Each week we’ll take a step back into the history of Great Bend through the eyes of reporters past. We’ll reacquaint you with what went into creating the Great Bend of today, and do our best to update you on what “the rest of the story” turned out to be.
This week in 1915, the national news focused on military activity overseas. Women were working to earn the vote, and in Kansas, harvest was underway. For the most part, it was business as usual.
Hard working newsies
Newspaper delivery by car has only been a recent development, driven by a change to morning delivery in the quest to be the first to deliver the news. In 1915, the paper was delivered in the evening, and that made it an ideal first job for young boys. A short item appeared reminding subscribers of the part they played in the formation of good work habits for these boys.
“A good many complaints at different times have drifted in about the delivery of the paper but as a rule people do not seem to be inclined to report delinquencies of the boys. The Tribune thinks a lot of the fine set of carrier boys it has but it isn’t helping the carrier boys nor The Tribune if they are forgetful and are not told about it. They work for service the same as any other person and the boy who gives the best services is likely to continue the habits as a man. If your carrier boy is not prompt tell The Tribune, if he forgets you tell The Tribune. It will help him and will give you better service.”
Long-sighted mail carrier
Perhaps some of those boys might grow up up to carry the mail later in life, as did Copley Chalfant. We found this story about him, and thanks to the research skills of Karen Neuforth at the Barton County Historical Society, we learned a bit more.
“Copley Chalfant came near losing one of his eyes Tuesday evening, says the Ellinwood Leader. While cutting some wood at his home a piece of the wood flew, striking the eye ball in such a manner as to make the outcome of the accident somewhat doubtful. It was first feared the sight of the eye might be destroyed, but fortunately the result will not prove so serious. The wound was very painful and Mr. Chalfant was compelled to take a layoff from his duties as carrier of route three for a few days. Louis Schrader being his substitute.”
After searching through census records and other data, Neuforth learned Copley “Cop” Dillman Chalfant was born Sept. 2, 1878 in Ohio to Wilson M and Mary Frances Chalfant. Between 1878 and 1880, the family moved to Ellinwood, where the father died in 1882. The mother then married C.M. Socwell and she died at Ellinwood in 1915.
In 1904, Cop married Pauline Anna Brewer at Ellinwood and they had five kids: Vernon, Cora, Louise, Lucille, and James. The last of the kids, Louise (Chalfant) Ferguson, died at Manhattan, KS, in 2010.
Cop died 18 Dec 1938 near Macksville, in Stafford Co. He was an Ellinwood rural mail carrier for 26 years, His first route was 29 miles long and his last one 60 miles long.
Officers raid Olmitz
Other boys would grow up to make their cash in more nefarious ways. Bootlegging was not to be tolerated in parts of Barton County in 1915. A Mr. E. Dunn found himself in hot-water 100 years ago this week when officers raided his establishment and collared seven men who would be serving terms in the county jail.
“The officers made a raid on Olmitz this morning (Thursday, Oct. 21, 1915) and brought back three carloads of prisoners,” the Great Bend Tribune story stated. “The officers, on arriving in Olmitz, held a court of inquisition in the hall over the Brinkman-Brack State Bank and the same was well attended. E. Dunn, who made false statements regarding the shipping in of liquor, made himself a lot of trouble in the trials that ensued, in that he got a total fine of $300 and 120 days in the county jail.”
He received a $100 fine for signing false statements in regard to the shipment of Liquor, and a $200 fine for selling liquor, and for each count he received 60 days in jail. Several others received fines for the same, and still more were picked up, charged and fined for being drunk and disorderly.
“The jail is full to overflowing and needs an annex. The sheriff has had 16 men boarding with him for some time, and the addition to the population is a big one.”
That wasn’t the end of the bootlegging arrests for the week though. Just three days later the story “Arrested Man for Bootlegging” appeared in the Tribune.
“Quarters at Hotel Brown are filling up and Sheriff Brown will have to find an annex if they keep coming. Deputy Sheriff Shattuck was over from Hoisington today with H.P. Lovejoy who was convicted of bootlegging and who was given a fine of $300 and a sentence of 90 days in jail. That ought to take all the joy out of that name.”
“A.R. McKeen and L.A. Carpenter of Hoisington were arrested Wednesday in Hoisington for violation of the prohibitory law and got 90 days in jail each. The officers got 22 quarts of liquor.”
Surely, the officers didn’t get to keep it.
We asked Neuforth if she would look up Mr. Dunn and Mr. Lovejoy while she was searching Chalfant for us. Here’s what she turned up:
“Except for the bootlegging reports in the local rags, I came up with absolutely zip-zero-zilch on E.Dunn and H.P.Lovejoy being from Barton County,” she wrote. “They must have fallen off the train and decided to take advantage of the hicks.”
There was no Lovejoy family around Barton County at that time and the Dunn families that were around weren’t up by Olmitz and didn’t have anybody with the initial E who could have been doing the bootlegging thing, Neuforth reports.
Thieves hit threshing crew
While the purveyors of alcohol and gambling did their part to take riches from the working man, thieves could also be anticipated, though not always thwarted. Imagine the dismay on the crew of George Duncan one October morning in 1915.
“Some person or persons last night robbed the crew of the George Duncan threshing machine of their extra clothes, and what money and other valuables they had in their grips. The rig is stationed near Heizer.
George built a place under the cook shack in which the men could put their grips and they have been reposing there all season until last night. The place was opened and all the grips taken and carried to a point about a quarter of a mile away where they were stripped of their contents and the watches, money and other valuables found were taken, and the clothes and grips all put in a heap and burned up. The crew discovered their loss this morning when they went to the cook shack.”
So, what exactly was a grip? We checked the Urban Slang Dictionary, where we traced the usage of the word back to the early 1900s. It was short for the term “gripsack,” described as a traveller’s handbag, which makes perfect sense. Picture an old-time leather duffle bag, well worn from travel.