Archive for Thursday, November 7, 1991


November 7, 1991


During his long and illustrious life, Lewis Lindsay Dyche braved the elements of the North Pole to collect specimens for the museum in the Kansas University building that bears his name.

Wednesday night, members of the Douglas County Historical Society braved the elements for a presentation on Dyche's life.

Peggy Sullivan and Bill Sharp, authors of the recently published "The Dashing Kansan: Life of Lewis Lindsay Dyche," spoke at the historical society's annual meeting at the Lawrence Country Club. About 60 society members attended.

Dyche was a larger-than-life character who collected the panorama of North American plants and animals still on display at the Kansas University Museum of Natural History, Sullivan said.

ALTHOUGH he now is best remembered for his part in the construction of Dyche Hall, which houses the museum, the lectures he gave around the turn of the century were immensely popular throughout Kansas, drawing crowds of up to 12,000 people.

Politicians apparently took note of Dyche's popularity.

"In 1897, the Populist Party, which controlled the Kansas Legislature, voted to cut by 20 percent the salary of every KU employee, including the chancellor except for Lewis Lindsay Dyche," Sullivan said.

When Dyche came to KU in 1877, he camped for a while in the meadow where the Spencer Museum of Art now is located. He joined KU's faculty in 1884 and went on expeditions across North America to acquire specimens for the university's natural history collection.

In 1892, he displayed 121 of the animals at the Chicago World's Fair. Sullivan said the exhibit was so popular that some feared Kansas would become known as the "stuffed animal" state, but Dyche's collection was a source of pride for Kansas University.

SHARP PRESENTED a series of slides that Dyche had displayed during his lectures.

The photographs depicted Dyche's expeditions to Alaska and northern Greenland. He also collected specimens as a member of the relief expedition following Admiral Robert Perry, the first man to reach the North Pole.

Some slides showed Dyche on the deck of a ship, working on a walrus and polar bear that are now featured in the museum's panorama.

Also at Wednesday's gathering, Steve Jansen, director of the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum, said that in the past year the museum had expanded to fill three of its floors with local historical exhibits. He praised Dan and Marge Ragle for their work in the museum.

Society members elected the following officers: Charles Rankin, president; Betty Laird, vice president; David Longhurst, secretary; Helen Buhler, treasurer.

Jacob Bohanon, Betty Booth, Clenece Hills and Dolph Simons III were elected as new board members. Glenn Kappelman, Jesse Newman and Irene Reynolds are returning board members.

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