A Letter From Our President
Over the years, it has been deemed ‘politically incorrect’ to wish friends of other faiths and strangers a ‘Merry Christmas’. More ‘appropriate’ greetings are ‘Happy Holidays’ and ‘Seasons Greetings’. However, at the risk of being insensitive, I believe all persons should feel free to greet others with a cherished greeting, whether it is ‘Happy Hanukah’, ‘Happy Kwanzaa’, ‘Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair!’ (Muslim for “May every year find you in good health”;), ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Happy Festiva’, etc. Greeting others with your own greeting takes you a little out of your comfortable space, but quite possibly could lead to deeper understanding of others and a warmer friendship.
Belton currently has 29 Christian churches – the nearest Jewish temple and Islam worship center are both 9 miles away (Overland Park). Although the museum has a display and detailed information on the history of churches in Belton, I haven’t found any reference to places of worship outside the Christian community. Hopefully this reflects general demographics and not Belton’s hospitality (which I know we have!). My point (?): try to exit your comfort zone and seek out and learn from those who may worship differently than you. Also, if you know anything about the history of non-Christian communities in Belton, the Society would LOVE to hear from you!
In this newsletter you’ll see several highlights of the last QUARTER of 2016. However, I think we have had a great YEAR. In case you’ve missed it, we have:
- Started committees to deal with specific society concerns, including museum, finance, education, research, public relations, sales, and programming;
- Created 4 front-counter rotating displays that have emphasized Belton history and utilized recently loaned and donated artifacts;
- Started monthly story times with preschoolers;
- Provided $4500 in college scholarships to Belton High School graduates;
- Started cataloging our artifacts and computerizing the information with the goal of easily finding every item in the museum and carriage house;
- Kept the museum open and welcoming to over 1000 visitors with the help of our outstanding Docents;
- Started a financial fund that will grow our investments at a faster rate while preserving our endowment fund capital;
- Continued quarterly programs designed to educate about Belton history while providing entertainment;
- Audited our financial books for the first time in at least 5 years;
- Participated in Belton Main Street events with games, prizes, displays, refreshments, AND the first display of Carry’s hearse on Main Street in 15+ years!
And, Happy New Year! We are looking forward to a great 2017 at the museum. Looking ahead, we plan to:
- Continue top-rate programs, starting with a radio-show play in January;
- Update our by-laws to incorporate new procedures, committees, and financial instruments;
- Start a Steering Committee to identify where the Society should be headed in the future 5 years;
- Participate with other local groups, including Boy and Girl Scouts, Chamber of Commerce, Belton Community Projects, the School District, and other local historical societies;
- Get the hearse into a parade!
January General Membership Meeting
The General Meeting of the membership of the Society will be held on January 22 at 2:30 pm in the meeting room behind the museum. This month’s program will be an entertaining production of a 1939 “Blondie “ radio show!
Rob and Pam Powell will produce the radio show titled, simply, “Blondie (Program Four)” that aired on Monday, July 24, 1939. When Dagwood gets a raise and bonus at work, both he and Blondie have different ideas of how to spend the money. Blondie wants a new refrigerator and Dagwood has his eyes on a new car. The fun starts when both of them go shopping and find they can’t afford both items...or can they???
One of the Society’s founding members was Bill Powell. Bill provided much of the labor to create the space we now call our museum and carriage house. It is wonderful to welcome Bill’s son, Dr. Kent Powell, to play the part of Dagwood. Kent is a Life member of the Society and is a dentist who lives in Excelsior Springs with his wife Sharon (nee Calvin) Powell. Both Kent and Sharon are Belton High School grads. We’re so glad they can be part of this production. Kent enjoys acting in community theatre in Excelsior Springs.
Also cast is Dr. Jaynee Brown of Belton to play the role of Blondie. Jaynee lives in Belton and has experience acting in school and community theatre. Jaynee is also a voice over actor and has been in commercials. She is a Chiropractor with a practice in Lees Summit.
We hope you will join us as we take this nostalgic trip down Memory Lane and enjoy a low-tech afternoon listening to the radio!
While our docents are enjoying the winter break from their regular museum volunteering shifts, let’s give them a giant THANK YOU! Pam Powell, volunteer coordinator, hosted the docents in her home for a holiday party. It was so nice to meet some spouses, children and to meet those who work on different days for the first time. All received a holiday gift. (Any docents who were unable to attend can find their gift on the table in the museum).
We will honor our docents at our January general meeting. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather. Please join us as we honor their huge commitment to their Historical Society.
We will be looking for more members to volunteer in 2017. The commitment is either Tuesday or Thursday afternoon from 1 – 4 pm or Saturday mornings from 10 am- 1 pm. When we all work together, there is only a need for each volunteer to work one shift a month. Please check your calendar to see if YOU have some time to share with our group. Please call Pam Powell if you are interesting in helping at 331-6710.
The Board of Directors and the membership of the Historical Society send sincere condolences to Board member Janna Dillon and her family upon the death of her husband, Ron Dillon. Ron was most recently spotted at the museum lending an early steam iron to our temporary display of antique kitchen and farm tools. As a book lover, he could not resist purchasing a copy of Cinders and Silence by Tom Raffiner. We will certainly miss Ron at the museum.
It seems that over the past ten years or so, many items that were not readily placed in the museum were taken to the second floor of the carriage house until…??? Well, until now. Bill Brady and Pam Powell have spent hours in the carriage house sorting through piles and files and boxes and shelves. It has been tedious and a labor of love. So many items have been donated to the museum and have not had proper acquisition paperwork completed. Many photos have no identification. There are boxes of old tools, garments, books, newspaper clippings magazines, abstracts, the list goes on and on.
At the January general meeting we will have a “Photo Safari” where many photos will be on display for everyone to look at and try to help us identify. The difficult decisions must be made soon about what we will keep for our historical archives, future displays, etc., and what will be discarded or donated to others.
One delightful treasure was meant to be shared with our membership. A young girl’s autograph book from 1893 with yellowed pages, beautiful penciled handwriting and lovely sentiments. So enjoy a few moments here with this glimpse into the past. The hopes and dreams and good wishes for a young girl
Ten years from now,
When this you see,
I wonder what your
Name will be.
Sailing down the stream of life
In your little bark canoe
May you have a pleasant trip
With just room enough for two.
Accept Miss Maudie
These lines from me
As a token of my respect for thee
And on this page may they be found
When I’m slumbering beneath the ground
The leaves will wither
The flowers will die
Friends will forget you
But never will I.
When in fair and distant land
You may see the writing of my hand,
Although my face you can not see
Read this my cousin and think of me.
On one page we can read the name of the girl, Maude Yost. Are you a descendent of Maude? Can you share her story? How did her book come to find a home in our collection? We’d love to hear from you.
Donations!! Thank you!!
We were honored to receive two donations of $100.00 each from Life members. Thank you Mary Manning Kelly and JR and Peggy Wyman Wyatt. It is so wonderful that we can keep our Museum a focal point in the community. We hope someday you can “come home” to Belton to see your gift at work!
The Audit Committee met in December under the guidance of chairperson Janna Dillon. With the cooperation of Treasurer Ed Maurer, this was the first time in too many years that our by-laws were followed and the audit occurred. The Treasurer’s books were found to be in good order for the fiscal year October 2015-September 2016. The committee recommended some processes to improve our record keeping during the current year.
How Things Have Changed!
Many current Belton residents remember the ‘minor flap’ in 2015 when the Public Works Department decided to repave several streets with the ‘new’ technique: chip-and-seal. Residents complained to the City Council about the dust (from the rock chips), the gooey asphalt base, and, in particular, the ultimate ‘rocky’ road surface. The public works head was publicly chastised by the mayor for making this choice (instead of regular asphalt), and, although it was probably a coincidence, the public works head is now working for another city.
Contrast this 2015 event with a story sent in by J.R. (Skip) and Peggy Wyatt (Belton Historical Society members now living in Green Valley, Arizona):
In the late 20’s/early 30’s, Belton was really a small town and isolated from Kansas City and surrounding towns by time, distance, and telephone. It was long distance to Grandview, much less KC. The streets that were paved were ‘chip-and-seal’, i.e., a thin layer of asphalt covered with fine lime stone ‘chips’.
One day the mayor (Mr. Bradford?) called Paul Wyatt (Skip’s dad) and asked if he could come with him on the asphalt spreader. At that time Belton was having difficulty getting people to pay their city taxes and the city couldn’t spend money they didn’t have. Rich and poor alike, there just simply was no particular reason to prompt some people to pay their city taxes. So, Mayor Bradford and Skip’s Dad took the tax books in the asphalt truck and when they came to a house that hadn’t paid their taxes they cut off the asphalt (and chips) until they got to the other side of the property. Apparently the word spread rather quickly. When they returned to City Hall there was a line of people waiting to pay their overdue taxes.
Skip and Peggy commented: “Imagine trying to get away with something like that in today’s world?” In light of the 2015 incident, it is likely many current residents would have loved the double bonus of no taxes and no chip-and-seal in front of their houses.
Featured Board Member — Bill Brady
William Peter Brady was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, where his father was a professor at University of Missouri. Bill was the 8th child of Thomas Allen Brady and Mary Elizabeth “Leslie” Brady. Bill attended University High School in Columbia, and after graduation he entered the Air Force in October, 1972. Bill was stationed in Texas, Louisiana, Oregon, Thailand, Georgia, Virginia, Germany, Ohio, Korea, and Illinois. He retired in November, 1992, and while on terminal leave moved to Leawood, Kansas. In January, 2003 Bill moved to Belton.
After moving to Belton, Bill discovered that he has roots in the Belton area going back into the early 1800’s. Specifically, Bill’s great grandmother was the sister of Rob Powell’s great, great grandfather (both children of James C Alderson), making them 3rd cousins, once removed. Bill has been an active contributor to the Friends of Alderson Boren Dye Cemetery, and is currently researching family members who have trekked to western Kansas, Oklahoma, and San Diego. For the last 6 years he has been a Historical Society board member and leads the society’s research committee. In his ‘spare time’ Bill works full-time at Locks and Pulls in Overland Park.
Ed. Note: Bill is going off the Board of Directors after serving two 3 year terms. He is staying aboard as the chairperson of the Research Committee. We hope he will return to the Board in 2018!
Recent Donations to our Collection
During the Fall Festival, we were delighted to meet Kathy Altis of Spring Hill, KS. Kathy was working the booth adjacent to the Historical Society’s booth. Kathy was impressed by our museum and the work we were doing to teach children attending the festival. She wondered if we would like to have an Edison Victrola (record player) and early records for our museum. We were overjoyed to accept this incredible gift and have it displayed prominently in the museum.
Later, Arnetta Johnston called and offered to donate a doll and toy collection from her childhood. Museum committee members Sally Smith and Pam Powell visited her home and decided we’d love to have her dolls and toys to exhibit in the museum. During our re-opening in March 2017, be sure to stop by the museum to see what will currently be a temporary display of dolls from the mid-20th century.
Girl Scout Troop Tour
Andrea Miller’s Girl Scout Troop 448 visited and toured the museum in mid-October. The girls learned quite a bit about Belton during the “olden days”. They particularly enjoyed the stories about Carry Nation and seeing her hearse. They wanted to give back to the museum and wanted to find some way to help us, so the girls came back during Trick or Treat on Main Street to help us hand out candy! Thanks girls!
Halloween on Main Street
For the first time in many years, the Carry A. Nation hearse was brought out of the carriage house and parked in front of the museum for the Annual Trick or Treat on Main Street. This was a wonderful opportunity to expose families to the Carry Nation story. Pam Powell dressed as Carry, wielding an axe and asking visitors if it was true that there was a bar down the street! Rob Powell played the undertaker trying to put Carry to rest in the hearse. Board member Sherry Durham, dressed as the sheriff, tried to bring the entire situation under control. The Girl Scouts helped distribute candy. Everyone was amazed to see this historic carriage outdoors on the beautiful fall day. This was one more effort on your Board’s part to become more visible in the community, and by golly, we caused quite a stir!!
Down Memory Lane
This quarter we are featuring the beloved Round Barn at the far end of Main Street.
The following notes are from The Tri-County Art League and Belton Chamber of Commerce 1995 calendar: “This unusual barn still stands at the east end of Main Street where it has been an eye-catcher for several generations of Beltonites. Originally built by Charlie Grimes, the barn was the site of cattle sales from time to time. The Grimes farm was sold in the early forties to Robert and Elizabeth Jones, who build a house on the property and lived there 24 years. Their daughter, Jean Ann Hylton, recalls that the old barn was a ‘wonderful place’ for youngsters and remembers fondly such things as Halloween parties there.”
The artist Rita Sherman – Kansas City, MO was “a serious painter only since 1988. The creation of a painting is a source of pleasure for her and she likes to watch how it all comes together. She considers the rewards of a finished painting immeasurable and wonderful. She also does Scratch Board art, in which a penpoint is used on a black board. She has taken lessons from Carolyn Hughlett and besides the Tri-County group, is also a member of the Raytown Art Assn. Her work has been shown at the Unity, the Greater Kansas City Art Show and Red Bridge Art Show.” We’d love to hear more about this artist and her work. If you know of her or her family, please share her story with us.
Our Interactive Election Exhibit Ends
One special exhibit during the fall months included a mock election for all our visitors to vote for President of the United States. Voters were given the choice of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump and the Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton. Since our society owns copies of local newspapers in its archives from over 100 years, Pam Powell studied the election years coverages from the election of our own Harry S. Truman through Barack Obama. Since Harry S. Truman, the only time folks in our area have voted for the Democratic candidate was in 1968, Lyndon B. Johnson. To see how accurate our voting patterns are, we held the mock election for people of all ages who visited our museum. Over 150 people voted and the final tally was 100 votes for Donald Trump and 50 votes for Hillary Clinton. Once again, local folks voted Republican and this year, they selected the winner of the general election! A thank you to JoAnn Mosby, Patsy Minkler and Pam Powell for sharing their campaign buttons, bumper stickers and posters!
New Exhibit Opens in March! Early Cass County Cabin
Cass County Historical Society (CCHS) was given the unique opportunity to save and preserve a 175+ year old log cabin. This forgotten piece of our nation’s history helps tell the tales of life on the early prairie through the Burnt District/Civil War period and up to present day realities. Through their preservation of this historic building CCHS will be able to relive the pioneer families who homesteaded this land through stories, tales and artifacts as well as its connection to the Civil War and General Order # 11.
Don Peters, Director of the CCHS, has offered us an exhibit about the log cabin for our museum. We will put it against the back wall under the print of Order Number 11. The two exhibits go hand in hand. Don will deliver and install the display for us. This is quite an opportunity for our museum patrons to learn about the cabin and its story first hand. We are all looking forward to having the cabin in Belton’s Memorial Park!
During the 2016 calendar year nine people became Life Members! We hope to see this number increase as the years go by. We welcome you and extend the opportunity to be an active member of the Society!
Jimmy Joe Mosby
Hopefully the address label of this newsletter has a date after your name. If the date is 2016, then your annual dues ended at the end of December. We hope you will re-join our Historical Society. If you are able, this would be a great time to change your membership from Annual membership ($15.00) to a Life membership ($150.00) Life members have their names engraved on plaques displayed in the museum. Best yet, you won’t have to remember to send in dues every year! The Life membership fee has not been increased for years, making it a bargain these days!!
Board of Directors Holiday Party
Members of the Board of Directors were invited to the home of President Rob Powell for a Christmas party on the second Thursday of December instead of a dreary Board meeting! Rather than a personal gift exchange, Board members were encouraged to bring gifts to the museum! We received over 16 reams of papers so that we can print more information from our computer/word processor in the museum. We received pens, pencils, note pads, legal pads and (an inside joke for the docents…) several packages of toilet paper for our restrooms!! It was fun for the Board members to visit and socialize after a year of hard work!
Just a quick reminder that the museum will be closed during January and February, 2017. This gives the Research and Museum committees the opportunity to enhance and reorganize the exhibits. The museum will re-open on March 2nd.
If you would like to enter the museum for a tour or research, please get in touch with President Rob Powell.
Our e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Our phone number is 816-322-3977. Our website remains http://www.beltonhistoricalsociety.org/, and our Facebook page is “Belton Historical Society”.
In January, President Rob Powell will be looking for volunteers to come up with fun ways to raise funds for the Society. The Financial Committee has already looked into our investments with an eye toward increasing our income in the future. Why raise money? This fall was an excellent example of our outreach to the community thus increasing our attendance at meetings and visitors to the museum. Our money spent on the Fall Festival was money well spent as many many people (approx. 700) walked through our museum and countless children took part in educational opportunities making rope, spinning wool, weaving, dipping candles and playing games children played before electricity!! Our money spent on the Halloween event also brought hundreds of children down to the museum steps to learn about Carry Nation and to see the carriage.
What is your talent? What kind of fund raiser appeals to you? An ice-cream social with a Barbershop Quartet? An Alice-in-Wonderland tea party with a fashion show of clothing from pioneers to flappers to 50’s housewives to the hippies and …on and on? Movie nights? What other things might we sell that would be educational and historical to help us spread our message? Give Rob a call, bend his ear, let us hear from you!! 331-6710
We Need Your Help!
You may have noticed that we are de-centralizing the Belton Historical Society hierarchy, i.e., pushing work into committees and depending on the board more for over-sight of committee work. The bottom line is we need your help with:
Joining a committee (or suggesting a new one) - you don’t have to be in Belton to work on most of our committees!
Bringing your friends to our quarterly meetings
Contributing your $ and time for Society activities
Becoming a Life Member
Sending in stories about old times in Belton
Becoming a docent!
Donating historical items when you clean out your attic or basement
Passing along this newsletter to your relatives and neighbors when you’re done reading it
Call (816-331-6710) or write me (email@example.com) if you can help. THANKS! Rob