January 3, 1957, Topeka. Virginia Docking became first lady of Kansas when her husband George Docking was sworn in as Governor by Supreme Court Justice Jay Parker. Virginia Docking joined Kansas Authors Club in 1957 and continued her membership until 1978. She wrote journalism, a column ("From Our Home to Your Home"), and non-fiction. —Source: Kansas Authors Club Yearbook 1958. Photo: Topeka Room, TSCPL.
Contributed by Gail Martin, Kansas Authors Club State Archivist.
Janauary 4, 1904, Topeka.
The Kansas Author's Club was organized by a group of Topeka writers, although it did not take that name until 1905. A local “Authors
Club” had met in Topeka
during November and December of 1903. Dr.
Henry W. Roby was the club's founder, served as President the
first three years, and remained a member until his death in 1920. He was
a prominent chiropractic physician and a poet. Prof.
Bernard B. Smyth was
elected Secretary and Treasurer. The club met weekly in members' homes at
first, then monthly.
Some well-known members of the club at its inception were Arthur Capper, publisher; Margaret Hill McCarter ; best-selling novelist; Thomas A. McNeal; journalist, author of Tom McNeal's Fables and biographer of Mark Twain; Albert T. Reid; cartoonist and illustrator; and Eugene Fitch Ware, politician, newspaper editor, and poet also known as Ironquill. —Sources: Kansas Authors Club Bulletin, 1913. Photo: Topeka Room, TSCPL . Contributed by Gail Martin, Kansas Authors Club State Archivist.
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January 5,1943, Tuskegee, Alabama. George Washington Carver died of anemia at Tuskegee Institute where he had spent nearly fifty years as an agricultural scientist. He is best known for promoting crop rotation and commercial uses for the peanut. He wrote many pamphlets and a column about agriculture. Carver was born a slave on a farm near Diamond Grove, Missouri, (now Diamond) about 1864. During the Civil War, raiders abducted his mother, and she was never found. George was raised by his owner Moses Carver. At age 13 George came to Fort Scott, Kansas, to attend school and graduated from high school in Minneapolis, Kansas. Carver was buried—with a bright, fresh flower in his lapel—at Tuskegee beside his friend Booker T. Washington. —Source: Peggy Robbins, from “The Gentle Genius,” George Washington Carver National Monument. Photo: Library of Congress. Contributor, Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
January 5, 1911, Atchison. Edgar Watson Howe, the “Sage of Potato Hill,” retired from the Atchison Globe, which he had founded as a one-sheet daily in 1877. Jay E. House remarked in the Topeka Daily Capital that Howe would be the “lonesomest man in Kansas….No man should go away and leave the enterprise into which he has put the best years of his life.” Howe’s witty editorials were widely quoted in papers across the nation. He turned over management of the Globe to his son Gene. Ed Howe continued to publish Howe’s Monthly for another 22 years. Howe was a member of Kansas Authors Club. —Source: Roy Bird, Kansas Day By Day, Patrice Press: Tucson, 1996, p.4. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
January 13, 1900, Topeka. Across the Way: a History of Tennesseetown, by the Rev. Leroy A. Halbert, of Topeka, was published. One Negro district in the city, the King addition to the southwest, was platted in the 1870s. As the Exodusters arrived in 1878 and 1879, most of the lots, selling for $50 to $100, remained empty. A number of Tennesseeans settled in the district. As a result the whites dubbed it Tennesseetown or Little Chattanooga. Fry Giles stated in 1886 that “neatness and good order prevail” in Tennesseetown with “comfortable houses, some of them architectural pretensions.” Actually, many of the houses were only “marginal shelters” with the walls bare of paint and plaster. Yet there were exceptions, as Tennesseetown matured into an important town within the city. —Sources: This Week in Kansas History, Topeka Capita-Journal; Roy Bird and Douglass W. Wallace, Witness of the Times: A History of Shawnee County , 1976, p.253; and Jan Biles, “Elusive Promised Land,” Topeka Capital Journal, March 2, 2003. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown and Carol Yoho, District 1
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January 17, 1886, Topeka. Eugene Fitch Ware said he had become a poet through writing rhymes advertising the harness business. Ware learned the harness-making trade as a boy in Iowa and worked at it until he enlisted in an Iowa regiment at the beginning of the Civil War. After he mustered out in the summer of 1866, he worked at the Burlington Hawk Eye, then the leading paper in Iowa. In July 1867, he homesteaded a farm at the head of Deer Creek, in Cherokee County, Kansas. He set up a harness and saddlery business in Fort Scott and studied law. His poetry, widely published in newspapers under the pseudonym Ironquill, gained him national recognition. Ware was a founding member of Kansas Authors Club and served as president in 1907. —Sources: “This Week in Kansas History,” Topeka Capital-Journal; and Eugene Fitch Ware, “History of the Sun-Gold Section,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, August, 1937 (vol. 6, no. 3, pages 295 to 314). Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1
17, 1905, Topeka. Booker
T. Washington addressed an audience of about 3,000 people
at the city auditorium on behalf of Topeka's Industrial Institute, a black vocational
school known as “The Western Tuskegee.” Langston Hughes, then
three years old, was carried by his grandmother Mary Langston to see Booker
T. Washington. Langston remembered, “I was very proud that a man of my
own color was the center of all this excitement.” Hughes later wrote a
poem “Ballad to Booker T” and introduction to the 1965 editon of Washington's Up
—Sources: Mark Scott, “Langston Hughes of Kansas,” Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, 1:3 (Spring 1980). Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1. Washinton image from Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, Library of Congress and poem image from American Memory, Library of Congress See [Hughes, Langston (1902-1967)]
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January 18, 1873, Douglas County, Kansas. Carolina Mercer Langston, mother of Langston Hughes, was born on the farm outside Lawrence where her father Charles Langston settled with his wife Mary Patterson Leary and son Desalines. They came to Kansas with the Black migration in 1870. Like her brother Nat, she attended school in Lawrence. As a young woman, Carrie became involved in various black cultural activities in Lawrence. She was a prominent member of the Progressive Club, a Negro literary society. The Historic Times reported a meeting in November 1891, at the Carrie Langston residence, at which “Lowell's life and works were thoroughly discussed. Some very lively and spicy papers were read on different subjects. In short a general intellectual feast was had.” Carrie herself wrote such papers and also poetry. —Source: Mark Scott, “Langston Hughes of Kansas,” Kansas History, 1 (Spring 1980):3. Illustration: "Negro Exodusters en route to Kansas, fleeing from the yellow fever, " Photomural from engraving. Harpers Weekly, 1870. Historic American Building Survey Field Records, HABS FN-6, #KS -49-11 Prints and Photographs Division Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1
January 18, 1890, Topeka. The Rev. Charles M. Sheldon, dressing in old clothes and pretending he was job hunting, walked ten miles, applied at a dozen places, and found one hour's work shoveling coal. Topeka was in a depression and full of disheartened men searching for jobs. Finally, he joined laborers shoveling snow from the Santa Fe rail yard tracks at no pay for “the simple joy of working.” His text the following Sunday was “We struggle for existence.” Sheldon was a member of KAC 1908-1946. —Sources: “This Week in Kansas History,” Topeka Capital-Journal; & Chuck Neighbors, “The Story of In His Steps, ” Guideposts Magazine, 1996. Photo: Topeka Room, TSCPL. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
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January 20, 1895, Coffeyville. Eva Alberta Jessye was born. She was an African American musician, composer, choral director, actress, and poet. She is best known for her Eva Jessye Choir and as choral director for Porgy and Bess. Jessye grew up in Coffeyville and nearby Caney and Iola. Her father supported the family as a chicken picker. Eva was an avid reader who wrote her first poem at age seven and won a contest at age thirteen. As a child, she sang the spirituals that served as the foundation of her musical work. She was only thirteen when she began the study of choral music and music theory at the now defunct Western University in Quindaro, Kansas, graduating in 1914. She went on to Langston University in Oklahoma where she received a teaching certificate. —Sources: African American Registry; Eva Jessye Collection, Axe Library, Pittsburg State University; and History Bits, Kansas Heritage Center, Dodge City. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
January 23, 1928, New York City. Simba: The King of Beasts with Martin and Osa Johnson, America's first feature-length nature film and a blockbuster hit, premiered. The movie, co-written by the Johnsons and filmed over a four year span between 1924 and 1927, contains highlights of their second trip to East Africa and their efforts “...to film an authentic record of the life of the lion.” The Johnsons forded crocodile-infested rivers and stared down charging rhinos to create this film, which is considered to be the highlight of their careers. Simba was shown at the Kansas Silent Film Festival in Topeka in 2004. Conrad Froelich, Director of the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, Chanute, introducd the film. –Source: Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
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January 26, 2012, Wichita, Irma
Wassall passed away at the age of 103. She had been a member of KAC since 1936,and served as President of District 5 in 1955. Wassall was born September 23, 1908. More than 1,000 of her poems have appeared in newspapers, magazines, anthologies and her six collections of published poetry. Her first collection, Loonshadow, was published in 1949; her latest, The Ruby-Emerald Jungles, in 1999. She received the Kansas Governor's Art Award in 2001 at the age of 92. Her husband, Fred Wassall, was a painter. He died in 1970. —Photo by Wendy Nugent, with permission of The
Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
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January 28, 2005, New York City. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission announced the on-line publication of the “The Presidential Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower,” in cooperation with Johns Hopkins University Press. The Eisenhower papers, based on the eight-volume printed version, are the first complete set of presidential papers available free on the World Wide Web. The papers and source citations, easily accessible and searchable, may be copied into MS Word. According to webmaster Bernard Pobiak, “These papers are words Eisenhower himself wrote or dictated to his confidential secretary, Ann Whitman, for his personal signature. They are his letters, diary entries, and even some secret memoranda. There are chronologies that tell where the president was and whom he met with for every day of his presidency.” Eisenhower served as President from 1953-1961. He grew up in Abilene, Kansas, and was the author of several books. –Source: NCH Washington Update (Vol. 11, #4). Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
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January 28, 1910, Lawrence. William Allen White, at a meeting of the Kansas University Board of Regents, seconded the motion made by fellow regent J. W. Gleed to abolish intercollegiate football at KU. The football program had been plagued by scandals and the deaths of two players. The motion failed, but the Board declared its opposition to collegiate “football as now conducted, believing that it does not tend to clean athletics.” This sparked a statewide debate with James Naismith, KU athletic director, and the majority of KU students in favor of football and Governor W. H. Stubbs opposed. The Missouri Valley Conference later voted to keep their football teams. On April 19, 1911, they adopted new rules to improve safety and prohibited football games on Thanksgiving Day. On April 28 the regents approved the conference action. White was editor of the Emporia Gazette and a member of Kansas Authors Club from 1905 until his death in 1944.—Source: Mark D. Hersey, "The Day They Almost Abolished Football” and "Football Gets a Pass,” This Week in KU History; ed. Henry J. Fortunato. University of Kansas Memorial Corporation. Posted October 4, 2002. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
29, 1915, Emporia. William Allen White was
one of the speakers at “Empory's Kansas Day Fete” and read his poem “A
Song for Kansas Day,” which he wrote for the occasion. The poem was
first published in the Emporia Gazette the next day and again on January
29, 1925. White was a member of Kansas Authors Club from 1905 until he
died on Kansas Day in 1944.
—Sources: Poetry of William Allen White, collected and edited by Donald Stuart Pady, and the Emporia Gazette. Contributed by Shirley Bryant, Authors & Artists, Muskogee, Oklahoma.
January 30, 1935, Topeka. Margaret Hill McCarter, noted Kansas author and lecturer, was the guest of honor for a banquet at the Florentine Room of the Hotel Jayhawk. The program, titled “Leaves from Kansas Literature,” portrayed many of her novels in “living pictures.” Governor Alf Landon led with the first of many two-minute toasts to this beloved Kansas writer. McCarter, a member of Kansas Authors Club since its inception in 1903, presented “Homeland.” The annual meeting also featured a large display of books by Kansas authors organized by James W. Orr. —Sources: “Kansas Historical Notes,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, February 1935 (Vol. 4, No. 1) p. 109; “Kansas Authors Books in Display,” El Dorado Times, January 18, 1935; and Kansas Authors Club Yearbook, 1934, pp 31-33. Contributors: Carol Yoho, District 1; Roxie Olmstead, District 5; and Gail Martin, Kansas Authors Club State Archivist.
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February 1, 1902, Joplin, Missouri. Langston Hughes was born to James and Carolina Langston Hughes. His parents soon separated, and James left the country for Cuba and later Mexico, where he practiced law and operated a ranch about 100 miles from Mexico City. Carrie took her son Langston to Buffalo, Cleveland, and then in 1903 to her mother’s home in Lawrence, Kansas. Leaving Langston with her aging mother, Carrie “traveled about a great deal, looking for a better job.” Langston was raised primarily by his grandmother, Mary Langston. “My grandmother raised me until I was twelve years old,” Hughes wrote in his autobiography The Big Sea. “Sometimes I was with my mother but not often.” —Source: Mark Scott, “Langston Hughes of Kansas,” Kansas History 1 (Spring 1980):3. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
8, 1905, Topeka.
The First Annual Banquet of Kansas Authors Club was held at the Young Women's Christian Association Rooms in the Masonic Temple on Jackson Street. It was complimentary to Governor E. W. Hoch. [No roasts in those days!] Hoch was a member of KAC 1905-1924.
—Source: Kansas Authors Club Yearbook, Contributed by Gail Martin, KAC State Archivist. Select photo of Dr. E.W. Hoch, left, to see photo source.
Return to Top of PageFebruary 6, 1971, McLean, Virginia. William Stafford was interviewed at his home by Dave Smith while he was the Library of Congress consultant in poetry. “I don't experience those times when I don't have anything to write because I write whatever it is that occurs to me. Some writers experience difficulty that may be because their standards are too high. They feel they can't write well enough. But I write anyway. I think that activity is important.” He concluded that the activity of writing is at the very center of what is important. Stafford, born on a farm near Hutchinson and educated at the University of Kansas and the University of Iowa, spent most of his career teaching at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon. He continued to write poetry almost daily until the day he died. —Source: Interview published in Crazy Horse 7 (1971) and American Poetry Observed: Poets on Their Own Work, ed. Joe David Bellamy, 1984. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
February 10, 1868, Emporia. William
Allen White was born to Allen White,
a country merchant and doctor, and Mary Hatten White, a teacher. He grew
up in nearby El Dorado, where his parents moved soon after his birth. His
father, who died when Will was 14, tried one business venture after another,
often failing, but maintained a comfortable living from stocks, bonds, and
rental properties. Will attended public schools in El Dorado, then the College
of Emporia and Kansas University. He went on to become nationally known as
the editor of the Emporia Gazette. White was a member of Kansas Authors Club
member from 1905 until his death in 1944.
—Sources: "William Allen White’s 1924 Gubernatorial Campaign,” Kansas Historical Quarterly, Summer 1976 (Vol. 42, No. 2, pp 180-191), Kansas Collection; and the Emporia Gazette, “Family History: William Allen White”. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
February 12, 1918, Salina. May Belleville Brown, President, wrote to members of Kansas Authors Club: It does not try to restrict its membership to the narrow limits of professional authors…. So let it increase in numbers and influence and become–as it really should be–a bond of encouragement between its member and an incentive to higher and better things in Kansas Literature. Brown joined Kansas Authors Club as a life member in 1913 and served as state president 1917-1919. —Source: Kansas Authors Club Bulletin, 1918. Contributors: Karen Sells Brown, District 1, and Gail Martin, Kansas Authors Club State Archivist.
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February 13, 2004, Lawrence. Marlin Fitzwater, Abilene native and former presidential press secretary, received the William Allen White Foundation National Citation at Woodruff Auditorium at The University of Kansas. Fitzwater, who served as press secretary for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, said he became hooked on journalism while a student at Abilene High School. “There I was, 15 years old and suddenly I had stature,” he said. “People were not only letting me say any fool thing I wanted to say, they were praising me for it.” Fitzwater graduated from Kansas State University and worked at several Kansas newspapers. He has written Call the Briefing, about his time in the White House, and Esther's Pillow. For two seasons he was a writer and consultant for the TV show “West Wing.” He now lives near Washington, D.C. —Source: Barbara Hollingsworth, Topeka Capital-Journal, Feb. 14, 2004. Photo used permission of Topeka Capital-Journal. Contributed by Sam Hill, Topeka.
February 15,1820, Adams,
Massachusetts. Susan Brownell Anthony was born
on a nearby farm to Daniel and Lucy Anthony, second of eight children in
a devout Quaker
family. Two children died in infancy. Toys, games, and music were seen as
distractions from the inner light. Susan learned to read and write at age
three and was given the same education as her brothers. Her parents were
devoted to the causes of Abolition and Temperance, which she also championed.
In 1867, Anthony moved to Lawrence, Kansas, to promote the state woman's
suffrage amendment. The measure lost by a 3 to 1 margin, but Anthony carried
on the struggle throughout the country. Anthony published a political weekly
and contributed to four volumes of The
History of Woman Suffrage (1881-1902). In her last public speech in
Washington on her eighty-sixth birthday, February 15, 1906, Anthony spoke
of the many women who had battled at her side—some for over half a
century—for women's suffrage.
In such a worthy cause, she said, “Failure is impossible!”
—Source: Doug Linder, “Susan B. Anthony: A Biography,” 2001. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
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February 28, 1926, Iola, Kansas. Don Coldsmith was born. A veteran of WW II, Coldsmith earned his undergraduate degree from Baker University. After earning a doctorate in medicine in 1958, he served as a family practitioner in Emporia until he closed his office in 1988 to devote full time to writing. The bulk of Coldsmith's fiction is a series of historical novels, "The Spanish Bit Saga," about Indians of the Great Plains, from first contact with Europeans. Coldsmith has written over 40 books, 150 articles, and 1600 newspaper columns. He is Past President of Western Writers of America and winner of their Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement. He has also won the Edgar Wolfe Literary Award for his lifetime contributions to Literature. In 2004, Coldsmith received the Kansas Authors Club William Allen White Award for his contributions to the literary heritage of Kansas. He is an honorary member of Kansas Authors Club. —Source:Dancing Goat Press. Photo courtesy of John Deere, Inc. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
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March 1, 1855, Springfield, Ohio. Frank Pitts MacLennan, editor and proprietor of the Topeka State Journal and one of the best-known newspapermen in Kansas, was born to Kenneth and Adelia M. (Bliss) MacLennan. When he was a young child, Frank’s mother dressed him in the Scottish kilt, and he was proud of his Scottish heritage. He began his newspaper career in Springfield by carrying papers. In 1870 his parents moved to Kansas and settled in Lyon county. After completing his M.S. at the University of Kansas in 1877, MacLennan went to work for the Emporia News. On March 1, 1880, he acquired a proprietary interest in the News. Five years later he purchased the Topeka State Journal. MacLennan was a life member of Kansas Authors Club from 1905 until 1934. —Sources: Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history: supple-mental volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence, Standard Pub. Co. Chicago: 1912; and Douglass Wallace, “The Scots,” The Melting Pot: a History of Shawnee County's Ethnic Communities, Topeka, 1981. Contributed by Evie Green, Dictrict 1.
March 4, 1998, Topeka. Ronald Theodore Johnson, poet and author of many cookbooks, died at his home at age 62. Johnson was born in Ashland, Kansas, and briefly attended the University of Kansas. He received his master’s degree from Columbia University. Johnson lived in San Francisco for 25 years, where he was an accomplished chef. Johnson, a participant in the Concrete Poetry movement in the 1970s, won the 1977 Poet of the Year Award for his long poem ARK: The Foundation. Johnson moved to Topeka, Kansas, in 1994, where he worked at Ward-Meade Park and wrote the poems in The Shrubberies, published posthumously in 2001. —Sources: Topeka Capital Journal, March 19, 1998, and Contributors’ Notes, Octopus Magazine, Issue #03. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
March 5, 1950, Melrose, Pennsylvania. Edgar Lee Masters died. Masters was born in Garnett, Kansas, grew up in Illinois, wrote and practiced law in Chicago and New York City. Best known for his early collection of poetry Spoon River Anthology (1914), Masters was a prolific writer of poetry, essays, and biography. During the 1940s, he received several literary awards, including the Poetry Society of America medal, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Academy of American Poets Fellowship. Failing health led to his retirement, and he moved with his wife to her teaching positions in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Masters is buried at Oakland Cemetery in Petersburg, Illinois. —Source: Ronald Primeau, “Edgar Lee Masters' Life and Career,” Modern American Poetry, from American National Biography , Ed. John A Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
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March 7, 2006, New York. Gordon Parks, famed photojournalist, author, and filmmaker, died at his home at age 93. Parks, born in Fort Scott, was a photographer for Life magazine for 20 years. In addition to novels, poetry, and autobiography, Parks’ writing credits included nonfiction such as Camera Portraits: Techniques and Principles of Documentary Portraiture, 1948, and a 1971 book of essays called Born Black. His latest book was A Hungry Heart: A Memoir. His films included The Learning Tree, based on his autobiographical novel, and Shaft. Parks also composed music, including the score for The Learning Tree and a ballet, Martin, about Martin Luther King. “In Kansas, always my touchstone, there had been infinitely beautiful things to celebrate—golden twilights, dawns, rivers aglow in sunlight, moons climbing over Poppa's barns, orange autumns, trees bending under storms and silent snow,” he wrote in Half Past Autumn. “But marring that beauty was the graveyard, where, even in death, whites lay rigidly apart from blacks.” Finally making his peace with Kansas, Parks chose to be buried in Fort Scott.—Sources: Bill Blankenship, “Renaissance man dies: Kansas native made mark in photos, movies, books,” Topeka Capital-Journal, March 8, 2006; and Polly Anderson, Associated Press Writer, “Filmmaker Gordon Parks Dies at 93.” Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
March 12, 1903, Topeka. A bill to adopt the sunflower as the Kansas state flower was approved unanimously by the House and Senate. Senator George P. Morehouse , a founding member of Kansas Authors Club, introduced the bill into the Senate. He had the support of the Women's Federated Clubs of Kansas. —Source: Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, v. II, ed. Frank W. Blackmar, 1912, Chicago, pp. 757-8. Contributed by Gail Martin, KAC State Archivist.
13, 1912, Topeka.
The Kansas Authors Club gave a literary benefit at the Van Buren Street School for the school's piano fund. The following members contributed to the program: Dr. H. W. Roby, Mrs. B. B. Smyth, Mrs. Isabel McArthur, and George P. Morehouse. The entertainment drew a crowded house and was considered a success.
—Source: 1912 Kansas Authors Club Yearbook, Contributed by Gail Martin, KAC State Archivist.
March 14, 1894, Chanute. Osa Leighty was born and grew up in Chanute. During the twenty-seven years she was married to Martin Johnson they traveled around the world photographing wild animals and native peoples in the South Sea islands, Borneo, and Africa. Osa was rarely seen without one of her pet monkeys riding on her shoulder. I Married Adventure is a record of her life with Martin. —Sources: Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, Chanute, KS, and Cool Things, Kansas State Historical Society. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
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April 5, 1915, Hiawatha, Kansas. John B. McLendon, Jr., was born to sharecropper parents. His family moved to Kansas City, Kansas, where his father was a railway clerk. He attended Sumner High School and Kansas City Junior College before going to Kansas University, where he was in the only African American in the first class of Physical Education graduates. Although he was not allowed to play on the basketball team, he studied the game under James Naismith, who found him his first coaching job for the black team at Lawrence Memorial High School. McLendon supported basketball at all-Black colleges and helped integrate basketball. He was the first coach in history to win three consecutive national titles. He wrote two books, Fast Break Basketball and The Fast Break Game, about his innovative style of offense. —Source: “Hall of Famers,” Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1. Photo courtesy of The Cleveland Stater, CSU Marketing and Public Affairs.
April 7, 1930, Topeka. The Radio Program of Kansas Authors Club, Courtesy of WIBW-CAPPER PUBLICATIONS, featured original poetry by Mrs. Esther Pettiner, Coffeyville, Kansas, Guest Reader, and Prof. Charles Skilton, Miss Meribah Moore, and Miss Abbie Conger, all of the Department of Fine Arts, University of Kansas, Lawrence. Music was a prize-winning song, “The Call of Kansas.” Patricia Mueller, Kansas Authors Club State President, read the Kansas State Poem, “The Call of Kansas,” which was written by Esther M. Clark in 1907. —Source:Kansas Authors Club Yearbook 1931-1932. Contributed by Gail Martin, KAC State Archivist.
April 19-22, 1882, Leavenworth, Topeka, Lawrence, Atchison. Oscar Wilde, Irish poet, playwright and author, visited Kansas on his one-year American lecture circuit. Records show he played Leavenworth on April 19, Topeka's Opera House on April 20, Liberty Hall in Lawrence on April 21, and Corinthian Hall of Atchison on April 22. The young Wilde was known as a dandy. "Sporting knee-breeches, velvet coat, long hair and lace cuffs, Wilde would often give up to six lectures per week, speaking of the 'Principles of Aestheticism' with a poetic grace...The American tour, from the east to the west coast, helped establish Wilde as an expert on 'matters of art and taste' ." —Source: Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann, 1988, Knopf, p. 188, and Neurotic Poets: Oscar Wilde Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
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May 3, 1913, Independence, Kansas, William Motter Inge was born to Luther Clayton and Maude Gibson Inge in a house at 504 E. 9th Street. Billy was the youngest of five children. His father was a traveling dry goods salesman. When Billy was a year old, the family moved to the large house at 514 N. 4 th Street where Billy grew up. This house, with its wide porch and impressive stairway, was the setting for Inge's first play, Farther off from Heaven, which later became The Dark at the Top of the Stairs. —Sources:William Motter Inge Collection, Axe Library, Pittsburg State University and Ralph F. Voss, A Life of William Inge: The Strains of Triumph, 1989. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
May 5, 1950, New York. Gwendolyn Brooks, born in Topeka, Kansas, and a longtime resident of Chicago, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her verse narrative Annie Allen. Brooks comments: I just wanted to write about a young Black woman, that's what she is by the end of the story. I start her at her birth, a birth in a narrow room. I just wanted to consider what would happen in the life of an individual. I will tell you one thing about that poem that not many people know. I thought about the kind of impression that book would have. I was trying in that long poem, the “Annie Ad” it's called, to be arty and to be ever so poetic. I could never write a poem like that again. I wouldn't have the patience and I don't see the point. There are some good things about the expressions I used. That's probably why I won the Pulitzer. —Sources:B. Denise Hawkins, “An Evening with Gwendolyn Brooks,” Black Issues in Higher Education, November 3, 1994, vol. 11, no. 18, pp. 16, 20-1. Photo: LOC Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1
7, 1895, Topeka. Lilla
Day Monroe, Wakeeney, was the first woman admitted to practice
law before the Kansas Supreme Court. (She was a member of Kansas Authors Club,
—Source:This Day in Kansas History, KSHS. Contributed by Gail Martin, KAC State Archivist.
May 10, 1913, Topeka. Elizabeth Barr was sworn in as one of the two first women to serve on the Topeka police force. Topeka was the second city in the nation to allow women to enter police work. Barr attended Washburn College of Topeka early in the century, majoring in the new field of sociology. Dr. Charles M. Sheldon supported acceptance of women on the force, feeling there was no reason why women who passed civil service examinations should not be allowed to serve. Barr also had an interest in writing and was a life member of Kansas Authors Club (1905-1971). Her supporter, Dr. Sheldon, was also a member. She published poetry in national magazines, in small regional anthologies, and in local newspapers. Barr left the police force after two years, later working for the Kansas State Library, writing history. —Source: Roy Bird, "The First Topeka Policewomen," Shawnee County Historical Society Bulletin No. 66, November 1989, pp. 54-55. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.May 14, 2005, Emporia. The William Allen White House State Historic Site, the only state historic site to focus on 20th century history, was dedicated. Red Rocks was the home of the well-known editor of the Emporia Gazette, who was a member of Kansas Authors Club from 1905 until his death in 1944. The site opened to the public after months of rehabilitation and interpretation, including the addition of a new visitor center. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
May 15, 1910, Independence, Kansas. Martin and Osa Johnson were married . Martin Johnson, recently returned from sailing to the South Seas with Jack London, came to Chanute to lecture and show his slides. Osa Leighty's best friend Gail Perigo was hired to provide musical entertainment for that performance and introduced the two. Osa was not impressed. She thought Martin was conceited and his photos of cannibals were horrible. But sixteen-year-old Osa was drawn to Martin, ten years her senior. After dating for three weeks, they were married by an Episcopal priest without her parents consent. To avoid having the marriage annulled by her father, Martin and Osa traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, for a second wedding by a justice of the peace early the next day. Osa wore this "Honeymoon Dress," for official wedding announcements. . —Sources: Cool Things, KSHS, and “Their Married Adventure” by Conrad G. Froelich, Director of the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, Chanute, KS, ZooGoer 26 (4) 1997, Friends of the National Zoo. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
16-17, 1921, Manhattan, Kansas.
Carl Sandburg, Chicago poet, was the featured speaker for the Spring Meeting of Kansas Authors Club. Sandburg read his poetry and sang folk songs for a full house at the evening banquet. Nearly 500 authors from around the state attended this first state conference held outside Topeka. The 1921/1922 Kansas Authors Club Yearbook describes the convention in detail. —Submitted by Gail Martin, KAC State Archivist.
May 19, 1934, Wichita. Jim Lehrer, public television news anchor and author, was born. His father worked as a clerk for Santa Fe until June 1946 when he started a bus company with three old buses–Betsy, Susie, and Lena—covering 125 miles of mostly gravel roads between small towns north from Wichita. Kansas Central Lines went bankrupt in July 1947, and the family moved to Beaumont, Texas. Lehrer earned a B.J. degree from the University of Missouri in 1956. He worked for several newspapers before joining public television. In 1975, Lehrer teamed with Robert MacNeil for the show that eventually became known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. In 1995, following MacNeil’s departure, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer became the show we know today. Lehrer has authored 14 novels, two memoirs, and three plays. —Sources: “Commencement Speaker: Jim Lehrer,” University of Pennsylvania Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 18, January 15, 2002; and Jim Lehrer, A Bus of My Own, Hawk, 2000. Contributed by Eleanor Bell, Topeka.
May 22, 1967, Poet and author Langston Hughes, a former Topekan, died after a long writing career. Langston never lost sight of his dream,
A world where man
No other man will scorn;
Where love will bless the earth
And Peace its path adorn."
—Source:This Day in Kansas History, KSHS. Contributed by Karen Brown, District 1.
May 24, 1893, Chicago. Thomas Brower Peacock (April 16, 1852-March 8, 1919) read his “Columbian Ode” at the opening of the World’s Columbian Exposition. This poem was selected by the exposition’s board of managers from over one thousand poems submitted in an international contest. Peacock was Associate Editor of Topeka’s Kansas Democrat from 1872 to 1881 and published two monthly newspapers, The Kansas Journal of Commerce and The Topeka Trade Gazette. His poems received favorable comments from critics who believed that the substance of poetry was more important than its form. He also composed and published popular and inspirational music, wrote biographies of numerous personalities including Virginia Dare and Buffalo Bill, several dramas, and was the patentee of many scientific inventions. —Source: Prior, Frederick J. Columbian Exposition Dedication Ceremonies Memorial; a graphic description of the ceremonies at Chicago, October 1892. Chicago: Metropolitan Art Engraving and Publishing Co., 1893, p. 157. Contributed by Donald S. Pady, District 1. Photo used by permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.
May 25, 2005, Topeka. A memorial plaque was dedicated to Ronald Johnson, an author and poet, who died in 1998. His last poems, inspired by the garden at Topeka’s Ward-Meade Park, were published posthumously as The Shrubberies by Flood Editions. The plaque, which quotes a Johnson poem, was unveiled by Bill Riphahn of Topeka Parks & Recreation, Susan Marchant of Kansas Center for the Book, and Jodi Panula, Johnson's sister. Panula said Johnson, who also wrote concrete poetry produced on broadsides, would be quite pleased to have one of his poems embodied on a plaque rather than in a book. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1. Photo ©2005 by Carol Yoho.
New Hampshire. Frye Giles, one of the founders of Topeka and author of 30 Years in Topeka–1854
to 1884, was born. Giles was indentured as a store clerk from age
15 to 21 and then struck out on a career as a merchant. He came to
Kansas Territory in 1854.
—Source:Zula Bennington Greene, Forward to 30 Years in Topeka, reissued in 1960 by the Shawnee County Historical Society. Contributed by Karen Brown, District 1.
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June 7, 1917, Topeka. Gwendolyn Brooks was born in the dining room of her maternal grandparents’ home in North Topeka. Gwendolyn’s parents, both native Kansans, were living in Chicago. As a young boy, Gwendolyn’s father, David Anderson Brooks, moved with his family from Atchison to Oklahoma City, where he finished high school. He attended Fisk University in Nashville for a year. Her mother, Keziah Corinne Wims Brooks, was born and educated in Topeka. Although she had hoped for a career as a concert pianist, Keziah taught fifth grade until her marriage in 1916. Only a month after Gwendolyn’s birth, her family returned to Chicago, where she lived the rest of her life. Gwendolyn Brooks began writing poetry as a child with her parents’ encouragement. She had a long and distinguished career as a poet and teacher. —Source: A. Yemisi Jimoh, The Literary Encyclopedia. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
15, 1907, Topeka, Kansas.
Arthur Capper, a charter member of Kansas Authors Club (1904-1951), contracted for a five-story $150,000 newspaper building for his Topeka Daily Capital, Mail and Breeze, Missouri Valley Farmer, Household Magazine and the Mail Printing House. (Capper was the first native Kansan to become governor.) —Source: This Day in Kansas History, KSHS. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
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July 1, 1936, Topeka. Charles Sheldon, author of In His Steps, wrote a greeting to the members of the Kansas Authors Club, sending “best wishes to all who write, either for publication or for their own pleasure in the creation of something which is all their own. And may I be allowed to express my own hope for all the authors including myself that we may be willing to die in a garret before we lower the standards of clean, wholesome, worthwhile pen work. I have been making a study of current magazine stories and I am astounded at the mass of vulgarity and indecent plots that magazines of popular circulation print.” Sheldon was a member of Kansas Authors Club from 1908 until his death in 1946. —Source: Kansas Authors Club Year Book 1935, p. 16. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
July 4, 1876, Fort Scott. Eugene Fitch Ware, then known as “The Point Creek Poet,” delivered his “Corn Poem” at the Centennial Celebration. Robert Condon Stone heard the poem that day and regarded it as a masterpiece. Stone later wrote, “I wish I could convey to your minds a little of the emotions of honor and respect which I have felt for the memory of that noble man, a character so lofty giving out to all about him, an inspiration of loyalty, encouragement and good will to all with whom he came in contact.” Ware was a founding member of Kansas Authors Club and served as president in 1907. —Source: Robert Condon Stone, “Reminiscences of the Past,” The Observer Enterprise and The Fulton News, 1923(?). Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
July 14, 1865, Garnett. Arthur Capper, Kansas’ first native-born governor, was born. When Capper was 12, father bought him a toy printing press and told him to make good use of it. His printing of handbills for the neighbors eventually grew into a publishing empire with a circulation of 4.5 million. He was also active in Republican politics and served two terms as governor before being elected to the U. S. Senate in 1918. Capper was a member of Kansas Authors Club from its founding in 1904 until his death in 1951. For many years, Capper celebrated his birthday with parties for children in Garfield Park. —Source:Sam Schneider and Doug Baker, “Building a Lasting Legacy,” Topeka Capital Journal, July 11, 2004. Photo: Kansas State Historical Society. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
22, 1920, Topeka, Kansas.
Margaret Hill McCarter and Lilla Day Monroe, both members of Kansas Authors Club, launched a "21-plus" club. McCarter (KAC member 1904-1938) had refused to give her age when she registered to vote and was refused a certificate. She appealed to the attorney general who ruled that "over 21" was record enough.
—Source: Topeka Capital-Journal, July 20, 2003. Photo: Topeka Room, TSCPL. Contributed by Carol Yoho , District 1.
July 22, 1893, Topeka. Karl A. Menninger, M.D., son of Dr. Charles F. and Flora Knisely Menninger, was born. He once described himself as a child, as “serious” and “eccentric.” Others described him variously as brilliant, highly unpredictable, charming, an extraordinary teacher, and scary to many people. But his underlying characteristic was profound compassion for those suffering from physical or mental affliction, cultural neglect, or political repression. With his father, Dr. C. F., and brother, Will, he established the Menninger Clinic, which eventually achieved national and international recognition for clinical excellence in the treatment of mental illness and for related research. He wrote 15 books, including the widely read The Vital Balance, as well as hundreds of articles. He died July 18, 1990. —Source:The Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 54(4), pp. 435-442, 1990. Contributed by Eleanor Bell, Topeka. Photo used courtesy of George Paris, District 1.
25, 1920, Topeka, Kansas.
Charging that the National Woman's Suffrage Association had been delivered to the Democratic Party, Lilla Day Monroe, of Topeka, resigned as Kansas chairman and quit the organization. She said the group was fighting primarily for Democratic victory and secondarily for suffrage.
—Source: Topeka Capital-Journal, July 20, 2003. Photo: Topeka Room, TSCPL. Contributed by Karen Brown, District 1.
July 29, 1842, Harmony, Ohio. Henry W. Roby, who founded the Kansas Authors Club in 1904 and served as it first president, was born in Morrow County, Ohio. In 1846 the Roby family moved to a farm in Sugar Creek, Walworth County Wisconsin, where they lived until 1850 when they moved to Monticello, Green County, Wisconsin. They later returned to Ohio and then back to Green County. Young Roby received his primary education in the common schools available, and at age 17 he pursued a more thorough education to become a teacher. He taught until he enlisted in the Army at age 20. —Source: William G. Cutler, The History of the State of Kansas. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
31, 1948, Emporia, Kansas.
A three-cent stamp was launched in honor of William Allen White, editor and publisher of The Emporia Gazette and early member of Kansas Authors Club. Contributed by Carol Yoho , District 1.
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August 10, 1950, Oskaloosa, Kansas. James Reynolds was born. Long-time "Days of Our Lives" star, he plays Abraham Washington Carver. Reynolds' Abe is credited as the longest running African-American character on a television program (1982 - 29 September 2003; 2004 to Present). Reynolds is a former Marine. After boot camp, he became a reporter for the service newspaper. After being wounded in Viet Nam he attended Washburn University in Topeka and majored in Pre-Law and Journalism. He has also worked as a newspaper arts critic and as a magazine editor.
—Sources: days online, soap opera central, and Wichita Public Schools. Photo: Carol Yoho. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
August 15, 1896, Emporia,
"What's the Matter with Kansas?," famous editorial by William Allen White, was published in the Emporia Gazette. William Allen White was a member of Kansas Authors Club from 1905 until his death in 1944.
—Source: This Day in Kansas History, KSHS. Contributed by Karen Brown, District 1.
Illustration is a First Day Cover for William Allen White 3-cent stamp.
August 25, 1984, Los Angeles. Truman Capote, author of In Cold Blood, was found dead at the home of Joanna Carson, former wife of the entertainer Johnny Carson, in Bel-Air. Capote was 59. Although he was not a Kansan, born in New Orleans, raised in Alabama, and living and writing in New York for most of his life, Capote’s famous “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood tells the story of the 1959 murder of the Clutter family on a farm near Holcomb, Kansas. Capote spent a year and half in Kansas researching and interviewing residents and the perpetrators of the crime. His boyhood friend Harper Lee, who had made him a character in her To Kill a Mockingbird, stayed with him in Holcomb the first two months, helping with notes. Capote spent five more years in the Swiss Alps and in New York completing the novel, published in 1966. —Source:New York Times, August 28, 1984. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1. More Capote info
August 28, 1963, Washington D.C. Musician and poet Eva Jessye, a native of Coffeyville, Kansas, walked with Dr. Martin Luther King at the March on Washington 100 years after The Emancipation Proclamation was signed. The Eva Jessye Choir served as the official chorus for the event. The choir performed “We Shall Overcome” and “Freedom Is The Thing We’re Talking About.” King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the end of the peaceful civil rights demonstration where 200,000-400,000 people gathered before the Lincoln Monument for speeches, songs, and prayer. —Source:Eva Jessye Collection, Axe Library, Pittsburg State University and Official Program for the March on Washington. Contributed by Karen Brown, District 1.
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|September 2, 1940, Chicago, Illinois. Frank Marshall Davis, black poet and journalist originally from Arkansas City, Kansas, was pleasantly surprised when he met Irma Wassall, poet from Wichita. —Source: Livin’ the Blues: Autobiography of Frank Marshall Davis, John Edgar Tidwell, ed. Contributed by Eleanor Bell, Topeka.|
|September 7, 1867, Manhattan, Kansas. Susan B. Anthony declared in an address, “Any man who voted against female suffrage was a blockhead.” She made this declaration despite the fact that men and boys in attendance outnumbered the women present 3:1. No one dared argue with her, and The Kansas Radical, in reporting the event, stated that men present seemed unsure what she would do if cornered. Later in her speech Anthony exempted male farmers from the “blockhead” category. Women’s right to vote had been discussed in Kansas as early as the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention in 1859, but it was 1912 before voters amended the state constitution, granting women that right. —Source: “Susan B. Anthony: A Kansas Portrait,” KSHS. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.|
September 10, 1922, Topeka.
|September 15, 1920, Topeka.
Dr. Karl Menninger, a member of Kansas Authors Club, was teaching a course in abnormal psychology at Washburn College.
—Sources:This Week in Topeka History, Topeka Capital-Journal, Sept. 14, 2003, and photo with permission: "The Legacy of Dr. Karl" by Michael Hooper, Topeka Capital-Journal. Contributed by Karen Brown, District 1.
September 17, 1862, Venango County, Pennsylvania. Dr.
Samuel Crumbine was born. As a young man Crumbine lived in Cincinnati,
but owned a pharmacy near Dodge City. He completed medical school,
married, and moved to Kansas in 1885, setting up a general practice in Dodge
City, where he worked for the next 19 years. In 1904 Crumbine
became Kansas' first full-time public health officer, popularizing the
general use of the fly swatter and discouraging the use of a common drinking
cup at public water coolers. In an effort to limit the spread of tuberculosis,
he encouraged one Kansas brick maker to imprint the message "DON'T SPIT
ON SIDEWALK" on
every fourth brick manufactured. Other brick companies picked up the practice.
Crumbine authored Frontier Doctor, describing his medical practice
in Dodge City in the final wild years when Dodge City was "cowboy capital."
—Sources:"Dr. Samuel Crumbine: Pushing the frontier of public health," By Allen Greiner, MD., A short history of public health in Kansas, Master of Public Health program, University of Kansas School of Medicine, and "Samuel J. Combine: A Kansas Portrait," Kansas State Historical Society. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
23, 1908. Amarillo, Texas. Irma
Wassall was born. She spent her early
years in New Mexico and moved to Wichita in 1927. Wassall has more
than 1,000 poems published in various magazines and anthologies. Her
chapbooks include Loonshadow, Along the River, Fred and Irma Wassall:
Drawings and Poems, The Fading Year, The Ruby-Emerald Jungles,
and Richard’s Choice. She has also written for the jazz
magazine Downbeat. Irma Wassall was a member of Kansas Authors
Club from 1936 through 1971 and served as District 5 President in 1955.
She renewed her membership in 1997 and still attends meetings
—Photo by Wendy Nugent, with permission of The Newton Kansan. Contributed by Eleanor Bell, Topeka and Nancy Glenn, District 5.
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Oct. 6-9, 2004, Fort Scott. Gordon Parks, a Ft. Scott native, attended The Gordon Parks Celebration of Culture and Diversity. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius introduced Parks to more 200 celebrants, among them about a dozen members of Parks' own family. Lectures, panel discussions, movie screening and reminiscing filled this four-day celebration of his life. A bronze bust of Parks was presented to the town's Mercy Health Center. The event culminated with a banquet in Parks' honor.
Gordon Parks was the first black photographer for Life magazine and the first black person to direct a major motion picture, "The Learning Tree," based on his novel of growing up in Ft. Scott and filmed on location in Ft. Scott. Parks is 91 years old and was returning to his boyhood home for the first time in more than 20 years. . —Source: The Topeka Capital-Journal, Oct. 11, 2004, p. 3C. Photo: The Associated Press, Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1
|October 7, 1895, Topeka, Kansas. Eugene Ware, Topeka lawyer and poet, said in an address that wars were “the schoolings of the nations,” benefiting more than they harmed. He predicted the country would have another war. “I hope we will have it soon. We need it; there is an occasion this very day for war, and we ought to open it,” he said. Ware, also known as Ironquill, was an honorary charter member of Kansas Authors Club. —Source: This Week in Topeka History, Topeka Capital-Journal, Oct.. 4, 2003. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.|
October 8, 1971, Rochester,
Brooks, from Cherryvale, KS, was a silent film star
and memoir author. She wrote many letters. Known for her sharp wit,
she wrote this message to her brother (10-8-1971):
|October 11, 1944, Chicago. Claude
McKay, black Jamaica-born poet and novelist and major
figure of the Harlem Renaissance, was baptized into the Roman Catholic
Church. He later published several essays concerning his new Roman
Catholic faith. McKay attended Kansas State University 1913-14 and
moved to Harlem in 1914.
—Source: Claude McKay by James R. Giles. Boston: Twayne, 1976, on Modern Poetry., Oct.. 4, 2003. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
11, 1925, New York. Charles
M. Sheldon: His Life Story, an autobiography illustrated
with photographs, was published by George H. Doran Co. Sheldon
was a member of KAC 1908-1946.
—Source: This Week in Topeka History, Topeka Capital-Journal, Oct.. 4, 2003. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
12, 1981, Pampa, Texas. Anna
Leigh Riphahn, author and illustrator of The
Timekeeper, was born. At the age of three, she moved
with her family to Hays, Kansas. A year later, the family moved to
Topeka, Kansas, where Anna resided for the rest of her life.
—Source: The Timekeeper Project, photo with permission, Mike Hall, Topeka Capital-Journal. Nov. 24, 1998. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
October 13, 1924, Augusta, Kansas. William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette and member of Kansas Authors Club, made a campaign stop in Augusta while running for Kansas governor on an Anti-Klan platform. A mix-up prevented an arranged meeting. White called on voters and made an informal talk to a small crowd gathered in the city park. Part of the “mix-up” stemmed, no doubt, from the fact that the first Klan in Kansas was organized at Augusta. Usually, White drew a crowd when he spoke. He referred to the Klan leaders as “exalted horned toads,” and once said, “If I win, these kluxes will crawl back in their klaverns with their shirt tails at half mast and pull the hole of the klavern in with them, never to appear in Kansas again.” He lost the election but exposed the Klan for what it really was, dealing a deathblow to the Klan in Kansas. —Sources: Thomas D. Iserm and Raymond Wilson, Kansas Land, Salt Lake City: Gibbs-Smith Publishing, 1988; Augusta Daily Gazette, Aug 28, 1922, Oct 9, 1924, Oct 14, 1924; The Wichita Eagle, “KKK No Longer Strong Force in Kansas,” Jan 16, 1994. Contributed by Roxie Olmstead, District 5.
October 30, 1885, Topeka. Frank MacLennan became editor and owner of the Topeka State Journal. When MacLennan bought the State Journal at a sheriff’s sale, daily circulation of the State Journal was about 800 copies. Within five years, through his diligence and executive ability, the circulation was more than ten times that number. MacLennan kept the State Journal independent of political alliances. He maintained that it is the right, if not the duty, of newspapers to inform their readers about the qualifications of political candidates. MacLennan was a life member of Kansas Authors Club from 1905 until his death in 1933.—Sources: Kansas Press Hall of Fame and Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history: supple-mental volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence, Frank W. Blackmar, ed. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago: 1912. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
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November 10, 1910, New York. Carl Lotus Becker, historian at the University of Kansas from 1902 to 1916, published “Kansas” in Essays in History Dedicated to Frederick Jackson Turner. Becker had studied under Turner, a famous Progressive historian, at the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated in 1896 and received his PhD in 1907. “Kansas is no mere geographical expression,” Becker wrote, “but a state of mind, a religion, and a philosophy in one.” The essay defined the “passion for equality” of Kansans and helped to establish Becker’s reputation as a historian. “Kansas” has been frequently quoted and was reprinted essentially unchanged a quarter century later in Becker’s Everyman His Own Historian. Becker went on to national prominence as a professor at Cornell University and published 16 books, 75 articles, and many reviews. Skeptical of historians’ objectivity, Becker contributed to the development of historical inquiry. —Sources: Roy Bird, Kansas Day By Day, 1996; and Peter C. Mancall, “Breaking with the Past,” This Week in KU History. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
November 14, 1906, Cherryvale,
Kansas. Louise Brooks was
born. At 15 she danced
professionally in New York City. At 19 she signed with Paramount and began
acting in silent films. Her beauty and acting ability were showcased in
the German films of G.W. Pabst. However, her defiance of the Hollywood
system effectively destroyed her film career in America. She began publishing
film studies in the 1950s and 60s and granted interviews with well-known
film historians. Her piercing intellect and savage wit stirred renewed
interest in her films and, in 1982, her
writings were compiled into Lulu
in Hollywood (still in print). Miss Brooks died Aug. 8,
1985 in Rochester, NY.
—Source:"What Lulu Wanted," by Tom Dardis in Vanity Fair, Apr. 1998; Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
November 18, 1872, Fort Scott. Eugene Fitch Ware, alias Ironquill, launched his career as a poet when he left his post as editor of the Fort Scott Monitor and began writing poems for the paper. Journalists across the state regularly exchanged their papers and gradually become familiar with Ware’s poetry. In 1874 he was invited to read a poem at the meeting of the Kansas Editors and Publishers Association. From that point editors called him “the poet laureate of Kansas.” By 1885 he had gained a national reputation, and his poems were collected in The Rhymes of Ironquill, Topeka, KS: T. J. Kellam. Ware was a founding member of Kansas Authors Club and served as its second president in 1907. —Source:Roy Bird, Kansas Day by Day, Tucson: Patrice Press, 1996, p. 236. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
November 20, 1908, Sterling,
Kansas. Robert Russell Porter was
born to Catherine (“Cassie”) Wiggins Porter, a country schoolteacher,
and Ellis Kenneth Porter, a photographer and part-time farmer. His eldest
brother, Kenneth Wiggins Porter, was a well-known historian
and poet. R. Russell Porter earned a B.S. in education from Emporia State
Teachers College and an M.S. in speech from Northwestern University.
From 1946 until his retirement in 1976, Porter was a teacher and practitioner
of radio, television, and theater arts at the University of Denver. He
wrote, performed, produced, and directed countless plays, operas, and
narrative poems. Most of his works are based on Western themes.
—Source & photo: Special Collections and Archives, Penrose Library, University of Denver. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
23, 1998, Des Moines, Iowa. Anna
Riphahn, seventeen-year-old junior at Topeka High
School, died from injuries received in an auto accident while returning
from a Billy Joel concert in Chicago. Anna was a talented author,
artist, and illustrator whose book The Timekeeper won
the national “Written
and Illustrated By” awards contest for students.
—Source: Topeka Capital-Journal. Nov. 24, 1998, and photo with permission, Mike Hall. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
30, 1912, Fort Scott. Gordon Parks was
born to Andrew Jackson and Sarah Ross Parks. The youngest of fifteen
children, Parks described his parents as hard working, always providing,
and God-fearing people. After his mother died, he left Fort Scott at
age 15 to live with his sister Maggie Lee in St. Paul MN. Parks has
had a long and successful career in music, photography, reporting,
film, and writing.
—Source: Helen R. Houston in Notable Black American Men, ed. Jessie Carney Smith, 1998, and photo with permission, Topeka Capital-Journal. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
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December 1, 1886, Noblesville, Indiana. Rex Stout, creator of the Nero Wolfe detective series, was born in a two-story Victorian house at 1151 Cherry, which became a Noblesville landmark. He was sixth of nine children of John Wallace Stout and Lucetta Elizabeth Todhunter, fourth-generation Quakers. John Stout was briefly publisher of the Noblesville Republican Ledger, until his partner absconded with company funds, forcing the family to move on. They settled on a forty-acre farm near Wakarusa, Kansas, near a cousin, David Overmyer, when Rex Stout was about nine months old. Stout later said he left Indiana “because I was fed up with Indiana politics.” —Sources: Jan Biles, Topeka Capital-Journal, September 21, 2003, photo used with permission from the Topeka Capital-Journal; Zula Bennington Greene, Topeka Daily Capital , April 13, 1976; and Rex Redifer, Indianapolis Star, March 7, 1982. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
December 11, 1961, New York, NY. Langston Hughes' Black Nativity premiered at the 41st Street Theatre on Broadway. Gospel greats Marion Williams, Frances Steadman, Professor Alex Bradford, and Mattie Williams starred in the original cast, singing songs such as “Poor Little Jesus Boy” and “Go Where I Send You.” Audience response was so enthusiastic that the cast sang for another half hour. Gian Carlo Menotti, Amahl and the Night Visitors, arranged for a highly successful European tour following his Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in 1962. Hughes's song play is still in performance. The National Center of Afro-American Artists, Boston, production, in its 34th consecutive season in 2003 with a company of 160 singers, actors, dancers and musicians, is the longest running. Other venues include Penumbra Theater, Minneaopolis; Intiman Theater, Seattle; Morgan State University Theater, Baltimore; Hansberry-Sands Theatre, Milwaukee; and Karamu Theatre, Cleveland OH. —Source: Caleen Sinnette Jennings, Kennedy Center Cue Sheet. Photo by Jeffrey Mayes. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
December 12, 1999, Topeka. Early
Kansas Authors Club members William Allen White and Karl
Menninger were named second and fourth to the Capital Journal 's
list of ten
most important Kansans of the 20th century. White's “mother
had taught black children over the objections of the school board, and her
son, too, was always at the center of political altercations. Arrested once
for aiding a railroad strike, he used his newspaper, the Emporia Gazette,
to try to bring justice to Emporia, Kansas, and the world,” Joyce Thierer
wrote. President Dwight D. Eisenhower topped the list, which also included
Kansas authors Gordon Parks and William Inge.
Kansas Authors Club members Arthur Capper and Charles
Sheldon were nominated, along with Langston Hughes and John
—Source: Topeka Capital-Journal. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
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December 15, 1883, Chicago. William
Augustus Hinton was born to Augustus Hinton and Maria Clark, both
former slaves. He attended the University of Kansas from 1900 to 1902,
finishing the premedical program in just two years. He earned his B.S.
at Harvard in 1905 and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1912. Dr.
Hinton worked in the Wasserman Laboratory and taught bacteriology and immunology
at Harvard. He developed the Hinton test in the 1920s. In 1936 he wrote
and published the first medical textbook by an African American. In 1949,
Dr. Hinton became the first African American professor in the history of
—Sources: African American Registry, The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences, PBS, The American Experience, African American Medical Pioneers. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
December 24, 1926, Emporia. William Allen White, editor of the Emporia Gazette and member of Kansas Authors Club, published his poem “Christmas Eve” to delight the young children of his newspaper's subscribers. This poem was special because it appeared on the Gazette's covering wrapper that protected it from becoming soggy in the wet snow. Whoever unwrapped the paper would immediately see White's poem and would then read it to the family's children. Can we imagine the children's hopeful longing for Santa Claus to visit their house and leave gifts for all? Read "Christmas Eve" and rekindle your own fire of hope! —Source: Poetry of William Allen White, collected and edited by Donald Stuart Pady, 2002. Contributed by Donald S. Pady, District 1.
December 25, 1909, Independence, Kansas. This Christmas post card pictures Martin Johnson (right) with Charles Kerr, his partner in the Snark Theaters. In 1909, Martin Johnson returned to Independence, Kansas, from sailing the South Seas with Jack London aboard the Snark. With pictures, objects, and stories from his adventure, Martin launched his career as a travelogue lecturer. The partners converted a drug store into the Snark Theater, seating 340, with an interior designed to look like a ship. Snark No. 2 in Independence and No. 3 in Cherryvale soon opened. Martin and Osa Johnson eventually took the travelogue on the road throughout the U.S. —Sources: Jack London at the Huntington Library-Cruise of the Snark . Contributed by Conrad Froelich, Director of the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, Chanute, KS. Photo courtesy of the museum..
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December 28, 1900, Topeka. Tom
illustrated by Albert
T. Reid, was published by Crane & Co. The
fables were originally published in the Topeka Mail
and Breeze, of which
McNeal was editor. Tom
McNeal and Albert
T. Reid were both charter members of Kansas
Authors Club. An example fable is, “The Kansas Game
In a certain market-place was a coop, full of chickens waiting for the executioner. And while they were awaiting developments a game rooster among the bunch flapped his wings as well as his cramped quarters would allow, and gave a lusty crow. “What have you to crow about, I’d like to know?” said a disgusted turkey in another coop; “you will lose your head inside of twelve hours.” “Maybe so,” said the cheerful rooster, “but I am from Kansas, where we never say die. If everything failed one season we commenced to crow about what we were going to do next year; and anyway, if I have to die, blamed if I don’t intend to enjoy myself while I live.”
MORAL — Never say die as long you are able to say anything.
—Sources: This Day in Kansas History, KSHS, and Tom McNeal’s Fables. Contributed by Karen Sells Brown, District 1.
December 31, 1905, Arkansas City, Kansas. Frank Marshall Davis was born. His parents divorced one year after his birth. When he was five years old, he was “personally selected for a lynching.” A passing white man called off his young attackers and loosened the noose. Davis discovered the world of books at the Arkansas City Library, where he quickly read his way through the juvenile fiction and started on the adult. By age nine he had read Les Miserables. At the age of seventeen, Davis moved to Wichita to attend Friends University. He soon transferred to the school of journalism at Kansas State Agricultural College, where he began to write free verse. Davis went on to a distinguished career in journalism and published four books of poetry. —Sources: The Academy of American Poets; Roger Martin, Topeka Capital-Journal, 9/26/02; and John Edgar Tidwell, “Ad Astra Per Aspera: [The Kansas Roots of] Frank Marshall Davis," Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains , 18.4 (Winter 1995-1996): 270-82. Contributed by Eleanor Bell, Topeka.
December 31, 1932, Martin and Osa Johnson left for their fifth and final trip to Africa. They took two Sikorsky amphibious planes, named "Osa's Ark" and "The Spirit of Africa," and flew the length of Africa. The planes provided an easier and faster means of reaching wilderness areas than traveling by car or boat. The Johnsons were the first to fly over the peak of Mount Kenya and film it from the air. They also shot classic aerial scenes of large herds of elephants, giraffes, and other animals moving across the plains of Africa. Osa Johnson wrote of this trip in I Married Adventure, 1940. —Sources:“Their Married Adventure” by Conrad G. Froelich, Director of the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, Chanute, KS, in ZooGoer 26 (4) 1997, Friends of the National Zoo. Contributed by Carol Yoho, District 1.
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