Honors in Customs: Notable Notables, Both Great and Small, of Osborne County, Kansas

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Call them “quirky,” “eccentric,” “quaint,” “unique,” or just about any other number of adjectives that one can come up with. We present here a list of eighteen (18) items of note that are a celebration of what has managed to separate Osborne County from the rest of the herd over the years and yet is exactly what makes the county a haven for the Kansas Explorer and lovers of all things rural – the Notable Notables.

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American Legion Memorial Highway, countywide.  The idea of U.S. Highway 281 being officially named in honor of the American Legion originated in Osborne, Kansas.

Taken from the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of March 31, 1960.

It is a further note of local pride that the North Hill, a mile north of Osborne, Kansas, is the highest natural point that Highway 281 crosses over on the entire North American continent.

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The Challenge of the Windmill, Covert.  When a new high school building was being constructed in the community of Covert in 1923-1924 one improvement was to build a watertower behind the schoolhouse to maintain a good water supply for the school. As the tower stood atop a hill, a well was dug to the east at the foot of the hill. A large windmill was then erected that would pump the water up the hill to the tower. It wasn’t very long before the boys made it a competition to see who would dare to climb the highest up the windmill, where they would tie their class colors to it so all would know how high they got. This competition drew the attention of the school principal, who told the students to stop climbing the windmill, as someone could fall and get hurt. He promised severe punishment to anyone who broke the rules.

In the meantime Mary Richards was boarding with her uncle while attending school at Covert, and he made her the person responsible for greasing the windmill’s parts when needed, That meant climbing up to the windmills’ metal fans at the top. Mary had no problem with heights and regularly did this. After hearing some boys brag about how high they had climbed, Mary decided to show them. The next time she climbed to the top to grease parts she took along a scarf with her class colors and tied it to one of the fans for all the world to see.

Rumors were rampant in school on who it was who had it all the way to the top. Then Mary was told to go to the principal’s office. She stood in front of his desk as he sat and stared at her in silence for some time, drumming his fingers on the wood. Finally he spoke. “All right, Mary,” he sighed, “you’re a girl and so I cannot punish you. You can go. Just don’t tie that scarf ever again to the fans, alright?”

The second Covert Rural High School building burned down in 1951. Both the watertower and the windmill still stand amid the remains of the now ghost town of Covert, Kansas.

The Covert school watertower as it appeared in 2011.

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Concrete Advertising, Osborne.  In 1914 local contractor & builder Franklin A. Rothenberger was hired by the city of Osborne to construct two culverts, one on the north side and one on the south side of the city park. Total cost of the two structures amounted to $660.00. Frank wrote his name and the year of completion in the concrete on the east retaining wall of the north culvert, a tradition that he did with every large job. This also doubled as a cheap and free way of advertising. Frank’s name and the date can still be seen there today, 107 years later.

Franklin A. Rothenberger name can still be seen in the concrete of the
Main Street culvert next to the United Methodist Church in Osborne.

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The Concrete Cover at Main & Second Streets, Osborne.  When Osborne City was founded in 1871, one of the first planned projects was to establish a large well for the community. This well was dug in the center of the intersection of Penn and Arch Streets (today’s Main and Second Streets) at the then-western end of the downtown district. The well was used for many years before it was decided to fill it in. Over time the well has periodically caved in, causing damage to the street above, and every time the concrete cover over the well has been repaired. So the next time you are crossing the intersection of Main and Second Streets, you will now know just why there is that square piece of concrete there in the middle of all the brick.

View of the Osborne community well in 1878 at the intersection of Penn and Arch Streets.
A 2017 aerial view via Google Earth of the concrete cover over the 1871 well dug in the middle of the Second and Main Street intersection in Osborne.

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The Emergency Door Latch/Bar, Downs. Chances are that you’ve all seen and used one. Usually called either a panic bar or an emergency exit bar, they are now required by law to be on the doors of public buildings in most countries around the world. And they all derive from an invention that Osborne County Hall of Fame member William Penn “Bill” Ruth dreamed up in his home’s garage at 812 Osborne Street in Downs, Kansas.

Bill was a blacksmith who opened an automobile garage in Downs in the 1920s. He became a good mechanic who loved to tinker with new ideas for inventions. By 1937 Bill had become somewhat crippled, and it was hard for him to maneuver around his car in his garage at home and open the garage door to drive his car out. So he dreamed up a pneumatic door latch that he attached to the inside of the garage door. When he backed the car into it, a bar depressed and the door automatically flew open. Bill patented his garage door latch, but he never made a cent on it. The large companies all waited until his patent ran out, and then proceeded to market their own panic bars. Bill’s family later donated that first emergency door latch to the Kansas State Historical Society.

The former William Penn Ruth home at 812 Osborne Street, Downs, Kansas. At far right is the garage where the world’s first emergency exit bar was invented and perfected.
Two examples of panic bars and emergency exit bars.

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The Face of The Sidewalk Superintendent on the Courthouse Clocktower, Osborne.  In 1906-1909 the new county courthouse was being constructed in Courthouse Square at Osborne, Kansas. A group of stonemason were hard at work every day to trim and face the Post Rock and Cottonwood Limestone used in the structure. Retired farmer John Wineland lived across the street to the west and would saunter over on a daily basis to watch the progress of all the work. After a while he started to make suggestions to the workers on what they could be doing better. At first they took the suggestions with good grace, but after a while John’s insistence that they follow what he said began to interfere with their work. Finally the head stonemason told John that unless he stopped bothering his workers they would carve his face in the wall of the building, for they knew it very well. He did not, and they did. Today the face of John Wineland can be seen on the south face of the clock tower from the alley behind the courthouse. From this vantage point “The Sidewalk Superintendent” can forever watch everything that goes on, and on a daily basis.

Looking up at the face of John Wineland on the south side of the Osborne County Courthouse clock tower from the alley behind the building.
An up close view of the face of John Wineland, taken
in June 2013. The carving measures three feet tall.

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The Gold Rush of 1880, Hawkeye Township. It was fast, and it was quick, but it did indeed occur – the only recorded gold rush in Osborne County history. In late December 1879 and early January 1880 a well was dug on the homestead of Mr. William Singleton of Hawkeye Township to the northwest of the village of Bloomington. Some interesting mineral deposits were found during the digging, and shown around Bloomington. A score of fellows (some say more) then headed up toward Singleton’s place, and, knowing nothing about gold mining or other petty details, began searching the land for surface gold and digging for near-surface gold. They trespassed all over Singleton’s land and those of his neighbors, and caused quite an uproar. Then the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of January 15, 1880 published a story on the event under the headline of GOLD! GOLD! – SUPPOSED DISCOVERY OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE PRECIOUS METAL IN OSBORNE COUNTY! In it was printed the following letter, which summed up things rather neatly:

MR. EDITOR: The exact location of the gold fields is on the beautiful and picturesque tablelands about six and a half miles northwest of Bloomington.  It was rumored on the streets, on Thursday the 9th inst., that gold-bearing quartz had been found on the above-mentioned section of country, and after it had been put to the various tests, was pronounced genuine.  It was decided to make up a party to inquire into the matter, and after making preparations in the line of picks, pans, mortars and liquids (the last-named article to be used in case of sickness or snakebites only), we started for the supposed El Dorado, and, after numerous inquiries, we at last arrived at the hardy pioneer’s dugout. It then became necessary to interview the lady of the house (as her husband was not at home), to find out where the precious metal was to be found, which duty devolved upon our musical friend (a professional masher, by the way), who very soon learned from that very amiable woman that it was none of our business whether any gold was found on their claim or not. But a vast amount of flattery being used, we were very reluctantly informed that the discovery was made at the bottom of a well, or shaft, a short distance from the aforesaid dugout. We gathered up all the old lariat ropes that could be found about the place, and. after a good deal of pulling and hauling to test the strength of the rope, the least weighty of our outfit was lowered to the bottom of the well. On examination, the sand and gravel was found to contain real, genuine gold, but not in paying quantities. It is an old adage of the illustrious Solomon that ‘gold is where it is found.’ – LENGTHY THE ASSAYER.”

Modern map of Osborne County, Kansas, showing in red
the approximate location of the 1880 discovery of gold.

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The Green Screen Door of the Alton Public Library, Alton.  A local source of pride in the town of Alton, Kansas can be found on the front door leading to the local library – a genuine, old-fashioned green-painted screen door. The decades-old door still has its “Rainbo Bread” advertising, as well as that satisfying slam sound when closing that brings back many fond memories to those patrons fortunate enough to use it. Its often the little things in life that bring the most satisfaction, and the good people of Alton are wise enough to know this, and so maintain this fond nod to yesteryear.

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High School Mascots, countrywide.  By the 1920s high schools everywhere began choosing various mascots – human, animal, or otherwise – to represent their athletic teams. The seven high schools of Osborne County joined in this movement, though Covert Rural High School held out until after World War II, when it finally chose a mascot. So here’s to the Alton Wildcats, and to the Covert Wildcats, and to the Downs Dragons, and the Lakeside Knights, and the Natoma Tigers, and the Osborne Bulldogs, and the Portis Tigers, and to all the teams, individuals, moments, and memories that they have come to represent over time.

Alton Wildcats
Covert Wildcats
Downs Dragons
Lakeside Knights
Natoma Tigers
Osborne Bulldogs
Portis Tigers

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“Homestead Literature Capital of Kansas”, countywide.  Did you know that Osborne County, Kansas is officially the Homestead Literature Capital of Kansas, via a proclamation enacted by the Osborne County Commissioners in 2003? Well, now you do.


A Proclamation designating Osborne County, Kansas as

“The Homestead Literature Capital of Kansas”

WHEREAS, in 1936 Osborne County native John Ise published the book Sod & Stubble, an account of his family’s hardships and triumphs in establishing and maintaining a homestead near Downs in Osborne County during the period 1871-1910; and

WHEREAS, in 1937 longtime Osborne County resident Howard Ruede published posthumously the book Sod-House Days: Letters from a Kansas Homesteader 1877-1878, an account of his hardships and triumphs in establishing and maintaining a homestead in the Kill Creek community of west-central Osborne County; and

WHEREAS, Osborne County enjoys an elite position in the Great Plains region of the United States in terms of local literature written about the homesteading period of 1870 to 1910, to wit: Calvin Reasoner, Historical Sketches of Osborne County (1876); Alfred Saxey, Historical: A Sketch of Osborne County from its Earliest Settlement to the Present Day (1879); Zachary T. Walrond, The Annals of Osborne County (1882); Junction Steam Print, Handbook of Osborne County, Kansas (1884); Downs Times, Downs, Its Location, Advantages, History, Etc. (1885); Frank Barnhart (editor), The Best County in Kansas: Osborne (1889); William Mize, Gold, Grace & Glory (1896); S. S. Van Sickel, Real Life on the Plains (1896); Anna Winslow, Jewels In My Casket (1910); Benjamin Matchett, Autobiography (1923); Nellie Dunham, Fifty Years In Kansas (1925); John Ise, Sod & Stubble (1936); Howard Ruede, Sod-House Days: Letters from a Kansas Homesteader 1877-1878 (1937); Nettie Korb Bryson, Prairie Days (1939); Orville Grant Guttery, Ten Years in Bull City (1942); Darrel Miller – ­Pioneer Plows and Steel Rails (1961), Waconda Land-The Legends and the Reality (1979), Life in A Railroad Town (1996), Life on the Central Branch (1999); Niles Endsley, History of Bull City 1870-1970 (1970); Gladys Enoch, Osborne County Revisited 1871 to 1971 (1971); Osborne County Centennial Book Committee, Loom of A Century (1971); Nellie McDaneld – Covert Kansas (1973), History of Portis, Kansas (1973); Burton Gregory, Mount Ayre 1874-1974 (1974); Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society – The People Came (1977), Osborne County Kansas, Volume II 1870-1930 (1981); John Stephenson ­Downs: The First Hundred Years (1977), Downs Did It (1979); Elizabeth McReynolds, History of the Mount Ayr Camp Meeting (1979); Natoma Centennial Book Committee, Natoma Kansas 1888-1988 (1988); Ada Billings, Sarah (1991); Alton Pride Committee, Bull City-Alton 1870-1995 (1995); Von Rothenberger – Sod & Stubble: The Unabridged and Annotated Edition [with John Ise] (1996), A History of the 1871 Pennsylvania Colony of Osborne County, Kansas (1998), Images of America: Osborne County, Kansas (1999); Area Volunteer Committees, The Osborne County (Kansas) Hall of Fame (1998); Downs Historical Society, Downs and Its Country (1998); Homer Smuck with Janis Johnston and Carol Peterson, Mt. Ayr-A Kansas Quaker Community (2000); and

WHEREAS, the books Sod & Stubble by John Ise and Sod-House Days by Howard Ruede are recognized by both scholars and the general public at state, regional, national, and international levels as being classic examples of everyday life during the homesteading period; and

WHEREAS, the historical value of these literary works continues to be important today in that they tell the story of our own heritage, of the struggle by those first settlers to try and try again to carve out new homes in the vast plains of Kansas and beyond – a struggle of learning to live with the environment, of learning how to adapt to circumstance, of becoming active participants in creating the society around them; and

WHEREAS, the educational value of these literary works continues to be important today in that they tell the story of how we Kansans came to be who we are as a people, a story of what fortitude and tenacity can accomplish that is as relevant today as it was then; and

WHEREAS, the economic value of these literary works is important both to Osborne County and to the State of Kansas in terms of heritage tourism, in that for over sixty-five years two generations have read these works and are currently expressing great interest in visiting the actual sites and region that these works portray: Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the County Commissioners of Osborne County, Kansas: That we proclaim Osborne County to be “The Homestead Literature Capital of Kansas”; and

Be it further resolved: That the county clerk of Osborne County be directed to send a copy of this proclamation to the official county newspaper, the Osborne County Farmer, for formal publication.

I hereby certify that the above Proclamation originated with the Osborne County Commissioners, and was adopted by that body

November 17, 2003 – Dated

Betty Pruter – Chair, Osborne County Commissioners

Vienna Janis – Osborne County Clerk

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Lady in the Rock, Covert Township. Somewhere amid the gullies and hills of Covert Township, Osborne County, Kansas, is a carving of a lady in the native limestone reported to last be seen fifty years ago. The following story was published in the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of June 11, 1970:

Image from the last time that the Lady in the Rock was known to be visited, showing its size in relation to its human admirer.
Close up of the Lady in the Rock.

A couple of weeks afterwards the case of the mystery carver was cleared up by W. W. “Bill” Rouse, who explained that it was probably the work of Robert Lockard. Bill recalled that he and Lockard were in high school when they did some carving in the rocks that he thought was down in and around the McFadden place south of Osborne. Lockard went on to become a professor of Art and Architecture at Kansas State University and then at Texas Tech University.

So if you are ever out and about in Covert Township, please be on the lookout for the Lady. It would be nice to know if she is still there.

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The Light Switch on the Courthouse Third Floor, Osborne.  Up at the top of the east staircase on the third floor of the Osborne County Courthouse there can be found a light switch high on the outside of the wall of the staircase leading up to the building’s attic. And to even reach it one would have to hang out over the open stairwell. So why put it in such an inaccessible place? And exactly what was its purpose? It is not the on/off switch for the enclosed staircase that it is attached to. A suitable mystery for a building that was named one of the finalists for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture in 2008.

The light switch can be seen at top center in this photo from 2017.

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Loafers Bench, southwest corner of First and Main Streets, Osborne.  For around a century many a friend, both young and old, spent some time on this bench, as they watched the world go by and pondered both the important and the not-so important questions of their time. Back in August 1909 the Osborne County Farmer newspaper noted that:

“A long bench has been erected just east of the Exchange National Bank and hereafter all matters of national importance, just as the tariff war in Russia and all matters of international dispute will be settled there.  The city council granted permission to erect the bench and H. N. Crist took up a collection of enough money to build it.”

Over the years the bench became a part of the downtown scene, and was for the most part occupied frequently. So much so that on March 1, 1973 the Farmer published the following poem composed in honor of the Loafer’s Bench:

In time the cost of upkeep for the bench was questioned, and finally in the late 2000s the Loafer’s Bench was permanently removed, and a century’s worth of conversation and camaraderie came to an end.

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“The Outlook”, Tilden Township.  For nine decades a silo stood as one of the great landmarks of Osborne County. Located along County Road 388 in the northeast corner of Section 30 in Tilden Township, the concrete structure was erected in the 1910s on R. L. Parrott’s The Outlook Stock and Poultry Farm. The name “The Outlook” was painted at the silo’s top. It served for decades as a navigational landmark to those in the region, and it was a quite a shock to a great many when the silo came down in the 1990s. “The Outlook” may be gone, but it will not soon be forgotten.

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The Hog Fight, countywide. Beginning in 1885, the most unusual court fight in Osborne County history commenced. There is simply nothing else quite like it to be found in the county’s 150 years of legal dockets. We will let the story that ran in November 1886 in the Osborne County Journal newspaper tell the tale:



“On November 5th, 1885, the celebrated replevin suit of Lawrence vs. Young, which has attracted more attention than any suit ever instigated in this county, was brought before His Honor, H. F. Hildebrandt, a Justice of the Peace of Penn Township, this county, and was set for trial on November 11th. On that day it was continued for trial to the 18th, and was heard before the following named jurors; J. M. Smith, Philo Parsons, George Boring, W. K. Hays, R. L. Rickerson and G. S. Riley. After due deliberation they were unable to agree, and they agreed to disagree, standing five for the plaintiff and one for the defendant.

The second adjudication was held before the same Court, and the following named jurors, on the 20th day of November, 1885: W. F. Smith, W. E. Conner, Ed. Wilcox, John Stivers, Frank Duncan and M. Chapman. It was impossible for these six men to agree on the ownership of his hogship, and they were discharged, standing five for the plaintiff and one for the defendant.

The third trial in the Justices’ Court was held on the 4th day of December, with the following named jurors in the jury box, viz: W. H. Snider, Willard Stoner, Isaac Shaw, H. S. Porter, N. L. VanWormer, and John H. Smith. These men were able to settle the vexed question as to who was the owner of the hog, as far as they were concerned, but not with the utmost satisfaction to all the parties in the case. They found that the defendant had a clear title to Mr. Hog, and their verdict was, to return him to defendant, or plaintiff pay $10.50 in money to the defendant, together with the costs in the case, which amounted to the sum of $311.85.

To this verdict the plaintiff took vigorous exceptions, filed an appeal bond on the 12th day of December, and the case was taken to a higher Court, and the hog put in the pen to await the verdict of men. On the 9th of February, 1886, the case of Lawrence vrs. Young was called by the clerk in the District Court, the parties answered ready, and the case was heard before the following jurors; S. E. Sturdevant, S. P. Shuay, H. A. Taylor, John Mincher, Zeno Mendenhall, David Jewell, J. W. Pinber, W. S. Hayden, J. F. Hoover, C. G. Paris, C. S. Knous and H. S. Hamilton. This jury wrestled with facts in the case, and after long deliberations, were discharged by the Court, they being unable to agree. This jury stood ten for the defendant, and two for the plaintiff.

The second trial over the ownership of the hog was commenced on the 25th day of October, 1886, before the following named jurors: W. A. Getty, I. A. Lukins, C. R. Wright, W. H. Boughner, A. J. Boothe, D. G. Brown, David Bryan, J. M. Clark, N. B. Clauce, C. Crawford, R. Eddy, and C. Frazer, who, on the 4th day of November, returned a verdict for the plaintiff, J. C. Lawrence. The attorneys who have fought this case for the plaintiff are Walrond, Mitchell, and Heren, of Osborne, and Ellis & Ellis, of Beloit, while the defendant was represented by Hays & Pitts, and E. J. Robinson, of Osborne.

Z. C. Young, the defendant in the case, is indemnified by D. J. Flintzer, the party who sold the hog to him, and is the real party defendant. All the parties interested in this long and tedious lawsuit are all citizens of this county, and are men of good standing here. J. C. Lawrence resides in Corinth Township and has been a Justice of the Peace in that township, and formerly belonged to the firm of Hancock & Lawrence.  Z. C. Young is a worthy and respectable business man of Downs.  D. J. Flintzer is a farmer residing in the southeast corner of this township [Penn], is of German descent, and one of the oldest citizens of this county.

This is the history of the hog. Whether or no he may yet have an unwritten history in our courts, the deponent sayeth not.”

In short, Flintzer sold a hog to Young for $10.65, and then neighbor Lawrence butted in and claimed the hog and brought suit against Young to replevin it. The suit was tried four times in district court, and the costs outside of lawyer fees footed up to $4,000.00 – $114,617.73 in 2021 dollars. Both Flintzer and Lawrence had to sell their farms to pay costs, and when Lawrence won the hog he owned no place to put it.

A sketch of the celebrated hog, which appeared in the
Osborne County Journal newspaper of November 10, 1886.

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“Portis Beat Alton ‘59’”, Portis.  In March 1959 the high school rivals Alton Wildcats and Portis Tigers basketball teams met in Randall, Kansas in the finals of the Class BB regional basketball tournament. The stakes were high, as the winner would earn a berth into the state tournament. At the half Alton had a narrow lead of 29-27, but by the end of the third quarter Portis had pulled ahead, 41-36. At the end of the game the score was Portis 55, Alton 48. It was Portis’ first state tournament berth in 38 years, and the team was so excited that when they got back home someone painted the words PORTIS BEAT ALTON ’59on the city well building that stood at the southern edge of the town. The graffiti has remained there for the past 62 years, a reminder of both youthful exuberance and of a once-great small school rivalry.

That March was the best in Osborne County history for the county’s five boys high school basketball teams, as all five participated in regional basketball finals. Natoma beat Osborne in the Palco Class BB regional tournament to earn their own bid into the state tournament alongside Portis.

Fast forward to 2021, when a disgruntled Alton supporter could not take it anymore and spray painted out the offending graffiti on the well building. Defenders of Portis’ honor came forward and the defaced message was cleaned up and restored, to once again proudly proclaim Portis’ great triumph on a certain March evening in ’59.

The restored message on the city well wall, Portis, Kansas, August 2021.

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Septarian Concretions, countywide. Concretions are masses of mineral matter formed when minerals in water are deposited about a nucleus (such as a leaf or shell or other particle), forming a rounded mass whose composition or cement is usually different from the surrounding rock. This can occur at the time of deposition, shortly thereafter, or after, or after the sediment has hardened.

Septarian Concretions are a special type of concretion. They occur in the Blue Hills shales of Osborne County and the North-Central Kansas region. The exteriors of septarian concretions are crisscrossed by a network of ridges, which gives some of them the appearance of a turtle shell. Geologists think that these ridges are formed by the shrinkage of concretions, which cause cracks to form in which minerals, such as calcite, are then deposited. When the concretion is exposed to weathering, the softer parts between the calcite-filled cracks are eroded and the calcite extends above the surface of the concretion, like ridges or little walls. The concretions found in Osborne County can range in size from two inches across to monsters over nine feet in diameter and weighing several tons each.

Three feet wide x four feet long x two feet tall septarian concretions lie amid shale on a hillside in Hancock Township, Osborne County, Kansas.
Septarian Concretion in the collection of the Fick Fossil Museum in Oakley, Kansas.
This rock exhibits the high ridges of calcite that can form in certain specimens.

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The Enigma that is Redruth, Grant Township. If one looks along the bottom edge of the 1942 Nebraska State Highway Map, one can find the community of Redruth included on the map as being located in northwestern Osborne County, Kansas, just north of Alton.  Yet no one in the Alton region has ever heard of  Redruth or even has a clue as to what it might refer to. 

After several years of research in the 2000s Osborne County resident Beth McCormick believed that she at last had uncovered some information that holds an explanation.  It turns out that for many years in Grant Township during the first part of the 20th Century, there was a small general store on a farm with a barn that had a red roof.  It was also known among travelers that for a little extra one could stay overnight in the barn. 

It is still a mystery as to why this site appeared on the Nebraska map in 1942, with the red roof of the barn having apparently evolved into Redruth in the mind of some obscure Nebraska state cartographer.  Even more curious, the 1942 Kansas state transportation map does not mention Redruth at all!

In the 1980s a man traveling on horseback from Atchison, Kansas came west through Grant Township researching old trails in the area.  He had information about a place called “Redruth” that was a major stop on the trail he was studying.  Unfortunately, no one remembers who this man was, what trail he was researching, or how to contact him.

The portion of the 1942 Nebraska Highway Map that shows Osborne County, Kansas. The county’s cities are highlighted in yellow and the imagined community of Redruth in red.

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What Happened When the Circus Got Sick, Covert. Back in 1915 two men from the community of Covert attended a circus performance in the nearby town of Osborne. Afterwards the men approached the circus owner and invited him to bring the show the next day to Covert, and gave him directions for the route to get there.

The men returned to Covert and told the townsfolk what as occurring. They had never had a circus perform before in Covert, and so all were excited that next day as the entire community stood along the main road into town, breathlessly awaiting the performers’ arrival. Morning turned into late afternoon, and still the circus had not come. Did they get the directions wrong? Finally as dusk fell the circus wagons slowly limped down the road from the north. The circus owner informed the townspeople that they were very sorry, but the circus could not perform as promised, as several of the animals and even a few of the human performers were very sick and bruised from being tossed around in the wagons from the very bad condition of the roads into Covert.

For the Covert folk this was the last straw, as they had had troubles with the roads in their area for years. They gathered every car they could find in the immediate area and the next Monday drove their car caravan north to the county seat of Osborne, where they met with the county commissioners and demanded that a decent road be built to their town and beyond. Faced with a determined large number of constituents, the commissioners finally agreed, and a new roadway was then constructed from Osborne southwest to Covert and then south to Waldo, Kansas. A second new roadway was also constructed west from Covert to Natoma in the southwestern corner of Osborne County. Today these two routes are known as County Road 671 and County Road 404. They remain to this day two of the best maintained all-weather rock roads in the region.

And all because a circus got sick and could not perform.

A 1915 photograph of the Covert Road Boosters as they readied to drive north from
Covert to Osborne to demand that new roads be constructed to their community.

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And with this last list we conclude the special 2021 Osborne County Hall of Fame Honors series. Over the past several months we have tried to present a glimpse of the county’s 150 years, and we fully realize that we’ve just barely scratched the surface. So many more topics to explore! We encourage you to continue on your own in uncovering the vast history and heritage of Osborne County, Kansas.

Thank you to all who have contributed to the data compiled for the 2021 Honors and be sure to go out of your way to support, both financially and in person, the Osborne County Genealogical & Historical Society (Carnegie Research Library), the Natoma Heritage Seekers (Pohlman Museum), and the Downs Historical Society (Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot) – all volunteer-operated and in need of all the help they can get. All future preservation of the history of Osborne County is literally in your hands.

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Honors in Sport: More Notable Teams from 150 Years of Osborne County, Kansas History

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1914 Alton Girls Basketball – State Tournament!

1957 Alton Boys Basketball – State Tournament.

1962-1968 Alton Boys Football – Here’s to the teams that created and comprised the legendary 51-Game Winning Streak!

1963 Alton Sunflower Pee Wee Champions

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1925-1926 Covert Boys Basketball – The team that was coached by a high school senior and became the smallest school to ever earn a Kansas State Basketball Tournament berth!

The 1925-1926 Covert Rural High School Boys Basketball Team, pictured here with the school principal. Senior John Locke, front row at far left, served as the coach for the team, for the school could not afford to hire a coach and agreed to let him assume the position as they did not have to pay him anything.

1937-1938 Covert Boys Basketball – Reached the District Tournament and ended up with an overall 14-1 record; only team to defeat the eventual Class B state champion that year.

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1983 Downs State Pee Wee Baseball Champions

1984 Downs State Pee Wee Baseball Champions

1985 Downs State Pee Wee Baseball Champions

1988 Downs Boys Cross Country – State Champions

1989 Boys Outdoor Track – State Champions

2002 Downs Boys Golf – State Champions

2003 Downs Boys Golf – State Champions

2004 Downs Boys Golf – State Champions

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1973 Osborne Blues State Pee Wee Baseball Champions

1974 Osborne Blues State Pee Wee Baseball Champions

1987 Osborne State Pee Wee Champions

1990 Osborne State Pee Wee Champions

1993 Osborne State Pee Wee Champions

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Natoma 1928 Girls Basketball – State Tournament

Natoma 2014 Boys Cross-Country – State Champions

Natoma 2015 Boys Cross-Country – State Champions

Natoma 1974 Boys Football – made the state playoffs

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Portis 1921 Boys Basketball – State Tournament

Portis 1959 Boys Basketball – State Tournament

Portis 1960 Boys Basketball – State Tournament

Portis 1963 Boys Basketball – State Tournament

The Legendary “Portis Dynamos” Town Team – The greatest town team in county history and one of the greatest such teams in Kansas state history!

From the Portis Independent newspaper of October 7, 1909, page 1.
From the Osborne County Farmer newspaper of February 28, 1929, page 7.

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If you know of a team that has been missed and needs to be included in this list, don’t be shy – let us know about it!

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Honors in People: Notable Osborne County, Kansas Memorials and Plaques

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Pioneer Memorial, Fairview Cemetery, Bethany Township. Located in the eastern part of the Fairview Cemetery is the Pioneer Memorial, commissioned in 1953 by educator and Osborne County Hall of Fame member Maude May McMindes.


The marker’s back side text reads: “SOMEWHERE BACK OF THE SUNSET WHERE LOVELINESS NEVER DIES THEY LIVE IN THE CLOUD OF GLORY ‘MID THE BLUE AND GOLD OF THE SKIES”. This followed by the names of 103 early settlers of the Fairview Cemetery area.

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Gen. Bull’s Store & Park Monument, South Mill Street, Alton, Kansas. This stone marker, constructed of native septarian concretion rocks, marks the location of the first building built on the townsite of Alton, then called Bull City, in 1870, as well as the animal park established by General Hiram C. Bull, co-founder of the city. The millstone in the marker’s center came from the mill that once stood a mile south of Alton on the South Fork Solomon River. The marker was commissioned in 1942 but due to World War II its construction was delayed until 1946. The marker was the first job for WWII veteran David “Pete” Rothenberger upon his return to civilian life.


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Covert School & Town Monument, Covert. Located on the western side of County Road 671 in the townsite of Covert is the granite marker dedicated to the memory of Covert Rural High School and the community of Covert, Kansas. The monument was paid for by the Covert Rural High School Alumni Association and was dedicated in 1972. It features both a photograph of Covert Rural High School and an etched map of the Covert townsite noting eight notable structures that were once located there.


The “Covert Street Department” at the Covert School & Town Monument in 2003.

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Blue Hill Masonic Lodge No. 198 Marker, Delhi Cemetery, Delhi Township. Located on the western edge of County Road 691 100 yards north of the Delhi Cemetery, this native limestone marker was commissioned in 1938 by the Osborne County Commissioners and created by Stambach Memorial Works of Osborne. It commemorates the original meeting place for the Blue Hill Masonic Lodge, which in 1888 moved south into the town of Lucas, Kansas and met there for over 120 years until it was disbanded in 2012. The marker also lists the names of the Lodge’s ten charter members.


Two images of the Blue Hills Lodge Marker, both taken by Glady Rothenberger in 1980.

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Geodetic Center of North America, Delhi Township. On private property in Section 34 of Delhi Township, a quarter mile to the west of County Road 691, is the North American Datum of 1927, better known as the Geodetic Center of North America. In 1891 the United States Coast & Geodetic Survey established a triangulation station point at this location and named it Meade’s Ranch, part of a network of such stations across the entire country designed to aid in the creation of more accurate maps and surveys. Mead’s Ranch had the least margin of error of all land stations due to its remoteness from any large mountains or bodies of water, and so in 1901 it was designated as the initial point from which all future maps and surveys should be based. Over time this became the reference point for all property lines and city, county, state, and international boundaries on the North American continent. The Geodetic Center was formally listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

A replica of and Kansas State Historical Marker for the Geodetic Center of North America can be seen in the Roadside Park on the northern edge of the city of Osborne, Kansas, some 18 miles to the northwest.

A government surveyor visiting the Geodetic Center in 1934. Note that at that time the central copper disc was encased in a square concrete block.
The Geodetic Center as it appeared in 2018, now encased in a circular concrete block.

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Downs Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge Monument, Downs Cemetery, Downs. The text on this granite monument, located in the eastern half of the Downs City Cemetery, is as follows: “IN MEMORY OF THE DOWNS ODD FELLOW LODGE NO. 329 AND THE DOWNS REBECCA LODGE NO. 133 / DEDICATED BY EDGAR TOMLINSON”

Image taken January 2022 and courtesy of Randy Dubbert.

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The Founding of Downs, Kansas, Downs. Located on the north exterior wall of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot at 719 Railroad Street in Downs, Kansas, is a memorial plaque detailing the history of the city of Downs. It was placed there in 1999 by the Downs Historical Society.


The Founding of Downs, Kansas Marker

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Pioneers O Pioneers Monument, Downs Cemetery, Downs. Located in the eastern half of the Downs City Cemetery, this seven-ton Georgia Granite monument was conceived and funding for spearheaded by Alma Lindley, eldest child of Henry and Rosa Ise of the book Sod & Stubble fame.


The marker’s north side text reads: “ERECTED 1969 BY THE CHILDREN OF HENRY AND ROSA ISE”

Both sides of the marker list the names of those who lived in the area prior to July 27, 1879.

South side of monument.
North side of monument.

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Sod and Stubble Marker, Downs City Park, Downs. Located in the Downs City Park on U.S. Highway 24 on the northern edge of Downs is a marker dedicated in 1996 by the Downs Historical Society to the people mentioned in the noted 1936 book Sod & Stubble, written by Downs area native John Ise. The marker features a grasshopper plow used by early settlers to break the virgin prairie soil for agricultural use.



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Kill Creek Store & Post Office Monument, Kill Creek Township. Located in Section 8 along County Road 388 in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas, this native Post Rock Limestone monument marks one of the most important stops on the 1871-1879 Russell-Bull City Freight Trail. The Kill Creek Store was operated by several owners in from 1879 to 1921, when the store closed and the building torn down. The Kill Creek Post Office was headquartered in the store from 1888 to its discontinuation in 1904. The monument was paid for through private donations and dedicated in May 1949.


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Russell Stover Marker, Mount Ayr Township. Located in Section 27 of Mount Ayr Township, Osborne County, Kansas, this marker marks the site of the 1880s homestead farmed by John and Emma Stover, parents of Russell Stover, the founder and namesake of the Russell Stover Candies Company. The marker was funded by Russell Stover Candies and erected in 1997.

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Osborne County Pioneer Memorial, Courthouse Square, West Main Street, Osborne. Located in the northeast corner of Courthouse Square at the intersection of Fourth and Main Streets in Osborne, Kansas, can be found the white marble Osborne County Pioneer Memorial, which was created by Stambach Memorials and erected in 1929.


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1st Store in Osborne Plaque, West Main Street, Osborne. Located in the south side of the 100 block of West Main Street in downtown Osborne, Kansas, this marble panel marks the site of the Henry Markley General Store, the first business building erected in Osborne in 1871. The plaque was created by Stambach Memorials and unveiled in 1941 on the 70th anniversary of the founding of Osborne City.

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KMMJ Club Memorial, City Park, Osborne.  Located on the north edge of the northern edge of the Osborne City Park along West Main Street in Osborne, Kansas, can be found this white marble memorial dedicated to the memory of the KMMJ Club, a social club that existed in Osborne from 1924 to 1965, when the last original member passed away. The club’s remaining finances were then taken and used to create this memorial, which lists the club’s founding members. In the early 1920s this club and many others were established across southern Nebraska and northern Kansas. They were named after the KMMJ radio station in Grand Island, Nebraska, which encouraged the creation of such clubs in small towns everywhere to promote local social and cultural improvements.


Top side of the KMMJ Club Memorial.
Northern edge of the KMMJ Club Memorial.
Members of the KMMJ Club gathered during World War II for this photograph taken in the Osborne City Park Shelterhouse. Front row, left to right:  Eva Banks, Sophia Mans, Monica Mans Eilert, and Marcella Mans. Back row, left to right:   Pearl McDaneld, Maxine Mans, Clara Stafford, and Mayme Mans.

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Saqui Lodge Masonic No. 160 Memorial Plaque, West Main Street, Osborne. Located on the northern side of the 100 block of West Main Street in Osborne, Kansas, can be found this limestone plaque. It is dedicated to the memory of Saqui Masonic Lodge No. 160, which was formed in Osborne City in 1875. The plaque was installed in 1924 upon the completion of a new brick and concrete front to the Masonic building.

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Doc Burtch Memorial, City Park, Portis. Located in the City Park at Portis, Kansas, along U.S. Highway 281 is a memorial to longtime doctor Claude Burtch. It was erected in 2000 by the Portis Pride Committee. The marker’s text reads: “CLAUDE BURTCH MARKER / DEDICATED TO CLAUDE ELIJAH BURTCH, M.D., WHO FAITHFULLY SERVED THE PORTIS COMMUNITY HOSPITAL FROM 1911-1955 / HE BUILT AND OPERATED THE PORTIS HOSPITAL 1925-1952 / THE BASE STONE OF THIS MEMORIAL IS THE ENTRY STEP TO HIS OFFICE”

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Porky Pig Marker, City Park, Portis. Located in the City Park at Portis, Kansas along U.S. Highway 281 is a Post Rock Limestone marker dedicated to Portis native son Melvin Miller, who drew the first Porky Pig cartoons. The marker was paid for by Hud and Nina Turner, childhood friends of Melvin, and was erected in 1992.


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Pioneer Memorial, Oak Dale Cemetery, Ross Township. In the Oak Dale Cemetery is a granite memorial to the area’s early settlers. The marker’s text reads: “OAK DALE PIONEERS / DEDICATION MAY 30, 1952, TO THE MEMORY OF THE HOMESTEADERS, IWHOIN THE 1870S CHANGED THE PRAIRIE INTO OAK DALE DISTRICT WITH ITS HOMES, CHURCH AND SCHOOL”

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Honors in Commerce: Notable Trails & Commercial Routes of Osborne County, Kansas

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Indian trails followed game trails, and the later wagon and stagecoach trails followed certain Indian trails. Then primary roads followed the old wagon and stagecoach trails. And so modern commercial routes, which organized the movement of desired goods and services, came to Osborne County, Kansas.

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Cheyenne Indian Trail.  For centuries there a trail was used by various Indian tribes that ran from the Dakotas south to Texas and through Osborne County, Kansas. The name that the later Euro-American settlers attributed to it was in reference to the last tribe known to have used it regularly. Landmarks along the trail included the ford across the North Fork Solomon River in Bethany Township; the sacred Medicine Peak in Hancock Township; Valley Mound and Four Mile Spring, both in Winfield Township; and the Cheyenne Gap of Winfield & Jackson Townships, a natural pass between the Solomon and Saline River systems.

Map showing the approximate route for the trail through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Bethany, Penn, Hancock, Winfield, and Jackson.

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Bull City-Russell Freight Trail.  This trail was established in 1870 to provide goods and public transportation from the city of Russell on the Kansas Pacific Railroad some forty miles to the northwest and ended at Hiram Bull’s general store in Bull City (later Alton), Osborne County, Kansas. From Bull City goods were then fanned out to the west, northwest, north, and northeast to other communities not as yet served by a railroad – Stockton, Marvin, Phillipsburg, Kirwin and Cedarville, to name a few. Large wagon trains regularly used the trail until 1879, when railroads were at last built through Osborne County and points north. Known stops along this trail were the Kill Creek Post Office & Store in Kill Creek Township and the Victor community in Victor Township. 

Map showing the approximate route for the trail through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Sumner, Kill Creek, Victor, and Liberty.
The last known use of the Bull City-Russell Freight Trail was in 1900 when a wagon train, seen here, was formed to haul Milton Near’s hogs from Kill Creek northwest into Alton.

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Osborne-Russell West Freight & Postal Route.   Two north-south routes were established in the 1870s between Osborne in the north and Russell in the south which were used by drummers for freight traffic, to serve the postal service, and to carry the occasional passenger between the two cities. Scheduled stops along the route included the Grand Center Post Office & Stagecoach Stop in Valley Township; The Gillett House in Valley Township, known as “The Halfway House” as it was halfway between Osborne and Russell and was the drummers’ overnight place to stay; Dial Post Office & Store and community of Covert, both in Covert Township; Emley City/Bristow Post Office and community in Independence Township; and the City Hotel in Osborne. Later the Vincent Post Office & Store in Valley Township was added to the route.

Map showing the approximate route for the trail through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Valley, Covert, Independence, and Penn.

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Osborne-Russell East Freight & Postal Route.  The second of two north-south routes established between Osborne in the north and Russell in the south had the following scheduled stops: Cheyenne Post Office & Store in Jackson Township; Potterville Post Office & Store and Twin Creek Post Office & Store, both in Winfield Township; and the City Hotel in Osborne.

Map showing the approximate route for the trail through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Jackson, Winfield, Hancock, Independence, and Penn.

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Laton-Natoma Oil Trail.  In 1926 August Krueger established the first oil well to tap the rich Laton Oil Field in the southeastern corner of Rooks County, Kansas.  A pipeline from Laton north to the large refinery in Phillipsburg, Kansas was not laid until 1940.  Until then, a wagon trail was established to get the oil to market from Laton southeast to Natoma in Osborne County, the ruts for which can still be seen today.  

Map showing the approximate route for the trail through Osborne County, passing through Natoma Township.

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Sunflower Trail.  In 1912 one of the first official auto routes in the state of Kansas was established. The Sunflower Trail ran some 200 miles from Ellinwood, Kansas north to Kearney, Nebraska.  The route followed a good wagon road that had been used for the previous 50 years. It passed through Bethany and Ross Townships, in Osborne County, Kansas. By the 1930s the route was officially discontinued.

Map showing the route for the Sunflower Trail through Osborne County.

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The Midland Trail & The Kansas White Way.  Two competing east-west auto routes were established in the same region across Northern Kansas. When the Midland Trail was first laid out in 1913 it was one of the first, if not the first, marked transcontinental auto trails in America. For a time it was also called the Roosevelt Midland Trail and operated until 1926.  The Kansas White Way was formed in 1914 and followed the Midland Trail’s route through Osborne County also until 1926. It name derived from the color used to paint the road’s post marking the route.   The Kansas White Way was redesignated Kansas Highway 9 from 1926 on and the route was afterwards substantially changed to go through Downs and Portis instead of due west in Osborne County.

Map showing the route for both the Midland Trail and the Kansas White Way through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Ross, Corinth, Penn, Tilden, and Sumner.
Working on the grading of the Midland Trail in Bloomington, 1910s.

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The Blue Line Road.  This official east-west auto route was formed in 1914.  In May 1917 it was renamed the Blue Straight Line Road.  In 1926 the Blue Line was redesignated Kansas Highway 18.

Map showing the route for the Blue Line Road through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Natoma and Liberty.

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The Red Line Road.  This official east-west auto route was established in 1914 as an alternative driving route to the Midland Trail.  In 1916 the name Red Line Road was dropped and was afterwards referred to as the Midland Trail.  

Map showing the route for the Red Line Road through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Ross, Corinth, Penn, Tilden, Kill Creek, and Mount Ayr.

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Kansas Highway 8 / U.S. Highway 281.  The official north-south auto route known as Kansas Highway 8 was so designated in 1926. Between 1933 and 1936 U.S. Highway 281 was extended south into Kansas to US-36 In Smith County. Then between July 1938 and 1940 US-281 was extended south into Oklahoma along the Kansas Highway 8 route, which was officially renamed U. S. Highway 281 in 1940. US-281 has two other official designations. It is the official route for the Pan-American Highway across the United States, and in 1960 it was named the American Legion Memorial Highway, a designation whose national movement started in Osborne, Kansas.

Map showing the route for the highway through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Bethany, Penn, Hancock, Winfield, and Jackson. The segments in purple show where the Highway 8 was originally constructed, and the red line shows where the roadbed was rebuilt for Highway 281.
The Hardman-Hall Construction Company of Alton, Kansas, is shown building the roadway for Kansas Highway 8 in southern Osborne County in 1932.

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U.S. Highway 40N / 24.  In 1926 the Midland Trail was renamed the official east-west auto route U.S. Highway 40 North, or US-40N.  It was redesignated U.S. Highway 24 in 1940.

Map showing the route for the highway through Osborne County, passing through the townships of Ross, Corinth, Bethany, Penn, Tilden, and Sumner. The segments in purple show where Highway 40N was originally constructed, and the red line shows where the roadbed was rebuilt and designated US-24.

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Kansas Highway 18.  The Blue Line was renamed Kansas Highway 18 in 1926, and a later new roadway built that substantially changed the highway original route.

Map showing the route for the highway through Osborne County, passing through Natoma Township.

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Honors in Geography: Remembering the Greatest Natural Disaster in the 150 Years of Osborne County, Kansas History

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The Four County Fire of December 15-19, 2021 devastated some 366,000 acres of ranch and farm land in Ellis, Rooks and Russell Counties, and the townships of Natoma, Liberty, and Valley in Osborne County.  While the same region deals with wildfires on a regular basis from year to year, nothing as large as this fire has been seen for 141 years – not since the Shedd Prairie Fire of 1880.

The great fire of March 25-27, 1880, essentially consisted of two fires.  One started along the Kansas Pacific Railroad line in Ellis County, Kansas.  Winds whipped this one north and east to the Paradise Creek valley in northern Russell County, Kansas.  There it joined with another fire that had started near the headwaters of Covert Creek on the James P. Shedd farm in Section 22 of what is now Victor Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  A violent north wind stirred up some coals tossed out in the grass and as the wind grew the fire grew as well, driving down the upper Cedar & Covert Creek valleys and then down the Wolf Creek valley into northern Russell County, where it combined with the first fire.  Driven by the fierce north gale that reached 75 miles an hour, the now truly massive fire raged on to the south.  Only after some 30 miles from its start on the Shedd farm did it finally die out along the Saline River in central Russell County. 

By then the flames had swept over hundreds of thousands of acres.  Paradise, Waldo, and Luray Townships of Russell County, along with a portion of Center Township, were all burned, and a large number of farms and ranches destroyed.  The areas now known as Victor, Covert, Liberty, Valley, and Jackson Townships in Osborne saw major devastation from being in the path of the inferno.  The northeast region of Ellis County suffered as well.  At least three people were caught and died in the blaze. 

When the fire was traced back to its sources the story of the coals being thrown out at the Shedd farm became known.  Several people tried to recoup their losses by blaming and suing James Shedd, but being a poor farmer there was little that could be done on that score.  The Shedd family was never forgiven and were largely shunned by those who lived near, to the extant that eight years after the event James Shedd committed suicide, wracked with guilt and hurt over the way he and his family were treated. 

What follows are a series of newspaper stories from that time period. The descriptions could easily fit the events that just occurred this December. 

Osborne County Farmer newspaper, April 8, 1880, page 5.
Russell Informer newspaper, April 2, 1880, page 5.
Osborne County Farmer newspaper, April 8, 1880, page 5.
The grave of Sarah Ann Lovin, wife of William Lovin, located in the Cheyenne Cemetery, Jackson Township, Osborne County, Kansas. The last name is misspelled on the stone.

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Honors in People: Notable Individuals from Osborne County, Kansas’ Prosperity & Modern Periods (1921-2021), Part II

Bloomer – Garrett – Princ – Rose – Rowe – Voss. 

Six remarkable and diverse individuals who together contribute greatly to the rich heritage of Osborne County, Kansas.

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Robert Alan Bloomer was born on October 24, 1948 in Beloit, Kansas.  He was the only son of Lloyd Cecil Bloomer and Martha Arlene Hackerott.  Bob graduated from Osborne High School at Osborne, Kansas in 1966.  He attended Washburn University, graduating with his degree in Business.  While in undergraduate school, he was a charter member and President of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and worked for Stauffer Publications in advertising.  In 1973, Bob graduated from Washburn Law School and worked as an attorney for the law firm of Edson, Lewis, Porter, and Haynes.  During law school Bob met and fell in love with Shelley Depp Greenwood.  They were married on September 8, 1973 at the United Methodist Church in Hugoton, Kansas.  The Bloomers returned to Osborne and both practiced law at Bloomer, Bloomer, & Bloomer Law Office, working alongside Bob’s father as fellow law partners.  Bob served as City Attorney for Osborne, Downs, and Natoma.  He was a licensed real estate broker and auctioneer, owning Auction One Inc. and serving as President of the Kansas Auctioneer’s Association.  As an active member of the community, Bob served on the Board of Directors for Osborne Development Inc. and Downs National Bank.  Shelley Bloomer served two terms as Osborne County Attorney in 1977-1984.

Bob was a faithful member of the United Methodist Church and served on the Pastor Parish Relations Committee and taught Sunday School.  During the summer he served on the Board of Trustees for the Cuchara Chapel in Colorado.  He was passionate about charitable giving and supported the Saint Labre Indian School in Montana for many years.  Bob’s pastime of entering barbecue cookoffs peaked when he was named the Kansas State Champion.  Bob passed away Sunday December 28, 2014 at the age of 66 in his mountain home in Cuchara, Colorado.  

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Richard Albert Garrett was born February 10, 1906, in Osborne County, Kansas, the son of David Patrick and May Cecilia (Smith) Garrett.  The Garrett family moved to Canon City, Colorado, in 1921, where Richard graduated from high school in 1924.  He then attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado, for two years.  He was appointed a weather observer by the U.S. Weather Bureau in 1927 with brief assignments at Santa Fe, New Mexico; Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; and in San Francisco, California. He was promoted to meteorologist and senior forecaster at Oakland, California, in 1930.  In 1931 he returned to the University of Colorado in 1931 to work toward a degree in physics.  Richard was then employed as meteorologist by Trans World Air Lines (TWA) in Newark, N.J., in 1933. He returned to the U.S. Weather Bureau as the senior forecaster at Cleveland, Ohio in 1935.

Richard married Margaret Ann Moeller at Hamilton, Ohio, on February 19, 1938.  He transferred to La Guardia Field, New York City, in 1943 and was later appointed meteorologist in charge of the Topeka, Kansas Weather Bureau Office in 1949.  There is a sense among past and current weather forecasters that the foresight of Topeka weather service meteorologist Richard Garrett, who convinced local officials to educate people about how to prepare for a tornado, helped prevent greater losses in the Topeka tornado of 1966.  Garrett’s quest was to avoid a repeat of the tornado that flattened the small Kansas town of Udall without warning at 10:30 p.m. on May 25, 1955. The death toll in that tornado reached 87 — 20 percent of the town’s population.

Richard remained in charge of the Topeka Weather Bureau Office until his retirement in 1971 after 43 years in the meteorology field, continuing residence in Topeka during retirement.  Richard passed away Sunday, November 2, 2003, at Stormont-Vail Medical Center in Topeka and was laid to rest in that city’s Mount Calvary Cemetery.

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Dell Craig Princ was born on January 11, 1957 in Russell, Kansas and is the son of Delmer and Donna (Hubbard) Princ.  Dell started at Midway Coop Association of Osborne, Kansas out of college in 1979 as the Grain Merchandiser.  He became the Assistant General Manager in 1987 and then the General Manager in 1996, all while maintaining his position as Grain Merchandiser.  Midway Coop has become one of the strongest cooperatives in the state of Kansas, serving 12 communities across North Central Kansas from its headquarters in Osborne.  Not only is Midway financially strong, but they also improved their assets under Dell’s leadership.  Midway’s total assets have grown from 12.0 million in 1996 to over 130.0 million in 2021. Most notably, grain storage has grown from 4.0 million in 1996 to more than 14-million-bushel capacity in 2021.  Dell retired at the end of 2020 but will continue to live in Osborne and remain working part time for approximately three years, assuring a smooth transition in the Grain Marketing area of Midway Coop. 

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Alonzo “Lon” Allen Rose was born March 21, 1852, at Moorefield, Harrison County, Ohio.  He married Cordelia E. Hall in Sonora, Hancock County, Illinois, on September 19, 1877, and together they raised four children.  That fall the family left Illinois for Kansas, settling in Osborne.  Lon was a stone & brick contractor/builder who erected many of the notable stone buildings still standing in Osborne and neighboring towns, including the State Bank of Downs building in Downs (1880), the First National Bank and Mitchell, Knox & Heren buildings at Osborne (1885/1886), the school building in Alton (1885; now gone), the I.O.O.F. Lodge building in Osborne (1886), and the 1888 school building in Osborne.  In 1892 the Rose family had moved to Corydon, Iowa and by 1910 they were living in Okemah, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, where over the next 20 years Lon erected numerous buildings across that state.  Lon died on September 9, 1934, in Okemah and lies buried in that city’s Highland Cemetery.

Taken from the Osborne County News, October 20, 1887, page 10

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Jerry and Sharon Rowe (born 1939 & how-dare-you-ask, respectively) have been married for over 50 years and raised 3 kids, and currently have 8 grandsons and even great grand-children.

Since the early 1960s Jerry has been involved with many aspects of dog training including conformation, obedience, stockdog trials, and working ranch dogs. His trial accomplishments span the history of stockdog trials as they have evolved for over 50 years.

Jerry was directly involved in breeding Australian Shepherds from 1962 to 1982. He and Dick Sorensen started the J BAR D kennel in the 1960s. The first cattle, sheep, and duck trial was held at Jerry’s farm in Broomfield, Colorado, in the 1970s. After attending one of Jerry’s trials in Colorado, Bob Carrillo, a rancher from California and member of the Australian Shepherd Club of America, decided to set up a trial at his country fair. This started trialing in California.

Jerry and Sharon were instrumental in starting the Australian Shepherd Club of Colorado. Jerry served in many capacities including: being an officer, serving on committees and helping write the first breed standard for ASCA. Sharon served at various times in the Association as president, secretary, treasurer, and newsletter editor. Sharon was instrumental in the negotiations that merged the International Australian Shepherd Club with the Australian Shepherd Club of Colorado. They also started the Colorado Collie Club and the Stock Dog Fanciers of Colorado.

Sharon is the author of the book Pups ‘n Stuff, one of the very first books about breeding dogs that featured Australian Shepherds.

In 2001 Jerry and Sharon purchased Twin Creek Farm in Hancock Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  It is perfectly suited for training dogs, raising sheep and where they established a training center. This is fulfilling another dream they have always had – “to bring small groups together to train their dogs in a vacation atmosphere.”

For 20 years dog owners from around the United States, Canada, and as far away as Sweden have come to Twin Creek Farm and spend a week learning from the Rowes how to better handle their dogs for trials.  Dogs are taught to herd cattle, sheep and ducks.  The Farm’s old machine shed serves a 3-room motel. The old dairy barn has been converted into a clubhouse complete with full kitchen and bathroom and serves as a new classroom of eager students wanting to train their dogs in the art of herding.

Jerry and Sharon have gone to trials for over 50 years to judge as well as in competition in Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States. Jerry still travels throughout the year judging for ASCA, AKC, CKC, and USBCHA.

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Omer Gerald Voss was born near Downs, Kansas on September 14, 1916. He grew up in Phillips County where his father worked for the Sheriff’s Department.  Omer attended grade school in Long Island and high school in Phillipsburg, Kansas.  He graduated with a Political Science degree from Fort Hays State University in 1937 and received his Doctor of Law degree with distinction from the University of Kansas Law School in 1939.  Omer was also the Kansas state pitching horseshoes champion several years in a row.  After law school he got a job with the firm in California as a credit collections representative.  During that time he visited Boulder, Colorado, where he met and married Annabelle Lutz.  Omer joined the International Harvester Company (IHC) in Hutchinson, Kansas, in 1936 and, after working for three summers while he was in college, was employed full-time in 1939.  During World War II Omer served in the Army with distinction from 1943 to 1945 in the 7th Army Airways in both the South Pacific and the Far East theaters of operations.  

After the war he held overseas posts for the IHC, working in Australia and then as managing director of the Great Britain office.  In 1951 Omer was transferred overseas and appointed Assistant Managing Director of IHC of Australia. In 1954 he was transferred to the United Kingdom as the Managing Director of IHC Great Britain. In 1960 Omer was elected President of IHC of Canada and moved with his family from Britain to Hamilton, Ontario.  Omer then moved to Chicago in 1962 and became the Executive Manager of IHC’s Farm Equipment Division. Four years later he was made Executive Vice President as well as a Director of the Company.  As Executive Vice President of Farm and Construction he was credited with opening up trade with the Soviet Union in 1972.  Omer was named vice chairman of the company in 1977 and retired two years later after a 42-year career with IHC.  Omer had earlier been admitted to the practice of law before the Kansas Supreme Court and in 1984 received the KU Law Society’s Distinguished Alumni Award.  

Omer also served on several business Boards of Directors, including Beatrice Foods for 14 years, Illinois Tool Works for 20 years, The Northern Trust Company and Nortrust Corporation for 12 years, and the LaSalle National Bank for three years, as well as a leader of ADELA Investment Co. SA., the Iran-US Business Council, and the Egypt-US Business Council.  He was associated with the National 4-H Club for 16 years and was appointed the founding Chairman of the National 4-H Council Board of Trustees in 1976 after playing a crucial role in the merger of the National 4-H Service Committee and the National 4-H Foundation. The Voss Lobby at the National 4-H Conference Center is named for him and his late wife Annabelle.  Omer was inducted into the 4-H National Hall of Fame in 2003.  In addition to establishing an endowed faculty position and a student scholarship fund at Fort Hays State University, Omer also created an additional endowment and scholarship fund at the University of Kansas School of Law.  Omer was 95 years old when he died of congestive heart failure on February 16, 2012, in Chicago. He was buried at the Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematorium in Skokie, Illinois.

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Honors in People: Notable Individuals from Osborne County, Kansas’ Prosperity & Modern Periods (1921-2021), Part I

Harkness – Hogan – Koops – Krueger – Murphy – Scrima – Steinshouer – Yunk. 

Eight Osborne County, Kansas people of exceptional ability who we celebrate as part of Honors in People: Individuals, Part 1 – Modern Period (1971-2021).

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Alfred Herman Harkness was born August 8, 1907, in Hays, Ellis County, Kansas.  He was the son of Charles and Louisa (Kohl) Harkness and graduated from Hays High School in 1924.  From 1931 to 1934 Alfred served as Ellis County Register of Deeds.  He was elected to a two-year term in the Kansas House of Representatives (1939-1940), and then was elected to six terms in the Kansas Senate (1941-1942, 1943-1944, 1945-1946, 1947-1948, 1953-1954, 1955-1956).  Alfred later served on the Hays City Commission for nine years and also as mayor.  He was a two-term president of the Hays Chamber of Commerce and served as vice president of the Kansas Taxpayers Association.  Alfred was a member of Hays Elks Lodge and was on the board of Farmers State Bank.  He sold oil leases, worked in reappraisal for Ellis County, and owned Harkness Pharmacy in Hays from the early 1940s to the mid-1970s.  In 1976 he moved from Hays to Osborne, Kansas, where he was the Osborne County representative on the Northwest Kansas Area Agency on Aging.  served on the board of the Osborne Housing Authority and was awarded the Osborne Leader of the Year award.  Alfred died on March 12, 1998 in Osborne and was laid to rest there in St. Aloysius Catholic Cemetery.

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Isabel Katherine (Baumgartner) Hogan was born February 3, 1921 in Osborne, Kansas to Arthur and Magdalena “Lena” (Arnoldy) Baumgartner. She graduated from Osborne High School in 1939 and served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps until 1943.  Isabel then graduated from Columbus Hospital School of Nursing at Great Falls, Montana in 1947. She met and married Dr. James Hogan on December 29, 1951 while working as a nurse at the Renton Hospital in Renton, Washington.  Together they raised six children.

By 1969 Isabel was living in Kent, Washington.  Appointed to the City Council in 1969 to fill a vacancy after the resignation of M.L. (Duffy) Armstrong, Isabel ran for and was elected mayor later that year.  Before and during her 16 years as mayor she was active in the Board of Directors of the Kent School District, Kent Park Board Commission, Metro Council, Puget Sound Council of Governments and King County Suburban Mayors Association.

“Isabel was my mayor when I began working for Kent (as the Senior Center director) in 1975,” said Suzette Cooke, mayor of Kent during the 2010s. “To say the least, I admired how she conducted the city’s business. No matter how strong-willed she came across, she also let her kindness and humor show through to employees. And I thought she was really cool – she drove a white Corvette and always wore a proper hat.”

Driving a white Corvette made it easy to spot Isabel Hogan as she buzzed around town during her 16 years as Kent mayor from 1969 to 1986.  “City staff were just a bit more attentive and stood a little taller when they saw the car coming,” said daughter-in-law Lori Hogan. “The Corvette was lovingly referred to as the Mayor Mobile.”

Isabel was an avid sports enthusiast and was a season ticket holder for the Seattle Sonics and Seahawks. Gardening and a love of nature and its beauty kept her very healthy and strong throughout her 94 years.  Isabel lived 62 years on Kent’s Scenic Hill neighborhood.  

Lori Hogan, longtime City of Kent city recreation and cultural superintendent, recalled how much Isabel supported Kent-Meridian High School sports teams.  “She was a huge supporter of Kent-Meridian athletics,” Lori Hogan said. “Her words of encouragement echoed off the bleachers and down to the floor.  There are probably 60-year-old men in Kent who can remember her visiting the K-M locker room at halftime to help ‘motivate and encourage’ better performance. Her support must have helped because K-M celebrated several championship years in various sports during those years.”

Isabel attended the re-naming ceremony of Kent’s Russell Road Sports Complex to Hogan Park at Russell Road in In October 2014.  City officials renamed the park to honor her service and passion for parks, recreation and the arts.  Former councilwoman Judy Woods said at the park ceremony that Isabel represented the “gold standard” of public service.

“Her inspired leadership was visionary, strong and collaborative,” Woods said. “The ‘good’ of the community was foremost in her mind at all times, and woe be to those who didn’t share that value! She was a wonderful role model for those who followed in her ‘wake.’ It was a privilege and pleasure to serve with her. Naming a park in her honor is an appropriate recognition of her exemplary service to our community.”

Isabel touched many lives in her many years of service as a nurse and public official.  She passed away on March 8, 2015 and was laid to rest in Mount Olivet Cemetery at Renton, Washington.  Judy Hogan, Isabel’s youngest daughter, still proudly drives the Corvette in Arizona.  

Isabel’s 1939 Osborne High School senior picture
Isabel (second from left) being honored with the naming of Hogan Park in October 2014

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Terry Lee Koops was born June 20, 1956 at Beloit, Mitchell County, Kansas, and was the son of Gerald and Henrietta (Heersink) Koops.  When a high school senior Terry became the recipient of the 1973 DeKalb Agricultural Accomplishment Award, presented to the outstanding senior in vocational agricultural departments around the country.  He graduated from Downs High School at Downs, Kansas in 1974.  Terry was a lifelong farmer who rose to fame with the advent of the Kansas State Storytelling Festival in Downs, where his gift for telling tall tales brought him lasting fame.  Terry was the first person to win the Festival’s Tall Tale Contest three years in a row and was accorded the official title of Master Storyteller.  Terry died on October 31, 2016 and was laid to rest in the Dispatch Cemetery in the community of Dispatch, Smith County, Kansas.

Terry’s tombstone in the Dispatch Cemetery, Lincoln Township, Smith County, Kansas,
“Master Storyteller”

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Nelson Lytle Krueger was born on September 11, 1947 in Natoma, Kansas, and was the son of August Henry Krueger and Margaret Rose Selichnow.  Nelson was bitten by the flying bug at the age of 8 when he took a short plane ride with a friend of his father’s. He began taking lessons at age 14 from a pilot at the Hays, Kansas airport named Kenny Woodruff, or “Pappy.” Woodruff called him “Pup.”  Pappy and Pup would fly over Krueger’s home, and his mother would come to the yard and wave a white dish towel to catch her son’s attention.  Krueger flew solo on his 16th birthday, received his private license at 17, and was a commercial pilot with instrument rating at 18. He flew his first trip as a captain when he was 18 and became a flight instructor at 19 for the Kansas University ROTC program.  Nelson graduated from Hays High School and then attended Fort Hays State University (FHSU), where he married his high school sweetheart, Judith “Judy” Haigler.  Nelson received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in 1972 from FHSU.  He moved to Lawrence, Kansas shortly after graduation and became an airline transport pilot training graduate at Trans World Airlines and American Flyers, Inc.  Nelson became the youngest pilot for Trans World Airlines (TWA) at age 21.  He later trained TWA’s first five female pilots.  In 1979 he was chosen to co-pilot Shepherd One, the plane that took Pope John Paul II on his first trip across the United States.  Nelson later helped fly troops to Iraq during the Gulf War for the Civil Reserve Air Fleet. He also served as an aide to U.S. Senator Bob Dole and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to be a labor representative for 11 states. 

Nelson received the FHSU Alumni Achievement Award in 1989 and in 2011 he was inducted into the International Forest of Friendship at Atchison, Kansas.  The memorial was established in 1976 by the city of Atchison, The Ninety-Nines organization of female pilots, and the Kansas University Forestry Extension.  In 2013 Nelson received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot award, which recognizes 50 consecutive years of safe flying without any incidents, accidents, violations or citations.   Nelson’s name has been added to the Federal Aviation Administration Master Pilot Roll of Honor.  Nelson continues to live and work in Lawrence, Kansas.

Nelson in his favorite environment. Taken from the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper of February 2, 2014

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Travis James Murphy was born on December 22, 1976 and is the son of Mark and Judy (Snook) Murphy.  Travis graduated Natoma High School in 1995.  He attended Kansas State University at Manhattan, Kansas in 1995-2000, earning a BA degree in Political Science & Communications.  Travis then attended Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, in 2005-2007, earning his MPA in Public Administration. He speaks fluent French and Spanish. 

From 1997 to 2000 Travis was news director for KFRM AM/KCLY FM Radio in Clay Center, Kansas.  He then served as Chief of Staff and Communications Director for U.S. Congressman Jerry Moran of Kansas from 2000 to 2005.  In 2006-2007 Travis was the senior account manager for E. B. Lane as well as associate director of the Cronkite/Eight Poll for Arizona State University. From 2007 to 2009 he served as district director for Congressman Moran’s re-election campaign. 

Then from 2009 to August 2016 Travis worked for the U.S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer in a variety of posts in South America, West Africa and Washington, D.C. In Washington, He served as the senior officer in the Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division. In this role Travis oversaw policy and the Sports Envoy Program, where he recruited current and former professional athletes and coaches to travel overseas to conduct camps and programs for underprivileged and at-risk youth.  He also served as information officer for the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire from January 2013 to May 2015.  From April 2010 to March 2012, Travis served as Vice Consul in the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador, primarily as the head of American Citizen Services. He also served in an extended temporary assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname.  Travis was the recipient of three Department of State Meritorious Honor Awards and one Franklin Award for his work in embassies abroad. 

From August 2016 to the present Travis has held the position of Director of International Government Affairs for the National Basketball Association (NBA).  From his office in Washington, D.C., Travis oversees the league’s relationship with the Departments of State, Homeland Security and other government institutions.  He manages all immigration and visa matters for the NBA by advising and assisting NBA, WNBA, and G-League teams, players, staff, family members, and prospects in navigating the complex system of immigration laws around the world.  Travis also works to cordial relations between NBA and FIBA and the more than 215 individual country federations.  The impact and value of Travis’s efforts on the game of basketball on a global level could be seen immediately when in 2016 a record 26 international players were taken in the 2016 NBA draft, including 14 in the first round.  At the start of the 2020-2021 NBA season there were an astounding 107 players from 41 different countries to be found on opening-night rosters – a quarter of the league’s players.  Travis Murphy is helping to cement basketball as truly the world’s game.

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Martha Elizabeth (Cady) Scrima was born on September 20, 1916 in Tilden Township, Osborne County, Kansas, and was the daughter of Fred and Freda (McClain) Cady.  She graduated from Osborne High School in Osborne, Kansas in 1934 and then attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.  By 1941 Martha was working in Phillipsburg, Kansas, and then moved to Washington, D.C., where she was a United States Navy civilian employee just before and during World War II. She watched the Pentagon building being built and was called in to work on Sunday, December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day.  Martha met Daniel “Danny” Scrima in Washington, D. C. and they were married there at the Anacostia Naval Air Station on September 15, 1943.

After marriage they were together in Washington, D.C. and Long Beach, California, and at Long Island, New York, before Danny was shipped overseas on destroyers. Martha moved to Kansas City, Missouri to work in the state rationing office. During the war Danny sent Martha a total of 49 bottles of perfume from Paris. She gave many away to friends.  After the war the couple lived where Danny was stationed: San Francisco, California; Newport, Rhode Island; Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; and at Long Beach and San Diego, California.

They eventually bought a house in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Danny worked at the Norfolk Naval Yard and Martha worked for Powell & Kistler, then E.F. Hutton, New York Stock Exchange members.  Danny retired after 24 years of naval service.  He passed away in 1973 from pancreatic cancer, and lies buried in the Sumner Cemetery at Alton, Kansas.  After his death, Martha moved to Kansas City to work for E.F. Hutton. A year later she returned to Osborne after Jim Garrison asked her to come to work there at the Farmers National Bank.

Martha, always civic-minded, held many local offices. From 1979 to 1980 she served for two years as Osborne County’s first-ever elected woman County Commissioner.  Martha died August 13, 2008 and is buried beside her beloved Danny in Alton’s Sumner Cemetery.

Martha’s 1934 Osborne High School senior picture
Martha’s painted portrait painting on silk

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Glenn Franklin Steinshouer was born June 17, 1912 in Esbon, Jewell County, Kansas.  He was one of eight children born to William and Maud (Mayfield) Steinshouer.  Glenn graduated from Esbon High School in 1932 and worked for his father as a butcher and later in a Shoe-Fix-It Shop, and then at the Union Co-op Creamery in Downs.  After his marriage in 1939 Glenn became a lifelong farmer.  In his later years he went into the popcorn business with his son Terry, creating the product Steiny’s Popcorn.  Glenn was the longtime state health chairman in the Parent-Teachers Association.  Together with his wife Arline Glenn was a community leader in the Solomon Valley 4-H Club for 30 years – and all-time county record – and received a gold medal one year for being the best 4-H camp one year.  Glenn served as fair board president of the Osborne County Fair for 25 years.  He was a member of the Downs Rotary club and the Baptist/United Church.  Glen organized and directed the Miss Solomon Valley Scholarship Pageant for 21 years.    

Arline LaVerne Yost was born April 30, 1912 in Downs, Osborne County, Kansas, and was the daughter of John and Ida Yost.  She graduated from Downs High School in 1929.  Arline taught school at Ise School, District #37, in 1937-1939 until her marriage to Glenn Steinshouer in September 18, 1939 in Downs.  Arline was active in Merry Mix-up Craft Camp, Utopia Unit, the Solomon Valley Quilt Guild, and the Miss Solomon Valley Pageant.  Together with her husband Glenn she was a community leader in the Solomon Valley 4-H Club for 25 years.  She was a reporter for the Downs News newspaper, writing the “West Solomon” news and the Solomon Valley Post

Glenn Steinshouer died on November 16, 1989 and was buried in the Downs Cemetery at Downs.  Arline passed away on November 11, 2006 and was laid to rest next to her husband in the Downs Cemetery.

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Raphael “Ray” Andre Yunk was born May 1, 1965, in Osborne, Osborne County, Kansas, and was the son of Peter and Dorothy Yunk.  He graduated from Osborne High School in 1983 and received a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from Kansas State University (KSU) in 1988, marrying Karin Snyder soon after.  From May 1988 to December 1999 Ray was employed by the National Park Service as an architectural engineer, construction coordinator, project manager and construction quality leader.  In January 2002, Ray joined the department of architectural engineering and construction science at KSU. From 2006 to 2012, he served as the architectural engineering program coordinator. From 2013 to the present Ray has served as Department Head of Architectural Engineering & Construction Science at KSU.  He is a licensed professional engineer since 1992.  Ray was the first university faculty member in the world to be certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional in building design and construction; fewer than 20 people worldwide have earned this building design and construction designation. 

As an architectural engineering professor at KSU, Ray does have research interests in the areas of building energy use as well as sustainable design and construction. He has taught classes and given presentations and workshops about the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. He has chaired the Academic Council and served as president of the Board of Governors for the Architectural Engineering Institute (AEI).  He has chaired and now serves on the Exam Development Committee for the Architectural Engineering Professional Engineering exam.  Ray has taught 12 different classes across both curriculums within his department, has served as major professor for 15 master’s students, and has served on committees for 59 master’s students.  His awards include: the John W. and Dorothy M. Burke Architectural Engineering Chair; the Martin K. Eby Distinguished Professorship in Engineering; the Mark Keenan Family Faculty Award for National Leadership; the Mike and Karen Hafling ARE-CNS Faculty Teaching Award; the Rich and Hannah Kerschen ARE-CNS Faculty Teaching Award; and the Coonrod Family Construction Faculty Award. Ray continues to work and teach in Manhattan, Kansas.

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Honors in Education: Notable Individuals from Osborne County, Kansas’ Modern Period (1971-1921)

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Anderson – Carlson – Eickhoff – Hahn – Janzen – Redinger – Thornburg.  Eight dedicated educators with Osborne County ties worthy of our every honor and respect. 

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Calvin Henry Anderson was born on August 10, 1938, at Concordia, Cloud County, Kansas. He was the son of Henry and Geneva (Burk) Anderson and graduated from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas.  Calvin married Amy Jo Weltz in 1960, and together they raised one son, Troy.  For 37 years, from 1962 to 1999 Calvin was a popular teacher at Osborne High School in Osborne, Kansas, where he taught woodworking, drivers education, and mechanical drawing.  From 1977 to the fall of 1998 Calvin also taught woodworking classes at Barton County Community College at Great Bend and Cloud County Community College at Concordia, Kansas.  He was named Outstanding Instructor in 1987 and Outstanding Coordinator in 1994 from Cloud County Community College.  Calvin was a past president of the Osborne Jaycees and a board member for the Osborne Area Chamber of Commerce, and was an active member of the community.  Calvin passed away on March 4, 1999 at Osborne and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery at Osborne.

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Marvel (Jemison) Tucker Carlson was born on August 8, 1909, at Woodward, Oklahoma, the daughter of William and Delia E. (Revert) Jemison.  She graduated from Osborne High School in Osborne, Kansas in 1927. 

A lifetime elementary and music teacher, Marvel’s teaching record in Osborne County was as follows:

Bloomington, District #10                 1927-1928

Alton, District #15                              1929-1934

Twin Creek, District #24                    1936-1937

Mayflower, District #66                     1939-1940

Osborne, District #9                            1945-1949

Greenwood, District #44                    1955-1956

Osborne, District #9/USD #392         1956-May 1974

Marvel married Eugene Tucker at Alton, Kansas, on July 25, 1934, and they had two daughters, Kathleen (Tucker) Hartway and Jeanette (Tucker) Robinson.  While in Osborne Marvel was a member of Osborne United Methodist Church, American Legion Auxiliary, Fidelia Club and ODFF Square Dance Group.   After her husband Eugene’s death in 1970 Marvel married David Carlson in 1977 and spent her winters in Weslaco, Texas and the rest of the year in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada until his death in 1988.  She continued to live in Westlaco, where she died on March 19, 2001.  Marvel was laid to rest beside her first husband in the Osborne Cemetery at Osborne.

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Harold Walter Eickhoff was born on April 2, 1928 in Natoma, Kansas, and was the son of William and Emma (John) Eickhoff.  Harold married Rosa Lee Smith on August 19, 1955, and together they had two daughters, Sharon and Janet.  Harold received his Bachelor in History degree in 1957 and his Master of Arts in History and Government degree in 1958, both from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.  He then served in the United States Navy and in the Korean Conflict in 1948-1952.  Harold then received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in History at the University Missouri in 1964.  Harold served as an assistant professor of history at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (1961-1964); associate professor, dean of studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis (1964-1969); professor of history, executive assistant to the president, secretary to board visitors, Old Dominion University (1969-1974); executive vice president, Old Dominion University (1974-1976); professor of history, academic vice president, Fort Hays State University (1976-1979). 

In 1979 Harold was hired by Trenton State College in Trenton, New Jersey as a professor of the humanities. The following year he became president of the college.  Under Harold’s presidency what had formerly been a teachers’ college of little notoriety became a comprehensive and well-regarded institution of higher learning.  He oversaw the renaming of the institution to The College of New Jersey and served as its president for 19 years until his resignation in 1999.  Harold was awarded the New Jersey Governor’s Albert Einstein award for service to education in 1988 and the New Jersey Pride award by the State of New Jersey in 1991.  The Dr. Harold W. Eickhoff Outstanding Senior Male and Female Scholar-Athlete awards are awarded annually to the top athletes at the College of New Jersey, and the Harold W. Eickhoff Outstanding First Year Student Award is also awarded annually to the top freshman.  Eickhoff Hall on the campus is named after him.  Harold now lives in quiet retirement in Pennington, New Jersey.

Eickhoff Hall at The College of New Jersey, Trenton.

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Daniel Frederick Hahn was born in 1938 in Osborne County, Kansas.  He is the son of Joseph and Irene (Shaw) Hahn.  Dan graduated from both Kansas State University and the University of Kansas, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.  He has chaired the departments of communication at Queens College and Florida Atlantic University and is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Culture and Communication at New York University.  Dan is the author of more than 200 articles, book chapters, and convention papers exploring aspects of political communication and is considered to be one of the foremost scholars of political communication.  He has co-authored two books, Presidential Communication: Description and Analysis with Robert E. Denton, Jr. (1986) and Listening for a President: A Citizen’s Campaign Methodology with Ruth Gonchar Brennan (1990), and is the sole author of a third, Political Communication: Rhetoric, Government, and Citizens (2002). 

Dan has served as president of the Eastern Communication Association. His recent honors include the National Speakers Association’s Outstanding Professor Award (1994), the Florida Communication Association’s Scholar of the Year Award (1995), selection to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers (1996), the Eastern Communication Association’s Distinguished Service Award for lifetime contributions to the field (1996), and election as an Eastern Communication Association Research Fellow (1996) and Teaching Fellow (1997.  He is a Professor Emeritus of Queens College and lives in New York City.

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Anne (Storer) Janzen was born at Osborne, Kansas in 1960 and was the daughter of Wendell and Ruth (Sherbon) Storer.  She graduated from Osborne High School in 1978 and married Raymond Janzen on November 30, 1985 in Hillsboro, Kansas. Anne’s educational background for her career began in 1982 with a B.A. in Home Economics and an Educable Mentally Handicapped Endorsement from Kansas Wesleyan University. Her next step was in 1987 at Emporia State University with an M.S. in Learning Disabilities. Anne then received a Behavior Disorders Endorsement in 1996 from Associated Colleges of Central Kansas. Along with her degrees she has participated in several other academic activities. She was a QPA (Quality Performance Accreditation) team member, a Building Improvement Teach member, on the IEP Development Team, a Marion County Special Education Compliance Team Member, and a Mentor of College Practicum students.  Anne has worked for the Marion County (Kansas) Special Education Cooperative from 1982 to the present.  She worked at the Hillsboro (Kansas) Middle/High School in interrelated grades 5-12 from 1982-1983, interrelated grades 9-12 from 1983-1987, interrelated grades 6-8 from 1987-2012, and interrelated grades 6-7 from 2013 to the present.  Anne has been a Cub Scout Leader and a Brownie & Junior Girl Scout Leader.  She is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Order of the Easter Star, and the Hillsboro United Methodist Church.  Her awards include being the Hillsboro United Methodist Woman of the Year in 2000 and being nominated for Teacher of the Year in 2010.  For an outstanding career spanning 37 years as an educator Anne was elected in 2020 to the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame.  She continues to live and work Hillsboro. 

“People like Anne are beacons to our profession as educators and will also serve as great examples to our new teachers entering the field of education.” – Max Heinrichs, Superintendent of Schools, USD District #410, Durham-Lehigh-Hillsboro.

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Darlene (Dalton) Redinger was born in Sterling, Colorado on July 31, 1932.  She was the daughter of Harry and Minnie Dalton.  At age 8 Darlene moved with her family to Denver, Colorado, and six years later they moved to Nebraska, then back to Colorado, and then to Phillipsburg, Kansas, where Darlene graduated in 1950 from Phillipsburg High School.  On June 12, 1950 she married Norman Lee “Jack” Redinger in Raton, New Mexico.  Together they raised a daughter, Norlene Gay.  In 1957 the Redingers moved to North Hollywood, California, and three years later they moved to Stockton, Kansas.  In 1961 another move was made, this time to Woodston, Kansas, where Darlene took a job as the Woodston High School secretary.  On August 15, 1964 she started work as secretary at Osborne High School in Osborne, Kansas and commuted daily from Woodston to Osborne before the Redingers made a final move to Osborne in 1965, which helped make Darlene’s work commute much easier.  Over the course of 30 years Darlene served as the efficient, dependable, and popular secretary for four Osborne High School principals – Lyle Price, Delbert Jamison, Leroy Dutton, and Ron Sturgeon. 

And what, exactly, does a high school secretary do?  Upon Darlene’s retirement in June 1994, her typical day of work was revealed.  It started about 7AM.  Her first duty, providing that a teacher didn’t ask her to do something else, was to finish the day’s announcements, get them out and post them.  By the time the announcements were out, teachers and students were arriving and the phone started ringing and much of the remainder of her day was spent answering the phone or questions, handling requests and greeting visitors.  “Sometimes I didn’t even get started on my own work until 4 o’clock in the afternoon,” she remembered.  Her own work included the handling of scholarship funds, taking care of the 40 accounts in the activity fund, keeping transcripts up to date and figuring grade points, completing all the monthly reports, preparing programs for wrestling and volleyball, preparing change boxes and tickets for games, do the publicity sheets, keep track of absences and admit slips – and a variety of other duties.  For a long time Darlene also helped with lunch duty, took the lunch count and did attendance. 

Through the years Darlene has donated many volunteer hours toward activities with her church, the AFS organization, at Parkview Manor, and with the VFW Auxiliary, which she was president for a time.  Darlene continues to volunteer and to enjoy retirement at home in Osborne.

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Zelpha Irene Thornburg was born on August 21, 1921 in Mount Ayr Township, Osborne County, Kansas.  She was the daughter of Elmer and Lillie (Bathurst) Thornburg.  As a child Irene attended to the Pleasant Plain Methodist Church, south of Alton. When she was 8 her family moved and during her youth she joined the Kill Creek Evangelical Church.  Irene later joined the Free Methodist Church in Osborne.  She graduated from Osborne High School in 1940 and Fort Hays Kansas State College in 1945.  She taught at schools in Clayton and Gem in Kansas and at Crystal City, Missouri.  Irene was then hired as an English and Spanish teacher at Osborne High School, retiring in 1986 after a career of 39 years in education.  Irene was active in NEA, KNEA, and FHA.  In 1972 she adopted a son, Jeff.  Irene passed away on May 8, 2001, in Osborne and was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery.

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Honors in Osborne County, Kansas Festivals and Events

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Alton Jubilee, Alton (36 years, 1985 to present).  The two-day annual celebration was first held to honor the 100th anniversary of the incorporation of Alton.  Since then it has evolved into the city’s primary summer event.  A highlight of the Jubilee is the Saturday night play/musical, put on by citizens of the town. 

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Alton Sunrise Service, Sumner Township (73 years, 1948 to present).  This annual event has been held the morning of Easter Sunday at the Alton Bluffs, located a mile south of Alton, Kansas.  First held atop the Bluffs, it was moved to a lower location in 1950 due to the cold winds.  A pageant was also added.  In 1951 a breakfast was added to the program. 

Image courtesy of Deanna Roach.

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Downs Celebration, Downs (142 years, 1879 to present).  The longest-held Festival or Event in Osborne County, the Downs Celebration was started to celebrate the founding of the city of Downs in July 1879.  By 1900 it was not unusual having crowds of up to 10,000 people attending the three-day event from across northern Kansas, with special trains bringing in still other attendees from many other places.  Held along the railroad tracks that were instrumental in the town’s founding, the Celebration in recent years has expanded to include the annual gathering of the Downs High School alumni. 

From the Downs News & Downs Times, July 29, 1906, page 3.

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Meadowlark Storytelling Festival, Downs (29 years, 1992 to present).  When professional storyteller Joyce Koops learned that there was not an official Kansas State Storytelling Festival, she sought local support to establish one in Downs. Held each April, the annual Festival features professional storytellers and performers from across the United States as well as a revolving local group of amateurs.

The winner of the Amateur Storytelling Contest being presented with the traveling trophy – a shovel.

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Miss Solomon Valley Scholarship Pageant, Downs (33 years, 1967 to 2000).  The brainchild of the Downs Rotary Club was an annual event that attracted contestants from a 12-county area – Osborne, Phillips, Rooks Ellis, Smith, Russell, Jewell, Mitchell, Lincoln, Republic, Cloud, and Ottawa.  The winner of the Pageant automatically earned a place in the Miss Kansas Pageant, which is operated by the Miss America Pageant organization.  A declining number of entrants eventually led to the pageant’s demise. 

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Mount Ayr Camp Meeting, Mount Ayr Township (117 years, 1904 to present).  The Mountayr Holiness Association held the first Holiness Camp Meeting for ten days in a tent on June 9-19, 1904, in Oreste Winslow’s grove, located a half mile south of the Mount Ayr Cemetery.  Excellent attendance inspired the church to hold it again the next year.  In 1905 additional tents were made available for rent to accommodate those attending from a distance.  All subsequent meetings were held in the grove until 1944, when a new site was bought a half mile west and a wooden tabernacle building erected on the new grounds.  The building has been the site for the annual event held for ten days each June for the last 77 years.  

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Natoma Auto-Horse Race, Natoma (August 21, 1913).  The following announcement of a unique contest came in an advertisement for Natoma’s Second Annual Picnic, which was set to be held on August 20-21-22, 1913: 

The novel event created quite a buzz among the populace and ignited debates everywhere.  Which would be faster, the reliable horse or that newfangled invention prone to breaking down known as the automobile?  Bets made on the event were said to be almost entirely in favor of the horse.

Anticipation grew until an enormous crowd lined the course on race day.  They roared their encouragement as McEwen drove his own Ford Runabout against F. E. Sarver’s race horse, rode by Will Winters.  The horse led nearly the entire race but, with only a block to go, the car passed the horse on the final stretch as the crowd watched in shock.  Only a select few realized that what they had just witnessed was a symbolic passing from the horse age to the machine age on the prairie. 

Photo taken at the end of the great race, when the car had finally passed the horse.

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Natoma Labor Day Celebration, Natoma (83 years, 1938 to present).  Natoma’s annual civic celebration has proved to be very popular throughout its long history.  Events are regularly held in the city park, the downtown, and at other locations across the community.  

Description of the first Labor Day Celebration, as reported in the Natoma Independent of September 1, 1938, page 1.

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Osborne County Fair (first), Osborne (7 years, 1872-1879).  The first annual Osborne County Fair was sponsored by the Osborne County Agricultural Society and held over two days in October 1872 on the public square in and around the courthouse in Osborne.  An estimated five hundred persons were in attendance.  The 1873 fair was also a success.  After not holding a fair in 1874 it returned in 1875. The September fair was noted for the first premium on bread and butter being awarded to Mrs. J. W. Addison and a diploma to T. H. Cunningham for best tanned robe.  There was a distinct lack of interest in the 1877 fair and the 1878 fair failed as well due to poor crops that year.  For the September 1879 fair the Agricultural Society brought the Beloit band in as an attraction, but the crowds stayed away and the Society then decided to close the fair permanently. 

Description of the 1872 Osborne County Fair. Taken from The Annals of Osborne County, Kansas by Zachary Taylor Walrond, Osborne County Farmer, September 9, 1880, page 1.

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Osborne County 4-H/Free Fair (second), Osborne (86 years, 1935 to present).  The second Osborne County Fair was conceived as a way for the numerous county 4-H club members to show off the projects they had worked on all year.  It grew rapidly and over the years added FFA, EHU, and Open classes.  A sharp decline in 4-H activity eventually led to a name change from 4-H to Free. The fair was long held during the first week of August but for the past 20 years has been held the last week of July.  

Description of the second annual Osborne County 4-H Fair, taken from the Osborne County Farmer of August 20, 1936, page 1.
2021 aerial view of the Osborne County Fairgrounds, located in the southeastern corner of Osborne, Kansas.

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Solomon Valley Gun Show, Downs & Osborne (14 years, 1968 to 1982).  This two-day event was for several years sponsored by both the Solomon Valley Gun Collectors and the Osborne Area Chamber of Commerce.  It was started in Osborne and overseen for many years by internationally known cartridge collector and expert (and Osborne County Hall of Famer) Frank Wheeler.  For the first few years both a spring and then a fall show were held.  Beginning in the early 1970s the Gun Show was held periodically in Downs as well.  The first show of its kind ever held in North Central Kansas, in its peak years the Gun Show attracted over 150 presenters from four states or more and drew crowds of well over 1,000.  Many things besides guns and cartridges could be found at these shows, coins, stamps, antiques, books and more.  After Wheeler’s death first Mike Desmarteau and later Max Goheen oversaw the event until the decision to end it in 1982.

Scene from the 1979 Solomon Valley Gun Show.

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Honors in Agriculture: Osborne County Recipients of the Kansas Farm Bureau’s Sesquicentennial Farm & Century Farm Awards

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the United States in 1976, the Kansas Farm Bureau initiated a special Century Farm award, recognizing farms in the state that had been owned by the same family for one hundred years. Starting in 2000 the Kansas Farm Bureau began issuing the Century Farm award on a yearly basis. In 2021 the Bureau also initiated the Sesquicentennial Award, recognizing those farms that had been owned in the state by the same family for one hundred and fifty years. The following is the list to date of Century Farm and Sesquicentennial Farm award winners from Osborne County, Kansas.

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Year:County:Sesquicentennial Farm Honorees:Year of Purchase:
2021OsborneJames R. Dibble 1871
2021OsborneLaRosh Farms 1871
Year:County:Century Farm Honorees:Year of Purchase:
1976OsborneGasper Farm 1874
1976OsborneDeters Farm 1870
1976OsborneIda (Bowers) Hofer 1873
1976Osborne J. J. & Goldie McReynolds1876
2000OsborneEverette A. Dibble1871 
2000OsborneAlan & Debby Guttery 1879
2000OsborneEmery Poore 1882
2000OsborneEarl & Ula Emerson 1885
2001OsborneMartha Koster 1877
2001OsborneKenneth & Wilma Bartholomew1878
2001OsborneWilma Nichols 1887
2001OsborneEthel Limbocker 1900
2002OsborneKenneth Bates 1882
2002OsborneMarjorie Reinert 1883
2002OsborneGerald LaRosh 1887
2002OsborneDelphine Muths 1887
2002OsborneArnold Reinert 1887
2002OsborneLouise Smith 1887
2002OsborneDeryl & Wilda Carswell 1890
2002OsborneOid L. Wineland 1890
2002OsborneGerald LaRosh 1891
2002OsborneEdmund Brant 1894
2002OsborneJanice O’Toole & Linda Rice 1902
2003OsborneClifford Hahn 1872
2003OsborneDouglas C Norris 1901
2004OsborneWanda C. Meyer 1878
2004OsborneErnest J. Heitschmidt & G. Dorine (Heitschmidt) Elsea1901
2005OsborneCarol McNeal Dixon 1882
2005OsborneMitchell Farms 1895
2005OsborneLyle J. & Carol R. Dixon 1904
2006OsborneBryan & Arleta Byrd 18990
2006OsbornePruter Farm 1905
2007OsborneClifford & Iris Hahn 1907
2007OsborneWanda C. Meyer 1906
2011OsborneLaRosh Farms – Jhan & Marsha LaRosh1900
2013OsborneWinder Farms 1880
2013OsborneJohn, Jeannine and Mary Sweat1883
2013OsborneScott & Nadine Sigle 1892
2014OsborneJanice O. Zamecnik 1914
2020OsborneKeith & Marsha Doane & sons – Michael Doane, Rodney Doane, Brett Doane & Craig Doane1910
2021OsborneLaRosh Farms1904
2021OsborneJoy Creek Farms LLC1920
2021OsborneJay and Paula Carswell1907

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