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Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:13 pm

Last night was the final straw that broke my resolve to leave our happy raccoons alone. I’ve had it! They have pushed me too far…especially Roger, who is the size of Jack, who, in turn, is twice the size any normal Aussie should grow up to be. The runt of the litter gone rampant. Roger is one enormous raccoon who has lived on our house, along with all his kin, for many years. He’s one of the off-spring of the family who used to come visit at appropriate times when my grandkids were small. They would come spend the night, just to see the raccoons at play, a production as predictable as the Broadway show, “Chorus Line”. Well, those days have long past. The grandkids and most of the raccoons have grownup and found other playgrounds to frequent. Not Roger. He is steadfast, loyal and dependable doing his Chorus Line routine. Our house intrigues him. I wish Roger and I could agree on maybe one matinee a month. I think that’s reasonable. Now, it has boiled down to me and my sleep time or him and his play time. That choice is simple for me after another in a string of sleepless nights. He’s going to have to find another jungle jim. Last night was the final straw. He plays on the deck right by my bedroom window, then goes to the roof and engages in something like hop scotch. Sounds like a hundred pound bag of cement being flung about. You can hear the fun he’s having. Then things are ominously quiet during intermission as I start to doze….then wham! Boom! Boom! Boom! Not being of the diurnal ilk, the only thing that seems to deter him is to flick on our bank of spotlights around the house giving the appearance of daylight. That works, but it also signals “morning” to Jack and he starts rattling his cage. The neighbors run outside to see what kind of trouble is brewing. Beady eyes shine at us out of the darkness of the woods below. Things have to change. We don’t need to have the coffee perking at 3:00 am. So, this morning, I sent “you know who” on a mission to figure out what our options might be. He went straight to the Co-op. It’s a “guy” hangout. A refuge. I think they invented Co-ops just for “guys”. “Guys” congregate there to solve all kinds of problems like the “gals” do around a bridge table. Sure enough, Alan said, there was a solution in the offing. He just happened to know a guy who is an expert any-kind-of-critter remover-relocater-find-a-new-happy-home trapper person. I think they have a book full of “Solutions for the Desperate Guy” at the Co-op. I hope they never lose it. This solution was appropriately filed under L.Beagley, who is also an expert with wood, and many other things. Larry has been a lifesaver for us on many occasions. And he knows his critters. So, the trap is set. I’ll keep you posted. Anyone out there want a nice friendly, handsome hundred pound Roger raccoon?



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:51 am

I’m posting this again to encourage any of you who want to go, to contact Ron about this tour. The meeting place is Ron and Pat Svaty’s house, 3rd and Court, in time for a 5:30 a.m. departure for Solomon. Everyone is welcome to attend. This is a duplicate tour of the one Josh made when he announced his candidacy and he feels it is an appropriate way to end his campaign. If you can, come show your support for a job well done and join the fun. 6:30 a.m. Solomon Truck stop 7:00 a.m. New Cambria, Elevator 7:30 a.m. Kipp Metalwork shop (?) 8:05 a.m. Gypsum Hardware store 8:40 a.m. Assaria, Assaria Oil and Hardware 9:10 a.m. Bridgeport Zimmerman’s 9:45 a.m. Falun, Old bank 10:15 a.m. Smolan, Outside Hickory House 10:45 a.m. Mentor Outside Methodist Church 11:15 a.m. Salina, Outside OCCK 11:50 a.m. Bavaria, Elevator 12:20 p.m. Hedville, Elevator 12:50 p.m. Glendale Fire station 1:20 p.m. Brookville, City Building 1:50 p.m. Carneiro, Outside Methodist Church 2:25 p.m. Kanopolis, Orozco’s 2:55 p.m. Ellsworth Courthouse 3:30 p.m. Lorraine Cafe 4:00 p.m. Holyrood, Sunset Lounge 4:45 p.m. Wilson Opera House 5:20 p.m. Black Wolf Elevator



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:58 am

I made a mistake about the location of the debate tonight. An astute reader called to tell me….and my thanks to him. It will be at the Small Business Development Center…where the Chamber of Commerce meetings are held….ACROSS THE STREET EAST OF THE CITY/COUNTY BUILDING. See you there.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 6:51 am

A request came in yesterday from a Salina reader to include the Independent On Line newspaper from South Africa. I think this is what he wants. He specified Johannesburg SA and IOL is a composite of newspapers from all of SA. It should suffice. Their disclaimer reads: “Reliance on the information this site contains is at your own risk. ” Interesting, no? On the home page, if you click on South Africa and scroll down the page, you’ll find the regions of South Africa where you can sort out the local news by region. Or, you can select IOL’s news from the Independent Group’s range of national and international newspapers. You just need to click on the newspaper you want to peruse. Anyway, I know this reader loves to soak up about all the newsprint there is over the world on a regular basis, and if he wants this one included, I’ll sure put it in. He uses my blog as a handy reference to get to the range of newspapers he reads and finds it convenient. That’s nice to hear. I have provided a huge platter of offerings for your elucidation. We’ll get this posted as soon as possible. Another of his requests was for, a Salina radio station on line newspaper, of sorts. This does have a lot of the Salina/area news so it was a good suggestion to include it. Tuesday. Proofing day. Another issue of the I/R will be in your mailbox tomorrow. Next week….as far as I know….they are going to hold the presses for the front page of the paper so the election results can be included. At least that is the plan. The results from Saline County are slow and might not be in before midnight…or 2:00 a.m., they said. I’ll have an update on that later this week.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:59 pm

If you’ve never been to all the towns in the 108th district in one day, next Monday you have the opportunity to do that. All 21 of them. In 12 hours..and add another 1 1/2 hours for getting to the starting place in Solomon and coming home from Black Wolf! Sound like fun? All you sturdy participants should meet at Ron and Pat Svaty’s house prepared to leave promptly at 5:30 am for Solomon. Well, maybe it’s one of those things you’ve always wanted to do…like sky diving, or bungee jumping. Spelunking? Maybe you’ve wondered if you could endure 13 1/2 hours in a well-worn farm pickup truck with a SVATY sign precariously anchored to the bed. Maybe you’ve never been to some of these towns. Have you ever thought if you were in good enough shape to get out of the truck 22 times and get back in 22 times, ….and throw in some extras just for spares? If you don’t feel up to the entire trip, how about meeting Josh along the way. There will be some joining the tour at Orozco’s in Kanopolis about 2:25. Jesse will fix you a large smothered sancho while you wait. The Ellsworth Court House, at 2:55, will be the next stop followed by one at the Lorraine Cafe at 3:30. Or in Holyrood at the Sunset Lounge about 4:00. Those in Wilson can meet Josh at 4:45 at the Opera House. Black Wolf will be a the last stop before heading home. You shouldn’t have any trouble locating the group in Black Wolf. I know a couple of mothersand a grandmother, who, if they survive this marathon run, will NOT be fixing dinner for anyone that night. We’ll be lucky to survive. Up at 4:30 am ? Ouch! The SOAP BOX TOUR tour will be a good ending for Josh and his campaign, just as he announced it in the same manner. He has worked very hard and based his entire campaign on the issues….and only the issues. He’s a fine, honest man. The next day will be the day to get out and vote, if you haven’t already done so. (Advance voting in the County Clerk’s office is a great way to do it…just in case the weather isn’t nice on the 5th. I recommend it.) And Tuesday evening, there will be a “watch the election results gathering” for all the people who have helped Josh work on his campaign and/or with contributions. You are all invited to the meeting room at the Prairie Garden Motel starting about 7 pm. If you can, bring a contribution for the food table…snacks, sandwiches, apple cider, chips and dips, relish trays, etc. that would be very helpful. (Or if you insist, chocolate sour cream cake from scratch with that good fudge icing and chopped pecans :) Try to attend as many of these events as possible. P.S. You can see the complete schedule below on the Oct. 23rd posting. I


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:06 pm

The last scheduled political debate takes place in Salina tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 29th) at 6:30 in the City-County Building. [CORRECTION: It will be in the Chamber Building aka the Small Business Development Center which is across the street east of the City/County Building] It is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the League of Women Voters. All the local candidates will be there, incuding Josh Svaty and Jerry Aday, which will give you one last chance to ask questions and listen to what is being said by office seekers. It should be a very interesting evening.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:01 pm

There is little that can compare with the beauty of the east coast and the Maritimes this time of year…particularly New Hampshire, Vermont and the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. That’s where I’d like to be right now for a “drive through” (but not to live), if there were choices like that to be made. I was lucky to be there once, so memories will have to suffice. Halloween carries with it a very old tradition, especially in the Maritimes. The decorations are incredibly elaborate and designed with painstaking detail. They are “everywhere”. Almost every home has decorations of some kind and the parks and green areas are covered with reminders of the season. They have stores that carry clothes specifically for their life-size “pumpkin people”. There are displays of dozens of “pumpkin people”, many with specific themes so that they are dressed for the occasion. I saw one farm family of pumpkin people that was miles from the nearest neighbor that had about 75 likenesses on display. It looked like a family gathering of old and young, large and small, all smartly dressed for the occasion. Another group was heading on a space journey with the large space ship at the ready. It’s amazing how they all are caught up in the fever of this holiday of the pumpkin. Aside from that, the beauty of the landscape is beyond description as you weave along the byways and let the splendor of the changing colors wrap you in their warmth. The colors are varied and reminiscent of glazed strawberries, butterscotch yellow, honey blond, fire engine red… apricot tinged with sunlight, and mixed with iridescent red and orange that fall next to a lost color that is almost black. That beauty is there every fall. You can count on it. It permeates and stuns your senses if you are a visitor, never to be forgotten. I wonder if the people who are surrounded by such intense beauty each and every fall are numb and insensitive to it? I thought of that as I drove to Salina today and saw the beauty of our own trees…the cottonwoods in their wraps of yellow, some subtle while others were bursting with full color, the sun shining on their glistening leaves. There are maples and oaks, too…ranging in all colors of burnt orange, and scarlet and bright red. The ashes are lovely surrounded by great mounds of sumac. It is beautiful driving in the county. And the towns have such a wide variety of colorful trees too, much better than 20 years ago. We have a different planting zone here now, allowing for a wider variety of trees and shrubs, offering a greater variety of color and shapes. There was work that went into making it so beautiful. The colorful trees in Vermont and the bright yellow aspen in Colorado can capture our memories for a time, but what we have right here is the very best of all. It is a lasting beauty, hard-earned. It’s the kind we appreciate when it comes our way as the struggle and anticipation of color comes to us each fall. We wait and hope. Like the countryside around us, we can’t just take it for granted…we have to nurture it. It took a lot of work to make it so and we appreciate each and every leaf that struggles to give us a little color. Small things make us happy and appreciative. If you haven’t taken a leisurely drive in the country lately, it’s a good thing to do. It’s beautiful “out there”.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 7:19 am

Articles I have posted here got out of order as I was trying to make some new postings in blogger (when it wasn’t working properly). Calamity Jane belongs down the list with the other Cowboy material in the appropriate time frame, but I am not going to attempt to move it now for fear of making matters worse. My webmaster is working on the new blog spot and should have it up and running soon. Most of it is way beyond me. The new spot will look a little different from the one here that you are accustomed too. All the material will be the same, the links will be the same and I’d encourage you to call up the newspapers whenever you like. Right before the election there will be items of interest in the Hutchinson News and the Salina Journal and of course, the Indy on Wednesday.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 12:05 pm

Ah! I might be back in business again. Blogger was hacked and they are slow getting things back in order. Well, slow probably isn’t the correct term as with a half-million bloggers using blognet and one employee, it’s a monumental task for him to get everyone up and running again. Soon I’ll be moving my blogspot to my own server and this won’t continue to be a problem as MetaPros is about as reliable as you can get in this business. (I highly recommend them for anyone looking for a host) I’ll try to figure out how to explain the change in a separate posting as it will require a redirect to get to my old archives (and occasionally the same problem will persist as far as accessing archives), but I should be able to post with no problem. I took a snapshot of all my old archives and have them on file. I just thought I should explain that I’m alive and well, but with blogger down, it’s hard to know that. It was not a case of me having nothing to talk about. I can’t recall that ever being the case, so I’ll try to get busy with this again soon after the move. Stay tuned.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 11:08 am




Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:48 pm

Everyone is welcome to attend the soap box tour. This is a duplicate tour of the one Josh made when he announced his candidacy. 6:30 a.m. Solomon Truck stop 7:00 a.m. New Cambria Elevator 7:30 a.m. Kipp Metalwork shop (?) 8:05 a.m. Gypsum Hardware store 8:40 a.m. Assaria Assaria Oil and Hardware 9:10 a.m. Bridgeport Zimmermans 9:45 a.m. Falun Old bank 10:15 a.m. Smolan Outside Hickory House 10:45 a.m. Mentor Outside Methodist Church 11:15 a.m. Salina Outside OCCK 11:50 a.m. Bavaria Elevator 12:20 p.m. Hedville Elevator 12:50 p.m. Glendale Fire station 1:20 p.m. Brookville City Building 1:50 p.m. Carneiro Outside Methodist Church 2:25 p.m. Kanopolis Orozcos 2:55 p.m. Ellsworth Courthouse 3:30 p.m. Lorraine Cafe 4:00 p.m. Holyrood Sunset Lounge 4:45 p.m. Wilson Opera House 5:20 p.m. Black Wolf Elevator


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:19 pm

Ouch! My back feels like I sat on a bale of straw for way too long last night. And that’s just what I did, gathered around the campfire, as it were, with early Cowtown legends Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok and our local Moon McCall (Dennis Kasey). Matt Edwards, who loves being a cowboy, dropped in on his way home from his cowboy work. Yesterday was the first full day of Ellsworth’s 2002 End of the Trail Fall Round Up. It was a humdinger, one of those rare days of perfect Kansas weather when, along with it, everything else just seems to go right. The grade school students walked to the Cow Camp to visit the re-enactors and hear tales of buffalo hunters and ask questions their curious minds conjure up, like, “Where do you take a bath when you’re out on the trail?” I met Ray “Whiskey Ray” Ravine who was here from Auburn, California. He and his wife were visiting relatives in Bazine and Ness City when Ray learned of the Round Up through his membership in the American Federation of Old West Re-enactors. Chris “Wild Bill Hickok” Ball is the National Commissioner of the organization and was here from Pueblo Colorado. Daisy and Red were here from Divide, Colorado. It was their first trip to Ellsworth. They were dressed to the nines, but I never did learn their real names. Maybe they’re just Daisey (”with an e”, she said) and Red. One from closer to home was Brett “Aubry Stilwell” Dawson. He hails from Humboldt, Kansas and like the others, is also a member of the American Federation. “Calamity Jane” in real life is Joyce Thierer, a dynamo college history professor from Emporia State. In a special performance, she told about the life and times of Calamity Jane in first person then at the end, fielded questions from the audience. Since that required answers from both Joyce and Calamity Jane, she did the hat trick so her audience would be clear as to who was answering the question. That well-worn trail hat of hers has been around a bit. She is a member of the Kansas Alliance of Historical Performers, the “real thing”, she says, and somehow a step above the other organizations. She has her own professional historical performance touring troupe called Ride into History. We were fortunate to have her here for one of her performances. Like Jim says…”we all love to pretend”. Greg Heller, plays the composite role of “Capt. William T. Allen”, a Texas drover and lawman of the old west. He came to the rescue of Jim Gray and Linda Kohls, who have managed to put these projects together since 1996 without other help. He organized the visits by the school students and helped everyone else find their way about the camp. That was a very successful event. In fact, it is their plan for next year to involve the school children even more by having a field day at the camp. The students could bring a sack lunch, listen to the re-enactors, be involved in camp activities, play games known to their ancestors and sample victuals from the chuck wagon. They could prepare for it in school through instruction and making things that would be appropriate for that time period. Jim, Linda and Greg have great ideas for that. Today will be packed with gun fights by members of the nationally acclaimed Society of Outlaws and Gunfighters. The re-enactors will be around with more demonstrations. I’ll be back there with more straw bale sitting. Last night was nice sitting around the campfire in the dark with the chill night air working on my back and my front side warmed by the fire. It was the perfect campfire and provided ample opportunity for reflection and thought. After a very long, hard day I found it very peaceful. It would be nice if a lot more townspeople take notice today and visit the camp to show support for the efforts of Jim and Linda. It’s a good thing for Ellsworth and the best way in the world to learn of our early history.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:48 am

I ambled into Jan’s office the other day when the advance voting option was made available to voters. It seems like a great idea to me. I thought if I voted early, somehow that would translate into support with those who view the results of such options. Someone will take notice of that fact I was there. Jan has everything set up in the Clerk’s office according to law, just as you would expect from her, down to the two pencils and two booths in case there is a rush of traffic. She even reminded me there was a back side to the ballot…the judges, you know. I imagine a lot of people, unless reminded, will forget to look on the back. Jan does such a great job as our County Clerk. She is smart as a whip, well-informed, helpful and just a great gal. We are most fortunate to have her in that position. Anyway, if you don’t like to get out of the house on a “bad weather election day”, meander down to the court house and vote now. It’s convenient and really pretty neat. You can still go visit the polls on election day, but they won’t let you vote twice. At least I’m positive my vote will now count. I’m not positive I’ll be alive to vote on November 5th. See how good that can make you feel?


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 9:08 am

For those of you who are “award-winning journalist George Pyle fans”…..let’s see, that would be me and who else, I wonder?….I have added the Salt Lake Tribune so that you can follow his stories there. He’s been hired to do there what we have long observed him doing here….presenting the other side. In Salt Lake City, that will be a daunting task, and could prove to be very, very interesting given the conservative nature of the natives. George is one of my favorite journalists and I really hate to see him leave Kansas. He has a way of presenting the flip side of the picture that many people don’t care to understand. His role is to do some prodding and provoking, in a good way, to get us to broaden our horizons. In my opinion, the Salina Journal has never been the same since they let him go. There is a need for balance in all things and the paper is lop-sided without him and Molly Ivins, who also seems to have slid off the edge of the opinion page. You need a great sense of humor to understand their great sense of humor. George will be missed on Friendly Fire too, which is one of the best programs to be devised by KSAL. Even with that little bit of George, considering all the sharing and commercials, they have a long way to go to balance out Rush and Dr. Laura. I guess they thought George was a pretty powerful guy. So…the Tribune is available to you, along with an assortment of publications from every walk of life and every area in the world. And to keep informed on what is going on in our area, read the Indy from cover to cover. There is lots of good information there.


Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 8:43 am

Yesterday I got one of those emergency calls you never want to get on your day off. Linda called to ply me out of bed and come to work. Now this is volunteer work, mind you…frought with all the frustrations of a REAL job. She was short-handed (there is no way to be otherwise when you’re running a weekly newspaper) and had a tab, special ads, Kanhistique and who knows what else to get lined up yesterday as Monday there is “the paper” on top of all of that.. So, I “volunteered” again to cover the Round Up, work on some ads and run the usual errands. I was so busy I didn’t get much to eat aside from the usual fare of cottonwood tree seed hulls that blew in off the street and murky water from those ancient river water pipes that serve the building. Well, that is until a new taste treat arrived by way of Seitz Drug…the closest place to find something to stave off starvation. Terry has stocked some tasty little treats that are like the old-fashioned Benne Bits…they taste like that. They are cheese and butter with a little cayenne pepper sprinkled in and rolled into different shapes and baked, I presume. They have a sweet kind for dessert, after you’ve eaten all the others. They are twists with cinnamon and other good stuff. They must have a bazillion calories a bite, but they really hit the spot yesterday. Everyone rushed out to buy some, except me since I had to work, so I got handouts from everyone. They are really good. Terry will know what you mean when you ask for some…that is if we didn’t eat them all.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 1:55 pm

Josh Svaty, Candidate for the State Legislature, 108th District, is the kind of whippersnapper we need In the drought of new, high-quality political candidates in rural Kansas, and the lack of leadership and integrity from incumbents, one candidate emerges clearly above the others: Joshua Svaty, native of Ellsworth. This is a candidate who truly cares about the people and places of rural Kansas and can give us a voice that has been lacking through critical times. Josh, a recent honors graduate of Sterling College and a farmer, is vigorous and young, yet has the intellect and maturity that far exceed his years. He is a man with a solid reputation in Ellsworth County, a lay minister in the Presbyterian Church, who truly wants to represent rural Kansans in the 108th district. Josh believes, as do others who observed the last session, that we have an ineffective legislature which extended the session to the longest ever in the state’s history. It set a new record for Kansas, but there were no success stories resulting from it that benefited the 108th. Rural Kansans were overlooked when it came to school finance, the budget crisis and redistricting. The legislature wasn’t entirely responsible for creating these problems, but they are wholly accountable for not directing their energy toward solving them responsibly. The problems of fiscal management and financing our schools have not been solved and will loom before us during the next session. We need new people with fresh ideas to stimulate and to motivate the legislature to meet the challenges we face. In looking to the 2003 session, 40% of legislature will return to Topeka unopposed. Shame on us for allowing this to happen. It’s time to turn things around. Josh wants to contribute positively to create change. He wants to be part of an effort to solve problems in a way that will benefit all Kansans. He will stress the importance of family life and listen carefully to what constituents in the 108th have to say. In order for us to regain an equal playing field in Topeka, we need a man like Josh who has a heart that beats in rural Kansas and voice that will truly represent the interests of us who choose to live and work in it. He will be a strong public servant and an adept politician. Ben Marshall, publisher of the Sterling Bulletin, recently said: “We need some young whippersnappers in Topeka with fresh ideas, determination and energy to replace the old establishment guard. We need them to discover new ways of financing our schools, holding down health insurance costs and helping our senior citizens without taxing us (and particularly the state’s farmers) to death. We need them to create programs to attract and nurture small businesses and preserve the family farms. And most of all, we need this new breed to give rural Kansans a fighting chance in Topeka.” Ben’s words must ring true with other rural Kansans. Something in Topeka definitely is broken. Josh is just the kind of young whippersnapper we need to give us a fighting chance to survive.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 3:55 pm

Spring Gather. Fall Round Up. Put on your best duds and head to Ellsworth with your partner. It’s time to slip back to the 19th century to relive early days of the Wild West with a Fall Round Up. Think cattle. Thursday, October 17th marks the beginning of a weekend celebrating Living History Day, The Toughest Guns in Ellsworth Gunfight Contest, an appearance by Calamity Jane and a Cowboy Ball. There will be stories and music around the campfire with an offering of chuck wagon food. Think time warp. Some of our townspeople and their guests will be dressed in their finest 1870s clothes, purchased or handmade for this special event. They will duplicate the minutest detail of their reenactment trades which include farmers, buffalo hunters, lawmen and outlaws, cowboys, cattle drovers and businessmen. There will be a fancy lady or two strutting about town to catch your eye, musicians and cowboy poets to catch your ear. But the showstopper for the diverted highway traffic, caused by the detour down our main street, will be the Victorian ladies wearing layers of petticoats under their finely detailed dresses, with the whole nine yards of fabric, carrying their colorful parasols and strolling arm in arm with their gent. Keep your eyes on those semi drivers as you also take in the sights on our city streets. It doesn’t get any better than this for those of us who appreciate our cowtown heritage. The historical re-enactors gathering in Ellsworth for the weekend are master historians of our early Kansas cattle towns. By simply crossing south over the Smoky Hill River bridge and entering the Cow Camp, we travel back in time to the 1870s when the earliest settlers arrived in Ellsworth. Everyone is encouraged to experience this journey of living history that was the way of our ancestors. Our school students will have an opportunity on Friday the 18th to visit the living history camp. They will experience the historical presentations offered by expert re-enactors, some who will travel 300 miles to reach this event, who will help them understand our history in a way they will remember….by living it. Students will see what it was like to live among these historical personalities and learn from them first hand about life in the 1870s in early Ellsworth. The students will rotate among eight to ten re-enactors who will offer accounts of their not so ordinary daily lives. This new part of the program for school children has been developed by Cowboy Greg Heller who stepped up at this year’s Spring Gather and offered to help Jim Gray and Linda Kohls who have planned and carried out this event since its inception in 1996. Heller is a member of the “American Federation of Old West Re-enactors Association”. He has enlisted the help of other members of the Association for this Round Up. Friday night there will be a chuck wagon dinner starting at 6:00 with stories and singing around the campfire. Calamity Jane, who in real life is Professor Joyce Theier of Emporia State University, will be making her appearance. She’s terrific and you’ll not want to miss her. On Saturday the re-enactors will interact with the general public in a less formal setting on the half hour. There will be gunfights on the hour. An interpretive tour of the Old Ellsworth Plaza, with Jim Gray relating the events of early Ellsworth history, will be one of the highlights of the weekend. If you haven’t heard Jim as he tells the story associated with each stop at a tour marker, I would encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. Saturday night the Cowboy Ball featuring music of the Butternut Boys String Band and old west dances will be held in the City Recreation Center starting at 7:30. There will be a $5.00 per person admission charge. All of the other events are free to the public. During the ball an auction will be held to help fund the event. After the ball, everyone is invited to sit around the campfire and listen to the story tellers as they weave tales of living at a time the Wild West was born. Sunday, the events of the weekend will start to wind down following the cowboy church service. At the same time as the service, there will be a shoot out at the sand pit east of town by the Kansas Vigilance Committee using real guns of the period and live ammunition. One has to make the choice between the two it seems. Remember - it was the Wild West and and gun fights were an integral part of our history. Grizzle Bear, the organizer of the event, will add unique twists to his shoot out that he arranges every year. There could be a pop quiz of the participants where they must identify rivers and trails on unmarked historical maps, a daunting task for all. Shooting will involve a western scenario with targets of good guys and bad guys, with the good guys being the eventual winners. A hunter/sportsman friend of mine, Mark Seitz, says that gun safety is stressed here over and over and there could be no better example of it than the shoot out. So feel safe about attending. Plans have been made for returning in April of 2003 for the Spring Gather of the C.O.W.B.O.Y Society. Jim Gray and Linda Kohls are to be commended for hosting another valuable event in Ellsworth that brings to life the unique heritage of our early Cowtown history. This is Ellsworth tourism at its very best and we are very indebted to them for all the hours of work and thought they put into this historical re-enactment for our enjoyment. If you would care to make a donation or give something to be auctioned off at the dance on Saturday night, please do so. Every donation will help them defray the expenses they incur.



Filed under: prairie musings — Peg Britton @ 4:05 pm

Imagine sitting on a log in front of a campfire, poking a stick in the embers, as you listen to The Cowboy telling stories from the past. The sound of crickets rubbing their wings together and the faint howl of a lone coyote in the distance add to the mystique of the story. The smoke from the campfire occasionally brings tears to your eyes while the cold night air and the smell of hot boiled coffee perk your senses to alertness. That’s a perfect setting for hearing true stories of “Old West Kansas Cattletowns” as told by The Cowboy, Jim Gray, a local legend. Now you can listen to those stories from the comfort of your easy chair or while driving down the highway. Long in the planning stage, “Around the Campfire with The Cowboy” is a compilation of true stories of Kansas cattle towns: Ellsworth, Abilene, Caldwell, Dodge City, Ellis, Honeywell, Baxter Springs, etc. Captured on CD and cassette, Jim Gray who, “walked the streets and the forgotten trails of an era that will never die”, relates 17 true stories including “Turning the Longhorns Back”, “The Deadly Hitchhiker” and “Wickedest Cattle Town”. It is one terrific recording for all who are interested in our cow town history and heritage. There is more good news. There will be more recordings as told by our master historian, Jim Gray, if sales on this CD are well-received. That means you need to go buy a stack of them so he’ll have money for the next one. His plans for a second recording include tales of the Chisholm Trail, and if it’s successful, he’ll follow with stories of the Santa Fe Trail and Smoky Hill Trail. He then hopes to record true stories about the history of Ellsworth and the other individual cattle towns mentioned in “Around the Campfire with The Cowboy”. The value in having these available is that people who come to visit Kansas don’t know what to look for and this will lead the way for them. If they listen to a CD about Ellsworth and our early drover history, for instance, they can learn in an hour’s time all they need to know to begin an explorer’s adventure on their own in our area. This will encourage them to linger, buy a meal, some souvenirs and maybe spend the night. All of these will help boost our local economy. The recordings were engineered at Central Kansas Sounds, Kanopolis, by Glenn Gustitus, with music by The Butternut Boys String Band, John Page on the fiddle. Jim’s voice in telling these stories adds that quiet, thoughtful resonance that is uniquely his. This is truly a wonderful and lasting project of the prairie. Jim likes to think of himself as a son of the prairie as he was raised on his great-grandfather’s ranch. His family has been in Kansas since the territorial days when Jim’s great-grandfather, George Gray moved from Ontario Canada to Ellsworth in 1879. In 1883, George Gray moved 20 miles south of Ellsworth, near Geneseo, to establish Gray’s Ranch. Jim has been involved with farming and raising cattle all his life. He still has round-ups and manages his cattle the old-fashioned way atop a horse. His children are the 5th generation of Gray’s to operate the farm/ranch. “I’ve always had an interest in the things that have gone before”, said Jim. “These Kansas plains have been witness to untold stories of joy and desperation. Many have been told over and over. Others have lapsed beyond recollection”. The CD recording by Kansas Cowboy Records is $13.95, $9.95 for the cassette. These can be purchased, along with a wide range of other western gear and gifts, at Drovers Mercantile, downtown Ellsworth. The CD and cassette are also appropriately available at the Hodgden House Museum, home of the Ellsworth County Historical Society, in downtown Ellsworth. Kassi and The Cowboy also direct the Cockeyed Old West Band of Yahoos Society, or C.O.W.B.O.Y.S., an organization to preserve and promote the cowboy heritage of Kansas. Their publication, The Kansas Cowboy, recounts the lives and legends of the cowboy in Kansas. Membership is $18.67 and available from Drovers Mercantile.. By stopping by Drover’s or the Hodgden House and buying copies of “The Old West Kansas Cowtowns” for yourself and several for Christmas and birthday gifts (don’t forget several for the unexpected guest), you will “make a difference” in the pocket of The Cowboy. That will make it possible for Jim to make more recordings to preserve the true stories of our drover history for all of us to enjoy. It’s the right thing to do.


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