A Letter From Our President
I am a chemical engineer who never expected to embrace history. History classes at Belton High (for me) were times to catch up on algebra homework or ogle girls. However, after a year on the Belton Historical Society's board and a few months as President, I am drowning in history - and loving it! The history in this part of the country is truly unique, and Belton and its surroundings have been history makers. It's now time for the Society to ensure that we continue to uncover, preserve, and relate that history so future generations are aware of their truly unique roots in Belton.
During the last 3 months we have accomplished the following:
- a combined Museum and Research committee started the labeling, cataloguing, and computerizing process for all museum acquisition forms and the artifacts they relate to. This is a massive project, and we just now started the labeling as we tie the forms to the artifacts;
- the Research committee continues to organize pictures, documents, newspaper articles, etc., in the carriage house 2nd floor. We are excited about soon having the ability to find a requested document or picture that is currently buried in a drawer or pile. To help with this sorting process, we have constructed 3 shelves nearly the length of the carriage house to provide extra storage space;
- Member Jack Dryden donated a bank of safe deposit boxes (over 400 pounds) AND the efforts of a contract company to move them to the carriage house. We will soon have several Belton artifacts in the carriage house for an extra display area;
- the Finance committee started the budget process for the 2016-17 fiscal year. Even 'old-timers' cannot remember the last time we had a budget! The general membership will have the opportunity to vote on the budget at the July meeting;
- the Audit committee is gearing up to provide the one of the first audits of the Society's financial records at the end of the fiscal year (September 30);
- the Education committee announced the availability of 2 scholarships for Belton college students. Twelve students applied, and after interviewing the first 6 students (each student is given a tour of the museum and then interviewed by a group of museum members) it is obvious that a choice of 2 winners will be very difficult! The winners will hopefully attend the July general meeting when we will announce and celebrate them (with cake!);
- the Education committee also started a monthly story hour for children under 7 years old. The stories focus on pioneer times, touch on Belton history, and provide an activity and refreshments for the attendees and their parents;
- our Webmaster updated our webpage (http://www.beltonhistoricalsociety.org/) with fresh information, particularly the last 2 years of newsletters;
- Our board has been making great strides in several directions, and this requires extra meetings, both of the board (monthly instead of quarterly), and every committee (some meeting once a week). I applaud their efforts, and already see the fruits of their labors. If you see a board member in the near future, please thank them for all of their work!
- the Museum committee provided their second featured display of the year, focusing on historical musical instruments. It's worth a trip 'uptown' (do some of you say 'downtown'?) to see it!;
Finally, at a recent board meeting a motion was approved to form a Steering Committee to decide the future of the Museum and the Society. WE NEED VOLUNTEERS for this committee, which will explore the future path for our organization. Please call or e-mail me if you are interested in this very important endeavor.
See you on July 24th, when we'll find out what all of those railroad track drawings mean on early Belton maps!
July General Membership Meeting
The General Membership meeting of the Belton Historical Society will be held on Sunday July 24th at 2:30 pm. After a brief business meeting, we will award our 2016 Scholarships to two deserving students. The program will follow with a presentation by Patrick Furlong, President of the Board of Directors of the Belton, Grandview and Kansas City Railroad. This excursion railroad uses tracks that have been used for years and years by many railroad companies through Belton’s history. We’ve invited many of the railroad’s volunteers to join us at this meeting.
To celebrate our scholarship recipients, we will have a cake in their honor and ice cream for what promises to be another hot afternoon. We hope to see all our members, friends and guests at the meeting. As is our custom, the meeting is in the meeting room behind the museum.
This year, the Board of Directors approved two scholarships for Belton High School graduates and/or Belton residents currently enrolled in an accredited college or university. For the first time, the applications were available on Google forms. Students accessed the application online and submitted their entry online. The Education Committee Chairperson, Pam Powell enlisted the help of historical society board members: Rob Powell, Woody Dick, Faye Wallace, Nancy Clutter and Bill Brady, to interview every applicant at the museum.
This method of determining the best students to receive the scholarships consumes many volunteer hours of the interviewers. Not only do we ask them questions about themselves, but also about our visibility in the community and how we can better present our society to the next generation. We have learned so very much along the way!
We have twelve (12) applicants this year, many more than previous years. We will make the decision in mid-July and award the scholarships at our July meeting. Please come and meet the students, congratulate them and see what kind of wonderful young adults represent our community!
Are You Related to a Veteran of World War I?
Did members of your family live in or around Belton in the early 1900s? If so, chances are excellent that you are related to a Belton veteran of World War I. Research has shown that the majority of families living in Belton in 1917 had at least one family member who either served during World War I or who married a veteran. Indeed, most Belton families had more than one such family member. To find out if your family includes a veteran of World War I, check out www.BeltonRemembers.org. The Belton Remembers site was created to honor Belton’s WW1 veterans during this centennial of their war. You can help honor our WW1 veterans with their photographs, letters, or other World War I artifacts. If you have any such items, please contact woody@BeltonRemembers.org. And, if you have any World War I artifacts that you would like to donate to the Belton Museum, please call 816-322-3977.
Our most visible asset is our Museum, but to keep presenting the history of Belton to our visitors, we need more docents. If you have time to share with our society we’d welcome you with open arms to the following shifts at the museum:
The first Thursday of the month: 1 pm - 4 pm
The first Saturday of the month: 10 am - 1 pm
The second Saturday of the month: 10 am - 1 pm
The third Tuesday of the month: 1 pm - 4 pm
The fourth Tuesday of the month: 1 pm - 4 pm
Please call the museum and leave a message if you are interested in lending a hand! 816-322-3977
New E-mail Address and Phone Message Service
Our new 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”.
The following deaths have been recorded by the Historical Society. There is an in-depth article available for your perusal at the docent’s desk in the museum. Thank you, Sandy McNeil, for your help recording these memories.
William J. “Bill” Thompson Fred Hill Mary Catherine (Kate) Young
Belton Educational Foundation News
The Belton High School All Class Reunion and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held Saturday, August 6, 2016 at the “new” Belton High School, 801 West North Ave., Belton, MO 64012. Early Bird Reservations are $12.00 before July 1st, $15.00 before August 1st and $20.00 at the door. The doors open at 10:30 am with lunch served at noon. Checks are to be made payable to the Belton Educational Foundation and mailed to the Belton Educational Foundation, 110 W. Walnut, Belton, MO 64012. Questions? Please call 816-348-1150.
While we apologize to those members who looked for this information in our April newsletter, we’d like to point out that the Belton Historical Society is not responsible for this event, and the information above was not available for the April newsletter printing. We are printing this as a courtesy to our members.
Our Temporary Exhibits
One goal of the Museum Committee is commitment to maintaining temporary exhibits. During the months of March, April and May, we had a beautiful display of Depression Glass of all designs, colors and style of dishes.
In May, June and July, you will enjoy the exhibit of musical instruments. Museum committee chair Sally Smith and member Pam Powell have been the major contributors of this display. We hope all our local members will come by the museum and enjoy the display. In keeping with the concept of providing experience for children, we also have some instruments that children can handle and make music. Our goal is to have interactive items to attract children to learn at their level of understanding.
In September, we will have two temporary exhibits. One will be the Presidential Election, featuring elections beginning with the election of local boy Harry S. Truman. We will have information about how Belton and Cass county voted over the years and have a mock election of our own.
Also in September, we will have an exhibit on old tools and farm implements. If you have something to share, please call Sally Smith at 816-322-0200 or e-mail us at email@example.com
Featured Board Member – Sally Smith
I was asked to be on the Historical Society Board this year and my response was a resounding yes! I have always loved old things, visiting museums, and learning the history of places I have visited and lived. I own Whistle Stop Antiques and think being involved with the museum is a wonderful fit. I have a library of price guides and identification books for antique and vintage items, so that is a resource I can share with the museum. I am excited to be part of the changes and growth at the museum, the most important of which I think is involving more of the younger citizens of Belton and Cass County.
Our Relationship with Olde Towne in Growing!
We are happy to announce that we are renting the street space directly in front of the museum on Main Street for the annual Fall Festival! This year’s festival is on September 9th and 10th on Main Street. Board member Sally Smith is the chairperson for the Fall Festival and we are grateful for her encouragement to be part of the fun!
We hope to put up a tent on the street and distribute information and welcome new members. We are looking for volunteers to share skills of the pioneer days. We hope to have an exhibitor showing children how to make rope using antique equipment. We would love to put our spinning wheel out for demonstrations on spinning yarn or thread. If you know how to spin, please call us! We will teach children how our ancestors washed clothes on an antique washboard. The possibilities are endless, so please give this some thought and lend a hand! The museum will be open for visitors and will need docents on hand in the museum. We also hope to sell our cookbooks, our 100 Year Book, t-shirts, board games, etc.
We will need all hands on deck!! Please volunteer to help during the Fall Festival. Our goal is higher visibility in the community and to attract new families. Please call Pam Powell at 816-331-6710. Docents will have the opportunity to sign up to help during their shift at the museum in August.
In October, we will work on an entertaining space for children when they trick-or-treat on Main Street. What better time for the ghost of Carry Nation to arrive bearing a hatchet? Let’s have some fun! Call Rob Powell at 816-331-6710 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your ghoulish ideas!
Early Years Story Time
The Education Committee held our first “Early Years” Story Time on Monday June 20th in the museum. We hope this will be the first of many! Former Board President Norma Nelson is a familiar face as a volunteer with the Belton School District as “Grandma Norma”. Norma is a natural at sharing her love of books with young children. Current Secretary, Pam Powell, is a retired early childhood educator. Add the two together and you have the “Early Years” story time.
Our first goal is a small group of children between the ages of 4 and second grade. The rules aren’t hard and fast, we hope to be flexible, but the educational level is aimed for these children of “early years”. The material we will read will be about the “early years” of life in this part of the country. We have many beautiful story books to share and will begin our stories about covered wagons and log cabins. We purchased Lincoln Logs for the children to build their own log cabins. We are hoping to attract young children and young families to our museum!
Our next “Early Years” Story Time will be the third Monday of July at 9:30. Join us!
Spotlight on Donations!
The Museum committee is pleased to report that Jack Dryden is donating a cluster of safety deposit boxes originally from the Citizens Bank of Belton. Jack is a Life Member of the Historical Society and there are few people in or from Belton who don’t have fond memories of Dryden’s Drug Store on Main Street. We have worked in the Carriage House for a permanent home for the safety deposit boxes and hope you will enjoy seeing them and sharing them with the youngsters in your family. Thank you Jack, for your generous donation.
Side by side with the safety deposit boxes is an original mail sorting cabinet to which we have added colorful postcards for children to sort (remember this job is done by computers today!) and an original Bell Telephone switch board. We are adding photos of these items showing how they were originally used in the “early years” of Belton and hope to incorporate them in our “early years” story time.
Down Memory Lane
The Walnut Street School
Twenty years ago, in 1995, The Tri-County Art League and the Belton Chamber of Commerce published a calendar with original prints of local landmarks. This is a copy of the print for October, 1995, The Walnut Street School by Jan Walker of Kansas City. The information we have on her reveals she was a member of the Raytown Art Association and her works were on display in many area restaurants, banks and golf courses. If anyone has any more information about Jan Walker, we’d love to hear about her. You can send correspondence to Woodrow Dick, Corresponding Secretary, Belton Historical Society, P.O. Box 1144, Belton MO or send an e-mail to President Rob Powell at email@example.com .
Notes about the old school indicate it was ”...completed and first occupied in 1922…(it) was considered the finest in Cass County. A science and arts wing was added in 1940 and all grades continued to use the complex until the Scott elementary school was opened in 1954 for grades one through four.” (editor’s note: Rob Powell believes it was grades one through three) “High school students transferred to a new building on Sunrise Drive in 1958. The 3-story Walnut building was used until 1975, finally housing the seventh, eighth and ninth grades and then only the seventh grade when the others moved to what is now (was) Yoakum Middle School in 1972. A bond issue approved by voters in the early nineties provided for a complete renovation of the building and also the addition of classrooms to the Scott building which now connects with one another. The “new” Walnut building reopened in the fall of 1993 and also houses the district’s administrative offices.”
We chose to highlight this building because of the All School reunion in August. Information about the reunion can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.
Enjoy the memories!
The Walnut Street School
Eli and Annabel enjoyed a story about covered wagons with "Grandma Norma"
Jackson enjoyed building a log cabin!