Red Hills, Clarina Nichols

(Frank) Today Around Kansas starts with a look at the history and the unique landscape around the Red Hills in southern Kansas. Next is the story of Clarina Nichols, a remarkable woman who came from Vermont to settle in Kansas and brought with her reform-minded ideals. Then enjoy Ron Wilson’s poem titled The Horse and we’ll end with a look at Old Wives Tales. Stay tuned!Closed Captioning Brought to you by Ag Promo Source. Together we grow. Learn more at

(Frank Chaffin) Good morning. I’m Frank. (Deb Goodrich) I’m Deb. (Frank) And this is Around Kansas. Thanks for tuning in this morning, either on TV or maybe you’re watching it later on the Internet, but thanks for tuning in. (Deb) We got lots of folks from back home in the hills that watch online, so yes, we appreciate that and a shout out to everybody. Well Frank, we’ve been making the fairs– you know all the fairs are going on, leading up to the State Fair in September at Hutch. We did a couple parades, so we did the Sharon Springs parade and Dr. Jake had the stagecoach. I painted the stagecoach. In fact, if you look very closely, you can see streaks of red and yellow in my hair from painting the stagecoach. We had the hearse and we had the Army ambulance and then we had a bunch of riders, and did the Go Parade. We hit all the famous spots, Frank, I’m telling you. All the big towns, but gosh is it fun. The fairs are just going full swing everywhere. That’s just so much fun. WaKeeney had the Muddy Pig Wrestling competition for several years in a row. Hilarious. It is- (Frank) This is Muddy Pig? (Deb) Muddy Pig. So they have maybe six or eight inches of water on top of the dirt, and they have different categories, different aged kids, and different sized pigs. It’s hilarious. It is so funny. They have T-shirts, so you can get your pig wrestling T-shirt. I’m going to get you one, Frank, that’s what I’ll do. (Frank) I live such a sedate life. (Deb) [Laughs] Compared to pig wrestling, yes. Don’t we all? Frank, what have you been up to? (Frank) Riding around a lot on the two-wheeler. (Deb) Fun. (Frank) It’s been a good year for it. There have been some very hot days, but hey, you’re a rider. You ride anyway. (Deb) Well you get the breeze on the road. [Laughter] (Frank) Well it’s still hot, like the wind in your oven. (Deb) [Laughs] Like riding around in the convection oven. Exactly. But there have been a lot of bikes on the road because they want to. It’s been pretty, because of the rain and unfortunately the humidity; things have stayed green so the state has been really pretty. And wildflowers have been blooming. Wildflowers are just gorgeous. I was out in the pasture the other day and so many things were in bloom, and of course Michael, bless his heart, his hay fever. Hay fever’s starting. Everything — there is not a silver lining without its cloud, is there? [Laughter] (Frank) Yes. So you used the word hill in there, so that’s kind of a lead-in of what is coming up later in the show. (Deb) We got hills coming. (Frank) The hills of Kansas. (Deb) Surely have to get a – my friend Greg Fox has a song, Counting Hills. Had to grab – I’m going to give a plug for Greg’s song Counting Hills. That’s what we’re going to do for a few weeks on Around Kansas. We’re going to count hills. (Frank) Okay. (Deb) Stay with us.
(Frank) And we’re back, in case you couldn’t tell. So we’re talking about the hills of Kansas. Of course the most famous hills, I think, are the Flint Hills. (Deb) Well, they’ve got the sign. They’ve got the big sign to say Flint Hills, and it’s gorgeous. You can’t argue, it’s gorgeous. And I said something to the lady the other day about living in Oakley, and of course this lady lives in Topeka, and she said, “I love the Flint Hills.” Well, Oakley is not the Flint Hills. (Frank) No, it’s the High Plains. (Deb) In fact, there’s a lot of Kansas that’s not the Flint Hills that still have hills. We’ve got the Smoky Hills, which is actually what Oakley would be included in, the Smoky Hills. You’ve got the Chautauqua Hills, and you got the Red Hills. And the Red Hills may be– I don’t know, it’s all unique. When you start looking at it, we’ve got so many unique landscapes; we’ve talked about this before. You just get off the road, as you know, on your bike; you get off the road just a little ways and wow. Just wow. So have you ever biked down in the Red Hills, the Gyp Hills? (Frank) No. (Deb) Okay. That’s one you got to put on your list. And check– (Frank) I’ve went around it, but I haven’t gone through it. (Deb) Well, you got to go through, and we’ll talk about that in a segment, but just one more plug, go to Travel Kansas, the new byways. So lots of folks, just not Flint Hills, have signs but with the byways, you’ve got the scenic byways designated so that you can experience the different geographic areas of Kansas. So take advantage of that and check out online the Byways and look for the Gyp Hills byways, and we’ll take you there right now. The Natives called them the Medicine Hills, and the river that ran through them, the Medicine River. The Natives believed they possessed healing powers. According to the Kansas Geological Survey, the Natives were right. The waters contain magnesium sulfates and other natural salts dissolved from the large deposits of dolomite and gypsum. Most of us are familiar with Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate. The solution draws infection from wounds. The landscape they form in Comanche, Barber, and Clark Counties is an anomaly to the southern Kansas landscape. We call them the Gyp Hills, or the Red Hills. The rocks were deposited during the Permian Period of geologic history, about 250 million years ago. During that time a large, shallow bay covered much of this area. When that bay was cut off from the ocean and the water evaporated, the rocks left behind included salt and gypsum. Most evaporites are easily dissolved in water, and thus erosion sculpted these hills into the shapes you see today. Many of the soil and rocks are stained red by iron oxide, thus giving the name Red Hills to the area. Sandstone and shale, in particular, are bright red. Gypsum, a white rock, is found in layers within those red beds. One type of gypsum, selenite, forms large diamond-shaped crystals that are common in the area and litter road cuts and ditches like broken glass, says the Kansas Sampler Foundation. The Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway and Gyp Hills Scenic Drive highlight this unique scenery, and is among the 8 Wonders of Kansas Geography. The byway is about 42 miles long, stretching from the western city limits of Medicine Lodge to the junction of U.S. 160 and U.S. 183 at Coldwater. It bisects the Gyp Hills revealing the flat mesas, deep canyons, sharp high hills, and caprock formations. According to Travel Kansas, there is an abundance of wildflowers, and with the red soil as a background, even common cedar trees take on a different, more dramatic appearance. Visit their website for more information.

(Deb) Welcome back, folks. Well, no matter how you look at this year’s presidential race, we’re making history. Of course, Kansas has been making history with women and women’s rights from the very get-go. (Frank) Very much so, before we were even a state. I get to do a story about a young lady that kind of turned the state upside down a little bit. Actually, eventually got voting rights for women in the state of Kansas. Now it was still limited, which is what is interesting, but of course eventually then women were given full right to vote. (Deb) And of course Kansas has produced some incredible women. We’ve done a couple of segments on them. Georgia Neese Gray, a very important politician, she was Secretary of the Treasury. And of course Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker, whose contribution we just can’t overestimate. When she was inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame along with Ed Asner, and Nancy, as many of you know is a tiny woman. She is very short. Ed Asner got up on the stand, the podium and he said, Nancy looks small, but she’s not small. [Laughter] (Deb) And of course what he meant was her presence and her personality. It was really incredible. (Frank) Well, and of course we really have had a lot of famous women because you got of course Carrie Nation, but she pretty much started prohibition a long, long time ago. (Deb) And then more recently of course Kathleen Sebelius, again cabinet member. So we’ve made some incredible contributions. You go, girls. (Frank) So anyway, getting the right to vote in Kansas is a good story for an election year. Like many reform-minded settlers, Clarina Nichols was a New Englander. She was born in Vermont in 1810. Clarina was well educated and committed to educating others. She married and had children, but she broke the mold for her era. She divorced her first husband, unheard of in that age. She remarried newspaper editor George W. Nichols, a man 28 years older than she. Clarina eventually took over the newspaper’s editorial duties. Clarina advocated for married women’s rights for property and succeeded in changing the laws in New York and Vermont. According to Kansas Memory, when Kansas was opened for settlement in 1854, Clarina migrated to the new territory. She joined the New England Emigrant Aid Society and soon moved her family to a claim in southern Douglas County. Her husband died soon after the move. Clarina worked for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. Clarina eventually became associate editor of the Quindaro Chindowan, an antislavery newspaper in Wyandotte County. Clarina traveled throughout the territory lecturing about equality, gathering signatures on petitions, building support for her participation at the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention. She sat in on the daily proceedings. She lobbied the delegates to grant women equal educational opportunities and the right to vote in school district elections, equal standing on child custody matters, and equality in holding real and personal property. It was in large part a result of her lobbying efforts that the Wyandotte Constitution guaranteed these rights to Kansas women. The cause of woman’s rights advanced slowly thereafter, but it did advance, thanks to Clarina and many other selfless and dedicated women. Nichols left Kansas in 1871 to be with two of her children in California, where she died on January 11, 1885. But, of course, the cause lived on. Two years after Nichols’ death, Kansas women could vote in municipal elections, and in 1912 they succeeded in their long effort to amend the state constitution and gain equality at the polls. Learn more about the life of this remarkable woman in Clarina Nichols: Frontier Crusader for Women’s Rights by Diane Eickhoff, from Quindaro Press.

(Ron Wilson) You wouldn’t have a Roy Rogers without a Trigger, you wouldn’t have a Lone Ranger without Silver and in the history of the cowboy the horse was the essential partner. This poem is entitled, Here’s to The Horse. The history of the west from the earliest time is based on the wonderful species Equine. The animal of which I speak of course is that wonderful critter we call the horse. Without the horse how would life be changed for the Plains Indians or the cowboy on the range? The horse is more than a hardworking steed; he is a faithful companion a quiet friend indeed. A trained horse with a good rider at a rodeo makes a team that puts on a great show. There is nothing better than setting the saddle on a trail ride or gathering cattle. So let’s all give thanks for this discourse, for the wonderful critter we call The Horse. Happy Trails.

(Frank) And we’re back again. Gosh, September’s coming here pretty quick, can’t believe it. (Deb) The year is over half gone. (Frank) Yes, that happened in July. (Deb) See, I’m so far behind. I’m so far behind. As we get closer to fall and winter, people are concerned about the weather all the time. Especially because Kansas is such an agricultural state, so the weather is pretty important. Hail storms, all the stuff. So we’ve got a segment coming up on old wives’ tales and the weather, so what were some of the one you grew up with, Frank? (Frank) I’m going to back up a little bit. Old wives’ tales, we’re going to have to Google that and see where that comes from, because is it old wives’ tales, or is it old wives’ tales? And why aren’t they tall tales? I don’t know, anyway. (Deb) Because- (Frank) It’s too early in the morning and I haven’t had coffee. (Deb) – because it was women who held the wisdom, so it was the women who were smart and were observing things and that’s exactly it. (Frank) So its the guys then at the feed store having a chaw and telling tall tales. (Deb) And the gal knows what’s going on, exactly. (Frank) I see. [Laughs] Okay, well that clears that up. (Deb) Nothing new under the sun, that’s right. This clears that up. (Frank) There are all kinds of little sayings and all that, and I’m not going to give away the story, but about the moon, and the color of the sky. (Deb) Exactly. (Frank) Anyway, since they’re old wives’ tales, I’m going to let you do it. (Deb) [Laughs] Thanks, Frank. (Frank) I’m just not wise enough. (Deb) [laughs] So I posted on Facebook and I asked our viewers to share some of their old wives’ tales, and yes, the one about the eat burnt toast and it makes your hair curly, that’s one I had never heard before. But the wisdom of old wives, you just never know what you are going to get. Especially talking about the weather, one of my cousins from back home posted that her granny who would have been my granny’s sister-in-law could smell the rain and like everybody back home can smell the rain. Can you smell the rain? (Frank) You can in Kansas. (Deb) And I think it’s actually the ozone, it’s that what you’re smelling? I think the low pressure pushes it down or something? (Frank) Yes. (Deb) So yes, you can actually smell that, but what is really funny Randy Durban sent us this and Randy is a banker and he said, Look for a weather rock and if the rock is dry it means fair weather; if the rock is dusty it means a dust storm, if the rock is swaying then it’s windy, if there is a shadow under the rock it means it’s sunny, white rock means it’s snowing, if the rock is jumping up and down an earthquake is upon us, if the bottom of the rock is under water, it’s a flood. [Laughter] Randy, we appreciate your insight and those are helpful instructions. And then there is another gal who said, Grandma always said, Look out of the window and see what it’s doing. (Frank) And there used to be a joke on the radio too. It’s time for the weather, go outside and see what it’s like. (Deb) See what it’s like. Well let’s take a look at some of the old wives’ tales that we all grew up with; let’s see if there is any truth in them. We all grew up with the Old Wives Sayings, everything from how to tell the sex of a baby to whether or not company is coming. But predicting the weather, that’s where most of those old wives’ tales are told and retold, and where many of them bear out some truth. The most common is Red Sky at night, Sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, Sailors take warning. But is there truth in it? According to NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, there is. This old saying actually has a scientific explanation. It relates to moving high and low surface-pressure weather systems, and the way that the colors in sunlight are scattered differently by dirty and clean atmospheres. Low pressure is associated with bad weather, sailor take warning, and high pressure with good weather, sailor’s delight. Low pressure causes air to converge, to try to fill the low, and converging air causes upward motion, which in turn produces clouds and precipitation. In contrast, air diverges from the center of a high-pressure area. This causes downward motion, which suppresses cloud formation. Atmospheric conditions in a high-pressure area are typically cloud free and dirty, and those in a low-pressure area are cloudy and relatively clean. The color of the light passing through these systems results in the different colors, accurately predicting the weather. Smoke’s going to the ground means rain or snow to come. Likewise, a low-pressure system forces smoke down, a good sign of precipitation to come. A ring around the moon means rain or snow. When you see the halo, or ring around the moon, it is made of Cirrostratus clouds – high, thin, clouds of ice crystals. Moonlight is reflected on the crystals, so this one is mostly accurate, too. These types of clouds generally form ahead of a warm front indicating precipitation. What about the old wives’ tales related to cows? When they herd to a corner, or are lying in a field, is that really a sign of rain or snow? The veterinarian says the cows tend to bunch because the flies are biting and this helps keep them down. The flies bite worse because it is going to rain. So yep, watch the cows. Mother Nature gives us signs, we just have to pay attention.

(Frank) Well, we have to go so I am Frank. (Deb) I am Deb. (Frank) And we will see you somewhere – (Deb and Frank) – Around Kansas.

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