Ken Spurgeon: Teacher, Writer, Philosopher, Film Maker
(Frank) Okay, we’re back and we’ve straightened up somewhat. (Deb) Good. This is good as we get, people. (Frank) It’s Wednesday. (Deb) That’s right. Time to start the fun. Plan for the weekend. July 4th is upon us. Let’s start the party. (Frank) So, anyway. I know the next story coming up is about Home on the Range. I don’t want to give away the story; it’s really an interesting story about how it got written and the whole thing. But still nobody can figure out the antelope because there weren’t any and also the skies are not cloudy all day. So I’m not sure that he was even in Kansas when he wrote the thing. (Deb) You know, he did take a drink every now and then. I don’t know if that’s the deal, or what. We did pass antelope the other day. Elk, antelope, all in one day. It was just like being on safari, I swear. Elk, antelope, deer; skunk carrying its baby across the road. There were jackalopes or jack rabbits. Maybe not jackalopes. (Frank) I was going to say, “Jackalopes?” (Deb) There was just jack rabbits. (Frank) She’s from the east. (Deb) There were jack rabbits and you just name it. Every little creature you could think of was out there. I don’t know what Brewster Higley saw. Anyway, my good friend Ken Spurgeon of Lone Chimney Films is working on the documentary. I was with them a week ago or so at Smith Center, and they’re working on the documentary telling the story of Home on the Range and how it was written and how it came to be internationally known. I wanted to pay tribute to Ken too and his buddies at Lone Chimney because Ken is just a master story teller. He’s such a good guy and cares so much about Kansas and the history of the West. I’m just so proud to have anything to do with Ken. I’ve been involved in the last three films, the last three documentaries he made on the Border War in Kansas, and then so thrilled to be involved with this one- Home on the Range. So there is no end of the good work he does. We know some cool people, Frank. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) Don’t we, though? We do. We know some people doing wonderful things and Ken Spurgeon’s one of them. So if you haven’t met Ken, I want to introduce you to him. He is a teacher, a writer, a philosopher, filmmaker, screenwriter, and an historian. Most of all, he is a storyteller who mines the fertile fields of history for his subjects. And Ken Spurgeon is the guiding vision for Lone Chimney Films. Lone Chimney Films was founded in 2003 by Ken and Jon Goering. The company completed its first documentary, Touched by Fire: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861, in the spring of 2005. Its second documentary, Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre, was completed in late 2007 and both films have aired over twenty times on PBS regional stations across Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Nebraska. Both films have also been used in over 200 classrooms. Lone Chimney’s most recent documentary, The Road to Valhalla, detailing the story of the Kansas-Missouri border war, won the Best Documentary Award at the National Cowboy Museum, the Wrangler, in Oklahoma City. Ken and co-producers Shawn Bell and Neil Bontrager are in the midst of another incredible project — the story of the authorship, preservation and legacy of the song Home on the Range and the location where this “unofficial anthem” to the west was written, in Smith County, Kansas. Prominent performers like Buck Taylor and Michael Martin Murphey have lent their names and talent to this project and it promises to be a remarkable film. Whatever Ken tackles, whether he is coaching, teaching, directing, or filming, he is always at heart, a Kansan. He is quiet, strong, visionary, persistent, honest, and artistic. Kansas could not ask for anyone better to tell our story.