city of White Cloud, Wamego 150 years ago

(Frank) First Around Kansas looks at the city of White Cloud, home of the Flea Market named by McCall’s Magazine as one of the top ten in the country. Next celebrate the founding of Wamego 150 years ago with the upcoming annual Tulip Festival. Then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson, and we’ll end with the Battle of Westport in 1864, the largest Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi.Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at It’s Wednesday so this must be Around Kansas. I’m Frank. (Deb) I must be Deb. Unless you’ve replaced me and I couldn’t blame you if you had. (Frank) Deb has got what everybody I think in the world, or at least in Kansas has had this late in. (Deb) It has been so hard to fight. You think you’re OK. Then you’re not. It has just been, my voice, I had to cancel on Becky Tanner. I was doing her class, shoot that was weeks ago, and I just woke up one day with no voice, which I realize to many of you would not be a problem, if I had no voice. But it was a little traumatic for me. It’s just, it’s been really hard to get rid of. Then it’s just gotten worse, I don’t know like you’ve got winter, then you’ve got pollen. (Frank) Yea. I’ve had it twice. (Deb) I know. Get away. (Frank) Make this like a shaker table here. (Deb) I know we should have brought the load of garlic in. You could have just held the garlic up to keep me away. (Frank) Yea, so anyway… (Deb) They had Smoke in the Spring down in Osage City last weekend, this past weekend. They’ll share some pictures of that. Hope a lot of people got to go down and enjoy some great barbeque. Had people from… (Frank) All over the place. (Deb) …all over the place. Several states that came and competed. It’s turning into quite the event. Real happy to share images from that. This Spring has sprung. I swear, I felt like I’d missed it for a while because I’ve just been traveling and then it’s like snow, then it’s wind and then it’s like sick and it’s like… Then you walk out one day and it’s like wow, it really is Spring. Everything’s green and it’s bloomed and it’s… when did this happen? (Frank) Yes. (Deb) I feel like the groundhog or something, just crawled out of hibernation, a bear or something. (Frank) When it snowed on Easter it was what did I do, sleep all the way to Christmas? (Deb) Exactly. Wasn’t that strange? (Frank) Oh look, we have a White Easter. (Deb) It’s just been a bizarre Spring and the wind, holy cow. One night out in western Kansas, I have to tell you, I know wind. I grew up in the mountains. Where I grew up the wind was ferocious because you’re right on the edge of the mountains so the wind will funnel. You can get some strange sounds and you can get some powerful wind. But I don’t think I have ever experienced the sustained, hard winds like that night. I thought that old farmhouse…I don’t know how it’s going to be standing in the morning, I really don’t. (Frank) Oh yes, western Kansas. You get out there on the High Plains… (Deb) The High Plains. (Frank) …there really aren’t that many trees. (Deb) It’s like one of the politicians told me years ago when I first moved out here, he said there wasn’t nothing between us and the North Pole but a barbed wire fence and it was down half the time. Man, that’s what I thought about that night, there’s nothing. (Frank) When you’re going west on Highway 36 you’re like this… and then when you’re coming back, you’re like this… (Deb) Exactly. Hey, we’ve got some great stuff today, so stay with us.

(Frank) And we’re back. (Deb) Now that it’s Spring, the scenery is gorgeous. It’s not going to be prettier any other time of the year, so it’s a great time to get around. That reminds me tickets are available for the Symphony in the Flint Hills. That’s June 11th, so make sure you check out their website and of course, the scenery is always gorgeous for that. There’s just not a part of the state that’s not pretty this time of year, is there Frank? (Frank) Yea and that’s especially because out in the Flint Hills and when the sun’s going down, and the symphony starts and it’s like, oh WOW! (Deb) It’s as good as life gets isn’t it? This next segment we’re going to talk about White Cloud, which is the very northeast corner of Kansas. And you got me thinking about this when you were talking about the motorcycle trip to the four corners of Kansas. So, one time I was taking a van tour. It was, I think it was, a Bleeding Kansas Tour north of the Kansas River. So White Cloud was one of our stops and the overlook in White Cloud. Again, this myth that Kansas is flat. We’ve got these, we’re punctuated by these table top landscapes, but that’s just the punctuation. Everything in between is not flat. It is anything but flat. (Frank) Especially… (Deb) And White Cloud (Frank) Especially that northeast corner, it’s like what state am I in? (Deb) That overlook is spectacular. You can see Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa from that overlook. So, we take this van tour up there and it’s been a long day on this tour. We get everybody out and they’re standing there on that platform at the overlook and spontaneously break into singing “Home on the Range.” It was totally unplanned and it was just one of these unique Kansas moments. It was really, really special. (Frank) White Cloud is a really good place to find all kinds of antiques too. (Deb) That’s right. They have the big sale in the Fall of the year. (Frank) Big flea market. (Deb) It’s huge and it’s just a really neat little town. Now they’ve got the casino up there, close by and it’s not far. But it’s just, and another thing they’ve got up close by is the Highland Indian Mission; it’s not far from White Cloud. So, that’s within striking distance you know to go to the Highland Indian Mission, which is really good. We’ll do a segment on that one day too. Ma Hush Kah was his name, in English, White Cloud. For the Iowa Tribe dwelling in these Missouri River bluffs, he was their chief until killed in a battle with the Pawnee in 1854, the year of the Kansas Nebraska Act when whites came pouring into the Territory. It didn’t take long for the newcomers to realize that these bluffs were the ideal location for a town and it thrived, fed by the steamboats that docked at its front door. At its height, the town had a couple of thousand souls. Now, it is less than a couple of hundred but the architecture of the heyday remains and the town is on the National Historic Register. Twice a year, the population swells once again as White Cloud hosts one of the oldest flea markets in the region. The first Sunday in May and the weekend surrounding it, and the first Sunday in September and the weekend surrounding it, hundreds of vendors line the streets and crowd into the public spaces and thousands of visitors come from far-flung states to search for treasures. McCall’s Magazine named White Cloud one of the top ten flea markets in the country. According to event officials, the Ma Hush Kah Museum has not been opened in several years but is reopening for this year’s events. This Museum is full of awesome artifacts, and the building itself is a historical landmark. Another claim to fame of this iconic small town is the creation of the Piggy Bank, ironically, not as a means to accumulating wealth, but in an act of great generosity. In the early 1900’s, a ten-year-old boy, impressed by a traveling missionary’s sermon about lepers, decided to help. The young Wilbur Chapman raised a pig, sold it and donated the $25.00 raised to a boy suffering from leprosy. Wilbur’s gesture caught the imagination of the public and started the “Pig Bank Movement” to help lepers and the name “piggy bank” was coined. A plaque commemorating the boy and the idea of the “piggy bank” is mounted on the Community Christian Church on Main Street. The headquarters and reservation of the Iowa Tribe Of Kanas and Nebraska are just west of town, and the tribe operates a casino there. You’ll find his scenic small town is rich in stories!

(Frank) And here we are again. (Deb) Tip toeing through the tulips. (Frank) I was just going to do that, “Tip toe through the tulips!” (Deb) Michael’s too young to remember that. Tiny Tim. Remember when Tiny Tim got married on Johnny Carson? (Frank) Yes. (Deb) That’s really dating us. I was five, I don’t know. Maybe two. Maybe I was just two years old. But I remember it when he got married on the show. (Frank) I think I’d just been born. (Deb) Yes, exactly. It was a long time ago. (Frank) Yes, well then of course here in Topeka you can tip toe through the tulips because it is Tulip Time. It’s going on and that’s at Ward Meade and of course up on Elevation Drive and let’s see in Gage Park, there’s a new tulip garden there now. And so it’s really a great thing. This is something that really Gerald Binkley kind of started at his home up on Elevation Lane. He had literally thousands of tulips that he planted and they would come up and people went up there. It’s now expanded because now it’s out at Ted Ensley Gardens at Lake Shawnee which Gerald of course, also had a great deal to do with getting that developed and all that. (Deb) Amazing man. (Frank) And I think this Spring is a little more conducive to the tulips staying around a little while because I know a few years, the tulips would come and it’d be, ah great and then it would be 85 degrees for four or five days and the tulips would go, we’re done now! (Deb) Yes, true. (Frank) Hopefully this year, the tulips will survive a little better and you’re going to be able to really, really see some nice stuff. Yes, there is an admission charge; it’s like $5 dollars. But what it does is that buys more tulip bulbs and it helps maintain the gardens. (Deb) Right. Yes, keeps everything going. (Frank) Well worth it. (Deb) And Botanica down at Wichita they’ve got tulips too and all over Wichita. So, wherever you are look for the tulips in bloom because there’s a lot of places, if you’re not here in Topeka we’d love for you to come see us, but if you’re not in Topeka, there are a lot of places to go and of course, there is Wamego this weekend. (Frank) Oh yes, yes, we can’t forget, I mean here we go Dutch bulbs in Wamego. (Deb) That’s right. Dutch bulbs. (Frank) So tip toe through the tulips. (Deb) Take your ukulele. (Frank) The discovery of gold near Denver brought many through Wamego on the Smoky Hill Trail in the mid 1800s. In 1863, the Kansas Pacific Railroad began building the main line for passengers and freight bound westward across the plains. Seizing this opportunity, The Wamego Town Company founded and laid out a new town site – Wamego – along the proposed rail in 1866, 150 years ago. Wamego’s annual tulip festival starts 150 days of celebration for the “small town with a big experience.” Chamber director Megan Umscheid said events through September will highlight the town’s history. The city park has been the center of the community for decades and the windmill has been its focal point. Constructed by a Dutch settler, the mill was dismantled and hauled by 35 horses to the park. The mill, in turn, inspired the planting of tulips and when organizers were wanting to start an arts and crafts fair nearly 30 years ago, they were inspired to take advantage of the park’s scenery and the Tulip Festival was born. And has it blossomed! A juried show, more than 130 vendors come from throughout the Midwest to share their wares. There is as much to buy as there are tulips! Food vendors include items from The Land of Kansas. The park is so much more than a grassy space. With the mill, other historic buildings, including the museum, and the Children’s Train, the park is a real destination. The Children’s Train is another tradition that was saved by the community when it needed to be rehabbed and operates free-of-charge from Mid-April through Mid-October. Join Wamego in celebrating 150 years of an Oz-some community at the Tulip Festival or other events throughout the year. Check out their website and Facebook pages for schedules.

(Ron) Howdy folks, I’m Ron Wilson, Poet Lariat. There is one element of Kansas life which is found in the stereotypes that people have about the state of Kansas. And there is an element of truth to it folks. I’m talking about wind. This poem is entitled, “Blowing in the Wind.” The railroad train stopped at a station out west, out stepped a city dude in bowler hat and fancy vest. The wind was a howling as Kansas’ winds sometimes do. And off went his hat as one particular gust blew. This wind is just horrific the easterner said, is it always like this, he wondered with dread? So he looked around and what caught his eye was a Kansas cowboy who was waiting nearby. He approached the cowboy saying, young man I say, does the wind clear out here always blow this way? Nope, said the cowboy. Thank goodness, said the dude. But his relief was short lived, with the comment that ensued. For the cowboy offered this further correction, you see out here the wind blows half the time in the other direction. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And again, here we are. Are you holding up OK? (Deb) So far. My meds are keeping me alert. (Frank) OK. We’ve really had some kind of nice stuff today to talk about and so now, the historian is going to kick in over here and we’re going to talk about another one. (Deb) Yea, I’ll bring the violence. I’m always bringing the violence here. I know. (Frank) The violence here. The thing is as we’ve discussed before the Civil War pretty much started in Kansas in the 1850s. (Deb) It really did. Fortunately so many of those sites are beautiful parks now. There’s lots of tulips blooming in a lot of these battlefields. They are. It’s like that old joke about, why did they pick these big parks to have all these battles in? (Frank) Let’s go to the park. (Deb) Yea, let’s go the park and fight, yea, that’s it. Kansas City, the Battle of Westport, the Battle of Westport is sort of the entertainment district, you’ve got the bars and restaurants and everything. Westport was Westport Landing so that sort of predates Kansas City itself and that’s where settlers would get off and head west. So the Battle of Westport, was a piece of the Battle of the Blue, which is a three-day battle in October of 1864. A really big deal. It was a last ditch that Confederates are trying to take Missouri. And of course, Kansas is afraid of being invaded. It’s only a year after Quantrill burnt Lawrence. So Kansas is really afraid of being invaded. Now there is a wonderful museum there at Westport I got to go, Frank, I have done some cool stuff. I got to go to this site a few years ago with a couple of my buddies from the Command and General Staff College, Ed Kennedy and Tom Chychota. We took 20 visiting French officers… (Frank) Oh wow. (Deb)…to the Battle of Westport. We did the whole Battle of the Blue. So, we started out at Butler, Missouri, and we just make a day of it and come into Westport. Then we wind up in Liberty that evening and I take them to James Country Mercantile and I have them all buying Confederate flags on their way back to France. It just…a tiny bit subversive here. I just can’t help but have a little bit of that come out. (Frank) So… (Deb) Yes, just look at the tulips. Look at the tulips. But the museum opens this April for the season. April through October and it’s just one of those places you tend to overlook because it’s right in the heart of Kansas City. But it’s well worth the trip. (Frank) There’s some antique shops around there too so make a day of it. (Deb) That’s right. The Battle of Westport covered more than 25 square miles during the three days in October 1864. Confederate General Sterling Price’s Invasion of Missouri, designed to gain both men and supplies, would have meant the invasion of Kansas as well and our governor called out troops, the equivalent to our National Guard today, to help repel the threat. The Battle of Westport Visitor Center and Museum in Kansas City’s Swope Park tells the story of the largest Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi. Overlooking the Big Blue River Valley and the nearby historic Byram’s Ford crossing, the center commands a vista from the sweeps across the fields to the river, an idyllic view now where war raged more than 150 years ago. The Center, which opened in October 2008, depicts the experiences of the soldiers and civilians caught in the vortex of war during the three days of the battle on October 21-23, 1864. Visitors learn about the most dramatic event in Kansas City’s history. From the tower of the center, visitors can see the panoramic view where Union General Samuel Curtis constructed a defensive line stretching for ten miles along the banks of the Big Blue River. Here visitors may also travel along the 32-mile self-guided tour of the Battle of Westport designated by the Monnett Battle of Westport Fund markers. Nothing speaks more eloquently of this conflict than the words of those who were there: “At 8 am crossed the creek called the Big Blue, the battlefield of yesterday. There for the first time the unburied dead were seen, the unmistakable marks of stern and cruel war. At every step of our advance, the evidence of a fierce and bloody conflict was around us. It was a sad sight, the old, the middle aged and youth. The enemy took here a stubborn and determined stand. It was a cavalry fight, carbines, pistols and sabers, horse against horse, man against man, sabers right and left. The saber cuts visible on the face, neck and arm; the wounded and dead horses seen all over the field. Our loss is estimated at about 400; the enemy’s loss is from 100 to 1500.” George Sawin, quartermaster, 58th Illinois Infantry, 24 October 1864.

(Frank) Well you made it. (Deb) I survived. (Frank) I guess we’ll see you next Wednesday. I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

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