Archive for Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Photographs depict county’s history

April 26, 2006

Keyta Kelly has lived in Leavenworth County for 24 years. But until earlier this year when the county counselor began helping organize an exhibit of about 50 historic photos depicting scenes from around the county, she said she didn't have a good sense of the county's history.

For example, Kelly said she knew little about the county's education system in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

"I was amazed at how many one-room schoolhouses there were in the county," she said. "There were approximately 80 of them."

A picture of the Kickapoo School from about 1894 is the oldest photo in the exhibit, which went up last week throughout the hallways of the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

Another photo from the 1890s depicts Fall Leaf School and its 108 students, all of whom were taught by the same teacher.

"Could you imagine?" Kelly asked.

But the exhibit isn't limited to old schoolhouses. There are pictures of businesses from yesteryear, including the Millwood General Store, the Hotel Mayfield in Basehor and the G. Campbell General Store in Lansing. There are photos of a covered bridge over Stranger Creek near Easton and railroad depots in Reno, Fall Leaf, Lansing and Tonganoxie.

A 1932 photo of Albert Conley's barbershop in Tonganoxie is Kelly's personal favorite from the collection. It's hung outside her office on the second floor of the courthouse.

"I just like the expressions of the men in there, and the detail. It's just a good photograph," Kelly said.

Photos in the exhibit were culled from the collections of museums throughout the county and from county residents. Kelly, County Clerk Linda Scheer and County Commission Chairman Dean Oroke visited the museums and selected the photos for exhibit.

Once the photos were selected, a team that included Kelly, Leslie Rocha from the County Appraiser's Office and Mark Bureman, former director of the Carroll House Museum, went to work.

"Once we got the pictures, we had to research to find out what date they were, what we were seeing and making sure that was accurate," Kelly said.

Their research led them to make dozens of phone calls to longtime county residents for assistance. Most were readily willing to help.

"It's amazing the memories some people have," Kelly said. "Fred Leimkuhler (of Tonganoxie) -- he's in his 80s and he can just recall anything that happened 60 years ago. He knows it as well as if it were yesterday."

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