Friday, November 13, 2020

Topeka Place/Street Names

McEachron ELementary School was named after Mrs. D.L. McEachron. She served on the Board of Education from 1919 to 1938, and was the longest running board member. (her husband was a professor and dean of the college)
Rev. Peter MacVicar was the second president of Washburn University.
Dr. Norman Plass became President of Washburn in 1902 after Rev. MacVicar.
Harvey Rice was one of the members of Washburn's first board of Trustees.
John and Joab Mulvane were bankers and on the executive board of Washburn.
CB Van Horn was on the Board of Education in 1912
WE Atchison was on the Board of Education in 1912

Early Topeka Education TImeline

1855--First school at No. 32 Madison Street;  Miss Sarah Harlan was the first teacher, with Miss Jennie Allen and Miss Carrie Whiting teaching brief periods.

1856--Miss Allen teaches school in Constitution Hall (ousted so the legislature can meet there)

 1857 --New England Emigrant Aid Company builds school for $200 at SW corner of 5th and Harrison; schools supported by voluntary contributions although anyone could attend

1862--School tax levied

1864--Baptist Hall at No. 191 Kansas Avenue is rented for school

1865--S 6th between Kans as and Quincy is rented as a school for black children

        --2 room school at 6th and Harrison

1866--White children take over 1st floor of 6th street school and black children are moved to the attic

1867--Schools overflowing, classes held in Gale's Block and in the basement of a building on SW 7th and Kansas

    --North Topeka (Eugene) opens first school at 128 N Kansas Ave.

    --Topeka Board of Education organized

    --School session was 36 weeks;9 teachers; 695 students (KS census lists 710 children both black and white of school age)

    --No. 232 Kansas Ave, formerly a black church; was rented as a school for black children

1868--Emigrant Aid Company's school building is sold and rooms are rented at No. 241 Kansas Ave. 

    --Evening schools opened, one in Harrison and black school; session lasted 5 weeks

    --WH Butterfield superinedent

    --Lincoln School built at No.50-54 Monroe Street for a cost of $55,000

    --School built at 13th and Quincy

1869--2nd Annual Report from the Board of Education defines the school year as 9 months with 180 days including some holidays.  

1887-88--Individual student records 

1893--- A model High School building was constructed in 1893 on the northwest corner of Harrison street and Eighth avenue, at a cost of $85,000

1904-- Manual Training School was completed on the southwest corner of the same streets, at a cost of $100,000

1905--Other schools listed in King's History

     --Sisters of Charity  School at No. 723 Jackson street

    --German Catholic Church School at 3rd and Van Buren

     -- Studio of Voice Culture and Piano Instruction, No. 816 Kansas avenue

    -- Dougherty's Shorthand School, No. 118 West Eighth avenue

    -- Standard School of Shorthand and Typewriting, No. 63o Kansas avenue

    -- Topeka Business College, No. 523 Quincy street

    -- Pond's Business College, No. 521 Kansas 

    -- Homeopathic Night School, No. 704 Kansas avenue, Dr. Eva Harding, president

   --Art Studio, 630 Kansas

     --School of Dramatic Art, 816 Kansas     

    --Music Studio, 109 W 6th 

    --School of Pianoforte Playing, 722 Kansas Ave.  

    --Violin Studio, No. 704 Kansas avenue   

    --Reid-Stone School of Art, No. 501 Jackson street,      


 1907--Topeka Grade Teachers' Club formed in secret as it was thought that Board of Education would not approve

 1910--Principals Club organized by LD Whittemore, Superintendent

1911--Teachers who have taught 30 years or more in a first-class city are granted a $500/yr pension . The pension was to be paid by contributions or assessments paid by teachers and appropriation by the Board of Education at a fixed ratio set by law.  This was part of the work of the Topeka Grade Teacher's Club.

1912--Parent Teacher Organizations began in elementary schools

1915--Topeka High School Guild formed (for THS teachers)

1927--Roosevelt Junior High opens at 200 Quincy (on the site of the old Nickel Plate elementary school)

1931--Topeka Teacher's Association organized--provided teachers with insurance and established the Teacher's Credit Union in 1939

1941--Topeka High School Teachers Guild was changed to the High School Teachers' Guild 

1952--Topeka Grade Teachers Club is formed


Thursday, October 15, 2020

1730 NW Grove



  1730 NW Grove is part of what was the Belvoir Mansion property.    Belvoir was built by John Knox, a preacher, banker and real estate speculator.  His office was in the Columbian building downtown, which he also built.  The Belvoir Mansion property began at the corner of Woodlawn and Grove and stretched to what is now the highway on the north (then it was the Rock Island Railroad).  Belvoir sat atop the hill overlooking the river and CW Potwin’s new development. Surrounded by a hedge of cherry trees and the mansion featured an orchard with apple, pear, and peach trees and an extensive vineyard.  

            During the Panic of 1893, Knox lost everything, including Belvoir.  And the mansion passed through a number of hands, but much of the time was empty.  In 1922 the firm of Neiswanger and Wilson bought the property including the mansion and 55 acres. They subdivided the property into 25 lots which they named the  “Potwin Court”  subdivision.  They resold the mansion to LF Garlinghouse who proceeded to tear down the mansion, brick by brick. The materials from the mansion were then used by Garlinghouse to build  houses where the mansion stood and in the area. It is rumored that the brick from the foundation was used to build the first two houses on the west side of the street on Elmwood and Grove and parts of Belvoir can be found in many area homes. Parting out old homes that were slated for destruction and reusing the parts, down to the nails, was a common practice at this time.

The majority of the houses on Potwin Court were built by Garlinghouse or Neiswanger.  The building permits for this house have not been found at KSHS so it is impossible to say which of these men built 1730, but most likely one of them did.  It is very close in interior layout to several of the designs in Garlinghouse plan books, all of which feature a large screened in porch along the west side where currently the 3rd bedroom and tv room are and this is consistent with the foundation.  The foundation also indicates that the kitchen was added on to at some point fairly early on.  During renovations the outline of the fireplace was found and a fireplace mantle has been returned to this location is within an inch of the original fireplace size. There is no indication that the fireplace was ever functional or had a chimney and the house next door to the east (which is very similar) has an original, non-functional fireplace. 

1730 is in the 1922 Hall’s city directory and then again in the Kansas census records in 1925. The owners are WA and Freda Hughes and their 2 year old daughter Margaret. He worked for the Bell Telephone.  This would put it at one of the early houses in the subdivision.

1930-1950  Polk directory lists Bror Unge and his wife Edith. 

In the 1948  Polk city directory lists  Glenn S  and Letha McCune as living there. He worked at the Jayhawk Service Station are listed as living there and Unge does not appear in the directory.  

Later in the 1950’s the house was owned by John and Ruby Campbell, he was the principal and she was a teacher at the Potwin School.

1991-2020  Dick and Inez Tasker

·         This information was obtained from city directories. City directories indicate who lived there, not who owned the property.

Friday, September 25, 2020


 Points of Interest form The Second Coming of the KKK  by Linda Gordon


1915 Release of Birth of a  Nation

        Lynching of Leo Frank, Jewish, Atlanta businessman

        Dr. William Joseph Simmons begins a KKK

1920s Henry Ford publishes "Protocols of the Elder Zion" and the "International Jew:  The World's   Problem"  

        Dr. Simmons hires the Southern Publicity Association--Elizabeth Taylor and Edward Young to promote the KKK.

        KKK diversifies, racial purity (includes ethnic groups and Catholics) combined with evangelical Christian morality promoted as saving the country.

1921--KKK leaders Hiram Evans and David Stephenson buy out Dr. Simmons for $140,000

        Dr. Simmons begins the Knights of the Flaming Sword and later the White Band. Dies in 1945.

        Congressional hearings conducted by the House Committee on Rules

1922--Hiram Evans becomes the Imperial Wizard

           Fires Clark and Tyler

           Begins publishing the Fellowship Forum

           KKK becomes a political party and politics are it's top priority

           Recruiters put on salary instead of commission



Sunday, April 26, 2020

 The Morrell/Meisenger House

For many years I gardened for a Jewish doctor who had lived in Topeka his whole life and in Westboro since about 1946.  Being Jewish was being a second class citizen in Topeka (ie. the wife was not allowed to join Jr. League--when I was  a member she was always interested in its's goings on, I think that later she could have been a member but by then she did not bother, she saw it as a young woman's association), or maybe it was that he was from "the wrong side of the tracks", his mother was a shopkeeper downtown, he and his siblings grew up above the shop and helped out as well as sold newspapers, although also at this time, Topeka had a different social hierarchy and doctors were not grouped with the wealthy. I don't know. My first introduction to Meisinger's house was through them.

Meisinger's was one of the early houses in Topeka to have a sprinkler system, these were copper plumbing, just like in houses, except in the yard and buried3 ft or so down.  Many of these were installed by Don Roepke and Skinner's Nursery in the early 1950s. Nelle Carkhuff also had one of these and I gardened for Nelle as well.  Periodically, I had to work on Nelle's sprinkler system, which of course meant digging down 3' or so and soldering the lines back together, etc...  This was quite an undertaking. (Sara/Jason--somewhere the plans for Nelle's sprinkler system may still be around, she saved all of those sort of things, she had a file cabinet in the basement full of them.  This came in handy now and then.).  Needless to say, I was on top of turning off the water in the fall.

Meisinger's had a black couple that lived above the garage.  They were old when I knew them, and they had lived/worked there most of their lives.  His name was Eugene (I can't remember hers).  He was the chauffeur/handyman/gardener, he loved iris.  Eugene and I used to help each other fix the sprinkler systems that were under our care.   After the older Meisnger's deaths, Eugene and his wife were alone in the house and caretakers.  It was during this time that Eugene gave me a tour of the house, this is the only time I have ever been in it.  Later, when I saw the Doctor and his wife, they were interested to hear the details of the house, they had lived a couple blocks away (this was in the 90s?/early2000s) and had never been inside.  The doctor had been to a side entrance room, like a parlor on house calls but never any further.  (This was a room in the front, NE corner of the house, at the time I was there it had a yellow oriental motif wallpaper. I don't know if you want to to hear other details that I remember of the house or not..) The doctors and his wife told the story that the Meisinger house was originally began construction during the 20's for one of the sons of the owner of Morrell's Meat Packing.  The doctor would have been a grade school boy at this time and his memories were stories of very Great Gatsbyish parties and lifestyle.  The son and his wife were early flight enthusiasts (remember Billard and Longgren were here, Morrell's were aware of both and may have been friends) and had their own plane/pilot.  There was also a landing strip on the property.  Morrell dies and later the wife married Meisinger, who was the pilot.  And as you probably know, he was one of the founders of Beechcraft). Both Carkhuff's and Meisingers were great friends of Don Roepke and Ray Browning.  All were great aviation fans, and for another day (I have a great recording of Ray Browning on these days, he wore a scarf).

Anyhow, that is my knowledge/involvement with the house.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Sam Radges

Sam Radges was out of the ordinary, and he liked it.  He came to America from England, served in the Civil War and afterwards he did a stint as the postmaster at Ft. Dodge before settling in Topeka. As postmaster he discovered that mail fraud was being committed by several of the officers stationed there and he reported it.  The trial was held in Topeka, at the federal courthouse and upon the officers convictions he decided that that climate in better for his health in Topeka and he stayed. 
He began publishing directories the year he began his residence, 1870 and continued until 1905 when he sold the business.  Radges’ directories brought flair to the city with histories, local trivia and illustrations.  Described as a character, and always a man for promotion, he maintained that people only suffered in the hot weather because they thought about it and wore a snugly buttoned fur one hot summer day to prove it; friends did not believe that he truly thought this, but he was doing it to liven up downtown. 
One of the founders and the perpetual secretary of the St. Ananias Club, an organization of “prevaricators, fabricators, equivocators and falsifiers”, Radges enjoyed having a good laugh and a game of cards.   And on a trip to Switzerland in the late 1870’s he had a watch specially made that chimed on the quarter hours, and that in the place of numerals had the letters of his name. 
Radges was meticulous in the arrangements for his burial and funeral.  He had a custom mausoleum built of marble and granite, which was set three steps into the ground, and wired with an electric light , in order to read the paper, which Radges prepaid to have delivered to his graveside 20 years after his death.  Preceding him to the cemetery were his Skye terriers, Judy McC and Molly, both as the story goes were embalmed and interred here, although, it is a mystery as to where, the pet cemetery was started in 1925.  When hard times came upon a bank that Radges was invested in he sold the mausoleum, (it is no longer standing, it fell apart in the 1950s, the woman who was interred there was reburied in a traditional plot).  The light would not be necessary for Radges to read the paper, spirits don’t restrict their activity to the part and nearly every employee who has spent much time here has had a conversation with an older gentleman, who seems to be passing the time of day, who comes up to them when they are working and invariably when their back is turned when they turn back to the resume the conversation he is gone. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Garlinghouses move from Berryton to Topeka

The Garlinghouse family (Lucien B) started in Berryton with a farm and later moved into Topeka. They lived at 1516 SW Western, here is that house today. (It was not a Garlinghouse build or design) I am not entirely sure when they moved to this house, but I believe that it was near the turn of the century. 

Lucian Bonaparte Garlinghouse died in 1907, so his widow was living there with her three sons - George and Lewis were starting the real estate company, Elbannis was another brother - a carpenter it looks like at this point.

L.B. Garlinghouse's obituary.  

 Topeka Daily Herald (Topeka, Kansas)
16 Jan 1907 Wed. Page 8

L.B. Garlinghouse Gone
Came to Shawnee County in 1870 - Suffered Paralytic Stroke

Lucien B. Garlinghouse, an old resident of Shawnee county, died early this morning at his home, 1516 Western Avenue, Topeka. Death resulted from paralysis. Mr Garlinghouse had been an invalid for years, and for several months, his death had been considered only as a matter of time. Yesterday he became unconscious and lay in a stupor the greater part of the day and last night. He died shortly before 5 o'clock this morning. He leaves a wife and six children- Dr O.L. Garlinghouse of Iola, KS; Mrs L.B. Bushong of Admire, KS; and E.C. Garlinghouse, George L. Garlinghouse, Lewis F. Garlinghouse, and Mrs. Edward S. Cowdrick, all of Topeka. The funeral arrangements have not yet been made.

Mr Garlinghouse was born at Alexandria, Licking county, Ohio, on April 26, 1844. He was married on November 17, 1867, to Matilda R. Hanawalt. In 1870, Mr and Mrs Garlinghouse came to Kansas and settled in Shawnee county. Until about three years ago they lived on a farm south of Topeka. Since they they have lived in the city.

Mr Garlinghouse was one of the best known farmers and stock raisers in Shawnee county up until the time of his retirement from active life. About nine years ago he received an accident which resulted in a stroke of paralysis, and was an invalid the greater part of the time from then until his death.

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