First Impressions

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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.



So Long, Farewell, Adieu

On October 8, 2010, the Rural Telegraph began its life as a quirky blog about a small, hard-working group of students, staff, and faculty who would soon move into old Leasure Hall at KSU — the original veterinary science building (complete with a large-animal dissection table in a basement lab)!   We used discarded furniture and a bulky, antique microfilm machine. It was my privilege to be part of this adventure, Chapman Center for Rural Studies:  a research initiative in the department of history.

Now, CCRS is part of the College of Arts and Sciences and a nationally-recognized and award-winning undergraduate research center. From the rural history of Kansas to a broader focus on interdisciplinary projects about the region, the Center has grown steadily and creatively. We have gone digital in a big way, attracted many donors in addition to our founding donor, Mark Chapman, successfully secured national grants and recently, won a major university engagement award. This growth has been spearheaded by our director, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, who has shaped Chapman Center’s new identity quite amazingly. Bonnie does not give up. If one door will not open, she finds another one (and sometimes kicks it open)!

 As for me…I have loved every single minute I spent with keen, motivated undergraduate researchers. I have crawled under barbed wire fences with some, driven hundreds of miles on unmarked dirt roads of Kansas, led over 80 field trips to remote sites, sped away from an irate squatter with a shotgun (the truth!), hauled out corner stones from spider-infested church basements, encountered a seriously angry bull in a supposedly empty pasture….and basically, had the time of my life.

 Thank you, dear students and interns. I’ll miss you all more than I can say. But I’m off to new research frontiers (aka retirement) in Wisconsin. My KSU email address will be the same, so please stay in touch with your always-interested research director!

                                     Auf Wiedersehen,

Dr. Morgan

Across the Globe: Kansas to Switzerland

  CCRS Intern McKenzie Combes, graduating in May with a dual major in history and parks and rec (historical interpretation focus), visited Onaga Historical Society recently. She worked with Debbie Berges (in sunglasses) and Linda Tessendorf  to track information about an early women’s baseball team, the Onaga Bloomer Girls. Debbie and Linda contacted a historical society member now living in Switzerland!  He was able to send McKenzie some additional information about the baseball venue in Onaga — the stock fair grounds.

McKenzie Combes

Chapman Center intern, McKenzie Combes, with Onaga Historical Society President, Linda Tessendorf, and member, Debbie Berges

    McKenzie’s project this spring is on the interesting diversity in rural Kansas baseball teams, circa WWI. She is investigating African-American players and teams as well as female teams. Her project poster, as well as three other intern posters on bootlegging, settler-railroad conflict in 1870s  southeast Kansas, and a vanished African-American town in Wabaunsee County are on display in Chapman Center. Come check out this interesting research during our Open House, Thursday, April 19, noon-4, and Friday, April 20, 11-4.

What Goes ‘Round, Comes ‘Round: A Family Connection

Natalie Smalley and Zachary

Natalie and Zachary Smalley

Natalie Smalley and her son Zachary, from Altadena, California, visited the Chapman Center on March 12 to chat with Dr. Morgan. Natalie Smalley is the granddaughter of long-time Wabaunsee County resident Ethel Morgan. In 2010, CCRS intern Lorraine Reimers researched and wrote a study of Ethel Morgan, known as an important historian of African-American families and their experiences in this area. Ethel was also an expert quilter, honored in a 1985 Manhattan Mercury article by Mike Dorcey, “Quilting Stitches Ethel’s Life Together.” She also was the subject of several Wamego Times articles.

Lorraine Reimers’ work was one of the first CCRS projects on local and regional African-American history, a focus of the Center’s student research since the first internships were awarded back in 2009.


Find Lorraine’s bio-essay, “Ethel Mae Morgan:  An African-AmericanBiography, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, 1898-1989,” posted to the K-REX digital scholarship collection in Hale Library. Natalie Smalley and her son were familiar with Lorraine’s essay and wanted to visit the Center as a result.  In the fall of 2018, Zachary, great-grandson of Ethel Morgan, will become a student here at K-State.


The Chapman Center Welcomes Their Spring 2018 Research Interns

The Chapman Center introduces you to the Spring 2018 interns. Read on to find out more about these students and the research they will be conducting during their internships. 

Nathan AndersonNathan Anderson

My name is Nathan Anderson and I am a Junior Studying History and Economics at Kansas State University and I intend on going to Law School following graduation. I was born in a small town in South Western Missouri, Buffalo, and I was raised there for 10 years until my family moved to Kansas City. I was first exposed to The Chapman Center for Rural Studies in my history 300 class, that I was lucky enough to take with Dr. Morgan. Through my immersion in local Kansas History I was able to develop a paper that went on to be Published by The Kansas Kin. At Kansas State University I am a proud member of a couple groups on campus. I proudly serve as the chapter president or “A” of the Kansas State Chapter of the Delta Chi Fraternity, I am also a member of the Economics Club. When I graduate from K-State I want to be able to look back at the positive impact I made on the University, the local community, and my fraternity chapter. At the time when I graduate, I wish to attend George Washington Law School in Washington D.C. and pursue a career in governmental law.

McKenzie CombesMcKenzie Combes

My name is McKenzie Combes and I am a senior earning a dual degree in History and Park Management and Conservation. I changed my major three times before finally deciding to study something I actually enjoyed. That decision stemmed from my passion for history and a love of the outdoors. At K-State I worked as a processing assistant in the Department of Special Collections and played on the club softball team for a couple years. Right now I work as a tutor for K-State Athletics. Hobbies of mine include reading, cooking, archery, and hunting. This semester I am researching baseball in rural communities with special interest in a game that was played between a local Manhattan team and the Kansas City Monarchs.

Nate ErnstNate Ernst

My name is Nate Ernst, and I am majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Biomechanics.  I plan to graduate in May 2019, and then pursue a Ph.D. in Biomechanics.  I transferred to Kansas State after suffering a career ending injury at Kansas City Kansas Community College, where I was a member of the baseball team.  However, I have rehabbed my way back, and am now a member of the Kansas State Club baseball team.  Baseball is unquestionably my favorite, but I also enjoy playing disc golf, snowboarding, fishing, and long hiking and camping trips in the mountains, essentially anything that will get me outdoors!  I am not the typical Chapman Center intern, in fact, I have only taken one history class before this.  Last fall, I enrolled in Lost Kansas Communities with Dr. Morgan, and absolutely loved it.  The class was a blend of my two favorite things, research and helping others.  So I am thrilled to be here and continue to uncover forgotten history from the best state in America!

Bidding Farewell to Familiar Faces

It is with mixed feelings that the Chapman Center family prepares to say congratulations and farewell to the Center’s December 2017 graduates. Taj Brimmer and Bradley Galka will receive their degrees during this week’s commencement ceremonies, December 8th and 9th, 2017.

Taj Grad Pic

Taj Brimmer, a senior in Public Relations with a minor in Leadership Studies, has been with the Chapman Center for three years. As a student office assistant, she served as a social media specialist in promoting the Chapman Center and its important work to KSU and the community. Brimmer also contributed to several of the Center’s signature projects, including the Going Home Exhibit that garnered national recognition.

Taj’s leadership and commitment to excellence extends beyond her work with the Chapman Center. She has been a leadership force on KSU’s campus as President of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and VP of the Black Student Union. She has received several awards including the 2017 Dean of Students Most Outstanding Senior Award. We are so proud of her and wish her the best on her postgraduate endeavors.


Bradley Galka will receive his Master of Arts degree in History (his thesis “A Business Plot in the American Press” is a scintillating read). Brad has been a staple of the Center since joining the team in spring 2016. He is the Assistant Editor for The Online Journal of Rural Research & Policy as well as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of History.

Brad has accomplished a lot during his time at the Chapman Center. Recently, he contributed his research and writing skills to a World War II memorial commemorating the service and the lives of Riley County veterans. He was also an indispensable member of the Going Home Exhibit team.

Check out his Graduate Spotlight piece in the Archives:

INTRODUCING: Chapman Center for Rural Studies Interns

We are beyond proud to introduce our 2017 – 2018 interns! Below you will find a little more information about these amazing and hardworking students:

CCRS.DarrenIvey   Darren L. Ivey

Obviously, I’m older than the average intern. After a lackluster first attempt at college, I went on to work in the food industry, construction, factory work, and professional firefighting. I returned to college four years ago, and plan to graduate next year (I don’t recommend the 30-year college plan, by the way). My wife and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary earlier this year. We have three sons, two of whom have left the nest. The oldest is married, but there are no grandkids yet. In the field of history, I have written two non-fiction books, the second of which will be published in October. I’m also preparing articles for submission to Great Plains Quarterly, Montana: The Magazine of Western History, and Kansas History. In addition, I publish a “Historical Artwork of the Week” post every Sunday morning on my Facebook page ( that discusses a specific painting and the history behind it. I have ideas for 25 more books and three articles, all concerning nineteenth-century American history (Civil War, Texas Rangers, the Indian Wars, and lawmen of the Old West). My future career goal is to find employment as an archivist at a historical archive, hopefully somewhere here in the Midwest. This coming semester, my project will be a study of the civilian scouts employed by the U.S. Army in the Plains states in the 1860s and 1870s.


IMG_9890  Molly Black 

My name is Molly Black and I am a sophomore in History at Kansas State University. I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, but have lived in McPherson, Kansas for the past 11 years. I am an avid music listener, adventurer, and lover of the arts. My entire life I have been fascinated with stories: theatre, books, movies, etc. When it boils down to it, my love for history stems from my love for both stories and people. In the future, I would love to work in Public History. My dream at the moment is to work in a history museum in a large city. At K-State I am involved in the orchestra playing my violin, as well as taking private lessons. In addition, I am a part of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and am involved in the Ichthus campus ministry.


pastedImage.png  Macy Davis

My name is Macy Davis and I am a junior majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in mass communications and journalism. I’m currently serving as President of Alpha of Clovia 4-H Cooperative Leadership house, and I compete on the K-state forensics team. As a book lover, it should come as no surprise that my favorite hobbies are reading and writing, plus I spent this past summer as an intern at the Young Readers Center in the Library of Congress. As a western Kansas native (I’m from Scott City), I have an affinity for windswept prairie and sunsets over farm fields. I look forward to writing about western Kansas this semester as I work on a research project about sense of place, potentially through the angle of the moving window.

FullSizeRender (9)   Morgan Fluker 

My name is Morgan Fluker, and I am from Valley Center, Kansas.  I am a senior in Anthropology this year with a focus in Cultural Anthropology and Ethnohistory. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, writing, and going on road trips, especially to museums and festivals.  My project for the Chapman Center will be focused around the Kanza Indian tribe and their use of natural resources in and around waterways in Kansas. The project will be to produce an original map of the known resources and trails. After graduation in May, I hope to continue my education in graduate school focusing on Cultural Anthropology or Museum and Heritage Studies.