And the winners are:
The top eight in the Kansas Sampler Foundation’s 8 Wonders of Kansas People were Amelia Earhart, Buffalo Soldiers, Carry A. Nation, Emil J. Kapaun, George Washington Carver, James Naismith, Martin and Osa Johnson, and William Allen White.
The 16 remaining finalists were: Amazon Army, Crawford County; Arthur Capper, Garnett, Topeka; Bernhard Warkentin, Newton, Halstead; Buster Keaton, Piqua; Clyde V. Cessna, Rago, Kingman; Cyrus K. Holliday, Topeka; Frederick Funston, Iola; Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence; Jack Kilby, Great Bend; John Brown, Osawatomie; Joseph McCoy, Abilene, Wichita; Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke, Bunker Hill, Ellsworth; Olive Ann Beech, Wichita, Waverly; Walter Chrysler, Ellis, Wamego; Walter Johnson, Humboldt, Coffeyville; and William Inge, Independence.
INMAN – After six weeks of voting, the Kansas Sampler Foundation announced the results of the 8 Wonders of Kansas People contest. Former Great Bend resident and microchip pioneer Jack Kilby, and Civil War nurse and veterans advocate Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke (who lived at Bunker Hill, Ellsworth, Great Bend and Russell) were not among the top vote getters.
"I was deeply disappointed," said Glenn Opie, a Great Bend resident who helped promote the Kilby cause. However, he added, the list included a lot of very well qualified people.
"One might think that the man who made the computer-age possible would be in the top eight, but the results tell us that his name is relatively unknown in his home state," said foundation director Marci Penner of Kilby.
The top eight, in alphabetical order, are:
• Amelia Earhart was the first woman aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other aviation records but disappeared in a record-setting attempt around the equator in 1937. 1897-1937. Atchison.
• Buffalo Soldiers were members of an all-black regiment in the U.S. Army. The first unit to be given the name Buffalo Soldiers, the 10th Cavalry, was formed on Sept. 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth.
• Carry A. Nation was a hatchet-wielding crusader in the early 1900s and part of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union campaign to prohibit alcohol. 1846-1911. Medicine Lodge, Kiowa.
• Emil J. Kapaun, a priest and military chaplain is being considered by the Vatican for sainthood because of his exemplary service and dedication while being held in a Korean prisoner of war camp in 1950-1951. 1916-1951. Pilsen.
• George Washington Carver, an agri-scientist, botanist, educator, humanitarian, and inventor, was best known for discovering hundreds of uses for peanuts, soybean, sweet potatoes, and pecans and for developing crop-rotation methods. 1864-1943. Minneapolis, Beeler.
• James Naismith was the man who invented basketball and started the University of Kansas basketball program in 1898. 1861-1939. Lawrence.
• Martin and Osa Johnson were pioneering wildlife filmmakers, photographers, authors, and explorers who traveled to the exotic realms of Africa, Borneo, and the South Seas recording cultures (that no longer exist). 1884-1937; 1894-1953. Chanute.
• William Allen White, known as the "Sage of Emporia," from defending the 1st Amendment to fighting the Ku Klux Klan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor was the primary voice of the American heartland for almost five decades. 1868-1944. Emporia.
Thirteen thousand online and paper ballot votes from every state in the union determined the outcome.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was not eligible for the People contest because he was already chosen to be one of the overall 8 Wonders of Kansas.
Foundation director Marci Penner said, "The results show a colorful range of people that have called Kansas home. There were quite a number of lesser known people on the list and we hope that the contest has helped the public learn more about who we are as a state."
The People contest is the last in a series of contests organized by the Kansas Sampler Foundation to encourage travel in Kansas and to educate the public about the Architecture, Art, Commerce, Cuisine, Customs, Geography, History and People of Kansas. Part of the contest criteria was that the nominee be connected with something to see. The contest that kicked-off the series in June 2007 featured the overall 8 Wonders of Kansas. To see all contest results and learn more about each entry, go to www.8wonders.org.
In the course of the three-year effort, more than 103,000 people voted in the nine contests, including innumerable schools; and more than a million dollars of newspaper, radio, and TV coverage was generated for the 216 entries. Presently, 1.3 million results can be found on Google for the contests. "The best part is that the tremendous exposure for this contest definitely increased the public’s knowledge about Kansas. Many of the contest participants reported a big increase in customers or visitors. It just shows the power of sharing Kansas news in a way that interests the public," Penner said.
A photo guidebook featuring all 216 entries in the nine 8 Wonders of Kansas contests will debut next April at the grand opening reception for the 8 Wonders exhibit at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene.
"From a high-flying aviatrix to a cross-bearing chaplain, this list shows the range of talents that Kansas helped nurture and produce," Penner said.
"The public should use these results as a starter list about the many interesting people to learn about in Kansas," she said. "There is something to go see for all 24 finalists. Go, learn, and you’ll continually be amused and impressed with the Kansas story. There is nothing dull about us."
Though some of these people didn’t live in Kansas a long time, Penner said they played a significant role in the shaping of the state and nation.