The Belton Historical Society
P.O Box 1144 | Belton, MO 64012 | 816-322-3977

July 2017: Newsletter 3 Volume XXXVII

Posted by Jason W on Saturday, 08 July 2017 at 1:50 AM

A Letter From Our President

Rob Powell



Breaking with the adage “never discuss religion or politics in public”, I’m going to write a few words about the current political condition (you know I have already broken the above religion ‘rule’ if you read the 1/2017 Newsletter).


Our leaders are changing the course of our institutions! Financiers have taken over our hard-earned cash and chosen more risky investments! Members of the administration are leaving holes in the fabric of the governing body! And most disturbing, leadership is embracing a populist attitude that allows all sorts of common people to change the future path of our society!


NO, I’m not speaking about events 1500 miles east of here, I’m talking about the Belton Historical Society! Our financial committee has given up on low (negative?) interest and joined the modestly risky mutual fund path for our investments. Several well-appreciated members are leaving the board of directors and no one has yet to step up to fill their places. And most importantly, a dedicated group of members (the Steering Committee) has embarked on a mission to define the future of the Society, the first step being a revised set of Society Bylaws. The revised bylaws will be brought up for at the October, 2017 general meeting. You can read the old and new bylaws at!ArsQYidMPot6ga5GydHIZX_zs58ZUw or call the museum and leave a message asking for a copy.


WE NEED YOU to join this revolution! At our July board meeting we will be choosing our Nominating Committee, a group of 5 individuals tasked with finding the leaders for 2018 and beyond. If you can find a little time to help the Society, please be pro-active and volunteer for any of our 8 committees, or even the Board itself. In this electronic age, you don’t have to live in Belton, or even Missouri, to help us out. Please consider taking a position, particularly if someone from the Nominating Committee asks you directly.


Of course, I can’t let a note entitled “Politics” go without commenting on the activities in Washington, DC and Jefferson City. First, whether you are a Trump supporter, a Comey advocate, or a Hillary dreamer, you can’t ignore the day-to-day news from Washington. I’m writing this in mid-June, so when you read it in early July things may have changed 180 degrees (new President?, new FBI director?, new Secretary of State?), but my main comment is you MUST (as historians!) follow this story. Tell your kids and grandkids (and great grandkids?) that these years are going to be historic and constitutional. No matter your political leanings, don’t be the person who says, “It doesn’t matter to me”. Believe me, the next 4 years are going to affect all of us.


On a local note, the Society has ordered new flags for the Museum’s front flagpole. We went through Senator McCaskill’s and Senator Emery’s offices, and both a new US and a new Missouri flag should be up again soon on the flagpole in front of the Museum (maybe we’ll have a ceremony!). We retired the old tattered flags through Belton Boy Scout Troop 210’s program.


Have a great summer, and visit the Museum! I guarantee you’ll see something new!

July General Membership Meeting


Special Notice: Plan on arriving at 2 pm to enjoy our ice cream social! We will begin serving at 2 pm, have a brief meeting at 2:30 and enjoy an afternoon of entertainment from the East Creek Girls!!


The quarterly meeting of the Belton Historical Society will be held on Sunday July 23rd at 2:30 pm. The doors will open and the ice cream social will begin at 2:00 pm, so plan on arriving early. The Ice Cream Social is a mini fund raiser to start saving money for next year’s scholarship awards. This is a free will offering, but we suggest a donation of $5.00 for your custom made ice cream sundae!! All money will be earmarked for scholarships for BHS graduates in the class of 2018!


A short meeting will be held to appoint the Nominating Committee for the Board of Directors of the Belton Historical Society. Also of note, the Steering Committee has updated the bylaws. You can find more information in the President’s letter on pg. 1.


The winners of the 2017 Scholarships will be recognized and honored at the meeting. Be there to help them celebrate and to send them off to college with our greatest regards.


We promise that you will enjoy our program this month as Becky Stevens and her daughter Kaylee Thomas perform as the East Creek Girls. Some may remember Becky from the Fall Festival last year when she spun wool on a spinning wheel and where her children wove the yarn on looms. Becky has been a wonderful contributor to our Society.


Becky writes: The East Creek Band is a mother and daughter duo, playing banjo and fiddles. We’re preservers of old timey music, bringing to life songs and tunes of an age gone by. We’ll take you on a musical journey through Appalachia and the Ozarks. Along the way, there will be toe tapping and foot stomping interspersed with beautiful harmonies.


For a sneak peek at their music, visit their fb page : East Creek Girls


Belton High School All Class Reunion


From the Belton Education Foundation: the all class reunion and the Hall of Fame awards will be held on Saturday, August 5, 2017 at noon. It will be at the new Belton High School commons at 801 W. North Ave. Doors will open at 10:30 am and lunch will be served at noon. Early bird registration ended on July 1st, but tickets purchased before the event are $15.00. Tickets purchased at the door will be $20.00. For more information, call Alli Schnelle, 816-348-1150 or check their website:





We received the following in a note from Margaret Smith of Whittier, California:


A long time ago I worked in that building (Old City Hall) for the Grace Company. We also had the Waltmire family reunion there. I have lots of memories of Hawthorns Grocery Store and horses on Scott. I lived at my grandparents when I was in the 3rd grade, next door to Hawthorn’s on Scott. My grandparents were Waltmire. My cousin still lives in Belton. My father was Charley Ketteman and my brother was Gilbert Ketteman. They both lived in Belton. I was there until after the War when I came to California in 1946.


Q and A:


We receive several requests for information about local history that we try to answer by digging through the Society archives (if you’ve seen the second floor of the carriage house you know that ‘archives’ is a glorified term!). Anyway, starting in the current Newsletter we are starting a column highlighting one or more recent requests, our response, and an invitation to readers to fill in our gaps.


Question: Bob Hendrickson of Urich visited the Museum recently and asked what we could do to preserve the quality of the South Grand River. When trees fall into the river, they act as filters that catch all sorts of debris and convert a smooth-flowing river into a wastewater collection dump. He related that after several years of ‘do-it-yourself’ cutting, back-hoeing, and dynamiting, local residents along the South Grand River (which is the primary contributor to Truman Lake) went to Washington DC in the late 1990’s and convinced their Congressional representatives to establish a $800,000 project to clear the South Grand River of tree debris and re-establish the river for boating and fishing (impossible in the state of the river in the 1990’s).


Unfortunately, between expenses for a written study of the problem (we ALWAYS need a study) and an inefficient government approach to the project (aw, that NEVER happens!), the $800,000 was soon spent with very limited results. Needless to say, the problem is even worse in 2017, with even bridges threatened by log strikes during major storm runoff.


Bob asked the Society to look into this and see if the government would not re-establish to grant, or if we couldn’t help “sue the #%&*’s”.


Answer: I researched this problem through extensive talks with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Missouri Department of Conservation. In essence, both sort of pointed the finger at the other group, but considering the current budgetary issues, particularly in Missouri, there is no way the $ are coming back. Local residents are allowed to address the problem along the stretch of river abutting their property, but they are not allowed to contribute to future pollution, either in the water, on the land (waste dumps), or in the air (burning trees).


Bob did not want to (re-)hear this information, but he was appreciative of our meager efforts. Does anyone have any information that could help us work this problem? It’s obviously not a pure history issue, although soon it will have a history all its own. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the next time you cross a small bridge, slow down, look both ways, and notice all of the tree limbs leaning into the creek bed. These eventually act as barriers (without a beaver contribution) to stream flow.


Thanks Bob. Sorry we couldn’t help more.

Rob Powell, President


Historic Old City Hall Stage


If you are familiar with our 100 Year Book, you may remember a photograph of a musical group posing on the Old City Hall Stage. The stage was a permanent feature of the original building that currently houses our museum.


An excerpt from our book states: “During its early days it was used for school programs, graduations, musical recitals and even basketball games. The floor was sloped for auditorium use and some basket ball players complained that dribbling the ball up and down the court was a trick because of those floors. The hometown team had a distinct advantage. During the 30s it became the home of The Grace Company, a children’s clothing factory. Later it would house a movie theater, then a library which shared space with city offices, once they officially moved there. The fire department and its trucks located there as did the police department in cramped space on a lower level which also had a couple of jail cells”


We are not sure when the stage was converted to office space. Since the office space is no longer being leased a new community theatre has received permission to rent the stage and meeting room from our “landlord” Belton Community Projects, Inc. Main Street Theater hopes to restore the stage to its original configuration and to present plays beginning in late 2017 or early 2018.


Main Street Theater promises to provide the meeting space for the Belton Historical Society’s quarterly general meetings. BCPI hopes to upgrade the restroom facilities to make them ADA accessible. Our ladies restroom will become a unisex restroom meeting the requirements of the Americans with Disablilies Act. The mens restroom will become a unisex facility but will not be ADA accessible. There will be other changes to the assembly room and stage that should not affect the historical society.


As a historical society, we look forward to restoring this historic space in our building. Belton Community Projects, Inc and the owners of Main Street Theater, LLC will be responsible for the renovations. Questions? Don’t hesitate to call President Rob Powell at 816-331-6710.


Featured Board Member — Jackie Kreisel


Jackie Laughlin Kreisel's family arrived in Missouri in 1958 to join her Dad who was stationed at Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base. She's a 1964 graduate from Belton High School. She has two children, five grandchildren, and one great grandson. Jackie retired from Haas & Wilkerson Insurance after 22 years in 2015. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, going to movies, playing bunco, and attending craft fairs and festivals. As a docent at the Belton Museum, she's learning more about the history of Belton which she shares with visitors to the museum.




Since our last newsletter, we have received 3 new annual members and 3 new LIFE members! This is in addition to the regular renewals. Please take a minute to look at your address label. If it says anything other than 2017 or LIFE, it is time to send in your annual dues. This will be the last newsletter for those who are not up to date with their membership dues.






It is with sadness that we share the news the Carder H. Manning, Jr. passed away on May 30, 2017 at the age of 86. He was a resident of Beautiful Savior Home in Belton. It would take an entire page to list his accomplishments in the field of his passion: MUSIC The North Cass Herald wrote a lovely obituary in the June 9, 2017 edition and we urge you to read his life achievements there.


Carder was a Life member of the Belton Historical Society. We extend our sincere condolences to his family. You may personally extend your condolences at



Scholarship Awards


During the months of March and April, the scholarship committee members were busy accepting applications, interviewing top students and making the very difficult decision of naming our scholarship winners. Our budget provided the committee with $2,000.00, originally slated to go to two individual students in the amount of $1,000 per recipient.


During the interview process, the committee became aware that the quality of the applicants was very high. The committee believed that more than two students demonstrated the level of community involvement, academic achievement and the potential for success in college. For the second year in a row, members of the committee donated money to the Historical Society to increase the total award monies to $5,000 so that five students could benefit from our scholarships.





Our Board of Directors needs to hear from you, the membership of the society. The money is available to award more money to deserving Belton High School seniors next year as they prepare for college. The Board has discussed how much money should be placed in the 2018 budget for scholarship.


Members of the scholarship committee, comprised of members of the Board of Directors believe that giving scholarship money to deserving graduates helps ensure that our youth contribute positively to society and reflect on their hometown. We also know that our exposure in the community enhances our role in the community and encourages new people to become members.


Please consider these questions and send any thoughts you have on this subject to Janna Dillon, First Vice President, Chair of the Finance Committee or Scholarship Committee Chair, Karen Calvert at our e-mail address:


Finally, please take a minute to thank the members of the Scholarship Committee. A great deal of work was done to enhance our selection process and with a little adjustment, to be able to use the process in years to come. Committee members were: Karen Calvert, Chair, Janna Dillon, Sherry Durham, Jackie Kreisel, Pam Powell, Sally Smith and Rob Powell, ex officio.


Scholarship Award Recipients


It is with great joy that we announce the following winners of this year’s scholarships! In alphabetical order, the recipients are: Shannon Coupland, Kaitlyn DeKam, Bethany Elkins, William Truitt and Hayley Wells. Each student will receive a check for $1,000. The students were recognized and honored at the Senior Awards Night on May 4th at Memorial Station. Rob Powell, President and Karen Calvert, Scholarship Chair presented the awards.


These students will attend our general meeting on July 23rd to receive their checks so our membership will have the opportunity to meet and congratulate these students personally.


Shannon Coupland plans on attending Washington University and hopes to work in the field of computer engineering. Kaitlyn DeKam will study mechanical engineering at the University of Missouri in Kansas City. Bethany Elkins will attend Northwest Missouri State and study education. William Truitt, an Eagle Scout, will attend Northwest Missouri State University, hopes to work in the ROTC and is interested in wildlife conservation. Hayley Wells plans on attending University of Missouri in Kansas City and hopes to work as a pharmacist. All of these students were in the top ten students in their class. Each one was active in school activities, many held jobs, many took dual credit and AP classes to accelerate their time in college. Each student displayed the characteristics of becoming successful in their studies and reflecting well on their hometown.


Service Learning Volunteers


We’d like to thank the students who volunteered this spring at our museum and hope to welcome them back when school resumes in the fall. At the last day of their volunteer work, Pam Powell mentioned that if they’d like to do more, they could find some nice geraniums for the planters on the museum porch. The next time the Powells visited the museum…lo and behold, there were new plants ready to highlight our entryway! Thanks so much!


We hope to have the students work with us this summer to clean the exterior windows on the carriage house and to help serve ice cream at our ice cream social at our July 23rd general meeting. If you see these students at the ice cream social, please be sure to thank them for all their help!




World War I Observation with Cass County Historical Society.


Researchers Bill Brady and Pam Powell poured over the fragile newspapers from 1917 to find items of interest about the effects of the beginning of WWI on the residents of Belton, MO. Don Peters, Director of the CCHS used many items in a remembrance of the beginning of WWI on Memorial Day, 2017.



Memorial Day 2017 – Cass County Historical Society Remembers


On Memorial Day, CCHS director Don Peters presented a program to remind us of the events 100 years ago as the residents of Cass County prepared for WWI. Our researchers, Bill Brady and Pam Powell scoured the archived editions of the Belton newspaper for news of how the impending war affected the good people of Belton. Don assembled a group of newspaper photographs and headlines and projected them on a screen while a group of women read the headlines of the day. It was wonderful to see our historical society members, Sally Smith, Bettie and Cliff Tanquary, Connie Harris in attendance. Also attending were Rob Powell, Pam Powell and Bill Brady who helped present the program. Following the program, the crowd went outside to the WWI memorial statue, said the pledge of allegiance to the United States and witnessed a gun salute in memory of those who served in the great war.


Research reveals fun advertisements!


While researching 1917 and looking for information about our boys in WWI, Bill Brady and Pam Powell enjoyed these advertisements for products. Using the war as an incentive to purchase these items!! What do you think? Enjoy!




We have a real need for docents on Saturdays. We like to have two docents in the museum during each shift. We only have one docent on the first, second and fifth Saturday of each month. You could help us a great deal if you could come one Saturday during each month, from 10 am – 1 pm. Please call Pam Powell at 816-331-6710 to lend a hand! If a steady position is beyond what you can give, please consider serving as a substitute docent. It’s always good to have someone to call to help when a docent must be absent due to illness or personal reason. Thanks!


Not History...Not Yet!! The 2017 Total Eclipse of the Sun


In the June 2017 issue of Missouri Life, we found the following information about the eclipse of the sun on Monday, August 21st. This is the first time in 148 years that Missouri will be in the path of the total eclipse. It will begin mid-morning and continue through early afternoon, depending on your location. Folks in St. Joseph have been preparing for the event for quite a while because they are directly on the path of the eclipse. Another nearby town with plans for the day is Excelsior Springs. Check out their websites at: or Be sure you get a special pair of eclipse-viewing glasses. Regular sunglasses are not enough protection for your eyes.


The total eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience darkness in the daytime in Missouri.

See ?? It will be historic!!


Thank You!


We’d like to thank 1st Vice President, Janna Dillon, for conducting the April quarterly membership meeting. The meeting was well attended and the refreshments were...well, refreshing!!


Thank you to our local World War I historian, Woodrow Dick for his informative talk about the men who served our country from Belton. These are precious memories from a time when local farm boys found themselves on the way to the front lines of the war in Europe. A time we cannot forget and we must honor. Thanks, Woody!



Correction: In a January 2017 Newsletter article, “Paul and Peggy Wyatt Reminisce”, we unfortunately misspelled board member Karen Calvert’s family name. Her family name is spelled “Coomes”, not Coombes. Also, her dad’s and grandfather’s name was spelled “Gwynne”, not Gwenn. Sorry Karen!



Don’t forget to join us at our Quarterly General Meeting on July 23 at 2:00 p.m.

We promise the perfect solution to a hot July afternoon: An Ice Cream Social! Plan on arriving early to make your ice cream sundae made and to get a good seat for our program

Featuring Historical Society member Becky Stevens and her daughter: The East Creek Girls ! The music will make you feel good all over!