Blog by Dr. MJ Morgan
Research & Curriculum Director, Chapman Center for Rural Studies
Cathy Haney, enthusiastic curator and historian at Clay County Museum, left us June 21, 2016. She was spearheading a massive effort to move the museum from its location in an old hospital to a newly-acquired building downtown. Cathy, we will miss you so much! Dr. Morgan, Research Director, will especially miss you, for your openness and willingness to welcome undergraduate (and graduate) researchers was unparalleled.
As Dr. Morgan said at a June 27 memorial service, “Cathy never said no.” Chapman Center for Rural Studies faculty and students could call to the museum, make an inquiry, and Cathy was waiting with materials and sources.
Folders, albums, newspaper files would appear; CDs of scanned photos were available, genealogy collections materialized – and the right ones. Students could sit at tables with newspaper volumes while Cathy made on-the-spot phone calls to community members and those living out in the small towns of Clay County, setting up interviews. Her mind was a ready clearing house for all kinds of historical information, and she shared that so generously. Over the years, she probably supported the research of over 25 separate student projects.
The most intensive of these was the Broughton Project, resulting in the publication of our first book, Broughton, Kansas: Portrait of a Lost Town, 1869-1966 (2010). Underwritten and supported by Mark Chapman, this project took over four years to complete. It was based on forty interviews of former Broughton residents, some living in Arkansas, California, and New York. Without Cathy’s help, we would not have had a book. Like Mark Chapman, Cathy was born and raised in the tiny crossroads village of Broughton. Her family names of Harris and Scheinkoenig connected her to early settling families, and did she have the stories!
“My great-grandmother, Mary Catherine Harris – I was named for her – was still picking apples, up on ladders in her orchard, in her late seventies. She dropped the apples into her big apron. You couldn’t stop her.”
Cathy, you were so like your great-grandmother: vital, energetic, irrepressible, a lover of projects and history, interested in people, connections, life! Because of your efforts and interest, every semester, research classes make trips to the old Broughton town site. The Harris orchards are long gone now, but on these field trips, we’ll especially think of you.