Dean Smith, George Meade, President Abraham Lincoln’s ties to Kansas

(Frank) today on Around Kansas our first story commemorates the life and legacy of Dean Smith, whose Kansas roots led him to a remarkable life. Then enjoy a cowboy poem and meet George Meade, a Civil War General for whom Meade County is named. Next up is this week’s From the Land of Kansas business and learn about President Abraham Lincoln’s ties to Kansas while it was still a territory.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Deb) Good morning. Welcome to Around Kansas, I’m Deb Bisel. You know the flags were flying at half-mast in North Carolina recently mourning the death of Coach Dean Smith, longtime coach of the University of North Carolina basketball. Dean is a Kansan. He was born in Emporia, grew up in Topeka
where he played high school basketball at Topeka High. And of course went on to KU to play basketball there. It’s just a remarkable career. And his growing up in Kansas can be sen in so many ways other than basketball. You know he was coached by Phog Allen, of course one of the most legendary coaches in basketball. We talked about him recently, basically created coaching basketball. The fact that Dean Smith studied with him is truly remarkable. Dean was an incredible humanitarian. He campaigned for human rights. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago when he came back to Topeka High and we had a panel discussion on segregation there at Topeka High. And while most of the school activities were integrated, the school itself was integrated, the men’s basketball was not. And Dean coached the white team. His good friend Jack Alexander coached the black team. It was just a really interesting discussion on what that had been like. And Dean campaigned long and hard for integration of sports and integration in all areas. In fact he recruited the first black basketball player to the University of North Carolina. While Dean was at Carolina in 36 seasons he racked up 179 wins and at that time held the record for the most wins. He took two NCAA Championship titles and of course he famously coached Roy Williams who was the long standing coach at KU before he went back to his home state of North Carolina. In remembering Dean Smith let’s lay claim to that great life and legacy that he left. And I think its important for all of us to realize that those great things he became had their roots in Kansas. And as I love to spread the gospel about how great Kansas is, its so important for us to remember kids are looking at the TV and they’re seeing all this praise heaped on people from all over the world, so many of them have roots right here. Dean Smith is a great example of that. Its a life well lived, a great competitor but a really wonderful individual. We’ll be right back.

(Frank) Good morning! This is Around Kansas and I’m Frank Chaffin. Some 15 years ago I had the privilege of meeting a famous Kansan named Randy Sparks. Now Randy is from Leavenworth, Kansas, and he started a folk group called the New Christy Minstrels back in the 60’s. Believe it or not, Randy and the New Christy Minstrels are still on the road today, in fact they had concerts in California just in the past few days. Now Randy is a Cowboy Poet of sorts, and in 2000 he put out a book called “FEE FIE FOE FUM, I Smell a Cowboy”. So I’m going to share some thoughts that Randy had about the state of Kansas in a poem called “Single Spur”. but first, here’s what he said about it. I don’t know very many folks who consider Kansas cowboy country. Western movies are made in New Mexico and Arizona and California. The old classic songs don’t mention Kansas. They say things like you know that Wyoming will be your new home and bound for Montana to throw the hoolihan. We seem to have forgotten that Kansas was where the cattle trails led. It was indeed a cowboy capitol of sorts in the late 1800’s. This was on his mind as he walked into junk store, antiques, in Oberlin in the northwest corner of the state. He found a rusty single spur and he wrote about here, and the story happily flowed from his imagination as he drove along the rural highway. Here it is, Single Spur. The hinges are rusty on the old cabin door. They sing heir mournful song with every breeze. The cowboy who lived here doesn’t live here anymore. And all he left behind were memories. The morning glory climbs where roses once were along the path form the porch to the gate. On an ancient square nail hang and old Single Spur I wonder what became of its mate. There are rivets in the patch where the wishbone was broke. That must have been one hell of a ride! Can’t you hear the smithy’s hammer? There was joy in every stroke. And when the job was finished there was pride. Now it once again was useful, this time-worn telegraph. The rider’s every wish was its command. But there’s chaos and confusion, without the other half. A Single Spur a horse don’t understand. There’s a message in the horseshoe that’s tacked above the door. Old Lady Luck has seen her better days. That cowboy and his horse, like the shoe that it once wore, by now, no doubt, have gone their separate ways. The smell of morning coffee somehow lingers on the air thought the pot is leaking daylight at the seams. There’s a place at the table, there’s a dusty, empty chair. Sit down and have your fill of broken dreams. And I feel like that Old Single Spur that some thoughtless, careless cowboy cast aside. The good times are gone, the rodeo’s moved on and no one wants to go for a ride. Randy Sparks, cowboy poet, musician and Kansan. I’ll see you somewhere Around Kansas.

(Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas. I’m Deb Bisel. I want to talk a little bit about Meade County. I love studying how the counties got their names and of course so many of our counties were named for Civil War soldiers because so much of Kansas was settled following the Civil War. Meade County of course named for General George Meade, victor at Gettysburg, the first man to beat Robert E. Lee. It’s funny, I spoke to the Meade Society, or the Meade Victory Dinner at Gettysburg a few years ago, and being a Virginian I said you know, I never heard of Meade until I met you guys. General Meade was obviously beloved and it was a real honor in 1873 when Meade County was named for him. And then it got disorganized and for some reason they just disbanded the county. Meade County was re-organized in 1885. Its been there ever since, down on the Oklahoma boarder. Now one of the claims to fame in Meade County is the Dalton Gang Hideout. Just recently we want to give a shout out to the folks that operate the Dalton Gang Hideout, it was put on the National Register of Historic Places. So way to go! A great tourist attraction and you all remember we talked about the Dalton gang a few weeks ago on Around Kansas and they’re from Coffeyville, but the sister Eva moved to Meade County, where her husband built her this lovely little home and you know what, they found afterwards tunnels going from the house to the barn. This is what was turned into the tourist attraction. The barn has a gift shop and that’s where you can buy tickets to go through the tunnels where the Dalton brothers, her notorious brothers, used to hide from the law. It’s just a great, great tourist attraction. Now I have had the occasion to go to Philadelphia many times to celebrate the birthday of General Meade and my good friend Andy Waskie portrays General Meade and actually founded the General Meade Society. And they celebrate his birthday every year at Laurel Hill Cemetery with a champagne party which is really ironic since Meade County is a dry county. Its one of the few dry counties left but apparently still a dry county. And they have a big champagne party every year for General Meade at his gravesite there in Laurel Hill Cemetery overlooking Schuykill River. He had the great foresight to be born on New Year’s Eve. So combining his birthday with the New Year’s Eve party just worked out perfectly. So the General Meade Society basically exists to venerate the memory of General Meade and to celebrate his role in winning the war, the Civil War, and expanding freedom, of course. This is a wonderful group and you all have a standing invitation to go out to Laurel Hill and join to celebrate his birthday. I was hoping to bring that group out to Kansas. If you visit the West, there’s Meade South Dakota, there’s Fort Meade, so many places named for General Meade in the West. He was an engineer, had a role in building several lighthouses. One on the great Lakes maybe and just an incredible career. All those Civil War veterans that came back to Kansas obviously loved him very much. His memory survives in the town of Meade and Meade County. We’ll be right back.

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(Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas, I’m Deb Bisel. On November 30, 1859, Abraham Lincoln crossed the Missouri River on a ferry. He came from St. Joe over to Elwood and at the Great Western Hotel in Elwood, Kansas, Kansas Territory that is, he made his first speech in the Kansas Territory. It was all about slavery. How we didn’t need to expand slavery, and we should get rid of it. Now he had gotten famous the year before with the Lincoln Douglass debate for the Senate job in Illinois. But he had lost, of course. So he was not as big a deal as he might become. He got some attention in the Kansas Territory. He visited Troy, Doniphan, Leavenworth, Atchison, in fact he made some pretty significant speeches. A big long speech, a couple of hours in Atchison. Got almost no newspaper coverage when he was in Atchison even though he had a good crowd and made a long speech, because the newspaper editor, John Martin, who would later become Governor, was a Seward man. He was voting for the other guy that was running against him. He was determined he wasn’t going to pay any attention to Abraham Lincoln. Now while Lincoln was in Kansas, news of the hanging of John Brown reached Lincoln, and he voiced an opinion. He was quoted in the newspaper as swing basically while he can’t condone slavery, neither can we condone John Brown’s actions. Basically saying that he deserved the fate of hanging for the acts he had committed. And he was just a little overzealous, the actions he had taken to end slavery. Now while he was in Leavenworth, he stayed with some distant relatives, the Delahays. The Delahays were Lincoln’s cousins and one of those little girls, Julia Delahay, who was just young at the time, she recalled how big Lincoln’s shoes were. You know, just little details like a kid would notice when he came to visit. She went on to marry Thomas Osborn. She became Kansas First Lady during the Osborn administration. Many of the items that Lincoln used while he was visiting in Leavenworth at the Delahays are on display at the Frontier Army Museum, at the Post there at Fort Leavenworth. The Delahay House is a private residence, but those nice folks that own it are very proud of the legacy of the Delahay family and occasionally they open that for tours in Leavenworth. Kind of stay on the radar with the Leavenworth Home Tours there and you might have the opportunity to see it sometime. You know, another connection with Lincoln in Kansas of course is Grace Bedell, a little girl who wrote to President Lincoln and said that he really should grow some whiskers, he would look better. She wound up moving to Kansas later on in life. She wound up in the little town of Delphos. For years the letters hung on the wall of the Delphos Bank where her husband was the President. And she is buried there in the cemetery at Delphos. Now she was a little girl in New York when she wrote to Lincoln and as he was headed to Washington for his inaugural he stopped in New York and said I believe there’s a little girl that I need to see here. She brought him a bouquet of flowers and got to meet Lincoln. Now another really interesting Lincoln connection is up at St. Mary’s College in Leavenworth. The only letter known to have been signed by both Abraham and Mary Lincoln is in the collection there in their archives. An incredible artifact. So so many Lincoln connections here in the sunflower state. And Lincoln said one time, you know, if I were to go West, I think I’d go to Kansas. We wish you could have come back.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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