Expositions, Industrial.At the time Kansas was admitted into the Union in 1861 comparatively little was known by the civilized world of her great resources and possibilities. During the territorial period the conflict over slavery so overshadowed everything else that little thought was given to industrial development. After the Civil war many of the leading citizens advocated legislation that would advertise Kansas abroad and thus encourage immigration. The first opportunity of the state to be represented in a great industrial exposition was at Paris in 1867. On Nov. 14, 1866, Gov. Crawford appointed Isaac Young of Leavenworth to act as agent or commisisoner[sic] of the state at that exposition. In referring to this appointment in his message to the legislature of 1867, the governor said: "Mr. Young produced the most abundant evidence of his fitness for the position, and has been actively engaged in collecting material to represent this state. If the state shall receive such benefits as is contemplated, it is not just that it should be done at the expense of a single individual. The whole matter, however, is for your consideration, and you should make such an appropriation as the merits of the case demand."
By the act of Feb. 26, 1867, an appropriation of $2,500 was made to further the work, and Mr. Young's report was submitted to the legislature of 1868 by the governor, who called attention to the fact that Kansas grain and other products had received a fine bronze medal. The state also received honorable mention in the catalogue, which was printed in the various languages for general distribution among the visitors to the exposition. Through the medium of this catalogue, many of the people of Europe learned that Kansas was not the "treeless desert" they had supposed it to be, and many Europeans afterward found homes in the state.
No appropriation was made for the purpose of representing the state at the Vienna exposition of 1873, but the following commissioners were appointed: F. G. Hentig and John D. Knox, of Topeka; I. P. Brown and Frank Brier, Atchison; M. Hoffman, Leavenworth; James Lewis and C. H. Pratt, Humboldt; and L. C. Mason, Independence. Wyandotte (Kansas City) and Leavenworth were the only cities in the state that made exhibits, but the commissioners distributed at the exposition a large amount of printed matter advertising the state.
On March 9, 1874, Gov. Osborn approved an act authorizing him to appoint five persons as state managers for the Centennial exposition to be held at Philadelphia in 1876, commemorative of the first century of American independence. On the 30th he appointed George T. Anthony, Leavenworth; S. T. Kelsey, Hutchinson; Amos J. North, Atchison; Edgar W. Dennis and David J. Evans, Topeka. John A. Martin and George A. Crawford were the national commissioners for Kansas. A supplementary act of March 6, 1875, directed the managers to collect an exhibit "of the natural and artificial resources of the state," and appropriated $5,000 to defray the expenses. A third act, approved on March 2, 1876, increased the board of managers to nine members; authorized the erection of a state building on the exposition grounds, at a cost not to exceed $10,000, and made additional appropriations amounting to $33,625. The act also provided that, when the exposition was over, the building was to be sold and the proceeds turned into the state treasury, and the managers were authorized to exchange specimens with other states, the entire collection to become a permanent exhibit in the agricultural rooms in the state capitol at Topeka. A condensed history of the state was prepared by D. W. Wilder, T. D. Thacher, John A. Anderson, John Fraser, Frank H. Snow and B. F. Mudge for distribution at the exposition.
Deaths, resignations and removals caused several changes to be made in the board of managers. In addition to those above mentioned, the persons who served on the board at some period were: Alfred Gray, Topeka; Edwin P. Bancroft, Emporia; Charles F. Koester, Marysville; Theodore C. Henry, Abilene; William E. Barnes, Vinland; R. W. Wright, Oswego; William L. Parkinson, Ottawa, and George W. Glick, Atchison. Throughout the service of the board George T. Anthony was president and Alfred Gray secretary. Amos J. North was the first treasurer, but was succeeded by George W. Glick.
Kansas was the first state to select a site for a state building. The structure was in the form of a Greek cross and cost about $8,000. In the exhibit was a large map of the state showing the location of every school house. A number of premiums were awarded the state, among them a certificate for the best collective exhibit; a first premium on fruit; a prize for the best farm wagon; a medal for a bound record book exhibited by George W. Martin, then the Kansas state printer, and what was a surprise to many was that Kansas received first prize for a display of timber, sections of native forest trees, etc. In his message of 1877, referring to the Centennial exhibit of Kansas. Gov. Anthony said: "It was not the cereals, the minerals and woods of Kansas that attracted the attention and excited the admiration of the representatives of all nations, making every American citizen feel that the victory of Kansas was a national honor. It was the boldness of conception, the daring of purpose, the intelligent and artistic arrangement, which shed so broad a light upon the manhood and culture of Kansas, as to force a conviction upon all spectators, that a people whose representatives could provide for, and whose agents could execute, such an undertaking, own a land wherein it is good to dwell."
Frederick Collins of Belleville was appointed commisisoner[sic] to the American exposition in London in 1877, but the legislature made no appropriation, and if Mr. Collins ever made a report of his work a copy of it can not he found.
At the Paris exposition of 1878, Floyd P. Baker was commissioner, Eugene L. Meyer of Hutchinson and Mason D. Sampson of Salina, honorary commisisoners.[sic] Most of the exhibit at Paris on this occasion was of an educational nature. Topeka furnished some 600 specimens of daily class work, in all grades up to the high school, and photographs of several of the city school buildings. Lawrence furnished about 250 specimens of class work in the public schools and a view of the state university. Similar work was exhibited by Fort Scott, Atchison, Leavenworth, Ottawa, Emporia, Salina, Hiawatha, and a number of other cities and towns in the state. A full account of the exhibit and awards is given in the report of the state superintendent of public instruction for 1878.
The next industrial exposition in which Kansas took part was at New Orleans in the winter of 1884-85. On Feb. 2, 1884, Gov. Glick appointed Frank Bacon commissioner and George Y. Johnson assistant commissioner. Mrs. W. R. Wagstaff and Mrs. Augustus Wilson were appointed lady commissioners. The exposition opened on Dec. 16, 1884, and remained open to visitors until May 31, 1885. In his message to the legislature in Jan., 1885, Gov. Martin said: "The commissioners in charge of the Kansas exhibit at the New Orleans exposition advise me that they are laboring under great disadvantages because of the limited appropriation made for their collecting and arranging a display of our products and industries. The legislature appropriated $7,000, and this was supplemented by $4,000 from the exposition managers. With this sum the commisisoners[sic] have done all in their power to maintain the reputation of Kansas, but they report, and other gentlemen who have visited the exposition have advised me, that our display does not do justice to the resources and development of the state. None of the state institutions has contributed to it, and educational exhibits are practically lacking."
At that session the legislature passed an act appropriating $2,500 for a display of women's work. Notwithstanding the disadvantages under which the commissioners labored on account of the meagre appropriations Kansas took 65 first and second premiums. First prizes were awarded on wheat, corn, flour, sorghum sugar, apples and cattle.
In 1889 another great exposition was held in Paris, France. The Kansas legislature of that year passed an act, early in the session, authorizing the governor to appoint a commissioner, on or before April 1, who could speak French, said commissioner to prepare and have printed in the French language such pamphlets and circulars as would properly set forth the resources of the state. An appropriation of $5,000 was made to carry out the provisions of the act. On March 7, 1889, Gov. Humphrey appointed Emil Firmin, who went to Paris and during the exposition was active in advertising Kansas abroad. No attempt was made toward an exhibit of products, that portion of the work being confined to reports of the state departments, etc. A gold medal was awarded for the best agricultural report, and silver medals for the publications of the state labor department and the department of public instruction. The Kansas City journal, referring to the awards, after mentioning the fact that the Anheuser brewery of St. Louis took second premium for beer and Kansas for education, adds: "Missouri thus gets a premium for lager beer and Kansas for education. Kansas is ahead at Paris."
A delegate convention, called by the state board of agriculture, met at Topeka on April 23, 1891, to take the preliminary steps to insure an exhibit of the state's products at the Columbian exposition, to be held at Chicago in 1893. That convention decided that $100,000 would be necessary to make a display that would do credit to the state. A "bureau of promotion," consisting of 21 persons3 from each Congressional districtwas appointed, with instructions to start the work, and with power call a convention for the selection of a permanent board of managers. A convention was accordingly called to meet in the senate chamber in the state capitol on Sept. 16, 1891, when the following board of managers was chosen: At large, A. W. Smith and Frederick Wellhouse; 1st district, W. A. Harris; 2nd, R. W. Sparr 3d, E. H. Brown; 4th, A. S. Johnson; 5th, W. H. Smith; 6th, William Simpson; 7th, O. B. Hildreth.
Meetings were held in various parts of the state, county societies organized and funds collected to defray the expenses of gathering and arranging an exhibit. In October a committee visited Chicago and selected a site on the exposition grounds for a state building. On Feb. 17, 1892, the plans submitted by Seymour Davis of Topeka were accepted by the board, the contract for the erection of the building was let on April 28 for $19,995, and on Oct. 22 it was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies.
Up to this time the work had been carried on by the citizens, the board of managers chosen in Sept., 1891, acting without authority of law. But on March 4, 1893, Gov. Lewelling approved an act authorizing the appointment of a board of managers, to consist of seven members, one from each Congressional district, and not more than three of any one political party. An appropriation of $65,000 was made to further the work of preparing an exhibit at Chicago. As the time was short, the governor acted promptly by appointing the following members of the board: 1st district, George W. Glick; 2nd, H. H. Kern; 3d, L. P. King; 4th, T. J. Anderson; 5th, A. P. Collins; 6th, Mrs. A. M. Clark; 7th, M. W. Cobun.
The new board met and organized on March 7, Mr. Cobun being elected president. Mrs. Clark was subsequently elected secretary. The new board indorsed the acts of the old one, assumed its indebtedness, and pushed forward the work of getting the exhibit in place before the opening of the exposition. Among the products exhibited in the Kansas building and the main buildings of the general exposition were specimens of agricultural products, salt, silk from the station at Peabody, live stock, minerals, timber, etc. Interesting exhibits were made by several railroad companies, photographs of the packing interests of Kansas City and public buildings were shown, the various higher educational institutions showed specimens of class work, drawings by pupils, photographs of buildings, etc. One exhibit that attracted wide attention was the collection of 121 North American mammals arranged under the direction of Prof. L. L. Dyche of the state university.
In the matter of awards, Kansas fared as well as any of her sister states. The state university, the agricultural college and the state normal school all received premiums for the exhibits; none of the state exhibits failed to receive at least "honorable mention," and over 200 premiums were awarded to individual Kansas exhibitors.
In the decade beginning in 1895 there was what might be aptly termed an "epidemic of expositions." Notable among them may be mentioned the expositions at Atlanta, 1895; Nashville, 1897; Omaha, 1898; Paris, 1900; Buffalo and Charleston, 1901; and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis, 1904. Kansas commissioners were appointed for the American-Mexico exposition for 1895, but for lack of adequate appropriations the exposition was not held. Commissioners were also appointed for the Atlanta and Nashville expositions, but no appropriations were made by the state for the collection and arrangement of exhibits. Kansas grain and fruit received honorable mention at Atlanta.
A bill was introduced in the Kansas legislature in 1897 to provide for the expense of having the state represented at the Trans-Mississippi exposition at Omaha the next year, but as the holding of the exposition was not at that time assured, the bill failed to pass. Subsequently, when the exposition became a certainty and promised to be a great national affair, the state board of agriculture unanimously adopted a resolution asking that Kansas be represented. Mayors, councils and commercial clubs of various cities also asked that something be done to assure an exhibit of Kansas products at Omaha. Accordingly, on March 28, 1898, Gov. Leedy appointed George W. Glick, John E. Frost, A. H. Greef, A. W. Smith and A. C. Lambe a board of state managers to collect and arrange the exhibit. In the organization of the board, Mr. Glick was elected chairman; Mr. Frost, vice president and treasurer, and Mr. Greef, secretary. Ready money being essential to success, the governor called for contributions and especially asked the railroad companies to guarantee $15,000 to the fund. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Missouri Pacific, the St. Louis & San Francisco and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific responded promptly, the aggregate amount of their subscriptions being $14,542.90. Corporations and private citizens contributed enough to bring the total up to $21,073.90.
With the funds thus obtained a state building was erected on the exposition grounds, at a cost of $3,500, and dedicated on June 22, 1898. Space was obtained in the agricultural, mineral and liberal arts buildings, and the work of arranging the exhibits was prosecuted with vigor. The state received awards on educational work, fruits, agricultural and dairy products and live stock, and a large number of premiums were given to individual exhibitors for live stock, field, orchard and dairy products, honey, etc.
At the special session of the legislature in Dec., 1898, Gov. Leedy explained the situation and asked for the passage of an act to reimburse those who had made it possible for Kansas to be so creditably represented. The special session failed to make an appropriation as requested, but the regular session of 1899 passed an act appropriating $21,073.90 to repay the railroad companies and others who had contributed.
In his message to the legislature of 1899, after referring to the Omaha exposition, Gov. Stanley said: "It is expected that provision will be made by Congress through the department of agriculture for an exhibit of corn and corn products at the international exhibition to be held at Paris in the year 1900. . . . Many of the corn producing states are expected to aid this exhibit by an appropriation. Kansas is a great corn producing state, and should take advantage of this opportunity to identify itself with this undertaking."
No appropriation was made, but through the enterprise of individual exhibitors and the arrangements of the national administration, Kansas corn and apples won victories at Paris, a bronze medal being received on fruits and three gold medal diplomas on other products. All medals issued by this exposition were of bronze.
Kansas was not represented at the Charleston exhibition of 1901, but for the Pan-American exposition at Buffalo the same year the following commissioners were appointed: W. A. Harris, Linwood; A. R. Taylor and John Madden, Emporia; F. D. Coburn, W. H. Barnes and Mrs. A. H. Thompson, Topeka; L. F. Randolph, Nortonville; H. F. Sheldon, Ottawa; C. A. Mitchell, Cherryvale; E. C. Little, Abilene; W. H. Mitchell, Beloit; J. E. Junkin, Sterling; Ewing Herbert, Hiawatha, and Mrs. S. R. Peters, Newton. Mr. Randolph was elected president of the board, and accompanied by Messrs. Sheldon and Barnes, went to Buffalo to select a site for a state building, but the legislature failed to make an appropriation and the idea of a state exhibit was abandoned. The horticultural society, however, made a display of fruits and won a silver medal.
A company, known as the "Kansas Semicentennial Exposition company" was organized at Topeka about the beginning of the present century, for the purpose of holding an exhibition to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill, which was approved by the president on May 30, 1854. John F. Frost was elected president of the company; H. M. Phillips, secretary, and F. D. Coburn, treasurer. The legislature of 1901 was asked to appropriate $300,000 in aid of the project, and while many of the members were in sympathy with the movement, it was deemed inadvisable to attempt to hold an exhibition contemporary with the Louisiana Purchase exposition, hence the appropriation was not made. An effort was made to keep the organization intact, with a view to celebrating the semi-centennial of admission in 1911, by holding a great industrial fair of some sort. As late as Jan. 29, 1906, a meeting of those favoring the undertaking was held at Topeka, and the following committees were appointed: Organization, Eugene F. Ware, chairman; ways and means, John R. Mulvane, chairman; administration, J. A. Troutman, chairman. Various plans were discussed, the press of the state lent its aid to the scheme, but the state declined to encourage it by appropriations and the company passed out of existence.
On March 2, 1901, Gov. Stanley approved an act authorizing the appointment of five persons as commissioners to provide for an exhibit of Kansas products at the Louisiana Purchase exposition. The commission was given wide powers, having authority to select a site and erect a state building, which was to be sold at the close of the exposition and the proceeds turned into the state treasury. An appropriation of $25,000 was made for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 1902, and $50,000 for the year ending on June 30, 1903. In July, 1901, the governor appointed as commissioners John C. Carpenter, J. C. Morrow, C. H. Luling, R. T. Simons and W. P. Waggener. The board organized on Oct. 1 by the election of Mr. Carpenter as president; Mr. Morrow, vice-president; Mr. Luling, secretary, and Mr. Simons, treasurer.
At the time of the appointment of these commissioners it was thought the exposition would be held in 1903. When it was postponed to 1904 the legislature of 1903 passed an act extending the term of office of the commissioners and making an additional appropriation of $100,000. As Kansas was the first state in the Union to make an appropriation, it was awarded one of the best sites on the grounds at St. Louis for a state building, which was under the charge of Mrs. Noble L. Prentis during the exposition. Among the exhibits in this building was a collection of paintings and drawings, the work of Kansas artists. Exhibits were also made in the agricultural, horticultural, dairy, live stock, mineral forestry and educational departments. Grand prizes were awarded for the general horticultural and agricultural exhibits; gold medals to the boards of education of Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita and Junction City, and for the mineral exhibit and the school for the deaf; silver medals for the exhibits of the state university, the state normal school, the traveling libraries, the collection of maps and photographs, dairy products, the high schools of Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita and Pittsburg, and 12 others for county and elementary school exhibits. In addition to these awards, numerous premiums were received by individual exhibitors in the various departments.
The week beginning on Sept. 26 was Kansas week, and Sept. 30 was Kansas day. On that day hundreds of Kansas people attended the exposition. After a parade a mile long, President Francis, of the exposition company, made an address congratulating the state upon the character of the exhibits. He was followed by Gov. Bailey, who gave an interesting review of Kansas institutions and her individual development. Henry J. Allen also delivered an address, and David Overmyer spoke on the "Spirit of Kansas." It was indeed "Kansas Day."
No exhibition was attempted by the state in the Lewis and Clark exposition at Portland, Ore., in 1905. On June 20, 1906, Gov. Hoch appointed John F. Frost commissioner to select a site for a state building at Jamestown, Va., contingent upon an appropriation by the state. Gov. Hoch, F. D. Coburn and others worked to secure the passage of an act authorizing an appropriation and the appointment of a board of managers, but the general assembly declined the overtures and Kansas was not represented at Jamestown.Pages 610-617 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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