Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Peter Pan Ice Cream Store

Recently, we posted a photograph on facebook of a Newton Peter Pan Ice Cream Store.  The questions and memories that resulted encouraged us to look into this Harvey County business. One goal was to see where these stores were actually located and how many were there?
Peter Pan located at 1326 N.Main
(corner of 13th & Main), Newton
ca. 1969-1977
Our photo technician, Linda Koppes, searched our photo archives for any photo related to Peter Pan Ice Cream and then she scoured the City Directories for locations and dates. I did a bit of background research into the business and discovered that a popular business today has a direct connection to the Peter Pan Stores of the 1960s and 70s.

100 Block North Main, Newton, August 1968
The Hotel Meridian (two story brick building in the photo) was located at 123 N. Main and housed a Peter Pan Ice Cream Store on the street level from approximately 1956 to 1966.  Other businesses from south to north included the Gail Ward Used Car lot (117); Russell's Furniture (121); Peter Pan Ice Cream Store (123); Meridian Hotel (123 1/2); Miller's Sinclair Service Station (127).  Signs for the Meridian Hotel and Coca Cola are visible on the north wall of the building.  These buildings were town down in approximately 1970.

From 1973 to 1979 a Peter Pan Ice Cream Store was located at 127 N. Main.  In 1980, it became the Pancake Hut and then in 1984 the Dairy Queen.  The Dairy Queen was torn down this August. 

In addition, there was a store located in the Pop Shoppe at 104 W. 1st.
104 W. 1st
Peter Pan Ice Cream Store
ca. 1967-1971
Peter Pan Ice Cream Stores were a Kansas creation.  In 1933, Henry H. Braum started a small butter processing plant in a converted house in Emporia,KS.  Gradually, this business grew. In 1952, Bill, a son, developed a chain of retail ice cream stores in Kansas named Peter Pan.

 In 1967, the 61 Peter Pan Ice Cream Stores were sold to a large wholesaler.  The sale did not include the Braum Dairy or processing plant.  As a condition of the sale, the Braums were not allowed to sell ice cream in Kansas for 10 years. Bill moved the business to Oklahoma City, OK and in 1968 opened the first Braum's Ice Cream & Dairy Store.  Today the Braum family owns and operates nearly 300 stores located in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas including one here in Newton.

Where did the name Peter Pan come from?
 Braum got the name 'Peter Pan' after the Emporia Park. 

Postcard of Peter Pan Park, Emporia

How the park got it's name is also interesting.  Mary White, the young daughter of Emporia's William Allen White died of injuries sustained while horse-back riding.  White writes an editorial about her life and funeral.  In the article, White refers to his daughter as a "Peter Pan", a girl who did not want to grow up. The article was widely published.  Contributions were given to the White family in Mary's honor.  The Whites decide to use the money to build a park in Emporia.  The Park was named the Peter Pan Park after the young, energetic Mary White.

You can read the story of Mary White in a book written by museum volunteer and former board member, Bev Buller.  The book is available in the museum gift shop.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Gallery Improvements

After a fairly quiet summer, activity is picking up at the museum and in the archives.  During 'the quiet months', a great deal of work was done behind the scenes and we are now seeing the results.  One huge improvement will benefit those who attend our programs and events.  

Many may remember the brown air conditioner at the north end of Harvey County Hall, where we hold most of our programs.
In case you've forgotten, a photo of the old a/c.

This a/c unit served us well for many years.  Those who have recently attended a museum program may remember that it struggled to keep up on the really hot summer days.  This fact made it difficult to plan an activity for lots of people during the summer.  Plus, the unit was really noisy and had to be turned off during the actual program.  A less than ideal situation.  

After careful consideration, looking at all the options, the maintenance committee and Board of Directors decided to go forward with a new a/c unit in Harvey County Hall.

Stith employee after removing the old unit.
Remember when then gallery was that yellow color?

The new unit was installed this past week. 

The new unit.
Already we have noticed an improvement in the airflow throughout the gallery.  Since it is much quieter, we can leave it running during programs.  The options, available while running the unit, allow us to adjust the temperature easily, allowing visitors to be more comfortable.

We are excited to have this ready for our first Sunday afternoon program on September 16, The Way We Worked: The Work Continues by HCHM photo technician Linda Koppes. The program starts at 2:00.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Way We Worked - Museum Style

We are in the last few weeks of a long process that included a gallery renovation and installing a new exhibit. I thought it might be interesting to look back over the past year to see our progress.  Also, mark your calendar for September 8 when the new exhibit, The Way We Worked: Serving Harvey County, will open.  We also have a series of related programs and activities planned for the coming year. For a complete list of activities visit  our web page at

 The very first thing we did was remove the last boarded up window.
(Anybody remember when all the windows on the building were boarded up?) 
Richard Hege removing the wood from the window.

It made an immediate difference in the gallery.

Then, we took apart the cases and exhibits.
Ljuba DeSmith never knows what she will be doing at the museum
 - from cleaning to taking apart cases.
One thing is certain - we could not do what we do with out volunteers.

Ready for the painters.

Gathering Objects
Firemen come to help move a gas pump into the exhibit

Service Pins from the Fire Dept. and a mystery object.

Wicker Coffin

Ljuba enlists the help of granddaughter, Abby, to clean artifacts.

Mounting the Exhibit

Richard creating a rod for the exhibit
Richard  & Bob Myers installing the rod. 

Sheriff Reserve Officer Uniform
Worn by Elmer Balzer

We can't wait to show you the finished exhibit on September 8, 2012!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Unexpected Story

We are getting closer and closer to the opening of our new exhibit, The Way We Worked: Serving Harvey County on September 8, 2012. Watch for details on our web and facebook pages.

The following story of James & Annie (Andes) Romig illustrates one aspect of working in Harvey County.

Sometimes  research can take a person in an unexpected direction. One of the goals for our upcoming exhibit, The Way We Worked:  Serving Harvey County, was to tell the stories of those working behind the scenes serving others.  For example, businessman R.A. Goerz and his wife Martha are well known in Harvey County history, but what about their maid? What was her story?

With this goal in mind, one area my research focused on was women identified in the City Directories as "domestics". The 1887 Directory listed Miss Annie S. Andes, Miss Susie Andes & Miss Winnie Andes as "domestics".  I wondered how, what appeared to be, three unmarried sisters came to be in Newton and what happened to them. Although I found out quite a bit of interesting information, it always led to more questions, including some that will, for now,  remain a mystery.

In approximately 1884 the Andes family moved from Ephrata, Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Newton.  The father, Levi Andes, was a tailor and an Old Order Brethren minister. 
Old Order Brethren Ministers, ca. 1880s
Levi Andes is among these men.
The Andes family also included wife Susan, daughters, Lizzie, Annie S,  Susie, Lovenia "Winnie", Alice and sons, Wilton and  Jacob. Jacob seems to have died soon after the family's arrival in Kansas. Levi continued to work as a tailor in Newton.

Levi built the family home located at 410 E. 2nd, Newton, Kansas.
Andes Home 410 E. 2nd, Newton.
Wilton S. Andes, unknown, Annie S. Andes Romig holding baby, small child,
unidentified, unidentified, Alice Andes Andes
For several years, the three sisters, Annie, Susie and Winnie, worked as domestics, likely cleaning and cooking in Newton's wealthier homes. Gradually, they each got married and no longer worked outside of the home. Lovenia "Winnie" married Thomas Greer in the spring of 1888. Susie married Robert B. Slayton  in January 1890 and no other information could be found on her. Lizzie married Edwin F. Lehman in March 1891.  Both Winnie and Lizzie remained in Harvey County throughout their married lives.

Annie married James G. Romig March 30, 1893.  Her father, Levi Andes, conducted the ceremony.

Marriage Certificate
Annie S. Andes & James G. Romig
Original at the Harvey County Historical Museum & Archives

James A. Romig was born in Cedar County, Iowa, March 9, 1866 and began working for the Santa Fe Railroad in 1885.  He started  "at the bottom of the ladder as a wiper, gradually climbing by means of conscientious work and real ability to the high place in his work" as an engineer.  At the turn of the century he was "so thoroughly master of his engine that it was he that was the most often called when any through specials were to be taken over the line at an unusual speed and an expert was needed."

By 1905 the couple had two children, James L. (c. 1895) and Carrie C (c. 1897) and were living at 410 E. 2nd, Newton, KS in the house built by Annie's father. 

In February 1905 tragedy struck the Romig family. The Newton Evening Kansas-Republican, Feb. 13, 1905, carried the story of a "Wreck on Santa Fe." According to the article, a collision occurred when local freight number thirteen was stuck in a snow drift five miles east of Walton.  Somehow this message did not get to the train with Engineer Romig on it. Perhaps due to blowing snow which led to low visibly, or an error in communications between dispatcher and conductor, but Romig was not aware of the stuck train.   The article went on to note, "the fast train which was running a double header went into the drifted freight causing the engineer . . .  to be severely injured."  

Newton Evening Kansan-Republican
February 13, 1905

Romig was found unconscious with a severe wound to his leg.  He had lost a great deal of blood. The paper further noted that he was"obliged to endure the exposure until the wreckage was cleared away"  and he could be freed. He was taken to his home around 10 o'clock at night.  The February 14, 1905 Newton Evening Kansas-Republican had further details about the accident, noting that the engineer had been caught between the cab and the tender and could hear the hiss of escaping steam. Romig knew he was in danger of being scalded at that point.  In the frantic effort to get loose, "the muscles in the calf of his leg were torn and an artery severed."  He did eventually get loose.  The article concludes by noting, "his experience was indeed an awful one and his friends will be glad if he comes out of it with nothing more serious than a badly bruised leg."   

The next day, Romig had not improved, so he was sent to a Topeka hospital to get better care.  His brother-in-law Will Andes went with him.

Despite reports that Romig had survived the trip to the Topeka hospital, he died at 7:15 a.m. on February 16, 1905.  James G. Romig had worked for the Santa Fe Railroad for 20 years and was 39 years old. 

Newton Evening Kansan-Republican,
Feb. 16, 1905

James G. Romig
Greenwood Cemetery
Newton, Ks

 Annie was widowed with two young children, James,10 years old and Carrie, 8.      

Annie continued to live at her home on 410 E. 2nd, and it is not clear how she supported herself and young children.  In 1939, when she moved to San Diego to live closer to her daughters, Carrie and Alice.  She died November 28, 1949 at her daughter's home in San Diego. Her obituary noted that she was survived by two daughters, Carrie, who had not married, and Alice (Romig) Nevitt and one son, James Romig.  

Annie S. <i>Andes</i> Romig
Annie S (Andes) Romig
Greenwood Cemetery
Newton. Ks

This wasn't the story I expected to find when I started researching the Andes sisters. Questions still remain, and I did not get a feel for what life was like as a domestic from this particular family. However, the life story of James G. Romig highlighted how dangerous the work we do can be, despite skill and caution. 

In the end it is a real story about real people living in Harvey County.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Remembering the Guest House

A week ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Fourth Thursday Story Telling Session at Peace Connections in Newton.  The topic was Guest House Reminiscence.

Some wonderful stories were told.  Myrna Krehbiel, Peace Connections director, and Roger Rutschman led the time of story telling.  Rutschman's father, James D, along with Dr. J. Winfield Fretz opened the Guest House in the 1950s.

The Guest House was a place of firsts.

For many, the Guest House was their first job.  One lady recalled how she started working at the Guest House at the age of 14 and really disliked wearing the required hairnet. One man, who worked as a manager, recalled how it was a challenge to make sure that hairnets were worn, especially by the teens.

Rutschman was the first in Newton to try the new self service buffet idea at the Guest House.  He had seen a self serve buffet at a restaurant in Wichita, and wanted to see if it would work in Newton.  When he opened the buffet, the Guest House was one of three restaurants in Kansas that used the self service idea.

The Guest House was the first restaurant in Newton to integrate in 1957.  Every one, regardless of race, was welcome to come in, sit down, and be served their meal. 

Rutschman also introduced Kentucky Fried Chicken to Harvey County residents.  Stories were also told about the transition to the Ramada Coffee House and the decision to close the Guest House in 1972.

Of course, food was discussed.  Many recalled the that certain dishes were served on specific days - fish on  Friday, turkey on Thursday and meatloaf on Wednesday. One person likened the food on the buffet to "a really good church potluck."

One story really reflected how times and customs have both changed and stayed the same. Coffee breaks have long been popular.  In the earlier days,  Rutschman would take $10 of change and place it in a bowl and set it on the counter.  People would come in for their coffee break and make their own change from the bowl. He was able to do this for a number of years without any problem. Eventually, he had to remove the change bowl and have someone ring up the customer due to missing money.

Some traces of the Guest House still remain.  Rutschman pointed out the "Exit" sign that is still visible in Peace Connections.  There is also the exterior sign that was revealed earlier this spring when the awning was removed.

This is only a small portion of what was shared at Peace Connections.  From the stories shared, it was evident that the Guest House was an important part of the Newton community for many years.  Some of the stories will be part of the upcoming exhibit, "The Way We Worked: Serving Harvey County," which opens September 8. 

A big thank you to all that shared, to Myrna Krehbiel, Peace Connections for facilitating, and Roger Rutschman for sharing his memories of his family business.