The History of Eudora, Kansas
The History of Eudora, Kansas
Photograph to right, Iota Phi Phi in the 1930s
A.O.U.W. Lodge.The Ancient Order of United Workers Lodge #112 formed in 1882 and built its lodge building at 726 Main Street. In the 1936 Eudora Weekly News anniversary edition, M. Chalkey Hill said the A.O.U.W. was a “lively bunch of youngsters” and told how member William Schubert made a “fine,” overstuffed chair for Dr. Brown, the dentist, that was to be presented as an award. Unbeknownst to Brown, Schubert built the chair to immediately collapse when someone sat in it.
African Violet Club. Mrs. Warner Lincoln founded the club in 1952 that took its programs from the American Violet Club magazine. Members included Mrs. Joe Strobel, May Adams, Katherine Neis, Mrs. Corbidge, Elizabeth Greiner, Olive Ogden, Minnie Edelbrock, Leota Walker, Kate Stanley, Ruby Miller, Irene Caviness, and Mayme Kohler. At one meeting, for example, at Adams’ house, 13 members went through a roll call by answering questions on planting hints. Neis gave a presentation on “Questions and Answers of the Violets,” a film from the national African Violet show was shown, plans for an exhibit at the flower were made, and a tour was made of Adams’ violets and those of her neighbor, Mrs. Joe Strobel.
Awareness Coalition of Eudora. This group formed in 2005 to protest a top-of-the-line school football stadium.
Beta Sigma Phi/Alpha Gamma Chapter. As part of the national Beta Sigma Phi organization that began in the 1930s, this 2003-launched chapter also dedicates itself to fellowship and civic service. Its first project was an early intervention reading program tailored after the national Success by Six program. First members of this chapter, included: Sherrie Proffitt, Stacy Katzenmeier, Angie Abts, Ann Pearson, Janelle Arb, Sherry Moran, Christy Millier, Shari Turnbaugh, Janet Reynolds, and Kylee Foster. In recent years, the organization holds a Christmas-themed auction as a fundraiser for local charities.
Bicycle Club. Edward Mistele said there was a bicycle club in town around the turn of the 20thcentury. Members wore special uniforms while bicycle riding. Members included Emma Lotz, the Haelsigs, Carl and Fred Lotz, the Pipes, the Stadlers, and Waldo Durr, according to Mistele. One of the Lotz brothers had a bicycle repair and sales shop at the time.
Busy Bee Club. In 1922, Angela Sommers was a member of this club that hemmed rags and played games.
Campfire Girls. A group that started in 1925, the first members were Eva Mertz, Mildred White, Jessie Marley, Ethel Johnson, Goldie Combest, and Garnett Hughes.
Carpe Diem Club. In 1921, The C.M.N. Club changed its name to the Carpe Diem Club. Its members at the time included Tena Zeisenis, Lillian Gallagher, Daisy Hadle, Kathryn Rothberger, Nora Trefz, Clarice Miller, Mrs. James McCabria, Adelia Zimmerman, Amelia Seiwald, Anna Sommers, Mary Neufstifter, Barbara Zillner, and Pauline Sommer. Disbanded by 1927, its members still met from time to time.
Cleveland Club. Officers mentioned in 1889 about this probably political club included M. Cain, N. Wilson, W. Getker, A. Kraus, T. C. Darling, Will Lavo, S.W. Caldwell, William Trefz, and John Kraus.
Dancing Club. Organized in 1913, some of the couples who gathered to dance were Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Fuller, Mr. and Mrs. C.F. Richards, and Mr. and Mrs. William Lothholz.
Doric Lodge No. 83, A.F. & A.M. The Eudora chapter of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Kansas established May 18, 1869 met for social activities on the Tuesday evening before the full moon each month at the I.O.O.F. Hall. The Grand Lodge recorded 11 founding Masons, but several of them did not live in Eudora. First elected officers were Robert Peebles, W. W. Silsby, T. C. Darling, A. L. Cohn, Thomas Pearson, and J. B. Smith. Five years later, members numbered 15, which was about the average for several years because of constant turnover. Other officers of the time A.D Kemper, G. Richards, D. Phenecie, T. Rayson, E. S. Thompson, H. Copp, and M. D. Greenlee. After a few years, they discontinued summer meetings, citing heat as the cause. In 1879, the lodge had 23 paid members. For a brief time, the Grand Lodge revoked its charter citing low economic status of members. Read the Grand Lodge proceedings: “Our Lodge is in debt and the members are poor, and can with great difficulty and privation cancel the indebtedness; but if our Lodge could proceed to work we could soon liquidate our indebtedness.” A member roster circa 1885 shows 55 Masons and indicates the majority of brothers had moved, were suspended, or died. The Masons were predominately non-German, two exceptions being Asher Cohn, a founding member, and Charles Pilla. At their fiftieth anniversary celebration, the officers were Henry Kurtz, Delbert Adams, Clarence Fuller, C. E. Cory, Homer White, LeRoy Harris, George Woodard, Robert Walker, Howard Woodard, and George Broers. At the celebration, they dined on oyster cocktail, chicken pie, buttered peas, mashed potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, fruit salad, hot rolls, cake, ice cream, and mints.
The lodge bought the Ancient Order of Untied Workers Lodge at 726 Main Street for $800 in 1938 after renting it for years. They remodeled the building from 1955 through 1969. In 1957, membership totaled 220. At a 1972 meeting, these members were given 50-year emblems: Arthur Bernitz, Clarence Filler, Delbert Fuller, George Gerstenberger, David Kerr, Henry Kurtz, Peter Neis, George Strobel, and George Trefz. Those who had been members for 25 years were Oseola Daniels, Robert Fulkerson, James Johnson, LeRoy Mzhickteno, Gottlieb Nieder, Kenneth Nafus, Robert Schellack, James Vigna, and Enoch Wright.
Downtown Entrepreneurs Association. Formed in 2005 by Susan Ashley, the organization disbanded that same year because of scheduling difficulties.
Downtown Eudora Business Association. Tina Lencioni invited other downtown merchants to join the organization that had its first meeting in January of 2008 to promote downtown. Its goals were to preserve and revitalize downtown Eudora business, promote awareness of downtown Eudora's heritage and history, maintain downtown Eudora as the heart of Eudora's historical background, devote a place where families find comfort, and market Eudora as a thriving destination. Early officers include Tina Montgomery (president), Bonnie Freeland (vice president), Heather Noble (secretary and committee director), and Carey Willming (treasurer).
Eudora Alumni Association. Graduates of the classes of 1906, 1908, and 1909 of Eudora Rural High School (there weren’t any graduates in 1907) decided to form an alumni association. All were Eudora graduates except Professor Kelly, the high school superintendent and his wife. The minutes record that the first meeting, a banquet, was held at Tarleton's cafe, on June 5, 1909. After the meal, officers elected were Douglas Harris, president; Francis Hughes, vice president; Henry Eisele, treasurer; and Ollie Abels, secretary. At this banquet 16 people were present. Traditionally, the Eudora Alumni Association sponsors a potluck the first Sunday in June annually for Eudora High alumni members.
Eudora Autism Community Education and Support Society. Founded in 2011 by Rebecca Dority, Christine Zimmer, Jacqui Folks and Stacey Watts.
Eudora baseball. Eudora has had adult teams in the past, such as the Eudora Blues Baseball Club (circa 1896-1914). At one time, the Blue line up was Jake Nichols (pitcher and shortstop), George Rothberger (center field), Peg Wiliam (left field and third base), Bill Nichols (pitcher and right field), Walter Durr (first base), Billy Trefz (pitcher), Carl Neis (catcher), Fred Neis (second base and third base), and Louie Eder (outfield). John Rothberger, Al Grosdidier, Billy Ziesenis, Gideon Neis, George Eder, Harry Miller, “Dee” Weaver, George Trefz, and Ted Brecheisen. In 1935, The Kaw Valley Softball Team organized with Charlie Schaake, Eugene McCabria, Herbert Alternbernd, Carl Wichman, John Strong, Ethelbert Ott, Emerson Ott, Paul Hadl, Doc Laughlin, Gustave Schaake, and Charlie Mitchell. Eudora Athletic Softball Association functioned during the 1930s, and merchants continued to sponsor softball teams during the 1940s. For example, the 1948 softball team included Robert Trefz, Charles Winters, Tom Roberts, Al Kaegel, Bill Collins, Norman Combest, Jack Sellers, Wayne Reusch, John Kazmaier, Ray Long, Herbert Weidensaul, Wilfred Trefz, Wayne Strong, Leon Johnson, and Frank Estrada. Babe Ruth and Little League teams playing in Eudora were mentioned in newspapers from the 1960s. The baseball field attached to Nottingham Elementary on the northeast was built in 1969 as was its concession stand. Brenda Clark, one of the first Eudora Amateur Baseball Association board members said in 2002: “Before the EABA, Eudora's main baseball association was linked with Babe Ruth and that was back when Irv Yarnell, Jim Smith and George Durkin were involved. The earliest board members of EABA that I recollect were: Eric Smith, Rick Williams, Don Bradshaw, and Rich Moreno.”
Eudora American Legion. Charter members of the 1946 unit were Lily Pierce, Ella Gerstenberger, Ola Lawn, Leona Harvey, Julia Benefiel, Madge Rothberger, Jessie Grimes, Virginia Pierce, Eula Massey, Christine Sommer, Maggie Hagenbuch, Ollie Martin, Nora Trefz, Rita Taylor, Clara Grosdidier, Ruth Tibbedeaux, and Donna Zillner, according to the 1957 Eudora Centennial Magazine.
Eudora Archery Club. Mention of this club was made in an 1889 newspaper.
Eudora Boy Scouts. Boy Scout Troop No. 64 was organized in 1929 under the sponsorship of the Eudora Methodist Church. Other sponsors were Eudora Commercial Club, City of Eudora, I.O.O.F., and Eudora Lions Club. Those who have achieved scouting’s highest rank, the Eagle Scout, include: Emmet Wright (1958), Philip Everly (1958), Mike Lenahan (1958), John Scott (1959), Gary Jackson (1970), Gary Abel (1970), Alvie Guy (1970), David Slaughter (1971), Earl Strickell (1971), Glenn Jackson (1972), Billy Brynds (1973), Mike Kelly (1973), Robert Slaughter (1973), Donald Born (1975), Dwight Folks (1976), Matt Holladay (1981), Todd Kleinschmidt (1982), Russ Neis (1983), Tom Ferguson (1984), Bob Lemmons (1985), Jeff Vigneron (1987), Scott Kleinschmidt (1987), Lee Scott (1987), Brent Wimmer (1990), Jim Vigneron (1990), Stacy Kaufmann (1991), Jason Kahrs (1991), Brant Watson (1993), Kelly Charbonneau (1994), James Guy (1995), Kenan Staples (1996), Mathew Conner (1997), Jason Coppedge (1997), Mark F. Watson (1998), Richard Neis (2000), Bart Carroll (2001), Jesse Montgomery (2001), Guy Kirby Montgomery (2002), James Snow (2002), Jared Pringle (2002), and Aaron Neis (2003). These names are listed on a plaque traditionally kept at Salem Chapel. The scouts perform several community improvement projects such as canned food contributions to St. Paul’s and veteran recognition on Memorial Day at area cemeteries. During the 1960s, under the leadership of James Guy, scoutmaster, the scouts annually cleaned Delaware Cemetery.
Eudora Chamber of Commerce. Twenty-eight members of the Eudora business community met for the first time Oct. 31, 1991 to launch the Eudora Chamber of Commerce. David Miller, insurance agent, Rick Wittenauer, dentist, and Gary Klotz, bank manager, had asked fellow Lions Club members to sponsor the organization, which it did to start the new group organized to promote businesses in Eudora.
Eudora Community Club. Similar to a Chamber of Commerce, the Eudora Community Club was formed in 1925 with 28 members to promote Eudora businesses and strive toward community betterment. First officers were C. L. Fuller, W. U. Carter, B. Daugherty, C. F. Richards, and Harry Smith. It sponsored Santa Claus visits, Christmas street decorations, and other community activities. Allen Westerhouse presided over it for many years. Others involved in the club included Herman Bohnsack, D.E. Kerr, Mrs. Fred Rothberger, J.K. Wilson, and Ray Long. An earlier Commercial Club organized in 1914 with C. M. Hodges as president, C. F. Richards as secretary, and Charles Floyd as treasurer.
Eudora Cub Scout Pack #3064. Cub Scout Pack No. 3064 received its charter March 31, 1956 under the sponsorship of the Couples Class of the Eudora Methodist Church. The first scouts were: Dennis Bonebrake, Ed Broers, Charles Cummings, Donald Ellsworth, Kent Ellsworth, Stephen Everley, Carl Fleming, Larry Folks, Richard Ford, Donnie Goff, William Gordon, Rex Guenther, Thomas Jackson, Danny Jennings, Jerry Kazmaier, Frank Martin, Allen Morriss, Dale Neal, Nevin O’Berg, Larry Scott, Randy Shumaker, Robert Sluder, and Darrell Smith. During recent years, Ann Wimmer has kept records and award achievements for this organization. Annual fundraisers have been popcorn sales and the May fish fry in CPA Park; on average, more than 200 pounds of catfish and pollock, 30 pounds of barbecue beef, and 120 pounds of French fries are served at the May event.
Eudora 4-H Club. Organized in the spring of 1953, the first officers were Wilfred Hadl, president; Betty Burns, vice-president; Mary Long, secretary-treasurer; and Judy Kindred, reporter, according to the 1957 Eudora Centennial Magazine.
Eudora Food Pantry. An inter-denominational, non-perishable food-gathering organization housed at St. Paul United Church of Christ and that distributes food to community residents in need. Volunteers have included Mary Ann Stewart, Jane Marconette, Jane Massey, Louis Box, Rita Strahl, Donna Brown, Sharon Bohm, and Sue Neustifter.
Eudora Friendly Club: Norma Cooper, Mrs. William Stadler, Mrs. Charles Kelly, Carrie Schliefer, Mrs. George Lothholz, Lydia Abels, Lillian Fuller, and Mrs. Andrew Smith had a club to improve Eudora around 1913. One of their projects was to have a reading and resting room for mothers and children shopping downtown.
Eudora Girl Scouts. Mrs. C. B. Johnson and Mrs. Fred Rothberger organized a troop for girls 10 years and older in 1937. The members were Alice Marie Howard, Mary Virginia Pierce, Barbara Johnson, Maxine Daugherty, Alberta Martha, Marilyn Rosenau, Doris Bohnsack, Laverne Daugherty, Leola Bond, Hazel Goodger, Lois Gerstenberger, Beatrice Steffin, Shirley Long, and Vera Rose Gerstenberger. Since that time numerous Eudora has numerous Brownie and Girl Scout troops.
Eudora Gun Club. Formed in the 1920s, this shooting club included J. Bryant, H. Woodard, Will Carter, Lloyd Schleifer, Charles Schulz, C.S. Fuller, W. Edelbrock, Will Saunders, Elmer Everley, G. S. Schaake, Fred Rothberger, and Ben Holtgraber. An earlier gun club included Fred Altenbernd, William Altenbernd, and others in a couple of decades earlier.
Eudora Home Demonstration Unit. The last meeting of Eudora HDU, which started in 1949, took place at the home of Pearl French in December 1989. Members at the closing were Astrid Ott, Elsie Mathia, Rose Rinke, Wilma Baird, Norma Lutz, and Pearl French.
Eudora QuiltMakers. In 1974, Mattie Kindred and other members of the United Methodist Church decided to make a quilt for their minister who was leaving the church. They began getting quilt orders and made quilts to raise money for the church. Customers provided the materials, and each quilt took about three weeks to make. Quilters included Fern Reusch, Kathryn Castor, Alma Broers, Elsie Mathia, Astrid Ott, Wilma Baird, and Norma Heaberlin.
Eudora Quilting Bees. This group of quilters was started at Quilting Bits and Pieces when EudoraFest organizers in 1997 requested a quilt show for the festival.
Eudora Youth Service Organization. After James Guy searched for a meeting place for Boy Scouts, the First United Methodist Church agreed to furnish Salem Chapel if repairs and upkeep were performed. The E.Y.S.O. formed to meet this need with chairman Glenn Wineinger assisted by John Scott. At the first meeting, James Guy represented the scouts at the organization’s meeting; Oscar Broers represented the Lions Club. Immediate renovation included a new roof, roof tile replacement, painting, wall plastering, outside brick masonry, and belfry and window repairs. The Lions donated the initial money needed to start the renovations. Each fall the organization hosted a supper of ham and beans, chili, vegetable soup, at Salem Chapel or the United Methodist Church to raise money to maintain Salem Chapel.
F.C.C. Club. A bridge club of the 1930s, this group included Martha Seiwald, Maggie Hagenbuch, Nellie Daugherty, Minnie Jones, Alma Gerstenberger, Edna Ziller, Katherine Rothberger, Clara Lotz, Anna Sommer, Adelia Zimmerman, Mrs. John Miller, and Mrs. Frank Sommer.
Flower Club. The Flower Club held meetings in which members read poems, sang solos and duets, heard presentations, drank tea, and won flower bouquets for prizes. Each year the group held an iris show with prizes for best iris stalks, mixed bouquet, church basket, mix with iris, peonies, orange and yellow flowers, and breakfast nook arrangement. It began in 1931 with Louise Loukan (president), Minnie Edelbrock, Christine Cochrun, Sue Wolfe, Elizabeth Greiner, Minnie Jones, May Adams, Leoti Walker, Emma Eisele, Olive Ogden, Augusta Durr, Jessie Grimes, Bertha Peschal, Mrs. Ralph Davis, Alma Gerstenberger, Lucille Walker, Louise Schlegel, Nell Schubert, Freda Reifschneider, and Zoe Pingry, according to the 1957 Eudora Centennial Magazine and typescript manuscripts in Eudora Public Library. A 1971 news article mentioned the following members: Tena Ziesenis, Wilma Griffin, Rose Long, Pearl French, Minnie Edelbrock, Zenia Ziesenis, Verna Terrell, Joyce Wineinger, Viola Reetz, Mrs. Paul Hadl, and Nora Dowding. Eva Lucas, Nora Dowding, and Luisa Lutz also were members.
Begun in 1864, the chapter was abandoned, then reorganized in the summer of 1867 with 12 members, under the following officers: J. A. Seybold, president; H. Basemann, vice president; H. Basemann, Jr., secretary; and C. Marfilius, treasurer. By 1870, the society had 21 members. The society disbanded again in 1876, then revived in March 1882 with five members, under the following officers: J. A. Seybold, president; C. Fischer, vice president: Robert Bartusch, treasurer; and F. Lucken, secretary. Members built a 24-foot by 46-foot Turner Hall at 523 Church Street in the autumn of 1882 (see in photograph). The society listed a 40-volume library in its assets in 1885. With only 12 members, the society folded in 1888, according to Annual Reports of the Association of North American Turner. An 1889 newspaper advertised that its furniture and china were sold on Main Street. The Eudora school board bought the building often used for public and club gatherings in 1894. Now a personal residence, the white frame building was the site of tight-wearing gymnasts on trapezes and other lively activities. A recollection in the 1957 Eudora Centennial chortled: “Even in the early days of Eudora there was need for organizations. There had to be a place for men to meet and cut up a few highjinks. The Deutsch Turnverien filled the bill, in fact, Tom, Dick, and Harry got filled there too. Anyway, there were games and athletic events and entertainment for the ladies on occasion.” In some instances, this site was referred to as Durr Hall, a venue for social activities.
Golden Agers. Pastor Beemer, St. Paul’s United Church, in 1966 helped start the Golden Agers, which was patterned after the Pioneer Club of Lawrence. Officially organized April 28, 1967 with 48 people present, the club voted the pastor as president, Walter Gerstenberger, vice-president; and Margaret Westerhouse, secretary and treasurer. Meetings with a covered dish dinner have been held in the Masonic Hall and also at city hall. The club was instrumental in promoting the building of the Eudora Nursing Home, providing meals to shut-ins, erecting stone entrance markers at the cemeteries (along with the Eudora Flower Club), getting a van with a wheelchair lift, and modifying City Hall to meet the needs of the elderly. Past presidents included Tena Ziesenis, Faye Christian, Margaret Westerhouse, Pauline Cory, Lydia McCabria, Reve, Theodore Hauck, Mattie Kindred, Marge Simons, Elsie Mathia, Rev. Alden Pitts, and Marge Simons. Astrid Ott, Merle Holladay, Ruth Davis, Fern Long, Jean Martin, Pearl Hadl, Dorothy Shelby, Tille Bichelmeyer, and others also have been long-term members.
Grand Army of the Republic. Thirteen men joined this Civil War Union Army society organized March 7, 1871 under S. A. Cobb, Wyandotte. On special occasions, they marched in uniform from Main Street to the Eudora Cemetery to pay tribute to the dead. (See G.A.R. last Decoration Day parade in photograph to right.)
Helianthus Chapter, Eastern Star Chapter No. 365. Agnes Carr invited six women to her home to organize an Order of the Eastern Star chapter March 11, 1913. Early members were Rachel Passon, Martha Lefholz, Mayme (Brune) Denny, Pearl Rosenau, Holly Kibler, Paulene Cory, Lena Wilson, Mary Moody, Leoti Durr, Mrs. Larry Lefholz, and Mrs. Harry Hagenbuch. They named their chapter “Helanthus,” the Latin word for sunflower. In 1938 when membership, which included Ethel Chronister, Alma Gerstenberger, Augusta Durr, Sarah Hausmann, Louisa Lotz, Margaret Hearin, Lucy Abel, Olive Ogden, Carrie Forsythe, Emma Eisele, Corabell Williamson, Dolly Reetz, Helen Talbert, Myrtle Wilson, Bernice Davis, Delta Durr, and Eileen Woodard, stood at 78. A Past Matrons of the Helianthus Chapter No. 365 also formed at the house of Madge Rothberger in 1933. Its first officers were Agnes Carr, Carrie White, and Louise Luckan. Mary Moody, Hattie Harris, Phoebe Westheffer, Eileen Woodard, and Pearl Rosenau served on its first committees.
Hesper Protective Association. This organization operated before the turn of the 20th century. C.J. Baldwin, S.H. Davis, and A.W. Armstrong were but a few of its members.
Homemaker Club. Started around 1916, this club, which was devoted to household tasks, included Mrs. C. Terrell, Lillian Fuller, Mrs. Perry Page, Lola Bisel, Mrs. Ed Miller, Mrs. D. M. Harris, and Mrs. Georg Whaley. At one roll call, each member had to respond with a method of cooking chicken.
I.O.O.F. Eudora Lodge Number 42. Frederick Bernitz was said to have driven to Lawrence with a team and wagon and brought Lawrence officers to Eudora to organize a lodge. The charter was granted in 1869. Charter members initiated into the first degree were: J.W. Eastes, John Goedecker, Pleasant Hiatt, Charles Pilla, Frederick Bernitz, Casper Marfilius, and John Conger. The number of members grew rapidly during the early years. By 1869, 29 members had joined.
Jack McCabria, a member, said in a presentation that when completing an application, a degree candidate included on the form his age and occupation. Eudora records show that among the first hundred members, approximately 46% were farmers, 14% were merchants or druggists, 7% were railroad crew or engineers, 3% were blacksmiths, 3% were teachers, and 2% were lawyers. The members bought the two-story brick building at 711 Main Street for $1,500 from Charles and Caroline Lothholz and received the property deed in 1878. A few years later, officers were S. Prange, Jahn, John Hammert, and J. A. Seybold. The Eudora newspaper mentions the “colored Masons” in the late 1880s and their hall on Main Street. In 2008, members from Eudora were: Kenneth Adkinson, Donald Bagby, Homer Broers, Carrol Gerstenberger, James Harris, Keith Knabe, Kenneth Lawson, Leland Lawson, William Lothholz, Clifford Neis, Jerry Neis, Paul Oelschlaeger, and Floyd Ott. Living outside Eudora were Orlie Davidson, Lemuel Evans, John W. Evans, Neal Higginbotham, Lester Meinert, and Robert Ryan. Several, such as William Lothholz, had been members for more than 60 years. For more information, see Eudora Lodge I.O.O.F. No. 42, “Minutes of Meetings: Book 1,” (March 6, 1869 to August 10, 1872) in possession of the Eudora Area Historical Society, Doric Lodge No. 83, “Record of Doric Lodge No. 83, A.F. & A. Masons, Eudora, Kansas, Book 1,” (May 18, 1869), in possession of the I.O.O.F. Lodge, KS. Eudora Lodge I.O.O.F. No. 42, “Minutes of Meetings,” 1-2, 100; in possession of Lodge I.O.O.F. No. 42, and “Question-Book.”.
Iota Phi Phi. According to the Eudora Weekly News 50th anniversary issue, Anna Hammig, Barbara Hammig, Alma Myer, and Hattie (Gerstenberger) Harris organized this group in 1914 at the home of fellow member Lulu (Lothholz) Miller while making nutcaps and decorations for a school banquet. It was a literary and study club at first, and, in 1922, changed to a bridge club. Husbands were invited to the second meeting of each month. Members included Pearl (Gabriel) Rosenau, Madge (Hill) Rothberger, Corabelle (McBride) Willimanson, Lois (Fuhs) Durr, Florence Wichman, Bessie Kraus, Leoti Durr, Mrs. Lester Reber, Ann (Robinson) Kanzig, Lillian Fuller, Evelyn (Stuckeman) Miller, Ruby (Kowing) Miller, Henrietta (Schubert) Fuller, Erna (Ziesenis) Gerstenberger, and Alma (Myer) Gerstenberger. It disbanded in 1974.
J.D. Dinner Bridge. This club organized in November 1930 with 12 members and limited itself to 16 members. It met on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, according to the Eudora Weekly News 50th anniversary issue.
J.D.H. Club. Olive Carr invited a group of girls to her house October 14, 1914 to organize a club. Officers elected that night were Olive Carr, president; Mary Fuller, vice president; Clara Neustifter, sergeant; Norma Cooper, treasurer; and Alta Roe, secretary. Members gathered to do “fancy work” for each others’ hope chests. Meetings were held 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. every Thursday night at member houses. Club colors were green and white. Other club members were Verna Allis, Ida Coffin, Lillian Fuller, Norah Geelan, Ida Grabake, Caroline Neustifter, Tena Neustifter, Adelia Ziesenis, Flora Coople, Mona Thomas, Mabel Rush, Aileen Richards, May Sheldon, Grace Allen, and Leona Spurgeon. The club lasted a few years.
J. L. L. Dinner Bridge. Started in the 1930s, this Catholics-only club included Clara Grosdidier, Rigina Schehrer, Anna Sommer, Edna Zillner, Martha Seiwald, Emma Mercier, Mary Neustifter, Mary Houk, Adelia Zimmerman, and Anita Stadler, according to the Eudora Weekly News 50th anniversary issue.
Jaycees. During the 1960s, a junior chamber of commerce known as the Jaycees formed in Eudora and lasted until about 1973. Charter members were James Neal, C.K. Noble, Edward Shawbaker, L. Shawbaker, Lawrence Hunsacker, Larry Rider, Ron Gosdidier, Penn Wolf, Claude Williams, Jr., Robert Ramsbottom, Merlin Eisnebarger, Bill Long, Maynard Beemer, Gary Grant, Richard Vigna, Edgar Grosdidier, Roger Brower, Donald Warmker, Bill Englebrecht, Richard Benton, and James Harris. Officers in 1966, for example, were Kurt vonAchen, Glen Wineinger, Alan Ott, Roger Broers, Charles Mason, Cecil Brown, Claude Williams, Thomas Jerome, Dave Garrett, Maynard Beemer, Jess Carney, and John Morris. They sponsored the Miss Eudora Contest, and, in 1965, Mimi Frank became Miss Kansas in the Miss America Pageant. In 1976, Jaycees organized again and at its first meeting elected Trig Oleson, president; Joe Pyle, internal vice president; Dave Auldridge, external vice president; Mike Kurtz, secretary; Dennis Smith, treasurer; Charles Kimble, state director; J.D. Schehrer, director I and Ron Lee, director II. Chartered in 1997, a new Jaycees for young men and women ages 21-39 formed. Their community service projects included The Father/Daughter Dance, Christmas lighting, talent show, family “adoptions,” and the Eudora Fest. They also developed a Eudora “Monopoly” game that incorporated local businesses, families, and historical sites in the 1990s. Hundreds of copies were sold as a fundraiser for Jaycee projects. According to Carrie Werst, the first president of this group was Bill Folks. Later presidents included Darrin Howell, Robin Folks, Pamela Bass, Carrie Werst, Darren Werst, and Heidi Briery.
Jolly Dozen Club. Started in 1947, this club included Dusty Lauber, Geri Kahle, Helen Grosdidier, Emma Taylor, Helen Sommer, Ann Broers, Janice Colman, Lenore Rohe, Ruth Wilson, Eva Belle Gerstenberger, Nina Wehner and Arlene Lawson.
K.K.K. Club. Emma Lotz, Caroline Neufstifter, and others were in this club in existence in 1913 and longer.
Keota Club. Mabel Nieder invited guests to meet at her home October 31, 1938 to organize a sewing club. They named the club “Keota,” which means “gone to visit.” Charter members were Minnie Edelbrock, Fredia Reifschneider, Lucy Abel, Mildred Diedrich, Mary Frances Durr, Elfrieda Westerhouse, Margaret Westerhouse, and Helen Wichman, according to the 1957 Eudora Centennial Magazine.
Knights and Ladies of Security Lodge/Security Benefit Association. Organized as the Sunflower Council #302 of Knights and Ladies of Security in July 1895 with 18 members, this organization held its meetings at the A.O.U.W. Hall at 726 Main Street. First officers were Ed Wilson, J.D. Childs, Adolph Lotz, and E. E. Williams (president). Meetings took place at The Ancient Order of United Workers Lodge at 726 Main Street. Other known members were Mrs. J. D. Childs, N. B Larson, J. D. Childs, Herman White, W. J. Conner, B. W. Hammert, and E. W. Krause. The name later changed to Security Benefit Association. It had 83 members in 1936, according to the Eudora Weekly News 50th anniversary issue.
Ku Klux Klan. This organization revived nationwide in the early 1920s, and a short-lived Eudora chapter of this time met at Eisele’s Grove east of Eudora and at the Caviness farm. Anita Stadler remarked in an article about her 100th birthday in 1991: “My father knew some of them and knew the field south of town where they burned the crosses. I was about eight when the Kluxers drove by our house. My dad kept a gun under his bed and I remember one of the men coming up onto our porch and my dad telling to take off his hood, and he called him a coward.”
Ladies Altar Society. Established in 1865 at Holy Family Church, the group’s first president was Teckla Seiwald. Other officers were Anna Stadler (treasurer) and Katherine Blechel (secretary). This group later became the St. Theresa Society.
Larkin Club. During the first decades of the 20th century, Larkin Club members included Mrs. Lan Deay, Fannie Cars, Mrs. Jake Reusch, Mrs. Perry Dunn, Mrs. Herve Hoskinson, Mrs. Lew Hansen, Mrs. Jimmy Deay, Mrs. Harry Werts, Mrs. Will Hoskinson, Mrs. Joe Sturdy, Mrs. Buchanan, Mrs. Walbridge, and Mrs. Floyd Gottstein.
Lions Club. Sponsored by the Lawrence chapter, the Eudora Lions Club formed May 27, 1951 with 27 members. Charter members were W. Glenn Brown, Al Colman, Keith Colman, Harold Daugherty, Johnnie Douglas, Harry J. Edwards, John J. Halligan, Dr. B. L. Harden, Jack Howard, Archie Jameson, Don Joslin, D. E. Kerr, W.C. Mercier, R. C. Ogden, Alf T. H. Oleson, Fred Papenhausen, Delbert Reusch, Fred Rothberger, E. R. Scott, S.C. Simons, James B. Smith, Charles Taylor, Wilfred Trefz, David Wilson, Glen Wilson, Howard Wilson, and Fred Ziesenis. D. E. Kerr served as first president. Officers in 1969, for example, included Norman Musick, Bob Slapar, Don Bagby, Pete Lawson, Lowell Henderson, Bob Massey, Carl Sleeper, Charles Hill, Charle Merchant, and Melvin Wehner. The Lions started the city street marker system in 1958, and, in 1960, they developed a numbering system for city houses. Their fundraising has benefited Salem Chapel, city parks, city shelterhouse, the public library, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, athletic field structures, and other civic improvements. Bob Slapar, in a 2007 presentation said D.E., Kerr, principal of Eudora High School, was instrumental in organizing the Club. Kansas Lions in Eudora support the ophthalmology Department of KU Med. Center. Slapar said, "Eudora Lions furnish eyes glasses for needy students and we collect old glasses that are then processed and sent to developing countries, mostly Central America. We have had many projects over the past 50 years. Lions built the bleachers for old Kerr Field and furnished the electrical scoreboard that has been removed. Toilets were built where the Library now stands. They suffered much vandalism and were removed for the Library. Boy Scout Troop #64 has been chartered to the Lions Club for many years. The Lions have sponsored Eudora High students to the Kansas Lions band camp for several years and have sponsored students to Boys’ State. More recently Lions built the directory at Eudora Cemetery. Lions recently took over the Mayor’s Christmas Tree project when auditors determined the City should not be doing it. Eudora Lions also participated in the bicycle program where old bicycles are taken to the correctional facility at Lansing and refurbished and then brought back to given at Christmas to needy children."
[Eudora] Literary Society. W.G. Hill, Ellsworth Croll, Emma Schliefer, Allie Darling, Mary Hagenbuch, W. R. Barrett, C. F. Richards, Callie Schliefer, C. Weed, W. Rayson, Ida White, John Dolisi, and Lillie Coates were elected officers of the newly-formed society in 1889. At the second meeting, which took place in the school, 16 new names were proposed and accepted, causing membership to reach 37. The program for the night was select reading (Herman White); declamation (Etta Creed); musical trio (Carrie Schleifer, Josie Conner, Ellsworth Cross); declamation (W. R. Barrett); music (May Richards, J. Dolisi, C. F. Richards); select reading (Rosa Abels); declamation Mary Zeisenis); charade (Charles Rayson); and declaimation (Minnie McCrea).
Minerva Rebekah Lodge No. 146. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows became the first national fraternity to include both men and women when it created the Rebekah Degree. This group held its first meeting on December 27, 1890 with the Lawrence Degree Staff officiating. The name "Minerva" was suggested by Mary Bernitz. Thirty-two members took obligations and were instructed into the mysteries of the degree that are based on women from the Bible. First officers were Mattie Wilson, Clara Bartusch, Mable Richards, and Anna Lothholz. In 1925, officers included Nellie Daugherty, Minnie Conge, Mrs. M. Mertz, Mrs. E. Fuller, Clara (Bartusch) Lotz, Mrs. A. Landers, Gladys Lindley, and Henrietta Schubert. Officers in 1972 were Sharon Englebrecht (Noble Grand), Madena Englebrech (Vice Grand), Faye Christian (Secretary), Ehtel Scott (Treasurer), Bertie Morriss (Staff Captain), Jessie Grimes (Left Support), Clarice Morriss (Right Support), Dorloyn Marckley (Left Support), Carol Scott (Junior Past Noble Grand), Alvena Tuggle (Warden), Margaret Westerhouse (Conductor), Sharon Musick (Color Bearer), Barbara Ott (Inside Guardian), Amye Scott (Outside Guardian), Minnie Edelbrock (Musician), and Dorothy Dowding (Chaplain). Some women who have been members for 50 years or longer are Daphne Haverty, Agnes Strobel, Katherine Neis, Louise Everley, Helen Miner, Lillian Fuller, Mattie Kindred, Leoti Walker, Henrietta Fuller, May Adams, Minnie Edelbrock, Margaret Westerhouse, and Charlene Chronister, according to member Alvena Tuggle in 1997 and organization resources. Those who have been members for more than 50 years presently are Tuggle, Katherine Neis, and Bernice Wilson and have included Mattie Kindred, Daphane Haverty, Agnes Strobel, Louise Everley, Helen Miner, and Charlene Chronister. Several men, such as Fred Reetz, Fred Christian, and Allen Westerhouse, too, have been members of Rebekah Lodge No. 146. Their mission, said member Alvena Tuggle, is to contribute to the community, for example, delivering treats to nursing home residents and being a positive role model. “That’s the main thing, to do good as you have the opportunity,” Tuggle said.
Musical Club. A 1901 Eudora newspaper mentioned this club and performances by Mrs. B. Durr, Nellie Moll, Mrs. E. Kraus, Mrs. C. Lotz, Lily Fuller, Mary Fuller, and Mrs. E. Schleifer. In 1899, it was called the Music Club and its officers were Carrie Schleifer, Fred Moll, Alma Durr, Emma Kunkel, Mrs. Ellis, Alma Griffith, and Murray Hill. They met every other Friday at the A.O.U.W. building.
1900 and Now Club. The members of the Friendly Club met February 15, 1915 at the home of Mrs. Homer White to organize a study club with a paper read aloud and a roundtable discussion. Mrs. C. F. Fuller, who had moved to Eudora in 1912 from Topeka, chaired the meeting. The nominating committee of Carrie White, Mary Lee, and Nell Lothholz nominated Mary Kelley (president), Elizabeth Fuller (vice-president), Ellen Hill (secretary), and Sylvia Harris (treasurer). Other charter members were: Agnes Carr, Lulu Floyd, Mary Harris, Sylvia Harris, R.E. Gabriel, May Lee, Mrs. Charles Kelley, Rose Kraybill, Clarice Miller, Carrie Richards, and Laural Weaver. The first discussion meeting focused on Kansas history. The club met every other Friday afternoon and members were elected by secret ballot. Their motto was “Success is at the top of the hill and those who reach it must climb” and the red carnation represented the club flower. In 1918 one discussion topic included “Should sex hygiene be taught in our schools,” and, in 1921, the club met with Mrs. Thayer of the Emery–Bird-Thayer store in Kansas City who had collected art from around the world. Later discussions were on socialized medicine, race relations, organized labor, women’s legal rights, Communism, Gandhi and the Indian revolt, and the “Demoralizing Influence of Jazz Music.” Ministers’ wives, and later teachers’ wives, always could be honorary members. In 1929, the first use of the “black ball” for a proposed membership occurred. Five members resigned because of this boycotting, including the president and vice president. At the next meeting, three more resigned, cutting membership to nine. In 1939, new member Effie Lothholz suggested everyone shake hands as they entered the meeting, and that became an accepted custom. Members Thelma Nichols, Hazel Harris, Margaret Westerhouse, Carrie Forsythe, Myrtle Watson, Holly Kibler, Mabel Neider, Minnie Jones, May Adams, and Mrs. Henderson danced the minuet April 18, 1941and heard a costumed reading of Paul Revere’s Ride. In 1956, members worked with the Lions Club and CPA committee to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Eudora’s founding. A 1965 presentation by Mrs. J. D. Adams to 1900 and Now members Dorothea Oleson, Anna Strobel, Lena Wilson, Evabelle Gerstenberger, Ethel Willard, Lillian Gabriel, Ruby Miller, Helen Wichman, Mary Francis Durr, Margaret Westerhouse, Lola Page, Dorothy von Achen, Dorothy Akin, Minnie Edelbrock, Evelyn Miller, Astrid Ott, Lois Neis, and Hazel Harris highlighted the club’s history. Officers in 1989 were Norma Lutz, Evelyn Reusch, and Bertha Nichols.
P.C.A. Club. In operation during the 1930s, this club included Minnie Edelbrock, Pearl Boxberger, Elva Ruth, Ann Meuffle, Mildred Lauber, Agnes Strobel, and Josephine Ott.
Parent Teacher Association. Organized in the fall of 1919, according to the Eudora Weekly News 50th anniversary issue, the PTA’s original mission was to serve hot lunches to school pupils. Founders were Mrs. Homer White, Mrs. John Moody, Mrs. C. E. Cory, and Mrs. Leon Durr. Other school projects included traveling libraries for summer reading, milk for school children, parent study group, vacation Bible school, shoe fund for needy pupils, book buying, monthly health clinic, a student loan scholarship, a singing mothers’ chorus, transportation to Red Cross swimming lessons, and other activities until it ended in 1966. Parents chose to form an alternative organization because they didn’t want to affiliate with the national organization. Presidents of this organization included Mrs. Homer White, Mrs. Robert Gabriel, Mrs. John Moody, Mrs. Chester Moody, Mrs. John Miller, Mrs. Carl Schubert, Mrs. Guy Grimes, Mrs. Richard Erwin, Mrs. Elmer Wyrick, Mrs. Clarence Daugherty, Mrs. C. B. Johnson, Mrs. William Miller, Mrs. Floyd Pierce, Mrs. Oscar Westerhouse, Alta Roe, Mary Reifschneider, Mrs. Ray Miller, Mrs. Otto Rosenau, Mrs. Hubert Woodard, Mrs. C. F. Weidensaul, Mrs. Fred Rothberger, Mrs. William Neustifter, Ruth Kazmaier, Mrs. Ray Lang, Mrs. Clarence Broers, Mrs. Verlin Benefield, Mrs. Jerry Harris, Mrs. Warner Lincoln, Mrs. Everett Votaw, Mrs. Alf Oleson, Pat Snow, Lillia Mott, Edna Holmes, Shirley Lash, Eunice Smith, Sandy Barlett, Judy Neis, and several others. After the PTA was disbanded, in the 1990s, parents formed the Parent Teachers Organization to buy school ground equipment and sponsor student rewards.
Parent Teacher Club Association. In 1966, Mrs. Pat Snow, Lillian Mott, Billie Bell, Susie Dickerson were mentioned as a group that collaborated with the school and had recently bought a six-unit swing set for the playground. The PTA mentioned above also operated at this same time.
Pinochle Club. Organized in 1935, it included Minnie Jones, Mrs. Joe Gufler, Anna Sommer, Katherine Rothberger, Nora Trefz, Nellie Daugherty, Edna Ziller, Clara Neustiffer, and others, according to the Eudora Weekly News 50th anniversary issue.
Saint Theresa Society. To control funds they raised for the church and children’s activities, the Holy Family Ladies Altar Society changed its name to the Saint Theresa Society around 1942.
Sociology Club. Callie Schleifer was the first president of this club begun in 1895 with 25 members. Some founding members were Etta White, Ella Hill, and Mrs. Pressey.
Eudora Temperance Union. Members banded together to promote the prohibition of alcoholic drinking. They organized and chartered in the fall of 1879. When the state of Kansas outlawed alcohol and enforced the ruling, the club disbanded.
Thimble Club. A 1905 newspaper mentioned this club and its members: Mrs. William Getker, Mrs. O.G. Richards, Mrs. C.F. Richards, Mrs. Butts, Euretta Kraus, Mrs. Waldo Durr, and Mrs. I. D. Harris.
Thursday Afternoon Club. Began in 1929, this bridge club had Nellie Lothholz as one of its early presidents. A 1941 newspaper listed these members attending a meeting: Mrs. Hoover, Mrs. Ruthraff, Mrs. C. B. Johnson, Mrs. McFarland, Mrs. Starr, Mrs. Knipp, Mrs. Kibbler, Pearl Collins, Mrs. Ray Miller, Mrs. Durr, and Mrs C. E. Cory.
Tuesday Afternoon Club. At the home of Maggie Kraus, this club organized with officers Susannah Gilmore, Emma Schleifer, Maggie Kraus, and Julia Sale. At one 1900 meeting, Gilmore, Kraus, Mrs. Frank Kennedy, Elie Westheffer, Miss Strachen, and Mary Anderston attended. According to the Eudora Weekly News 50th anniversary issue, the club motto was: “Straws upon the surface float. They who seek for pearls must dive below.” Its club flower was the carnation and its colors, pink and white. Other members included Evelyn Bales, Alice Childs, Laura Cloud, Mary Ellis, Agnes Fuller, Annie Gilmore, Amelia Hinsey, Ella Hill, Sarah Hill, Lucinda Kennedy, Elizabeth Parcels, Carrie Schliefer, Carrie White, Ida Meyer, Veda Speaks, May Wilson, and Nelly Kennedy.
Two W’s. “To work for others and have fun doing it” was the mission of this club started in 1976 by Mrs. Paul Hadl, Wilma Griffin, Minnie Edelbrock, Wilma Griffin, Lorena Decker, Helen Smith, Marge Simons, Leona McClendon, Tena Ziesenis, Minnie Edelbrock, and Pearl Hadl.
W.I.T.Y. A 1941 local newspaper said Maggie Hagenbuch and Mary Mertz organized this literary club January 1924, and it turned into a social bridge club with a potluck dinner once a month with husbands as guests. Mattie Kindred, Lydia McCabria, Louise Walker, Bernice Davis, Viola Broers, Edna Reitzel, Esther Strong, May Adams, Mrs. Floyd Broers, Hulda Alber, Leoti Walker, and others were in the club that lasted until 1970.
Whist Club. A progressive Whist club met in 1915 with Ed Miller, Fred Vogl, Adolph Lotz Jr., William Lothholz, a Dolisi, and their wives.
Widows Club. A 1916 news article mentioned this club and members Euretta Kraus and Mabel Butts.
Young Mothers’ Club. At the home of Mary Beem, Pam May, Betty Mackey, Carole Hoover, Sharon Lawson, Barbara Deiwals, Sharon Burns, and others organized a civic organization that donated to city improvements.
Photographs below: From left, Junior-High 4-H, 1980; Knights and Ladies of Security, 1889; EABA, 1993
Susan Rider Pelzel says she always wanted to buy a “fixer upper” in a place “where you know the people.” When her husband Joe Pelzel saw a sale sign on the downtown location of 726 Main, she knew they found the right property. Not too big, not too small, a little dirty “but not beat up,” is how Susan, a Eudora native who lived several years in Texas, describes the two-story brick property when they bought it in 2014.
Since then, the Pelzels have been renovating the 1891 neoclassical, 4,000 square-foot location that originated from a pyramid scheme—a story common for the time — and a need supplied by the life insurance companies of today.
The building’s history begins in 1882 when the Ancient Order of United Workers founded Eudora Lodge #112, the group who later constructed the two-story building.
An organization that spawned numerous imitators, the A.O.U.W. had its heyday from 1880 to 1900. Similar to other fraternal lodges, the group held quasi-religious rituals. However, the main purpose of the A.O.U.W. was to provide funds for families after a lodge member’s death—a centuries-old burial society practice.
These life insurance funds came from member dues. Because each member paid the same amount, A.O.U.W. lodges depended on dues from a continual influx of new, preferably younger, members, to offset costs paid out. The organization design proved unsustainable.
Some comparable organizations, such as the Topeka-based Knights and Ladies of Security that shared the A.O.U.W. upstairs space, adapted their structures and thrived. Today the Knight and Ladies evolved into Security Benefit that bills itself as “one of America's leading retirement savings and income companies.”
As the A.O.U.W. faltered, the Eudora chapter of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Kansas persevered. Formed in 1869, Eudora Lodge #83 met at the 711 Main gathering place of another mutual aid organization, the International Order of Odd Fellows Lodge #42.
The Masons later rented the A.O.U.W. building, bought it for $800 in 1938, and remodeled it during the 1950s. Like their predecessors, the Masons held meetings upstairs and rented out the first floor.
Gus Ziesenis used the first floor space for his leather horse goods business from 1897 to 1940. Later, it would host several restaurants, including Grandma’s Magic Kitchen, Black Cat Café, Cutter’s Smokehouse & Pub, Maria’s Restaurant, The Border restaurant, C. J.s Bar-B-Que, Pancho’s Mexican, Bichelmeyers’ Barbecue, Abbot’s Café, and Martins Café.
When the Eudora Mason lodge combined with the DeSoto lodge several years ago, the second floor sat empty aside from a few furnishings and a nineteenth-century safe.
That safe now belongs to the Pelzels, who saw the building’s promise and have been tearing out layers of add-ons to showcase the original structure.
“The basement has been cleaned out. We have pretty much gutted the downstairs, exposed the brick and ceiling, and are redoing all the lighting,” Susan said.
The result of their hard work is now visible in The Lodge, a business venue the Pelzels opened in December for receptions and gatherings on the ground floor.
To ready their living quarters on the second floor, they and son Reid first pulled off the lime plaster walls to reveal brick walls. A subsequent acid wash brightened the brick and brought out its color. After ripping out the ceiling, they found 30-foot hand-cut oak beams that span the entire width of the building and now will be the focal point of the Pelzels’ kitchen and living room areas.
Then, there’s been the repair of the 10-foot- high rope-and-pulley windows that have been re-hung with new sash cords. “We have redone each one of the 17 by hand ourselves and only replaced the single-pane glass,” says Susan. “We replaced the rope but kept the original pulley and window itself.”
The wood doors with brass hardware remain a work in progress. “One has a ‘who goes there’ hole, a peephole about the size of a small dinner plate used in their meetings,” Joe said.
Those doors will be in the upstairs skylight-lit living room with a kitchen to one side. Three rooms to the other side will be a bedroom and offices. Two bathrooms also are planned. The Pelzels’ goal is to begin living upstairs in their downtown investment during the next year.
To move in, they’ll have to carry their belongings up a flight of steps. The stairs are not bad,” says Susan. “It’s good exercise.”
At the Nov. 7 launch of the Wakarusa Riverbank Restoration Project at Fifth and Main Street, more than 30 volunteers cleared land for the planting of native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees to prevent riverbank erosion.
Planting trees during Eudora’s beginning years was for far different reasons. For one, planting trees was an economic necessity because early settlers quickly removed native trees along
Eudora’s two rivers for use as building materials and fuel. These trees included oak, elm, and hickory varieties. Also native to the area were hackberries, black walnuts, honey locusts, red mulberries, and maples.
Replanting also was made attractive by the 1872 Timber Act allowing 160 acres of free land for settlers who agreed to plant 40 acres (later 10) with trees.
Brian Allen Drake, University of Kansas, wrote in his 2003 history of Kansas forestry that planting leafy groves – trees without underwood – around a homestead was for aesthetics, too.
On the prairie grass desert that dominated the Kansas landscape, trees represented Eastern civilization. In addition, Drake wrote tree planting ensued because farmers believed in the “rain follows the plow” notion that trees encouraged rain.
For these reasons, tree planting became a popular midwestern trend in the latter part of the 1800s. It even led to its own holiday: Arbor Day, observed in Kansas on the last Friday in April. Other states have different dates based on the best tree planting time.
Abundant rainfall contributed to Douglas County’s many groves that served as a fashionable location for social gatherings till the 1930s, especially in Eudora.
For example, early in the 1890s, area German Methodists held three-day camps at Hartig’s Grove where the Catholics would feast into the night before dancing for hours.
In its heyday during the 1890s, Mineral Springs Grove might be the site Wednesday of a Catholic picnic; Friday, a picnic for the black population; Saturday, a dance; and Sunday, yet another picnic. A small steamboat on the Wakarusa River carried passengers from downtown to and from the grove.
Other groves where groups gathered during this period included Ziegler’s Grove, Mrs. Schleifer’s Grove, Thoren’s Grove, Gerstenberger’s Grove, and Fendt’s Grove on Oak Street.
Probably the most popular, was Durr’s Grove, a stand of walnut trees north of the Wakarusa River accessible by an early Main Street bridge or ferry. People brought their boats, hammocks, long tables, and always food to this site of the first CPA Picnic.
What Durr’s Grove had that the others didn’t was easy access from the Santa Fe Railroad Depot, which made it easier for out-of-towners to attend events. The Santa Fe even reduced fares for the 1901 AOUW picnic featuring team military drills and a merry-go-round for children for event-goers from Kansas City, Kansas; Leavenworth; Topeka; and Lawrence.
The Republicans, County Old Soliders and Sailors, Eudora Township Sunday School Association, University of Kansas classmates, Eudora city shool students—all held days-long festivities at Durr’s Grove owned by townsiters Charles and Henriette Durr. Sometimes gatherings started at 8 p.m. with moonlight picnics with dancing, games, and chaperones for single ladies.
Eudora’s black population also held get-togethers at Durr’s Grove. At their annual August Emancipation Day picnic, they barbecued pork, mutton, chicken, and fish. They also played baseball, competed in races, and danced to Bazel’s Band. A high point of annual event was the drawing for a roast pig and a roasted calf.
When Fred Moll bought bought the block between Seventh Street and Eighth Street on Ash Street, the black population took their Emancipation Day celebration to Moll’s Grove in 1903.
For many years, large crowds from Lawrence, DeSoto, Cedar Junction, and other communities came in August for the Emancipation festivities.
Also favored for social events in the early 1900s were Deichmans’ Grove, Rev. Walters’ grove in west Eudora, Neis’ Grove, Walter Bromelsick’s Grove just north of Eudora, Eisele’s Grove, and egg roasts at Schopper’s Grove.
Charles Pilla used his grove southwest of Tenth Street for invitation-only employee picnics. He also transported dozens of retail dealers from Argentine, Kansas, in carriages from the train depot for his events.
In the 1920s, Jesse Marley cleared his acreage on Seventh Street east of the city cemetery for picnics, Methodist Sunday School weenie roasts, ball games, high school track events, Seiwald family reunions in August.
Today these groves are long gone. Said Kenney Massey about Durr’s Grove, “I asked Bob Durr—he’s a walking history book,” about the Durr Grove location. He said it was on the north side of 15th Street [N. 1500 Road] and fell into the Kansas River.”
There might not be groves along the rivers now, but expect to see more native trees along the Wakarusa River public space area. Jim Kegin, Eudora Parks and Recreation, “We’ve wanted this for years,” about the two-year restoration project.