Archive for Wednesday, November 25, 2009

History lessons

Richard Wellman, left, and Sandra Johnson spend every Thursday morning in the history corner of the Baldwin City Public Library. They are here to answer a few questions regarding the community's history.

Richard Wellman, left, and Sandra Johnson spend every Thursday morning in the history corner of the Baldwin City Public Library. They are here to answer a few questions regarding the community's history.

November 25, 2009

Q. In the 1920s the Baldwin City Garden Club created a civic activity that still impacts Baldwin today. What was it?

A. The club contracted for purchase of about 200 hard maple trees and asked persons to pay 50 cents for a tree and to plant it. Several were planted by Baker University with the remainder by community members. The article about the Garden Club history and early project appeared in The Baldwin Ledger of Oct.31, 1957.

Q. The Kansas turnpike was completed and put into operation in what year?

A. The turnpike was opened to traffic on Oct. 25, 1956. All aspects were completed and a certificate of completion signed on Feb. 25, 1957. It consisted of 236 miles of four-lane road that cost $160 million, but none of it by Kansas taxes.

Q. The Santa Fe Hotel in Palmyra was torn down in 1941. When had it been erected?

A. Here is what The Baldwin Ledger of July 17, 1941 states: “The relic of early Santa Fe Trail days is gone. The old hotel building in the northeast part of Baldwin was inseparably linked with the history of this community. It was the hub of activity in the thriving pioneer town of Palmyra. Such men as John Brown, William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Wild Bill Hickok were among those who frequented the inn. It was built over 93 years ago.” This would indicate it was erected in 1848. However, that is unlikely as Kansas Territory was not yet created nor open for white settlement until passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act on May 30, 1854. Any one have any other documentation regarding the actual age of the building?

Q. The residence for the President of Baker University was changed from the “Sullivan house” (near where the present post office is located) to the “Collins house” in 1950. Who was the Baker President at that time?

A. It was Nelson P. Horn. The cost of the new residential structure was reported to have been $35,000.

Q. How many persons were killed in 1888, when a train fell into Coal Creek? It consisted of a steam locomotive, tender, baggage car and two passenger coaches and was headed south to Baldwin City when the trestle over Coal Creek gave way and dropped the entire train into the creek, 20 feet below.

A. None. Though it was described as “sheer good luck,” there were several serious injuries and about 20 others received bumps and bruises. The report comes from The Baldwin Ledger of Nov. 30, 1888.

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