George and Libbie Custer, Jim Hoy

(Frank) Today Around Kansas takes a look at forts of the American West, specifically the story of George and Libbie Custer’s arrival at Fort Riley in 1866. Then learn about the recent Native Sons and Daughters award honoring author Jim Hoy. Next enjoy a poem from Ron Wilson and we’ll end with a story about the archeological dig coming this summer at the Last Chance Saloon in Council Grove.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) Well good morning, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. And today we’re in front of one of the many fireplaces here at the Dillon House. (Deb) We could use a fireplace with the weather we’ve been having. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) At least we haven’t gotten the blizzards that western Kansas and northern Kansas has gotten. You see the pictures on Facebook and it’s just nothing, it’s just a white out. It’s just crazy. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) That’s winter, that’s winter. (Frank) Every day is a day closer to spring. Yeah! (Deb) That’s right. One day closer. And the groundhog did not see his shadow. Course, I also saw one report that he’s been blind for ten years. So that might be. (Frank) Oh, that’s not good. (Deb) Yea. Doggone groundhog. So I want to give a shout out Frank to all the people who share photographs on our Facebook page, because every day or so we try to put up a different image on our cover photo. And they’re so many incredible photographers out there. And some of them have become my friends through sharing photography and I love being able to highlight not only beautiful spots in Kansas but the talent of some of these people. You know, Patrick Emerson from over in Lawrence just does some beautiful stuff. And Rex Rosenberg and Robert Sinclair. I know I’ll leave people out. But it’s just amazing. Dan Frick. He’s got a job on something to do with the oil companies. So, he’s always out on work and taking pictures. And so, share those pictures with us. We love getting those. (Frank) Yea, our Facebook page just continues grow and grow and grow. Wow. (Deb) It does, it does. (Frank) Thank you. (Deb) Yea, we like it when you like us. We do. We do. (Frank) So, what have you been up to? (Deb) Oh my gosh I’ve been… (Frank) I mean you’re speaking everywhere it seems like. (Deb) All over, all over the state. I had a phenomenal time in Oakley when we did Kansas Day out in Oakley. We had nearly a thousand school kids from all over the state. So, Jane Pearce and I and then they had other presenters there at the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center. Buffalo Bill’s birthday is coming up next week folks. It’s February 26th. Yea, I’m still trying to make it a National Holiday, but I haven’t gotten anywhere with that yet but I’m still working on it. (Frank) So, Calamity Jane in another life. (Deb) I’ve got a photograph of me at her grave. (Frank) Oh yea? (Deb) Yea. She’s buried at her request near Bill Hickok. (Frank) Oh, OK. Oh my. (Deb) Maybe I could be buried up there on Lookout Mountain. next to Bill. Reckon what Louisa would think of that? Not much, I’m sure. Not much. You know when Bill Cody died, there is this famous image, there’s all these gals sitting there. You know, some of his girlfriends are sitting there with their little parasols, keeping off the sun and everything. Oh my gosh, what his wife had to deal with. Just crazy. (Frank) OK, so I think we have some good stories for you today. Oh it’s going to be an awesome day. (Frank) Yea. And so we’ll be back.

(Frank) And we’re back. Hey, you know, there’s a novelty song that came out back in the 50’s, early 60’s called “Please Mr. Custer I Don’t Want to Go.” (Deb) I love that song. (Frank) I know. And I’m only doing that cause I know you’re going to do a story about Custer. (Deb) Yea, you just can’t avoid it. Western history, Kansas. You can’t avoid it. (Frank) Now, you also said that you had about a thousand school children that you talked to, but one of them especially stood out because he asked a question. (Deb) This was so funny and I’m reminded of it because in this segment that we’re going to do Libbie Custer talked about how there are no walls at Fort Riley and she’s surprised when they get there. It’s not like a real fort. Well most of the western forts did not have walls for obvious reasons, there’s not enough wood. And so you can’t put up a palisade. So, when Jane and I were showing students the images of an aerial representation of Fort Wallace I asked the school kids, do you see walls? And they’re like, no. And I’m like, well why not? And some of them would say because it’s easier to get in and out. All this stuff. You could escape. It was hilarious. But the one true Kansas boy, because they didn’t build any! (Frank) There you go. Makes sense. (Deb) That just cracked me up, because I started a file years ago on what I called Kansas logic and I came to realize it’s frontier logic. These guys, for example, I think this was my first one. After Lincoln was assassinated this group of Kansans wrote to President Johnson and said, “We want Jeff Davis home because we want him home.” That’s why we want him home, because we want him home. And it cracked me up and they had a committee and this is the letter they came up with. (Frank) We want him home because we want him home. (Deb) And it’s that simple and straightforward, we don’t need to discuss it anymore. And that little boy, a long line of pioneers right there. Because they didn’t build any, that’s why there’s no walls. (Frank) You know, Art Linkletter’s “Children Say the Darndest Things.” (Deb) Yea, they were awesome. They were awesome. (Frank) Please Mr. Custer, I don’t want to go… (Deb) Please Mr. Custer…. Please T.J. give us another book on Custer, let’s take a look at it. In October 1866, George and Libbie Custer arrived at Fort Riley, Kansas.”This is not a fort, tho called so,” Libbie wrote to a friend, “For there are no walls enclosing it.” Rather, Libbie described it as a little city of limestone buildings. The forts of the American West were indeed different from those traditional forts of the east in that there were no walls. There simply was not enough wood to build them in most western landscapes. Instead, army posts depended on commanding a view of the countryside. Several Kansas forts, including Fort Riley, are discussed in the latest release from Pulitzer-prize winning author T. J. Stiles. The book, Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America will satisfy the nit-pickiest of Custer fanatics as well as those of us fascinated with the 19th Century American West. Stiles’ rich descriptions of the landscapes and personalities of this era of Kansas make you want to step through the looking glass and straight into that colorful time. Custer was not born in Kansas nor did he die here, but he is indelibly pressed upon the landscape. Though countless books have been written about him, this is a welcome volume. Western historian Robert Utley said of Stiles, “He portrays a real Custer, full of flaws but possessed of outstanding combat skills and leadership. This biography easily overshadows its many predecessors, offering new facts and interpretations as well as a wonderful read.” I concur. And for the Kansan, many of our iconic army posts are brought to life in a new and exciting way. This really is a must-read.

(Frank) Here we are again. (Deb) Welcome back. So, Frank, I of course, obviously, am not a native daughter of Kansas. I am a transplant. So, it is possible, maybe in some realm of reality that I could one day be a distinguished Kansan. But were you born, are you a native son? (Frank) Oh ya. (Deb) You’re a native son. So where were you born? (Frank) Topeka. (Deb) In Topeka. So, we’ll put your name in the running there for the Native Sons and Daughters who honor folks every year. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Have you ever been to that awards show? (Frank) Yes, I have. (Deb) It’s an awesome deal. I did not get to go this year. But it’s incredible. (Frank) Yea, it really is. The year Roy Williams was inducted and then the next year you saw him going to North Carolina now. (Deb) Well bless his heart. You know Roy, being very fond of Roy and Dean Smith, the whole connection. When people were not happy with Roy Williams, I’m like you know, Roy was born near Asheville and I grew up in the mountains, the top end of the state. And I’m like golly, if you could see where Roy grew up – it is gorgeous, it’s just gorgeous. But you know, home has a strong pull. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) I got to meet Dean Smith speaking of Roy Williams, when Dean was here. You know he graduated from Topeka High and from KU and so he came back to be honored at Topeka High and was President of Shawnee County Historical Society at the time. So, I got to, I was kind of assigned to take care of Dean Smith and oh man, that was awesome. (Frank) Yea. Now, you mentioned Topeka High, this is a transition, listen to this, “Hoy, hoy mighty Troy!” (Deb) Yea. That’s great. (Frank) And guess what, we have a story about someone named Hoy. (Deb) Hoy, Hoy. (Frank) Yea, and we talked about all of the talent that is in the state of Kansas-in music and art and literature and he happens to be another one. (Deb) He does. Amazing. (Frank) Yea. (Deb) Hoy, Hoy. (Frank) Mighty Troy. Here it is. Each year, the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas gather on or near Kansas Day to honor, well, native sons and daughters. This year’s choice for Kansan of the Year was almost a given. He was sure to receive this award sometime in his life. Jim Hoy, who taught at Emporia State University for 45 years before retiring in 2014, is recognized throughout Kansas and beyond for his story-telling as well as his recording of western lore. He has authored, co-authored, or edited seventeen books, including the story of the “Cowboys Lament,” the song commonly known as the “Streets of Laredo.” Hoy loves telling crowds that the popular song originated in the streets of a Kansas cowtown, not one in Texas. Hoy’s other books include co-authored Vaqueros, Cowboys and Buckaroos, Cowboys and Kansas: Stories from the Tallgrass Prairie, Prairie Poetry: Cowboy Verse of Kansas, and two volumes called Plains Folk. Hoy holds degrees from K-State, Emporia State, and the University of Missouri-Columbia. The teacher and rancher has also been inducted into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Since he is not a native son, Dr. Jerry Farley, president of Washburn University was honored with Distinguished Kansan of the Year. Washburn marked its 150th anniversary in 2015, and under Dr. Farley’s guidance the landscape of the campus has been dramatically changed, including the brand new KBI forensic facility there. Congrats, Jim & Jerry!

(Ron) When the open range era came to an end the homesteaders and settlers moved into Kansas and started building something that would change the life of the cowboy forever, I’m referring to fences. This poem is based on the true story of the invention of barbed wire. It’s called the Death of Open Range. Let me tell you of a time when open range was in its prime. Cowboys rode their horses forth and drove the huge herds of cattle north. We could ride all over this great land, unfettered by the human hand. Then a farmer over Illinois way invented something that’s used to this day. His name was Mr. Joseph Glidden and he was doing the homesteaders biddin. He took a pair of heavy pliers and wrapped barbs around a long piece of wire. The barb’s sharp points kept stock in or out, could be used for fencing all about. For the open range it was a turn of events that barbed wire made it easy to string a fence. Barbed wire succeeded more than Glidden had planned. Soon fences criss-crossed the open land. The old west changed with Glidden’s invention. And caused the cowboys apprehension. No more could we ride over free open range and the cowboy’s role would be forever changed. Homesteaders and nesters scarred this land and changed the role of the old cowhand. The cowboy’s work continues on but the days of the open range are gone. That open range would have no more hope. That’s why cowboys call barbed wire the Devil’s Rope. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And we’re back again. Hey, you know as a kid we all like to go out and play in the sandbox and play in the dirt, all that kind of stuff. And so as adults, we can go play in the dirt too. But it can be some fun and it happens to be called archaeology. And in Kansas there’s a lot of that that’s going on because this was the Great Inland Sea, part of it. And so, well of course, there are some dinosaur bones around, but there are a lot of seashells and just all kinds of things. Around my pond I have some rocks and imbedded in those rocks which weren’t made yesterday are seashells and what have you. And it’s really kind of fascinating. But I’m kind of stealing your thunder. (Deb) Isn’t that amazing? You know it really is. And so they literally just scratch the surface of you know, the earth. And it yields up treasures. And this summer, you know every year, the State Historical Society has a dig somewhere. And it’s a historic location. And this year’s gonna be like the Last Chance Saloon, Last Chance Store. This year it will be the Last Chance Store, down in Council Grove. And it’s a great place for amateurs to work alongside professionals and so they look at everything, the geology, the artifacts that might be there and what a great place. We’ve talked about Council Grove a lot on the show in the past few months because there’s so much history there. You know the Santa Fe Trail goes back way before we were a territory even. So, with people passing through from all over the place. People from all over the world. You’ve got immigrants that come in. And then you’ve got of course, the natives who were already here. You’ve got people coming in from the southwest on the Santa Fe Trail. The army marching back and forth on the Santa Fe Trail. So, that should be a really, really cool one. That should be a great gig. (Frank) So, put on your Indiana Jones hat and go join them. (Deb) Exactly, exactly, your Indiana Jones hat. And like you were saying, we just did the fossil story last week and there is so much. I was talking to a friend of mine just last night about having a passion for life. And people look around and they’re like, oh this is so boring. There’s nothing to do. And I’m like, good grief get interested in something! Like I said, all you’ve got to do is just scratch around in the yard to find some miracle. You know just get interested in something. There is so much here. But you know you’ve got to get off your butt and do it. (Frank) I mean if you go out and you find an arrowhead and you look at that and you think, wow! (Deb) Wow! (Frank) I’m holding something that someone hundreds of years ago made, used and it’s rather fascinating. (Deb) It is. (Frank) It is to us. (Deb) It is and puts the whole…puts your whole life in context. That’s why I love studying history, puts your life in context. We weren’t the first people here. We’re not the last. You know and you feel sort of connected to all those folks. So, this is gonna be a great opportunity to be a part of that learning experience. (Frank) Dun-dun-do-do! Yea. Oh well! (Deb) The simple stone structure on Main Street in Council Grove is one of the most significant in the history of the American West. Situated on the Santa Fe Trail just west of the Neosho River crossing. The Last Chance Store was indeed the last place where freighters and travelers could obtain supplies between Council Grove and Santa Fe, a distance of 600 miles. The modest building was brought by boat from St. Louis to Westport Landing, now a part of Kansas City, and then mule teams brought it to Council Grove. It was used as a trading post, residence, polling place, refuge for enslaved people, grocery store, corncrib, loan association, and antique store. It is also the newest state historic site and will be governed by the Kaw Mission Site close by. This summer, the Kansas Archaeology Training Program Field School will descend on the Last Chance Store giving the public a chance to become a part of this historic dig. Bob Blasing, an archaeologist with dual residency in Oklahoma City and Council Grove, will be principal investigator for the project. Along with the field training from June 2 through the 17th, many other opportunities are offered including a class in metal detecting. Registration details will appear on the Kansas State Historical Society’s website by March first. Make sure you register early. For more information, contact Virginia Wulfkuhle. This is an incredible opportunity to work with some highly trained and knowledgeable folks on a site that promises to yield lots of surprises!

(Deb) Well, it’s been an educational day here on Around Kansas. (Frank) It has. And we’re out of time as usual. (Deb) Doggone it. (Frank) So, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere….Around Kansas.

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

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