Decatur County’s Last Indian Raid Museum, 24th Annual We Kan! Awards

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with a tour of Decatur County’s Last Indian Raid Museum in Oberlin; with more than a dozen buildings and thousands of artifacts to tell the story. Next let’s see who was won the 24th Annual We Kan! Awards this year; and then enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson. We’ll end with the immigration of Volga Germans to Kansas and the beautiful churches they built here.

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(Frank Chaffin) Good morning, I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. The show that tells you about a lot of people, places, and things that are great to visit in our great state of Kansas. (Deb) And it must be Wednesday again. (Frank) It is. (Deb) Thank you, thank you. (Frank) It is, early in the morning Wednesday. Unless you’re watching us on-line and then it could be midnight. (Deb) Or anywhere in the World. (Frank) That’s right. (Deb) Yes, you might not be in Kansas. (Frank) Yes, and you know our audience is continuing to grow and we really thank you for that. (Deb) We do, we really appreciate it. And every now and then you can tell where people watch from, on-line or something, or we’ll get some message. And yes, of course some people have moved away, you know, live somewhere else and they’re originally from Kansas, or maybe were here in the military for a while and so they’re interested for that reason in another state. But sometimes we get people that just think we do cool stuff. You know and they really don’t know anything about Kansas, but they watch the show. I think my sister probably invited most of them. Look, you got to see this. You won’t believe it but… (Frank) Well, and we also hope that people that are maybe on the east coast or west coast and they’re going to travel, you know especially driving or whatever…and they say Around Kansas, what’s that all about, and maybe we can get them to say, Hey, that sounds like a neat place, I’d like to stop there. (Deb) I agree. I think that would be awesome. Y’all come; we’d love to have you. We’d love to have you in Kansas. (Frank) And of course, we don’t have her accent, she’s not originally from here, but we love her now. (Deb) No, people want me to wear a sign that says, People in Kansas don’t talk like this. [laughs]. I need a translator sometimes. (Frank) But there is a western Kansas accent. And I know when I first started in broadcast, I really was trained to get rid of the Kansas “A”, because there’s a Kansas “A”, believe it or not, I’m not trying to be smart. (Deb) No, you’re right, yes. (Frank) But there is a Kansas “A”, and you had to get rid of that. And also one of the words on there was W-A-S-H, how do you pronounce it? (Deb) I say wash. But some people say… (Frank) And well I say wash now, but I grew up saying worsh. (Deb) And a lot of people where I grew up do say worsh, with that “R” in there. (Frank) Yes, and that’s part of how we speak. (Deb) You know the words that hang me up, are like well, and spell, and…. (Frank) And what? (Deb) Spell. (Frank) Spell. (Deb) Spell, like spelling, you know, spelling. (Frank) Oh, oh, okay. (Deb) So that’s the ones that I have some trouble with. Hey, can you spell Lyndon? Yes, speaking of spelling. (Frank) L-Y-N-D-O-N, Lyndon. (Deb) Very good, very good, and they got the car show coming up this weekend. (Frank) The car show in Lyndon, and there are a lot of car shows in this state for some reason. You know, this is kind of a jump over to there, but you do know that the NHRA drag racing, that really started in Kansas. (Deb) No, I didn’t know that. (Frank) Yes it did, and sometime we’ll do a story on it. (Deb) I mean, I knew that, of course Nascar started back home where I grew up. People, you know…. (Frank) Well yeah, the bootleggers. (Deb) Yes, the bootleggers, running white lightning. (Frank) Thunder road. (Deb) Yes, all that stuff. I didn’t know NHRA started out here. I guess if you’ve got a flat, straight road that makes sense, as opposed to all the curves back home doesn’t it. (Frank) Yes, yes. (Deb) It all makes sense.

(Frank) Back again. (Deb) Well, I told you last week that I got up to Oberlin to visit with my friend Sharleen Wurm. So, the Last Indian Raid Museum, we talked about how great it was, and that’s what this segment is about. But I want to tell you what’s going on there, and as we have been talking about this wet spring, they had a deluge there few weeks ago, had a lot of roof damage to one of the buildings. Now they’ve got almost 20 buildings on this property. You can’t believe how extensive this museum is. But one of the buildings had a lot of roof damage, and the process when I was up there a couple of weeks ago; they were busy putting on the new roof. But, you can imagine what kind of mess that makes. I don’t think they had any artifacts damaged because some girl came in and they found it as the water was coming through and they got things covered up and out of the way. But you’ve got, you know, the insulation and the ceilings; I mean it’s a mess. It’s a real mess. So it’s a big, expensive job to fix so if you can help out the Decatur County Last Indian Raid Museum in their expenses in repairing this ceiling and the roof that would be very nice. So go up and take a look, drop a little something in the collection jar when you’re there. (Frank) Sounds good. (Deb) Alright, let’s take a look at this great museum. Following the Civil War, America moved West by the hundreds, by the thousands. Decatur County’s rolling grazing land and lush bottoms lured rancher and farmer alike to make a life in the northwestern reaches of Kansas. It was an important stop on the Great Western Cattle Trail, which saw thousands of longhorns driven from Texas to northern railheads and markets. The area grabbed the nation’s headlines in 1878 when a band of Cheyenne left their reservation and headed home to the Black Hills, raiding farms and homesteads in their path, leaving death and destruction in their wake. Decatur County’s Last Indian Raid Museum in Oberlin celebrates the pioneering heritage of its community while interpreting one of the most historic events on the Great Plains. More than a dozen buildings with thousands of artifacts tell the stories of men and women who built schools and railroads, soddies and silos, grocery stores and churches. Their clothes, their tools, their transportation, their photographs, all combine to tell the remarkable story of forging the bonds of community. For the tourist, the museum is a fascinating glimpse into the story of pioneering America. For folks who come home to visit from far-flung cities, the displays offer a way to reconnect to the land and to loved ones long gone. Photos of high school classes line the walls of the Alumni Room, faces that are forever young. Situated at the intersection of scenic highways 36 and 83, Oberlin is the place where friends have met on brick streets for generations. The museum is one of those locations that gives friends a reason and a place to come together once more, to reminisce or learn something new. Follow the brick streets of Oberlin to Decatur County’s Last Indian Raid Museum and meet your friends there!

(Frank) It’s Wednesday right. Yes it is, because we’re here. Thanks for watching this. Anyway, we have kind of a cool story here; it’s not a long story at all. But, it’s really more of one that honors a lot of Kansans that are volunteers and do a lot of good work. (Deb) This is what I love most about Kansas. And the We Kan! Awards with the Kansas Sampler Foundation. God bless Marci Penner. We’ve mentioned her many times, but we could talk about her every week and it wouldn’t be enough to highlight. You know this is what makes Kansas such a great state. People do stuff. They just do it. They don’t wait for a sunny day, they don’t wait for a program to come from Washington or somewhere to say this is what we’re going to do, they don’t wait, they just do it. They see stuff that needs to get done, and they just do it. (Frank) And that’s why it’s We Kan!, with a K. Not we can, but We Kan! (Deb) Yes. That was brilliant marketing wasn’t it. It was. (Frank) Yes. Well, and of course what we’re really talking about, is because you know Marci has for years produced the Kansas Sampler Festival all around the state, and she can’t do it by herself. It really takes a lot of people stepping up to volunteer, to make everything happen. I mean, put it together. It’s a huge undertaking. (Deb) It is, and what the festival itself promotes of course, and the We Kan! Awards is that there are people doing things all over the state, all the time. And you know, that was the idea behind the festival to begin with is that people need to know about the cool stuff that people are always doing. And that’s one of the things that the We Kan! Awards do. And so I think it’s just so important and we’re just so pleased to have the opportunity to share those people with you today and you’re going to love seeing the segment. But go see them. You know, that’s what it’s all about. Go see these folks. You know it’s not good enough to just say, Oh, that’s great, but go see them and see what they’re doing. See what they’re working so hard to make happen in their rural communities, so that’s what we want you to do. That’s your call to action today. (Frank) Yes, so congratulations to all the We Kan! Award winners. (Deb) Congratulations. Absolutely. (Frank) The 24th annual We Kan! Awards were announced May 7, 2016 at the Kansas Sampler Festival in Winfield. The awards are presented by the Kansas Sampler Foundation as appreciation for dedicated work in helping preserve and sustain rural culture. Foundation Director Marci Penner said, Each year it is our pleasure to recognize ten people who do a great deal to keep our state moving forward. The 2016 award winners are Jane Brophy, Cheering for Chanute (Chanute Area Chamber of Commerce and Office of Tourism); Shari Butler, Passion for the Grassland (Cimarron National Grassland, Elkhart); Sarah Green, Doing Democracy (Wichita); Bridgette Jobe, Seeing the Big Picture (Kansas City KS Convention & Visitors Bureau); Liz King, Designed Generosity (Park City, UT); Ken and Shirley McClintock, Making History Delicious (Trail Days Cafe and Museum, Council Grove); Larry and Jan Olson, Stumpin’ for RV Parks and Campgrounds (Kansas RV Parks & Travel, Hill City); Sue Stringer, Toutin’ Kansas! (KDWPT Kansas Byways & Agritourism, Topeka); Andrea Springer and Steve Snook, Good Thinkers for Kansas (Hutchinson); Adam Wagner, You’ve Been Good for Kansas (Twilight Theatre, Greensburg). The Awards plates are made by Elk Falls Pottery. We at Around Kansas want to extend our congratulations and thanks to all these folks who work so hard to keep their rural communities alive and thriving!

(Ron Wilson) One of the great things about multi-generational farms or 4-H clubs is that it’s a family affair. It’s a time when parents help kids work on their projects and learn. In horse shows for example, we know that for every kid in the ring, there’s an anxious Mom, or Dad, or Grandma, or Granddad helping outside the ring. This is a tribute to those horse show moms. Here’s to the horse show mom. That loving mother who has a daughter who thinks horse shows are the thing that she should do. So her daughter starts her 4-H project with a single older horse, and embarks on a path, which takes her on a wondrous course. Here’s to the horse show mom who gently nags and reminds that the show is in a few weeks, and her daughter shouldn’t get behind. Here’s to the horse show mom who rolls out through the cactus, and drives the family van to yet another practice. Here’s to the horse show mom who gathers tack and supplies, and hopes that her daughter can win an elusive prize. Here’s to the horse show mom studying the rules of the show, and hitching up the trailer getting everyone ready to go. Here’s to the horse show mom who digs down in her purse, to find a missing hair tie, or a safety pin, or worse. Here’s to the horse show mom who sits up in the bleachers, commenting on the judge or the other horse’s features. Here’s to the horse show mom hauling feed or carrying water, while arena dust blows or, as temperatures get hotter. Here’s to horse show mom who will save to pay the debenture for the feed bill, and the gas for her daughter’s equine adventure. Here’s to the horse show mom who checks the pattern out, and brings the snacks to share with the other moms about. Here’s to the horse show mom who has horses as her passion, who’s always shopping for the latest in horse and rider fashion. Here’s to the horse show mom who calms the pre-show fears, and gives a comforting hug or wipes away some tears. Here’s to the horse show mom who thanks the Lord above that her daughter has this interest, and a horse to work and love. Whether winning or losing, this mother handles it with aplomb, so let’s all give thanks for the horse show mom. And when the horse show is over after a long, tiring weekend, the horse show mom knows next week, she’ll do it all again. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And here we are again. So you know, Kansas has a lot of immigrants here that came from, well a lot of them came from Germany, a lot of them from Russia, and they brought wheat… (Deb) Ireland… (Frank) Ireland, especially Ireland. (Deb) Scotland. I mean we were talking about the Aberdeen Angus, you know the Scots brought that. You know we’ve talked about some of those. The Irish, the Celtic Fox Pub, you know thank God they came. [laughs] (Frank) Well, and because of that we have kind of a diverse architecture. (Deb) We do. (Frank) Eclectic I guess you would say as well, because you might get Irish, you might get German, you might get Scandinavian. I mean, Lindsborg of course. (Deb) Czechs, Wilson with the Czechs. Yes. (Frank) Bingo. So it really kind of makes it interesting. That’s another reason why Kansas is so interesting a place to visit, because you’re not going to see the same thing, same thing, same thing. It’s going to be an interesting trip. (Deb) It will be. You know the flavor of the community is literally. You know the food, the entertainment, and the architecture. You know, it’s what they brought over, and because most of that happened in the last half of the 19th Century, not that far back, especially as it relates to architecture. Now one of the things I found interesting that we’re going to be talking about, the Volga Germans coming to Kansas. One of my friends who were Volga German talked about growing up in the different communities, and how we were talking about accents. Different communities of course had different dialects of German, and you could tell who was from what community because of the dialect of German that they spoke. And there was a lot of prejudice between the German communities themselves; you know just the way people are you know. Oh you’re not as good as these people because this it the way you talk. You now which is the way they generally think about me when they hear my accent. You know, just poor cracker from the south. (Frank) Well, and a lot of the immigrants too, it’s reflected in the churches. (Deb) Absolutely. (Frank) And so that’s kind of what this story is going to be about. (Deb) And that may be the prettiest reflection of those immigrants and it’s certainly one of the most enduring, and you are going to be shocked by this segment. Few events have shaped Kansas like the immigration of the Volga Germans, those war-weary Germans who had been lured to the land along the Volga River by Russia’s Catherine the Great generations earlier. For a hundred years, the Volga Germans farmed and prospered, exempt from military service because Catherine had so valued their agricultural skills. When this exemption was revoked by Czar Alexander II, they looked to America. The first group of settlers left for Topeka in 1875. Upon arrival they were encouraged by the Kansas Pacific Railroad to settle on land owned by the railroad in Ellis and northern Rush counties. Large settlements also emerged in Russell County and North Topeka. The movement of German-Russians into Kansas continued until the First World War. Besides the wheat that the farmers brought with them, the Volga Germans left another indelible mark on the landscape of Kansas, and on the skyline of many small towns — the churches. St. Fidelis in Victoria is the largest and most famous of the German Catholic churches, and one of the eight wonders of Kansas. In 2014, the pope declared the church a minor basilica. It was William Jennings Bryan, visiting in 1912, who dubbed St. Fidelis the Cathedral of the Plains. But the church was the center of other German communities as well, and while not so large, they are just as beautiful as the Cathedral in Victoria. The communities of Catherine, Liebenthal, Leoville, Munjor, and Schoenchen–many towns around Hays are marked by the steeples of these beautiful churches. As a descendant of one those Volga Germans remarked; these were very religious people. The church was the center of the community. Each family was required to provide so many wagonfuls of stone, which was all cut by hand. Master craftsmen were responsible for the woodwork. Stained glass windows were often imported. They resembled the churches that had been left behind, something of the homeland, something representing the hope that these new communities would truly be home, for them and generations to come. They farmed, raised kids, and went to church, and in the process, transformed the plains into the breadbasket of the world. As a descendant said; they trusted in God and hard work, and the evidence of that faith remains to anchor the communities.

(Frank) And we have to go again. So, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Together) Around Kansas.

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