More travels in southeast Kansas. I’ve spent this past weekend in Guymon so I should have a story for you about that soon….
Welcome back. Over the past few weeks I have found many historic treasures along the roads of far southeast Kansas. In Sedan this past week I found another one. Want to see some housing from the early 1930s and 40s that looks just like when they were built? Sedan, Kansas would be a good place to start. Driving around town I found that the residents here are really proud of their past and do an extremely good job of keeping up the old houses. Throw in a couple of good eating places that I also checked out and it looks to me like this old Kansas town is definitely worth a visit just about any day of the week.
A few miles east of course is where Charles Ingalls and his family settled in 1869 which at the time was Osage Indian territory. The Ingalls family stayed for just four years and by the 1920s the land belonged to the Houston family who used it as farmland. Then in 1935 Charles Ingalls daughter Laura published her book Little House on the Prairie and I’m sure you know where I am going by now. Located 12 miles south of Independence, just off highway 75, the house is now a popular tourist destination visited by thousands each year. Over time the book spawned a beloved TV show that is still in syndication and a museum near the homestead.
Brigadier General William Kurtis and his wife Wilma Horton Kurtis began giving free tours of the property to encourage people to read Ingalls’s book and eventually they purchased the land. In 1976 a replica of the original one room cabin was constructed on the site. It’s a place I discovered along with the Little House museum in Independence where the heirs of the Kurtis family told me that people come from around the world to see where the scenes in the book took place.
On another note, if that Kurtis name sounds familiar it might be because it’s the same Bill Kurtis of radio and TV fame whose family now manages the homestead. I’ve visited with Bill in the past and he is mentioned in my book, Footprints in the Dew. Bill has been active in the Sedan community for as long as I can remember and as you can imagine he is also a very personable guy. On this trip I also met his sister Jean Kurtis Schodorf who is equally involved in the community and is running for State Representative in that district.
After a little research I learned that the Little House on the Prairie and the museum are registered not-for-profit organizations dedicated to preserving the history of the Ingalls family homestead. This is another spot that is well worth a drive and friends its free but you’d better hurry, the homestead closes October 31st for the season. Call (620) 289-4238 for all the scoop.
This coming week starts for me in Norman, Oklahoma where the Oklahoma Sooners will be playing Kansas State. Balfour’s, the home of OU memorabilia, will be hosting me and silver shoes Joe Washington for another book signing this Friday from 2-4 PM. This will be my second gig at Balfour’s with Joe and you never know who might show up. Balfour’s is located on campus corner where the pre-game party takes place Friday and you are all officially invited.
If you are into photography you are in luck because the Oklahoma State Institute of Technology is holding their annual photography exhibit in the Lyon Gallery at the Bartlesville Community Center. I’ve been to this show several times and I’m always impressed by the range of subject matter and the high quality of the images. The show will be up throughout the month of October and folks, it’s free to attend.
Till next time I’ll see ya down the road…..