Friday, December 14, 2012

A cenutry-old plate makes it back to Amy, Kansas.

Searching an antique shop in a town near her home in Naramata, British Columbia, Wednesday, Elaine Davidson stumbled upon a peculiar plate. 
The plate shows a picture of a boy riding a tom turkey, the feathers tucked. At the bottom in gold lettering is stamped complements of Patten Mercantile, Amy, Kansas.

“I collect vintage kitchen items, which I like to use,” Davidson said. “The plate was high up on a shelf of a store filled with dishes, kitchenalia, vintage Christmas tree ornaments and such.”

The illustration is what caught her attention. The plate was manufactured in Ohio and the child riding a turkey was a popular depiction at the beginning of the century.

 “I like pieces that are whimsical and make me and my guests laugh,” she said. “The shop owner said it was from the turn of the century but didn’t know much more about it.”

Davidson said the first thing she does when she purchases antiques is researches them. It led her to an article written by The News’ Amy Bickel about the ghost town of Amy in Lane County.

According to Vance Ehmke, a local farmer who lives nearby and has an old sign from the Amy store, Guy and Rodney Patten owned the store in the 1920s.
Ehmke has a story about the store on a bulletin board in his shop that was written by area historian Ellen May Stanley for the Dighton Herald.

Stanley, who spells the name “Patton” in her article, wrote that the store was built in 1906 by the Boltz family. A bandstand was located not far from the building.

The store closed in 1955. The local elevator – the only business left in town, burned the store down in 2003 to make way for a new office and scales.

Meanwhile Davidson reported this after a day of emailing Thursday.

“Here is the end of your story,” she wrote. “I’m on my way to the post office to send the plate back to Amy and Vance Ehmke.”

- Amy Bickel

Monday, December 3, 2012

Frizell, Kansas - a dead town in Pawnee County

The Depot that once was at Frizell, Kansas, in Pawnee County. The 1965-1966 school year was the last classes to go through the school, said Katie Kecheisen, education director and archivist for the Santa Fe Trail Center near Larned. Anna Bassford, director of the center, said the L'Dora school and the Frizell depot were moved to the museum grounds in 1970. The school has undergone regular upkeep. The depot, however, was recently renovated using the original blueprints from 1929. It opened to the public for the first time last month. Kecheisen said the depot now includes an exhibit on rail history. The railroad still goes by the site of Frizell, but there is nothing there but a few foundations of the elevator, along with the current farming operation, said Don Deege, who still lives just west of the fort.

The school house. Milburn Stone went to school at Frizell and worked at his parents store there. Established in 1859 along the Santa Fe Trail, Fort Larned was decommissioned in 1883. A year later, the government sold the land, including a section that contained the fort buildings to Frank Sage who represented the Pawnee Valley Stock Breeders Association, according to the Kansas State Historical Society. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad went through in 1886. A siding - which allowed trains to pass on the same line - was constructed at the future town site and designated Sage in honor of Frank Sage. The site had a schoolhouse, which was established in 1889. E.E. Frizell purchased the fort in 1902 and the name of the station changed to Frizell, according to an article in the Dec. 26, 1929 edition of the Larned Chronoscope. Frizell, a state legislator along with being a rancher and entrepreneur, helped build the little station town, according to the Chronoscope article. A post office was established in 1904. Dora Arnold, wife of Lee Arnold, the town merchant, was postmistress, the article stated. The school burned down and was rebuilt in 1906, named L'Dora, after L'Dora Frizell, Redding's great-grandmother. In 1929, according to the article, the town had a depot, siding for freight cars, filling station, feed and grain business, one elevator and "a modern school." The town had a population of 40, with more than half of the residents Mexicans employed by the railroad and area farmers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Crazy issues

It looks like I need to figure out what is going on with my blog! Hang with me as I do some updating. Thanks!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Feterita, Kansas - a dead town

Feterita, Kansas. I'm looking for anyone who can help me with this dead town. I took this pictures in the summer of 2012 on my way to Elkhart for a June wheat harvest story. Elkhart Co-op Equity Exchange does have bins there, as well.

Feterita sign still by the tracks!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ash Valley, Pawnee County, an old gravestone

I wrote about Ash Valley  a while back, but here is information on an old gravestone, maybe one of the oldest gravestones in the state! Click here for the story of Ash Valley and its birth and death. Here's a photo I stumbled across in an email I received a while back from a reader.

From The News
Another remnant is about a mile east of town, a limestone marker honoring a man who died before Kansas was a state. Cliff Line, a former resident of Ash Valley, was digging a post hole in 1916 when he hit a rock. When he unearthed it, he found lettering on it and realized it was a grave from 75 years earlier. The stone said: A.D. 1841 June W.D Silver Shot with (below shows the carving of an arrow). Speculation is he died from an Indian attack. The site, according to an article from the time in the The News, is 30 miles from the Santa Fe Trail and the man could have been hunting before he was attacked. The railroad erected a monument that still stands today along the former railroad line.

Thanks for the photo Adrian!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rydal, Kansas - a dead town in Republic County

Building the overpass at Rydal in the early 1950s.

Then, in 1950, U.S. 36 highway was built through Scandia township and a new overpass was constructed over the railroad tracks at Rydal. A large park was built for tourists just east of Rydal on the highway.
But the hustle and bustle of the little town would soon come to an end. According to the June 5, 1952 edition of the Telescope, a fire broke out that year at the elevator.

Mrs. Amos J. Dickerman, Rydal, postmistress, gave the first alarm. "I was wakened by a crash like "thunder, and looked out the window. When I saw the sky was clear, I looked to see if a car had wrecked on the highway. Then I saw the glare of the fire ... It was burning all over, with the flames swirling and sparks flying everywhere."
But as crews put one fire out, the hot ashes landed on the roof of the Presbyterian Church, Dooley said. 

1951 aerial of Rydal
Rydal, Kansas, was as ordinary as any town planted in Kansas in the late 1800s.

The Rydal Giants played their regular weekly game of baseball for practice on the home diamond in the pasture near Rydal Saturday afternoon and under their able manager and captain it is safe to say it will soon be in the shape to play any team in the county. - May 31, 1907 
William Johnson, of near Rydal, shipped a carload of hogs of his he was raising to Kansas City, loading them at Rydal Thursday morning. - Dec. 2, 1920
 About 30 from the Rydal community enjoyed a basket dinner at the Rydal church basement. - June 13, 1946

But those taking a trip by the town that seemed to come to life from the pages of the Belleville Telescope will find little left.

Trucks line up for harvest at Rydal, Kansas

Read more of this story by clicking here

1935 photo of grocery store owned by William West. Rydal is a dead town in Republic County. These photos are courtesy of the Republic County historical society

My Dear Santa: - I am a little boy 8 years old. I live at Rydal, Kansas. I go to No. 9 school. We are going to have a program at our school. Will you please bring me a desk with pigeonholes in it and a chair and a storybook? I am in the third grade. I have one brother and one sister. Please give lots of toys and candy and things to the poor children that have no parents. Santa, you are a jolly fellow. The 25th of Dec. is Christmas.Yours Truly -Charles B. Beymer Jr.- Belleville Telescope, Dec. 16, 1910

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Covert Kansas project has kids learning with eagerness

INMAN - Ghost towns don't have real ghosts, these fourth-graders have learned.

"A town is a ghost town because there is nobody there," said Inman Elementary student Dantlie Raney. "Everybody left it."

It's part of teacher Bentley Richert's Kansas history lesson. Most of his students didn't know the definition of a ghost town, or that Kansas has more than 6,000 of them - towns that expanded with dreams of a future before disappearing from most maps.

However, armed with their iPads, these fourth-graders have a quest to memorialize the ghost town of Covert in Osborne County, which has been dead since the last postmark was stamped in 1966.

"We are going to put the flesh on the bones of Covert," said Kaia Wiggins, 9. "We are trying to find out what happened to the town."

The project started after Kevin Honeycutt, ESSDACK's technology integration specialist, read about Covert's story in the Sept. 30 edition of The Hutchinson News. Honeycutt, on his way to Nebraska to train teachers about using technology in the classroom as part of his job through the educational service center, made a stop at Covert.

To read more of the story, click here

Monday, October 8, 2012

Galt, Kansas - a dead town in Rice County

On my way back from a trip to Covert, Kansas, I decided to stop by Galt - or what is left of the former Rice County town.

A reader has suggested the project a few years ago, and I was only about eight or so miles from the site as I traveled back to Hutchinson. Thus, I took the dirt roads and found a farmhouse with a sign displayed on the mailbox.

This is Delbert Hayes, who happened to be home and knows all the history of the little town. He wrote a paper while attending McPherson College in 1955 on the town's birth and its death. To read my latest ghost town story, click here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Covert Kansas - an Osborne County ghost town

 Here are some photos of Covert, Kansas, a dead town in Osborne County. Covert's history includes an unsolved murder, a legendary high school basketball coach and a meteorite. Mona Winder Kennedy has a new book on Covert's history. To order it, visit or call (785) 525-7784.
This is a photo of the town's first post office. It was actually established before the town in 1873. Osborne County officials have done some work to restore the log cabin structure but more work and funding is needed.

The former elementary school.

Von walks up the stairs of this once elementary school. He was a great tour guide!

Mona Kennedy and Von walk the weedy streets of Covert. Mona wrote the book "Covert, Kansas: an evolution of a ghost town."

A sign at Covert High School talks of its famous son, winningest Kansas boys basketball coach John Locke.

This was the school's water tower. It was the only water source in Covert.

Here are the old fuel pumps. See where the glass was?

Inside the post office. Osborne leaders hope to someday restore this old structure and make Covert a walking historic site.

An old home still stands.

An old photo of the high school.


The day the last postage stamp was issued at the post office.

Winning basketball coach John Locke. In the 1925-26 season, the school couldn't afford a basketball coach. Locke, a senior, asked if he could coach and play. They let him and he lead the team to its only state basketball tournament appearance.

A look at what the town once looked like.

Covert, Kansas - video of dead town in Osborne County

Here's a video of Covert Kansas. This ghost town's last post mark was in 1966. The town was founded in 1880 by James Bradshaw. It was named after Covert creek, which was named after James Covert who died in the area from an Indian attack. For more on Covert, visit other entries in this blog.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Covert, Kansas - a murder story

This is the story of Covert, Kansas  and its murder story. Pictured below is the barn that Fred Kaser shot himself before going on trial for the murder of his brother, his brother's wife and the couple's six children. To read more about Covert, check out other entries in this blog.

It was nearly 11 p.m. when H. A. Moore and Ray Cronk – returning home to Covert from Osborne – noticed a blaze of orange coming from the Albert Kaser farm. The mass of flames had engulfed the entire residence and the two began to notify residents in town with a call sent out on rural telephone line that summoned the entire neighborhood.
Water, however, was limited. The school had a water tower, but that was more than a mile away. Past control to even fight, residents watched the fire eventual burn out and began sifting through the ruins. There, they found the body of Albert near the front door of the home. His wife, Nellie Kaser, 30, along with their children, Raymond, 12; Alberta, 10; Iona, 8; Margarete, 6; Alvin, 4; and Katie Lee, 2, were all in what remained of their beds.
Someone found empty revolver shells outside the house, but no significance was attached to the discovery. They took the bodies to Fred Kaser’s home to examine. But murder wasn’t immediate on the minds of residents. They buried the family, blaming the horrific deaths to the tragic fire caused from a oil stove that the family left burning, causing a gas that overcame the family before the house caught fire.
But folks began talking soon after the funerals, Kennedy said. Some had witnessed a quarrel between the brothers just a few weeks before in the Covert general store.
The state fire marshal got involved and the bodies were exhumed. Albert Kaser was shot in the chest, is wife in the abdomen. The children had not been shot. Law enforcement found Fred had a gun using bullets similar to those found in the bodies.
Evidence was circumstantial, but they put the bullets in the Covert bank vault and the sheriff arrested Fred for murder. They planned to bring him to trial. Fred’s father, David, posted his bond.
Hundreds packed the tiny Osborne County courtroom to hear the preliminary hearings of the case that August. Throughout the hearings, Fred maintained his innocence.
“I’ve never seen a guilty man who talked so straight,” the judge later said. “He looked me straight in the eyes and said he was innocent. I did not want to him to talk with me about the case, but he insisted on it.”
His trial date was set for Oct. 24., 1928.
Within a few weeks of the trial, Fred’s attorney quit because Fred’s father, a well-to-do farmer, refused to bear the expense of the case. Maybe Fred had taken everything to heart as he wrote a last note to his wife and five children and to his father.
“Dear Wife and Children: I love you with all my heart, but this is more of a burden than I can stand, when I never had nothing to do with it. But forget me and enjoy life.
“P.E. – Dear Father, will you please give my share of the money to Vera (Kaser’s wife) to keep the children with. You would not help me, but please help them. Your son, Fred Kaser.

“… I am in the barn, call help before you come to the barn.”

Information taken from The Hutchinson News between June 1 and Oct. 24, 1928.Covert is a dead town in Osborne County. The ghost town's last post mark was in 1966. Today, not much is left of Covert.