October 21, 2014

All Hallows' Eve depicted in museum windows

by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

Purple owls with black wings and black owls with purple wings sporting twinkling orange-lighted eyes hanging from a black spider web against an orange curtain provide the background for the Hallowe'en display at the seasonal window of the Valley Falls Historical Society Museum. Black cats from a one-eyed, single on-looker to a trio of happy felines, jack-o'-lanterns, and noisemakers complete the festive scene. A proud, wise old owl guards the All Hallows' Eve scene.

The Veterans' window features the following tribute to all veterans, past and present, "For every moment of peace, liberty and greatness our country enjoys, we have someone who has worn a uniform to thank."

Military service uniform caps surround the tribute with a Liberty portrait overlooking the scene.

The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 25.

October 14, 2014

Notes from the 47th annual meeting

by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

The 47th annual meeting of the Valley Falls Historical Society was held Oct. 5 at the Barn Bed and Breakfast Inn.

After the 1 p.m. buffet luncheon and prior to the program, an election of officers and directors was held with the following selected to serve in the 2014-2015 year: Betty Jane Wilson, president; Rosalind Jackson, vice president; Lesa Brose, secretary; Gary Coleman, treasurer; and Joan Reichart (term 2015) and Anita Stutesman (term 2016), directors. Frank Shrimplin continues as historian and Clarke Davis as advisor.

Guest speaker Jane Rhoads was provided courtesy of the Kansas Humanities Council. The council conducts and supports community- based programs, such as the historical society, through an active grant program that pays her expenses, gratuities, and travel expenses.

Her presentation, "Bronco Bustin' Showmen and Their Spectacular Wild West Shows," resulted from her research, love of entertainment, and Kansas history.

With the assist of digital screen and projector, she presented an enviable selection of photos of the performers in various stages of their lives prior to and during their careers. Still scenes were shown from "Buffalo Bill Cody's Spectacular Show" with added tales of association with notables as famous sharpshooter Annie Oakley and Cody's influence on later known western screen star Tom Mix. Cody's fame as wagon master, buffalo hunter, and child messenger for his father, Isaac Cody, and their relation to Valley Falls were included. Pawnee Bill, Lucille Mulhall, and Will Rogers and their entertainment careers all enjoyed their claim to fame in her specialty.

Jane Rhoads is also the author and winner of a Kansas Notable Book Award in 2009. Born of her love for prairie entertainment and her visit to over 400 Kansas communities she authored "Kansas Opera Houses — Actors and Community Events 1855-1925." Composed of countless photos, stories included performers whose careers began on small Kansas stages. The outstanding feature of her book is an alphabetical listing of 479 Kansas communities with information about their entertainment centers. Among our neighbors listed are McLouth, Oskaloosa, and Meriden with Nortonville having the 1884 McCarthy's Opera House and an 1908 City Hall-Roxie House still standing. The Valley Falls 1884 Turner Opera House (Turner Hall), Valley Falls is on record with a stage 16 feet by 40 feet with seating for 600. The facility was heated by stoves and illumined by lamps.

The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 18.

October 02, 2014

Harman-Stockwell part 2: "Community rid of a bad character"

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

The New Era, Saturday, May 12, 1894, reported a preliminary trial for city marshal Allen Stockwell was set for Monday, May 14, before Justice Beland.

The New Era, May 14:
"Monday, the case was called before Justice Beland and Mr. Stockwell's attorney, Messrs. W.F. Gilluly, G.W. McCammon and P.J. Hamble waived preliminary examination and asked that the defendent be bound over to the District Court for trial. Acting County Attorney M. Gephart, at the request of the prosecuting witness, Colfax Harman, dismissed the case and paid the costs. No further action has been taken, and whether the Harmans will have Mr. Stockwell re-arrested is not known. Perhaps they have found how the public sentiment is and have wisely decided to drop the matter.

"The coroner's jury was composed of our best citizens and men who treated both sides fairly. Their verdict was in accordance with the evidence and our people are well satisfied."

"Thursday afternoon (May 17) we received a call from N.H. Harman, father of Fora Harman, to the editor of the New Era. He took exception to the article we published last week in regard to his son's death. The New Era aims to publish the truth and will not knowingly publish any false statements. We wrote the article as we thought the facts warranted and did not try to publish a prejudiced account of the unfortunate affair. We aimed to give all parties justice in our article and certainly did not intend to make any false or misleading statements.

"Mr. Harman said our statement that his son was a 'dangerous character' was false, and instead of saying 'a bad career ended,' we should have said an 'indiscreet,' not bad career ended. He said that the statement that Fora had threatened the marshal's life a number of times was false, and that the evidence did not show that Harman had threatened to kill Stockwell. He said the time Stockwell shot at two other parties, giving an excuse that he thought he was shooting at Harman, Fora did say that he had better go prepared for Stockwell, that was all he ever threatened, and that was after he heard Stockwell had done the shooting, thinking he was the man. He also said that the statement that Harman made towards the marshal after he had been ordered to leave the jail window was false, because Harman had no time but to run away and was shot in the back side. He also said that 'Durham and wife saw Stockwell sneak up to Harman and giving him no warning, fired. Harman did not start toward Stockwell.'

"It is but natural that Mr. Harman should take the part of his dead son, and no doubt objects to the way in which the death was caused, but now that it is all over, he should not try to stir up any more strife in the community. We publish his side of the case because we want to be fair and not prejudiced. We believe, however, that the verdict of the coroner's jury was a just one and that the community is now rid of a bad character."

The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 4.

September 18, 2014

1894: Shooting death of C. F. Harman by Marshall Stockwell, part 1

(From the New Era files of 1894)
by Betty Jane Wilson

A series of conflagrations, tragedies, shootings, denominational destruction enhanced by denominational joys and miracles dominated by the early 1890s news items reported by the Valley Falls New Era, predecessor of the Valley Falls Vindicator.

The May 5, 1894, headlines:


"The quiet of our city was broken Thursday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. by the loud report of four pistol shots fired in rapid succession. The shooting occurred at the city hall and jail. At the crossing to the alley back of Gephart's Bank lay Fora Harman and over him stood city Marshal Stockwell. The long feud was over and death had ended it. The body was carried to city hall to await the coroner who had been telegraphed at city hall.

"Sheriff Weatherford happened to be in the city at the time and the Marshal surrendered to him at once. The wife, mother, and brothers were notified of the victim's death. The father, somewhere in the southern part of the county, could not be found.

"Fora has been the black sheep of the flock and has caused the family untold agony and thousands of dollars by his wayward ways. He was to have a new trial at the next term of court for grand larceny. Marshal Stockwell was the principal witness and unless he could get him out of the way, he was sure to be convicted. He had, on a number of occasions, threatened the marshal's life. The two were bitter enemies.

"The immediate cause that led to the shooting as far as we can learn was that Harman was at the window talking to Frank Wright in the city jail. Wright was in the jail on a disorderly conduct charge. Stockwell had warned Harman to stay away from the jail. As he went down the alley, he saw Harman at the window and ordered him to leave. Harman made some remark and started toward the marshal. The marshal opened fire. He fired four shots.

"A post mortem examination revealed that only one bullet going through the pulmonary artery caused death.

"The coroner and acting county attorney swore in the jurymen and the following day the coroner conducted the inquest. A number of witnesses were examined. Testimony showed that Harman had repeatedly threatened to kill Marshal Stockwell. But the marshal had never threatened Harman. No one saw Harman and Stockwell before the shooting, but several saw it after the first shot was fired. Harman was then running west and fell on the sidewalk leading south past the Gephart's Bank. The sentiment seems to be all in Stockwell's favor and it is thought he was justified in defending himself.

"Of course the coroner's jury will decide according to the evidence given."

May 12, 1894, the Valley Falls New Era reported:

"The coroner's jury examined about 30 witnesses out of whom only four testified they had not heard Fora Harman make threats against Marshal Stockwell. No one testified they had seen Stockwell and Harman at the city jail. Just before the shooting occurred, Mr and Mrs. Durham saw Mr. Harman in the window and saw him run after the first shot was fired.

"The jury rendered the following verdict: 'We, the jury, find that C.F. Harman came to his death on the third day of May 1894, on or about 10 o'clock p.m. in the City of Valley Falls, Kansas, by a pistol shot fired by the hand of Allen Stockwell, city marshal, and that the killing was justifiable and lawful. — E.M. Hutchins, foreman, H.M. Doolittle, D.P. Paxton, H.D. Butts, J. A. Evans, and G.W. Elson, jurymen.'

"Immediately after the verdict, Mr. Stockwell was arrested upon complaint of Colfax Harman, brother of the deceased, and his preliminary trial was set for the following Monday before Justice Beland. His bond was set at $1,000 and was signed by all three of our bankers."

Next, The Case and the Other Side.

The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 20.

September 02, 2014

September displays in the museum windows

by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

The Valley Falls Historical Society museum window scene for September features sports equipment indicative of past years and obvious usage.

Basketball, football, softball, baseball, etc., all borrowed from the society museum showcases, dominate the display with a variety of trophies — for reminders of Valley Falls' sports winnings and academic accomplishments.

A gold background curtain, centered, with a mega black mesh wreath, embellished with tiny basketballs and footballs and large gold V and F letters identify the school — all designed to welcome all Valley Falls students to the 2014-15 school year.

The veterans window for August honored the memory of the World War II defeat of the Japanese with newspapers dated Aug. 14, 1945, with blazing headlines declaring VJ Day.

The September window display also includes memories of 9/11/2001 when the nation and the world were shocked when the New York World Trade Center and the nation's Capitol and surrounding areas were attacked by terrorists and the resulting death and destruction.

The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.

August 19, 2014

Why Sautrelle?

by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

"Why Sautrelle?" — Valley Falls, Kan., survivor of three names of which Sautrelle, (French for Grasshopper) was name number two given by the legislature in 1863.

Adoption of the name evoked sundry reactions from citizens and outsiders, especially when the nickname "Sowtail" was substituted for Sautrelle. The name was not acceptable to the citizens so the legislature restored the old name, "Grasshopper Falls" in 1864.

Still the inquiry "Why Sautrelle?"

The subject of the name change, revived in 1874, and an assortment of names were suggested. According to the Kansas Historical Quarterly, ironically, the worst invasion of grasshoppers came the summer of 1874, and the residents of the town, eager to eliminate the name Grasshopper, met with the legislature and in 1875, the bill was passed changing the name to Valley Falls, with no answer to the "Why Sautrelle?" inquiry.

The October 1990, Yesteryear, Jefferson County Genealogical publication, included newspaper quotes dated March 17 and March 31, 1883, respectively, taken from the Annals of Oskaloosa and compiled by Mr. Frank R. Roberts, 1945.

March 17, "R. A. Van Winkle of Arrington reports a conversation he held prior to 1854 with Jos. Robidoux, founder of St. Joseph, Mo., regarding the Delaware or Grasshopper River.

"About the year 1818, Robidoux and others, hauled some merchandise from the Missouri River westward to the bank of this small stream where they traded it to the Indians. While there the party encountered an infestation of grasshoppers, which in two or three days, ate all the grass in the vicinity and later most of the grass in Kansas. From the circumstance, Robidoux and his party named the stream 'Sautrelle' (French for grasshopper).

March 31, "Jas. H. Jones, Grantville, adds a chapter about the first naming of the Delaware River. In 1827, a government surveyor recorded in his field notes the name of the river as Sautrelle or Necushcontabe, the later presumed to be an Indian term, meaning unknown."

The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23.

August 18, 2014

Celebrates 100th birthday: Anna Christina Goodrich, 1928

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

"Anna Christina, daughter of Henry and Emily Butler, was born in Granville, Ohio, Dec. 16, 1828. Her parents were members of a colony that moved from Granville, Mass., and established the new town in 1805.

"There were five children in the family, all except Anna dying in infancy or early childhood and Anna was a delicate child. There was little hope that she would even survive to womanhood. It was during the first year of her birth that the first iron rail was laid for the first railroad in American. The stage coaches and canal boats were the only means of public transportation in the states and slow-going sailing vessels were the only method of communication with 'the old world' — taking weeks and often months to cross the Atlantic. Would anyone at that time have been so credulous as to believe that the little girl would live to see the day when not only would there be a network of railroads with palaces on wheels, steamships plowing the seas on a regular schedule, but that men would fly not only from place to place on the continent, but across the seas, and that communication by telegram, telephone, and radio would become instantaneous all over the entire world?"

A story taken from the Topeka Capital, Dec. 23, 1928, expressed these words of awe and respect in the following story titled "Girl Doomed to Early Death Lives to Be 100."

"Valley Falls, Kan. Dec. 22, 1928, at the home of her daughter, Mrs. A.D. Kendall, and surrounded by her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a host of neighbors and friends of years, Mrs. George Goodrich celebrated her centennial birthday last Sunday.

"A lover of the outdoors and her father an expert horseman, she became an expert horsewoman to which she attributed much of the credit for her health and long life.

"She was eight years old when the first telegraph communication was perfected by Samuel Morse and 37 when the first cable was laid across the Atlantic. She was 15 when the first postage stamp was used. Prior to that time, postage was paid in cash by the recipient of the letter and based on the mileage. The miracle of electricity had not been discovered, an open fireplace, 'grease dips,' or candles made of tallow, were sources for light.

"John Quincy Adams was the president and the United States was still struggling in a effort to become a world leader. No one would have imagined that those states would take the commanding lead of the entire world in education, invention, trade, arms, finance, and luxury, yet all of these 'Mother Goodrich' has seen come to pass.

"She was educated in the Episcopalian female college of Granville and taught school for a number of years, so efficient in instruction that many children from the surrounding districts came to her school rather than attend their own.

"She married George Goodrich in Granville June 22, 1853, and as was the custom of that day, visited Niagara Falls, without which trip no wedding was deemed complete. On Oct. 17, 1878, the family moved to Valley Falls and located in the house built for them by Mark Hillyer, now (1928) the parish residence of the Catholic congregation. Here they lived until the new home was built on Broadway. Mr. Goodrich died Dec. 18, 1910, since which time she has lived with her daughters, Alma and Lida. Her family has always been her world. She attributes her long life largely to regular exercise, moderation in eating, the ability never to worry, and the use of cistern water. In other words, 'to work and love and service.'

"Those of the immediate relatives present Sunday were: Harry S. Goodrich, Brentwood, Calif., Mrs. May Allen, Spokane, Wash., Mrs. Kate S. Kendall, and Misses Alma and Lida Goodrich, Valley Falls, son and daughters; Mrs. W.A. Turnbull, Los Angeles, Calif., Mrs. Henry Starr, Tulare, Calif., Mrs. W.M.B. Lord, Sanford, Maine, Mrs. Gordon A. Bergu, Morgantown, W. Va., Mrs. Lida Ferguson, and Mrs. Ina Leglar, granddaughters; Miss Constance Lord, Sanford, Maine, Master Gordon Goodrich Bergu, Morgantown, W. Va., and Miss Ina Bumgardner, Lawrence, great-grandchildren; and a host of old friends." — Source: Yesteryears, April 1990.

The Valley Falls Historical Society Museum will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16.

Clarke Davis
Davis Publications, Inc.
The Oskaloosa Independent
The Valley Falls Vindicator
Fax: 785-945-3444