Friday afternoon, Dr. Lynn-Sherow and I sojourned to Clay Center, Kansas to drop off research material to the Clay County Museum. While we were there, we got a tour of the museum’s new location on the square.
As a Tennessee native, this exploration was my first to a Kansas museum.
Jeff Gaiser, Director of the Clay County Museum, took us on a personal tour of the 2 story space. From the ground floor with the genealogy and tax records to the top floor where Cathy Haney’s historic wardrobe collections rest-complete with colorful hat boxes, the museum is taking shape into a spectacular collection of interesting artifacts spanning decades of Clay County, Kansas history.
What stood out the most?
As a matter of practice, returning visitors are asked what item or activity made the biggest impression. For me, it was the Davenport Treacy Electric Player Piano. More electric player pianos were manufactured in the U.S. from 1900 to 1930 than any other single type of piano. The perforated paper roll inserts above the keyboard and large pumping pedals operated by the motor below the keyboard create a vacuum, pulling the air through the holes in the paper and cuing the piano which notes to play.
If you look closely, on the left side of the perforated paper, you can see the words to the song playing. Millions of these perforated musical rolls were produced and sold.
…Now, that’s some snazzy karaoke!
These electric player pianos vanished when replaced by the phonograph and radio as a more affordable means of entertainment in American homes during the Great Depression. How exciting to see one in person.
You can visit the Clay County Historical Museum’s website to find out more about their collections, genealogy resources, and hours of operations at https://www.claycomuseum.com/
If you get the opportunity to visit, drop by the Tasty Pastry on the square. The donuts are amazing.
I am excited for future field trips and opportunities to explore rural Kansas history.