September. The month when autumn air cools the Flint Hills and the Kansas State Fair inspires and entertains. This year, it is also the month of Pioneer Bluff’s Flavors of the Flint Hills fundraiser which highlighted the unique Chapman Center for Rural Studies and Pioneer Bluffs partnership.
“History is depicted in many ways…I can recite the heartfelt words of Henry Rogler, but I cannot recreate the experience of life at the ranch,” Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, Executive Director of the Chapman Center and keynote speaker, said regarding the importance of the Center/Bluff partnership.
As the Chapman Center creates a digital archive of the Pioneer Bluffs/Rogler Ranch rich recorded history of photos, letters, and ranch documents, Pioneer Bluffs’ staff engage visitors in the south wind passing through the windmill, walk among the grounds, the whistle of nearby trains, and “smell of spring grass…and spring burn.”
Since last Spring, Chapman Center interns and staff have worked carefully to organize, preserve, and digitally archive the physical history of the Rogler family – homesteaders of what is now Pioneer Bluffs. This archival project has included scrapbooks, mementos, letters, maps, photos, and ranch documents which illustrate the spirited life of the Roglers and their contribution to the agricultural heritage of the Flint Hills and State.
Included in the papers are letters home to sweethearts from college students like Maud Sauble. She wrote to her future husband, Henry, he would have to wait to marry until she had graduated from Kansas State Agricultural College (KSAC). Investigation revealed the entire Rogler family attended what is now Kansas State University (formerly KSAC) which speaks to the role land grant colleges had in the history of ranching and farming.
Students in Dr. Lynn-Sherow’s Spring 2015 Public History class also researched and created a self-guided walking-tour brochure for Pioneer Bluffs visitors (Pioneer Bluffs’ Walking Tour Brochure (PDF). This resource further invites ranch guests to step into history preserved and alive – a key factor in building understanding and engagement – a sense of place.
“This is a history that fills our senses, touches our hearts, and ruffles our hair,” Lynn-Sherow said of Pioneer Bluffs’ prairie heritage education and exploration farmstead.