Student Museum Musings – Carrie’s Favourite Artifact

Oshawa Museum Blog

By Carrie, Archives Assistant Student

When I think about the collection here at the Community Museum, I think about quite a few pieces off the top of my head. The clothing that was worn, the bedding that was made and even the pictures that were taken. The item that always holds my attention, however, would have to be the Spirit Photograph that was sent to Thomas Henry by his son Ebenezer Henry.

EE (Eben) Henry, 1828-1917; from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection EE (Eben) Henry, 1828-1917; from the Oshawa Community Archives Collection

Photography changes and evolves all the time, and it was no different back in the 1800s. Wet plating was one of the first ways to produce pictures in the 1850s and continued for nearly a decade before it was replaced by a process that involved silver-plated copper, mercury vapor and many other steps as well as different types of plating. Near the 1880s, when the spirit photograph currently…

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Legend of the Dog: A Dog’s Tale  


On the front lawn of the museum stands an iron, oversize mascot by the name of “Storm”. For a good number of years now, a story about this dog has circulated and has consequently become a local legend. What follows, however, is the result of intensive research through the LCHS files and personal interviews.

“Storm” actually began his work on the front lawn of a house that stood just north of the museum at the corner around 1865. The home located there was owned by Henry C. Keller, a son of George Keller, one of the founders of Leavenworth, who built the first hotel in town.

In 1967, more than a century later, Helen Yoakum, early museum volunteer and Society charter member, described the beloved mascot of the museum as “the iron dog, which installed at least 100 years ago on the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Marshall, served as a ferocious, yet kindly, guardian of the house during the residence there of the Keller and Cranston families . . . . the last owner, Eugene Burt, presented the dog to the historical museum where it proudly rules over a new domain.” The provenance indicated that the dog statue was ordered from New York to honor the dog that saved the lives of the two small Keller sisters in some sort of runaway horse and buggy accident. So, here on the museum lawn, the dog has stood since that time.

One will immediately notice that the dog has no tail. Back in 1965, it was said that the dog had lost it to pranksters one Halloween night many years prior. The tail was later found and re-attached, only to be lost yet again. When the house on 5th Avenue opened here as a museum, the statue graced the front lawn, with the tail attached, but as one might guess, it was soon discovered to be missing, once again. Attacks on the dog only worsened.

Not a decade had passed before vandals knocked the head of the dog off in late January 1975. With a monetary donation from a Keller descendant, Woodrow Odell, Tim Theel, and Carl Theel then executed an exact replica of the old iron dog, re-cast in Leavenworth and re-installed on the front lawn of the museum.

Along about 1983 a long-time resident of Leavenworth recalled her delight in driving down Fifth Avenue to catch a glimpse of the over-sized iron replica of the dog, and decided to write a story about it, interwoven with Leavenworth history, for a creative writing course in children’s literature.   After talking with museum personnel she began weaving the legend as she typed on an old electric typewriter she had used in college. Then, in February, 1990, while taking a three-day workshop on storytelling at the library, she again used the story and entitled it “Storm”.

With a desire to convey to children and new arrivals in Leavenworth the essential role of the Carroll Mansion Museum in preserving history, Donna Last, the author, also wanted to create an understanding that pets were loving, loyal and protective. She knew that people would drive down Fifth Avenue, just to see the dog, as she had done over the years.   Only a few months later, an article in the Leavenworth Times, actually submitted by museum officials, related the saga of the dog, merging a combination of descriptions from Helen Yoakum with Donna’s treatise.

The new account of the origin of the dog described the Keller family returning to their home at 409 Olive from a full day of shopping downtown. Packages filled a surrey drawn by a team of horses. Leaving “Rachel” Keller, a small girl at the time, in the surrey, the family carried groceries into the home. As the tale continued, the horses became frightened by the sight of a snake. When the dog saw the horses charging down the road, he ran ahead of the wagon and thereby stopped the horses by throwing himself in front of the team. He was instantly killed but had saved the child’s life. In his honor, the family had the iron dog made as a memorial to show their gratitude.

A few details of Last’s “dog tale” that has been perpetuated down through the years are not historically accurate. The Keller family did not live at 409 Olive (that was a different Henry Keller) nor did the 5th Avenue Kellers have a daughter named “Rachel”. And, a date of an 1892 accident is too late, given the fact that the Keller girls were mature women by then.

With clues provided by Ms. Yoakum, one can confirm the presence of both the Keller and Cranston families at Fifth Avenue and Marshall, then known as 308 Fifth Avenue. The Henry C. Kellers resided at that address for over thirty years followed by the Joseph Cranston family and descendants for over fifty years, based on information found in Leavenworth City Directories and Federal census lists. The Kellers and Cranstons saw the Carroll Mansion house occupied by the Fosters, the Taylors, the Scotts and finally the Carrolls.

As early as 1860, Mr. and Mrs. George Keller, with sons, Henry C. Keller and Alfred B. and one servant resided in Leavenworth. George Keller was actually one of the founders of the town of Leavenworth in the spring of 1854. He built the Leavenworth Hotel, then the Mansion House at the corner of Fifth and Shawnee streets. Early on, he sold both. It was his granddaughter, Cora Leavenworth Kyle, who was the first born female child in Leavenworth, on December 6, 1854. When George retired in 1866, he farmed land he owned in Springdale, west of Leavenworth.

In the 1870 Federal Census, George’s son, Henry C. Keller was enumerated, being a Deputy District Clerk and married to Julia M. Marshall. Their daughters were Lena M. and Bessie. Julia’s mother also made her home with them and they were then neighbors of the Fosters! In 1880 their neighbors were the Taylors and in 1885, the Scotts, followed by the Carrolls in 1895.

By 1900, new residents of 308 Fifth Avenue became Joseph and Sadie Cranston and children William A., Edith, and Joseph A. Their young servant was Lena Somers. The dog was still standing in the yard and “came with the house.” The Cranston children soon adopted the dog as a member of the family. With their friends, they often played on the lawn and jumped on the back of their “pet” for a pretend ride.

Joseph Cranston was the chief of police and also the proprietor of the Old National Livery and Feed Stables at 320-22 Cherokee. The Edward Carroll residence up the street then included Edward and his second wife, Mary J., and children Frank, Edward Jr., Ella, Mary and Lucian. They had two servants. The Cranstons remained at 308 Fifth Avenue through the 1920 and 1930 census until 1959. In 1930 only Ella and her sister Mary Agnes resided at 334 Fifth Avenue.

Vincent T. and Ida M. Ingersoll resided at 308 Fifth Avenue from 1960 to 1969. The house then stood vacant for a few years before it became the property of Cushing Memorial Hospital.

Helen Yoakum added that “Mrs. Cordelia Wallace Story of Chillicothe, Ohio, granddaughter of the first owner, was a generous patron of the Leavenworth Museum.” Imagine, maintaining a family tie to the museum on Fifth Avenue that has spanned a century of time.

Over the years, efforts have been made to determine an actual history of the dog statue. Cordelia Story, society member, had corresponded with museum personnel and spoke of scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings about the family, but never offered a family version of the story. A granddaughter of Mrs. Story, herself an avid genealogy researcher, could not clarify any family history nor legends concerning the dog.

Stories about the dog have appeared often in more recent local news articles, over the years. Once, a couple, who had moved to Leavenworth from Monroe, Michigan, were flabbergasted when they saw the dog on the museum lawn, recalling that Monroe County Community College had the same statue. More shocking to them, however, was that there were several other dogs of the same design in Leavenworth! Actually, when Theel Manufacturing recast the dog back in 1975, several were made and sold.

Queries have been received at the museum about the sighting of this same dog statue throughout the United States, to include a near twin in the Paul Newman movie, “Slapshot” which was filmed in a small Pennsylvania town. Often, a similar piece of folklore went along with the statue and usually was an event where a dog saved someone’s life or the lives of residents of an entire town.   Recently, the drawing pictured here was discovered in an old Zinc Animals illustrated catalog, manufactured by J.W. Fiske Iron Works in New York. They weren’t the only manufacturers of this style of dog though. J. L. Mott of New York called their dog the “Firehouse Dog”, of an identical design.

Finally, in the late winter of 2012, descendants of Henry C. Keller visited the museum and related a family story of a dog saving a child in a runaway horse and buggy accident. Details were not known, since it was told by the grandfather to a child sitting on his knee during his growing up years, but it gives credence to the lore, long passed down through the years, that indeed, the statue was purchased as a memorial to a dog who gave its life in the protection of the family. The earlier mentioned Last story therefore is correct in its basic premise of the dog’s actions.

The Keller residence at 308 Fifth Avenue no longer exists and the location is now part of the parking lot for Cushing Memorial Hospital. But, the replica of the dog figure on the front lawn of the museum still stands as a lasting symbol of a romantic past of the Keller and Cranston families of Leavenworth and will continue to stand guard, despite the absence of its tail!

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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Leavenworth County Historical Society Celebrates 60 Years!

IMG_1763The tradition of celebrating a 60th anniversary came into popularity after Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee.  The color associated with the 60th anniversary is diamond white.  “Diamond” comes from the Greek word “adamas” which means unconquerable and enduring.

The Leavenworth County Historical Society was established 60 years ago in the Centennial year of the founding of the City of Leavenworth, back in 1954.  The impetus for the formation of an historical society was the realization that many historically significant buildings and sites were gradually disappearing from the landscape.  The thought of forming a historical society in Leavenworth, however, was not a new one.

A 1905 article appeared in The Leavenworth Post, lamenting the razing of the trading post of Major Robert Wilson, built in 1844,  out in Salt Creek Valley.  It was noted that on June 10, 1854, the first squatters’ meeting in the territory of Kansas was held in that structure.

“There is no county in the state that possesses more historical associations and landmarks.  Almost every day there is being obliterated some old landmark or relic that should have been preserved as mementoes of the earliest period in our county’s history.  Almost every day some old settler is passing away and taking with him to the grave a fund of valuable reminiscence that could have been preserved for posterity and the future historian.”

Of course, the suggestion was not immediately heeded, for reasons unknown, until the “seed” was again planted by Robert Nebrig, Director of the Leavenworth Parks and Recreation Dept., when in July, 1951, he announced his hope to establish a group of citizens, representing area organizations, who could eventually form a “Greater Leavenworth Historical Society”.  He and his department were attempting to gather information listing sites with historical importance in Leavenworth.   “We hope that the historical society, if we can establish it, will later see fit to identify historical locations here with markers.”

Three years later, Nebrig’s vision began to materialize when the Kiwanis Club, of which Nebrig was a member, announced their sponsorship of a historic essay contest in order to garner public interest in the organization of a historical society for Leavenworth.  Well before the contest deadline, the Leavenworth County Historical Society was organized, on December 6, 1954, in the Municipal Hall Court Room, on the second floor of City Hall.  A slate of officers was elected and a constitution adopted.  Forty-four members signed on that night and by the end of 1955, charter memberships numbered 115.  The roster contained names familiar as contributors to local history:  D.R. Anthony III, editor and owner of The Leavenworth Times; Miss Mary Ellen Everhard, photographer; Nettie Hartnett, for whom the school was named; and others representing old Leavenworth families:  Baum, Catlin, Collard, Cory, Crancer, Feller, Lange, Tullock, and our own Miss Ella Carroll. 

The original statement of purpose of the Society was “to discover and preserve for posterity as much accurate information as possible about Leavenworth City and County, to encourage pride in the achievements of Leavenworth pioneers who made significant contributions to the conquest  of the west and the building of a united nation, to stimulate loyalty on the part of present citizens of the community and its potential progress, and to advertise the City and County of Leavenworth in such a way as to create national and international interest in the most significant region of Kansas.”

Nebrig’s dream of marking historical locations was also taking place in Leavenworth County as Society quarterly meetings were held at City Hall.    However, it was quickly realized that in order to “discover and preserve” it naturally follows that a place is needed to store collected information and artifacts.  It became the primary focus of the Society, early on, to seek a proper location for a museum.  Members searched, in earnest over the next several years.  The public library, then located at the Carnegie, offered use of their auditorium on the second floor as well as a small workroom and limited space for displays and storage of Society gifts and property.  The offer was accepted and the Society held quarterly meetings there, until it was decided to expand the gatherings by including dinner, usually at the new Cody Hotel.

In 1959 the Society was invited to set up displays of rooms typical of the first fifty years of pioneer life in Leavenworth, within the expanded Fort Leavenworth Museum.  Five rooms were assembled in the west section of Andrews Hall and included a country store, a bedroom, kitchen, school room, and a parlor.  Committees, made up of representatives from various service organizations in Leavenworth, under the direction of the Society, furnished the rooms. This venture proved to be very popular and continued for five years, until Ella Carroll announced, on June 16, 1964, the munificent gift of her 16-room Victorian home to the Society for use as a museum. 

Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014 marks the actual 60th anniversary date of the Leavenworth County Historical Society.   The membership and invited dignitaries will mark this signifcant milestone with a reception at the museum, on December 6th, from 5 to 7pm, at which time a Proclamation will be read from Mayor Priesinger, proclaiming the date as Leavenworth County Historical Society Day.  The Society also marked  their 50th year of their ownership of the Edward Carroll House, earlier this year.   The house is listed on the National and State of Kansas Historic Registry.

The public is encouraged to share memories and memorabilia of Leavenworth County people and places with the Society, who continues to discover, collect, preserve, and share the rich history of our community.  An invitation is also extended to visit the Carroll Mansion Museum which, in itself, is a noteworthy piece of Leavenworth history, set in a Victorian atmosphere at 1128 Fifth Avenue.  Hours are 10:30am to 4:30pm Tuesday through Saturday and closed major holidays and during inclement weather. For the Christmas holidays, the museum will be closed from December 21, to reopen on January Tuesday, January 6, 2015.  Membership in the Society is open to the public.   Phone: 682-7759, email:; Web:

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2014 Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour


The 23rd Annual Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour is scheduled for Sunday, December 14, 2014 from 1pm to 7pm.   As in past years, the tour headquarters will be at the Carroll Mansion Museum, 1128 Fifth Avenue, home of the Leavenworth County Historical Society. The museum will open at 11am for tour goers to pick up their tickets and view the house, decorated for the holidays and which features a special WWI exhibit this year. The museum’s Victorian Gift Shoppe will also be open; holiday breads will be available for sale in the kitchen and live entertainment is scheduled throughout the day.

Carroll Mansion by Zohner

While Leavenworth history abounds in each of the stops on this year’s tour, the Christmas theme is always the highlight.   From the very grand mansions to a simple cottage for a Leavenworth laborer, the tour goer will enjoy a cross-section of vintage Leavenworth homes dressed in holiday luxury. Six private residences are on the tour as well as the First Missionary Baptist Church at 800 W. 7th St. and the Leavenworth High School, 2012 Tenth Avenue, both of which are celebrating milestone anniversaries. The charter for the church was granted in 1874, one hundred forty years ago, which established it as the First Missionary Baptist and now oldest Baptist church in the state of Kansas.


Leavenworth High School commemorates the 150th anniversary since their founding. An early superintendent’s report noted that the high school was begun as an experiment but had no graduates. Examinations were held and many students were graded lower than expected, prompting a general displeasure among students and parents with the faculty, who subsequently found themselves unemployed. Finally, by 1871, Leavenworth High graduated a class of students, the first in Kansas. The high school open house will be from 11am to 1:30pm on tour day.

LHS south

Nathan & Mae Holman were once owners of the home at 2304 Maple Avenue. Nathan was a member of the Holman Family Nursery, whose custom was to deliver Christmas trees to city and Fort Leavenworth homes on Christmas Eve, first with a team of mules and wagon and later by fuel powered vehicles. The current owner of the home cleverly weaves her antique collections into her Christmas décor.


A picturesque piece of Leavenworth history at 122 Spruce Street tastefully blends the ambience of the past with the present. Located one block west of Esplanade Street, the two story simple Victorian is situated on a corner lot on the fringe of the Historical District, in the Clark and Rees Addition. Built in 1885 by Benjamin F. Taxler, a grain commissioner, the home has undergone extensive remodeling, bringing back the quiet simplicity and beauty of the old house.


A stucco Italianate at 1021 S. 5th Street was built in 1859, where one of the more famous residents of Leavenworth lived, H. Miles Moore, one of the founders of Leavenworth and author of the “History of Early Leavenworth City and County” in 1907.


In the Arch Street Historic District, the Tudor style home at 211 Arch Street was built by E.P. Willson, founder of the Great Western Stove Company. Later, during the residence of long-time Leavenworth physician, Dr. Ralph G. Combs and his wife, Helen Schott, a tree planted at the birth of their first grandchild, as was the German tradition, was always decorated at Christmas time. Today, the home is undergoing a major renovation and serves as the “before” in the process.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A number of residents, whose occupations ranged from tailors and bookkeepers to painters and firefighters called 918 Sherman Avenue home over the years.  Some worked in a family business while others were employed by the Great Western Stove Company in Leavenworth.


The vintage homes tour would not be complete without a home on Leavenworth’s once famed “millionaires row”. Built in the Romanesque Classical Revival style the spacious residence at 307 North Broadway is a true delight during the holiday season. With a distinct French chateau flavor, current owners have incorporated pieces acquired in their world travels into the décor.


The homes tour is organized by the Leavenworth Vintage Homes Society in cooperation with the historical society, the beneficiary. The Society celebrates its 60th year of existence as a non-profit organization for the collection and preservation of Leavenworth County history. The Carroll Mansion, listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, has been their home for 50 years. For ticket information, call the museum: 913-682-7759 or e-mail: Homes are pictured on the website at For a donation of $12, advance tickets may be secured. On tour day, the donation is $17.

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SughrueWhen word was out that the Carroll Mansion Museum planned a special WWI exhibit centered around those who served from Leavenworth County, several members of the Historical Society offered their contributions for the display. The exhibit, which opened in August and runs through December 20, highlights more than 100 photographs of soldiers from Leavenworth County as well as an array of war relics, including those on loan from local collectors, John Reichley and Jason Claire. Aside from presentation flags, medals, uniforms, discharge papers, war posters, and scrapbooks it is somehow the personal letters exchanged during those years that strike a chord.

Contained within the current exhibit are a few letters written by soldiers to their families back home. Alex Sughrue addressed fancy postcards picked up in France to send short notes to his sister, Mrs. Mary Wahler, at 1218 Kiowa street. On December 2, 1918, he wrote:
“Dear Sister, I thought I would drop you a little Xmas card to remind you of the day and also that I am thinking of it too and I wished that I could be there to enjoy it with you. But there is a better time coming and it is not very far off. I am well at present and feel pretty good. Well good by from your ever thoughtful brother Alex.”
A collection of these postcards, donated by Sughrue’s daughter and LCHS volunteer, Joan Cooper, can be viewed in the exhibit.

On loan from Ed Wettig are newspapers with haunting war images carrying headlines such as, “American troops lacked training in World War, but not heroism” and “From all walks of life flower of American youth went into battle.” Ed’s father, Edward F. Wettig, was a self-employed book binder prior to his enlistment in 1917. He served in France after training at Camp Funston in Kansas. In a note to his mother he wrote, “Just a few lines to let (you) known we have just arrived safe and now I am somewhere in England. I am feeling fine and now we are about to go to the training camp. I can’t say much on account of the censor. Didn’t get sick once while on the ocean. Will write more later on. Write me soon. I remain your loving son, Edward”

While letters to and from the folks back home were certainly eagerly anticipated, an unusual and probably unexpected letter from the war times is that written by King George to the U.S. soldier upon debarkation in England. Every soldier was given an envelope with these words, “A Message to You from His Majesty King George.” Inside the envelope was a sheet of paper with the royal arms engraved on it. A facsimile of the hand-written message was, “Soldiers of the United States, the people of the British Isles welcome you on your way to take your stand beside the Armies of many Nations now fighting in the Old World the great battle for human freedom. The Allies will gain new heart and spirit in your company. I wish that I could shake the hand of each one of you and bid you God speed in your mission.” For those who have World War I memorabilia, these letters have become treasured as one of the most valuable souvenirs of the war.

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“My Brother, William F. Cody” to be Presented during Buffalo Bill Days!

CodyOver the years, Betty Ludwig has often portrayed a Harvey Girl or Ida Stover Eisenhower, Dwight’s mother, to audiences around Leavenworth. But, on Saturday, August 16th, she will be visiting the Carroll Mansion Museum at 1128 Fifth Avenue, as Julia Cody Goodman, one of the sisters of William F. Cody.

The year is 1926 and Julia is on her way to visit her son in Hawaii, first stopping in Leavenworth to call on old friends and acquaintances. This long-awaited portrayal will be a recollection of the days when the Cody family resided on what is known as Cody Hill in Leavenworth County. William F. Cody had four older sisters, two of whom wrote about their younger brother who eventually became internationally known as Buffalo Bill Cody.

The Codys were early settlers in the Salt Creek Valley and weathered the days of Bleeding Kansas. Mrs. Mary Cody was determined not to be driven off their land in pre-Civil War days, when her husband, Isaac was stabbed by a Kickapoo Ranger as he voiced his anti-slavery sentiments. The duties of farm chores, caring for their parents and the running of the Cody tavern and hotel, while young Bill was out finding whatever jobs he could to help support the family, often fell to Julia and her sisters.

But Julia would fondly remember the white-covered prairie schooners moving across the Salt Creek Valley like “land locked sail boats”, stagecoaches pulling six Missouri mules with eight heavily-armed men on each, and the view of the expansive valley they had from atop their “hill”.

Julia attended school briefly in Leavenworth and became friends with Molly Delahay, daughter of the famed lawyer who brought Abe Lincoln to speak in Leavenworth in 1859, prior to his election as United States President.

Described as “a beautiful young girl with flashing brown eyes and perfect peaches and cream complexion,” Julia attracted even the likes of Bill Hickok, well before he became “Wild Bill”. But, it was Al Goodman, a farmer in Kickapoo Township, she would marry and raise a large family with. They made their home here and in the Valley Falls area to later manage her father’s “Scout’s Rest Ranch” in North Platte, Nebraska.

The Saturday presentation is free and open to the public and scheduled for 10:30 am, August 16. A small Cody Family exhibit will be available for viewing and “The Cody Family in Leavenworth County” book for sale in the gift shop. Seating is limited. For more information, contact the museum at 682-7759 or e-mail:

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