Museum to resume free history programs

The Telegram staff

The Finney County Historical Museum’s fall series of free history programs will begin Sept. 8 with one of two programs about a lost story of the Santa Fe Trail, and continue through November with a total of six presentations.

The sessions will take place at noon on Sept. 8, Oct. 13 and Nov. 10, as well as 7 p.m. on Sept. 21, Oct. 19 and Nov. 16, all in the Mary Regan Conference Room of the museum at 403 S. Fourth St., in Finnup Park.  Admission is free and anyone planning to attend should use the museum’s north entrance.

Both September segments will be given by veteran Western Kansas history presenter Howard Kohen of Copeland, entitled “The Epic Trek of the Mormon Battalion.”  

He will tell the little-known story of a specially-recruited U.S. Army battalion’s 2,000-mile march to California, including the portion of the famous trail that runs through southwest Kansas, during the 1840s.  The all-Mormon unit was comprised of more than 500 soldiers and their trek was linked to the transfer of extensive territory to the U.S. at the end of the Mexican-American War.

Both October programs are entitled “Arrowheads and Other Stone Artifacts,” and they’ll be presented by experienced southwest Kansas archeology consultant Chad Myers of Kalvesta.  Myers, who has spoken twice before at the museum, will share updates about archeological discoveries in western Kansas.  In addition, he will date and identify any arrowheads or other stone points brought by members of the audience.

“Railroads Across Kansas” is the theme for the two November sessions, with Museum Education Coordinator Johnetta Hebrlee providing the noon presentation, with a focus on the Finney County area; and Dr. Leo Oliva speaking at the evening session.  

Oliva is a prolific Kansas history author and retired Fort Hays State University professor who is planning to focus on the way that 19th Century railroad development impacted settlement, immigration, Native American life and the success or failure of numerous Kansas communities.   His appearance is possible because of a generous grant from Humanities Kansas.

The museum is returning to its pre-COVID practice of offering light self-service refreshments and inviting attendees, if they wish, to bring their own lunch or dinner.  

Though not required, masks and hand sanitizer will be available in the refreshment area.  Those interested in participating are advised to use their own judgement about precautions and virus immunity.

The lectures are part of the Finney County Historical Society’s Evening at the Museum and History at High Noon series.

The noon programs on the second Wednesday of the month, and the evening segments on the third Tuesdays.  The series is scheduled January through April and September through November.  The 7 p.m. presentations are sponsored by the AT&T Pioneers Southern Council.