The Morning the Hole Fell In Panning Sinkhole Ellinwood, Ks

Historic 1930s Dust Bowl as told by former Resident Lucian Doll

‘”Lucian Doll remembers being 14 and living on his family farm six miles north of Ellinwood when the storm hit.

He was in a field working with a team of horses.

“I had four horses pulling a harrow and I can see the horizon was black,” said Doll, now 89 and living in Wichita. “When I get to the end of the row, I turned around to face it. It must have been a half mile from me — just a boiling wall of dirt coming at me.”

Dust Storm Rolling over Hugoton, Ks

This is a postcard view of a dust storm rolling over Hugoton, Kansas, on Sunday, April 14, 1935.

He unhooked the horses and ran the animals a quarter mile back to the barn.

“By the time I put the horses in the stable and stepped out of the barn, I could not see the house 50 yards a way.”

The swirling clouds of red dust — topsoil from thousands of farms from Oklahoma, Texas, eastern Colorado and western Kansas — blocked the sun, stalled vehicles and uprooted rural Americans by the thousands.

his is a photograph of a dust cloud rolling over the prairie near Hugoton, Kansas. Southwest Kansas was among the hardest hit areas during the Dust Bowl. Dust storms, such as the one depicted here, could blow for a full day, coating everything in their path with a layer of dirt. It was taken by the Stovall Studio in Dodge City, Kansas on Sunday April 14, 1935.

Sunday, April 14, 1935 Near Hugoton, KS.

But Doll especially remembers the aftermath, when he walked his family’s stubble fields and saw all the wild animals that had died in the storm and dead cattle standing upright, surrounded by the drifts of sand and dirt, their lungs filled with dirt.

“I thought the world was coming to an end. It was that terrible,” he said.’

[(This excerpt is from an article published in the Wichita Eagle in 2010. To read the article in its entirety click here.)]”
[Photos from http://www.kansasmemory.org/]

Do you have memories of the dust bowl, or have you been told stories of the dust bowl by your grandparents or parents? Be sure to share them in the comments. 

 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Southside Farmers Help Out

August Langrehr (front row far left), Wilbur Bryant (FR-5 from left), Wilbur’s son Leo Bryant (FR-3 from left), and Adolph ‘Doc’ Mueller.

 

Farmers working together to help their neighbor.

Farmers working together to help their neighbor.

 

9 Tractors make it happen

9 Tractors make it happen

Special thanks to Museum of Ellinwood and Ellinwood Community Historical Society patron, Marlin Bryant, for donating these photographic documentations of Neighbors helping Neighbors. These photographs depict the generous spirit of Ellinwood, Kansas, and the hard work and dedication of the early farmers who helped establish our rural community.

Marlin writes,

“Attached are the three pics I printed and framed and donated to the Museum depicting a group of Southside farmers who got together to assist a neighbor who was unable to do his planting.  The persons I recognize in the group picture are my Uncle August Langrehr (front row far left), My Uncle  Wilbur Bryant (FR-5 from left), Wilbur’s son Leo Bryant (FR-3 from left), and Adolph ‘Doc’ Mueller.  I offer these as part of our new photo archive and a potential addition to the Museum photo library.”

Marlin, we are thankful for your donation of this collection as well as your other contributions to our organizations.

John R Ellinwood (1838-1909)

Born in Vermont and son of a nurseryman, John R. Ellinwood was one of the earliest Santa Fe Railroad builders while serving as assistant Chief Engineer under T. J. Peter.  In 1868/1869 Ellinwood began working the line from North Topeka to Carbondale, Illinois where work stopped for a time.  Ellinwood was actually in charge of the steel gang that pushed the rail head forward, but he may have had other interests at work.  According to his son-in-law, Jason Dosser, Ellinwood engaged in an extensive contracting business, taking contracts for grading the road and subletting them to others.  He also was a partner in a company that did grading.  In 1872 J. R. Ellinwood had direct charge of rail construction from Newton to Ellinwood and from Great Bend to the ‘Pawnee Fork” of the North Arkansas river near Larned.  In July of 1872, the railroad reached the town of Ellinwood, pausing only long enough to erect a modest depot before pushing construction on toward the western border, fighting a March 3, 1873 construction deadline so as to earn title to alternating sections of land adjacent to the rail route.

John R Ellinwood Display at the Historic Wolf Hotel

John R Ellinwood’s photograph and History of How Ellinwood Got its Name is on Display Available to View at the Historic Wolf Hotel.

HOW ELLINWOOD GOT ITS NAME

In the fall of 1871, Milton W. Halsey, Aaron Burlinson, William H. Grant and William N. Halsey staked claims on Section 32, Township 19, Range 11 which was the section located immediately east of the site, Section 31, which would later become the town of Ellinwood.  By the end of 1871 these earliest area pioneers had completed construction of their respective dwellings (shacks and dugouts), weathered an extreme blizzard, and begun moving their families to their new homes.  Meanwhile, Milton Halsey got up a petition for a post office to be named Ellinwood, after his warm friend, John R. Ellinwood.  Ellinwood, then serving as locating engineer for the A.T.S.F. railway, was camped that winter on an island in the Arkansas located southwest of our present-day town.  Burlinson did not like J.R. Ellinwood, but he wanted the post office to be located in his newly provisioned store and he wanted to be named postmaster.  Halsey insisted on his choice of a town name until Burlinson finally agreed.  Approval for the Ellinwood post office was received in May of 1872.  The railroad reached Ellinwood in July of 1872.  Burlinson’s appointment as postmaster was official on August 5, 1872.  Shortly after receiving government title to his claim in June 1873, Burlinson sold it and departed the area.  The Halsey and Grant families became permanent settlers.  Other than lending the town his name, J.R. Ellinwood had little to do with the actual settlement of the town.  After a distinguished career with the railroad and the 1891 death of his wife Effie Ann Ashburn in Topeka, he retired to Ringwood, Oklahoma until his death in 1909.   John and Effie Ellinwood were married 13 Feb 1881, made their primary home in Topeka, Kansas, and raised three children including Carrie (Jason) Dosser, Ralph John, and Edgar George. –Excerpts from 1901 Ellinwood Leader 20th Century Souvenir and Ellinwood Echoes 1991, Contributed by Marlin Bryant. 

Barton County’s First Christmas Tree

“On the night of December 24, 1874, Ellinwood had the first Christmas tree in Barton County. It occurred somewhat after this manner:
Our town, being so fortunate as to have five or ten of the most wide-awake, go-ahead ladies to be found in Kansas, thoroughly alive to every interest of the town and country, determined to make one happy time for the children during these grasshopper times. Accordingly a committee consisting of Mrs. Hollinger, Mrs. Landis and Mrs. Bay, went to work in good earnest thus showing their motherly aptitude in providing for the little ones of the community, made all necessary arrangements, and in due time had a very respectable evergreen in position, in the school house, profusely decorated and literally loaded down with beautiful cornucopias and large, neatly ornamented and embroidered stockings well filled with candies, nuts and goodies of all kind. These, and the materials of which the cornucopias and stockings were composed, were bountifully furnished by Messrs. Landis & Williamson, but very little help having been given by other parties. The expense of the tree was defrayed by Mr. Geo. W. Hollinger. Indeed the profuseness and generosity with which the tree was furnished is very creditable to the liberality of our citizens.
Reaching Ellinwood’s handsome school house at an early hour we were astonished to find the house literally jammed from parquet to dome — not even a seat in the gallery could be obtained for love or money. We have attended many a similar gathering — have often seen the lamps shine “o’er fair women and brave men,” but never such a crowd as this. Not our least surprise as the large number of handsome young and married ladies (the committee by no means excepted) who adorn this vicinity.
The exercises of the evening were conducted by Mr. Chalfant with a masterly hand; and considering that the programme [sic] which had been previously arranged was “noncomeatable[sic]” on account of the failure or lack of promptness on the part of those who had parts assigned them, the impromptu programme [sic] was carried through very creditably and successfully…”

Click Here to read the full article by Veronica Coons, Reporter, Great Bend Tribune

The Duck Man of Ellinwood

For years, he was called the “Duck Man.”

In 1923, Frank Robl of Ellinwood started banding birds — ducks and geese that he found at Cheyenne Bottoms.

It was a hobby. He had a farm on the south shore of what was then called Cheyenne Swamp, now Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Management Area. It is the largest inland marsh in the United States and in recent decades was designated a Wetland of International Importance.

But back then, it was just mucky, marshy land. Its name came from the Cheyenne Indians who frequented the area before Euro-American settlement.

In his spare time, Robl drove around the swampy land. He fashioned his duck and geese bands from tin, curious about where the birds went each fall and spring migration.

In August 1927, when 14 inches of rain fell over a two-day period, the swamp filled, “becoming the largest body of water from St. Louis to the Rocky Mountains, the highest point remembered in history,” Robl wrote.

It didn’t dry up until 1931.

All the time, Robl kept banding, keeping meticulous records of his discoveries — noting when he received letters in the mail letting him know where the birds landed.

“In five years, I had recoveries from as far as Alaska and Canada, Mexico and Central America,” Robl wrote.

Robl’s records made some Kansas and national wildlife officials and politicians believe the area might be a good place for a refuge.4-017

Robl was invited to attend the American Convention of the Wildlife Association in Omaha. And then, he was invited to represent the Fish and Game Department at the Chicago Wildlife Convention. In 1934, he accompanied a delegation to the American Game Conference in New York City. He spoke on national radio about his findings and spent five days in Washington, D.C., with Kansas politicians, including Vice President Charles Curtis.
Frank Robl“I was introduced as being an authority on waterfowl and the best-versed man on the subject in the state of Kansas,” he wrote in his memoirs, “The ‘Duck Man’ Writes about Cheyenne Bottoms.”His records helped document the route of the Central Flyway, a bird migration route that runs from central Canada and the region surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.

It wouldn’t be until Oct. 8, 1942, that the Kansas Forestry, Fish and Game Department made its first significant land purchase – 6,800 acres.

Cheyenne Bottoms is a 41,000-acre, 64 square mile basin sink. The Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area now includes 19,857 acres managed by Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism; the Nature Conservancy owns nearly 8,000 additional acres.

Nearly half of all North American shorebirds migrating east of the Rocky Mountains and up to a quarter million waterfowl stop at Cheyenne Bottoms to rest and feed during seasonal migrations.

Robl died in 1976.

See original Blog at http://www.kansas.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/the-story-of-kansas/article1091255.html
Learn More at http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/226765

Our New Website

Welcome to the new Ellinwood historical society website and blog.  Here we will be posting the latest news, society info, projects, and the amazing history of Ellinwood.  With a wealth of history, the society aims to educate, inspire, and cultivate the imagination of the past.  A rich history and an even richer future will bring the ghosts of the past into the focus. Please forgive our mess as the website is still under development.  (You may see gibberish under some of our post headers – the words are saving place for copy that we will be updating. We are adding more content, stories and photos and that helps us save place for the information that will (eventually) make its way into that area.) We hope you enjoy what you see and read here.

Sts. Peter and Paul Church

Sts. Peter and Paul Church

Honor Award for Excellence in Reconstruction
Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Ellinwood (Barton County)

The St. Peter and Paul Church was originally built in 1892, replacing the original wood frame church that had been built in 1876. The parish had been established by German settlers in 1875, and was the first in the area around Ellinwood. The Gothic revival style church was built to replicate the churches the immigrants had known in Europe. The interior of the church has retained all of its original ornate altars, statuary, and pews created by the German craftsmen. The church closed as an active parish in 1986, and is now privately owned by the Sts. Peter & Paul Heritage Association, a volunteer group determined to properly restore and maintain the church. On May 4, 2007, a tornado destroyed the original tower and steeple. The Church was added to the Kansas Register of Historic places in December of that year. The Association decided to reconstruct the tower and steeple as closely as possible, a task made harder by the fact that no original plans could be found. Luckily, ample photographic evidence over the years allowed brick courses to be counted, and the height of the original steeple to be calculated. Mortar analysis was performed to match the original structure, and the bricks used were selected to match the originals. Some of the original stone was salvaged and reused, and the original copper cross and ball, salvaged after the storm, were measured to be recreated. The new aluminum steeple tops the reconstructed tower, once again a landmark that can be seen for miles around.

The project team included: Sts. Peter and Paul Heritage Association; DGM Consultants; Seltmann Masonry; Wichita Coring and Cutting; Kansas Brick and Tile; Salina Concrete Products, Inc.; Elmwood Reclaimed Timber; Roofmasters Roofing and Sheet Metal; Leon’s Welding and Fabrication; J.T. Lardner Cut Stone; The Verdin Company; Campbellsville Industries, Inc.; Valmont/Salina Galvanizing; Blue Star Contracting; Kansas State Historical Society; Sunflower Bank; and Farmers Bank and Trust.

See original article here: http://kpalliance.org/sts-peter-and-paul-church/

Wolf Hotel

The Wolf Hotel was built in 1894 by John Wolf as an addition to the Delmonico Hotel which would have stood just north of the building which is now the Sunflower Bank parking lot. The addition added several rooms to the Hotel along with a new lobby, underground stores and the Bank of Ellinwood. The Bank was the last to open due to intricate tile work being laid. The lobby sat on the east side of the building and the bank sat on the west. Downstairs, which was part of the underground tunnel system that ran through Ellinwood, were the Drummer’s room and Joe’s Snack Counter. The downstairs changed many times becoming Weber’s Sample Room, the library, a gym and another underground bar and cards room. The downstairs still houses the first air conditoner in Barton County. Fred Wolf, John Wolf’s son, added on the Sunflower Dining room in 1924. The Sunflower dining room was a prestigious restaurant that attracted people from many places with its amber lighting and wheat shock columns. The Wolf Hotel has been home to many businesses throughout the years. For the past thirty plus years it has been an antique store, until Christopher McCord purchased the building in 2013 in order to restore it to original purpose.

wolf hotel ellinwood ks history
Learn more about the Historic Wolf Hotel here.
Schedule a Tour of the Historic Wolf Hotel here.

We want to especially thank Christopher McCord, Kelli Penner, and to all the other volunteers, staff, and people who support The Wolf Hotel. THANK YOU for being an integral part of historic preservation and education in our community.