Charles Curtis

(Deb) Well that was a bizarre good time, wasn’t it? (Frank) Yea, well now it’s time to get a little more stoic. (Deb) Yes. (Frank) Because now we have an historical story we’re going to tell you about. (Deb) We need some kind of theme music that let’s us know, you know like the laugh track or something. Or like those old spy movies where you knew from the music whether it was going to be scary or whether it’s gonna be funny. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) We need to work on that. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Can you find us something? (Frank) Either that or somebody that comes in and slaps us and says straighten up. (Deb) Don’t tempt Heather she might come down. OK, so we’re working on this documentary on Charles Curtis. And that’s what this next segment is about. So, I have minions. And like I said before I have people that just give me stuff. So, one of my friends Dana Anson, who like me loves old stuff, she found this little diary. And most diaries, sad to say, are boring. You know this is the kind of stuff people write, “Blizzard, cold, nine degrees below.” You know and you can go online or whatever and find any of this information. People rarely write the juicy tidbits that you really want to know. So, Dana found this diary and what’s funny is this is a diary, a day-by-day for years, but this lady kept several year’s worth in it because she would just write you know, “Cold today, rain today, 1932 it rained, 1936 it was a blizzard.” And so, it’s interesting. And mostly family notes. But on February 11, 1936, Charles Curtis funeral at Topeka, age 76 years old. (Frank) Hmm. (Deb) So, the one thing that was not part of the family lore was the death of Charles Curtis, who of course had been Vice President and was not reelected. Of course FDR rolled in…who was FDR’s Vice President? Do you remember? Who did you vote for in that election? Do you remember? (Frank) I’m old. But I’m not quite there. No. (Deb) So, you just never know where these little things will show up. And people, you’d think that you’d found…like the Civil War, people think everything’s been found about the Civil War that could possibly be found. No. A letter will turn up, a diary will turn up, just all kinds of things. You never know. So, if you go to an estate sale and you find a little box of papers and junk, go through it and if you don’t want it, send the stuff to me, I’ll go through it. So, let’s take a look at the documentary that we’re working on. It is one of the great tragedies of history that the people for whom the state of Kansas is named do not have a home here. The People of the South Wind, the Kanza, the Kaw, return for ceremonial events at the state historic site in Council Grove. The tribe recently purchased land near the Morris County town, a way of reclaiming their roots. Kaw Nation Chairwoman Elaine Huch becomes emotional she speaks of members returning to that land to dance and commune. Around Kansas visited with Elaine at the headquarters and museum of the Kaw Nation in Kaw City, Oklahoma. The Kaw were removed to what was then the Indian Territory in 1873. “The Kanza People lived in Kansas, they started out with 20 million acres, they had a treaty, they were removed to Indian Territory in Oklahoma and it was a horrible, horrible Trail of Tears for them. A lot of their People starved, had smallpox, didn’t have food to eat. It was very bad for the People.” Elaine’s interview is featured in a short documentary film on the life of Vice President Charles Curtis, Son of the Kanza Nation, as it proudly proclaims on his tombstone. The Shawnee County Historical Society received a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council to produce the film and Trinity Marketing is handling the production work. Other historians featured in the film are Ken Spurgeon, award-winning filmmaker in his own right, and yours truly, Deb Goodrich. A January premiere is planned at the Jayhawk Theater in Topeka. Though the Kaw Nation makes its home in Oklahoma, its heart and roots remain in Kansas. This documentary film, Our Charley: The Early Years of Vice President Charles Curtis will convey a piece of that deep connection.

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