Wednesday on his way to Leavenworth, where he takes a position on the daily Times.” – Downs Chief, July 1886.

“Vol. 1, No. 1 of the Kansas City Sun, F. J. Hulaniski, editor, is before us. It is a neat five column, eight page paper published in the interests of agriculture, religion and Hulaniski.” – Downs Chief, March 14, 1889.  Later that year Fred sold the Sun and headed west, moving to Ouray, Colorado.

“F. J. Hulaniski, the versatile ex-editor and founder of the Western Empire, is now assisting in the publication of the Plaindealer at Ouray, Colorado, and is dealing some telling blows against the third party movement for which he labored last fall until his stomach revolted at the task and he found it imperative to seek a cleaner field. His work on the Plaindealer is easily recognized by old acquaintances.” – Downs Times, October 8, 1891.

Soon Fred was the sole editor and publisher of the Ouray Plaindealer and in November 1895 he was elected elected county judge of Ouray County on the Populist ticket.  Fred’s taking over of the Plaindealer ignited “continuous warfare” between the Ouray Herald and the Plaindealer, starting in 1891 and lasting for over 20 years.  Fred referred to his rival as “the little red-headed woodpecker down in the Fourth Ward” – a district that included the red-light district of the time. The Herald editor, E.G. Bacon, called his counterpart “Mr. Hell on Whiskey.”

In April of 1899 Fred joined with some of the best-known men of the state of Colorado in the incorporation of a large publishing company in Denver.  During this period Fred was also engaged in mining enterprises in Colorado. These profited him greatly and he had offices at one time in New York.

“Count Hulaniski, who used to run a sort of a Sunday Sun paper in the cellar of Chris Knapp’s meat market, called the Saturday Evening Lamp, was in Concordia recently and the Kansan says: ‘F. J. Hulaniski, an old-time newspaperman of this part of the state, now Ouray, Colorado, was in the city last Wednesday and made the Kansan office a call. Count Hulaniski, as he was usually called, was one of the warmest propositions as a newspaper skinner there was in the state when he was in action. He had a paper in Bull City, now called Alton . . . He went to Colorado about ten years ago and landed at Ouray with the magnificent amount of 25 cents in his pocket, which he spent as soon as he could find the opportunity for a drink of whiskey and a package of smoking tobacco. He owns a newspaper out there and has become rich as a mining promoter. He is now on his way to New Orleans to spend the winter, in company with his daughter.’” – Downs Times, January 24, 1901.

“Ouray, Colorado, September 29th – The suit for divorce by Mrs. Hulaniski, wife of former County Judge F. J. Hulaniski, one of the best known newspaper men on the western slope, will never come to trial. The attorneys for Mrs. Hulaniski last night announced that a settlement had been reached and that an order will be entered this afternoon in the county court withdrawing the suit. The grounds of settlement will not be made public.” – Downs Times, October 6, 1904.

By 1906 Fred had moved on to California, where he published a newspaper in Mountain View.  Five years later he purchased the plant of a labor paper and started the Richmond Morning News, and later wrote editorials for the Richmond Record-Herald, both located in Richmond, California.  Fred also published a book entitled the Thinkograph, which then became the title of a monthly magazine he published from San Francisco.  Fred became well known throughout the state via his writings and activities and he took an active part in the development of Richmond and Contra Costa County.  In 1917 Fred published the book The History of Contra Costa County, which was well-received.  Among his many business interests at the time was the Wonder Gold Mine at Allegheny in the Grass Valley area of Nevada County, California.

On February 15, 1928, Frederick J. Hulaniski died in Richmond of a heart attack following a case of influenza.  He was interred in the Sunset View Cemetery at El Cerrito, California.

Frederick J. Hulaniski as he appeared in 1917. Taken from his book “The History of Contra Costa County”.

* * * * *

The following is a classic story by Frederick J. Hulaniski, related as only he could.

Looking Backward into Kansas Through Thirty Long Years

“Another Northwest Kansas newspaper blew into this editorial den this week and nestled down upon the littered roll-top among communications, complaints and bills payable, which sent me on a long hike into the past. It is the Osborne County Farmer, Bert Walker, editor; and I borrowed white paper and ink of it thirty years ago, and, maybe, paid most of it back.

I was young then, and Western Kansas was young, and all of us possessed less wisdom than Solomon, although the Solomon River ran nearby and turned the wheel that ground the corn that brought eight cents a bushel in the cribs that Jack built. As we get older we are all prone to look back into the past in reminiscent mood instead of looking ahead, for the reasons that the period ahead is short and, as a rule, we haven’t much to look forward to.

The present editor of the Osborne Farmer worked for me when he was a kid boy, at Peabody, Kansas . . . Now he has a fine newspaper and business and is rich enough to eat pie for breakfast if he wants to, which he does if he is anything like he was in knee breeches. I ran two newspapers in Osborne County at one time, one at Downs and the other at Alton, and often took refuge at Osborne, halfway between, to escape general results continuously erupting at both ends. Osborne was not always a haven of safety, either being the county seat and inhabited by land pirates, highbinders, blackhand conspirators and plutocratic oppressors of the plain people, who held the county offices which others wanted. When one set of men hold the offices which another set want, the ins are always land pirates, highbinders, blackhand conspirators, and plutocratic oppressors of the plain people, which fact can be proven by the outs. It became my duty, in the interest of the horny-handed son of toil, as most everybody was in those days, to help ‘turn the rascals out,’ and as fast as I got one rascal turned out another got in, and then both of them put in part time gunning for me.

One particular instance I remember will doubtless be recalled by most any of the old-timers there now, as the town was much excited and amused when the circus was going on and bets were about even as to whether I or the sheriff of the county would furnish the corpse for a first-class funeral. The sheriff’s name was Al Anderson, and he weighed over 200 and struck a ton. I knew he struck a ton because I got the whole ton right between the eyes, and saw a million dollars worth of fireworks and maybe it was two millions.

The principal crime the sheriff was guilty of was holding an office which somebody else wanted, and of that he certainly was guilty. He drove up to Alton one day with a pocketful of tax warrants, or something of the sort, and collected mileage, about sixteen miles each way, on each paper served, and I figured up from his bill to the county that he had driven his team of horses over a thousand miles in one day, and called loudly in my papers for the humane society to prosecute him for cruelty to animals. In the interest of that noble animal, the horse, I held that a thousand miles was too far for him to be driven in a single day, and I contend that to this day, thirty years later, that the position was well taken and true. Any man will drive a team of horses a thousand miles in one day is no lady. Now, you wouldn’t suppose that sheriff would get mad at my printing only what was true, but he did. He was real provoked. Probably he didn’t love horses as much as I did. In this instance I was the villain and Sheriff Al Anderson the fair maid. He didn’t look much like a fair maid, but we’ll let that pass so we can hurry along in this narrative and catch up with the blood-curdling details.

The sun rose over the Solomon River. I don’t just remember after half a lifetime whether it rose over the river or not; but never mind, it rose around there somewhere and grinned red and hot like any other blithering idiot as the sheriff and I sought each other’s gore at the Central Branch Missouri Pacific depot at Osborne and all the way up the street into town for half a mile. He had greeted me cheerily as I stepped off the train and put out his hand to shake hands. I didn’t notice that it was his left hand that was proffered, which was there where I was foolish. He yanked me up to him with his left hand and delivered that ‘ton’ with his right, which was as big as a ham and the ‘ton’ was a full 2000 pounds weight. I went down between the railroad tracks and plowed up the right of way with my classic features, leaving various and sundry particles of the features among the dust and cinders along the track, coming up finally bleeding like a stuck hog. My hair was long in those days, and it got into my eyes, and with the dirt and cinders in my face and the blood streaming from many cuts and bruises I must have been a sight for gods and men. Also I was as mad and crazy as any asylum inmate within a padded cell, and as dangerous as any other lunatic. I had no gun, but tore the buttons off a Prince Albert coat to get at a knife big enough to make a buffalo stop and think twice, and made a lunge at the sheriff.

For a wonder, he had no gun on him, either, an unusual occurrence in those days, as most everybody went armed. So Mr. Sheriff was right square up against it. No coward, he, by any means; but there was but one choice. It was either run or get hacked into hamburger; and so as I reached for him with that snickersnee he jumped about ten feet toward town and kept it up, making time like a scared jackrabbit would out on the adjacent prairie. I followed, bleeding, crazed, wild and murder in my heart, and the sheriff did a sprinting stunt never before or since equaled in that vicinity, and the crowd at the station followed, yelling like wild Indians, while hundreds rushed out of the houses or stuck their heads out from doors and windows and shouted encouragement to one or the other, or both. It must have been about a half mile up town to the main business street, but we made it in record time and turned to the right and down among the business houses, scattering people right and left like tenpins, and not ten feet apart. One fellow sought to stop the sheriff and got knocked into the middle of the street for his pains. Another sought to stop me and I reached for him with the knife, and if he is not going yet I have never heard anything to the contrary.

“The Great Chase” – a sketch of the famous street race of Anderson and Hulaniski in Osborne, Kansas.

Finally Anderson dodged into a hardware store diagonally across from the old Lipton House hotel, slammed the door and turned the key, which happened to be on the inside, while I danced a Highland fling out on the sidewalk. Then mutual friends butted in and took me over to the hotel and washed some of the dirt and blood off, and the sheriff sent an ambassador over with a flag of truce and a suggestion that we declare an armistice, or submit our war to arbitration, and my recollection of it now is that the arbitration was at a drugstore soda fountain where the prohibition elixir of those days was dispensed and caused lions and lambs to lie down together, and anybody else to lie down that got three or four shots of it.

The next chapter of this drama was pulled off at Alton, in the west end of Osborne County. Eight men were arguing with me one evening in front of Hop Rinehart’s drugstore, after the usual manner of political arguments in those lively old days, and as there was eight to one I stood a good chance of getting all that was coming to me. I was as busy as a toad in a tar barrel, doing the best I could, when Sheriff Al Anderson showed up across the street, coming fast in our direction and shedding coat and vest as he came. He grabbed one little fellow by the neck and one leg and threw him bodily though the store window, and then he and I had a picnic with the rest. And after they were disposed of the sheriff and I clasped hands across the bloody chasm and bloody sidewalk and were good friends forever after.

All that sort of thing has passed away now, in the place of sod houses and straw stables are beautiful and prosperous homes. That section of Kansas is one of the richest and best in the world, and doubtless when Editor Walker has occasion to go over to the court house to interview the sheriff or anybody else he does not feel called upon to carry along any implements of war such as are now being used over in Europe. But thirty years is a long time, and people, customs and countries change. The court house when I was there was right on the edge of a trackless plain. I have shot jackrabbits from the steps of that court house, and was fined for contempt of court by Judge Clark A. Smith for trying to shoot one out of the windows while court was in session, as was one Pete Mitchell, who kept a hotel at Alton and put in most of his time coursing rabbits with a pack of hounds.

I courted and married the best woman in the world in that section, and have got her yet, thank God. Two children were born to us in Osborne County, and our little boy sleeps the long sleep there now. The country and the people are associated with pleasant memories, love and good fellowship in my mind and heart, and thousands of happy things happened, altogether different than political wars, guns and knives and black eyes and prohibition booze and gory battles, and now after all these years as I look back and see it all again; I am willing to admit that not all of the county officers were land pirates, high binders, black hand conspirators and plutocratic oppressors of the plain people, and as far as Sheriff Anderson is concerned I will go so far now as to own up that he was a good and brave man, and I don’t care a dern if he did drive that team a thousand miles in one day. Probably it was a rattling good team.” – Osborne County Farmer, November 11, 1915.