Friday, March 11, 2011

Meade, KS: Spending my Birthday 100 Years in the Past

On Wednesday, March 9th, we knew, with predicted win gusts of 35 mph, we had an excuse not to get back on the road.

Instead, we decided to do some exploring in the little town of Meade, KS.  

The Meade County Historical Museum is said to be one of the finest in Southwest Kansas.






It is designed to depict the lifestyle of early settlers, letting you walk down a typical Kansas main street of the 1900’s.










There’s the General Store.





I was fascinated by the sample of items for sale.  My mother always marked the renderings from butchering ‘Good Lard’ when she put them in the freezer but, I guess,  I never realized you could also buy ‘Bad Lard’.  










It was fun looking around mama’s kitchen.  






Notice the little potty chair’ in the child’s room.  We questioned whether they actually used  that bed-warmer in a crib.  I know you want baby to stay warm but with hot coals under the mattress?  World has certainly changed a lot when it comes to child safety!


The doctor’s office made us happy to be born a hundred years later!



There were some interesting stories to go along with the different rooms.  For example, to go along with the jail house is the story of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde and their Highway Robbery at Meade Park.


One of my favorite pieces in the museum was this permanent wave machine.  I honestly thought it was some sort of electric chair until I red the captions.  And we think women now days go to extremes to follow fashion!


Not everything portrayed was related to life in town.  For example, the reconstruction below shows what the sod houses built by settlers out n on the plains looked like.  Those really thick walls could withstand a lot of wind and insulate well from cold and heat.






It was also really interesting to see a reproduction of what the inside of a covered wagon would have looked like.  I guess this would be considered the predecessor to the travel trailer!








One story I found particularly sad was on the wall below.  Meade was a central point for a lot of the buffalo hunting that went on in those days.  Apparently one of the largest kills recorded took place right here in Meade County when one hunter killed 120 head of buffalo in just 40 minutes.


Unfortunately, Meade was also a central in the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. (Picture below taken from photo in the museum).


The Meade County Museum is free with donations appreciated.  It is to this kind of non-profit organization that Ken and I love to donate, as they are truly in the work of feeding the spirit and enhancing the lives of those they serve, in this case through an appreciation of the day-to-day lives of our ancestors in a creative way that visitors can really step in to.

From the museum, we travelled a few blocks down the road to the Dalton Gang Hideout, considered Meade’s major attraction.  In this case, there was a $4 admission fee.   There really wasn’t a great deal to see here but the curator on staff when we were there was worth the price of admission.  He had tremendous in depth knowledge of cowboy/outlaw history in this area, and was also very active in re-enactments, most often playing the role of Doc Holiday.  Most of our time here was simply spent talking to him and hearing a lot about the various relationships between some of the famous outlaws.  For example, the Dalton Brothers were first cousins to the Youngers, who in turn rode with the James brothers.   Apparently it was not at all unusual for these guys to be sheriffs, deputies and US Marshalls one day and then turn to a life of crime when they got tired of getting shot at for little pay.  This was, in fact, the case with the Daltons.

The house shown below belonged to their sister, Eva.


It turns out that a tunnel had been build between this house and the barn some 90 feet away.  Today they’ve rebuilt that tunnel so visitors can actually walk the distance.  Back then it was nothing more than about 4 feet high, mostly dirt and a hodge podge of quickly assembled timber supports.  It’s thought that the Dalton brothers and some of their cohorts dug out this tunnel in only a few days in order to allow themselves access to the comforts of their sister’s home without detection.


My favorite part of the story is that the tunnel was never detected while Dalton’s sister lived there  and the owners after her moved in not knowing it was there.  They found out, with a shock, when a man suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere in the middle of the house as they sat down for the evening meal.  Apparently he did not realize this was no longer an outlaw ‘safe house’ and very quickly made his departure back through the tunnel, which they only then uncovered.   That puts a whole new twist on the phrase “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”!

Apparently, the Dalton brothers, four of whom were actually known to become outlaws, were never really hated and feared as we today might think of criminals.  They had somewhat of a ‘Robin Hood’ reputation, stealing from the rich railroads.  In fact, they’d never robbed a bank or actually killed anyone in the commission of their crimes until the fateful day in 1892 when Bob Dalton set out to best his cousin and “beat anything Jesse James ever did--rob two banks at once, in broad daylight”.  Well, that’s Bob and his brother, Grat, in the center of the photo below, with two others of gang, all shot dead when some of the Coffeyville townspeople caught on to the bank robberies in progress, and shot it out with the gang as they ran for their horses.  One other brother, Emmett, was shot 23 times but still survived only to be caught, tried, sentenced and given a life sentence.  He was pardoned after 14 years and ended up in California working as an actor and writing a book about his family.  (Picture below is my picture taken of one of the pictures in the museum).





While there’s  not a lot to see in the Dalton Hideout museum, there are items from the area that aren’t related to the Dalton’s, such as this two-headed calf, which definitely fits with our love of finding the quirky attractions along the roads less traveled!










As if,spending the day walking through Kansas history and coming face-to-face with a two-headed cow wasn’t enough of a memorable birthday, Ken was nice enough to put together a special birthday dinner for the two of us back at the rig.



He did steaks on the grill, along with grilled garlic/butter asparagus and rice with a nice bottle of Merlot on the side.








He even had a little chocolate cake and insisted on candles as well!


A very memorable birthday indeed!

Hugs, C


Nancy and Bill said...

Happy Birthday Cindy!!

What a great way to spend your day!

Debbie Goode said...

Enjoyed the post and all the photos...and "Happy Birthday"! You might be interested to know that we have a descendant of the Dalton's right next door to us in AZ. No kidding!

Gin and Syl said...

I'm glad I didn't live back then. That cake would have been much more work in that oven. Happy Birthday...and many more!

Jim and Dee said...

That's one place I put on our list to go. I didn't realize it had that much history. Thanks for taking us with you.