Monday, February 18, 2013

C.N. James Trading Post

C.N. James Trading Post
C.N. James Trading Post, built 1868
C.N. James Trading Post, built in 1868, was the first house in Augusta, Kansas. Over the years, it was used as a general store and trading post, boarding house, residence, church, schoolhouse, and polling place on election day. It further served as the meeting place for the Mystic Tie Masonic Lodge, No. 74, of Augusta. The timbers are from Cottonwood trees.

C.N. James was one of the original incorporators of the town of Augusta in 1871. He was then appointed as one of the trustees of the newly formed Township of Augusta. He also served as first mayor of Augusta. His other duties included serving as clerk of the District Court of Butler County 1875-1882, and a year as superintendent of public education for Butler County in 1876. Skyways.

The city of Augusta took its name from the wife of C.N. James.

Today the trading post still stands at 3rd and State Street, next to the Augusta Historical Museum.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blue Moon Club, 3401 S. Oliver, Wichita

 Blue Moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own ...

The Blue Moon Club was located at 3401 S. Oliver. The club, which seated 1200, was built in 1937 and burned down in 1960.

Today, that location is a parking lot for Spirit Aero Systems. But, in its heyday, before World War II, the Blue Moon Club was the place to go to see big bands like Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller. Kansas was dry, but at the Blue Moon, you could get a drink even if you were under-age. The club was self described as the "Southwest’s Swankiest Nite Spot". In addition to white bands, it was also open to black entertainers.  

The Black Experience and the Blues in 1950s Wichitaby Patrick Joseph O'Connor.

Blue Moon Club, 1945, image Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum

This obscure trivia might have escaped my attention had I not been looking into the history of Madelyn Lee Payne, President Barack Obama's maternal grandmother.

Madelyn Payne lived in Augusta, Kansas with her strict Methodist parents. Obama describes them in his memoir as "stern Methodist parents who did not believe in drinking, playing cards or dancing."So, it was on weekends that Madelyn would make her way to Wichita to listen to music and dance.And the Blue Moon Club was the place to be.

During Madelyn's senior year at Augusta High School, she met Stanley Dunham with his dark hair slicked down. He was unconventional. He liked jazz music and wrote poetry. Madelyn graduated high school and the couple married on May 5, 1940, the night of Madelyn's senior prom. War came to America on December 7, 1941, and Stanley enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army a little more than a month later.

Madelyn worked the night shift at the Boeing Plant. They had one daughter, Stanley Ann, born 1942, who in time would become mother to Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama would refer to his grandmother as "Toot", a Hawaiian term for grandmother. It was Toot and Barack's grandfather Stanley who would raise Barack in Hawaii for most of his life.

Blue Moon, original version from the 1934 movie Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable, William Powell, and Myrna Loy, music by Rogers and Hart. Shirley Ross sings the Rogers and Hart song, which was rewritten by Hart after the movie as the more familiar Blue Moon.

You can also listen to the Glenn Miller arrangement of Blue Moon with Lorenz Hart's revised lyrics.

The song Blue Moon would go on to be recorded by many artists including: Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Rod Stewart, and Frank Sinatra.

Lorenz Hart's revised lyrics are:

Blue Moon
 You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
          Blue Moon
You know just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked the Moon had turned to gold

Refrain twice

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Visit to a Land Office in Augusta 1871

Land Office Augusta, Kansas

The Kansas Public Survey map of 1866 identifies three land offices in Kansas. The southernmost land office was then located at Humboldt, Kansas.

Kansas Public Survey 1866

In 1863 and in 1870, treaties between the United States and the Osage Indians provided for the purchase of the Osage Indian Reserve that stretched across southern Kansas. Afterwards, settlers poured in to the area. In 1868, at the confluence of the Walnut and Whitewater rivers, C.N. James and Shamlefer built a log cabin of cottonwood timber. The cabin would serve as a trading post for the soon to be town of Augusta.

C.N. James Trading Post
In March of 1870, the Augusta Town Company was chartered and, in October of 1870, the Humboldt office was removed to Augusta. While I haven't come across an image of the land office in Augusta, it is not unreasonable to assume that it was at the C.N. Trading Post. Its tenure there was brief. In 1874, the land office moved to the next boom town, Wichita.

A visit to the land office

I have often wondered what it was like in the early days of settlement. So, it was interesting to come across a recollection by Civil War veteran, George C. Anderson of an early visit to the Augusta land office in 1871. Anderson and a company of Civil War veterans from Ohio were scouting land for settlement by veterans of the war from Ohio. The resident land agent in Augusta would politely suggest to Anderson and his party that land near there was already spoken for, and they should direct their attention further west.

Anderson was a delegate of the Ohio Soldiers Colony. The group met at Columbus, Ohio, in April, 1871, and selected five members to go west to find lands for settlement. Anderson was one of the five chosen. There is not much information on the Ohio Soldiers Colony, but presumably, they were Union soldiers looking to take advantage of the Homestead Act, which originally gave any man or woman 160 acres of land free, providing they settled, built a shelter, and improved the land. Later a price was placed on the land - the price ranging from $1.25 to $2,50 an acre.

George C. Anderson took notes, which were later published. What follows are his recollections of  going to the land office in Augusta, Kansas. The group began its tour of Kansas and Colorado in Cincinnati, traveling to St. Louis, Kansas City, and Topeka, before heading  south to Florence and then on to Towanda, and Augusta.

Anderson and his party would follow their visit to the land office with a buffalo hunt in Reno County before going on further west.

From the Journal of George C. Anderson, Touring Kansas and Colorado 1871. (from the Kansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn 1956, Transcribed by Barbara Hutchins and Lynn Nelson.)

Resuming our journey, we arrived at Augusta at 3 o'clock P. M.  Here we find a town of some three hundred inhabitants, nearly all of which are land agents or sharks. We find men from every direction, race and color, taking claims, buying and selling land or trying to take advantage of some impecunious Preemptor. We are immediately surrounded on our arrival, and interviewed, as only people in this country know how to interview. However we are not easily frightened, as our party are well armed. Messrs. Huffman and McKittrick are armed with breach loading Ballard rifles, Navy revolvers and knives, Maj Bostwick with a common hunting rifle, revolver and knife, Capt Ferrell with revolver and knife, Young with rifle and revolver and Anderson with Spencer rifle, revolver and knife and to guard against certain kinds of trouble, two or three of the party had an additional armament of bottles, our only remedy against snake bites.

There was a suit before the Land Agent at the time we were there, between a squatter and an actual settler, for a certain piece of land. At one time it looked as though there would be a general fight. Some of the parties placed their hands upon their revolvers, to draw them, but did not. After examining the maps, we were informed by the Ag't that the largest and best body of lands yet unoccupied, were in Sedgewick and Reno Counties, and that we had better examine them.

Read more.