Share us:

With help from our Friends...

Jewell, Kansas -Webber, Kansas -Burr Oak, Kansas
If you are a Kansas explorer you've no doubt seen things in almost every town that make you wonder what the story is about that object or place.
So wouldn't you love to have a Kansas guidebook that would give you some answers?
The deal is, it's really difficult to find those factual and interesting tidbits unless, that is, you have Facebook Friends that are willing to help investigate and if you've chosen the right co-author.
WenDee LaPlant is certainly the right co-author as she has proven to be a researcher deluxe and has the ability to put that information into words that will make you want to go see the place.
And, you, you our Facebook Friends have shown yourselves to be an invaluable part of the research team.  Stick with us!  We have a ways to go and appreciate your help.
Below are a few examples of how the research hunt for intriguing factoids in Jewell County has gone.
When I did the 2005 guidebook I couldn't find anyone who could confirm the origin of this building in downtown Burr Oak, so I didn't put it in the guidebook.  This time, WenDee was determined to find out the big ol' barn's story so she turned to our ERV Facebook page to see if she could find answers. She got 17,058 likes, 55 shares and almost 40 comments.
Our Facebook detectives, led her to the Sanborn Fire Insurance map that told her this building was the Chicago Lumber and Coal Company as early as 1886.  We also found out it was sold to the Burr Oak Lumber Company in 1920 and operated as a lumberyard until the late 1990s.  Cool!  Now when you drive into Burr Oak (population 169), you'll know the rest of the story.
Here's another enhancing piece of information in Burr Oak.
You'll see this beautiful home on the north side of Burr Oak on K-128.  In the 2005 guidebook I wrote two sentences about the architectural style of the house.  But now, because of all of you and WenDee's digging, we have found out this home was part of a coffee shop contest in the early 1900s.  The challenge was to see who could build the best home.  Supposedly this 1909 Queen Anne home was the winner.  In the guidebook you'll be pointed to two of the three other homes in the contest.
Wouldn't a guidebook explorer want to know about this robbery alarm?  We thought so.  It still hangs on the side of the Guaranty State Bank building in Jewell.  With your help and helpful conversations with people in Jewell, we can now put in a guidebook entry the words Robbery Alarm are actually stained glass pieces.  Look closely! Though the alarm no longer works we know there was a trigger attached to the bank vault door and, unless it was disarmed, the alarm would sound on this metal box when the door opened.  We understand it was really loud -- and help would come running!     The metal box burglar alarm came from the O.B. McClintock Company of Minneapolis, MN sometime in the first half of the 20th century.

One more story.  This one is about a sweet little park in Webber, population 25.  In the 2005 guidebook I simply pointed out that there was a memorial sign to Frank Herrmann in the park with an anvil beside the sign.  WenDee decided to dig further with the help of online documents.  She found a wonderful article in the local paper that shared the story about a woman breaking a butter mold and her little boy saying, "Take it to Frank, he can fix it.” Beloved by all, it was said that Frank Herrmann the blacksmith was known as a man who could fix anything, except a broken heart.


Before Frank died he donated the land to the city to be used as a park for the children of Webber. The anvil that his father brought with him as an immigrant from Germany in 1908 sits steadfastly next to the limestone park sign.


Thanks to WenDee and you all, this is going to be one heck of a guidebook.



Blog entries by Marci Penner, the other author, of the next Kansas Guidebook for Explorers, a project of the non-profit Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation.  If you'd like to help support this project and be a blog sponsor contact

A bright spot in Abilene

Abilene, Kansas
Gushing in color with beautiful beds of flowers, accented with stone structures, sidewalks, and sun dials, Eisenhower Park is a highly recommended destination.  (Facebook).
During the Depression years, the government-created WPA (Works Progress Administration) program was developed to put people back to work.  Between 1935 and 1939, this Abilene park was designed and built with local workers in the WPA program.
The pergola and formal garden were designed by local architect, C.L. Brainard. His designs were inspired by the Italian Renaissance and Beauz-Arts landscapes popular in the era. An interesting aside, as stated in park history, is that C.L. became the architect for his wife's family business, Duckwalls.
WPA workers built a swimming complex, county fair stadium, restrooms, picnic tables, and triangular traffic islands that still stand and are used today in what is now called Eisenhower Park.
Two water fountains add a refreshing spurt to the gardens.

Joy Maas is the dedicated caretaker of this oasis of beauty. Along with seasonal workers from the City of Abilene Parks Department, they work to beat the heat, bring the water, nurture the plants, and present this gorgeous venue to the public.
A short walk away from the flower gardens is this stadium where, in June of 1952, General Dwight Eisenhower announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States.
Next time you're in the Abilene area head over to 500 NW Pine and you'll find a bright spot in your day.
Marci and WenDee are busy writing the next guidebook about places like Eisenhower Park in Abilene. A project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, considering sponsoring these blog posts. Contact


More than a fair view

Concordia, Kansas

We were easily drawn into this cemetery.  As we cruised by on K-28 between Concordia and Jamestown we were attracted by the scroll work and the mausoleum.  We did a quick 3-point turn on the road and came back for further exploration.
As soon as we parked and walked in we saw that the Fairview Cemetery had some rare and appealing features.  We also concluded the name had been perfectly given, though understated.  It was a grand view of the Cloud County horizon from this point.
The cemetery is also referred to as the French cemetery.  William J. French donated this tract of land in 1879 and many of the French family are buried here.
Seldom had we seen sidewalks like this in a cemetery.  They date back to the early 1900s.  Many of the family plots are sectioned off and an angled stone step on the corner provides the name of the family.
The cemetery is located 2 1/4 west of Concordia on K-9 (leave town on 4th), then 4 miles northwest on K-28.  You'll also find a sundial here.  Go on a nice sunny day and enjoy a stroll and more-than-fair view.
Marci and WenDee have completed their 4-year journey to every incorporated city in the state and are now going through all the pictures and notes and making a ton of phone calls as they write the next Kansas Guidebook for Explorers, a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.

Time to head to the dungeon

To say we are headed to the dungeon just means we're putting our heads down, our noses to the grind and really concentrating on getting this second edition of Kansas Guidebook for Explorers done and out to the public.
As we write, we'll have a lot of questions to get answered.  Here is a sampling:
Are these hitching posts used for Amish buggies at this church in Aliceville?  If so, how many in the congregation?  How far does the furthest member drive?
How was this WPA amphitheater in Morganvilled used?  How is it used today?  Any plans to restore it?
Should we include this stone arch bridge in northwest Butler County?  It's hard to find and hard to get a good view of it.  But it's so explorer-y! What to put in and what to leave out is the toughest decision.
Who owns the fence rows north and east of Baldwin City and why did they
secure rocks on top of so many fence posts?
Who owns this row of bowling balls near Lawrence and what is their story?
We'll call back every business that we decide to include to make sure they are still open, to get their hours, and to ask about changes. 
We already found out that the cars in the trees in Clifton have been removed. 
Darn!  That was going to be a great entry.
The hardest part may be having to look at pictures of food, like these crab cakes at Crooners in Fort Scott, and not be able to actually eat them...
These are the trials and tribulations of life in the dungeon.
With your support, we'll get out someday with a finished guidebook and then guess where we'll be?  Back on the road again!
Blog post by Marci Penner, one-half of the research duo that went to every town in the state in order to give the public the best Kansas guidebook possible!  12.10.15


A big surprise in Perry

When Julie found out we were going to Perry she sent us a list of things to consider.  One item was "the obelisk in the field."  She didn't say anything more except that it was behind the elevators.

We easily found the elevators on Front Street and there we saw it, a tall, granite monument in the middle of a corn field.  

We parked and due to the heat and bugs WenDee sent me in by myself.  I walked along the edge of the field and when I was even with the mysterious monolith I dipped in among the sturdy green stalks.  They dwarfed me and I  lost sight of the monument as I crossed row after row until the shadow of it told me I was near. 
The only writing was on one side of the base:  Given in loving memory of Amanda M. Mitchell by her son David Garrett Mitchell 1930.    
How did it come to be in the middle of a cornfield?          
By the time the guidebook comes out we will know the "rest of the story!"

KE #2 Marci and KE #36 WenDee of the Kansas Sampler Foundation are going to every town in the state to research for the next Kansas guidebook. Perry is in Jefferson County.