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

A Letter From Our President

Rob Powell

FAMILY

One advantage of membership in the Belton Historical Society is membership in a larger family. First, the museum board, members, and docents serve as a clearinghouse for Belton information that occasionally turns up new family connections. For instance, discussions of local family cemeteries at the Belton Fall Festival introduced me to a fourth cousin who lives just a few miles away. In a similar experience a few years ago, member Bill Brady found that he had several cousins in the Belton area after moving here for a new job. Also at the Fall Festival we met a direct descendant of Carry Nation through museum conversations.

Second, Belton residents, both previous and current, are continually providing information about Belton history that involves their families and frequently ties to other ‘old-time’ families. See Paul Mullen’s article in this newsletter.

Third, and most importantly, the Belton Historical Society has, through its programs, community involvement (Fall Festival, high school scholarships, etc.), and love for Belton and the museum, developed into a family. Teamwork, honesty, and trust have developed to the extent that members of the Society can call on one another for help with both museum-related and other issues.

Finally, one of our concerns has been our aging membership (a 2016 general meeting found that our average age is about 70). However, through our scholarship program; Boy and Girl Scout visits and volunteer activities; Belton High School student volunteers; general meeting programs for young and old audiences; and community participation in the Fall Festival, Main Street Trick-or-Treat, Main Street Christmas, etc., we are seeing more ‘youngsters’ visiting the museum.

So, encourage your immediate family members to join the Historical Society! You may find you have a much larger family than you ever knew about! 

Mark Your Calendar!

October 22, 2017

2:30 pm

Don’t miss our Quarterly General Membership meeting! We will elect our 2018 Board members and officers. We will discuss and vote on our new bylaws! We need to hear your voice in these matters! Don’t miss it!

Guest Speaker: Frank Cockrell, President Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Kansas City.

Just in time for All Hallow’s Eve, let’s talk about funeral customs over the years! 

Bring a bag of candy for Trick-or-Treat on Main Street and you will be entered into a drawing for a gift card!

 October General Meeting

The Quarterly meeting of the Belton Historical Society will be held on Sunday, October 22nd at 2:30 pm. We will meet in the meeting room directly behind the museum.

A meeting will be held to discuss and vote on our new bylaws. Also the slate of Officers and Board Members will be presented and a vote taken. For your consideration, the Nominating Committee presents their nominations elsewhere in this newsletter.

Our program will be an interesting one, thinking about all the ghosts and spirits around during the Halloween season, we will welcome speaker Frank Cockrell of the Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Kansas City. Frank is from this neck of the woods, so many of you may know of him or be related to him. He has a personal story you’d like to hear, too!

Did you know that it is legal to dig a hole and bury a loved one in some areas in Kansas City? Be sure to come and learn about this rare custom. We also have a wicker coffin as part of our Carry Nation hearse exhibit. The wicker coffin had a special use back in the day. Do you know about it? We will learn about all kinds of burials and internments for our dearly departed and the history of funerals and customs over the years. Is our version of Halloween a pagan custom or did it originate as a Christian eve before All Hallows (Saints) Day on November 1st? Have you been to a jazz funeral? Do you know some nations cremate their dead and press the ashes into gems? Let’s learn about this often taboo subject of death and burial customs in our country.

We received a donation from Connie Harris to offset the price of our refreshments in October and Janna Dillon will bring fresh cider and donuts from Dunn’s Cider Mill on Holmes Road. We’ve enjoyed this delicious treat at our October meeting for years!! Thanks Janna and Connie!

Nominating Committee

In July 2017 the Nominating Committee was formed according to the bylaws of the Historical Society. Rob Powell named Jackie Kreisel Chair. Two Board of Directors members were named: Evelyn Tabor and Pam Powell. Two members of the general membership were named: Mari Jones and Linda Jo Jackson Wilbur. After consideration the committee prepared the following slate of Board Members and Officers:

Rob Powell, President; Janna Dillon, 1st Vice President; Pam Powell, 2nd Vice President; Linda Jo Jackson Wilbur, Recording Secretary; Ed Maurer, Treasurer; Sally Smith, Corresponding Secretary. Of the officers listed all must be voted for by the general membership except Ed Maurer who is serving his 3rd year in his second term as Treasurer.

The class of 2018 remains the same as listed on the back of this newsletter.

The class of 2019 remains the same as listed on the back of this newsletter.

The class of 2020 will need to be voted upon:

Renee Kerckhoff had been appointed to fulfill a previously vacated officer, she is now up for election for her first full term as a Board member.

Jackie Kreisel had served as Recording Secretary and she is now nominated to serve a term as a Board member.

Elaine Snyder Wilson is nominated for her first term as a Board of Directors member.

Please peruse this list and if you have questions or concerns, please call Jackie Kreisel, chairperson. We will vote for this slate of officers at our October general meeting.

The Historical Society Bylaws Revision

Early in the year 2107, President Rob Powell appointed a Steering Committee with the task to think about and plan the direction of the society in the next five years. The committee was formed with the following members: President Rob Powell was the leader of the committee, Bill Brady, Janna Dillon, Renee Kerckhoff, Pam Powell and Sally Smith. As they began their work, they realized the bylaws needed updating so they shifted their job towards re-writing the bylaws. These bylaws are now being presented for a vote at our October general meeting. You can read the old and new bylaws at our website or call the museum and leave a message asking for a copy.

Reflections from Paul Mullen

Recently we heard from Paul Mullen, a former Beltonian now living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Paul grew up in Belton at 803 Main Street (father Nelson, mother Madalyn), graduated from BHS (Elvis E. Simpson, Principal) in 1950, and moved away in 1954 when he married his first wife. There were only 21 in his BHS graduating class. He graduated from Baker University, then served on active duty in the Army for the next 2 years as a counter-intelligence agent (with the Counter Intelligence Corps) stateside during the Korean War investigating “turncoats” who stayed behind in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Below are some of Paul’s reflections collected from a letter and 4 e-mails. Thanks Paul!

The Holloway family lived across the street at 802 Main. Their daughter Catherine is still living as far as I know. The Mosby sisters (members Helen Graham and Frances Mosby) lived a couple of doors away. The Quick family lived further down Main street: Joan Quick (now Joan Hill, a museum docent) was a BHS classmate.

There were many kids along that street and we all played outside at “kick the can”, “hide and seek”, baseball, etc. No one had to lock their house as there was no fear or danger about break-ins or robbery. There were 2 grocery stores on Main Street: one was owned by the (Russell) Turk family. Also on Main Street was the Steinbrueck dry goods store and two drug stores (Dryden’s and Meador’s). My father (Nelson Mullen) was the Postmaster at the post office on Main (now near where the Knife Store is located), and there were 2 banks: Citizens Bank (Weldon Jackson, President) and Bank of Belton (Frank Blair, President). Earlier my grandfather, John E. Mullen, was president of the Citizens Bank. The town doctor (Dr. Tracy) and dentist both practiced in offices above Dryden Drug. Mullen Road was named after my Uncle Allen who had a farm on that road and I helped with the farming. My father was presented his 50-year membership pin in the Masonic Lodge by President Harry Truman.

On Saturday evenings in the park next to the old City Hall the town ladies made ice cream and cookies for all. It was a weekly social event for the entire town. Men played dominoes and horseshoes in the park, which also was the site of a 2-cell jail building and a portable bandstand. Boy Scout Troop 210 met in the City Hall basement. I was a troop member and received the Eagle Scout award. The Scoutmaster was Mr. Peacock who was a Meat Butcher at one of the grocery stores. The railroad tracks were right behind our house. The Frisco train came by daily. My father, the Postmaster, met the train daily to get the mail and deliver it, even on Sundays.

Belton had two lumber yards, Benson and Hope. Every 4th of July Mr. Hope bought a large quantity of fireworks. I recall one year he did not sell very many of them and he put out the word to the kids who flocked to the lumber yard. We shot fireworks for several hours non-stop.

Belton Star Herald was on Main Street near Meador’s Drug. It was owned and operated by the Spear family. The metal type was manually set. During the WW2, they would display various war mementos, and I recall seeing my first television there, with a small round screen in black and white. I do not recall the year but it was probably shortly after the war ended in 1945.

President Truman brought his deceased mother to the Belton funeral home for burial preparation. He came to Belton and followed the hearse to the funeral home in a limousine. I followed his limousine for a couple of blocks on my bicycle. There was a movie theatre on the corner across north from Dryden Drug. It probably held 30 people and cost 10¢ a ticket and 5¢ for popcorn. Periodically, the old projector would stop and the film would catch fire and produce a very acidic smoke, causing an evacuation. Serials were shown each Saturday, leaving you with anticipation until the next week. Owner/Operator was Mr. Mustion.

Right across Main from Meador’s Drug Store (near where Allusions is now) was a big open area which contained many junk items, mostly used farm equipment, known as Evans Junkyard. Every Halloween, all the junk was piled out in the street then put back over the next few days. Among other “tricks”, all windows on downtown Main St. would be covered with soap.

On Main between “downtown” and my house, there was a blacksmith shop. I walked by it every day. There were always wagons and other farm equipment in front waiting for repair by the blacksmith. I do not recall his name.

Over 600 and Counting!

Did you visit our museum during the Fall Festival? Did you see the Carry Nation hearse “parked” outside the museum? Did you see dozens of children making rope like early Americans did? How about dozens of children making candles and learning how to spin wool into yarn and how to weave? Did you see over 50 children designing quilt blocks? And can you believe that over 600 people walked through our museum in about 18 hours??

It’s all true! We really put out the welcome mat during the fall festival. Our docents and Board members all chipped in and spent hours welcoming guests. Greg Davis, Jackie Kreisel, Pam Powell and Becky Stevens all worked patiently with children teaching early American skills and crafts.

Thank you to Norma Nelson, Sherry Durham, Marge Jones, Karen Calvert, Cliff and Bettie Tanquary, Nancy Clutter, Louise Fleetwood, Bill Brady Wanda Keifer, Rob and Pam Powell for the hours you spent at the museum during the Fall Festival. It was the best time for us to show the community what a gem we really are!

OOPS We Did It Again!!!

We sure hope you did not miss the Historical Society’s general meeting in July. We had a great afternoon! We seated and served over 70 people at our ice cream social and raised almost $700.00 for our 2018 scholarships! Our entertainment of the East Creek Girls delighted every one within earshot! Just when we thought we couldn’t do more, our State Senator Ed Emory arrived with the Boy Scout Troop 210 to hold a flag raising ceremony of our two new flags in front of our museum. What a great event! 

Our Board of Directors served our members at the ice cream sundae buffet and beverage table. The following Board members donated restaurant gift cards: Evelyn Tabor, Karen Calvert, Sherry Durham, Jackie Kreisel, Darin Jones, Louise Fleetwood, Rob and Pam Powell. The gift cards were awarded to the table that raised the most money for scholarships. Price Chopper Belton donated all the ice cream and toppings for our event! Next time you see a manager at Price Chopper, be sure to thank them for helping us with our event. 

New Flags and a VIP Visitor

The flags flying over the Museum on Main Street were looking very sad and tired. President Rob Powell made the inquiries and obtained a United States flag that has flown over the capitol building in Washington DC. Also, working with Ed Emery’s office in Missouri, we were given a new Missouri State flag that has flown over the state capitol building.

At our July general meeting, the local Boy Scout Troop arrived to hold a flag raising ceremony. We were honored to have our state representative Ed Emery also attend to see our state flag raised. Senator Emery took the time to greet each scout and share encouraging words. What a wonderful experience for our scouts!! Drive down Main Street and enjoy our pride in our community, state and country!! 

Halloween is Coming!

Traditionally Main Street Belton hosts Trick-or-Treat on Main Street the weekend before Halloween. Last year the Historical Society got into the fun by taking the Carry Nation hearse onto the street. We had an axe-toting “Carry Nation” looking for the local saloon, the “undertaker” trying to put her in her coffin and the “sheriff” trying to arrest her!!

We hosted hundreds of children and handed out quite a bit of candy! 

We are asking our members to donate candy for our trick-or-treaters this year. You may take your candy to the museum any day it is open and give it to our docents. BUT…if you bring your candy to our October general meeting, you will get your name in a drawing for a $15.00 gift card to Darden restaurants (Olive Garden, Longhorn, Red Lobster, among others). So please bring your donations to our general meeting on October 22nd.

We’d love to have volunteers to help distribute candy to the youngsters, too. If you are interested in joining the fun, please call Pam Powell, 816-331-6710.

Obituaries

We wish we did not have news to share about the loss of any of our members.

Wilma Benjamin, Owner-Operator of Benjamin Liquors, passed away on July 24, 2017. She was very active in civic affairs during her time in Belton, including the Historical Society. 

Arthur “Bud” Wesley Elkins, passed away on July 18, 2017. One of Bud’s favorite places in Belton was our Museum. His family held a private service in the museum. We’d like to thank the Elkins family for their donation to the museum at the time of their sorrow.

Muchas Gracias! Danke! Thank You! Merci Beaucoup! Grazie!

No matter how you say it, we are very thankful for the following people who help the Belton Historical Society succeed:

Rachel Campbell at Beacon Bible and Book Store at 517 Main Street is a special friend to us all. But, what she does for the Historical Society is Top Secret! Rest assured we could not do without her faithful help!

Sheila Sullivan at Tara’s Café and Malt Shop is quietly selling our “First Hundred Years” book as well as our cookbook. She recently handed us envelopes filled with over $200.00 from her sales.

Board member Renee Kerckhoff  did the job no one else would volunteer to do! The windows on the Carriage House were cleaned and simply sparkling for the Fall Festival!

Of Historical Note

Recently our docent Patsy Minkler brought a topographical map of the moon’s surface to the museum. Upon inquiry, we learned that her brother had worked with NASA and this was a donation to the museum. James E. Saultz, Jr. was an Aerospace Engineer at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Jim was born in Belton and lived in California and Arkansas before settling in Deer Park, TX. He was hired at NASA to be a member of the team opening up the exploration of space for mankind. He worked at Johnson Space Center from 1965 – 1994, where he was involved with the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Space Shuttle Programs. The map is currently stored in our archives as we look for a way to share it with the public. 

Docents

Two of our docents who have worked with us the longest have decided it is time to retire. While we understand, we are very sad to lose Ona Ruth Smith and Patsy Minkler. We will need to fill their slot in our schedule beginning in 2018. If you personally would like to volunteer once a month to open the museum and host our guests, please call Pam Powell. The shift is the first Tuesday of every month from March through December. Meanwhile, should you see Ona or Patsy around and about, please take a minute to thank them for their years of service.

Stocking Stuffers

As the holidays near, don’t forget the museum as a source for small historic toys for the youngsters in your family. The following is a list of toys available for sale at the museum:

Beginning quilting kit

Cornhusk doll kit

Yarn dolls (complete kit)

Jacks

Marbles

Pick up Sticks

Dominoes

Feather Pen (Quill with directions to make ink)

All items will be available at the October 22nd General Meeting!

Also, don’t forget the perfect hostess gift:

The Belton Historical Society Cookbook

$16.00 for members of the Society

$18.00 for non-members of the Society

$20.00 gift package with a cookie cutter

Support our Historical Society!

PLEASE CONTINUE YOUR SUPPORT OF THE SOCIETY’S WORK BY MAILING

YOUR 2018 DUES. THANK YOU


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