Kansas sites became ‘village’
Buildings and artifacts from across Kansas have found new life in a “village” south of Great Bend.
The Barton County Historical Society Village and Museum got its start back in 1964, after land was donated by the Charles Hulme estate, BCHS Research Director Karen Neuforth said.
“The museum is important to Great Bend,” Neuforth said. “It gives people a taste of history and an understanding on how Barton County and Great Bend came to be. There is a lot of history here.”
The Museum Building’s west wing was completed in 1974 and the east wing in 1976. The west wing was remodeled in 1980 and 1981 to provide for display areas. In 1999, a 30 by 60-foot addition was completed to provide for meetings, storage, work areas and handicap accessibility. The Ray Schulz Research Library was added in 2006.
In 1967 the first building, the former St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, and its appointments from near Albert were moved to its present location on the village site.
The church was built in October 1898, with limestone quarried from Rush County quarry and hauled the 2 1/2 miles to the building site. Square nails were used in the construction. The 700-pound bell was hung in the steeple in 1905.
The church suffered cyclone damage in 1909 but men and horses put it aright. The congregation flourished until the 1960s, but as area population declined, so did church membership. This historic church congregation celebrated its 93rd anniversary in 1964.
The School House was added to the Village in 1968. It was the old District 50 building that stood about 3 1/2 miles south and east of the Historical Village. The District was organized July 28, 1876.
The old “Waupun” Windmill was restored and donated by Leon McKinney. Manufactured by the Aulthouse-Wheeler Manufacturing Co. of Waupun, Wisconsin, these windmills were sold by the Great Bend Implement Company owned by Fred Zutavem in the early 1900s. It was erected here in 1975. The site of the windmill is still a water producing well.
The little Post Office, circa 1871, from Castleton, Kansas, was added in 1971, donated in memory of Mrs. James (Virginia) Boyle.
By 1932 there was a decline in the town’s businesses and by 1950 there was little left of Castleton. What was left made a perfect location for the movie town “Sevillinois, Illinois 1895” for the movie “Wait Till The Sun Shines Nellie” filmed in the late 1940s.
The Dodge House
The little Rock House, the Dodge Homestead, was built by the E.J. Dodge family in 1873. It was moved in 1976-77 stone by stone from its original site near Walnut Creek on Bissell’s Point Road by the Nani-Ba-Zhu Lodge, Order of the Arrow of the Kanza Council of the Boy Scouts of America, directed by Lee Phillips. It was donated by LeRoy Schartz who still owns the original site.
In 1968 the Santa Fe Railroad Depot and the entire dock and brick sidewalk, built in 1910 was acquired from Belpre, Kansas. The operator’s room complete with equipment as when it was in operation, was received due to the generosity of the Santa Fe and the American Express Co. The “operator” was made and donated by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Bowlus. Mr. Bowlus was agent in this depot.
“In addition to these buildings, items on display have been donated by hundreds of interested people from Barton County, also friends and families from many other places,” Neuforth said. “The Historical Society’s mission is to preserve and display these items as examples of early Barton County History.”