The History of Eudora, Kansas
The History of Eudora, Kansas
Eudora, a city 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), 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’s 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); and Ron Conner (2001-2005); and Tom Pyle (2005-2009; Scott Hopson (2009-2013 ); Ruth Hughs (2013-2014); John Fiore (2014- 2015); and Tim Reazin (2015- ).
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), Gary Ortiz (2014- 2016), and Barack Matite (2016-).
Current standing council committees are 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 works with the city council, and, in recent years, a recreation committee of five appointed members also reported to the city. Appointed positions 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.
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).
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.
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 equipment. 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. In 2021, Mindy Andrasevits became the new fire chief.
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-backed bonds funding a $2.84 million public safety building two blocks to the south that 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 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.
Photograph to right, mail carriers in 1913
Law Enforcement. The following information is derived from Eudora Area Historical Society records and news accounts. 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.
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 a 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. Wendy Jenkins, hired in 1997, was Eudora's first woman police officer.
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. 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 Schafer, 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, Greg Dahlem, and Wes Lovett.
Deputies have included 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). By 2022, the department was authorized to have 14 deputies.
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 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 1901from 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); Martha Flanagan (December 2, 2000), and Georgia Brown (2005); Juanita Oberheide; Michelle Gabriel; and Jeff Mank.
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’s women launched their efforts at the same time federal bunds became available for small town libraries provided the library had a sponsoring group and a location. Antoinette Brecheisen (pictured right with Mrs. Lutz, librarian) 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 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 that if it had not been for 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."
Photograph to right: Kenneth Holladay examining ear of Emily Gloshen
Medical Service. In early Eudora, medical accreditation could be loosely obtained. Mail order companies promised medical cures in newspaper advertisements, and drug store operators also dispensed medical advice and products. For example, Homer White’s drug store at the turn of the century promoted Hollister’s Rocky Mountain Tea and Pills for indigestion, constipation, dyspepsia, and kidney and liver disease. The product also promised to give young ladies, “laughing eyes, red lips, and sweet breath,” White claimed. Also among White’s wares was fresh sassafras bark.
Both Rena Conch, who lived one mile east of Hesper and two miles south, and Emma Schleifer, who lived just east of the city of Eudora, offered “Vital Science Treatments” promised to alleviate rheumatism, chronic constipation, and nervous prostration. G. W. Moll, in 1887, promoted his electric battery invention that he claimed would cure headaches and neuralgia.
Accredited or not, Eudora’s healers had to deal with whooping cough outbreaks and serious medical conditions such as the diphtheria that broke loose in 1889, with nine cases in May alone and would resurface throughout the years with yellow flags on the homes of infected families.
Charley Conger, Hesper, lost four children to a diphtheria epidemic, leaving him with only one child, Evelyn, wrote neighbor Mildred (Davis) Watson in her 1977 account of her parents’ life, Samuel Hunt Davis and Emma Stubbs Davis. Scarlet fever, which had a major outbreak in 1917, and other threats typically caused a house to be quarantined.
Flossie Everley Smith wrote about quarantines during these times: “The red cloth flag tacked to the front of our house read “smallpox” and we were quarantined for, I think, 28 days. It really was only chicken pox we kids had but the doctor insisted smallpox so the sign was put up. Dad and my brother Ike both worked every day on the railroad so they moved a block north to live with Grandma Everley. . . When the sign finally came down we had to fumigate. You lit a formaldehyde candle in each room of the lower floor and then kept the whole house shut tight for several hours. Then the doors and windows were all opened to ‘air the house out.’”
Notable outbreaks in Eudora: diphtheria (1889), cholera (1893), scarlet fever (1903), measles (1909), smallpox (1917), and Spanish flu (1918). Used in the thought that solution-filled smoke would purify the air, fumigation often was done in Eudora by placing carbolic acid on a heated shovel to emit vapors in closed rooms.
Besides diseases, physicians kept busy tending to the painful accidents of everyday life. Within the span of a few months in 1905, for instance, Ed Miller, “Keystone,” dropped a piece of heavy iron that smashed his foot. A wagon wheel ran over Herbert Gerstenberger’s ear; and an entire carriage ran over Robert Vogl in Kansas City. A Mrs. W. Musgrove had the skin come off her hands protected only by her woolen mittens after transferring hot coals from a stove. The 25-year-old wife of section foreman Laird, when putting oil on kindling, spilt oil on herself, and suffered severe burns. She died several days later. Several Eudora women also met their death by household burns such as Henrietta Arnold, 77, whose clothing caught fire from a lamp in 1909 at the house of her brother, August Gabriel.
The Kansas River, too, claimed many lives. Mrs. Loesch, the wife of Mr. Loesch, who lives near John Gillmore’s, on the Eudora road, committed suicide Saturday evening by drowning herself in the Kansas river at a point about two miles from her residence. Crossing the river, too, proved problematic in early years. The April 25, 1889 Lawrence Gazette printed: “There is something of a gratification among the Fall Leafers that a new ferry across the river at Eudora is in contemplation. The matter has been laid before the Douglas County commissioners, and thus far has met with favorable notice. Something of the kind is needed Fall Leaf people sometimes get sick, but seldom if ever die, and to get out of this they send for Dr. Newton, in Eudora, and to cross' the river it is dangerous, especially to ladies, many of whom cannot swim. Give us a ferry across the river and we will go over every week, no matter whether they have beer over there or not and at the same time we will heartily welcome all Eudora to our hospitalities if they wish such courtesies.”
As for mental illness, news accounts typically stated that a person “went insane” and were taken to the state insane asylum. For example, Joseph Madl in 1899 increasingly had showed signs of instability. When his wife returned to their farm two miles south of Eudora and one mile east, she found him holding an ax to their infant; she called for neighbors who transported him to the state asylum. In a similar incident, Charles Westerhouse, 33, in January 1914, asked his wife to play the organ and sing. When she did, he hit her on the head with his hammer six times, before she dashed a quarter mile from their home, one mile west of the Weaver train stop, to the Bernitz neighbors. When they returned, Westerhouse had slashed his throat with a razor, decapitating himself. About the suicide of this father of two sons, ages three and five, it was said he was acting “queerly” two weeks up to the incident and had incurred a lot of debt from a farm purchase.
Eudora had a physician from its very start. Abraham Still, the pioneer missionary who came to Eudora in 1851, worked as a physician, as many of his children. In his writings, Abraham Still said he and his son, Andrew, “doctored the Indians all fall [of 1853]. The erysipelas, fever, flux, pneumonia, and cholera prevailed among the Indians.” Still, who claimed to speak their language, said many Indians died while pursuing their traditional remedies. He ridiculed their passed-down cures such as this one for cholera: Lay the patient face down over two holes in the ground and have the patient vomit in one and urinate in the other.
Although Still left Eudora in 1857, his son, James, stayed and practiced medicine in Eudora at 806 Main Street for several decades. Around 1860, A. A. Woodhull also practiced in the area. The 1957 Kansas Historical Quarterly article by George Omer, Jr., titled “An Army Hospital: From Dragoons to Rough Riders ― Fort Riley, 1853-1903” mentioned Woodhull, the son of a New Jersey physician, who graduated in 1859 from the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania. During the two years following his graduation, he practiced medicine, first in Leavenworth, and later at Eudora. When the Civil War began, he recruited a Kansas militia company and went on to be a brigadier general and Princeton University professor.
Carl Neumann also provided medical care during this time. Born in Tentobroda, Bohemia, Neumann studied medicine in Prague with the Brothers of Mercy and came to the Baltimore, Maryland, in 1861, and Eudora in 1864. The next year, he moved to Lawrence and made medicinal drinks at his Central Drug Store. Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas listed Neumann and D. H. Kemper, who came to Eudora in January 1865, stayed until 1871, and then moved to Newton to farm and market garden. He had studied medicine when he was 15, opened an office at age 17, and added to his education with a later course of lectures in the “Eclectic School.” Also dispensing medical advice during this time, according to the 1875 U.S. census, were William Allen, 58; S. O American, 33; C.O. Gause, 45; James Still, 59; and Summerfield Still, 23. Albert Newman joined the list in the 1880 census.
Gause, born in Preble County, Ohio, November 26, 1830, studied medicine in 1848 with another doctor in Spiceland, Indiana, and attended lectures in 1851 and 1852, at Ann Arbor, Michigan. He returned to Spiceland in 1852 to practice medicine, then moved to Lynnville, Iowa, to follow his profession from 1855 to 1860. In 1866, he was appointed superintendent of the “Insane Asylum” in Kansas. A Quaker, he moved in 1872 to Hesper, where he practiced medicine for several years except in 1877 and 1878 when he was physician to the Sac and Fox Indians, according to Cutler's History of the State of Kansas. J.J. Woodard was another physician who practiced medicine in Hesper and also in Prairie Center during the 1890s and up to 1917 when he then moved to Olathe. Edwin Rice, Prairie City historian, remembered that Woodard’s office was in a two-room house. He saw patients in the front and kept his medicine and a dentist’s chair in the back as he also pulled teeth. He collected wild plants for medicine and had shelves lined with brown bottles, some gallon-sized.
Polk Directory of 1878 listed James Still but not Allen, American, or Summerfield Still. It did list A. W. White and Alvin Shellack, who had a Main Street medical office until 1913. Another “White” may have been D. A. White, who opened a pharmacy in 1875 that carried stationary, school supplies, sundries, toiletries, as well as medications. Fresh sassafras bark, which he advertised in the local newspaper, was one example of his medicinal stock.
“Alvin” was Carl Louis Alvin Schellack (born July 2, 1839 in Berlin, Germany) who served in the War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. After his wife died of tuberculosis, he attended medical school to be a doctor. Alvin with his brothers, Emil and George, migrated around 1870 to America where their two sisters already had settled in New Jersey. Alvin and Emil tried living in Nebraska, but found it too cold. They decided to come to Eudora because they heard it was a German settlement. Around the same time, Alvin met Rosanne Kanzig, from Bern, Switzerland, who had settled on a farm with her parents in 1866. They lived near Hesper, and later moved three and one-half miles southwest of Eudora in Belleview. They next bought 120 acres on the little Wakarusa Creek and a house in Eudora. Roseanne wanted to raise her children Harvey, Alice, Ella, Grace, Louise, Alvin, Jacob, Bertha Rose, and John in the country. Except for a four-year stint in Fort Dodge practicing medicine, Alvin worked from his 736 Main Street office where he charged 25 cents for an office call, 50 cents for a house call, and $10 to deliver a baby, said John Musick, his grandson, in Douglas County, Kansas, Family Histories.
C. N. Bishoff (1838-1912) also started practicing medicine during the 1870s. A physician and surgeon, Bishoff settled at Eudora’s Keystone area in 1877 and practiced medicine in the Hesper area. He was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and worked in the woolen manufacturing business as a boy. In 1862, he enlisted in the Union Army in Company C, One Hundred and Seventy-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, on a nine-month call. After his service, he returned to the woolen mills in the summer season and taught school in the winter. During 1870-1871, he attended lectures at the Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania. Upon graduation in 1871, he began practicing medicine. In 1873, he opened a drug store in Lykens, Pennsylvania, continuing his practice at the same time.
Another Pennsylvania-trained physician was R. S. Hittell, who came to Eudora in 1881 after a short stay in Kansas City. Born in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, near Allentown, on December 7, 1849, he received his preliminary education at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Then he studied medicine from 1867 to 1868 at the Bellevue Hospital College in New York and graduated in 1870 from the Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia. He then became an assistant surgeon in the German Army. At the close of the Franco-Prussian War, Hittell returned to the United States and was a surgeon on the Black Ball Line in Gibsonburg, Ohio. Hittell died in Argentine, Kansas, in 1888, where he had moved to from Eudora after first trying another Kansas location. He and his wife were buried in the Eudora Cemetery. In 1882, a Dr. White set up a Eudora practice before he left for DeSoto in 1897.
As to when he started it’s unclear, but W. L. Newlin, who lived north of the Kansas River, said in 1887 that he often slept away from his house to get some sleep and rest. C. Bernhard and Everett Weed joined the list of Eudora physicians in 1886. Weed, 49, died in 1893 of consumption and is buried in the Eudora Cemetery. H. J. Gemm, an advertised “German” physician specializing in chronic disease, practiced on Church Street during this time. He left in 1889 to practice in Eureka.
William Henry Robinson came to Eudora in 1888 and practiced medicine for three more decades. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans said Robinson was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, May 17, 1848 to John Robinson and Katy (Hutt) who had 11 children and adopted three more. He studied medicine under E.S. Dickerson, a physician in Kansas City, and graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Kansas City on May 4, 1872. He then moved to Monticello in Johnson County for eight years. He was postmaster there for two years and married Sallie Stone of Liberty, Missouri. They had two sons: John and Charles. In 1880, he moved to Liberty, Missouri, to be a physician eight years and postmaster for two and one-half years. On March 28, 1890, he married Lizzie Kunkle, who came to Eudora from Newton to teach at the Farmland School. With sister Emma, she lived in the American House and opened a millinery store there where Robinson had his office. After marriage, Lizzie served on the Eudora board of education and was active in campaigning for the women’s vote and temperance as was her husband. It was said she was such an ardent Republican that as an invalid she was carried to the polls in 1952 so she could vote for President Eisenhower. The Robinsons had one daughter, Marie, who owned and published the Eudora News Weekly from 1934 to 1958.
On the Republican Party committee, William served as mayor twice and was justice of the peace. He died at the age of 70 at the Swedish Hospital in Kansas City in October 1918 with blood poisoning, pneumonia, and heart trouble. A Eudora Weekly News tribute read:
“Dr. Robinson was a typical old-time country doctor, very influential and highly regarded by the entire community. He drove Mac, a sorrel horse, hitched to a buggy and treated the sick in their homes, giving sympathy and encouragement as well as pills. When he died, he left more than $4,000 in uncollectible accounts.”
James Childs was another 1890s physician (as were D. H. Melcher and A. L. Fetterling who came in 1898 from Chicago). Childs had a Main Street office until at least 1897 where Robert Bartusch had his bakery. P. A. Pierson, Louisburg, moved to Hesper to practice medicine from the house of B. P. Cosand in 1899. Also appearing in 1899 was E.M. Own, an osteopath, who saw patients at Mrs. Hammert’s house. J. W. Cooper was listed in the 1900 Polk Directory, but didn’t appear to practice long. He left his office above 700 Main Street to practice from home in 1901. Homer White, son of D. A. White, bought his father’s pharmacy in 1893 and prescribed medical treatments. He worked in a drug store in Overland Park after he graduated from Kansas University and in Leavenworth. Euna White, Homer’s sister, worked with him for many years at the store that also had a soda shop. Homer, a member of the school board, I.O.O.F. Lodge, and Masonic Lodge, married Carrie Abels, the daughter of Henry Abels. Their children were Donald, Marjorie (Kadlic), Dorothy (Knowles), and Mildred.
Robinson and Schellack continued to be medical mainstays as Eudora entered the 20th century. A B. S. Watson was said to have been here in 1907, the same year Charles Payne came to Eudora with his office hours from 2 to 5 p.m. each day. Apparently popular, Payne, who taught massage and hydrotherapy at Kansas University and graduated from the Philadelphia School of Osteopathy and Anatomy, was in practice until 1911. After a two-year alcoholic problem, Payne, 38, upset because his wife would not return home to their house in Eudora, shot and killed himself at the house of his sister-in-law after shooting his mother-in-law and trying to shoot his wife.
The name J. G. Lee, Bonner Springs, appeared in directories around 1909. He practiced off and on until 1918 until C. J. Ryan took over his practice for two years in the upstairs of 701 Main. Julius Krieg took over Payne’s practice on Church Street but lasted less than a year in Eudora, and W. D. Moore, Topeka, took his place. Clarence Ryan came to practice in 1916 in the Robinson Building. He had a “nervous breakdown” before coming and appeared to have another after being here a year. C. B. Miller, who practiced in Vinland and Buffalo, started his practice in 1918. In 1920, the Mutual Telephone directory listed Dr. Mary M. Miller practicing with Miller, and two years later, the Millers advertised “electric treatments, eyes tested, and glasses fitted” from their location over William Trefz’s plumbing shop. M.O. Peters, a physician at a New York City hospital and ship surgeon, took over the Miller practice in 1923.
Chase B. Johnson came in 1921 and stayed until 1946 at his 727 Main Street office. His advertisement in the telephone directory said he was open every day and from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays. Alexander Haggart, who practiced in Ottawa for 20 years, relocated to Eudora in 1921, also. His office was over Kaw Valley Bank and specialties were “eye, ear, nose, throat, and chest.” During this time, too, physicians, optometrists, and other medical specialists would visit Eudora on a certain days advertised in the newspaper. J. F. Brock, for example, saw optical customers in the 1920s at Schubert’s furniture and barber shop. Eudorans also visited physicians in Lawrence and Kansas City.
After Johnson, a series of physicians made short stops in Eudora including Lewis Blackburn, Milton Dodge, Ralph Hale, George Learned, Bernard Harden, Richard Nelson, and J. O. Osborne.
The one who stayed was Kenneth Holladay, originally from Lawrence with an undergraduate and medical degree from the University of Kansas. Before coming to his Eudora office in 1961 at 101 West Tenth Street, Holladay practiced at Dwight Paterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He and his wife, Elisabeth, a native of Switzerland, had four children: David, Kevin, Felix Matthias, and Thais. He credited pharmacist Alf Oleson for encouraging him to open his office in Eudora at 110 W. 10th Street. At that time, there hadn't been a doctor in Eudora for two years, and Eudora had 12 doctors in the last 15 years. The first baby Holladay delivered in Eudora was Dona Randal, and he later delivered her children. Others who have shared an office with Holladay, include Pete Bock, Steven Nolker, and Daniel Dickerson. In 2006, Lawrence Memorial Hospital bought a 21-acre piece of property for $900,000 along Kansas Highway 10 and White Dog Road east of Church Street to house Eudora Family Care, which it owns. Initial plans were to have facilities for three physicians and x-ray equipment. When the facility opened in 2011, Dickerson was joined by Elizabeth Stamper, a physician, who began working for Eudora Family Care in December 2010. Joe Hawkins assumed the position of Daniel Dickerson in 2014.
Chiropractors. Practicing chiropractors include L. H. Harris (early 1900s); Bill Lauber; David Matheney, who opened his chiropractor office in 1981 at 110 W. Tenth Street; David Hayes; Timothy Mirtz (1990-2003); Ryan Rock (2003-); and Doug Mateo, who came from New York City in 2006.
Eudora Emergency Medical Services. This volunteer service with its first response vehicle, spine board, diagnostic equipment, automatic external defibrillator, and medical supplies serves as a first-responding unit for Eudora and Eudora Township. The group is currently under the jurisdiction of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical. According to the agreement, the city fire department oversee the management, operation rules and personnel policies of the medical service. Lawrence--Douglas County Fire Medical will continue to set the medical protocols, continuing education and training for service. In 2007, Randy Ates, Rene Barta, Yvette Gadberry, Kristy Keezer, Kim Kerby, Dustin McAfee, Sarah Nordin, Doug Rhoades, Avi Elpern, and Bill Vigneron staffed the service.
Dentists. Records show these dentists in Eudora: Dr. Brown (1867-no later than 1909); Franklin White (1870s-1880s); L. B. Brown (1888, practiced at Copp House); Styles Wherry (circa 1896), E. C. Hostetter (circa 1898, made visits to Dolisi boarding house); Dr. Ubeilan (circa 1899, practiced at Kaw Valley State Bank); F.A. White (1901-1907, who had his office over the Kaw Valley Bank at one time and moved to Clovis, New Mexico, where he died in 1912); J. E. Zimmerman (1907-1910, moved to Park City, Utah); A. J. Butel, (graduate of Kansas City Dental College who came to Eudora in 1910); J. H. Duffy (1914-1916) who moved to Crete, Nebraska; Frank Hagenbuch (1916-circa 1920); L.C. Cox (1917-1924); Dr. Goheen (1924-1927); J. W. Howard (1927-1929); I. E. Bailey (1929-1936); C.B. Johnson (circa 1936); Lawrence Bunsick (1964-1966); Roger Smith, who graduated from University of Missouri-Kansas City dental college in 1966 and housed his practice on Tenth Street beneath the pharmacy, was aided by Pat Snow (1967-past 1976); Richard Wittenauer, who practiced in Eudora during the 1980s and 1990s; and Gerald Vidan, 105 West 10th Street (2003-2019). Some dentists such as A. L. Ashby in 1892 who saw clients at the Eudora Hotel made regular visits to Eudora. Sometimes they came for a week at a time such as A. C. Russell, Kansas City, in the first years of the 1900s or on certain days each week.
Besides Brown, George Wolfe has the distinction of being one of Eudora’s longest-practicing dentists. Wolf was born in Ohio on March 30, 1875and received his degree from Kansas City Western Dental College. He practiced in Ottawa, then came to Eudora in 1936. His office was at the southeast corner of Seventh Street and Main Street and he and his wife, Elizabeth (“Sue”), lived in an apartment adjoining the office for awhile. He moved to Edgerton for one year, but returned. In the mid 1940s he bought the Home State Bank building at 707 Main Street and practiced there until his retirement in 1950. He and his wife also bought a home at 807 Elm Street and grew beautiful flowers. “Wherever she lived, she always managed to have a garden with vegetables and always lots of flowers,” wrote her son, William. George died January 17, 1958.
Veterinarians. George Rogers was listed as a practicing Hesper veterinarian in 1890. Around that same time, A. W. Chinn practiced at the southwest corner of Eighth Streetand Main Street. From 1907 to 1929, W. R. Shannon worked out of the Bismarck Hotel. His 1910 advertisement read: “If you have any cholera, black leg, or vaccinating to be done.” A.A. Brecheisen also was a veterinarian in the 1920s. I.J. Pierson started his practice in 1929, claiming expertise in large animals, small animals, and poultry. In 1975, Eudora got its first veterinary clinic: Eudora Animal Hospital. For the first eight years, Ron Lee, an Oklahoma native, worked by himself. Then Paul Grosdidier joined the clinic and left 10 years later to be a state veterinarian. Others who have worked at the clinic are Mike Tarrant, George Schriener, Jon Haggard, Curt Wisnewski, Doug Skivers, Natalee Beck, Guy Shain, and others. In that time, the clinic moved from its original location at 527 Main Street to 1905 Elm Street.
Eudora Nursing Center. The Eudora City Council meeting June 10, 1974 authorized the issuance of a $65,000 in revenue bonds to acquire a site, construct a 68-bed nursing facility, and equip the facility. Built at 1415 Maple Street, the now 100-bed Eudora Nursing Center admitted its first residents in March of 1975 with Civil Gray as administrator. C. S. Fuller was the first resident along with Agnes Vitt, Martha Dow, Vera Parker, Grace Hargadine, and George Taber. In 2007, the facility was offered for sale because of financial loss attributed to increased regulations. Medicalodges Eudora bought the facility and operates it.
As the global coronavirus pandemic continues unfolding, looking to the past shows early residents of Eudora often faced the reality of fatal contagious diseases and used shared public health strategies to stop disease spread.
In Eudora’s first sixty years, residents often died from outbreaks of diphtheria, smallpox, cholera, typhoid, and scarlet fever.
If one had these diseases, the entire household was required to stay in their house two to four weeks or even longer.
At a quarantine start, city officials would mark the house in a conspicuous place for public protection. On the Reber family house, for example, they placed a yellow flag for diphtheria in 1903. A red placard marked the 1908 chickenpox in the Schopper house.
Flossie Everley Smith wrote about quarantines during these times:
The red cloth flag tacked to the front of our house read “smallpox” and we were quarantined for, I think, 28 days. It really was only chicken pox we kids had but the doctor insisted smallpox so the sign was put up. Dad and my brother Ike both worked every day on the railroad so they moved a block north to live with Grandma Everley. When the sign finally came down, we had to fumigate. You lit a formaldehyde candle in each room of the lower floor and then kept the whole house shut tight for several hours. Then the doors and windows were all opened to ‘air the house out.’
The city also issued Ordinance No. 37 in 1896 that allowed city officials to remove any individuals with a contagious disease from a site and confine them for treatment at a hospital or pest house—an isolation site just outside city limits to keep exposure from the public.
To stop disease escalation, Eudora schools would close for weeks at a time. Youth under 16 had to stay in their homes.
The Kansas State Board of Health also would suspend public gatherings during disease outbreaks and decreed individuals should physically distance from each other. In 1893, the recommendation was for people isolated with smallpox to keep a 400-foot minimum distance from others.
In 1917, the virus smallpox swept throughout Eudora. The town’s physician, W. H. Robinson, said he counted 117 smallpox cases but estimated the amount to be larger. State health officials came to Eudora and with the city’s mayor closed “all places of amusements,” schools, and churches. They said any smallpox household must quarantine. If not, those living there would be fined with a misdemeanor and could serve up to 90 days in jail.
Fearful of public censure, Ed Diedrich placed a notice in the town newspaper saying he was observing quarantine by living in his grain storeroom and cooking his own meals while his wife was sick with smallpox in their home.
Fortunately, a smallpox vaccination was available. Hundreds in the community received one at the outbreak start, which helped control the virus infection.
The next year, the Spanish flu initially detected in Kansas military training camps swept the nation. Within two years, it would cause an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide.
The Eudora newspaper editor stated that concern about the Spanish flu in Eudora at first was minimal. Nevertheless, Eudora schools postponed their August opening to October.
Then the Koeller, Johnson, and Lepper families as well as others got the disease starting in mid-October. Sadie Williams and Frieda Kormier, both 34 and mothers with young children, were the first to die of the pneumonia-like influenza.
During the same period and within a couple of weeks, Eudora soldiers stricken with the Spanish flu began being shipped to their Eudora homes in coffins: Fred Deck, 22; Bunce Ewing, 25; George Eder, 28; Paul Lawson, 21; and Clarence Lefmann, 22, who had been enlisted less than a month.
Eudora schools closed again in November.
The newspaper continued to list dozens afflicted with the “crowd” disease in December when the schools opened once again.
The Spanish flu returned in the spring of 1919 claiming the life of John Giertz, 37, in March and others in the area. A couple of months later, the deadly disease had been contained. Everyday life resumed.
From that time till now, vaccinations, medical cures, and public health practices have eliminated most contagious disease outbreaks.
Today federal laws restrict the release of personal health information. Newspaper listings of individuals and households with diseases and also quarantine signs are long gone.
However, the advice given by health officials a hundred years ago to avoid contagious disease remains the same today: Keep away from crowds; wash your hands frequently; wear masks; and this 1918 catch phrase: “Cover up each cough and sneeze, if you don’t, you’ll spread disease.”