TALES OUT OF SCHOOL
HISTORIC SITES–PEOPLE AND PLACES
In the previous two issues of Tales Out of School we have featured historic sites of Kansas as designated by the Kansas State Historical Society. One of the primary goals of the Kansas State Historical Society is to ensure that the heritage and culture of Kansas are preserved and shared with generations to come, both in the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka and at the sixteen historic sites throughout the state. In this issue of Tales, we will conclude the series with the sites that relate to people and places in the state.
In recent years, the use of primary resources and artifacts has become an integral part of the teaching of local history. Classroom teachers are faced with an overwhelming number of options in the teaching of history. But because first-hand experience of the physical evidence of the past has long been acknowledged as a powerful means of learning and the use of historic buildings and sites helps students develop a sense of historical curiosity, Kansas students have an excellent opportunity to learn about Kansas history in person. Some of the keys to a successful educational field trip are:
1. Planning a visit that fits in with the overall curriculum plan. An added bonus would be incorporating the visit with other subjects. For example, a visit to Pawnee Rock might be tied into a study of commerce on the Santa Fe Trail, but could also include a look at the geology of the rock formation.
2. Involving students in finding out information for themselves as opposed to passively receiving facts and figures.
3. Requiring that students record what they see. Younger pupils can use drawing, and older pupils can practice note-taking skills, a skill necessary for all subjects.
4. Using suitable materials that the site has available.
5. Asking questions that will direct the student’s learning experience--how has the site changed over time? What did it look like at its peak (how do we know?) who lived in, occupied or used the site? What do we definitely know about them? How did the site relate to the local community? what has the site told me about the period we are studying? how does the site relate to others in the location? Is it unique or are there others with which to compare it?
where might there be other evidence connected with the site held?
Historic Kansas Sites–People and Places
Cottonwood Ranch–Located 17 miles west of Hill City, and 15 miles east of Hoxie along U.S. 24 near Studley, Kansas, Cottonwood Ranch incorporates the Yorkshire architectural style of Abraham Pratt’s home country with the native stone that he found in Sheridan County when he came there in 1878. Abraham Pratt eventually convinced his two sons, John Fenton Pratt and Tom, to join him in Kansas. As was common with many early settlers, the three of them lived the first few years in a dugout along the south bank of the Solomon River. The ranch, constructed from 1885 to 1896 by John Fenton Pratt, offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time, explore the ranch where the Pratt family flourished and John Fenton became a successful sheep rancher and businessman, and take in the austere beauty of the South Solomon River. Visitors will also see John Fenton Pratt’s photograph collection and the stained glass windows that grace the house.
For specific information about visiting the site, visit the web page for the Kansas State Historical Society at http://www.kshs.org/places/cottonwood/htm.
Fort Hays–Fort Hays was an active U.S. Army post from 1865 until 1889. In 1865 the first post, known as Fort Fletcher and situated about five miles south of the current site, was established to protect the stage and freight wagons traveling along the Smoky Hill Trail to Denver. Continued Indian attacks caused the bankruptcy and abandonment of the route by the Butterfield Overland Despatch and so Fort Fletcher was closed in May 1866. In October 1886 Fort Fletcher was re-opened about one-fourth mile north of previous location to protect those working on the Union Pacific Railway. In December 1886 the fort was renamed Fort Hays. A flood in 1867 did considerable damage to the fort and in June a new Fort Hays nearer to the railroad right-of-way opened. Some of the famous names from American history who are associated with the fort include Wild Bill Hickok, General Philip Sheridan, and Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer. Visitors to the fort will see the blockhouse, guardhouse, and two officers’ quarters.
For specific information about visiting the site, visit the web page for the Kansas State Historical Society at http://www.kshs.org/places/forthays/index.htm.
Goodnow House–In 1855 Isaac Goodnow organized a group of two hundred free-staters to emigrate to Kansas from Rhode Island. They located a townsite at present day Manhattan at the confluence of the Blue and Kansas Rivers and the community grew rapidly as a free-state community. Goodnow was also instrumental in establishing Bluemont College, a Methodist school that eventually became Kansas State University, part of the national land grant college system.. Goodnow served as superintendent of public instruction, started the Kansas State Teachers Association, sold land for the college endowment, and later was a land agent for the Katy Railroad. Goodnow bought the house in 1861, adding a two-story limestone front section and a frame bedroom over the next 15 years. The house, built on six acres of land near the college, is furnished with pieces belonging to the Goodnows or from that period. Visitors to the house will see original furnishings and documents, the stone house and barn, and a natural history collection.
For specific information about visiting the site, visit the web page for the Kansas State Historical Society at http://www.kshs.org/places/goodnow/index.htm.
Grinter Place –Overlooking the historic Delaware Crossing of the Oregon-California Trail on the Kansas River is Grinter Place, the oldest home in Wyandotte County. Kentuckian Moses Grinter operated a ferry on the Kansas River that served troops traveling between Forts Leavenworth and Scott. In this area came more than ten thousand emigrant Indians from more than two dozen tribes or nations. The forts were to maintain order among the Indians and the U.S. citizens along the borders of Indian Territory. Moses Grinter married Annie Marshall, a Lenape (Delaware). They operated Grinter's Trading Post, farmed, raised poultry and livestock, and planted an apple orchard. They built the two-story brick house and lived in it until their deaths–his in 1878, hers in 1905. Visitors to Grinter Place today will see a great view of the Kansas River, native prairie grass and woodlands, frontier family lifeways, and furnishings from the 19th century. In the kitchen and domestic area of Grinter Place, visitors are offered the opportunity to learn how to cook on a cast-iron stove, bathe in a washtub and make candles from tallow.
For specific information about visiting the site, visit the web page for the Kansas State Historical Society at http://www.kshs.org/places/grinter/index.htm.
Hollenberg Station– In 1858 Gerat J. and Sophia Hollenberg established the Hollenberg Station as a way station for travelers on the Oregon-California Trail. In 1860 they operated a Pony Express station. Before settling in Kansas Gerat Hollenberg lived an adventurous life. He set out from Germany in the late 1840s and ended up spending the next several years searching for gold in South America, Australia, and California. Details about his life between 1849 and 1854 are hard to establish–some stories claim that he lost all his gold when he was shipwrecked off the coast of Florida or that he walked all the way to Chicago. But he did settle on the Black Vermillion River in Marshall County in 1854. In his small cabin, he kept a small stock of supplies that he sold to travelers on the trail. He moved his business to the site of the Hollenberg Station in 1858, when he realized that there would be more traffic on the Oregon-California Trail. Sophia was responsible for feeding the travelers who stopped. With the demise of the Pony Express and decline in traffic after the Civil War, the Hollenbergs turned to farming for their livelihood. In 1874 Hollenberg, in failing health, decided to visit his native Germany seeking a cure for his health problems. He died on the ship and was buried at sea. Visitors to the site will see a national historic landmark, become acquainted with the people who lived and worked at the station, discover what the life of Pony Express riders was like, and see a mochila (mail pouch).
For specific information about visiting the site, visit the web page for the Kansas State Historical Society at http://www.kshs.org/places/hollenberg/index.htm.
Pawnee Rock–Located one-half mile north of U.S. 56 and the town of the same name in the southwest corner of Barton County, Pawnee Rock was one of the most prominent landmarks on the long journey for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. Native Americans were said to have met at this sandstone citadel and reputedly used it as a vantage point to spot bison herds and approaching wagon trains. It overlooks the valleys of the Arkansas, Ash, and Walnut Rivers. There are numerous stories about how Pawnee Rock got its name. The rock is not as large as it once was; settlers found the rock a readily available source of material for their own construction projects. At the site there is a viewing pavilion, where visitors gain an appreciation for the rich history of the military and Santa Fe Trails; and a Monument to Santa Fe Trail. There are also carry in - carry out picnic facilities.
For specific information about visiting the site, visit the web page for the Kansas State Historical Society at http://www.kshs.org/places/pawneerock/index.htm.
William Allen White House–The William Allen White house, located at 927 Exchange in Emporia, is the newest addition to the Kansas State Historical Society’s historic sites. It was White’s home from 1899 until his death in 1944. Here the White family entertained several U.S. presidents–Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover–and prominent Americans, such as Edna Ferber, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walt Mason, and Jane Addams. As editor and owner of the Emporia Gazette, William Allen White influenced state and national politics through his writings and editorials. He not only brought news of the world to the people of Emporia, but he also showed the people of the world how world events affected lives in a small Great Plains town. His best-known editorials are “What’s the Matter with Kansas?,” “Mary White,” and “Letter to an Anxious Friend.” Visitors to the house will tour the house and see many of the furnishings used by William Allen and Sallie White, the actual desk where William Allen White worked, items White's acquired in their world travels, books from the White library, the bed where famous dignitaries slept, and the garden and fish pond that are similar to their appearance during White's time. In the visitor’s center there are historic photographs, political pins, and press passes, and displays about his support of the Progressive Movement, his friendship with Theodore Roosevelt and involvement in the Bull Moose Party, his fight against the Ku Klux Klan, his involvement in the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies, and information about numerous awards and honors in his memory.
For specific information about visiting the site, visit the web page for the Kansas State Historical Society at http://www.kshs.org/places/white/index.htm.
* Information for this newsletter came from the following websites: (http://www.kshs.org/places/sites.htm). (http://www.english-heritage.org.uk) and Tales Out of School, February 2004.