All the News from Walnut Shade, KS
August 25 , 2011
Destiny of the Republic has been chosen as the first book for “Walnut Shade Reads.” This is a unique opportunity for the town because of the connections we have with both the author, Candice Millard, and President James A. Garfield. Sherri Brown says that copies of the book will be available at the library in a couple of weeks.
The Miller County Fair begins this evening in Fremont with the livestock parade. There will be a teen dance at the Fair building beginning at 8:00 p.m. The band, “Ultimate Noise” from Omaha, will provide the music. For the adults, the Dixieland Stompers will play in the bandstand.
Dorothy Thornton is taking a correspondence course from the Regency Beauty Institute in Independence, Missouri, focusing on salon management and retailing.
The Labor Day Parade will be held in Willow Springs this year. Mayor Wright says that the marching band from Washburn University will join five floats and an as yet undetermined number of classic cars in the parade.
Mark Sappington had a visit from his cousin Stephen Sappington who lives in Blackwater, Missouri.
Kathleen and Olive Jane Johnson joined Jeanne Riley and Lorene Robertson for lunch on Saturday at the Cedar Ridge Restaurant in Atchison. Afterwards, they looked in at the antique shops and at Nell Hill’s, where Olive Jane bought a set of linen napkins.
Greg Ryan was interviewed by the K-State Ag News Service about the impact of the hot weather on small garden centers.
I’m not sure what impact the weather is having on small garden centers, but I know what it’s doing to me, so I’m hoping that…
Until next week, I can remain
Your Faithful Correspondent
This run of hot weather has everybody in town talking about “global warming,” even the guys that populate Shirley’s most mornings and get all their news from Rush, Sean and Fox. Billy Thornton, in addition to firmly believing that the moon landings were all filmed on a Hollywood studio lot, is certain that the debate about climate change is just a smoke screen to divert our attention from what’s going on at Area 51. Ralph Thompson thinks that North Korea has figured out a way to manipulate the weather, pointing to the unusually cold and snowy winters we’ve had the last couple of years.
“They are just playing with us. Extreme cold and extreme hot. It makes sense,” he says.
“I don’t think it’s the North Koreans; I’d say that Ahmadinejad guy is behind this. He’s the real brains of the operation.”
Billy never elaborates on what “the operation” is, but is sure there is one, somewhere.
The selection of a book for “Walnut Shade Reads” turned out to be quite an interesting process. From an initial list of about sixty titles suggested, the top ten books were chosen. PrairyErth by William Least Heat Moon was a strong contender, as was To Kill a Mockingbird. A lot of people wanted to go with the “native son” and read William Allen White, and there seems to be quite a contingent of science fiction fans in town, because Fahrenheit 451 came in second in the voting. But in the end, the Garfield/Harris, Millard/Singleton connections won out.
Sherri Brown says that Candice Millard’s first book, The River of Doubt, has been checked out of the library almost continuously since it was published; Candice has visited her cousin, Glenda Singleton, several times so she’s no stranger in town, and Inez Harris is the great granddaughter of President James A. Garfield.
Soon-to-be President Garfield and his son, Harry, actually visited Miller County (though not Walnut Shade, as far as can be determined) in 1879 while he was still a Congressman from Ohio. Garfield had attended the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia where he had seen the display of Kansas farm produce, including the apples from Miller County that won the gold medal. Local lore has it that he was so impressed that during a trip west to conduct hearings on the status of land grants along the Kansas Pacific Railroad line, he stopped in Fremont and inquired about purchasing land with the intention of moving here after this term in Congress was up. That plan was interrupted by his election as President in 1880 and his assassination a year later.
Harry, however, never forgot his trip to Kansas and in 1897, he purchased an orchard between Walnut Shade and Parkersburg, which he and his family often visited during the fall picking season. Harry’s daughter, Lucretia, loved the family trips to the orchard and, much to her father’s displeasure, enrolled in the department of horticulture at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland where her father was professor in the law school. Harry dreamed of a career for his daughter in the law or academia, as he had, but recognized that she had an affinity towards the soil and plants, so tempered his disappointment with resolve to support her in her chosen pursuit.
After her graduation with the highest marks ever achieved at Case, “Lucy” moved to Topeka where she had been appointed the superintendent of grounds at the state capitol (there was some controversy, as would be expected over hiring a female as superintendent, but she soon proved that she was more than a match for the job and the skeptical men who worked for her). On the weekends, she often stayed at the orchard and visited friends in Walnut Shade. On one of those weekends, she met the son of Grant Harris, Edward, and within a year, they were married. Their first child Inez, was born in 1920, great granddaughter of the President.
The other book connection comes through Glenda Singleton, who says that growing up, she and Candice Millard used to write plays that they would coerce their brothers, sisters and other cousins into performing for any adult who would sit still for them.
“We all knew that Candy had an immense talent for making any scene real. Her books just bring those historical characters alive again. When she began writing for the National Geographic, we thought we’d be getting postcards from her from all over the globe, but we are so glad that she’s just down the road in Overland Park.”
Glenda revealed that Candice will be coming to Walnut Shade later in the fall to lead a discussion of her book, if she can work it into the book tour that is being scheduled by her publisher.
Mark Sappington’s cousin Stephen was in town to talk to Main Street/PRIDE committee about historic preservation. He is a member of the board of directors of the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation and is active in the Friends of Arrow Rock. Mark and Stephen are the great great grandnephews of Francis Sappington, the brother of Dr. John Sappington, who was an early resident of Arrow Rock. Mark has been trying to convince the committee to develop a set of design guidelines for renovations/improvements to buildings in downtown. A couple of the committee members have been reluctant to do so, convinced that regulations will keep businesses from opening. But, as Mark has pointed out, when Walnut Shade was selected for Kansas Main Street, it agreed to implement the program fully and design is one of the major components. Stephen pointed out that Arrow Rock has been designated a National Historic Landmark, which carries more stringent requirements than local ordinances and yet it has not suffered any decline in its economy. Indeed, at every meeting, the town council turns down permits for businesses that want to come to Arrow Rock.
Sally Oswald, chair of Main Street/PRIDE, appointed Mark, Michelle Clemons and Jody Tyler to a “Design Committee” to begin developing a set of working guidelines for downtown rehab/renovations. Jody, being one of the vocal dissenters, initially declined, but decided that being on the committee where she would have an opportunity to influence the final product was better than being on the outside looking in. She’ll have her hands full with Mark and Michelle who are both staunch advocates of strict regulations. Sally suggested the committee should try to have something to look at for the next Main Street/PRIDE meeting in September.
Jerry has been unusually energetic the last few days. Perhaps he senses a chance in the weather. Let’s hope so; our air conditioning bill from Kaw Valley Rural Electric is going to be gigantic. Good thing we put in that heat pump last year.