Thursday, July 26, 2012

Posing on the Cannon

One of the favorite places to pose for a photograph in Harvey County has been on the cannon in Military Park at the corner of Broadway and Oak.  

Posing on the cannon, 1923
Empress Tedlock is on the far right.
The cannon was placed there in 1898-1899, and several generations of Kansans have posed, climbed and crawled on this relic from the Civil War.

Civil War Veterans next to the cannon in Military Park, Newton

The cannon was used  during the Civil War in "coastal defense".  In the late 1800s, the Judson Kilpatrick Post No. 36, and the local chapter of the G.A.R. worked with Congressman Chester I. Long to get the cannon placed in Newton.  In a ceremony on October 4, 1899, the cannon was presented to the mayor of Newton, George W. Young, by Hon. J. G. Wood, Topeka.  The park, previously known as "East Park", was renamed "Military Park" at this time.  
Military Park Cannon, ca. 1900
Cooper School in the background

37 "Young Patriots" Military Park, 1907

Military Park, Newton, ca. 1923
Unidentified woman

Military Park, Newton, 1916
Lucile Mitchell Miller & John

Military Park, Newton, ca. 1930
Unidentified woman

Military Park, Newton, ca. 1930
Nellie McAuliff

Military Park, Newton, 2010
In 1977, the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives placed a plaque near the cannon.

Do you have any photos to share of friends and family posing on the cannon?  We love to see them!

Interested in learning more about Civil War veterans in Harvey County?  Visit our web page for information available in Archives.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Makin' A Splash

"Enjoy the thrill of diving into crystal-clear water lighted with powerful underwater projectors." -Newton Evening Kansan-Republican,  May 28, 1935

Athletic Park Swimming Pool at night by Murphy, 1939

Construction of Newton's Athletic Park swimming pool was started in 1934, shortly after the approval of a $30,000 swimming pool bond by voters.  The new pool opened May 30, 1935.  Local businesses promoted the pool opening with ads and displays featuring swimwear.

Newton Kansan Evening-Republican, 28, 1935
If a person did not have a swimsuit, the editors of the paper noted that "patrons who do not have suits or towels may rent them from the pool management for a small fee."  The admission fee to swim ranged from ten cents for children under 12, to twenty cents for those over 16. The Newton Evening Kansan-Republican estimated that "250 to 300 persons took advantage of the warm afternoon to take a dip" in the new pool on opening day. 

Night view by Murphy, 1939
 Unfortunately, not everyone was allowed to swim in the new facility.  When a group of young black men tried to enter the new pool during the summer of 1935, they were turned away by the pool manager, Harold Hunt.  Kansas civil rights laws in the 1930s required "separate but equal" facilities.  In many communities this meant that if an additional swimming pool could not be built, the city was required to set aside a day or days when black residents could swim.  Across the country, racial exclusion at municipal pools was common.  Most cities reserved the day before cleaning the pool as the day for black residents to swim.  Newton city officials, however, sought a way around the requirement by leasing the pool to an individual to manage.  The manager was given the authority to decide who could enter the pool.  Hunt's policy was to exclude black residents completely. This policy did not go unchallenged.

Samuel Ridley, president of the local NAACP, attempted several times to address the Newton City Commissioners regarding this policy in the late 1930s.  He was ignored each time.  Ridley, with the help of the Topeka civil rights attorney Elisha Scott, filed a suit on behalf of Newton resident, D.E. Kern.

In presenting his case, Scott pointed out that black residents had helped pay for the pool through taxes and that the city had failed to provide an alternative pool for them to use.  This was a clear case of racial discrimination.  The case for the defense was more complicated.  The city claimed that the lessee (Hunt) was solely responsible for the administration of the pool and that he was acting as a private citizen - not a representative of the city. 

Hunt's lawyer noted that exclusion of black swimmers was necessary due to the type of pool.  He explained that the pool was a "circulatory type of pool, which meant that the water was only changed once during the swimming season."  This explained why Hunt could not set aside separate days for blacks to swim.  According to Hunt's lawyer, "the only way white residents would swim in a pool after blacks was if the water was drained and the tank scrubbed . . . and this only happened at the end of the season." The defense then attacked the plaintiff's case on technical grounds.  They claimed that it could not be proven that Kern tried to enter the pool.  So, even though Hunt had denied admission to all black people, it could not be proven that he specifically denied admission to Kern. 

During the next several years the city's lawyers used various means to delay the court's decision.  At one point, a new pool was promised - when sufficient funds were available.

The separate swimming pool was never built.
Newton Evening Kansan-Republican, May 1938

A ruling finally came five years after the pool was first opened and blacks were denied admission.  On April 6, 1940. the court found Newton city officials liable for any violation of the law by Hunt.  However, the court also ruled that Kern's constitutional rights were not violated since he could not prove that he had "presented himself at the pool and demanded to be admitted to it."

The matter of allowing everyone to swim in the public pool came before the Newton City Commission several times in the 1940s.  At one point, two days a week were set aside for black residents to swim.  Then, at the August 15, 1951 meeting of the City Commission, a local representative for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People attended the meeting to once again object to the city's policy.  At this meeting, a motion to allow unlimited swimming privileges' regardless of race, was made. The motion passed.  Newton's Athletic Park swimming pool was integrated August 1951.
Athletic Park Swimming Pool, 1961 
(Note:  This article is based on a mini-traveling exhibit available at HCHM - contact us if you would like more information or visit for additional traveling exhibit topics.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

She Hath Done What She Could

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

The next few months will be very busy at Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives.  We will finally be seeing the results of a lot of behind the scenes work with the opening of the new exhibit, The Way We Worked: Serving Harvey County in the renovated Schroeder Gallery on September 8.  As I write this, the empty cases stand ready for artifacts, photos and stories.

In preparation for this exhibit, a great deal of research has been completed to  find stories of how people worked serving Harvey County in the past 100+ years.  One of the first people that caught my eye was Miss Lizzie Coult.

In the 1887 Newton City Directory, she heavily advertised her business, the Bee Hive Bookstore at 520 Main.  "Lizzie Coult keeps all kinds of books from the nickle novel to the finest edition of the classic poets and historians!"  and "Buy your blanks, Opera Glasses, plain and fancy papeteries and standard books at the Bee Hive Book Store."  Then, in the 1902 directory, there is nothing.

This made me curious.  She appeared to be a single woman that owned a business in the late 1880s. Who was Miss Lizzie Coult? and what happened to her?

First, I checked the Greenwood Cemetery index that is in Archives, and got lucky.  Lizzie Coult died August 7, 1899 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.  With that information, I could go to the microfilm and look for an obituary. There on the front page, with a picture, the headline read, "Miss Lizzie Coult is Dead."  

Picture from Weekly Kansan Republican, August 11, 1899
The sub-headline of the article paid her high praise.
"A Christian, Business Woman Whose Life Was Full of Earnest, Devoted, Self-Sacrificing Labor for Others Has Passed to Her Reward."
So, who was this women that received such high praise from those that knew her?

Lizzie Coult was born November 15, 1852 in Sussex County, New Jersey.The Coult family moved to Kansas in 1878 and settled near Neosho Rapids. By 1880, Miss Coult was teaching school near Emporia in the Garfield School.  In 1885, Miss Lizzie Coult arrived in Newton with her mother, Jane, and purchased the Bee Hive Bookstore.  

Bookmark from the Bee Hive Book Store

According to the 1887 directory she had two employees; Miss Jennie White held the position of saleslady and Charles Coult worked as a clerk. She sold the Bee Hive Bookstore to H.F. Toews in 1894.  Miss Coult continued to work for Toews as a bookkeeper until her death. 

Between 1894 and her death in 1899, she focused on her work in the Presbyterian Church and was a leader in the Kansas Christian Endeavor Union.  She, with Rev. W.L. Garges, published the Kansas Endeavor, a newsletter for the Kansas Christian Endeavor Union. She was also known state-wide for her work with young people through the related organization, Junior Christian Endeavor.  She contributed articles to the Presbyterian publication, The Church at Home and Abroad, Vol 21 (1897).

Lizzie Coult died unexpectedly August 7, 1899, at the age of 47 of "quick consumption."  In tribute to her years of dedication to the youth of the Presbyterian Church, children placed little bouquets of flowers under the casket and the Junior Choir sang. 

She was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Newton with the inscription "She hath done what she could."

Greenwood Cemetery
Photo by Julian Wall

Information from The Weekly Kansan Republican, August 11, 1899, p.1.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lazy Summer Days

On a hot July day, what tastes better than watermelon!

ca. 1910 unidentified boy 
ca. 1915 unidentified people eating watermelon

Another treat that is especially good with watermelon is roll kuchen or crullers.   Martha Dirksen had several recipes for this favorite.
Martha Dirksen's Roll Kuchen

Martha Dirksen's Crullers

This one is a little different.
Martha Dirksen's Crullers in Cream or Cinnamon Flop

Arpha Wedel's Pickled Watermelons

If you need you need to prolong the watermelon season, here is Arpha Wedel's Pickled Watermelon.

What are some other favorite summer treats?

Edward Wiebe, unknown, Hilda Wiebe, Charlotte L. Regier, Alfred Wiebe
 at the John Regier Farm