Today on Around Kansas we are going to visit a couple of old houses.
Sound boring? Well it is really not because these are very interesting
homes that were part of the early years of the state of Kansas, sometime
even before it was a state. When it was a territory when Indians lived
here and settlers and Indians intermixed. Well they built houses and
the government built houses and sometimes they had to figure out who
did what. Well anyway today we are going to visit the Grinter House
and the Bailey House. They are two completely different constructions.
So come along and see what happens Around Kansas.Closed Captioning brought to you by The Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.
(Frank) We are at the oldest house in Wyandotte County, the Grinter
house and with us Joe Brentano and Joe is the Site Administrator, so tell
us a little bit about the house, when it was built. (Male) Well this home
was built in 1857, was the home of Moses and Annie Grinter. It’s quite a
Georgian style architecture, indicative of where we came from in eastern
Kentucky at the time and it was quite an unusual house to have. Most people
lived in a log cabin or a sod home. To have a permanent brick house really
reflected his prominence in the community and his business interests.
(Frank) The highway is between us and the river now, but at
that time, this house kind of sat on a bluff looking down on the river.
(Male) Exactly, what really was the wagon swales and the military road trails
would have been the main thoroughfare through here. (Frank) Okay. Tell
us a little bit about the Grinters. I mean he came here, but his wife?
(Male) His wife is half Delaware Indian and the Delaware were removed from
here in 1830 as part of the Indian Removal along with the Shawnee’s and then
the Wyandotte’s too. So her story is important in telling about the Delaware and
their time here in Kansas, roughly from 1830 until they were removed to Bartlesville in about 1867. (Frank) Okay. Now to build such a house as this, he didn’t take the money out of his pocket. Did he develop businesses here?
(Male) Yeah. Some of the first businesses he ran, he had the first
gristmill, sawmill, and as obviously people traveling on wagons needed to have a place to repair, you know, their wagons and such; and he also the first civilian post office there and they farmed quite a bit of acreage in land as well. (Frank) Well we’re in the dining room and you see china on the table here and this was their china, their pattern? (Male) Yeah, descendants of the family recalled in their oral stories that they used this tea leaf pattern of iron stone dishware, so based on those oral stories, we’ve collected these pieces to sort of give you an idea of the things they would have had. (Frank) All right. Well let’s take a look around the house. (Male) Great. (Frank) And this kitchen was built, what, the same
time as the house? (Male) Yeah, exactly. It was originally kind of separate, attached to an open breezeway as was customary of the southern style architecture. During those cold winter months that we have here in Kansas, we know early on that the Grinters enclosed that breezeway, a more practical way to get to the dining room, the kitchen. Annie took a lot of pride in doing her own cooking, sewing and housework and as far as we know,
they never kept any live-in servants, so some of the programs we do, we try to tie into that. For instance, our wood stove here is a real functioning wood stove. We do fire it up in the winter to do programs and we usually have a speaker come in on the second Saturday mornings and we’ll do a history presentation and they can get some food that’s been cooked actually on this stove there. (Frank) OK. Tell us about the dry sink; what is a dry
sink? (Male) Well a dry sink is essentially just a wooden basin and
typically you’d set your dishpans down in there and you’d bring in your water from your well and fill them up and then just dump your dishpans there and they didn’t have the running water sinks. Those will come later in history.
(Frank) Well this house has a lot, a lot of rooms, and this room is?
(Male) Well this would have originally been their parlor or living room, but we have reinterpreted some of the rooms to accommodate our hands-on activities, so we have this set-up as our artifact side of the house, dining room. (Frank) Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about Mrs. Grinter. You mentioned she was a Delaware Indian. (Male) Yeah, the Delaware, it’s not generally known that they were here, but they were here for roughly forty years. They are originally from the east coast as part of the Algonquin language families. They were moved here and enjoyed many years
here until the Kansas-Nebraska Act when the settlers and squatters started coming in and eventually in 1867, they were removed again to Oklahoma or Indian territory and, so, descendants of those Delaware are now near Bartlesville, Oklahoma. (Frank) Okay. Tell us about a few of the pieces in this room. (Male) A couple pieces in here belonged to the Grinter family.
The table, the low table between the two windows there is made out of walnut and was meant to be easily disassembled and you’ll see on the legs, they have the pegs there so it could be reassembled later. That is one of the original family pieces. The other is the tall cabinet behind me there. The cabinet was acquired in the trade sometime in the late 1850’s to a family who needed their passage over the ferry and for some extra supplies. (Frank) Well as we come up the stairs, we come into a rather large area and you said this was not a hallway. What is this?
(Male) Well remember in this era, you’re coming out that era of the log cabin, so often at the top of the stairs was just a common or center bedroom. They didn’t connect with hallways because that was a waste of space and would block the breeze, so if you were an overnight guest, usually kids or grandkids slept in the common bedroom and when I have kids on the tour and they’ll start counting on their hands how many kids they had and say, Well there are not five bedrooms up here, and, so, I joke around with the kids, you know, You shared a bed with your brothers or sisters off in there and you didn’t have your own bedroom like you might today.
(Frank) So now we’re in actually one of the bedrooms, this is correct?
(Male) Right. This is Annie’s room as she might have had it furnished in her later years. Three items in here belonged to the Grinter family. The two family bibles at the foot of the bed are sure very special for us to have and curators have done some work to preserve the bindings, but those actually have handwriting in them and even flowers pressed on the pages and the quilt blocks on the quilt on the bed actually were done by Annie there, so it’s a special artifact. (Frank) And we see a rocking chair here by the fireplace. Tell us about that. (Male) Well the rocking chair did not specifically belong to Annie, but one of her grandchildren, William Kirby.
In his reminiscing and his oral stories about Annie, he recalled that his grandmother would sit by the fire in the evening in the rocking chair and he remembered her as always a busy person with a sewing project, so again, the furniture is kind of set-up to reflect on some of those oral stories we have about Annie and the family at the time. (Frank) And there is, I guess we would call, a discrete piece of furniture here in the corner. Now what is this? (Male) This is a commode and I generally explain to the kids and they get a good laugh out this, that if you did not want to go to the outhouse at three in the morning during a blizzard or there were snakes out
there, that you have the option to use your chamber pot which was often kept out of sight in a piece of furniture like this known as the commode here. I often explain to the children also that in the morning, that was one of their first chores of the day was to dump or empty those and, of course, they don’t care to do that. (Frank) Yikes. And another bedroom, tell us the significance of this room. (Male) Well this, like you said, would have been a bedroom, but we have reinterpreted and moved our parlor up here and we generally talk about the parlor and how guests were brought there and how you’d want to show off your family history, your tastes and
your wealth and, so, we have a display of some of the family history, Moses and Annie’s photo on the right there. Now there were no known pictures of them together. The Grinter’s have ten children, Five of them lived into adulthood and their oldest son is pictured on the left. He is William Henry Harrison Grinter, named after President William Henry Harrison and was a Civil War veteran fighting for the Fifteenth Kansas Calvary in the Union Army and actually participated over in the Battle of Westport that occurred
not far over the state line and on the Missouri side and, so, the lithograph is done by Samuel Reeder who recorded a lot of the boarder war’s scrimmages and his illustration there and the Calvary saber again, would have been a sword he would have used there in his participation in the Civil War, so kind of our connections to Civil War history and the Grinter family. Well here we are a great place to, let’s say, end the day. This is the back portion of the house. We’re up on the second story and what, a hundred
years ago, of course, the railroad would have been there, but we’ve been looking down on the river, right? (Male) That’s correct and today, we have so much tree growth along the bank there, but in that era, you would have been able to see out into the Kansas River Valley and the river down there. Their farm also extended to the west here, so imagine sitting out here on nice evenings and enjoying that view of the farm and the picturesque River Valley. (Frank) Let’s be quiet and listen to the wind.
The Bailey House was originally located two miles due east of Lyndon, Kansas, was set on a foundation of native limestone rock and faced north toward the gravel road that ran in front of it. A simple open porch was built around the front door and an addition had been added. At the time, it looked like any two story clapboard covered house that you’d see down any gravel road in Kansas. But in the summer of 1997 there was a grass fire in the yard. While nobody was living in the house at the time, people were living in a mobile home on-site and when the grass fire got a little too close to the house it burnt off some of the clapboard siding, exposing the original hewn-log construction of the house. Today you can still see
the charcoal stains from this fire on the north side. Well, pretty soon the word spread that this house was special. A local woman who was a history buff had been trying to find a log cabin to put in the Lyndon City Park, as other small Kansas towns had been recently doing. When she heard about the log house, she spearheaded the push to acquire it. Since the owners were in the process of moving out of state, they agreed to donate the log house to the Historical Preservation Partnership of Lyndon with the
stipulation that if it were impossible to purchase the entire farm, the house would then have to be moved off site. Regrettably, at that time it was impossible to raise enough funds to purchase the entire site, and so instead, money was raised to move the log house to the City Park. Before the house was moved, a number of studies were conducted on site. A wood study performed by Kansas State University to determine what kind of logs it was built from revealed that from the five log samples taken, two were
White Oak, one was Red Oak and one was American Sycamore. An amateur archeological dig was also done, but only a few artifacts were found. So in late 1997 a local mover agreed to move the house to its current location in the City Park. It took a lot of work to get the house loaded up and moved but after the house made it safely to the City Park, the local group still didn’t know much about its history. Since they wanted to show off the hewn log and chink construction, they went ahead and removed the outside clapboard and also the lath and plaster made from lime, sand and
hair that had covered the inside walls. As a result, the stability of the house was impaired, water leaked inside and the house started to decay. In order to be able to apply for a Heritage Trust Fund Grant, the Bailey House needed to be listed on the Register of Historic Kansas Places, so after that was accomplished they submitted and received the grant needed to help fund the subsequent restoration. Oddly, during the restoration while
working under the house, contractors found evidence of joists that appeared to have been reworked many years before. This mystery was solved after the original deed was discovered. In 1868 when the Indians were removed to Oklahoma, the Lyndon area
immediately was opened for settlement. Among those adventurers was Wells Pomeroy Bailey. Mr. Bailey was enticed to come to Osage County by his cousin, Judge Lawrence D. Bailey, who assisted in establishing the city of Lyndon. Wells was born in Sodes, New York in 1827 and migrated to Iowa and Illinois before coming to Lyndon. He was a machinist, millwright and farmer most of his life. He and his wife, Julia, are buried at the Lyndon Cemetery. The search for the house’s history revealed that the first deed for this house was issued to Mr. Bailey in 1873. It showed that he purchased the land for two hundred dollars, and also that he paid fifty- four dollars for “Indian improvements”. Initially no one was completely sure what that meant, but after some additional research, it was found that
in 1860 the US government had built houses for Sac and Fox Indian families.
This information, along with the discovery of the re-purposed joists under the house, appeared to confirm the assumption that the house was one that had been originally built for Sac and Fox Indians, but had been later torn down and its logs were re-purposed to build another home. If that proves to be true, then this house would be an example of a transition of cultures
between the area’s Native American population and the early settlers. The Bailey House today is a rectangular one and a half story hand- hewn log house, which measures approximately eighteen feet by twenty-seven feet. It has a shallow gable roof, which is covered by wood shingles. The gable areas contain weatherboard. Corner boards cover the logs on all four
corners of the house. It features four evenly spaced double-hung windows on the east side, two upper and two lower; two lower windows on the north; two upper and one lower window on the west and one window on the south.
Doors are centrally located on both the east and west sides. Wooden handmade shutters on the inside of the house cover the windows to discourage vandalism and unlawful entry of the house. The City Park in Lyndon is located on the north side of town, bounded on the east by Topeka Avenue, also known as Highway 75; on the west by Adams Street; on the north by Eleventh Street; and on the south by Tenth Street. Lyndon is the county seat of Osage County in Kansas and is just a short twenty-seven mile drive
south of Topeka. It is the home to many parks, shops and award winning restaurants. The next time you’re out with the family, consider visiting Lyndon to experience great small town hospitality and to take a look at the past at the historic Bailey House. Along with the log house, the Historical Preservation Partnership of Lyndon plans to add to the park area a mini village – a reproduction of the original businesses in Lyndon when it was first established. Included will be a general store; a barbershop, a blacksmith shop and perhaps other buildings to further enhance the village.
Closed captioning brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission.
The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.