To celebrate Black History Month we mined from the archives an article with Kansas roots. In The Outlook Saturday, May 14, 1904 an article jumps from the page titled “A Negro Potato King”. First, this article is written by Booker Washington an accomplished African American in his own right. Second, it becomes very noticeable that this article is also about a fellow Kansan who became a successful farmer and businessman through complete grit and determination. So to celebrate Black History Month please take a moment to read with us about Junius G. Groves of Edwardsville, Kansas.
Born as a slave in Green County Kentucky, Junius and his parents were freed by the proclamation of Abraham Lincoln. During the “Kansas Exodus” in 1879 he made his way into the state with only ninety cents in his pocket. Gaining employment was not easy since the state was being inundated with people who needed work. Junius found a job on a farm where he would start earning forty cents a day. He worked very hard eventually gaining the respect of the owner, who increased his wages to seventy-five cents a day. At one point, he left to find better employment elsewhere in the state. However, he soon decided to return to his old employer who was so happy he offered him some land to farm.
Shortly after receiving the land Junius married and his wife worked alongside him diligently.
Click the image below to view a portrait of the couple, from the Kansas Memory digital archives. The Groves’ chopped wood in the winter and sold it to make ends meet. Eventually they added to their farm some pigs, a cow and assorted chickens. In a few years their hard work paid off again. The following paragraph describes the house they built together.
Click on the house below to view a photo of their home, courtesy of the Kansas Memory digital archives. The article goes on to say that the farm had grown to the point that it had a private railroad track to ship the produce out to the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad which went through Edwardsville, Kansas. The farm also expanded to have orchards which produced apples, peaches, pears, cherries, apricots and grapes.
Along with their farm, Junius and Matilda’s family grew to eleven children. Even though he had a small amount of book knowledge he made sure that his children were educated as noted in the following paragraph. Junius also was active in his church and it is noted that he made sure to give of his talents there also.
Mr. Washington goes on to tell us why Mr. Junius G. Groves was considered by many to be the “Negro Potato King” as noted in the following excerpt:
Junius employed fifty people on his farm and also had invested in the latest cultivators, potato-planters, and diggers. The following sketches were found showing what items of that time period might look like.
Industry Standard Potato Digger circa 1895 Government Printing Office
Pivotal Blade Potato Planter circa 1895 Government Printing Office
Wealth did not change Junius Groves. He left a legacy of being a hard worker and he built an empire while keeping his moral character intact. This article gives several testimonies to his character by influential businessmen. The following is just one example:
So from 40 cents an hour, with gritty determination, Junius Groves became the “Potato King of Kansas” and possibly of the world.
To read the entire article please see your Reference Librarian.
“A Negro Potato King”
by Booker Washington
Saturday, May 14, 1904
Clip art for this story http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/
“Noble” Prize – December 30, 2016
December is supposed to be the month of “Peace and Goodwill”. It is only fitting that this is the month the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded. In fact, it is the month that all of the Nobel Prizes are awarded. The prizes are awarded on December 10th each year. December 10th has it’s own significance as noted in this article from Science Digest – December 1978.
Looking back in time, to December 21, 1907, we find an article in The Outlook. The article, written only 6 years after the first prizes had been given, is informing us about the winners of the Nobel Prizes for 1907. A little further research explains the man, Alfred Bernhard Nobel. Alfred Nobel was of Swedish descent and he had spent a lifetime as a scientist and inventor.
Today, when we hear the name “Alfred Nobel” it is associated with prizes, but it is probably a little-known fact that he invented many things, including dynamite, one of the most explosive devices on earth at that time.
Science Digest December 1978 pg.58-59
Alfred was a complex man. Looking at the articles written about Alfred, it becomes very clear that although intellectual and highly regarded as a man of culture, he also was often viewed as shy and gloomy. He was a man who had a deep understanding of the seriousness of his life’s work. He did not take war lightly nor did he look at it as a great way to increase his wealth. Reader’s Digest December 1959 pg 146-152
It is said that Alfred did not like awards. He had been the recipient of several in his own lifetime but he was not impressed by these honors. We find in Reader’s Digest 1959 an article regarding a Bertha Von Suttner.
Bertha had been employed by Mr. Nobel as Bertha Kinsky. Bertha was an Austrian by heritage. As a young lady, she had answered an ad in the newspaper for a secretarial position that was being offered by Alfred Nobel. She later eloped and married the love of her life, Arthur von Suttner. Bertha and Alfred had many talks about the war. Bertha was very involved in the peace movement of that time. She and her husband stayed friends with Alfred even after she left his employment and they often corresponded by letters or family visits.
It was during one of these talks with Alfred that he responded to her by promising to do something for her movement.
Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament can be viewed in his own writing on the pages of Scientific American December 1949 Volume 181, Number 6. The article is titled “The Nobel Prizes” by George W. Gray. Since the will was handwritten and not drafted by a lawyer it was contested for a while in the courts of Sweden. Ultimately, it was upheld and the Nobel Foundation went to work.The first 4 prizes for Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Literature are awarded by the academies of Sweden. However, Alfred decided that the Peace prize should be awarded by a committee of five persons who are chosen by the Norwegian parliament. The last award for Economic Sciences was added in 1969.
The recipients of the prizes are awarded in the following manner.
Science Digest- December 1978
To read more about the Nobel prizes and Alfred Nobel contact your Reference Librarian. Alfred Nobel’s commitment to his ideals lives on through his “noble” gift left to the world many years ago.
2016 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
Carnegie Cash – June 28, 2016
In The Century Magazine, July 1908 there is an article about Mr. Andrew Carnegie. The article was written by David Homer Bates who had interviewed Mr. Carnegie for an earlier article. The primary reason for that first article was to highlight Mr. Carnegie’s work with the telegraph system. This article is an in-depth look into Andrew Carnegie’s beginnings. At the top of this article is a very fine illustration of the birthplace of Andrew Carnegie in Dunfermline, Scotland.
In 1849 Andrew Carnegie was a boy working in a cotton factory in Allegheny City. He started as a bobbin boy and made $1.20 a week. Soon he was firing a boiler in the bobbin factory and then in the early 1850’s he changed jobs and became a telegraph messenger boy. The telegraph messenger job allowed him to make $11.25 per month.
Andrew Carnegie explained in the interview how he was given his very first monetary raise.
The following story tells of Mr. Carnegie’s first experience with a local library. This experience very likely set the stage for Andrew Carnegie to become the most famous philanthropist of the free public library.
Mr. Carnegie was offered the job of a railroad clerk soon after he mastered Morse Code.
A few years later, Andrew Carnegie made his very first investment in Adams Express Company stock which cost him $600.00.
One might assume the investor in him was born when he received his first $10.00 dividend from this investment. As his wealth increased over the next several years he invested in oil and went on to become involved in the steel industry.
The entire article may be read in the following magazine:
The Century Magazine
Vol. LXXVI No. 3
The legacy Mr. Carnegie is most famous for is the construction of Carnegie Libraries. The following newspaper clipping was taken from our microfilm files. Hutchinson Public Library was one of many libraries that benefited from Mr. Carnegie. The current library is now located at 9th and Main, however the original Carnegie building still stands on the corner of 5th and Main. The following letter appeared in the Hutchinson Daily News at that time.
The headline of the article is as follows:
The first paragraph of the article instructs the citizens of our fair city to attend and participate in the meeting, because this was a great opportunity that should not be ignored.
The Fair City by Pat Mitchell plate #123
These articles regarding the history of the Hutchinson Public Library may be found on microfilm of The Hutchinson Daily News. Additional articles can be found about the second gift Mr. Carnegie bestowed upon the Library. Please talk to the Reference staff for further details.
Library Legacy – April 20, 2016
Where was the first known library?
While looking at old volumes of periodicals in our archives, a simple title of “Libraries” jumped out from the page. According to this article in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1864, the first library mentioned in history was in Thebes.
The article goes on to say that Pisistratus founded the Homeric Library in Athens and changed history. When he was overthrown, the library he created had already shaped thoughts, tastes, opinions and actions of his race. The author continues with a history of libraries throughout the dark ages and explains how the Benedictine Monks played a vital role in preserving books and manuscripts.
Through the Reformation with Luther, the author draws us into 1861 and imparts to us the statistics of some of the greatest libraries of the world.
American libraries were founded right along with our country and persevered through fires and wars.
The article continues by pointing out the importance of the Librarian’s job. It ends with an opinion on how the library should be designed by architects who understand library work.
If you are interested in reading the entire article please ask your Reference Librarian.
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine
Vol. XXIX No. CLXXII
“Libraries” by S.W.G. Benjamin
* MSS is an abbreviation for the word Manuscripts
Tommy Tells – March 31, 2016
Between the years 1915-1916 many young men were in the trenches. What was it like to be a soldier in World War I? A whole new slang was developed by the soldiers in the trenches. The title of this post “Tommy Tells” was based on the slang name Tommy which referred to any British soldier enlisted. The form that was used to enlist British soldiers had an example name of Tommy Atkins, thus Tommy was born.
The following letters were written at the time of World War I. These letters were first published in Scribner’s Magazine July 1916. This article ran in consecutive issues. The names of this soldier’s personal friends and relatives are left out. For the purpose of this blog, we have only selected a few for you to read. To read the entire set of letters please see your Reference Librarian.
This is a first-hand account and therefore is not hearsay or a story. The following is a snapshot of the title and introduction to the letters published.
May 21, 1915
August 1, 1915
August 12, 1915
The full letters are available to read in the following issues:
Vol. LX No. 1
Vol. LX No. 2
* The information about World War I slang was found at the following website:
In 1919 the discussion was the automobile. How were the American people going to drive an automobile safely? This article addresses the problems that were occurring with so many new automobiles on the streets. Interestingly, the author of this article had the foresight to point out the human element as the problem and not the object. The article indicated that at least one death a day happened in New York City directly due to motor vehicles.
How exciting is this?!! The first auto races and the advance of 8 mph on a 57 mile route to 102 mph on a 350 mile route. Consider that today, on a 1.5 mile oval track, the car can reach a speed of 200.111 mph. Research the automobile by looking at dates around 1895 – 1920.
This article is found in:
“Get Ready for 5,000,000 Automobiles” by Frederick Upham Adams
Peaceful Power – January 23, 2016
In March of 1965 Ebony magazine reported on the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize. This most prestigious medal was awarded to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in October of 1964. It was awarded to a man who sincerely believed in non-violence. He believed that changes should come without violence and oppression. Dr. King’s acceptance speech can be read on pages 34-35 of Ebony magazine, March 1965. The article reporting the award of the Nobel Peace Prize follows the speech. The beginning of the article reads as follows:
“The Tortuous Road to Oslo” by Charles L. Sanders
In 1965 there were actually 3 marches in Alabama. The story of these events were featured in the Ebony magazine, May 1965. The final march actually happened at the end of March 1965 with the protection of the U.S. Government.
This would become a defining moment in our Civil Rights history.
This final march brought together people from many walks of life.
This was not an easy walk and many people had to drop out from exhaustion and other health related issues. People pushed on with sore feet and a strong mission to create change.
Today we honor Dr. King’s birthday in January as a national holiday. Read about the struggle for civil rights firsthand from the archives:
“50,000 March on Montgomery” by Simeon Booker
Farmer Doolittle – January 4, 2016
We have all heard of Dr. Doolittle but what about Farmer Doolittle?
Here are some hints:
He lived in Kansas.
He lived on Dog Creek (wherever that might be?)
He was not doing little in life he was actually doing a lot in life.
He was a practicing journalist at age 82.
The American Magazine
“An 82-Year-Old Newspaper Reporter” by Leo Fitzpatrick
Christmas Dog – December 31, 2015
In 1914 the recommended present for Christmas was a dog. It is important of course, to pick the “right” dog for your little son or daughter. Country Life in America featured an article on how to pick that puppy for that special Christmas gift.
Several dogs were featured in the magazine. The author diligently discussed the benefits of the different breeds recommended. There were several cute little dogs featured. It is advised that a toy dog in the Department store can cost as much as $50.00 so the author advised everyone to get a real dog that would bring special memories for years to come.
Read all about the different breeds and what to look for as you choose the best gift for your child.
Country Life In America
“Why Not a Dog?” by James Watson
Volume XXVII Number 2
December 7, 1941 – December 31, 2015
7:35 a.m. on a Sunday morning, Hawaii abruptly awoke to the Rising Sun of Japan on the wings of aircraft. This was not a friendly awakening and launched our country into a war we had observed from afar.
At the same time the planes were bombing Pearl Harbor the Japanese Ambassadors were meeting in Washington incurring the wrath of our Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State, unknowing of what was happening in Pearl Harbor, lashed out at the ambassadors in anger.
December 15, 1941
Moose Tracks – December 7, 2015
In 1894 there was concern about the extinction of the Adirondack Moose. So 121 years ago people were writing about the loss of certain animals. The article talks in great detail of the loss of animals and how the changing habitat and hunting practices were making them vanish.
The article delves into the research of the moose and the differences between the moose of the Adirondacks and the moose of the Northwest.
The Century Magazine
Vol. XLVII No. 3
Gettysburg Address – November 20, 2015
Researching the Gettysburg Address you do not find much about it around the actual date of November 19, 1863. As with all “Great Events” it took a good year for people to process the importance of this famous speech. Nevertheless it is a timeless reminder of who we should aspire to be as people in relation to each other.
Many discussions ensued as to when Lincoln wrote the speech and how he wrote it.
Here is a first-hand account of what this journalist saw as Lincoln gave one of the most famous speeches of his life.
The Century Magazine
Vol. XLVII No. 4
Animal Aces – November 10, 2015
Did you think that flying was only for Snoopy and his quest to get the Red Baron? Well, guess again. It seems that many animals have taken to flying in airplanes over the years. Read about the animal aviators flying in their aeroplanes.
The American Magazine
“How Animals Act in Aeroplanes” by Henry Woodhouse
pg. 30-32 pg 126-13
Bullet Points – October 27, 2015
Although many of us have said we would rather be shot than give a speech there was one man who actually was shot while giving his speech. He gave an hour-long speech with a revolver ball lodged in his right breast. He was shot at point-blank range fracturing the fourth rib. The ball was 4 inches into the chest wall. Imagine being shot and still giving an hour speech!
Teddy Roosevelt as reported in The Outlook, October 26, 1912, did just that.
Please contact your Reference Librarian to read this firsthand account of the shooting and Mr. Roosevelt’s speech following the article.
October 26, 1912
Lyman Abbott, Editor-in-Chief
Hamilton W. Mabie, Associate Editor
Theodore Roosevelt Contributing Editor
Old-Time Twitter – October 1, 2015
Can you imagine 1000 canaries twittering and chattering in the same room?
In November 1915 a Miss Adele Gerber boasted she had the largest canary factory in the United States. Not only did she raise the canaries she taught them to sing specific songs, knitted them nests, and kept record of each and every one
To read the entire article, please speak to a Reference Librarian.
American Magazine November 1915 vol. LXXX No. 5
*author Leo N. Burnett