Archive for Friday, June 8, 2012

100 years ago: Local man writes first book at age 86

June 8, 2012


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for June 8, 1912:

  • "The two covered wagons which leave Lawrence tonight are not headed back for a visit with 'wife's folks' but contain six young men from the University of Kansas, who are to spend nine weeks leading the simple life and studying the fish, reptiles, mollusks and crustaceans that are terrorizing Eastern Kansas. The party is headed by R. D. Lindsay, but is working under the direction of Dr. C. E. McClung for the Zoological section of the State Biological Survey.... Besides giving attention to the work of the department, they will also give some attention to insects."
  • "Lawrence tomorrow will entertain a large number of visitors who will come here in their gasoline vehicles. It was learned today that the Leavenworth Auto Club will send a large delegation to the University city tomorrow to spend the day.... The autoists are to leave Leavenworth at 9 o'clock in the morning with their cars decorated in flags and Leavenworth pennants. A total of fifteen car owners are planning to make the trip. The cars are to start at two minute intervals. It is planned to make the trip in three hours which will bring the cars into Lawrence at 12 o'clock."
  • "As the prisoners were being taken to the rock pile this morning, Sam Jackson, better known as 'Catfish,' broke away on Winthrop street and ran south in the alley west of Massachusetts street. Five shots were fired at him It is thought that one hit him but he did not stop. He continued on his way up the alley, ran across the Quincy school grounds and South Park, then started west near Hancock street and disappeared over the hill. He has not been recaptured."
  • "Knut Ketels, the father of the Ketels brothers and of Mrs. Barteldes and Mrs. Uhrlaub, has long been known to the people of Lawrence and surrounding country, but no one suspected that he had literary ability until now at the age of eighty-six he has published a book. The book is entitled 'How I Came to be a Sailor' and tells of the experiences of Mr. Ketels when as a boy of 13 he became a sailor and sailed the high seas for seven years retiring as second mate. It is full of interesting experiences and will interest the young as much as a tale of the Indians and the Wild West. It is now sixty-six years since Mr. Ketels left the sea and it is wonderful how well he remembers the various incidents connected with his life as a sailor. The book will be on sale at the Barteldes Seed Store where Mr. Ketels has long made headquarters."


LadyJ 5 years, 10 months ago

I happened to find a copy online of his obituary which appeared in the LJW. He died just two weeks short of his 97th birthday. It was usual to live that long back then. The obituary was very interesting.,584283

Janis Pool 5 years, 10 months ago

Couldn't get the link to work. Anyone know if the book is available at the library or Watkins?

LawrenceTownie 5 years, 10 months ago

Go to and it will show you Mr. Ketels headstone in Oak Hill Cemetery along with children's names. I could not get Ms. LadyJ's link to work either.

Very interesting to read about early settlers of Lawrence. What used to take 3 hours to drive from Leavenworth to Lawrence can now be done in approximately 20-30 minutes.

LadyJ 5 years, 10 months ago

Google 'how I came to be a sailor' ketels and click on the link that starts Voyaged as a boy. It will take you to a really cool website where you can see editions of the Lawrence Journal World, unfortunately it only goes back to 1911

Sarah St. John 5 years, 10 months ago

  1. The first thing I did after typing this up was to search online for this book. I tried all my usual antiquarian book sites.... not a bit of luck! I'd really love to read it, both because of the historical connection with Lawrence and because it just sounds like a rattling good read. I am serious about this! I promise a batch of homemade cookies to the first person who can find a copy for me that I can borrow or afford to buy! I wonder if any of the Barteldes descendants have a copy. Wasn't there an occasional commenter on the J-W site who was a member of that family and was now living in NYC?

1.a. I have the day off today and I'm listening to "Listeners' Choice" on KPR on this fine morning. I requested Vaughan Williams' "Sea Songs" in honor of Mr. Ketels!

  1. Next time I drive up to Leavenworth, I should decorate my car -- I'm sorry; my "gasoline vehicle" -- with flags and pennants, don't you think? And refer to myself as an "autoist?"

  2. That Catfish guy was pretty tough... or the law-enforcement officers weren't very good shots! I suppose they were shooting to scare or injure, not to kill. That rock pile must have been a pretty awful place to spend the day; isn't this the second or third escape this month?

Ron Holzwarth 5 years, 10 months ago

There are a significant number of books that are simply lost. I was especially frustrated at the theft of one at my home a few years ago that was a collection of magazine articles written by a man who called himself a "Naturalist". Today we would call such a person an environmentalist.

One of the magazine articles was a reprint of "A Thousand Year Old Pine", and it was the recording of the tree rings of a pine tree in what is now Denver, Colorado, that was over 1,000 years old.

Every single one of the pine trees of that size were clear cut long ago, and apparently it is not common knowledge that there ever were pine trees that old. Quite a great deal of history was in the rings of that 1,000 year old pine tree, there were two items that were historically significant.

One was that apparently the Lewis & Clark Expedition had built a fire right beside that tree, because it had burn damage at almost exactly that year. The writer noted that the Native Americans never built fires close to trees, since they were aware fires are harmful to the nearby trees. And, it was logical that the Lewis & Clark Expedition had camped there, because it was the biggest tree for many miles in any direction. So, it had been a landmark.

The other that I thought was fascinating was that the author noted that there had been massive rockslides against the tree in 1811 - 1812. Some stones were actually embedded within the tree.

What was amazing was that the author was not aware that was the exact time of the 5 massive New Madrid earthquakes, which caused landslides in the Rocky Mountains, cracked sidewalks in New York City, and rang church bells in Boston, Massachusetts.

Since Kansas is between the Rocky Mountains and New York City & Boston, it was hardly felt here at all.

Yeah, right. The only reason it wasn't considered to be massive here in Kansas is because there were almost no structures in Kansas in 1812.

So, on to the point of my tirade. I knew exactly who had stolen the book, because I had once pointed out to him that was probably the only book out of my massive collection that had any value.

So he stole it, thinking I meant monetary value. No, it had historical value, and since it was out of copyright by decades, I had planned to put it all online for people to use for research.

And, he just lost it or threw it away, I'm sure. Anyway, you all are out of luck if you want to research the 1,000 year old pine tree in Colorado. And I don't remember anything else of what was in the book, but it was full of articles of a similar nature, many of which are almost certainly lost today.

Sarah St. John 5 years, 10 months ago

Oh, and --

  1. "... the fish, reptiles, mollusks and crustaceans that are terrorizing Eastern Kansas" -- that made me laugh when I found it. I haven't seen any scary mollusks, crustaceans, etc. this summer. Not even any lemurs. The only thing that's come close to terrorizing me lately was that batch of chiggers that found their way to me a week ago. I am filet mignon to chiggers. Man, I hate those things.

LadyJ 5 years, 10 months ago

According to a LJW article in 1924, the public library had a copy of the book at that time.

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 10 months ago

Miss Sarah, Chris Barteldes was a teacher here in Lawrence school district and later sold realestate here in Lawrence, maybe can contact him and find out if he has any info. on this matter

Sarah St. John 5 years, 10 months ago

Flint, I remember him -- he was kind enough to let me and Mr. OHT use one of his classic cars for our wedding (he drove us from the church to the Castle Tea Room where we had our reception). A very nice man. I will see if I can figure out any way to contact him.

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