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South Town History
BCHS presents South Hoisington report to Hoisington history buffs
new vlc bev and lon--south hoisinton story
Beverly Komarek, director of Barton County Historical Society, presents a copy of South Hoisington: Stories from Across The Tracks, to Lon Palmer, president of Hoisington Community Historical Society. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Tuesday afternoon, history may not have been made, but it was passed on.  “South Hoisington:  Stories from Across the Tracks,” an oral history project that has been years in the making, supported by a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council, and contributed to by a team of historians, is finally ready for the public, and Hoisington was the natural place for it to make it’s first appearance.
The Hoisington Public Library hosted a reception where Beverly Komarek, executive director of the Barton County Historical Society, presented copies of an oral history project that has been years in the making to Lon Palmer, president of the Hoisington Community Historical Society and Pat Brown, director of the Hoisington Public Library.
The project required the team to record memories, recollections, and experiences about people living and working in and around South Hoisington.  On Feb. 24, the results of the extensive project will be presented at the Barton County Historical Society as another installment in the BCHS’s “Civil War to Civil Rights” program series. Prior to the program, the BCHS will host a reception for former residents and their families.
The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Ray Shultz Library at the BCHS.  It will open with a brief overview about the project, followed by background on “South Town” as well as observations and discoveries made while conducting this oral history project.  A panel discussion will conclude the presentation that includes the project team as well as former residents. The event is free and open to the public.
Founded in 1886 and incorporated in 1887, the City of Hoisington was formed to attract and benefit from the Kansas and Colorado Railroad, which would later become part of the Missouri-Pacific Railroad. In 1911, the Missouri-Pacific Railroad (MoPac) began construction of their Division Shops, along their rail line on the south side of Hoisington, to service steam engines running the route to Pueblo, Colorado. Until World War II, this facility was the largest employer in central Kansas.
To accompany and promote the oral history project, museum staff and volunteers have completed hundreds of hours of work that included:
— Partnering with the Hoisington Community Historical Society to identify resources and share information about working life in the community.
— Researching the families who made their homes in South Hoisington.
— Installing a display that highlights the Missouri-Pacific Railroad’s history in Central Kansas.  The exhibit features memorabilia donated by Tom Tanquery of Great Bend, whose father and grandfather worked for the MoPac as well as photos loaned to the museum by Phil Webb of Hoisington.
— Creating a blog to encourage public awareness and to explore influences on the community – everyday life, hardships (environmental and social) and illegal activities.
— Identifying new resources including photos, maps and related documents.

“The purpose of our project is to educate the surrounding communities of Barton County and throughout Kansas about the rich historical heritage of South Hoisington,” explained Beverly Komarek, Executive Director. The community of South Hoisington has nearly disappeared, so its history only remains in some former residents’ memories.  These first-hand accounts, straight from the sources that lived in this vibrant community, create a rich story.  It’s a story filled with details not only about the notorious but also the everyday – family, church, community, hardships, hopes and dreams, “ Komarek concluded.     
The project materials can be viewed at the BCHS and will also be available to the Kansas State Historical Society, Great Bend Public Library, Hoisington Historical Society, and Hoisington Public Library.