Future, Present, and Past

Our community has a lot to celebrate when it comes to history, and you’re welcome to become a part of that and help in preserving the heritage we share locally and across Southwest Kansas.

This is the weekend for the Finney County Historical Society’s Eighth Annual Southwest Kansas Antiques Appraisal Fair, for example. The fair is an event much like the popular “Antiques Road Show” program. This year’s show, running from 9 a.m. until as late as 4 p.m. today at the Finney County 4-H Building, is dedicated to the memory of the late Deb Davis, who volunteered many years as one of our appraisers.

Then, on Tuesday, we’ll host the sixth in our spring series of Evening at the Museum and Brown Bag Lunch history presentations, set for 7 p.m. in the Finney County Museum’s Mary Regan Conference Room, with information about local efforts in the 2020 U.S. Census.

Other upcoming free sessions include noon April 8, telling the story of Mitchall Runnels, whose beloved car engine has marked his Valley View Cemetery gravesite since 1927; 7 p.m. April 21, noting the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment; noon April 13, focusing on the history of Sabine and Calkins Halls; and 7 p.m. May 19, outlining the work of French Impressionist painter Claude Monet.

Also on the calendar is our 2020 Finney County Pioneer Awards, which will be shared by the Ensign and Harriet Downer Family and the Hendrik and Jan Rijfkogel Family at the historical society’s annual meeting and banquet April 25. Invitations are going out soon, in conjunction with the opening of reservations.


One additional activity under way now is the historical society’s spring membership campaign, offering the opportunity to join our organization and support the work that we do. The campaign is led by Mary Eves, a member of the FCHS Board of Directors who heads our Membership Committee.

Those who join can become as active as they like in programs at the Finney County Historical Museum, as well as events throughout the year. Members also receive a subscription to our quarterly newsletter, The Sequoyan; a listing in the FCHS annual report, a 20 percent discount on most purchases at the museum gift shop and voting rights in annual board elections.

Members can also count on advance invitations to events, programs and activities that celebrate history throughout the year, such as those noted above. Others include a once-yearly Evening in the Past history reenactment and dinner, which we’ll announce soon; the 11th Annual Flea Market Festival of Antiques, Collectibles, Art and Crafts, set for July 11; and our every-other-year Historic Homes Tour, conducted in partnership with the Finney County Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

There are also our annual history picnic and Historic Walking Tours of Valley View Cemetery, both scheduled in October; plus a holiday open house each December, with old-time Christmas carolers, antique car rides and the debut of another new seasonal museum exhibit.


Equally important is the fact that through your membership support, you earn the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping to provide year-round museum exhibits, which draw over 29,000 visitors annually; preserve a growing collection of more than 20,000 cataloged artifacts and records; offer year-round research into the past at our library, which responds to more than 1,750 inquiries in a typical 12-month span; and conduct an education program that served over 11,000 children and adults in 2019 alone.

Annual dues remain very affordable. Rates are $15 for individual memberships, $25 for families and $50 for businesses. There are also donor memberships of $50 to any greater amount.

Membership forms are available at the museum, where exhibit hours are 1-5 p.m. seven days weekly via our main entrance, located near the zoo walk-through arches at 403 S. Fourth Street; and office hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, with access at the north side of our building. The number for information is 620-272-3664.

You’re also welcome to get in touch with our Membership Committee leader, or any other member of our board, including Carla Algrim, Bryce Baker, Joe Burnside, Mary Ann Bennett, Mary Cervantes, Rosemary Corbett, Annette Dechant, Loretta DeLaRosa, Keith Downer, Elaine Garcia, Barbara Goss, Ray Heinemann, Dick Henkle, Bob Jones, Dennis Kleysteuber, Bill Stephens, Rhonda Stone, Tim Sturdevant, Beth Tedrow, Pat Veesart and John Wheeler.

We hope to see you soon, during our upcoming events or in our exhibit galleries. We’ll be watching for your membership form too, in case you’d like to become a partner in preserving Finney County and Southwest Kansas history.

Steve Quakenbush is the executive director of the Finney County Historical Society. He can be contacted at HYPERLINK "mailto:squakenbush@finneycounty.org" or at squakenbush@finneycounty.org .