Category: Hays

Hays

K.S.U. Ag Research Center

The 1895 Kansas legislature declared, “The experience of the settlers of the settlers upon the plains of western Kansas has demonstrated conclusively that agriculture cannot be pursued with profit under existing natural conditions.”

The legislators saw the need for conducting research where it would be applied. So, in 1901, on land once part of the Fort Hays Military Reservation, the Center was established with a mission to conduct basic and applied research appropriate to western Kansas where rainfall is limited.

The Center is one of five branches of the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Stations at Kansas State University. Its mission is to conduct basic and applied research appropriate to western Kansas where rainfall is limited. The Center currently owns or leases more than 6,100 acres and employs 10 full-time scientists and 35 support personnel. It is one of the largest dryland research centers in the world.

Out of six most widely accepted wheat varieties recently developed in Kansas, five were developed here. Researchers are currently working on a new hard white winter wheat variety. Over 50% of the total experiments developed in the area of feeding wheat to beef cattle in the United States have been done at this center.

If you wish to tour the Research Center, contact the staff in advance and they will be happy to provide a guided tour.

Admission: Free Admission rnHours: Free guided tours available by appointment. rnAddress: 1232 240th AvernPhone: 785-625-3425rnWebsite: http://www.wkarc.org/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=35

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Blue Sky Minature Horse Farm

Donna and Marion Schmidt have operated their working horse farm for over 10 years and enjoy visiting with groups about this special breed of horses.

Not to be confused with Shetland ponies, miniature horses are much like regular horses, except they are only 26-33″ tall. This Arabian type horse is very intelligent, affectionate and fun.

The Schimdt’s provide demonstrations on training, grooming, feeding and showing their horses. All of their horses are registered show horses. They have won hundreds of honors at competitions throughout the nation. Four horses have placed in the top ten on the national level.

Volga-German House

Located on the grounds of the Ellis County Historical Museum is a replica of a Volga German house furnished with authentic household items used by the Volga German settlers.rn rnThe first homes built by our early settlers were constructed of sod. Typically the homes were 28 feet long and 16 feet wide. Sod walls were 6 feet high with two half-windows in each wall and one front door. The ground would be excavated to a depth of three feet, with the sod set aside to form the walls. Trees and saplings formed the rafters and support for the roof. The interior of the house contained two rooms: a small anti-room containing the “mud stove” and the cooking utensils, and a large room which served as the living, dining, and sleeping area. The walls were plastered with clay and whitewashed with Lebaster, a type of plaster of paris.

Many Ellis County residents are descendants of German immigrants who came from the Volga River region of Russia. These settlers were people who migrated from Germany to Russia following the end of the Seven Years War in 1763. They were invited to migrate to Russia by Catherine the Great, who was born in Germany and was the leader of Russia at the time. As an inducement to these potential immigrants, she promised freedom of religion, freedom from military conscription, free land and an exemption from taxation. They settled in villages on the eastside of the Volga River (hence, the name Volga-Germans) and turned to building their lives in their new homes.

In 1874 the reigning Czar began to remove the privileges Catherine the Great had promised the Volga Germans. Consequently, the Volga-Germans began to search for a new homeland. In 1875 they sent a scouting party of five men to America to inform themselves of the climate, soil and living conditions suitable for their farming lifestyle. These scouts found the Kansas plains similar to the steppes region of Russia and a large number of the Volga-Germans decided to migrate to America. In October and November of 1875, many of these immigrants left their villages along the Volga River and traveled to Saratov, Russia to begin their journey to America. The first Volga Germans arrived in Hays the middle of February 1876 and traveled south to settle land along the Big Timber Creek. Liebenthal was the first community to be founded on February 22, 1876. The other communities of Catherine, Herzog, Pfeifer, Munjor, and Schoenchen were settled during the spring and summer of 1876. Although they had the same religion, ethnicity and culture, they continued to focus on life in their individual communities. Just as they had done in Russia, they retained their language with the various dialects that were spoken by the people of each village. Each individual village also retained traditions of food, family, religion and marriagernFor more informaiton about the Volga German Heritage of Ellis County visit www.germancapitalofkansas.comrn

Plymouth Stone Schoolhouse

When the Germans settled on the Kansas high plains over a century ago, after homesteading their farm and establishing a church, the next priority was to build a schoolhouse. This schoolhouse was originally built in Russell County in the 1870’s and was moved to the campus of Fort Hays State University in the fall of 1977. rn rnThis is the original Plymouth Country Schoolhouse that was built from 3,000 quarried limestone blocks in 1874 in eastern Russell County. It was dismantled block by block and reassembled at the current location along the banks of Big Creek and across the street from Tomanek Hall. The Fort Hays State University Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa completed the restoration project of the 927 square foot structure in 1979 and furnished it with school antiques and textbooks.

The subjects that were taught to the students, whose ages ranged from 5 to 21, were reading, penmanship, arithmetic, descriptive geography, physical geography, and physiology. Other subjects taught were U.S. history, declamation, drawing, algebra, and bookkeeping. Music was held by singing familiar songs parents taught their children. During recess children played games such as leap frog, baseball, follow-the-leader, marbles, drop-the-handkerchief, spin-the-bottle and tag.rn rnEach year enrollment increased with the highest number of enrollees being 59 and with all the subjects in 8 grades it became difficult to teach in a one-room school. By 1904 attendance dropped sharply and the school closed until 1912 when it was opened for one year. It was again closed until 1915 when it reopened and stayed active until 1936. The school was then closed permanently at the end of the school year for several reasons, mainly lack of students, but also due to the depression, dust storms and drought.rn rnThe school educated approximately 150 children for eight years of their lives with at least 32 of them continuing on to become teachers.rn rnThrough the efforts of the Phi Delta Kappa Education Honorary Organization and many volunteers, the Plymouth Country Schoolhouse was saved and brought to the Fort Hays State University campus. This one room schoolhouse sits on the campus as a reminder to all of us where our education roots began and to show us how important education was to the pioneers of our area.

http://www.fhsu.edu/academic/college-of-education-and-technology/smei/Plymouth-Schoolhouse/

Fort Hays State Universityrn600 ParkrnHays, KS 67601rn785-628-4000

Boot Hill Cemetery

The original Boot Hill was located in Hays not Dodge City, as many people believe. In fact, when Dodge City was founded in 1872, the Hays City Boot Hill was well populated. Mrs. Elizabeth Custer spent the summers of 1869 and 1870 near Hays with her husband, Lt. Col. George Custer. In her book, Following the Guidon, she states that there were already 36 graves in the cemetery before she left.

Estimates of the number of people buried there vary from 37 to 100, but the most reliable evidence shows there were approximately 79 graves. When homes were built at the site, many bodies were moved from Boot Hill to the Mount Allen Cemetery. Records, however, were incomplete and therefore the whereabouts of these are lost in history. Not all of those murdered in Hays City the first six years were buried here. Several were soldiers, probably buried at the Fort cemetery.

Hays is famous for being a frontier city and its colorful history features the legendary “Wild Bill” Hickok, “Buffalo Bill” Cody and General George Custer. Hays City was founded in the fall of 1867 when the Union Pacific Railroad reached the military post of Fort Hays along the banks of Big Creek. Because many of the first citizens were railroad workers, saloon owners, soldiers and even desperados, the early days of Hays City were wild and dangerous. During several months in 1869, “Wild Bill” Hickok served as the acting sheriff after several incidents prompted the citizens to form a vigilante committee. Many of the outlaws were buried at the original boot hill cemetery, which was located on a hill just north of Hays City.

Downtown Historical Walking Tour

The famous and infamous walked the streets of Old Hays City during the 1860’s to 1880’s including Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody and General George Armstrong Custer. Twenty five bronze plaques mark the route and explain the historical significance of each site. Begin the tour near 13th and Fort and learn about the area that was once known as Gospel Hill. See the location of The Perry House, where Hickok reportedly lived in this two story hotel while in Hays from 1867 to 1869. This area on West 10th Street was also where Cy Goddard Dance Hall was located. This place later became famous for the photo that was taken outside the dance hall in 1873 showing the after math of a gunfight and the murder scene of three privates from Fort Hays. A brochure and map of this self guided walking tour is available at the Hays Welcome Center. We encourage you to walk and learn about the history of Hays. rnhttp://www.haysusa.com/Downtown_walking_tour.pdfrn rnDowntown Hays 9th & 10th Streetsrn785-628-8202rnHours: Sunrise to sunsetrnAdmission: Freern

Ellis Co. Historical Museum

The Ellis County Historical Society Museum preserves and illustrates local history by housing exhibits of artifacts, collections of documents, photographs, manuscripts and other archival materials that reflect this region’s past. The museum displays over 25,000 artifacts which reflect the diversity of interests and life-ways in Ellis County, and can be viewed on guided museum tours through three main galleries.

Incorporated within the museum itself is an 1879 native stone chapel, the oldest building originally erected as a church in Ellis County. It is quite possibly the oldest church in all of western Kansas. Many of the church’s artifacts are on display.

On the main floor of the museum is an exhibit titled “Wild and Wooly Years,” and more displays are being added on a regular basis.

Throughout the year other rotating exhibits are displayed including antique toys, wedding gowns from the late 1800s to present, and more.

Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Within the four story domed museum, you will find a recreated day 88 million years ago when the mighty Tyrannosaurus haunted the land and Kansas was covered by an inland sea.

Visitors will be able to walk among several animated life-sized dinosaurs in a fully restored environment and experience the life of some of the most spectacular creatures that ever lived. Under the Kansas seaway, visitors come face to face with giant sea-swimming lizards and fish that lived millions of years ago.

The unique feature exhibit is a 10,000 sq. ft. walk through diorama. Visitors will walk through the Kansas Sea, exploring the environment that produced the rocks and fossils of western Kansas. On display will be the fossils for which the museum is famous, including the 14 foot long “fish within a fish.”

Children will be able to enjoy a hands-on experience in the Discovery Room. Specimens from the museum’s collection are included along with live animals and will be able to participate in a dinosaur dig.rn

Historic Fort Hays

Fort Hays was an important US Army post which was active from 1865 until 1889. Troops from Fort Hays protected the stage and freight wagons using the Smoky Hill Trail to Denver, and construction workers who were building the Union Pacific Railroad. The original blockhouse, guardhouse, and officers quarters are located here as well as exhibits interpreting pioneer and military history.

After the fort was virtually destroyed in a flash flood in 1867, it was relocated to a site now just south of the city of Hays. Unlike the typical military posts of the earlier eastern frontier, there was no stockade or fortification wall. Instead, officers quarters, barracks , headquarters, storehouses, and other buildings grouped around a parade ground constituted the outline of the new Fort Hays.

A stone blockhouse, hexagonal in shape with two wings extending north and south, was equipped with rifle slits, but the fort was never attacked, and the building was actually used as a post headquarters and adjutant’s quarters for the officer of the guard, a guard room, and a prison room with three cells, except for a small bakery, all other buildings – officer quarters, married enlisted men’s quarters, barracks, hospital storehouses, and other housekeeping buildings were of frame construction.

Garrison strength at Fort Hays normally averaged three companies, or about 210 men. Fort Hays was home to the 7th U.S. Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Col. George A. Custer, the 5th U.S. Infantry, commanded by Col. Nelson Miles, and the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalries, better known as the Buffalo Soldier. Marcus A. Reno, George A. Forsyth, and Philip H. Sheridan were also among the noted military figures associated with the fort.

In 1867, Hays City was staked out a mile to the east, and with the arrival of the railroad in October, the fortunes of Hays City and Fort Hays became almost inseparable. The military post was turned into a quartermaster depot which supplied other forts throughout the West and Southwest. Such an operation required a large number of civilian as well as military personnel, and Hays City consequently experienced rapid development.

The Fort Hays Historic Visitors Center was completely remodeled in the summer of 2010 with new displays, interpretive displays and life-size metal figures of people who lived at the fort. Figures of General Custer and Chief Black Kettle in the visitor center help tell the story of the clash of cultures that led to the fort being built. In the guardhouse, visitors can hear songs and stories from the fort’s life, try on a uniform, spend time in a jail cell, and learn more about life as an enlisted soldier. In the blockhouse, visitors will learn about the officers of Fort Hays, discover the mysteries of the blockhouse architecture, and explore how the preservation of the fort has taken place.