Read here to learn about Eudora government, streets, water, electricity, fire prevention, law enforcement, postal service, and library! Information about Eudora's medical services through time are found here. Also see the current U.S. Census map of Eudora and Eudora population.
Government. Eudora, a class of the third class with a council government under Kansas Statutes, has its city offices at the Municipal Building, also known as City Hall, at 4 East Seventh Street. Voters elect the mayor and council members on the first Tuesday in April. According to Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas, the following were Eudora mayors: Fredriech Faerber* (1859 and pictured on left), Charles Durr* (1860); C. Durr and J. C. Dunn (1861), H. Wittler and C. Lothhole [probably Charles Lothholz] (1862), C. Durr (1863), C. Thorn and C. Durr (1864), A. D. H. Kemper (1866-1867), Leo Vitt (1868-1870), Dr. S. American (1870-1872), C. Durr (1873-1874), J. A. Seybold (1875), Leo Vitt (1876), J. Hammert (1877-1879), and Charles Durr (1880-1882). John Hammert shows up in the 1884 Polk Directory as mayor and in news accounts as mayor until 1889, when he suddenly died while in office. The Eudora newspaper also mentions these mayors in the years mentioned after each man: Charles Lothholz (1891-1893), Charles Pilla (1893-1896), W. H. Robinson (1896-1899), Charles Pilla (1899-1900); Charles Lothholz (1900-1904), Charles Hill (1904-1907), Ernest W. Kraus (1907-1913), Albert Griffin (1913-1915 and maybe in early 1890s), C. L. Fuller (1915-1919), Frank Starr (1920-1923), C.E. Cory (1923-1924); Delbert Adams (1924), and J. D. Adams (1925-1929). [*Also reported by Book of Commission for the City of Eudora ]
City Hall records list these mayors: J. D. Adams (1934-1939); George H. Lothholz (1939-1943); Bert Seiwald (1943-1945); John Kazmaier (1945-1947); Ray C. Ogden (1947-1949); Allen Westerhouse (1949-1953); Albert Colman (1953-1957); J. D. Adams (1947-1967) [Note: The Eudora Enterprise reported that J.D. Adams died in late 1966, and Homer Broers was sworn in as mayor for a few month sat the start of 1967 before D. E. Kerr took the office]; D. E. Kerr (1967-1976); James V. Hoover (1976-1997); Fred Stewart (1997-2001); Ron Conner (2001-2005); Tom Pyle (2005-2009; Scott Hopson (2009-2013); Ruth Hughs (2013-2014); and John Fiore (2014- ).
The city decided to employ a city manager to handle day-to-day delivery of city services in 2002. Those who have taken on this challenging position include Mike Yanez (2001-2005), Cheryl Beatty (2005-2009), John Harrenstein (2009-2013), Mike Press (2013-2014), and Gary Ortiz (2014- ). In the past, standing council committees have been electric, water and sewer; street, park, and recreation; finance; zoning, building codes, fire, and refuse; and police and cemetery. A separate city planning commission of seven appointed members also work with the city council, and, in recent years. There also was a a recreation committee of five appointed members who reported to the city council. Ppositions are city clerk, city treasurer, city attorney, chief of police, law enforcement officers, city superintendent, recreation director, and municipal judge (who makes traffic fine rulings once a month).
The Code of the City of Eudora contains the city ordinances that community members are legally bound to follow. It can be viewed at the City Hall, which was built in 1955. An early Eudora frame school became the Eudora’s first city hall in 1866 and was used for that purpose until it was moved to 731 Maple Street for use as a residence and the present brick structure was built.
The Public Works Office oversees the maintenance of sidewalks; street lights; city streets; water; the city brush facility to dispose of tree debris, leaves, and grass; and other infrastructure.
Streets. When Eudora originally was platted, streets were referred to as alphabet letters. If looking at old maps, the name conversion is as follows: A (Ash), B (Birch), C Church), D (Locust), E (Elm), F (Main), G (Maple), H (Oak), I (Acorn), J (Fir), K (Pine), L (Spruce), M (Walnut) and N (Cherry).
Water Service. Private wells, cisterns, and community wells such as the one at City Hall provided Eudora citizens with water during its earliest years. The city also hosted a public watering trough at Eighth Street and Main Street with stored water in a tank. In 1899, the city council decided to put a windmill at that location to improve the system and a water tower upgrade at 621 Locust in 1936. Another water tower was added in 1971, a water plant in 1972, and a water tower south of Hiway 10 when the present high school was built. A 1960 Kansas Geological Survey analysis showed the water supply of Eudora was obtained from two, 64-foot deep wells producing about 29 million gallons each year pumped to the 50,000-gallon steel water towers after removing iron, being softened, and chlorinated. Outlying Eudora, the Eudora Rural Water District was formed in 1967. Residents elected Robert Neis, Bob Massey, Louie Kindred, Cletus Grosdidier, and EL Fulks to serve on its organizing committee. In 1998, the city council decided to build a wastewater treatment plant with two aerator basins where the lagoons were that ultimately cost $5 million dollars. The wastewater plant had maximum capacity of 900,000 gallons average flow with peak flow at 1,300,000. (Sand pit mining operation on 434 acres along the Kansas River near Eudora has been of concern to residents who fear the project threatens the water quality of an aquifer providing drinking water to the city of Eudora. Mining could introduce fertilizers, pesticides, urban runoff, and other contaminants to the aquifer and possibly necessitate building a new treatment plant. William Penny & Van LLC wants the site for its sand dredging because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers isn't issuing new dredging permits within the river banks.) The City of Eudora, Kansas Comprehensive Plan (2003) prepared by Bucher, Willis, & Ratliff, Kansas City, Missouri, reported the city of Eudora drew water from three wells located northwest of Eudora between the Wakarusa River and Kansas River and treated it with chlorine at the city's plant, which had a capacity of 600,000 gallons per day. The wells and an emergency well had a 1.3 million gallon capacity per day. To improve water pressure, the city replaced two-inch water lines with four-inch and six-inch lines. An April 27, 2011 news article reported that Eudora's well water has been courtesy of Lois Hamilton, a former resident, since 2003. Her 90-acre field hosts nine well-pipes stuck a couple of feet above the fertile soil. Hamilton in 2003 began letting the city of Eudora drill water wells on her property that supplies 195 million gallons of water a year. The city owns the water rights for each well and the land upon which the well sits. In 2011, the City Council directed the Eudora water plant to reduce the city water's calcium hardness recorded at 370 mg/l. By changing plant procedures and increasing lime, the plant reduced water to 114 mg/l. Currently, water pumped from four ground wells is billed at a base rate, plus volume usage charge per every 1,000 gallons of water consumed.
Electricity. The city purchases electricity from Kansas Power & Light but owns its own system, according to the City of Eudora, Kansas Comprehensive Plan prepared by Bucher, Willis, & Ratliff, Kansas City, Missouri, in 2003.
Fire safety. A volunteer fire department has been a mainstay of Eudora since its beginning. In 1926, a fire squad organized with Otto Rosenau, H.S. Woodard, C.C. Daugherty, Otto Durr, H.A. Smith, George Schubert, E.R. Vogel, Harry Hagenbuch, Charles Gerstenberger, George Gerstenberger, Frank Copp, and Clarence Copp. The 1927 Sanborn map shows that the fire department operated with one chief (Otto Rosenau), one assistant, and 10 men on call. For example, during the 1930s, the Eudora Fire Department led by Harry Hagenbuch counted George Bartz, Curtis Diedrich, Clement Zillner, George Gerstenberger, Clarence Daugherty, Herman Bohnsack, Harold Daugherty, Harold Sawyer, and Charles Gerstenberger in its crew. In the 1970s, Delbert Breithaupt, Enoch Wright, John Landry, John Crawford, Pete Lawson, Johnny Jennings, Harold Morley, and Jack Howard, were honored for their long-time service. Others in the department were Claude Yother, Beannie Dean, Leland Massey, Kenneth Lawson, Rolland Hueston, David Decker, Dennis Hoy, Eugene Born, and Elden Lovelett. In the 1940s, a ladies’ auxiliary formed, also, according the Eudora Community Heritage.
Throughout the years, the Eudora newspaper has reported on fire services. For instance, one notice said that the city purchased the first “chemical wagon to fight fire” in the 1915-1919 period. In 1950, the one-ton, 1927 Chevrolet chassis fire truck was replaced by a 1951 Chevrolet model with a 1,000 feet, rubber-lined 2 ½ inch hose and later by a 12-cylinder American LaFrance fire truck. The town’s 35 fire hydrants and two 65-feet wells by the Wakarusa River supplied the fire fighters and town with water.
Said Harold Morley, a volunteer fireman for 38 years, in a November 6, 1997 Eudora News article: “We had no uniforms the first time I was on in the 1940s. But when I went back in 1959, we had uniforms: hats, boots, and coats. When we went out to fight fires, you wet your shirt and put it over your back to keep the smoke out so you could breathe when you went into a burning building. We had a 1928 Chevrolet then just to carry our hoses and equipments. There was no pumpers and training like there is now and the water pressure needed to put out the fire came off the hydrant. We couldn’t shoot water near as far as they can today, but they don’t rely as much on pressure anymore as they do on the volume of water.”
In 1999, Scott Robinson, fire chief, resigned because the Eudora City Council gave Eudora Feed and Grain permission to store anhydrous ammonia within city limits. Robinson thought the fire department couldn’t handle a spill or other emergency situation resulting from the storage arrangement. Carl Tuttle took over as temporary fire chief after Robinson’s resignation.
In recent times, fire trucks respond to about 80 calls a year, with only three typically involving structural fires. In 2003, the city trucks included a 2000 E-One engine that could pump 1,250 gallons per minute, a 1985 E one-engine pumping 1,000 gallons a minute, a F-150, 4x4 crew cab pumping 150 gallons per minute. Spencer McCabe, in 2003, served as Eudora's first full-time fire chief with 20 volunteers, including Mike Underwood, assistant chief; Keith Spence, lieutenant; and Mike Baxter, training officer. Interim chief Mike Underwood turned over leadership of the department to Randall Ates (2006-2009) replaced by Chris Moore who resigned in 2012, saying the department needed a full-time director. Pete Feyerabend served in the interim before Ken Keiter took over in 2013 to head 20 volunteers and employees..
The city of Eudora Fire Department built by William Edwards and completed in January of 1968 in "the east city park" at 10 W. Ninth Street originally was 36' by 60' building housing two fire trucks, a hose drying section, and a meeting room on the north side. Through time, increased number and size of fire trucks, shared space with the police department, sleeping room space, and other factors led to the City Council-back bonds funding a $2.84 million public safety constructed in 2013 two blocks to the south. It also houses a municipal court.
The Eudora Township Fire Department provides service to all areas outside the city limits (48.5 square miles) and operates four trucks that can pump 4,500 gallons of water. Township officers Jim Harris, Bob Lothholz, and Ralph Votaw organized the rural fire department in 1967. They housed the fire trucks, a 4x4 International with a 200-ton tank and a 2-ton Ford with 1,300 gallon tank, on West Sixth Street. During the 1980s, the department's rural fire station was built on on Twentieth Street just west of Highway 1061. In 2008, Township Fire Chief Mike Baxter and other volunteers honored Richard Clarke for more than 20 years of service.
Law enforcement. The following information is derived from news accounts and Eudora Area Historical Society records. A substantial part, too, come from information gathered by Patty Johnston, a former Eudora resident, for a Eudora Area Historical Society meeting on the same subject.
When Eudora was founded, early peace officers, known as “marshals” or “constables,” wore their everyday clothing, carried a nightstick rather than a gun, and oversaw the city’s jail beneath the city hall. One of their duties was to capture stray dogs and to keep captured dogs at his home.
That's not to say crimes didn't occur in early Eudora, which had its fair share of robberies, murders, assaults, and other public safety incidents. For example, for assaulting Anna Neustifter, Walter Dickuss, a mulatto, was apprehended and sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to the Western Kansas World (March 12, 1892). More violent crimes also occurred, for instance, in 1872, Richard Rout, about 60 years old, left a dance at midnight to walk to his home three miles south of Eudora and was found the next day standing up in the river near the ferry boat, apparently murdered. A jury noted that he was wearing only his shoes and overalls with $15 in his pockets and ruled the death a murder probably by a man named McDonald who disappeared after the death. The next year, Thomas Clark, 39, a day laborer and former slave in Jackson County, Missouri, shot William Adams, his former brother-in-law, in the head with a musket after an ongoing family squabble, printed the Jan. 9, 1873 Leavenworth Weekly Times. When Clark told "Squires Phenicie and Richards" about the death, they decided to sequester him in the saloon because the jail was too cold until he could be sent to Lawrence for sentencing. The Lawrence World reported in 1902 that George Mertz surprised Clyde Hughes, "the bully of Eudora," burglarizing a house at 1 a.m. While fleeing, Hughes shot Mertz above the ear and in the right forearm causing Mertz to fire his 32 calibre pistol at Hughes wounding him in the thigh. home.
Around the turn of the century, the marshal's position changed from an elected office to an appointment by the mayor and council. On May 1, 1911, another change occurred: George Mertz was sworn in as both marshal and street commissioner. Before this time, the positions had been separate. When Reinhardt Maul was appointed again in 1913, he was given orders by the city council to tell people "to keep their chickens penned in" or the city would have to do something about it. After Maul, John Cairns (or Carnes) served as marshal from November 1913 until 1914, and in August of that year, the city paid a W. Himmels to help the marshal.
A crime of note occurred in 1917, when Benjamin (or Benedick) Deck, born 1849 in Elass, Germany, elected marshal in 1915 at the age of 68, became upset with his son who had taken young women staying at the Deck home on a drive. Raging, Deck was killed by a gunshot fired by his son. Deck’s other son was sentenced to prison for forgery at the time.
After the 1940s, the marshal was no longer expected to be street commissioner or sexton, and the city council hired temporary watchmen to work as needed. These men included Luther Gilbert, William Mertz, Ed Bohnsock and Chester Baecker. In 1952, Johnny Miller, a city marshal initially who moved to Eudora in 1942 to work at the Hercules plant, was hired as a deputy sheriff to work on a cooperative basis with the city and county. City records show in 1955, the council paid Miller $65 a month for car mileage, and, on February 27, 1956, Miller was authorized to purchase a siren at city expense. Recounting highlights of his career in a March 14, 1967 Eudora Enterprise article, Miller told about capturing two fleeing kidnappers by spotting their license plate at a filling station. He also told of halting two men robbing the Chevrolet garage in Eudora. They had escaped from a penitentiary in California and robbed six stations before Eudora. One hit him on the back of the head with a revolver, which caused him to be hospitalized for 12 days. The men were apprehended in Merriam later the night of the attack.
Miller had several deputies, both full and part-time, during his 20 years as marshal. George Raley was one of the first and used a motorcycle. Grover "Bus" A. Johnson, sworn in at age 36, drove his own car, a 1958 Chevy, according to Doug Smith, one of Johnson's nephews. Others who served during Miller's terms were Johnny O'Berg, John Landon Sr., John Landon Jr., Cecil Estelle, Harold Morley, Bill Long, Benny Dean, Kenny Lawson, and John Beach. Marshall Nunn was sworn in as assistant city marshal with Miller in 1965 and appointed marshal from 1972 until 1974. Both he and Miller had dogs as a law enforcement companions. Nunn's daughter, Judy Nunn Ross, wrote that her mother said:
"Marshall used a trained police dog for a short time. He was responsible for the care and housing of the dog. The dog was named King and he was sweet to the family, but could get to be mean. The attack word was “GET.” In normal conversation when the attack word was used his ears would perk up and he would become alert. I suppose the tone or urgency of the voice and situation would have been the key if he actually would have attacked. We don't know since the need never arose."
During the 1960s and early 1970s, the marshal and deputy wore brown uniforms, cast off from the County Sheriff 's office. The reserve officers wore brown shirts and jeans. According to city records, the first new police car purchased by the city was in 1970. It was a Plymouth Fury with sirens, lights, and the Eudora Police emblem on the sides.
Bill Long worked first as a Eudora reserve officer, then part-time police before being sworn in as chief of police on February 1, 1974 , and served until his retirement in 2003. Deputies who assisted Long were Robert Smith, Larry Evinger, Archie Coleman, Jerome Gleason, Jerry A. Neis, Eric L. Smith, Kenny Massey, Brian Harr, and Douglas A. Huntsinger II. Full-time deputies included Gregory Dahlem, Gregory Neis, Richard Labahm, Wendy Jenkins, and Chris Casagrande. Long also hired part-time officers such as Matt Daigh, Steve Buchholz, and Mike Underwood to assist with calls during holidays and special events times. Greg Dahlem, who joined the police force in 1988, was selected as Eudora’s marshal in 2003 to oversee a police department consisting of eight full-time officers, two part-time officers, and a part-time administrative assistant. Grady Walker, who resigned in 2012, replaced Dahlem in 2010, and then Bill Edwards signed on to be the Eudora Police Department's new chief Dec. 17, 2012. He previously had been with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department until 2007 and in Park City. One officer also provides service to the Eudora School District through the Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services grant.
Officers share the Public Safety Building at 10 W. Ninth Street with the Eudora Fire Department. Prisoners are housed at the Douglas County Jail four miles west of Eudora. The department took 9,664 calls in 2007, up from 5,111 in 2006. It took 4,559 calls in 2005 and 3,576 calls in 2004. Dahlem said calls were up because earlier reports did not include building check or requests to speak with officers. Of those 2007 calls, 104 were fire calls, 291 medical calls, and 196 motorist assist calls. There were 2,117 car stops, 213 burglary/theft calls, 209 parking violation calls, 92 domestic dispute calls, 69 driving under the influence calls, 60 narcotics calls and 11 sex crime calls.
According to Johnston, Eudora marshals were: Fred Soelte [The Book of Commissions lists J. Fr. Soehlke as the marshal, then Dan Kraus beginning in 1860] (1857-1859), Daniel Kraus (1860-1863), George Stadler and S.W. Caldwell, C. O. Richard, Charles Schroeder, E. Kraus, Irvin Harris, Benjamin Deck, Henry Oberholtzer (a few months in 1896), T. H. Johnson (1896-97), Benjamin Deck, John E. Dolisi, Frank Shafer, W. Mertz, Chris Schneider, William Mertz, R. Maul, T.F. Anderson, N.M. Bisell, George Mertz, John Cairns, W. Himmels, Chris Mertz, John Thackston, H.J. Landon, Peter J. Neis Sr., C.F. Richards, S.V. Carr, William Trowbridge, Guy Grimes, Henry Blechel, Joe Smith, Ed Bohnsock and Marian Burris, O.N. Conrad, A.F. Roberts, G.M. Adams, Percy Stull, Fred Bignell, W. Mertz, John B. Miller, Ray Ogden, Arthur Roberts (1945-46), Johnny Miller, Marshall Nunn, Bill Long, and Greg Dahlem.
Marshal deputies include O.N. Conrad, ___ Benefield (1946-47); B. B. Bannon; "Watchmen" Luther Gilbert, William Mertz, Ed Bohnsock, Chester Baecker (1947-52); John LeRoy Miller (1952-72); George Raley (1952); Grover "Bus" Johnson (1956); Johnny O'Berg and Cecil Estelle (1960); John Landon Sr, and John Landon Jr. (1962); Harold Morley (1964-65); Marshall Nunn (1965-72 ); Raymond DeMint (1968-79); Bill Long (1968-72); Benny Dean; Kenny Lawson and John Beach (1970); Marshall Nunn and Bill Long (1972-1974); William Long (1974-98 ); Robert Smith (1978); Larry Evinger (1978-82); Archie Coleman (1979-84); Jerry A. Neis and Jerome Gleason (1982); Eric L. Smith (1982-84); Kenny Massey (1984-95); Brian Harr (1984-87); Greg Dahlem (1988-98); Doug Huntsinger II (1990-96); Greg Neis (1995-); Richard Labahn (1997-98); and Chris Casagrane; Matt Daigh; Steve Buchholz; Wendy Jenkins; and Mike Underwood (1998).
Postal service. The U.S. mail to the area was not regularly delivered until the Kansas Territory opened as a territory in 1854. The Kansas stage line in 1858 rolled out of Westport, Missouri, daily at 4 a.m., dropping mail at small towns, including Eudora, along its route to Manhattan. Mules, freight wagons, then horses and stagecoaches transported mail in and out of Eudora.
Frederick Metzeke served as Eudora’s first postmaster for eight months. Then Abraham Summerfield received the political appointment in April 1858 serving over two years. In 1879, Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas said that the office added a money order service. On September 1, 1886, Henry Meinke began delivering mail he picked up from the train depot, a job he would do for 26 years, making 66 cents a day at the end of his career. Joe Cairns took over his duties when Meineke retired.
The post office operated out of several downtown business fronts until the present building was built in 1962. In August of 1889, the newspaper reported that post office fixtures formerly used in the Lawrence post office were bought and placed in the Eudora office. That year, D. A. White took the postal appointment of T. C. Darling, who had retained it four years, because of a political change. White moved the office into his pharmacy and extended the postal hours.
In 1902, Eudora started a rural delivery system. By that time, Hesper and Clearfield had closed their post offices. Prairie Center had its post office closed June 1903, and Weaver’s three months later. The carriers for the rural routes in 1904 are pictured here. In the first years, they were Edward Diedrich, route #1, Mahlon Cox, route #2, Frank Wade, route #3, and Sam Lepper Route #2 (who had taken over a rural route in 1901 from Frank Schafer). Frank Wade, said the Eudora Community Heritage, "used a buggy and 4 little wiry bronc ponies.” In nice weather two ponies “pulled the buggy the 40 miles of route in five or six hours.” Other route carriers throughout the years were: Elmer Wade, Herman Bohnsack, Charles Brown, James O. Scott, Gottlieb Neider, Johnny O’Berg, Eugene Westerhouse, Kermit Broers, Paul Sommer, Danny Abel ,and Laura Broers. At the Main Street location, Paul Sommer, Emma Jean Taylor, Helen Goff, Kathleen Brown, John P. Lenahan, and Jack Howard worked for many years.
About his job, Eugene Westerhouse, who began his postal employment in 1966, said at a Eudora Area Historical Society meeting that he often had to deliver mail when bridges were out, cattle blocked the road, and snows covered the road. Twice he intercepted robbers breaking in houses. He saw pickup trucks backed up to the houses’ front doors and men carrying out items and called in the thievery to law officials with his CB radio.
The last postmaster required to have a gun in the office was Jessie Grimes, who served longer than any other Eudora postmaster to date. She kept a .38 American Bulldog pistol in her desk when the office was located at 702 Main Street. The present Eudora post office was built in 1962.
Terry Crabbs, upon retiring as postmaster, said in a Eudora News article that in 1976, the office handled about 200 pieces of mail each day, and, in more than two decades that number grew to around 10,000 pieces daily. In 1979, when Kermit Broers was cited as the National Safety Council’s Safe Driver Award, Broers said in a Eudora Enterprise news article he had driven 405,000 miles, 76 miles a day, without accident. He made 300 stops each day.
Emma Jean Taylor, who replaced Tillie Edwards and worked for these postmasters for 24 years, said at a Eudora Area Historical Society meeting she started working part-time to help with the Christmas and holiday rush under Jessie Grimes and retired when Terry Crabbs was postmaster. A clerk with a multitude of other tasks including shoveling snow off the sidewalks, Taylor said her favorite part of her job was working the window where she sold stamps, took care of packages, and talked with customers.
Eudora postmasters, according to the Eudora News Centennial July 25, 1957 supplement, were: Frederick Metzeke (September 1, 1857); Abraham Summerfield (April 21, 1858); William H. Tootham [also spelled Toothman] (July 11, 1860); Samuel C. Hockett (October 15, 1860); Charles Lothholz (February 15, 1862); Frederick Pilla (January 16, 1863); Charles Pilla (February 16, 1871); Thomas C. Darling (August 3, 1885); David A. White (July 10, 1889); Thomas Rayson (August 7, 1893); Henry Abels (May 1, 1897); Gustave Ziesenis (July 11, 1913); William H. Stadler ( September 22, 1922); Edward W. Melville (October 15, 1923); Ellen Melville, acting (December 7, 1931); Raymond Ogden (April 27, 1932); William H. Schehrer (June 18, 1935); and Jessie Grimes (June 25, 1936). Other directors, according to Martha Flanagan in her 150th Eudora postal anniversary notice, were: John J. Howard, acting (October 31, 1960); John P. Lenahan (September 15, 1961); Caroline O’Bannon, acting (June 30, 1977); Terry Crabbs (December 2, 1978); and Martha Flanagan (December 2, 2000-2005).
Library. One of the biggest developments of the decade was the establishment of a public library in June 1967 by the Women’s Fellowship of St. Paul United Church of Christ. Several groups had tried to start a library, but the St. Paul women launched their efforts at the same time federal funds became available for small town libraries provided the library had a sponsoring group and a location. Antoinette Brecheisen found a trailer on the north side of the elementary school to be used, and the Eastern Division of Library Services provided 1,200 books. Working with Brecheisen were Mrs. Wayne Kanzig, Mrs. William Miller, Alice Richardson, and Susan Hamilton. The first two children to check out books were Martha Gruber and Janet Sommer.
This wasn’t Eudora’s first library. Before 1900, the school had a book exchange every Monday from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., and Eudora had a club called the Eudora Library Association that met at Henry Abels’ home. The lodges, such as the Odd Fellows Lodge with its 300 volumes in 1890, had their own libraries, too. And, Eudora had volunteer library services in the summer during the 1920s until the early 1940s through the school library. In 1945, a group of women started a volunteer library that lasted five years and ended because of lack of book space. From 1950 to 1965, the Topeka State Library offered books to school-aged children through the local Parent Teachers Association (P.T.A.).
Brecheisen, Hamilton, Richardson, Karen McKean, and Minnie Edelbrock volunteered in the library that initially was open Monday mornings and Wednesday and Friday afternoons. In the first two weeks, 300 books were checked out. More than 500 citizens donated books. Youth groups and other volunteers held fundraisers such as rummage sales to support the library. St. Paul’s youth group, for example, held paper drives to raise funds for a typewriter and 12 pairs of bookcases.
The library was moved to 727 Main Street in December of that same year. Funds from a volunteer thrift store that stayed in operation until April 1969 in the back room of the library helped pay the library’s rent. Library hours were 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week. Norma Lutz, pictured here with Antonette Brecheisen, served as the first paid librarian and checked out more than 2,000 books in the first two months of the library’s operation.
A February 6, 1968 election established the Eudora Public Library under Kansas State Statute 12-1220. Eudora Township voters, too, approved a 1 mill levy to fund the library. Board members in this time included Antoinette Brecheisen, Donald Richardson, Mrs. Tom Akin, Mrs. Oscar Westerhouse, Mrs. Gerald Grosdidier, and Ralph Votaw (township representative).
In the lengthy April 29, 1976 Eudora Enterprise article describing the library founding, the writer said that board members frequently said if it had not been for Antoinette Brecheisen's dreams and actions, the library wouldn't have existed. Said Brecheisen: "It's not my library. It just happened that a number of things came together at the right time to get it going."
Copyright 2014. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.