Harry S. Truman


History has always been a quest for me. I have always loved the stories that old men tell me in cafes and taverns. I love museums and antique shops. I love those who make it a personal ambition to collect things that interest them. I love reading about history and am also disappointed in the fact that many historians have managed to put some bias into their work. History is what it is. Opinion and belief have no place in the recording of the story.

History has been taught in many places as simply a requirement in the curriculum and many times the History teacher has been the coach or someone that fills the position. I have always admired the Texas education system when it comes to their history. They make Texas History a mandatory part of their curriculum. It is not something to rush through just to have the hours, it is expected to teach the kids to actually know history. Texas History is very well documented and as a whole the history of the Republic and State is important. Even with this there is still some bias in it. But anything involving man is imperfect. but they do a better job than most and it instills a pride and knowledge that we should emulate.

I have a rural background. One of my loves in Kansas History is the frontier period and the hardships that people went through to make this the place it is now. I am also very interested in the farm and ranch.

In my travels around the state I always have people tell me stories about their area that just did not get into the history books. And it is a shame! And so this seed that has been planted over the years grew until I had to start writing and researching our state and our people. It has also started me off as a word collector or maybe a story collector is a better term. I now try to find not only the stories but the photos, post cards, newspaper articles, and the ephemera that document many of the stories.

My readers have been a major source for me and I want to see if anyone out there would take the time to look at their old barns, sheds, fence rows, tree rows, and iron piles. There are many Kansas invented and manufactured items that we can only hope that a long forgotten piece, or a hidden away piece, is out there for us to save.

As an example; only three COLBY PLOWBOY tractors were built in Colby, Kansas by three farmers who needed something to replace horses on their large farms. They made a design and a local company built the tractors. They were used by these farmers and the effort to sell these tractors was short lived. The museum only has some odd pictures. I need to find unknown pictures, ad literature, or location of a surviving PLOWBOY tractor. None are known to survive. Is there one out there somewhere? This is important because the company that built the Plowboy was sold to a company that was purchased by the International Harvestor/McComick company. This could make the original concept of the tractor in Kansas be the foundation for the Farmall and McCormick Deering tractor lines.

The same story with the Sterling/Hockett tractor built by a company in Sterling Kansas. There were Hocketts that worked in the Lyons and Sterling communities for several years. The company was known as the Gasoline Thresher and Plow Company. The Hockett was the first tractor offered commercially for sale to farmers. No known models exist. Is there at least one out there somewhere? Are there pieces of an old tractor out there that may be from a Hockett or other early tractor?

The Cloughley Automobile was invented in St. Paul and manufactured in both Cherryvale and Parsons. It was the first commercial automobile offered for sale that was built in America. At least one model of this car was supposed to be sent to the Henry Ford Museum and it never arrived. Around 100 were built. Are there any setting in an old barn or in the trees down in Southeast Kansas? We need to find one and get it saved. I also need company brochures and advertising.

There was a steam car built in Wichita, Hay Presses built by various manufacturers, potato diggers, spark plugs, wind mills, and other items invented and manufactured in Kansas. If we do not find all that there is about these products and the people behind them the stories will be lost forever.

I need all of my readers to start looking for things with an eye on history. I especially want all the salvagers that clean up old farmsteads to discern between what needs to be scrapped and what needs to be saved. There are many collectors out there that would love to procure, restore, and put Kansas built items into museums and collections. And I need the information and all printed material for all of these forgotten items.

If I cannot get everything into a book my library will eventually be given to an archival library. So future researchers can find what I have been able to turn up and collect.

Feel free to contact me.  bunkhouse@havilandtelco.com , Roger Ringer, 1374 NE Goldenrod, Medicine Lodge, KS.  67104

1 Comment
  • Barbara Richhart
    Posted at 20:27h, 19 March

    Roger This is great the stories are what keep our history alive! You do Outstanding my friend!
    Your Western Belle, Barb