box [graphic] 2013 SCHS Annual Meeting and Holiday Celebration Sunday, December 8, 2013
box [graphic] 4th Annual Ancestor Fair
Saturday, October 19, 2013
box [graphic] Antiques Roadshow Meets Estate Sale
Saturday, September 28, 2013
box [graphic] Promoting Kaw River at Willard: Kansas Tourism
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
box [graphic] Ice Cream Social
Sunday, August 4, 2013
box [graphic] Project ArcheologyJuly, 2013
box [graphic] Life on the Oregon TrailSunday, July 10, 2013
box [graphic] Security Benefit History Camp for KidsJune, 2013
box [graphic] History of Uniontown & Potawatomi SettlementsWednesday, June 5, 2013
box [graphic] 2013 SCHS Preservation AwardsSunday, May 19, 2013
box [graphic] Documenting & marking pre-territorial trails in KansasSunday, May 12, 2013
box [graphic] Highland Park Central TourMonday, January 28, 2013
box [graphic] Capital Area Explorers Open HouseSaturday, January 12, 2013

2013 Officers:

2013 Trustees:

  • George Bernheimer
  • Debra Goodrich Bisel
  • Jon Boursaw
  • Jacqueline Bugg
  • David J. Heinemann
  • Susan K. Hudgens
  • Jeanne Christie Mithen
  • Duane Pomeroy
  • Bill Wagnon
  • Douglass Wallace
  • Jill Wolters
  • Doug Wright

2013 Annual Meeting and Holiday Celebration
Sunday, December 8, 2013.
at Hale Ritchie House, 1118 S. Madison St.
Outgoing SCHS President Debra Goodrich Bisel recapped the year's events.
Our very special program this year is a presentation by Sherrita (Sherri) Camp, author of the newly published, richly illustrated work of historical non-fiction, African American Topeka, part of the "Images of America" series from Acadia Publications.
   Sherri, a longtime Topeka resident and descendent of Exodusters, and a Washburn graduate, focused on her genealogical and historical research for this book, using the resources of many of our local institutions and libraries, as well as interviews with local residents. Signed copies of her book were available for purchase.
   Outgoing trustees Douglass Wallace and Jeanne Mithen where honored for their service. Jeanne attended and was presented with her plaque in thanks for her service to SCHS by outgoing president Debra Bisel. New trustees were elected for the 2013-16 period.
   The afternoon meeting included holiday refreshments, door prizes and an opportunity to tour the Ritchie houses.

—Event photos by David Heinemann

treats, Deb Bisel, Sherri Camp, Deb and Sherri, Jeanne Mithen and Deb Bisel Party treats Outgoing president Debra Bisel Sheritta Camp Deb Bisel and Sheritta Camp Jeanne Mithen receives plaque from Debra Bisel
Ralph Skoog and Jon Bursaw Bill Wagnon2013 Annual Meeting crowdGeorge and Diane BernheimerMembers at annual meetingSherri signs a book for Ramon PowersHallway conversationJeanne Mithen and Joan Wagnon

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Jeanne Mithen sits at SCHS table at the Fourth Annual KSHS Ancestor Fair

Ancestor Fair
Saturday, October 19, 2013.
Sponsored by Friends of the KSHS.
The Fourth Annual Ancestor Fair was held at the Kansas State Historical Society.
Over 360 people attended. Our table displayed our brochures about the Ritchie house and our educational programs and Bulletins, which were well received. Trustee Jeanne Mithen is shown in this photo taken by Charity Rouse at the 2013 event.

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Antiques Roadshow Meets Estate Sale
Saturday, September 28, 2013,,
atTrails Gallery and Market, 109 N Kansas Ave.
We were so fortunate to have a venue this year with room to sort and display the generous donations of our members and friends for our annual fundraiser.
Many thanks to Mike Fox for the space in his building at 109 N. Kansas, the former International Harvester warehouse. Mike also donated food for our gala members' sneak peek party Sept. 27th. Thanks, too, to our trustees and members who lent a hand in making this event happen.

—Event photos by David Heinemann

Attic Sale candids
A permanent space for SCHS antiques and collectables now exists at Trails Market (just south of the Kaw River, west side of Kansas Av.).

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Promoting the Kaw River at Willard: Kansas Tourism
Wednesday, August 14, 2013,
at Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) Community Center, Rossville.
Mike Calwell, Friends of the Kaw, delivered a program on developing boat access to the Kaw at Willard. Also, Linda Craghead, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, spoke on developing a commemorative park at the site of the Willard Bridge across the Kansas River.

— Select a photo to see the larger version —Collage image, Kaw River meeting focus Kaw River Landings map Bill Wagnon of the Shawnee County Historical Society Mike Calwell, Friends of the Kaw August crowd at Potawatomi Community Center, Rossville Linda Craghead, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Videographer, WIBW-TV

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Ice Cream Social
Sunday evening, August 4, 2013, at Ritchie Properties. Special Guests were Topeka's Santa Fe Band. Ice cream was $1 per serving. The public was welcome. Both the John Ritchie and the Hale Ritchie Houses were open for touring. Rain threatened, but it did not rain!

— Select a photo to see the larger version —
Ice Cream Social 2013 photo collage Doug Wright manages ice cream distribution Santa Fe Band horn section Treats table Child at the door of local history
Attendees use lounge chairs and picnic tables as seatingTopeka's Santa Fe Band entertainsBand vanGreen shade greets attendeesMusic and history lovers congregateBill and Joan Wagnon help serveView from behind the percussion sectionBand and band leaderThe Ritchie Houses are south of the Ice Cream event areaBand members have some ice cream after the event is over

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Project Archeology
Project Archaeology, a national heritage education program for educators and their students, came to the Cox Communications Heritage Education Center in July with ten teachers from Kansas participating in the workshop. Virginia Wulfhuhle, Public Archeologist for the Kansas State Historical Society, led the workshop and was assisted by Nathan McAlister, teacher, Royal Valley Middle School, Annette Roach, teacher, Royal Valley Elementary School and Douglas Roach, teacher, Hayden High School. Melinda Abitz, education program development, for the Historic Ritchie House, also participated by taking the teachers on a tour of the Ritchie House and introducing them to programs and online resources.

Project Archeology, July, 2013 Plot has been surveyed filtering treasures On the job Field equipment Planning 2 PowerPoint lecture Planning the dig

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Life on the Oregon Trail
Wednesday evening, July 10, 2013, at Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) Community Center, Rossville. The Long Trail, a movie starring John Wayne, directed by Raoul Walsh and released in 1930, was shown. This movie realistically portrays the struggle involved in making the trip to Oregon in the 1840s.

— Select a photo to see the larger version —The Big Trail showing Duane Ilse and his Oregon Tail display Raoul Walsh's The Big Trail was shown Shawnee County's Role in sharing local history of the Kaw River Bill Wagnon represented Shawnee County Historical Society About life on the Oregon or California Trails Duane Ilse, Oregon Trail Society

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Security Benefit History Camp for Kids
Through the month of June, 2013, at Cox Communications Heritage Education Center, the John Ritchie House, and SCHS properties, Topeka. Staff and volunteers involved with camp this year include Doug Wright, Melinda Abitz, Katie Huffman, George & Diane Bernheimer, Paul Metzenthin and Alan Shirrell, as planners/educators/reenactors.

The Shawnee County Historical Society would like to thank Security Benefit, and the Security Benefit Trust for funding this year's History Camp for Kids. This year was the largest camp held at the Historic Ritchie House in it's three-year summer program.

511 youngsters attended the camp
in a partnership with community centers and schools as part of their summer programs. Interactive history lessons and activities took center stage with morning and afternoon sessions for a great experience for campers, staff, and volunteers. Thank you, Security Benefit for making this year's camp possible!

— Select a photo to see the larger version —
Kids arriveing
Melinda Abitz lecturesKids with answersViewing copies of early Union and Confederate flagsGroup listensMrs. Bernheimer dresses a student helperGeorge Bernheimer adds a vest to this helper's wardrobeCamp kids play indoor gamesPlaying jacks indoorsBuilding a sod house online
Kids get involved in some outdoor games Kids play some relay running grams B Kids play some relay running grams D Kids play some relay running grams C Kids play some relay running grams A
Introduction to John Ritchie and his Topeka homeKids listen inside the John Ritchie houseMrs. Abitz explains about the Underground Railroad
Kids peek out a Ritchie House windowViewing the outside wall that still has plasterView at the back of the John Ritchie House
Mrs. Abiltz guides some pretend escaping slavesAbout to take a pretend journey by buggyExplaing the dangers of BushwackersExplaining what should come next on the escape trailMrs. Abitz talks with a bounty hunterMr. and Mrs. Ritchie welcome wayfarers
Mrs. BMrs. BMissouri bushwacker Paul MetzenthinCamp kids and staff

Also vist The Ritch House on Facebook and see Photo Albums for more 2013 Camp Photos

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History of Uniontown/Potawatomi Settlement the Area on
Wednesday evening, June 5, 2013, at Citizen Potawatomi Nation (CPN) Community Center, Rossville. Speakers included Jon Boursaw, Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member, and Michael Stubbs, Wabaunsee Co. Historical Society. There was a terrific turnout of about 45 for this event.

— Select a photo to see the larger version —June 5 discussion of the history of Uniontown and Potawatomi settlement Michael Stubbs Map of Kansas Reservations SCHS organizer Bill Wagnon welcomes attendees Group met at Citizen Band Potawatomi Community Center Jon Boursaw with Potawatomi display items Jon Boursaw speaks of his Potawatomi heritage Potawatomi history handouts were made available to the public Table display of the history of the Potawatomi tribe

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2013 SCHS Preservation Awards
Awards were presented on behalf of the Shawnee County Historical Society and the Topeka Landmarks Commission on Sunday afternoon, May 19, 2013, at Somerset Hall Café, Dover, KS. This year's awards go to:

— Select a photo to see the larger version —Sommerset Hall Cafe, Dover, 2013 SCHS Preservation Awards Wildflowers and hummingbird feeders Sommerset Hall Cafe waitress watches The famous "Pie Queen" Norma Grubb Shawnee County Historical Society President Debra Bisel Sommerset Hall Cafe

Bill Wagnon accepts for Living the Dream Ross Freeman honored for Pioneer Group's work on Motive Power Building Judy Thomas and Sommerset Hall Cafe staff receive honors
Bill Wagnon accepts award from Debra Bisel on behalf of Living the Dream, 1149 SW Lincoln, Topeka. Ross Freeman, Pioneer Group
award from Debra Bisel for Motive Power Building, 1001 NE Atchison St., Topeka..
Judy Thomas & staff member
award from Debra Bisel for Sommerset Hall Café, 5701 SW Douglas Rd., Dover.

Terry Humpreys accepts for Friends of Preservation Staff of the Combat Air Museum accept honors from Debra Bisel Christine Steinkuehiers and Debra Bisel
Terry Humphreys accepts award from Debra Bisel on behalf of Friends of Preservation. David Murray and Sue Ann Seel and Dick Trupp accept award from Debra Bisel for Combat Air Museum, Forbes Field, Topeka. Christine Steinkuehler accepts award from Debra Bisel for restoration at 1272 SW Western Ave., Topeka.

Chuck and Ruby Brandley Greg Allen honored for his time as a member of Topeka Landmarks Commission Robert Bugg with Diane Bernheimer
Chuck & Ruby Bradley accept award from Debra Bisel for restoration of Yeldarb Gallery, 909 N. Kansas Ave., Topeka. Greg Allen (left.) accepts award for his service as member of the Topeka Landmarks Commission, 2007-2012. Robert Bugg accepts in behalf of Living the Dream for Topeka Colored Womens Club, 1149 SW Lincoln Av., Topeka, presented by Diane Bernheimer.

Candids A Sommerset Hall Cafe gathering A Sommerset Hall Cafe gathering B Sommerset Hall Cafe gathering C Candids B Carlton Scroggins Terry Humphreys with Deb Bisel Chuck Bradley Judy and David Murray
Candids C Bill Wagnon and ____, Jim Bass and Gary Bisel Unknown Candids D Debra and friends A gesture

2013 building preservation projects honored:

Topeka Council of Colored Women's Club, 1149 SW Lincoln Av., Topeka Motive Power Place, 1001 NE Atchison St., Topeka
1149 SW Lincoln Av., Topeka Council of Colored Women's Club Motive Power Place, 1001 NE Atchison St.
Sommerset Hall Café, Dover Combat Air Museum, Forbes Field, Topeka
Sommerset Hall Café (former IOOF building), 5701 SW Douglas Rd., Dover Combat Air Museum Forbes Field, Topeka
Property, 1272 SW Western Av., Topeka Yeldarb Gallery, 909 N. Kansas Av., Topeka

above: 1272 SW Western Ave.

right: Yeldarb Gallery, 909 N. Kansas Av.

Photos by David Heinemann

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Documenting and marking pre-territorial trails in Kansas
Sunday, May 11, 1:00 pm, Kansas Museum of History, 6425 SW 6th, Topeka
Presentations by Duane Ilse, President of the Oregon California Trails Association, Rick Anderson, historian with the Kansas State Historic Preservation Office. Speakers also included Jon Boursaw, Citizen Potawatomi Nation Tribal Member. amd Bill Wagnon, SCHS Trustee. This introductory meeting was arranged by the KANZA chapter of the Oregon California Trails Association.

Following the talks, Doug Mauck led a field trip to the Uniontown area at Willard to view the existing swales and ford.

Uniontown site promoted—by Ann Marie Bush, Topeka Capital-Journal, 5/4/2013
See historic photos at C-Jonline web site!

Duane Ilse, Oregon Trail SocietyJon Boursaw, Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal memberBill Wagnon, SCHS TrusteeDoug Mauck, trail guideSlide overview of the Williard crossing areaSlide showing Potawatomi Trail of Death, 1849Bourassa Family Burial Site, which we later visitedDoug Mauck describes alternate river crossing to Papan's FerryJon Boursaw chats about his family's cemeteryCemeteries area at what was once Uniontown trading postJon Boursaw describes local landscapeHikers begin their journal to Oregon Trail swalesStanding in an Oregon Trail swaleFootpath, Greene Nature TrailBeginning the return talking to parking areaEnthusiasts discuss what just seenMichael Stubbs stands on limestone rock supports in the Kansas River by the Willard BridgeWilliard Bridge spans the Kansas River

Photos by Carol Yoho

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Highland Park Central Tour — Monday, January 28, 2013
4th graders took the "Rediscover Freedom's Pathway" tour and learned about the Underground Railroad and Early Kansas Settlement. The highlight of the the tour was visiting the John and Mary Jane Ritchie house to see an actual safe house on the Underground Railroad. Students learned that the Ritchies were conductors on the Underground Railroad. Very nice weather for January!
Highland Park Central, January, 2013 AHighland Park Central, January, 2013 BHighland Park Central, January, 2013 C
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Capital Area Explorers Open House — Sat., Jan. 12, 2013
Capital Area Explorers at Ritchie Open HouseThe Capital Area Explorers met at the Ritchie House on January 12, 2013, with 25 to 30 members attending. Deb Bisel spoke on the Ritchies, the Civil War in Kansas, and the rehabilitation of the Ritchie Houses. Pictured is Roy Marks (standing, right) who set up the meeting addressing his fellow Explorers. The Capital Area Explorers is a chapter of the Kansas Explorers Club whose mission is "to inspire, educate, and encourage the exploration and appreciation of Kansas...and have fun doing it!" The SCHS had a great time hosting this group!


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box [graphic] A Brief History
box [graphic] Society News
box [graphic] Current Trustees
box [graphic] Help Insure a Bright Future
box [graphic] Benefits of Membership
box [graphic] Nominations
box [graphic] Contact Us

SCHS Annual Meeting
Sunday, December 8, 2013, 2-4 PM
Hale Ritchie property
, 1118 SE Madison

Sherri Camp and book   Focus will be on business of the Society, plus speaker Cherrita (Sherri) Camp, author of African American Topeka, a new book in the "Images of America" series published by Acadis Publications.
   Refreshments, door prizes and buidling tours are included in plans. All are welcome to attend!


Antiques Roadshow Meets Estate Sale was held
Saturday, September 28
Deb Bisel at auctionTrails Gallery and Market
, 109 N Kansas Ave.

A permanent space now exists atTrails Market (just south of the Kaw River, west side of Kansas Av.).


Topeka and Shawnee County History participated in the Topeka Community Foundation's Topeka Gives fair at Fairlawn Mall, June 19

Topeka Day of Giving$2020 was generated in contributions, including the match donated by the Foundation. Many thinks to all who made contributions,
George Bernheimer mans the SCHS booth at Topeka Gives event, June 19, 2013


Affordable housing company bids highest for Dillon House Megan Hart, Topeka Capital-Journal, 6/25/2013
Dillon House sold


August Kaw River Event:Kaw River, Kansas tourist attraction

2013 Ice Cream Social:
Ice Cream Social 2013

July Kaw River EventFocus on the Oregon Trail

Security Benefit
History Camp for Kids:

Kids listen inside the John Ritchie house

June Kaw River Event:
Rossville crowd

May Uniontown Event & Tour:Willard Bridge over the Kansas River, near Oregon Trail crossing

2013 SCHS Preservation Awards:
2013 SCHS Preservation Awards Ceremony

2013 Report

About the Society
Shawnee County Historical Society logo
Topeka & Shawnee County, Kansas
About the Society, Shawnee County Historical Society, Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas
About the Society  
Focus on History
Focus on Preservation
Educational Initiative




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Gary Bisel speaks with Bill Wagnon Kim Morris explains finishing plans Gary climbs the back stairs Gary displays original wood trim that will be returned to place Front stairs, Deb and Betty Preservation sign and Hale Ritchie House exterior View of Ritchie House, north of Hale Ritchie House inspecting progress backyard box of original wood trim large open space South side bay window, looking outside South side bay window, exterior