Adams’ Collection Research Honors Family of Veterans

Chapman Center Intern Jessica Hermesch with the collection donated by General Adams

Chapman Center Intern Jessica Hermesch with the collection donated by General Adams

Thanks to a generous donation from Brigadier General Bruce Adams (Ret.), Hale Library Special Collections at Kansas State University is now home to a collection of military records, letters, and documents that trace the military and family history of George Adams, Sr., George Adams, Jr., and Bruce Adams.

With the death of his own father, General Bruce Adams saw that the passing of family members creates an impassable barrier, and he believes it is critical to begin the recording process of a complex story while the memories are still accessible. As part of that process, early this year Chapman Center Director Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow interviewed General Adams about the collection and his rich family history.

This past summer, returning intern, Jessica Hermesch, began working with the collection in the University archives to build a narrative of the family history, beginning with the service of George Adams, Sr., in World War I. Jessica has sorted through dozens of documents chronicling George Sr.’s career as a Corporal in K Company, with the 140th Infantry Regiment in World War I. The 140th, as a part of the 35th Infantry Division, took part in combat operations in the Muese-Argonne offensive. George Sr. also trained with the 353rd Infantry Regiment at Camp Funston, a garrison at Fort Riley.

The contents of George Adams, Sr.'s wallet that he carried in France, 1917, which includes French currency, Army registration card, and a deck of cards that George passed down to his son.

The contents of George Adams, Sr.’s wallet that he carried in France, 1917.

Jessica’s research focuses on the patriotism passed from Adams father to son. She hopes to construct a narrative chronicling how values were passed from George Sr. to George Jr., who flew as a reconnaissance pilot in World War II. Her work prepares for future research on George Jr.’s record in WWII as well as General Adams’ military service. Both George Adams Jr. and General Adams attended Kansas State University and have deep connections to the University, including an Army ROTC scholarship.

Jessica pulls out the deck of cards. George carried this deck through France during World War I.

Jessica pulls out the deck of cards. George carried this deck through France during World War I.

One of the special items featured in the Adams Collection is the wallet that George Adams Sr. carried through France during World War I. The contents include currency, both French (Un Franc) and German (Eine Rentenmark).

At the top of the photo (left) is George Sr.’s Army registration card and a miniature deck of cards. George Sr. passed the cards to his son, George Jr., who then passed them to his son, General Bruce Adams. George Sr. received the cards in 1917 before he left for Europe. General Bruce Adams was presented with the cards in 1998.

Jessica sorts through the contents of George's wallet, examining his registration card.

Jessica sorts through the contents of George’s wallet, examining his registration card.

Jessica, whose family has its own military record, is interested in comparing how different families experienced the military. Jessica’s great uncle served in World War II and his father before him in World War I.

“The Adams Collection fascinates me because most of what I’ve learned about military history is the big picture and strategic story, but this has given me a chance to examine the individual lives of soldiers.”
– Jessica Hermesch, Chapman Center Intern

The Adams also resided for a period in Seneca, Kansas, Jessica’s hometown. According to Jessica, this shared location makes the connection to the Adams Collection even more interesting for her.

Jessica examines documents containing George Sr.'s promotion to Corporal and his Honorable Discharge forms

Jessica examines documents containing George Sr.’s promotion to Corporal and his Honorable Discharge forms

Michael Spachek, Jessica’s colleague, contributed a war diary belonging to his great-grandfather from his own family collection. She uses the diary to offer context for her work on World War I and to learn more about the life of soldiers in Europe. Jessica’s research, planned for completion in early 2015, and the Adams Collection both seek to honor this country’s veterans, past and present.

Undergraduate Research Experience

Six months of research pay off! 

MJ Morgan and students presented to an interested audience at the High Plains Museum on October 18. Attendees represented  Northwest Kansas Technical College, Goodland City Commissioners, Sherman County Commissioners, the Goodland Morning Radio program, Goodland public library, local ranchers and farmers; Goodland business owners, and new arrivals to the town as well as long-time residents.

After the talk, there were requests for the highlights, maps, and photos to be made available in a small publication.  Dr. Morgan’s presentation,  “Goodland, Kansas: A Central Place Phenomenon, 1887-2014,” was funded by a Kansas Humanities Council grant last spring. This has proven a wonderful opportunity for KSU students to become involved in an area of Kansas that has received little attention from universities and researchers.

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The Good Land: Chapman Center Students Visit the High Plains!

The Goodland Identity Project: June –  October, 2014

A western Kansas landscape by Jennifer Milnes

A western Kansas landscape by Jennifer Milnes

An art student with a love of landscape photography, an agricultural business major, a graduate student in women’s studies and public history, and a GIS grad student specialist from the geography department:  these talented students have tackled the far western town of Goodland, county seat of Sherman County.   Since early June, they have worked hard to create materials for a Town Hall Meeting at Goodland on October 18.  Funded by the Kansas Humanities Council, the Town Hall Meeting is a collaboration with the High Plains Museum in Goodland. It will bring townspeople together to learn about Goodland identity, historic and present-day, and to create an action plan for the future. As the humanities representative for the grant, M.J. Morgan, Research Director here, decided to invite talented KSU students to assist over the summer.

Jennifer Milnes and Will Lienberger grew up in western and north-central Kansas. Their feel for rural Kansas — its people, culture, agriculture, and landscape  —  brought a depth and reality to this project. Jennifer created a photo essay of Goodland on June 21, the summer solstice. Her images of the town, bathed in the high, lasting light of a western dusk, celebrate Goodland’s evolving identity, 1887 – 2014. One of the few western Kansas places that is gaining population, Goodland is part of the High Plains culture region, so far west it’s on Mountain Time, just miles from the Colorado border.   Short grass prairie, buffalo, sod houses and homesteaders created the stories of its past: but what of the future?  Imagining the future is part of the Town Hall Meeting as well. Chapman Center is proud to have contributed research and photography to this project.

Jennifer Milnes, Norton County, Kansas

Jennifer Milnes, Norton County, Kansas

“I was born and raised in the community of Norton, Kansas. I’ve been serving in the Kansas Army National Guard since 2002 and am also a non-traditional student at KSU majoring in art. As a first generation Kansan, I thought taking Lost Kansas Communities with Dr. MJ Morgan in the fall of 2013 would be a great way to learn more about my home state! Growing up in western Kansas, I wanted to be involved in the Goodland Project. Because of my love of landscape photography and American history, I thought this internship was the perfect fit.”

Will Lienberger, Jewell County, Kansas

Will Lienberger, Jewell County, Kansas

“I am a senior at Kansas State University, majoring in Agricultural Business. After graduating, I plan on returning to my family’s farm in north central Kansas. I will be the fourth generation to work on our farm, and my family is very involved with it. We farm around 3000 acres, mostly of wheat, but also use corn, soybeans and sorghum. My main emphasis on this project is to assist in the agricultural research on Sherman County tracts of land and property ownership, and also to look at crops, water sources, and soil types. I look forward to traveling to Goodland after studying the terrain and also to be part of the presentation.”

Katie helps the interns settle on a method for the best presentation of Goodland's history.

Katie helps the interns settle on a method for the best presentation of Goodland’s history.

Graduate students Katie Goerl (history), a former Chapman intern, and Tyler Link, a GIS specialist (geography), have also worked with us this fall in imaginative ways. They’ve assisted in image interpretation, caption wording, and map creation.  Here, Katie works with fall interns in designing the photography exhibit. Our new interns also joined in, interested to learn about a place in Kansas they had never been.

All told, eight diverse and talented KSU students worked on the Goodland Town Hall Meeting Project!  They brought their training in art, history, agriculture, public relations, geography, and women’s studies.  Most of all, they brought their curiosity… and a passionate commitment to Kansas.

Tyler's Map

“As a Kansan and history lover, I am so happy to get this opportunity.”
— Tyler Link, geography graduate student, GIS specialist

Changing Seasons

Please join us in welcoming the new and returning interns, as well as new staff to the Chapman Center this fall! In addition to the new interns this fall, we a new Digital Humanities Graduate Teaching Assistant, Kelly Dyer. Our new staff and interns will be bringing new life to our Lost Communities Archive and our K-State webpage, as well as increasing our presence on social media! You can check out the new changes to the archive here. We’re excited to introduce you to our new and returning interns who will be working in the Chapman Center this fall!

Senior, Haley Claxton (Left)

Pictured here (left) with her sister, Courtney, in front of the Claxton Fruitcake company in Claxton, GA, Haley is a senior History major and English minor. Finding out that there was a town that shared her family name was the highlight of her summer whirlwind tour of the South with her family! (Though it was named only after being told that the original name, “Hendricks,” was already taken, and there is much dispute about who “Claxton” may have been, it was still exciting for her to find a personal link to history.) When not spending time traveling this summer, she studied for the Law School Admissions Test. Haley hopes for a future law career that includes following in the footsteps of Indiana Jones (but in a business suit) to ensure historical artifacts can be acquired by museums so they can be more easily shared with the public. Along with reading and studying immense piles of books on presidential assassinations and public memory of historical events, Haley spends time as a member of the KSU Mock Trial Team, Arts and Sciences Ambassadors, and Mortar Board Senior Honorary.Haley can’t wait to get started on a new and exciting internship with the Chapman Center!

Returning Intern Jessica Hermesch, junior in Public Relations.

Jessica Hermesch is a junior in public relations with a minor in history and is returning for a second semester as a Chapman Center Intern. This fall, Hermesch is researching the Underground Railroad through Nemaha County, Kansas. She is also researching the life and military involvement of George Adams Sr., a WWI veteran with multiple descendents who have been involved in both K-State and the US military. Jessica is a member of the K-State chapter of PRSSA, and the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications Ambassadors. She also works as a Tutor Coordinator in K-State’s Writing Center. After graduation, Jessica hopes to work in the public relations field, preferable in event planning.

Michael Spachek is a junior majoring in history. He grew up interested in history specifically the first hundred years of the MichaelUnited States centered on the Revolutionary and Civil War eras and World War II. Michael’s interest in the Civil War took off in high school when he visited Gettysburg and Fords Theater in Washington D.C. Michael is in his first semester as a history major since switching from wildlife biology after taking a course on African American Kansas and being accepted as an intern at the Chapman Center. His research uses his experience with maps, topography, and historic map interpretation. After graduating Michael hopes to go to graduate school for public history and work at a historic site educating the public as well as maintaining and researching public history.

BlakeBlake Latchman, from Chicago, IL, will graduate this May with a BA in History. Blake is currently seeking full time employment after graduation, but with no concrete plans, he is excited to find out where he will land. Blake intends to study urban planning in graduate school, and hopes to become a city planner. Blake has a passion for food, travel, design, and fashion. This photograph with his pal FDR was taken in Washington DC this past summer over the 4th of July weekend.

Join us in welcoming our interns and new staff! You can continue to follow our work here and on Facebook and Twitter!

Public History in Goodland, Kansas

Fall interns Haley, Blake, Michael, Jessica and graduate research assistant Katie examine photographs for a public history exhibit of Goodland, KS.

Fall interns Haley, Blake, Michael, Jessica and graduate research assistant Katie examine photographs for a public history exhibit of Goodland, KS.

Fall interns recently worked with former intern and graduate research assistant Katie Goerl. Katie returned to collaborate with us, helping us to figure out the best presentation of a public history exhibit on Goodland, Kansas. Check our website soon for more about this interesting Kansas Humanities Council Grant. Summer interns Will Lienberger and Jennifer Milnes contributed research and photography for the upcoming October 18 Town Hall Meeting. All told, six undergraduates and two graduate students worked on this project, directed by Dr. Morgan. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more details on the Goodland Project!

Intern Blake makes a suggestion for placement of photos in the exhibit.

Intern Blake makes a suggestion for placement of photos in the exhibit.

Our interns and Katie settle on a method for the best presentation of Jennifer Milnes’ photos capturing Goodland’s identity today as a High Plains county seat.

Semester Wrap-Up at the Chapman Center

On April 17, Alumni Fellow Judge Patricia Seitz and her husband, attorney Alan Greer, visited Chapman Center’s African-American Kansas class. Judge Seitz shared her experiences at K-State and law school that shaped her career as a U.S. District Court Judge in Florida. She talked about the process of judicial decisions, legal precedents, and the role of the Appellate Court. But she also took the time to meet each student in the class. It was an honor to have her with us!


Judge Patricia Seitz and husband, Attorney Alan Greer, visited the Chapman Center for Rural Studies to speak to Dr. Morgan’s History 533 African-American Kansas class about issues such as the justice system and the role of the Appellate Court.

Blake Hall-Latchman speaks with Judge Patricia Seitz after her presentation.

Earlier, on April 10, students took their last field trip to the southern boundary of Manhattan. Standing on the flood-control levee, they viewed the fields and timber fringe along Wildcat Creek, the area historically known as “the Bottoms.” Here lived quite a number of resourceful African-American families, making a living from the river and the rich floodplain. The Bottoms disappeared after the 1951 flood.


The last field trip for History 533: African-American Kansas class in the Spring of 2014.

Using plat maps that clearly show the location of the small farmsteads in the Bottoms, students traced the route that school children walked to the Douglass School — crossing muddy fields, two rail lines and several busy streets.

Old Mills in Kansas

On April 6, Research Director M.J. Morgan gave a Kansas Speaker’s Bureau talk (Kansas Humanities Council) on the culture of early settlers and food production to a historical museum in Fredonia, Wilson County. Wilson County is threaded with the streams and creeks of three major river watersheds: the Neosho, the Verdigris, and the Fall Rivers. In 1880, the area had over 12 working grist and merchant mills, built predominantly by settlers from Indiana and New York.

One left standing on the Fall River below Fredonia is still beautiful, despite age and wear.

The Old Fredonia Mill, Present Day.

The Old Fredonia Mill, Present Day.

Though old, the Fredonia mill is still functioning today.

The Fredonia Mill once served a thriving community.










The Old Iron Club is vitalized through volunteer efforts of community members who celebrate the diverse heritage of their southeastern county. Leanne Githens, Secretary-Treasurer of The Old Iron Club, explains,

Quotation“In the fall, the Iron Club holds the Wilson County Old Iron Days for 4 days and we are host to around 2,000 school children from southeast Kansas. The children visit about 30 exhibits and working demonstrations of rural ways of the past, both farming and domestic arts. We love doing it and teaching children, and our response is very positive. As an organization, we are committed to finding ways to preserve the knowledge of the past and how things work.”

For more information about the Wilson County Old Iron Days, go to their website:

Advertising the Old Iron Club in Fredonia, Kansas.

Advertising the Old Iron Club in Fredonia, Kansas.

Chapman Center is proud to have contributed to this striking effort to preserve the history of Kansas!