Archive for Friday, April 2, 1999


April 2, 1999


Editor's note: These questions and answers about Lawrence were compiled by Bill Mayer, a contributing editor of the Journal-World. Many of the photographs used in this feature are courtesy of Watkins Community Museum of History, 1047 Mass., while others were retrieved from the Journal-World's files.

Of the approximately 160 people murdered in William Quantrill's Raid on Lawrence in 1863 how many were females?

None. Because Quantrill had specified that only males be killed; no women or girls were listed among the dead.

Who was the Kansas University athletics director when Wilt Chamberlain was playing basketball under coach Dick Harp in the 1957 and 1958 seasons?

A.C. "Dutch" Lonborg, a one-time all-sports star at KU (he came from Horton) who also served as head basketball coach at Northwestern before returning to KU as AD in 1950.

Why is July 13, 1951, referred to as Black Friday in Lawrence history?

It was the day the Kansas River at the Bowersock Dam peaked at an all-time high of nearly 31 feet (18 feet was, and remains, the official flood stage). Nearly 17 inches of rain fell in late June and early July on the already-soaked Lawrence region to help trigger the biggest flood ever recorded here.

Where was the first Holiday Inn located in Lawrence?

It was opened on the southwest corner of 23rd and Louisiana in December of 1956 after Topekans Ed Linquist and Bob Brock had gained a franchise from Holiday Inn headquarters in Memphis.

Is it true that a drug store once was at 11th and Massachusetts?

Yes. Wilson's Drug Store and later Rankin's Drug were in the 1101 Mass. building. The structure, which now houses Englewood Florists, among other businesses, was constructed in 1909 by Byron Beery. In 1911 it was sold, and a plaque on the second floor of the building was changed to read "J.E. Stubbs," the new owner.

Name two other locations for the Lawrence city hall prior to the construction of the current city hall at Sixth and Massachusetts?

The current Watkins Community Museum of History building (the old Watkins Bank Building) at the northwest corner of 11th and Massachusetts and the upper floors of the current Mercantile Bank building (then the First National Bank building) at the southeast corner of Ninth and Massachusetts.

Who was the first Lawrence mayor serving when Lawrence took over in its new city hall?

Barkley Clark, a Kansas University law professor who resigned early after 12 years on the commission because he was moving to join a law firm in the Kansas City area. He could not continue on the commission as a nonresident and his 12-year tenure is the longest in local commission history.

Who was elected the first mayor of Lawrence under the newly instituted city manager-commission form of government in 1951?

Chris Kraft, who owned Kraft Implement Co. that was where the current Dillon Store complex is in the 1700 block of Massachusetts. Kraft was elected local mayor four straight years (1951-54) and had the demanding task of serving as mayor during and after the devastating flood of 1951.

Who was the first city manager of Lawrence under the manager-commission setup?

Jim Wigglesworth, who came here from LaJunta, Colo. He later left here to take a governmental advisory position in Iran.

Who was L.R. "Dad" Perry, after whom a local park was named?

He was a former football and basketball coach at Lawrence High who pioneered gymnastics excellence for the Lions, as coach, and also served as athletic director and physical education guru. "Dad" Perry Park at Harvard and Monterey Way was named for him.

Where was the big Green Brothers Hardware Store, long a Lawrence retail landmark and gathering place?

Near Seventh and Massachusetts, adjacent to the present-day site of Abercrombie and Fitch, which is housed in the former Lawrence National Bank building.

Where was the first Jim Clark Motors location, before Clark pioneered establishment of the current auto complex north of 31st and Iowa?

In a two-story building between Sixth and Seventh streets on the west side of Massachusetts, where the M & M Office Supply now sits. There were ramps for the upper story use in the building at 634 Mass. The Clark agency also had offices across the street for a while.

Where was the more recent site of the old Morgan-Mack Ford dealership?

On the east side of Vermont just south of Seventh Street.

Before it was torn down to make an arcade, what was the name of the oldest movie theater west of the Mississippi and what was it called informally?

The Patee Theater, commonly referred to in earlier days as The Nickel, because that was the admission charge. The narrow building was where a walkway now is between a parking lot and the east side of the 800 block of Massachusetts.

What retail store originally occupied the building just south of the Patee Theater?

The J.C. Penney store, which since has had two other locations, near 23rd and Iowa and now south on Iowa. The building now houses the Antique Mall.

What Lawrence landmark is recognized as the oldest church of any denomination in the state of Kansas?

Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt, which originated in 1854, the same year Lawrence was founded by the New England Immigrant Aid Society. The main portion of the church was built in 1870 and before that there were services in a "hay tent" and crude stone structures nearer to the current downtown area.

Who were the Sand Rats and the River Rats?

People who were noted for their frequency as fishermen, dam workers and "Kaw experts" on the Kansas River in Lawrence. Perhaps the best-known in modern times was the late Fred Brown of the Bowersock Dam staff, noted for his ability to predict uncannily the rises and falls of the river and when they would occur during rainy periods.

What was the location of the Green Lantern Cafe, managed by the colorful Chris Williams, father of city official George Williams, located?

It was just to the north of a drug store on the northwest corner of Seventh and Massachusetts.

What onetime Lawrence banker was the first Democrat ever to be elected to two terms as Kansas governor.

The late George Docking (1957-1961), who served as governor an unprecedented two two-year terms for a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican state.

What Lawrence Democrat with a local banking background became the first and only person ever elected to four consecutive two-year terms as Kansas governor (before the current four-year term was instituted)?

Robert Docking, son of two-term Democrat governor George Docking. Robert served from 1967 to 1975. He later retired to his bank in Arkansas City and, like his father, died at age 57 due to emphysema. Robert Docking's death came in 1982.

The current Mercantile Bank at Ninth and Massachusetts has gone through a number of corporate and name changes. What was its name when it first occupied the building and where had it been located before?

It was the First National Bank of Lawrence and was headed by

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eventual Gov. George Docking when it was in the current Teller's restaurant building, where an old vault stands as a route to a restroom.

Who was the designer and "sculptor" of the free-form mobile, called "Flame," in front of the current City Hall.

Lin Emery, an internationally known artist, sculptress and designer from New Orleans.

What was the name of a highly popular art deco type of restaurant in the 1950s south of Babcock Place on the east side of Massachusetts?

The Chateau.

What was the location of the popular Dine-A-Mite Inn operated by Roy and Mary Borgen at a time when the establishment was just beyond the city limits and could allow dancing and the serving of beer at the same time (something illegal in the city limits).

The "Mite" was just southwest of 23rd and Louisiana in an area where a service station, audio outlet and doughnut establishment now operate. And the city limits at the time ran down 23rd, just a few feet to north of the Mite. The Dine-A-Mite's location "out in the county" allowed the beer-dancing combination, which was illegal within the city limits of Lawrence at that time.

How many local lives were lost in and around Lawrence during the record flood in July of 1951 when nearly $6 million in damages and loss occurred in the community.

None. There were, however, a number of rescues of people from rising and turbulent water situations. Damage and loss in the Kansas-Missouri area ran well over $1 billion, an astounding amount of money during that time.

When the term Lawrence City was formally applied as the name of our town in 1854, what were some of the other names of note that had been used?

The three most common were Wakarusa, New Boston and Yankee Town.

The city of Lawrence bears the name of Amos Lawrence, a New Englander who was instrumental in setting up the community with aid to the people he helped to come here from the Northeast. How many times did Amos Lawrence visit here?

Not once. He corresponded with people here and showed interest and continued financial involvement but never came west to view the city.

What was the name of the fist newspaper published not only in Lawrence but in the state of Kansas (Oct. 21, 1854)?

The Herald of Freedom, a copy of which is framed in the foyer of the current Journal-World building. During the years, there have been more than 100 newspapers of various natures published in Lawrence, and the current Journal-World is an amalgam of some 40 of those, with the late W.C. Simons the founder. The Simons family continues as the owner-operator of the Lawrence Journal-World.

Was Lawrence regarded as a "free state" or "slave state" community in its early days?

Free state, and that is one of the reasons Southern sympathizer William Quantrill and the infamous Sheriff Jones led raids on the community. Lawrence long was one of the major stops along the storied Underground Railroad designed to help fleeing slaves find their way safely to freedom.

Who was the first official mayor of Lawrence?

James Blood, who served from 1857 to 1859.

When was the first major bridge brought to Lawrence, replacing the old iron bridge of early times.

A 1913 election made the bridge possible, and it was heralded as a "Golden Bridge of Prosperity for a United Douglas County." In early days, ferrying operations helped in the crossings of the river.

What's the history of the TeePee along U.S. 24-40 in North Lawrence?

Frank McDonald, one-time athletic director at Haskell Indian Nations University, built the TeePee as a service station in the 1920s as the prototype of a nationwide chain of Sinclair outlets proposed by Harry Darby. The Depression halted those plans.

When did Lawrence first have a post office?

In 1855, with Carmi Babcock the first postmaster. His tenure was only two years, the fate of a number of early postmasters here.

What was the forerunner of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce?

The Lawrence Merchants Assn., formed in the summer of 1909, with Olin Bell as president. A man named Charles Starkweather served as president in 1913.

What name was first to be given to a "university" here.

Free State College, with city namesake Amos Lawrence donating $10,000 to perpetuate the memory of those who struggled to prevent Kansas from becoming a slave state. But local matching money could not be raised and the idea languished until the Kansas Legislature decided in 1863 to put a University of Kansas here.

What year was Kansas University officially opened?

1866, at North College, with local funds that had been raised to augment Amos Lawrence's $10,000 gift.

How many students and faculty did the original KU have in 1866?

About 40 students and three faculty. Elial J. Rice was the acting president. Rice resigned after a year to go to Baker University at Baldwin, then a much larger school than the "state" university here.

What is the No. 1 tourist attraction in the state of Kansas?

The Kansas University Museum of Natural History, even beyond the Eisenhower Complex in Abilene or any sites in Wichita or Topeka.

What was the Poehler Mercantile Co.?

Located in East Lawrence, in the area of 700 E. Eighth, it once was one of the largest wholesale houses in the state and later became the site for the storage and shipping of Stokely-Van Camp canned food products all over the world. The commercial building has had a wide variety of other uses during the years.

What symbols once were perched on the entrance to the old YMCA building at the northeast corner of Eighth and Vermont streets, signifying the presence of radio station WREN, since moved to Topeka?

Two large metal wren birds that also have been moved and are still being used at one station site. The call letters came from the Jenny Wren flour that the J.D. Bowersock mills produced, leading to the call letters of WREN, which Bowersock also owned. The location of the former WREN headquarters now is a parking lot, just south of the present-day Lawrence Chamber of Commerce offices.

When was Haskell Institute, a school for Native Americans and the forerunner of Haskell Indian Nations University, opened?

In 1884 with James Marvin as the first superintendent. The name came from Congressman D.C. Haskell, who worked to open an Indian Industrial Training School at or near Lawrence "provided the citizens would donate a suitable site." Businessmen provided 280 acres and proffered it to the government as an ideal spot for the school.

What was the first bank established in Lawrence and when did that occur?

The Merchants (National) Bank, established in 1877, was chartered as a national bank in 1886.

What was the original use, as designed, of the current Community Mercantile food market at 901 Miss.?

As a bowling alley, long the main lanes in Lawrence, owned and operated by Tom Griffiths.

Haskell Stadium with its well-known memorial arch were dedicated in 1926 with the late Frank McDonald of Lawrence as the driving force behind the move. According to McDonald -- who was Haskell athletic director -- what were the two most unique things about the stadium complex.

That it was paid for entirely by funds raised from American Indian people and agencies and that it was totally paid for, debt-free, the first day it was put into use.

Banking and commercial-res-

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idential structures currently occupy the corners of the intersection of Ninth and Kentucky. Earlier, what was unique about the location?

Manual High building was once there and later become part of a three-building Lawrence Junior High complex when Liberty Memorial High was opened. The old Liberty Memorial High School site now is Central Junior High, 1400 Mass.

Where was the Lawrence Nehi Bottling Co. in the 1930s?

At 808 Vt.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital at 325 Maine was first built in 1929 at a cost of about $175,000. Who was the generous local benefactor who made that possible?

Elizabeth M. Watkins, one of the top benefactresses in local history. Her generosity is notable throughout the community, including at Kansas University. Her husband, J.B. Watkins, was involved in banking. He organized the Watkins National Bank in 1888, and it survived until the stock market crash of 1929. Today, that bank building at the northwest corner of 11th and Massachusetts streets is the Elizabeth Watkins Community Museum of History. %%

In the years before World War II, the Lawrence-Douglas County area was famous as a top producer of a cash crop that is seldom raised extensively here anymore. What was the commodity?

Potatoes. Kaw Valley potatoes were once famed and purchased far and wide.

The M.S. Winter family once operated one of the major Chevrolet auto agencies in the region. Where was that operation centered?

In the middle of the 700 block of New Hampshire on the east side, where the Borders book store now takes up a good deal of that space. Parker Buick also operated at one time in that locale, with a two-story building on the southeast corner of Seventh and New Hampshire. Part of that structure was incorporated in the Borders building.

What was the original name of the FMC plant in North Lawrence?

Westvaco, which had barely begun operation here when it was hit by the gigantic 1951 flood. Westvaco reflected the West Virginia roots of the company at the time. Now it is controlled by the worldwide Food Machinery combine.

During World War II, the Sunflower Ordnance Works near Desoto and 13 miles east of Lawrence produced more propellant than all the similar operations of the British Empire. How many people worked at Sunflower at its peak?

More than 25,000. The plant was placed on standby after World War II, but it was reactivated for the Korean and Vietnam wars, although it never again employed as many people as it did during World War II, or even came close. After 1945, about the highest the employment total ever got at Sunflower was around 6,500, during and right after the Korean War.

What was the name of barracks-style housing areas set up to take care of many ordnance workers and their families and later students who had been veterans of World War II?

Sunflower Village, which later became a retirement complex. It still operates under the name of Clearview Village.

During World War I, Lawrence High principal Neal Wherry held the rank of colonel in the Army while serving as a chief aid to what U.S. general?

Gen. Lewis Hershey, head of the Selective Service system, which provided men for the war effort.

Who was the Lawrence man who began his World War II Army service as a private and wound up with a battlefield commission, then returned to establish a series of major supermarkets here? He also served the city in many other ways, including as a city commissioner and mayor.

V.C. "Rusty" Springer, whose flagship stores were at Ninth and Iowa, and at 23rd and Louisiana. Today, those sites are occupied by Alvin's and Checkers grocery stores. Springer began his work career as an assistant at a grocery store in downtown Lawrence.

What's the origin of the name of Lawrence's Centennial Park?

The park, built in what once was considered far west Lawrence, was acquired with funds raised from a pageant during the Lawrence Centennial year of 1954. At the time, many people criticized the decision to set the land aside as a park because they contended Centennial was "too far out in the country" and would not be used by many. It has become one of the most-used facilities in the community. And it's not far from the present-day geographic center of Lawrence.

What Olympic Gold Medalist from Lawrence High attended Kansas University on a football scholarship, suffered a life-threatening knee injury in his sophomore gridiron debut, then came back to star in two Olympic festivals?

Bill Nieder, who risked amputation of a leg but rehabilitated to win silver and then gold medals as a shot putter in two Olympics (1956 and 1960, Melbourne and Rome).

What was the name of a local bank that eventually became The Bank of Kansas, Lawrence and had a KU sports celebrity as one of its original directors?

University State Bank, 955 Iowa, and Kansas football coach Jack Mitchell was one of the first directors. Kenn Ragland was the original president. It is now a Commerce Bank.

Organized in 1955, Douglas County was named after what well-known political personality?

Stephen A. Douglas, U.S. senator from Illinois and an 1860 candidate for president (defeated by Abe Lincoln). Douglas and Lincoln had some famous debates and Douglas became known as "The Little Giant." He took great interest in the Kansas territory and "popular sovereignty" which led to his namesake role here.

What onetime head of the Lawrence Business College became internationally famous as an expert handwriting analyst, who often was called for expert testimony in major legal cases?

W.H. Quakenbush.

Name at least three railroads with which Lawrence once was closely tied?

Union Pacific, Rock Island and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.

What downtown area once was known as the city building and had the police and fire station located there.

Eighth and Vermont, which now is the site of the senior center and a fire station.

Where was the Hudson Goff Motor Co. specializing in Hudson and Essex autos once located?

It was at 634 Mass., where Jim Clark Motors eventually occupied office space.

What was a normal Kansas University enrollment figure before World War II?

Between 4,000 and 5,500, depending on the economy. In 1930, the figure was listed at 5,500. During the war, the total tended to run around 3,500 to 4,000 depending on the number of military and naval trainees assigned here.

There were First National and Lawrence National banks here. What was the third bank to be chartered here in the post World War II period?

Douglas County State, now Douglas County Bank, originated in 1956.

Who is the only person ever to serve as president of Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, member and president of the Lawrence school board and city commissioner and mayor of Lawrence.

James Owens, who recently was named a Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Years.

When did the Lawrence population, now listed at about 85,000 officially pass the 45,000 level?

As of the 1970 census, although many contended it was closer to 50,000 in view of the discrepancy in state and federal counting systems.

Who was the first chancellor (not president) of Kansas University and when? And what building on the current campus bears his name?

John Fraser, in 1867, when KU enrollment was listed at 105. When he left in 1874, the university listed 259 students.

What KU chancellor was the youngest dean ever to head a U.S. medical school?

Dr. Franklin D. Murphy, who at 36 became the Kansas University Medical Center dean, then in 1951 became KU chancellor and is regarded as the leader who "projected KU onto the international education scene."

What agency was once a major insurance entity here, and where were its offices?

The Standard Mutual Life Insurance Co. at the southeast corner of Eighth and Vermont streets.

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