Crossroads: Change in Rural America

The Butler County Historical Society and Kansas Oil Museum wants Butler County residents to become part of the traveling Smithsonian/Humanities Kansas exhibit “Rural Crossroads: The Changing Faces and Places of Butler County”. 

By contributing to this exhibit  citizens can help tell the story of Butler County.  Two areas of specific interest are Butler County towns and Farms & Ranches that are no longer in existence. 

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

In 1900, about 40% of Americans lived in rural areas, By 2010, less than 18% of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. In just over a century, massive economic and social changes moved millions of Americans into urban areas. Yet, only 10% of the U.S. landmass is considered urban.

Many Americans consider rural communities to be endangered and hanging on by a thread—suffering from brain drain, inadequate schools, and a barren, overused landscape. Why should revitalizing the rural places left behind matter to those who remain, those who left, and those who will come in the future? Because there is much more to the story of rural America.

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” is a traveling Smithsonian exhibition and is part of the Museum on Main Street (MoMS) collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils nationwide. 

The exhibit offers small towns a chance to look at their own paths to highlight the changes that affected their fortunes over the past century. The exhibition will prompt discussions about what happened when America’s rural population became a minority of the country’s population and the ripple effects that occurred.

Here is how you can be a part of this exhibit:

Search through your photos for any images of Butler County’s past (1850’s – present). Topics include, but are not limited to: specific & identifiable buildings; streets; roads; places; events; activities; etc. 

Replicate that scene or take a current photo of the same topic.

Haberlein’s at Central and Main in 1955
Specs in 2020, formerly Haberlein’s.

Scan the photos & download the photo release form that can be found on the Kansas Oil Museum’s website.  

Email the photo(s) and the completed photo release form to director@kansasoilmuseum.org. Please include any pertinent information you have regarding the photo, such as location, when it was taken, individuals in the photo and who took the photo. 

Photos must be submitted by July 31, 2020

All photos, old and new, must be of Butler County people, places, activities, or events.

While no monetary compensation will be given for the scans of these photos, the museum will acknowledge the proper parties based on information provided in signed permission forms.

Release forms, as well as additional information, can be found by visiting kansasoilmuseum.org and clicking on the “Rural Crossroads” tab.

Belle Vista Cemetery Tours 

A fun and unique alternative to the haunted houses typically reserved for this time of year was hosted by the Butler County Historical Center and Kansas Oil Museum and spearheaded by historical consultant to the museum, Ken Spurgeon. 

Historical Consultant and tour organizer, Ken Spurgeon.

On Saturday, October 26th, cemetery tours at Belle Vista were given.  Complete with tour guides and re-enactors, early citizens of El Dorado and Butler County were brought to life.

General Alfred W. Ellet portrayed by Randy Edens.

General Alfred W. Ellet, brought to life by Randy Edens, shared his military history and how he came to El Dorado.  

Nathan Frazier, brought to life by Tom Penning, tells of his adventures us exploits while tour guest Scott Glaves listens.

Nathan Frazier, whose storyteller was Tom Penning, told of his risk taking spirit and love for adventure that ultimately led him to become a leading banker of El Dorado, and one of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of Kansas 

Matilda Friend was portrayed by Debbie Edens.

Tour guests listen to Matilda Friend’s courageous life story.

Matilda Friend, embodied by Debbie Edens, shared her harrowing story of bravery in the face of a Comanche attack, her survival and migration to El Dorado.  

Mark Mannette, portraying former El Dorado Mayor, Charles Selig.

Charles Selig, brought to life by Mark Mannette, told of his experience of enlisting to fight in the Civil War at 11 years old.  He made his home in El Dorado where he became a leading businessman and served as Mayor form 1907-1909.  

Tour guides Deanna Bonn, Carol Turner, and Suzanne Walenta lead guests through the cemetery giving a brief history about its founding. 

Tour guide, Deanna Bonn, at the grave of Edward and Eugenia Stevenson. Edward killed his wife and then himself in his 67th birthday. He wanted to “give the old town something to talk about.”

They shared local folklore regarding the cemetery’s haunting by a ghost named Too Moons, as well as stories of the famous, and infamous, citizens of Butler County’s early days.   

One of the tour groups at the memorial for Rolla Clymer.

The tours ended at the Belle Vista Mausoleum with stories of influential Butler County residents.  Rolla Clymer, an El Dorado newspaper editor who was called “the Sage of the Flint Hills,” was the President of the Butler County Historical Society from 1959-1976.  

Also buried in the mausoleum is Frank H. Cron, the first President of the Butler County Historical Society.  In his will, Mr. Cron gave an endowment which made possible the establishment of the museum.  

At the time of the writing of his will in 1957, he wanted to provide educational benefits to Butler County citizens in perpetuity and desired to preserve the heritage of Butler County by declaring in his will that “said institution shall be operated and maintained primarily as a museum or gallery devoted to the collection and exhibition of historical objects of particular interest to Butler County, Kansas.”

 

Orin Friesen Shares History of Music in Kansas

The Kansas Oil Museum will hold the final presentation in their Summer Speaker Series “The History of Music in Kansas”  by Orin Friesen. 

Orin Friesen

This lecture will explore the rich history of music in Kansas and highlight songs and performers from the early days of the state up to the present time. 

After the lecture, the last “Concert on the Green” will feature Orin Friesen and the Diamond W Wranglers.  An ice cream social will be held prior to the concert and food trucks will be on hand. 

Call ahead or purchase tickets at the door: $10 admission for members, $15 for non-members.

 

Kansas Oil Museum Hosts Butler County Commissioners

The Board of Butler County Commissioners were invited to a luncheon hosted by the Kansas Oil Museum.  The purpose of the luncheon, in addition to a great meal provided by Pear Tree Catering, was to provide education on the services provided by the museum.

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Board of Butler County Commissioners joined the Kansas Oil Museum Board of Directors for a luncheon prior to learn about the services the museum provides.

In addition to being the regional repository of historical documentation, the museum is the perfect size and location to host events. From club meetings to weddings and family reunions, the museum hosts a variety of gatherings.

Among its services to the community, the museum provides scholarships to economically disadvantaged children so they may participate in the museum’s fun and educational activities.

 

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County Administrator Will Johnson and Commissioner Mike Wheeler, along with Kansas Oil Museum Board members, viewing the Museum’s  Collections.

 

Will Johnson, County Administrator, noted the most important aspect of the Museum is the historical document and artifact preservation. The museum has always been a great partner like the centennial during 2007-2008.  A couple of years ago, Commissioner Wheeler brought a book to the museum which listed all the Butler County Commissioners from 1895 up until that time.

Executive Director Tiya Tonn thanked them for their continuing support of the museum and asked what other services the museum could provide. Additionally, she mentioned the need for increased funds.  She recognized the consistent and generous annual gift by the Board of Butler County Commissioners but also noted that while the amount has not increased, expenses have.

After the luncheon, the Commissioners were given a tour of the exhibits and collections.

 

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Commissoner Jeff Masterson and Assistant County Administrator, Ryan Adkison, with Kansas Oil Museum’s Board President Tamra Johnson.  

 

 

 

Coutts Kids Club

The public is invited to attend the Coutts Kid’s Club “Winter Wonderland” exhibit and reception which will be held on December 1st and open to the public during El Dorado Main Street’s Old Fashion Christmas.

The Coutts Kid’s Club is an after school program for children in 4th and 5th grades.  Students are bussed to the museum for the program which runs from 3:45pm-6pm on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and held in the Coutts Museum Classroom.

 

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Students use critical thinking and design skills to plan the layout for their exhibit.

 

In addition to creating art, the members of this session of the Coutts Kid’s Club have been using critical thinking and design skills to learn how to best display their art.

Coutts Kid’s Club is staffed by volunteers, two of whom are retired art teachers and is funded in part from a matching grant through Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission (CAIC).  

To learn more about the next session of Coutts Kid’s Club, or the “Winter Wonderland” Exhibition, contact Coutts Museum at (316) 321-1212.

 

Learn to Find A Grave at Genealogy Society Meeting

If you are unfamiliar with the genealogy process, or you are just starting out and require more assistance, there is free help available.

The Butler County Genealogical Society, held the third Thursday of each month, September to May, will host this month’s meeting on Thursday, Sept 20, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Kansas Oil Museum.  These meetings are free and open to the public.

The September meeting will discuss how to locate ancestors through the new Find A Grave website, as well as many other websites and resources. This first meeting will probably last less than an hour at the museum; then a hands-on activity is planned.

Attendees will carpool to local cemeteries in El Dorado and do some searching together. How to gather information from the headstones and the cemetery will be discussed.

In October, the topic of discussion will center around organizing your records and research. You will learn how to tame your digital and printed paperwork.

November’s topic centers on discovering ways to track your Civil War ancestor.

Mark your calendars and plan on attending the upcoming Butler County Genealogical Society meetings held at the Kansas Oil museum beginning this Thursday, Sept. 20th, and bring a friend.

 

Kansas Oil Museum | Family Fun Day

Kansas Oil Museum Family Fun Day, with the theme of the ‘Roaring Twenties,’ to help kids learn about 1920’s culture and style, was held on Saturday, September 15th.  The museum hosts the Free Family Fun Days for children of all ages and their families on the third Saturday of each month from 12-4p.  

Ardath Lawson, Museum Curator develops the monthly program with games and learning activities that center around a different theme each month.  

While regular admission rates still apply for touring the museum galleries, many of our free Fun Days showcase items from the museum collections for kids to look at and handle, providing a chance for unique hands-on encounters with history, nature, and science.

The next Free Family Fun Day at the Kansas Oil Museum is scheduled for Saturday, October 20th and the theme is “Spooky Spectacular” and will include Halloween and spooky things.