Monday, April 14, 2014

Wellington, Kansas Tornado - May 27, 1892

On Monday, April 28th, Jim Bales, local historian and President of the Chisholm Trail Museum Board, will present the program “A Turning Point In Sumner County: The 1892 Wellington  Tornado”, a program about the 1892 tornado in Wellington, and how it affected Wellington’s business and the growth of the city, to the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society members and guests at the Wellington Senior Center, 308 South Washington, Wellington at 6:30 p.m. Contact Jane Moore at 620-447-3266 in case of inclement weather.

On May 27th, 1892, when a tornado hit the fast growing new town of Wellington, Kansas, there was no radar, no tornado sirens, no trained tornado spotters, and the tornado took everyone by surprise.

“About where the Memorial Auditorium was it took out an area about 2 blocks wide there,” Bales said, “That was probably the widest spot.”

There were no radios or televisions,” Bales said, “And people on the south side of town woke up the next morning and didn’t even know anything had happened.”

Bales has photographs of the damage. Lots of photographs. Using a Powerpoint presentation with maps and photos, Bales will track the path that the tornado took through Wellington, twisting through the new and bustling downtown area, cutting a two-block-wide swath in places, coming down at about West Harvey and the Rock Island tracks, and heading  east towards the area of “B” and “C” streets.

Thirteen people died. More were injured. Buildings, banks, and homes were destroyed, and one man was picked up along with the timber that had him pinned down, and then dropped him off, mostly uninjured, about where Roosevelt school is now.

Bales will tell the stories that go along with the tornado, and will also talk about the lasting effect the tornado had on the city. According to Bales, Wellington had just gone through a big growth spurt following the end of the cattle drives and the beginning of large wheat harvests, and the tornado had a long-lasting and very negative impact on the growth of the city.  

 “At that time, Wellington was growing faster than Wichita, and we had a population of 12,000 people” said Jim Bales, “We lost several businesses and banks in the tornado and Wellington never did recover.”

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society

On Monday, March 24th, at 6:30 p.m., Vickie Stangl, Andover, will present the program “Etta Semple – Kansas Free Thinker” to Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society members and guests at the Wellington Senior Center, 308 S. Washington, Wellington.  In case of inclement weather, contact Jane Moore: 620-447-3266.

Stangl was required to do a “piece on a Kansas person” for her Master’s degree at Wichita State University, and after reading about Etta Semple, she became fascinated, and asked her instructor if she could “write about this heretic in Ottawa.”

Stangl said that Etta Semple, born near Quincy, Illiniois in 1855, had views that were considered radical for the time.
Stangl said that Semple was a humanitarian, and had a state of the art sanitarium, but she was also an activist.
 “She and her second husband were active in the labor movement,” Stangl said.
“I began reading her newspapers and I was fascinated,” Stangl said, adding that she worked on her thesis for three years.

Stangl said that Semple died in Ottawa of influenza in 1914.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sumner County Genealogical Society

 
Where DID I Come From? 
What DNA indicates about Ancient and Recent Human Migration

On Monday, February 24th, Pam Robinett, Wellington, will present the program, “Where DID I Come From?  What DNA indicates about Ancient and Recent Human Migration”  to the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society at the Wellington Senior Center, 308 South Washington, Wellington at 6:30 p.m. Contact Jane Moore at 620-447-3266 in case of inclement weather.

“The title of the book “Seven Daughters of Eve” by Brian Sykes, caught my eye, made me curious, and piqued my curiosity in using DNA for genealogy,” Robinett said. Robinett, former Wellington High School math instructor now works with the high school diploma completion program for the Sumner County Detention Center.

 “I have done genealogy since I was in high school,” Robinett said, “I am the kind of genealogist who is interested not only in the names and dates of the individuals, but also the context, or the setting that the person lived in.”

“It’s one thing to know that a person was born, married, died and was buried in certain years,” Robinett said, “But it’s quite another, to me, to think of her as the woman who held down the farm, literally, while her husband went down the Cherokee Strip as a paid hunter at certain times of the year; and to discover that they nearly lost the farm over taxes one year when he was late returning.”

Robinett said she believes DNA is a tool that can put “flesh on the bones on a bigger scale,” and give us the “ability to track migration patterns over a period longer than recorded history can offer,” as well as the provide the opportunity to find cousins that could not easily be found with traditional sources.

 “As more and more people take advantage of this tool, more and more data will become available,” Robinett said, adding that this will make the picture/story of our species and each of us clearer.

Robinett said that with DNA research you may learn that there was an infidelity at some time in your family tree’s history, adoption(s) that were not recorded, and you may be able to add cousins that you didn’t even know that you had, allowing you to “fill in the blanks in your family tree” as well as “learn the migration path that your family tree took over the last 60,000 years or so.”

Robinett said that while she is curious about what DNA research can provide for genealogists she “hasn’t acted on it yet.”

 “If you and I have the same mitochondrial sequence, then you and I had a common female ancestor sometime in the last 10,000 years,” Robinett said.

“The opportunity to put your family in the biggest picture is pretty exciting,” Robinett said, “It lends a historical perspective.  It’s kind of cool when you can do that!”

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies Moves Web Site

Kansas Council of Genealogical Societies has moved their web site to http://www.kcgs.us/ . Information on the 2014 Annual Conference is posted there. To be held in McPherson, KS, the speaker this year will be Valerie Eichler Lair.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sumner County - "Emily Sell: Letters of a Kansas Homesteader's Wife"


On Monday, January 27th, Elaine Clark, Sumner County Historical Society Prairie Letters’ Project Director, will present the program, “Emily Sell: Letters of a Kansas Homesteader’s Wife” to SCHGS members and guests at the Wellington Senior Citizen Center, 308 South Washington, Wellington, Kansas, at 6:30 p.m. For bad weather cancellation information, contact Jane Moore at 620-447-3266

In 2012 the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society received a notebook containing letters written primarily in the 1870’s by Emily Sell, one of Sumner County’s earliest settlers.

SCHGS President, Jane Moore, shared the letters with Elaine Clark, and they soon realized that they were holding a treasure trove of first-hand accounts of the everyday life of the wife of a Kansas homesteader.

Moore said that the Sells homesteaded in the Rome, Kansas area in the 1870’s, and even though Kansas was opened to settlement in 1854 and became a state in 1861, there were only 22 white people living in Sumner County by 1870.

“There have been histories written about other areas of Sumner County during this time period,” said Elaine Clark, adding “but very few collections of letters have been discovered which give a first-person perspective.”

 “That makes this collection of letters a priceless, irreplaceable piece of Kansas history,” Clark said.

Because of the historic value of the letters, the Kansas Humanities Council (KHC), a nonprofit organization that supports community-
based cultural programs, www.kansashumanities.org, awarded the Sumner County Historical & Genealogical Society of Wellington a $3,500 grant for the “Prairie Letters: Written in Rural Kansas in the Late Nineteenth Century” project.

Since receiving the grant, Clark said that she has spent 194 hours transcribing the letters, and preparing them for publication. Clark will share details about the entire process: the acquisition of the letters, the transcription, the research, and the preparation for turning them into the book with SCHGS members and guests.

Clark said that when she first held the letters in her hand “I just stood there and wondered what her life was like.”

Now, Clark knows.

“We tend to take food, warmth, air conditioning, doctors and medical care for granted, but these letters share the facts of everyday life for Kansas’ early settlers,” Clark said, adding that for some, it was a life that included hunger, deprivation, and early death.

It was hard to put the letters down,” Clark said, “I kept wanting to transcribe the next one to see what was new in the life of Emily.”

“I kept wanting things to get better for her,” Clark said, adding that for her, the saddest event in Emily’s letter was the death of her toddler child.

“I've transcribed letters that probably would have languished in someone’s closet, or worse yet, been destroyed,” Clark said, “It gives future generations a glimpse into the life of a homesteader in the early days of Sumner County.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society Needs Your Help

Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society signed up with AmazonSmile.  AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers. 

To help MHGS, first go to http://smile.amazon.com/ch/48-6128821 to direct your support to MHGS.  Then, remember to use the smile.amazon.com site each time you shop at Amazon.com.  Participating in this program does not change the prices you pay, but it will help MHGS raise some much needed funds. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society Hosts Watch Parties

Midwest Historical & Genealogical Society will host watch parties each Monday evening at 7:30 p.m. 1201 North Main, Wichita, KS.