Bissell Buzz 2015/14

September 13, 2015

Yes, the 2015 season for tours has finally come to an end.  There may still be a few people coming through on privately reserved tours and of course we still have our Chili Cookoff on September 27th that will be held at the Fort.  When we take the special children’s programs out of the equation and focus purely on visitors, we have had 233 more visitors in the 2015 season, compared to 2014. What a fine season this has indeed been!

We have two buildings on our premises that come from Woodruff, just south of the Nebraska border.  The two buildings are our general store and the walnut Lutjenharms cabin, which we also refer to as the critter cabin. Today Woodruff is less than a shadow of what it was in its heydays.

The General Store originally from Woodruff

The General Store originally from Woodruff

The town of Woodruff was platted by the Lincoln Land Co. on July 23, 1885.The Woodruff Budget, a newspaper published there in 1906 lists the following business firms:

A bank, hotel, doctor, railroad, elevator, dray line, plumber, drug store, livery barn, lumber yard, opera house, harness shop, meat market, paper hanger, grocery store, confectionery, furniture store, blacksmith shop, cement manufacturing company, two painters, two restaurants, two hardware stores, two plasterers, two barbershops, two livestock buyers, two insurance agents, two real estate agents, five carpenters, three stone masons, three general stores and a notary public in addition to two churches and a fine school.

The town motto was: “Live and Let Live; Boost, Don’t Knock“.

Among some of the highlights from the BUDGET’s columns that week, was an estimate that more than a million bushels of corn would be raised in the immediate vicinity, and a list of livestock feeders with the number of head of livestock fed:

Wertz Bros., 1500; Frank Kiser 30; Wrise 200; B.B. Bostwick 20; T.R. Fimple 40; W.S. Day 90; C. Day & Sons 206; Wm. Kiser 100; Walter Green 50; H.A. Bickett 40; Frank Carmean 40; J.F. Ziegler 100; Jim Reeder 40; B.M. Sperry 35; N.J. Horrell 40; Chas. O’neill 40; Jas. Coffey 50; R. Heth 30; W.A. Jackson 20; P.R. Bond 50; H.V. Morris 300; Frank Dixson 140; George Tannahill 100; Hageman Bros. 40; and Phil Turney with 3000 head of sheep.

John Steenis was listed as the champion cornhusker in that area, having husked and cribbed 2030 bushels of corn in 18 days, for an average of 113 bushels per day. And it was evident that boys will be boys in 1906: Alfred Young and Garfield Hagerman were spilled out of a buggy coming from the Hagerman farm by attempting to turn a square corner at a 2-40 gait. “The demolished rig,” reports the BUDGET, “bears witness to the fact that they didn’t light in a very soft spot either.” The BUDGET was published by John A. Barker, who also operated a drug store in connection with his newspaper.

The Evangelical United Bretheran church at Woodruff was organized in January 1887, as a result of a revival meeting held by Rev. T.J. Fee, assisted by the Methodist minister in the Old Sod house of the town. Charter members included Mrs. John Cheadle, Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Joyce, Rev. and Mrs. Fee, Billie and Nellie Fee, “Grandma” Stroh, Eliza and Ed Stroh, Mr. and Mrs. Samual Fulton. Services were held in the frame school house building until 1903 when it was replaced by a brick school house building and in 1946, a merger changed the name to Evangelical United Bretheran. Services were discontinued when the population thinned. (SourcePhillips County Review Thursday, October 30, 1997. Vol 72-No. 45)

How I wish to have seen the town when it was flourishing!

Inside the Lutjenharms Cabin (Critter Cabin) - a place where we have hands-on educational sessions with kids.

Inside the Lutjenharms Cabin (Critter Cabin) – a place where we have hands-on educational sessions with kids.

As mentioned previously, we still have one event left on our 2015 Fort calendar. On September 27 we will be hosting our third annual Chili Cook-off and it will be an evening of fun, food and frolic.  We want to invite all to come and try the various dishes and vote for your favorite.  We will be catering for non-chili eaters too and have something sweet and also some music.  We are also trying to arrange for a fun photo booth.  For those who wish to show off their chili cooking skills, why don’t you enter a team?  Entry forms can be obtained at H&R Block, Phillipsburg.  This is a fundraising event towards some covered shelters for our wagons that have to brave all the elements of heat, rain and wind during the hot Kansas summer.

Please note that we have now also started a blog at where all our previous editions of the 2015 Bissell Buzz will be published, together with any photos related to that edition.

Ruby Wiehman – Curator