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Harvest Time

The Kansas wheat harvest this year is disappointing, but there is always next year! This photograph of a wheat harvest crew was taken in Stafford County, Kansas on July 4, 1920 – 94 years ago. From the W. R. Gray Studio Photographs Collection - http://contentcat.fhsu.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/stafford

Harvest crew

Harvest crew in Stafford County – July 4, 1920

The Cecil B. and Laura G. Currey Archive of Military History, located in the Special Collections, has many interesting files, records, memorabilia, photographs and uniforms. Among the items is a pebble from the beaches of Normandy, Utah Beach, France. It was given to Dr. Currey by Robert Fernandez on April 22, 1997. The note with the pebble says “scene of D-Day”, so this probably was not picked up from the beach that day.

The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia. http://www.dday.org/

Thank you to the brave men who stormed the beaches seventy years ago and may we always remember the ultimate sacrifice of 9,000+ Allied soldiers.

pnPebble

160 Years Ago

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by the U.S. Congress on May 30, 1854. The act repealed the Missouri Compromise which had created an imaginary line across the former Louisiana Territory that established a boundary of free and slave regions. The Kansas-Nebraska Act made it possible for settlers of a territory to decide whether to have slavery or not have slavery within the borders of a new state. As a result of this act, conflicts between pro-slavery settlers and anti-slavery settlers contributed to a violent period of time called Bleeding Kansas in the Kansas Territory and its neighboring state of Missouri. This led to the beginning of the Civil War in 1861.

The following page of a letter is from the Historical Kansas Collection within the Special Collections. It was written by Henry Shaw to his cousin Thomas Shaw on November 22, 1857. Henry was a resident of Lawrence, Kansas and Thomas lived in Norwich, New York. Most of the letter gives details about living in Kansas because Henry was trying to get his cousin to come here to farm. There is mention on one of the pages about Lawrence and how it had burned once. It appears that Henry was a free stater.

“Lawrence is a nice town for one so young & so much to contend with being burned once & trouble the most of the time for here has been the centre of all their black damning deeds if I may be allowed the expression. But it is peaceable times here now & we or free state men carried the election without trouble & she is bound to be free or the soil of Kansas will drink the blood of thousands of free men for the majority will hardly submit to a minority so trivial as this Terr. presents. You can buy at the stores here all the comforts that you could in Norw. I belive there is four churches & over than twenty stores & filled to the roof (More at the top of the page)- Now you don’t put off writing & never answer this. My best regards to your wife and the best wishes of your cousin Henry B. Shaw.”

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105 Years Ago Today

105 years ago today, May 28, 1909, the Administration Building was renamed Picken Hall. William C. Picken was the first administrator of the campus – he served as Principal for the Western Branch of the Kansas State Normal School from 1902-1914.
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Students and Faculty at Fort Hays Kansas State College were preparing for the last days of classes before finals began during the week of May 20 in 1951. The evening of May 22 changed their lives forever when Big Creek, which flowed through the campus, flooded the campus and the southern part of the city of Hays. Many homes and businesses, including the Post Office and the campus, sustained damage from the flood waters. Three people died when their car was swept off the highway west of Hays – 18 year old Gerald Gipson of Napa, Idaho, 19 year old Joanne Donham and her sister, 17 year old Treva, both from WaKeeney. Robert Ripperteau, the 14 year old stepson of President Emeritus L. D. Wooster, was killed in the basement of his home after a wall collapsed when the water broke through. Dr. C. F. Wiest, 75 year old retired faculty member, was also killed in his home. Hays resident June Bissing Herman, 24 years old, was killed when a tree came through the wall of her basement apartment allowing water to come into the basement.

From the book written by Dr. Wooster titled “A History of Fort Hays Kansas State College 1902-1961″, he writes The campus was inundated, and damage to the buildings and campus made it impossible to continue with classes or to house the students. The college year ended without the usual final examinations and commencement. Faculty members prepared grades for students, degrees were granted in absentia, and the graduates were honored at summer school commencement. (pg. 144) Little did they know that one month later, on June 21, another flood would hit the area and do some more damage. The only good news was there was no loss of life from the second flood.

There is now a 1.8 mile levee between Big Creek and the campus which has served its purpose well up to the present day.

Forsyth Library’s front doors the day after the flood. Today this is McCartney Hall.

Looking at the Cody Commons from Picken Hall the day after the flood. Cody Commons was located where the south part of the Memorial Union now stands.

 

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pizza

Sunday May 11, 2014

Free pizza and snacks are available at Forsyth Library – Front Lobby- for the first 200 Students at 6:00 p.m.! (FHSU I.D. Required)

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May 5, 1864

 

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Today marks the 150th anniversary of the death of General Alexander Hays at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia during the Civil War. Alexander Hays, a Union General, died on May 5, 1864. Fort Hays was named after General Hays, and the city of Hays and the university took their names from Fort Hays.

Fort Fletcher, located 14 miles southeast of the present city of Hays, had been established in October 1865. After being abandoned on May 5, 1866, Fort Fletcher was reactivated on October 17. A month later, its name was changed to Fort Hays by General Winifield Scott Hancock to honor his classmate at West Point.

The military headquarters wanted to move Fort Hays to be closer to the railroad that had reached Ellis County by 1867. Before they made the decision to do so, a flood hit the post on June 7 and killed seven soldiers and two civilians in the process of destroying the fort grounds. On June 23, 1867, Fort Hays was occupied at its new location about one mile south of the railroad near the now extinct town site of Rome. Just north of Rome, there were three sections of land that had been purchased by the Big Creek Land Company from the railroad. That land was registered on July 23, 1867 at Ellsworth County; at the same time, the Big Creek Land Company made an agreement with the railroad to provide a station and a depot in the new town called Hays City. 

Sources:

Oliva, Leo C. “Fort Hays: Keeping Peace on the Plains”. Topeka, KS: Kansas State Historical Society, 1996.

Mahood, Wayne. “Alexander “Fighting Elleck” Hays: The Life of a Civil War General, From West Point to the Wilderness”. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005.

“At Home in Ellis County, Kansas 1867-1992.” Hays, KS: Ellis County Historical Society, 1991.

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