September 24, 2015

Visit the museum on Grasshopper Falls Day!

by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

The grasshopper's annual claim to fame dominates the historical society museum window display this month. The wily playboy of the folklore insect world, berated by the industrious ants for his irresponsible capers and despised by farmers in the reality world for his voracious appetite and destructive invasions, enjoys celebrity status in the city's history.

The window display lauds the creature's "once-a-year day" (Grasshopper Falls Day) with a scattering of previous years' programs and brochures surrounded by signs of welcome, reminders of the city's effort to change the city's name, and a rare copy of the short-lived Sautrelle News. A weather-beaten, aged grasshopper replica claims center stage.

Cider and doughnuts will be available at the museum beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

September 17, 2015

Annual meeting is October 18th

Deb Goodrich will be the guest speaker at the annual dinner and meeting of the Valley Falls Historical Society to be held at The Barn Bed & Breakfast Inn at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18.

Deb is a storyteller. Whether through writing or on camera, she educates and inspires. She is the cohost of the weekly television show, Around Kansas, the Wednesday
feature of AgaminKansas, on YouTube. She will be host to a new TV series, Out West, debuting in 2016. 

Deb is writing "Our Charley: From Reservation to Washington," (film script and book) on the life of Kansas's Vice President Charles Curtis, son of the Kaw Nation. She is an instructor for Osher, Lifelong Learning, and is much in demand as a speaker.

In spring 2012, the History Press released her book, "The Civil War in Kansas: Ten Years of Turmoil," (foreward by Gen. Richard Myers, 15th Chair of the Joint Chiefs).

Goodrich and co-author Michelle Martin wrote "Kansas Forts and Bases: Sentinels of the Prairie," released in February 2013 (foreward by retired col. Jerry Morelock, editor in chief of Armchair General Magazine).

Her third book with History Press was released in November 2014. Kansas Music Hall ofFame President Allen Blasco wrote the foreward to "Kansas Music: Stories of a Rich Tradition."

Author Esther Luttrell based the lead character in her newest book, "Murder in Magenta" on Goodrich.

Goodrich has appeared on C-SPAN and in numerous documentaries including two new releases: "Gunslingers" on American Heroes Channel and "The Road to Valhalla" from Lone Chimney Films (Winner of the 2015 Wrangler Award). 

Further information will be forthcoming.

August 21, 2015

1878 rules for teachers

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

Yesteryears, a publication of the Jefferson County Historical Society and Jefferson County Genealogical Society's April 1994 issue, published the following rules for teachers, as published in the November 23, 1878, Oskaloosa Independent, our friend and neighbor:

"The following sixteen rules are excellent guides, and by a closer adherence to them will seldom be occasion for resorting to any severe mode of punishment."

Authorship of the rules unknown, but quoted as found except for a few alterations!

"1.) From your earliest connection with your pupils, inculcate the necessity of prompt and exact obedience. 2.) Unite firmness with gentleness and let your pupils understand that you mean exactly what you say. 3.) Never promise anything unless you are quite sure you can give what you promise. 4.) Never tell a pupil to do anything unless you are sure he knows how it is to be done; or show him how it is to be done. 5.) Always punish a pupil for willful disobedience; but never punish unduly or in anger; and in no case should a blow be given to the head. 6). Never let your pupils see they can make you lose your self-command. 7.) If the pupils are under the influence of an angry or petulent spirit, wait till they are calm, then reason with them on the impropriety of their conduct. 8.) Never yield to a pupil because he looks angry or threatens or resorts to tears. Deal mercifully and justly. 9.) A little present punishment is more effective than threatening of a greater punishment should the fault be renewed. 10.) Never allow pupils to do at one time what you have forbidden under like circumstances at another. 11.) Teach the young that the only way to appear good is to be good. 12.) Never allow tale bearing. 13.) If a pupil abuses your confidence, make him for a time feel the want of it. 14.) Never allude to former errors if real sorrow has been evinced for having committed them. 15.) Encourage, in every suitable way, a spirit of diligence, obedience, perseverance, kindness, forbearance, honesty, truthfulness, purity and courteousness. 16.) Never speak in a scolding or fretful manner. Use tones of gentleness. Some teachers defeat their objective by using harsh and boisterous tones."

The Valley Falls Historical Society museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22.

The Delaware Valley Fair, 1880s

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

The story of a Valley Falls fair from the pages of a scrap book of newspaper articles dated 1938 compiled and saved by the late Sallie Blue, a Valley Falls teacher and librarian:

Former Fairs at Valley Falls—A Glimpse at the Record Book of 1880-84 when the Delaware Valley Fair Association was in its Glory.

We are indebted to Mrs. John Campbell, daughter of M. M. Maxwell—during his life one of the most enthusiastic boosters for county fairs, and in 1884 secretary of the Delaware Valley Fair Association, putting on fairs and races on what is now F. F. Hurst's wheatfield southeast of town—for the secretary's book containing the names of prize winners for the fairs of 1880-1884.

Checking over the list for '80 we note there were few exhibits of cattle—George Hensley and J. M. Huber, both of Meriden, being the biggest exhibitors; but when it came to horses and mules there must have been a demand for extra stable room. Horse breeders were present from Atchison, Leavenworth, Topeka, Oskaloosa, Winchester, Ozawkie, Pardee, Grove City (ever hear of a town of this name in Jefferson county—there was one then) besides the following from this place: Adam and J. H. Faulk, Dave German, I. C. Webster, J. J. Gardiner, Herm Newman, Ed. Farrar, Dick Simpson, Ed. Hutchins, Bob Marsh, Walter and Finley Ferguson, Wm. T. Booth, Chas. Hudspeth.

A good display of sheep were shown and among the owners were George Goodrich and son Harry.

In the swine department Park Murray apparently got most of the ribbons.

Apparently there was little attention paid to poultry in those days, but in '84 this division began to pick up and the name of Andrew Mitchell was at the top of the winners in his class.

In the display of farm and kitchen implements—a department the present fair should encourage—Doolittle Bros. & Judson had a display of hand made kitchen tinware, E. L. Weybright got a prize on a churn and farm wagon made by the "Delaware Manufacturing Co.," and V. P. Newman had an exhibit of harrows and plows made by the "Great Western Blacksmith Shop" —you may note Valley Falls was an industrial center in those days, why not now?

In the farm products department a difference was made in the classification of bottom and upland raised corn, but other than white and yellow there was no distinction—what would these men think now when Boone county White and Reids Yellow Dent are so carefully graded—to, say nothing of the "hybrids" but even so the following were good farmers in their day and believed in showing their neighbors how it was done; and such men deserve the sincere thanks and approbation of those who have profited by their early experiments and sacrifices, such men were M. M. Maxwell, Dave Smith, A. A. Murray, T. A. Hatfield, L. H. Gest, Ben Reppert, Geo. Reppert, Wm. Bechtel, John Corkadel, George Corkadel, George VanGaasbeek, Sam Washington, of Ozawkie; L. E. Stone, of Londale, (ever hear of this town in Jackson county ?).

In the fine arts department the ladies demonstrated their industry and ability in the line of knitting, worsted work on cardboard, crocheting, plain and fancy quilting, lacework, embroidery, wax-work, and painting in oil—a few of the contestants are still actively interested in the affairs of the present day. Among the names were Mrs. L. E. Stone, of Londale, Mrs. H. B. Schaeffer, of Oskaloosa, Mrs. John Carson and Mrs. Mary J. Graham, of Winchester, Mrs. L. H. Gest, Mrs. I. Friend, Mrs. M. S. Orr, Mrs. Albert Beland, Mrs. G. D. Ingersoll, Mrs. J. G. Waite, Mrs. D. Y. Gallison, Mrs. H. A. McCoy, Mrs. Allen Stockwell, Mrs. S. G. Walters, Mrs. Robt. Marsh, Mrs. E. A. Newman, Mrs. Albert Beland, Mrs. Dr. Hunt, Mrs. Mell Hefty, Mrs. J. H. Murray, Mrs. Henry Legler, Mrs. J. R. Mitchell, Mrs. A. A. Murray, Mrs. Mell Legler, and Misses Pauline Friend, Bertha Greutter, May Murray, Nellie A. Murray, L. E. Goodrich, Lula Goodrich, Blanch Beland, Lizzie Goodman, Etta Murray, Nellie Bishop, Willetta German, Mollie McDaniel, Nellie Grimes, Minnie Maxwell, Jessie Hughan, Ellen Summerfelt, Gertie Barnes, Mollie Gephart, Hattie Hayward, Lida Goodrich, Sadie Blair.

S.R. Shepherd, of Leavenworth, had on exhibition a Singer sewing machine, and D. M. Smith of Oskaloosa, was showing a Wilcox & White parlor organ (Suppose Charley Olden had come along and set a radio in operation?).

That there was some contest in beauty in those days is proven by four entries for the prettiest baby award—Mrs. Mary J. Graham of Winchester, was given first prize, but we'll lay even money that many in the crowd would have given the premium to either Mrs. E. Champion, Mrs. J. Bishop or Mrs. Sarah J. Tosh, who no doubt had just as lovely babies in the showing.

There were always a lot of special prizes offered in those days, all the way from butter, sorghum, honey, girls' dressmaking and baking ability, horseback riding, oil painting, to scrub horse races and footraces. Those who knew "Johnny" Dornblaser in his later years would never have picked him to win a 300-yard foot race against D. Bliss, of Oskaloosa, Joseph Inman, of Topeka, and Norte Gould in 1880, but that is what happened. In this department Miss Lida Goodrich won the prize offered for sponge cake in 1883; Mrs. Mell Legler won first on largest display of fancy work. Nola Webster won the horseback riding prize, with Minnie Piazzek a close second.

And of course they had horse racing. The names most prominent in these contests were George Wolf, of Topeka; G.W. Tanner and L.H. Sargeant, of Leavenworth; Jesse Crall, J.F. Doyle, W.H. Perkins and Thomas S. Towne, of Atchison; Burt Cirtwell, of Monrovia; Walt Johnson, of Menoken; A. Newell, of Oskaloosa, and of course J.J. Gardiner and I.C. Webster. As an extra inducement in the free-for-all trot, George Wolf offered a $25 prize for any horse beating the track record of 2:28, but George had no occasion to part with his money.

What a time they had in those days. Folks would come for miles, camp out and stay the entire three or four days, take in all the side shows, bet a little on the horse races, maybe try to pick the pea under the shell; have a good visit with old friends, and go home satisfied and resolved to make next year's exhibit bigger and better—everyone can have a better time at the fair today than then if each will come with the same mind. Why not try it out this year?

The Valley Falls museum is open at 10 a.m. Saturdays.

July 23, 2015

German picnic excursion to Grasshopper Falls, 1874

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

A German picnic excursion to Grasshopper Falls July 5, 1874, reported by the Kansas New Era.

"Last Sunday was rather a peculiar day for the people of the vicinity, or rather, the people witnessed something out of the usual routine of Sunday gatherings.

"As is well known, our German fellow citizens, as a rule, believe in enjoying themselves, and to accomplish the end, they form themselves into societies, create a fund to meet necessary outlays and during the summer months have frequent excursions to pleasant groves more or less remote from their homes and businesses.

"Such an excursion from Leavenworth visited the pleasant grove situated about a mile north of this city and on the ground belonging to Phillip Minger on July 5th.

"The excursion was the theme on every tongue from its announcement. Not one less than 100 of our citizens assembled at the depot Sunday morning to greet the coming of the excursionists.

"A train of six cars came in shortly after 11 a.m., freighted with near 400 of as intelligent and bright faces as one sees in a lifetime. The train halted long enough to allow our citizens to hang themselves on to already crowded cars best they could.

"Upon arrival at the grove, they were welcomed by at least 100 already assembled there from surrounding Grasshopper Falls. The grove was well seated and a large stand had been erected for the use of the bands, which they immediately occupied and opened the enjoyment of the day with music rarely heard in rural districts.

"It would have been a very extraordinary thing among the Germans to have a picnic without the adjunct of lager beer, but it seemed, from the time the first keg was tapped, there sprung up a rivalry between the Germans and those manor born as to who should invest the most beer, yet truth compels us to say that with four or five exceptions, no one made swill-tubs of themselves.

"After dinner a large part of the assemblage headed by the band repaired to Mr. Minger's residence to pay their respects to Mr. and Mrs. Minger for their hospitality to the society."

From the Leavenworth Commercial:
"The excursion to Grasshopper Falls on Sunday of seven carloads of our best citizens, under the auspices of the Maener Gesand Verein, was a pleasant affair. The train was under charge of Sam Black and everything was orderly and enjoyable. We are glad to learn that this progressive and liberal society made some money out of the trip."

The Valley Falls museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 25.

July 20, 2015

May 1875 news highlights, including changing the city name to Valley Falls

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

Highlights of the local news reported by the May 1875 Valley Falls New Era, included spelling matches, grasshopper invasions, name changes and AT & SF Railroad activity.

May 1 "The spelling match epidemic struck Valley Falls last Friday evening. Dr. Wilson is good at pronouncing and the way he leaps from monosyllables of two letters to French phrases is startling to the best spellers in America.

"The Hon. R.H. Crosby went down on the first round at the spelling bee last Friday. He never sang 'Hazel Dell' or he would not have tripped on so small a thing as 'Hazel.'

"There will be a spelling school at the Baptist Church next Friday evening. A Webster's New Counting House and Family Dictionary will be given to the best speller and a Higuly Illustrated Primer to the poorest. A.V. Jewett will pronounce the words. He has already selected 'monysontetoirtriggelypherlyphizeigokraut' and a few other light words for the spellers. Admission for the events is 25 cents for couples and 10 cents for children."

May 8, "Brix went to the spelling match last night. About an hour after he'd gone home and to bed, his wife poked him in the ribs and said, 'Brix, wake up! There's a burglar in the house!' Brix sat upright in bed burglar — b-u-r-g-l-a-r, burglar,' he spelled, rolled over and went back to sleep.

"The sidewalk around Block 21 to the depot is finished and now one can walk to the depot and cars dry-shod.

"Hillyer's Hall has been furnished with seats for an audience of 125 and is just such a room as our city has long needed. Posts have been provided for the room below that makes the floor secure and our citizens can now have gatherings without placing the authorities of the city churches in the embarrassing position of refusing to open the church for an entertainment because of those who think churches should be used for religious instruction only."

May 15, "Today the act of changing the name of our city to Valley Falls takes place and hereafter, all legal papers in which this place in an important point, must date from Valley Falls; township instruments from Delaware Township.

"The dome of the eight-gabled Octagon Hotel is the first object which greets the eye of the traveler approaching Valley Falls. The building is situated on the eastern brow of the hill descending gently to the depot. The site was chosen, the edifice designed, built, and is still owned and now kept by Dr. L. Northrup, an old 'fifty-fiver' of the town.

"R.H. Crosby of Valley Falls recently sold 100 head of cattle in Chicago for $8,225, which is pretty good for a grasshopper year and a winter of destitution."

May 22, "778, 451, 97, 651, 863, 132, 901 grasshoppers are what ailed our lettuce bed and early garden.

"Fifteen trains came in to Valley Falls Thursday and as many went out. The A.T. and S.F. is a driving business and they are in better order than any road in the west.

"There was a special passenger train that stopped for two days at the Depot. Two days since it carried on it persons representing $3,000,000. "The governor of Missouri has appointed a day of fasting and prayer in view of the grasshopper ravages. If there is a state in the union that needs the prayers of the righteous, that state is Missouri."

July 15, 2015

Hickory Point battle historical marker

Compiled by Betty Jane Wilson, society president

"Hickory Point marker unveiling June 22" reported the June 20, 1941, edition of The Winchester Star, the weekly news publication of our neighbor city.

"To commemorate the only military engagement in Jefferson County of the Kansas slave-or-free state struggle, a suitable marker has been erected by the state Highway Commission near the site of the Battle of Hickory Point fought in September 1856.

"This marker will be unveiled, with ceremonies, next Sunday afternoon, June 22, at three o'clock. Hon. John A Dawson, chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, will make the inspirational address of the occasion.

"Mr. John Sherwood, who has resided many years on the actual site of the battle, will unveil the marker and repeat reminiscences he has heard of the affair.

"The Rev. Clyde King, Winchester minister, will pronounce the invocation.

"A trio of Valley Falls young ladies — the Misses Rita Goodwin, Mary Jane Blake, and Pauline Shermer — will sing patriotic numbers. The Oskaloosa uniformed school band will open the program with a concert.

"Kansas State Highway Patrol will have charge of traffic and parking.

"Location of the marker is four miles west of Winchester and a third of a mile north of Dunavant corner on US-59.

"Credit belongs to Gov. Payne Ratners' administration for initiating and executing the enterprise of marking this and half a hundred other historic sites in Kansas. The Highway Commission was given authority to negotiate for sites and funds to build the markers; the state Historical Society has cooperated by verifying historical data.

"The committee for the Hickory Point ceremonies is composed of Jas. A. Swoyer, chairman, and John W. Roberts, Oskaloosa, Richard A. Swallow and Bert Booth, Valley Falls, and John Sherwood, Hickory Point.

The Valley Falls museum will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 18.