historical Christmas trees, Butterfield Overland Dispatch Marker

(Frank) Today Around Kansas celebrates Christmas a little early with a look at forty historical Christmas trees and thousands of ornaments at Lane University in Lecompton. Then enjoy the dedication of the Butterfield Overland Dispatch Marker in Atchison. Next up is a poem from Ron Wilson and we finish with Dennis Rogers, a Kansan better known as Spirit Dancer, who combines educating and performing.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Frank) Here we are again, it’s Wednesday morning early in the morning if you’re watching on TV. (Deb) Good morning and yea, it’s just morning all over the place, isn’t it? (Frank) I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb and it’s some hour of the morning, some ungodly hour. I went by to get coffee…I was bringing us coffee this morning and you know downtown Topeka, there’s a lot of construction going on. It’s going to be gorgeous. Couldn’t get to the coffee shop because of the construction. So yet another day that I’m just babbling because I don’t have enough coffee in my system. (Frank) Downtown Topeka really is shaping up. It’s gonna be absolutely beautiful down there. (Deb) It’s going to be beautiful. And for all you folks who don’t live in Topeka, you know Christmas is coming up. It would be a great time to come and then of course when the Legislature is in session, you’ll want to come and keep an eye on those folks. (Frank) Yea, let’s keep up. (Deb) Yea really. So, that’s a great time to come and see the Capitol. The Dillon House is all decorated for Christmas. And you’ll want to come and see that. And so, just a lot of things to see and NOTO, come to NOTO. So, I encourage you to love your capital city. Don’t just…I know you send a lot of money here, and sometimes you don’t always see the benefit from it. But I encourage you to come and love your capital city. Be proud of it. (Frank) And there are, as I understand, there are several businesses that when the construction is done down there, are going to begin moving in and opening and all that. (Deb) Yea. (Frank) And the same thing is happening in NOTO. We’ve got three new businesses over there now. (Deb) Isn’t that exciting? (Frank) Yes, it is. So, come see us. (Deb) That’s right. Having a revitalized capital city is a good thing. It’s good for everybody in Kansas, no matter where you are. I promise. I promise. November 11th. It’s Veteran’s Day. (Frank) Yes it is. (Deb) And Kansas of course, we have an uncommonly high number of veterans. We, from our founding, have had a tradition of military service, an exponentially high number of folks serve in the military. And because of Forts Riley and Leavenworth and McConnell of course, and then the National Guard, we have a huge number of veterans living in the state. So, thank you to all the veterans for your service. (Frank) Yes. A hat tip. (Deb) A tip of the hat. We appreciate it very much. And all the family sacrifices as well. It’s something we’re very proud of. (Frank) Yea, Veteran’s Day and November I don’t know, it’s kind of a neat month at least for me cause it’s the time when the skies get a little more grey, the temperature starts to go down, you have mist in the air, and anticipation of snows of winter to come, and it’s just kind of a neat time. And then you’ve got Thanksgiving and the holiday season starts and it’s just lots and lots of fun. (Deb) It’s a cozy month. It is. More so than you know…it’s not the dead cold of winter when you’re tired of it, it’s like you said, the anticipation of all that’s going to come. And yea, it’s a cozy month. I like November a lot too. (Frank) Well, there are a lot of nice walking trails all over the state of Kansas, and especially in Topeka, the river walk and so anyway, get out and enjoy it. (Deb) Yea. Absolutely. (Frank) Bundle up a little bit. (Deb) Out in the Flint Hills, all kinds of trails. Oh shoot, everybody’s got ’em. So, get out and enjoy it. (Frank) We’ll be back.

(Frank) Back again. (Deb) Back again. And we want to take you over to Lecompton, of course, one of my favorite places. The territorial capital and as you were saying November, such great month to get out and see stuff, because the weather’s not too bad yet. And it’s a little on the cool side. So, it’s a great time to go out to Lecompton. They’ve got the two museums out there and this segment is going to be about one of ’em. But what were you about to say Frank? (Frank) Well, I mean yea, Lecompton itself, because there’s a recreational part of the river there. There are a lot of people that go there and canoe and kayak and all that. And of course, it’s the place where there are a bunch of bald eagles that roost there along the bank. So, it’s a beautiful place to go see and also learn some history about the state of Kansas. (Deb) Learn some history and you’ve got the State Historic Site there, Constitution Hall, that’s going to be celebrating a major anniversary in 2016. And you’ve got of course, Lane University where Eisenhower’s parents met. And Lane University’s got a fantastic exhibit going on and that’s what this next segment is about. You are going to love this. So, you’ve got to put this one down on your calendar to take advantage of. Get over to Lecompton. They’ve got a nice little cafe that’s open there on Main Street now, which is wonderful. And then over in Perry, just across the river, you’ve got a little pizza place and there’s places over there. So, you can find a place to get out, walk around, enjoy the history, and enjoy nature. You gotta go see it. An enthusiastic crowd assembled at the Riverfront Park in Atchison. It’s already looking a lot like Christmas at Lane University in Lecompton. Volunteers have spent hundreds of hours decorating 40 trees with thousands of ornaments, many of them historic, many of them donated by the local families. Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society, showed me through the boxes and cartons of decorations that gave the appearance of Santa’s workshop rather than a history museum. As Paul pointed out, though, there is history in the ornaments and trees, too. He opened the glass case in which the fragile feather tree is displayed. Like many Christmas traditions, including the Christmas tree itself, the feather tree has its origins in Germany. There were made in the 1880s and 1890s from a center dowel with dyed green goose feathers forming the branches. Many of the fragile glass ornaments are light as a feather and come from Germany as well. Other ornaments are Scandinavian or Czech. The variety of Christmas trees ranges from tiny tabletop vintage trees, including brush trees from the 1940s, a small, pink Barbie tree, and the 15-foot cedar that is the focal point of the chapel upstairs. Volunteers estimate there are at least 5 thousand ornaments used to decorate the trees but add that the number increases because donations continue to come to the museum. This exhibit was very successful last year and the Lecompton Historical Society anticipates large crowds for this one. Group tours are welcome. The exhibit opened November 1 and will be open through New Year’s Day. Lane University was originally intended to be the state capitol and when that honor went to Topeka instead, the building was finished and turned into a university. Kansas senator Jim Lane pledged funds for the school and it was named in his honor. It is now the home and museum of the Lecompton Historical Society.

(Frank) Back again from Lecompton. (Deb) Wasn’t that fun? (Frank) Yes it was. Yes it was, yes it was. (Deb) Yea, I love going to Lecompton. Well, this time we’re gonna go to Atchison. We had…Michael and I went up to Atchison for just a wonderful event a few weeks ago and there’s just so much history to talk about. And we also want to encourage people throughout the holiday season, don’t just buy stuff, give people memberships. You know, in your historical societies and all kinds of organizations that need support and will help you learn. So, that’s what this is all about. (Frank) It was a clear October afternoon, with just a hint of autumn’s chill. Elton Beougher, president of the Smoky Hill Trail Association, took the microphone and introduced Mayor Jack Bower. Bower admitted to the history fans that until he was contacted about the placement of this marker, he had never heard of David Butterfield. So he did some research and was delighted to find that Butterfield represented many of the qualities for which Atchison prides itself including an entrepreneuring spirit. Jere DeBacker from Colorado, great grandson of the businessman, dressed in period clothing and told the crowd how pleased he was to be present for the dedication of the marker designating the beginning of the Butterfield Overland Dispatch route. Jere grew up with family stories and has been researching the Smoky Hill Trail and the BOD for most of his life. He is a founding member of the organization. The unveiling of the BOD marker along the Missouri River was a highlight of the 2015 Smoky Hill Trail Association Conference. Speakers Dr. Michael Olson, Lee Whiteley, Stanley Copeland, Paul Basgall, Tim Zwink, and Leo Oliva illuminated the rich history of the eastern piece of the trail. Each year, the location changes to enable different aspects of trail history to be interpreted and enjoyed through presentations and tours.

(Ron) A cowboy has a lot of dirty, messy jobs and often times that involves the south end of a cow going north. But when we’re sorting cattle, there’s a very important job, and that is the job of the gateman. It’s kind of a thankless job because he has to make some split-second decisions. In his honor this poem is entitled, “The Gateman.” There are certain thankless jobs that you encounter in this life, like a policeman giving parking tickets or perhaps the farmer’s wife, who’s sent to town for parts, oh it’s about yeah big, we don’t know the model number, but it looks like a thingamajig. Those jobs are truly thankless but among the cowboy clan, there is no job so thankless as that of the gateman. When we go to sorting cattle and the gateman’s simple job, is to open and shut the gate when we separate the mob. But that ain’t nearly as simple as it sounds, he must decide in a split second with chaos all around. He may have many steers a barrelin straight toward him, or a crazy cow that will dodge, or jump, or kick upon a whim. He gets splattered by manure and will have the gate tore from his hand, but he must do the job just right to meet the bosses demand. His head will be spinning from the contrary directions about, one cowboy says to stop the calf and the other says turn him out. So the gateman’s job is thankless, but he can always protect his fate, by saying to his critics, alright it’s your turn to man the gate. Happy Trails.

(Frank) Aahh, the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe, Atchison a great town. (Deb) It’s a wonderful town and another great river walk. They’ve got that beautiful area there next to the river; that’s a great place. They’ve got picnic tables, so you can go have a picnic there. And November, December, shoot, you know nice day in the middle of the winter, you’ve got the sun, it’s still really… (Frank) And the Amelia Earhart home, which sits looking out over the river, and there’s kind of a nice little park there as well. (Deb) You know, when you’re standing there at her house, and you look out, you’re up there on that bluff, you just let go and think you could fly. (Frank) Yea. It’s pretty nice. (Deb) Now, our next story about Dennis Rogers, who is a member of the Navajo tribe, even though he grew up here. Which reminds us, I had a viewer that wrote to me the other day and said, “Would you please do a segment on Don Coldsmith?” So, I promise you we will get to Don Coldsmith. (Frank) But now, let’s talk about a dancer. (Deb) Dennis Rogers. That’s right. You’re gonna love this. He is called Spirit Dancer. He teaches, entertains, encourages, enlightens. Audiences have been amazed by his agility and creativity during the hoop dances and mesmerized by the sound of his flute. On many occasions, his dance has accompanied the song, “Seminole Wind,” with John Anderson in concert. He has performed at Farm Aid concerts with Willie Nelson and Neil Young. He tours with Blackhawk, the multi-platinum album selling country band. Dennis Rogers is likely one of the busiest entertainers on the Great Plains. When he was a student at Haskell Indian Nations University, Dennis was a member of the Haskell Singers and Dancers, students representing tribes from one end of the country to the other. After Haskell, Dennis transferred to Washburn University where he studied education. Throughout his career, he has combined educating and performing. For a time, he lived and performed in Phoenix, entertaining tourists at Rawhide, a popular destination. It was there he learned the hoop dance, using hoops to create the illusion of animals and dancing through them, around them, with them. As Dennis performs, either dancing or playing the flute, he shares stories from his Navajo culture. The traditions and values of his tribe and those of other American Indians is almost a subliminal message as he interprets old ways into new songs and dances. He also practices the art of sand painting. At the September powwow, Dennis was named the Honored Native American Educator by the Shawnee County Allied Tribes. When his schedule permits, he works as a substitute schoolteacher and is a favorite with students of all ages.

(Frank) Well another fun day here Around Kansas. (Deb) Oh gosh, we got to visit some awesome folks in some great places, it was great. (Frank) So, we gotta get outta here. So, I’m Frank. (Deb) I’m Deb. (Frank) And we’ll see you somewhere… (Both) Around Kansas.

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

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