Rock Creek Valley Group Interview on One Room School House Experiences

On November 5th, 2011 our research director, Dr. M.J. Morgan and one of our 2011 interns, Katie Goerl, conducted a group interview at the Rock Creek Valley Historical Society in Westmoreland, Kansas. A group of 20 plus former one-room school house students showed up to Goerl’s surprise. After filling out a brief informational questionnaire and consent forms, the fun began. Goerl is interested in learning more about the teachers who taught at small schools in and around Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee counties. The interviewees shared memories from their early educations and the discussion was a lively one. Classroom discipline was a topic that brought out many smiles and laughs. Many had stories of mischief and pranks to tell. They highlighted their experiences and explained how pulling pranks on their fellow classmates and teachers alike was an every day event.

  The line of discussion also centered on teachers’ daily lives and personal notes the former students could share about their former teachers.

These types of interviews are very valuable to the Chapman Center for Rural Studies. They are recorded, archived, and utilized by students as primary research items. An interview like this one is not only useful to the interviewer, but to future interns and Kansas historians alike.

We would like to extend a big thank you to Nola Wilkerson, the Rock Creek Valley Historical Societies Museum curator for all her hard work in making the interview possible.


for more information, please see the Rock Valley Historical Societies website at………–news.html



MANHATTAN — Question: What do the world’s first snowboard, known as the “Snurfer,” and Kansas State University have in common? Answer: Mack Scott, doctoral student in history, who works in the university’s Chapman Center for Rural Studies.

Still confused? Well, so was Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, associate professor of history and Chapman Center director, when she got a call last spring asking if she was interested in doing a digitization project for the Brunswick Corporation, the leading manufacturer of boats, marine engines, fitness equipment and bowling and billiards products in the world — and the inventor of the first snowboard.

“I got a call asking if we had the ability to digitize a large collection of artifacts and memorabilia located in nearby Clay Center, Kan. I was curious and I followed through,” Lynn-Sherow said.

A personal visit the next day to the Chapman Center by Brunswick executive Mike Schulz and collector Joe Newell was the start of an unusual public-private partnership that both sides have found beneficial.

Most of this backstory belongs to Newell, an entrepreneur from Clay Center. Born and raised in Clay County, Newell started collecting memorabilia and ephemera — according to Lynn-Sherow, a fancy word for advertising, catalogues and other short-term publications — at the age of 9. Fast forward 55 years, and Newell’s collection includes Brunswick product catalogues — totaling in excess of 10,000 pages — and more than 900 products and materials all centered on the company and its more than 165 years in business.

Newell’s fascination with the Brunswick Corporation did not stop at collecting. He has made the preservation and restoration of the company’s products his life’s work, particularly the restoration of historic billiards tables and back bars. The Brunswick name will sound familiar to anyone who owns a bowling ball or even an outboard engine today, Lynn-Sherow said, but Brunswick is also the largest manufacturer of pool tables — which were the company’s beginning.

Lynn-Sherow describes Newell as a walking archive on Brunswick Billiards and an expert on the products themselves.


“Just to prove his stuff, one day Joe took Mike and me over to the K-State Student Union to look at the pool tables,” Lynn-Sherow said. “Sure enough, all the tables except three bore the Brunswick label, and Joe patiently explained the models, patents and accessories of every table in the place — including the cues and cue racks. He further explained that the three non-Brunswick tables in the union were knockoffs, produced by a company that quickly went out of business.”

Newell has transformed his passion and skills into a going business concern, having restored tables for countless celebrities such as golfing great Jack Nicklaus, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and past and current occupants of the White House.

“He’s also restored tables seen in more than 20 historical homes, such as the Vanderbilts’ Biltmore estate in North Carolina, as well as a number of museums,” Lynn-Sherow said.

Preserving Newell’s Brunswick collection and utilizing today’s technology to both archive the material and make it easily accessible to the hundreds of people who contact Brunswick annually for information became a company goal. Enter Kansas State University’s Chapman Center, which is well known and regarded for doing digital histories of archival documents, material and products, which was exactly what Brunswick was seeking. A bonus is that Manhattan is near Clay Center, which meant that university personnel could easily work with Newell.

In exchange for fully supporting a graduate student in history for two years — Mack Scott — the Brunswick Corporation will receive a fully digitized archive of Newell’s collection when the company takes custody of it at its corporate headquarters near Chicago.

Using a sophisticated archival processing program, and with the help of a powerful new scanner purchased by the university’s Hale Library this summer, Scott, Petersburg, Va., and undergraduate Chapman intern Katie Jones, junior in History and English , Dodge City, KS, are now building a fully searchable database of images that Brunswick can use to track its own historical inventory, celebrate company milestones and direct the hundreds of inquiries it gets each year from both owners of historic Brunswick products as well as those people who are just interested in the company’s history.

“Being able to capture and preserve this rich treasure trove of Brunswick’s past is truly a rare and outstanding opportunity,” said Dustan E. McCoy, chairman and chief executive officer of Brunswick Corporation. “It is sometimes too easy to move forward and leave the past behind, but in doing so we can forget where we have come from and why we are what we are today. That is true for individuals as well as companies. What Mr. Newell has so graciously chosen to share with us is a part of our history and a part of our legacy at Brunswick.


“And now, through the capabilities and auspices of Kansas State University, many will be able to easily access this data and better understand the evolution and resiliency of our company. We are truly honored that Joe would entrust this collection to Brunswick and grateful for K-State’s guidance and assistance,” McCoy said.

Scott is grateful for the support that Brunswick has given him as he pursues his studies. “I’m thankful to the Brunswick Corporation for generously funding my graduate work,” he said. “Their support affords me the opportunity to work intimately with primary historical material and gain practical experience with the accessioning process. As a former collegiate football player and high school coach, I am excited about this opportunity to continue working in the world of sports. But I’m most relieved that the only hazard the brunswick collection poses is the occasional  paper cut.” 

To which Lynn-Sherow warns, “Just stay off that snowboard.”









Kathryn Jones is a senior with a double major in history and literature and a minor in French.  She will graduate in May and hopes to attend graduate school for a masters degree in applied linguistics.  She is moderately fluent in French and Italian, is beginning to learn Russian and Old English, and as part of her Chapman Center project, she will work closely with Welsh.  The project involves researching Welsh communities in Kansas and translating the Welsh-language remnants of their culture, such as headstones and poetry.  Through this she hopes to gain insight into the persistence of the “mother tongue” among these Welsh settlers in Kansas.  This internship is important to Kathryn because it allows her to produce original research through hands-on field work, an opportunity rarely afforded undergraduate students.  She has been interested in history from a very young age, having been introduced to the subject through the American Girl books, which she read avidly throughout her childhood.  She is excited about this semester’s project because it draws on bother her love of history and her deep interest in language.


Daron Blake ~ 2011 Graduate Assistant Profile

Daron Blake is one of our talented Graduate Research Assistant here at the Chapman Center for Rural Studies and is entering her second year of graduate school in the Department of History at K-State and her second year with the Center. Daron earned her BS in Environmental Studies from Binghamton University in New York. She is currently researching the life and work of poet J.S. Penney of Fort Scott, KS and working on her Master’s thesis about Penney’s place within a national framework of environmental literature and poetry. Her major professor is Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow and she works closely with Dr. M.J. Morgan as well.

Daron says, “My work at the Chapman Center has acquainted me with a wide variety of research projects. My main responsibilities are to assist undergraduate interns with their research and to edit and submit research papers to our online research databases. Working at the Chapman Center is helping me prepare for a career in research, writing, and editing.”

One of Daron’s favorite things about working at the Chapman Center is coming in every day to hear about a new discovery someone has made or a fresh lead on a research paper.

There are always multiple projects going on at once here and our people are excited about the research and the publishing process.

We are glad to have such a talented graduate assistant like Daron working for us.

Theresa Young ~ 2011 Graduate Assistant Profile

Theresa is a second year graduate student with the KSU history department and is studying environmental history under Bonnie Lynn-Sherow. She is a recent graduate of Washburn University’s history program in Topeka. When the opportunity presented itself for her to work at the Center she was delighted and thrilled to be working with such splendid Professors like Dr. M. J. Morgan and Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow on the Lost Communities Project. She will be working closely with Daron Blake on the digitization and building up of the Communities Database. She also edit’s the Center’s blog and manages the Center’s Facebook page.

Being brought up in a rural Kansas setting she appreciates the effort to keep small community’s memories alive at the Center. She is from Effingham, a small town in Atchison County, later her family relocated to a small Jefferson County farm near Perry Lake. Her master’s thesis topic she is developing is an investigation on the use of trees in Kansas and other plains states and how the use of trees evolved from an environmental tool, into an economic tool and finally into a symbol of conservation.

Last week she competed in KSU’s Research and the State,  a Graduate school poster competition and was awarded one of the top 10 spots. She is proud to get the opportunity to represent K-State at the Capitol Research Summit in Topeka on February 16th 2012 along with the nine other winners.

We are proud to have Theresa on the team!

Angela Schnee ~ Fall 2011 Intern Biography

Angela Schnee is the mother of three great children. This semester is her second internship with the Chapman Center for Rural Studies and she is already planning on sticking around for a third semester with us!!  She is currently a junior here at KSU, majoring in geography and minoring in history. This semester she is working on several projects for the center and will be assisting students from three history classes who will be writing profiles on “lost towns” in Kansas. Angela also is preparing a research project on the ice house located at Ladysmith, Clay County, Kansas. This project will become part of a larger grant project “Filling the Larder Feeding Our Families” that the Chapman Center is publishing next Spring. Her third project will be to add information to her Gatesville-Siding, Clay County, Kansas, paper that she wrote last semester. Since finishing the Clay county paper some new information came to light so she  will be conducting further field research and doing personal interviews to add new information to her previous project. Angela’s final project this semester will be to create a digital map which locates all the “lost” towns and communities in Clay County, Kansas. This is also a continuation of a project she completed last semester. The finished product will be added to the Chapman Center’s digital archives and will assist future researchers.

We are proud to have Angela on the team again this semester and look forward to seeing all her wonderful projects.