Thursday, December 27, 2012

 A Little Holiday Fun and Best Wishes!

Posted by HCHM director Deb Hiebert

All of us at the museum hope you are enjoying visiting with friends . . .

Interior of Newton store with January 1912 calendar on the wall, Christmas bell decoration hanging
 from ceiling fan and a group of men (and one boy) gathered around the stove.

Ladies Reading Circle members

 and family . . .

while looking forward to . . .

with lots of fun parties.

Wishing you and yours . . .

of prosperity, health . . . and lots of merry-making in fun hats!
Thanks for being part of our museum community.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Successful Plainsman and Scout

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

The death of Charles Schaefer on January 8, 1934 marked the end of an era in Harvey County, Kansas.  Schaefer was the last of the early traders, soldiers and scouts that first saw the potential of Kansas. In his youth, he traveled the unbroken prairie as a scout and soldier.  He fought in the Civil War and the Indian Wars, and could recall a time when the prairie was home to vast buffalo herds.  In the late 1860s, he was among the first men, along with Wichita founders James R. Mead, William Greifenstein, and William Mathewson,  to settle around the Arkansas River in the area that would become Sedgwick and Harvey counties.  In connection with the upcoming Sedgwick exhibit at HCHM, several blog posts will feature the varied life of Charles Schaefer as well as other interesting people from Sedgwick's history.

His obituary describes Schaefer as"self-educated and self-made, attaining more than ordinary success and prominence,a man of force and leadership."  
Evening Kansan Republican, Jan. 8, 1934
Front page
Charles Schaefer was a man that seemed to have been involved in a little of everything.  He spent his youth "as a successful plainsman and scout," followed by a career in the Army during the Civil War.    After the close of the war, he settled in Sedgwick to raise a family and was a successful businessman and townbuilder.  Some of his remembrances were preserved in a file at the Sedgwick Historical Museum, Sedgwick, Ks. I am grateful to the Board of the Sedgwick Historical Museum and especially to Marcia Nordstrom, board president, for allowing me access to the files on the Schaefer family.
Charles Schaefer
Guardians of the Trails and Frontier
On the crowded St. Louis platform in 1852, few took notice of the young boy as they boarded the steamboat.  Probably none wondered why the boy was not in school or with his parents  For ten year old Charles Schaefer, sneaking away from class and boarding a steamboat that day was the beginning of a grand adventure that would include the president of the United States, famous generals,  rough soldiers and scouts fighting the Indian wars on the frontier.

The oldest of three boys, Schaefer was born in Hamm, Province of Westphalia, Prussia in December 1842 to Richard and Gertrude Eiseleben Schaefer.   His father, Richard, was a soldier and reportedly had suffered some injury at Waterloo. By the late 1840s, the elder Schaefer had fled "his native country on account of the part he took in politics," for the United States leaving his wife and sons behind.  

In 1848, Gertrude made the voyage to the United States with her sons to join her husband.  She died upon their arrival in New York.  Richard, perhaps feeling ill equipped to handle all three of the boys, sent 10 year old Charles to relatives in St. Louis, MO.  Young Charles already had a taste for adventure and was not content to sit quietly in school reading about great battles.  He was ready to go explore!  So, that day in St. Louis, he left school, and boarded a steamboat bound for Fort Leavenworth, KS.
Missouri Steamboat
Steamboat on the Missouri River
Later in life Schaefer recalled his experience.
"While playing on board a steamboat that plied between St. Louis and Leavenworth he found himself unintentionally a passenger as the boat had embarked without his knowledge.  Seeking to amuse himself . . . his eye was caught by a flag fluttering high on a hill.  He followed it to find it led to the drill grounds of the soldiers at the fort.  He became so absorbed watching them that he failed to take the boat when it returned.  As night came on, the little boy of 10 years began to feel lonely and afraid.  Colonel Fauntleroy who was at the fort in charge of an overland train to the U.S. troops in New Mexico noticed the lad and took him home with him."  (Charles Schaefer Autobiography #1 Schaefer Scrapbook, Sedgwick Historical Museum, Sedgwick,Ks) 
Fort Leavenworth, established in 1827,  was the first permanent U. S. Army fort established in Kansas.  By 1852 the fort served as a headquarters for commanders and the chief unit in the army's frontier defense system. Schaefer described Fort Leavenworth as he remembered it in 1852.
"[It] never was really a fort. . . with two Block Houses one on corner of the Parade Ground the other diagonally across.  There were squares with holes for cannons in the tower and loopholes for the musket men.   There were 10 or 12 Calvary stables.  Each would hold a troop of Calvary.  The officers quarters were across the parade grounds, the barracks on one side and other buildings on the opposite side." (Charles Schaefer Fort Leavenworth, Schaefer Scrapbook, Sedgwick Historical Museum, Sedgwick,Ks) 
Fort Leavenworth, Courtesy Wichita State University
Col. Thomas T. Fauntleroy, who took the young boy in, was a  commander of the First Regiment of Dragoons during the 1850s and led several campaigns throughout the region.

The Dragoon Regiment was authorized by Congress in March 1833 and was composed of soldiers who could ride to battle and fight either on horse or foot.  Recruits were to be native born, 20 to 35 years old, and over five five five inches tall and "sober at the time of enlisting."  Over time, the Army had to reduce the restrictions to fill recruitment quotas. By the 1850s, recruits were not questioned too closely about their age or citizenship status, allowing young men like Schaefer to join.

Life in the fort was not easy.  Disease was a constant threat to soldiers on the frontier.  Cholera and malaria were more of a threat to the men than the Indians.  Far more soldiers died of disease than from hostile action.

An outbreak of malaria was an annual occurrence at Fort Leavenworth.  In 1843 and 1844 the Missouri River flooded due to heavy rains and the standing water became an ideal breeding ground for disease that the troops took with them to the field.  In 1850 cholera broke out on boats bound for Fort Leavenworth, but the doctors on board did not know what was causing it or how to treat it. Once they arrived at the Fort, the entire fort was infected and the epidemic spread across the prairies with the troop movements. In August 1855 a cholera epidemic at Fort Riley and the ensuing panic nearly annihilated the fort.  Doctors tried to treat the diseases with varying degrees of success.  One surgeon at Fort Gibson prescribed calonel for everything.  His patients died of mercury poisoning.  Sulfate quinine was discovered to treat malaria, but determining an effective dosage took awhile to discover.

In the winter of 1854-55 Fauntleroy campaigned against the Utes living in the Rocky Mountain region and later against the Apache in New Mexico.
"Charles begged so hard to go with the train that Colonel Fauntleroy gave him the privilege of driving Dr. Leatherman's buggy in the long procession over the plains." (Charles Schaefer Autobiography #1 Schaefer Scrapbook, Sedgwick Historical Museum, Sedgwick,Ks) 
Young Schaefer was responsible for driving the doctor's buggy to to Fort Union, New Mexico with the regiment in 1854. Schaefer later recalled the prairie as a "veritable ocean of tall waving brown grass . . . the grass was so tall that its waves were even as the ocean billows.  This great prairie ocean was a sight that deeply impressed all who were here early enough to see it in its unbroken splendor."

He also noted that the 1st U.S. Dragoons on the move stretched out over a mile long, carrying supplies to the U.S. troops in New Mexico, and included recruits for the infantry, and several hundred horses for the cavalry.  Upon the arrival of the troops at Fort Union, New Mexico, "Charles was put in school with the children of the officers and men of the army . . . his education continued here and in the schools of Santa Fe." 

In 1858, Schaefer identified himself as a U.S. Army scout and served at Fort Clark, Ringold Barracks and at Brownsville. Fauntleroy, along with Kit Carson, led several expeditions against the Apaches in 1859-1861.  Schaefer was along on some of these missions.

A future post will describe Shaefer's experiences at Maxwell's Ranch during this expedition.

Sources:  Charles Schaefer Autobiography #1 Schaefer Scrapbook, Sedgwick Historical Museum, Sedgwick,Ks; Charles Schaefer Fort Leavenworth, Schaefer Scrapbook, Sedgwick Historical Museum, Sedgwick,Ks; J. Patrick Hughes, Ph.D., "The Life of the Dragoon Enlisted Men" Kansas Collection Articles,

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Useful, Busy Life: Miss Challender

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

The next Harvey County community that will be featured at HCHM is the oldest city in the county - Sedgwick. The exhibit featuring Sedgwick will open January 11, 2013. The next series of blog posts will feature people and events from Sedgwick's history.

Some people are able to extend their influence across city boundaries—Miss Olive May Challender may have been one such woman. Her fourteen year teaching career included two Harvey County towns, Burrton and Sedgwick.  Her involvement in her church extended her influence beyond the county to include the state.
Miss Olive May Challender
Photo courtesy Chris Child
Find A Grave
"A useful, busy life. . ."
Olive May Challender was born in Neponset, Illinois, October 25, 1877 to Josiah S. and Alice Challender.  Two years later a brother, Alton, was born.  The family came to Kansas in 1892 and settled in rural Harvey County near Burrton.

Wheat Harvest, Challeder Farm near Burrton, 1899
A.R. Challender, R.T. Challender and Mr. Billings
HCHM Photo Archives
Olive graduated from Burrton High School and taught for three years before attending the State Normal School in Emporia, Ks. After her graduation in 1900, she returned to Burrton to teach in the Primary School.

Burrton's First Primary Teacher, Olive May Challender
HCHM Photo Archives
The Burrton Graphic  noted that Miss Challender "endeared herself to the children whom she taught by her kinds and loving actions toward them." (Burrton Graphic, February 10, 1911)

Burrton Primary School, April 23, 1903
Olive May Challender & pupils
HCHM Photo Archives
In 1907, she and her mother moved to Sedgwick and Miss Challender began teaching the children of Sedgwick.
Sedgwick School
HCHM Photo Archives

"A noble, christian life" 
Miss Challender was described as a "talented and loveable" person. While living in Burrton, she joined the  Methodist Episcopal Church. When she moved to Sedgwick, she transferred her membership the M.E. Church there.

Methodist Episcopal Church, 1903
Sedgwick, Ks
HCHM Photo Archives
During this time, she served at the state level as County Sunday School Association Superintendent of Primary Work.  Through this work she became known county wide and her "influence extended beyond the circles of her immediate community."  

"The unexpected death . . . caused universal sorrow"
At the age of 33, Miss Challender suddenly died.  The Newton Weekly Kansan Republican reported that she had left school on Thursday complaining of a sore throat, but no other "alarming symptoms."  On Sunday morning, her family was felt some concern "because her lower extremities were cold."  At noon, she tried to get out of bed, but she could not walk.  Her family helped her back to bed, "and death came quickly."  The paper goes on to report that the physicians were puzzled because there were no indications of acute disease.  They finally concluded that her heart was weakened for some reason and simply gave out without warning.
“The unexpected death of Miss Ollie Challender at Sedgwick last Sunday caused universal sorrow . . . She was greatly loved . . . A useful, busy life.” (Sedgwick Pantagraph, undated clipping, HCHM Archives)

Burrton Graphic Feb. 10, 1911; Newton Weekly Kansan Republican 9 February 1911; Sedgwick Pantagraph,February 9, 1911; HCHM Archives - Olive Challender's Memorial Service; Combined Kansas Reports (Google Books) p. 127; The Development of the Sunday School, 1780-1905, (Google Books) p. 518-519; Report by Kansas Department of Public Instructions, 1910 17th Biennial Report, (Google Books) p. 293;Yearbook by Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia, 1904 (Google Books) p. 120 Elementary Courses 

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Four Boys and a Car Named "Minerva"

 I recently ran across this story in the Evening Kansan Republican from 1939 of a trip taken by four young men shortly after high school graduation. A short time later I discovered that we had the photographs taken by one of the travelers in our collection.

Today, we expect certain amenities and a service station with a McDonald's at regular intervals.  In 1939, travel was a little different. Enjoy the story of four young men exploring the great Southwest as reported to the Evening Kansan Republican when they returned to town on June 19.
"Minerva, the 1931 Hudson 8 sedan crawled into Newton Monday night at 10:30 with tremendous effort after her three weeks trek  of 5,463 miles through the wilds of unconquered Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada,California, Arizona, and New Mexico with Pat, Bill, Maurice and Dick."* 
The four young men left Newton at six a.m. on Wednesday, May 24 for a road trip across seven states in their black sedan they affectionately called "Minerva".  The young men took turns driving in two hour shifts. By that evening they "hobbled wearily into Denver", after fighting the wind and dust of Western Kansas all day.    Apparently they had a mishap, because the article noted that the"front right door was slightly dented . . . and a broken starter."  They "judged the beds they slept in that night the best they had ever slept in." The next morning they awoke refreshed and took time to tour the the Municipal Airport in Denver where they saw the Douglass D-C-4, "the largest land plane in the world."

Then, they were on their way for the second day of their adventure. As they drove through the mountains they encountered snow and more car trouble.  
"No less than six inches crowned Minerva in the blizzard and after an altitude of 7,000 ft through Berthould Pass which boasts a climb to 11,334 ft., Minerva's vacuum tank stubbornly refused to operate.  By the time Granby was reached that night, it had become 'old stuff' to stop and siphon gasoline from the tank to keep the vacuum tank in good humor."
Working on Minerva in a blizzard
After leaving Granby, Colorado, they headed toward Salt Lake City.  Along the way, they continued to have trouble with the vacuum tank and they had three flat tires.

Changing a tire.
Once in Salt Lake City, they reported that they did not feel very welcome.
"The town itself seemed to scowling at them with their intrusion, for they were greeted in the private drive of the Capital by the police with puzzled glances at their packed car, and remarks full of wondering at their being around in the middle of the night."
Postcard, ca. 1940
While in Salt Lake City, they were able to see the Mormon Tabernacle, the capital and museum. They also swam in the Great Salt Lake.

Postcard, ca. 1940
From there they traveled to Reno, Nevada, camping out along the way.

Camping out along the way.

Once in Reno they visited several tourist attractions including the courthouse, and  "Harold's Club and the Dog House, nationally famed night spots of the town of divorce." 

Then off to California, where once again their welcome was uncertain.
"After spending their first night in California  comfortably curled up in blankets on the Capital lawn in Sacramento, the boys and Minerva were gallantly helped over the last lap of the trail into Yosemite Park by the state police."
They pitched a tent in the Park and enjoyed the sites noting that they "were over-awed by the wonders of that beautiful spot."   
Postcard, ca. 1940
They tried to walk under the Yosemite Falls, which were known as the highest free falling falls in the world , viewed caves and went swimming.
"Wawona" a tree in Yosemite National Park
Today, it is referred to as the "Fallen Tunnel Tree"

Eventually, they crossed Oakland Bay Bridge into San Francisco and stayed at a Y.M.C.A.. While in the area, they visit several former Newtonians including Col. Dave Randall, head of the marine barracks at Mare Island.

Posing with Minerva
"June 13 brought homesickness for Bill, as he labored feverishly with his friends over two blowouts, two punctures, aches from sleeping on 'little boulders' at Boulder Dam . . . and the presentation of bills for two new innertubes."

Postcard, 1938

Taking a break.

Apparently Bill was feeling better by the time they reached the Grand Canyon.  The twenty-five mile jaunt to the depths of the vast canyon and back again gave them memories and many, many blisters."

Postcard, ca. 1940
From this point Minerva was turned toward Kansas and home.  When asked about their trip, the guys replied that they had fifty cents left and the price of gas in California was "so high it cut their mileage off quite a degree."**** They did not attend church, "because they never knew when Sunday came around." Finally, the reporter asked, 
"'Average driving speed?' Silence answered this one, with a slow confession that 40-45 were the figures for 'publication,' but Minerva could go faster.  . . . they added, 'she's for sale now!'" 
**Note:  Although last names were not given in the article, based on the information with the photographs the four friends were likely Dick Glover, Pat Sauble, Bill Golding and Maurice Claassen all Newton High graduates in 1939.  This might have been a trip to celebrate graduation.

Four friends, 1985
Dick Glover, Pat Sauble, Bill Golding, Maurice Claassen
****Note on gas prices: Ten cents a gallon seems to have been the national average price in 1939.

"Odyssey of Four Newton Boys and an Antique Car", Evening Kansan Republican, Wednesday, June 21, 1939, page 3.
HCHM Photograph Archives, Newton High School 100th Anniversary, (Railer 100), 1985 Pat Sauble Collection #2010.209.7-12
HCHM Postcard File - Travel