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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