Photos by Tom Parker
The story goes (correctly or incorrectly doesn’t matter, so woven is it into the historical tableaux that it will stand forever as an illuminated portrayal of legitimate rebellion against hierarchy or tyranny, or, perhaps, merely proof of the fabled irascibility of the Irish) that late one night in 1863 or 1864 a group of disgruntled parishioners gathered on the steps of a frame church a few miles north of Axtell and, by torchlight and heavy labor, jacked the church onto ox-drawn skids and absconded with it. Their destination was a point one mile north where they felt the church should have been sited. Halfway there the oxen tired, the skids broke, and a second group of incensed parishioners, all of whom felt the church had no business being relocated, blocked the road and threatened violence.
The way it should have been
To see St. Elizabeth Catholic Church now is to see it back in 1913 when its dedication drew people from miles around. The bell tower is the same, or almost—the open windows have been covered with louvers—with the same clean lines almost Spartan in simplicity. The white siding is an exact match for the painted clapboard of the original, with the same stained glass windows and same minuscule porch and same steep-pitched roof. What's different is an extension behind the sanctuary, noticeable only when compared to old grainy black-and-white photos. And the location, of course.
It’s hard to believe there was ever a town here. All that remains of Kimeo, nine miles southwest of Greenleaf, are a few empty houses devolving back into the Kansas soil, a bullet-scarred sign welcoming visitors to a town with a “rising” population, a tree-shaded cemetery and a magnificent limestone church.
But a century ago 100 children led Bishop J.L. Cunningham from the pastoral residence to the southwest corner of the church—named for St. Michael, whose image graces the stained glass window in the choir loft—where the bishop blessed the cornerstone before it was wrestled into place. The Very Reverend J. Maher told the assembled crowd that the church would stand not only as an architectural ornament to the country but it would also be a lasting monument to the noble generosity and self-sacrificing zeal of the people. “It will be a living, eloquent witness to their children and their children’s children,” he said
To get to the Blue Rapids Public Library off Highway 77, the main road linking this small northeastern Kansas town with Marysville to the north and Manhattan to the south, one must first circumnavigate the round town square almost in its entirety. The circular square is unique to the state, based on a wheel hub in the New England style. Randolph had a similar configuration before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers relocated the town to higher ground for the creation of Tuttle Creek Reservoir; the old square is now buried under floodwater and silt. Bad for Randolph, good for Blue Rapids.
“This is the hub of the town,” says Audrey Broxterman.
She wasn’t talking about some pie-in-the-sky theoretical concept of how the small rural town of Vermillion rotates around the axis of the library, nor was she referring to the precise geographical placement of what was the former Twidwell Hotel. The hotel-turned-library is located at the extreme southern end of the town, fronting the railroad tracks and an abandoned grain elevator complex. Past that—all open country, an abrupt and sudden demarcation that people used to metropolitan areas find disturbing or novel, depending on their personality.
Full circle – There and back again for Marysville journalist
She doesn’t bleed ink though there were days when she thought she must, her hands blackened and stained, nails pale haloes luminous within their individual darker frames, the crevices and whorls spider-webbing her fingers and the backs of her hands an ancient roadmap across uncharted territories, the accumulation of words and sentences and phrases, of grafs, charts and halftone images, all smeared into one indecipherable text no amount of soap could banish.
Nancy Vogelsberg-Busch wants to tell you a story.
Actually, she wants to tell you a lot of stories, because she knows that stories are the individual threads weaving the fabric of our lives. They are the weft and warp, the underpinning, the foundation...your own personal polar star.
Waterville woman recreates the lure of the Oregon Trail
For as long as Yvonne Larson can remember, the past was never really past but remained as fresh as today’s headlines and yet somehow more real, more substantive, more historic, if such a thing could be, history being the now and not the then, not something relegated to the dustbins of once-upon-a-time or cloaked in old boring textbooks crammed down the throats of children yearning to be outdoors making some history of their own. No, the past was right there, almost within arms’ reach, and given a little imagination and a longer arm, could be snatched and tenaciously held.
A Bird Named "Kansas”
When Megan Friedrichs raised her government-issued Leica binoculars to study a bird she’d been tracking on the north slope of Mauna Kea, she saw something that set her heart racing. There, beside an adult palila fitted out with a radio transmitter, was a second bird, hopping and fluttering its wings. As the adult began feeding the second bird, Friedrichs studied its legs and plumage. “Holy cow,” she thought. Then she fumbled for her radio.
“Kiss Me, I’m Irish Today”
“Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” Well, actually don’t because I’m honestly German. But, for one special day of the year, I can be Irish.
Marshall County Historical Tour
In March of 2006, I officially began what is now called the “Marshall County Historical Tour,” or MCHT. I persuaded a few of my friends to come with me to visit past and present townsites located in our county that I have found. We put in countless hours of research interviewing people and looking in numerous reference materials, be they books or something on the internet.
Making Tracks of Memories
Preserving history keeps traditions alive; educating younger generations about their roots is the life blood of a community's past and future. Although history may exist largely in our minds, real, tangible artifacts still tell thousands of stories. When one of these artifacts is lost, we lose far more than a physical object. We lose our past, we lose who we are.
The length of winter—paradise down a dirt road
The Alaskan Highway officially ends at Delta Junction, but from there the road continues in a loop northward to Fairbanks before snaking down past Talkeetna and Wasilla—a small town virtually unknown to the world at large before vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was selected—and past the cutoff to Anchorage it stabs straight east to Glennallen, where it abruptly shoots north back to Delta Junction. Drivers on the loop are witness to stunning mountainscapes, zillions of trees and one lone farm.
“We were the only one visible on the entire road system,” Cecilia McNeal says with a laugh.
As Eyesight Dims, Waterville Muralist Turns to Home
A painter leaves something of himself in each painting, embedded clues that if deciphered reveal an intimate biography. It can be a particular shade of color, the way light dances on softly-rounded hills, the casual fold of a skirt, the scampering of a rabbit, dark clouds building in the distance, or an expression caught between now and an uncertain future. The trick for the admirer is to ferret out the clues, to discover the artist within the art.