Victorian Herb Garden Vic Herb Garden Herb & heirloom garden

Victorian Rose, Herb & Heirloom Gardens at the Carroll Mansion Museum


Many local residents have probably toured the Carroll Mansion Museum at 1128 Fifth Avenue and taken a step back in time to the Victorian era of Leavenworth. But, how many have thought to walk about the spacious lawn of this historic property and discover another treasure lovingly cared for on the grounds?                                                                           

Tucked back in the northwest corner of the museum grounds, the inquisitive visitor will be rewarded with the delightful sight of the Herb & Heirloom Gardens, constructed by the Leavenworth County Master Gardeners. Planned in 1997, the gardens were completed in 2008 and received the 2009 “Search for Excellence” state award from the Kansas State University Research and Extension office.

Featuring kitchen herbs as well as heirloom flowers and vegetables, the garden resembles the spokes of a wagon wheel, reminiscent of the wagons that once rolled through Leavenworth on their way westward. Paths here are then outlined with 4,436 bricks recycled from the streets of Leavenworth. Specialty gardens within the spaces between the wheel spokes contain kitchen, cottage, salad, fragrance, tea, medicinal, butterfly, shade and heirloom plant varieties. Placed strategically throughout the garden are horticultural vignettes utilizing statues, garden art, arbors, benches, a water fountain, and an espalier apple tree.

The Ella Carroll Memorial Rose Garden is also tended by the Master Gardeners. Located in the oval center of the circular brick driveway on the south side of the museum beside the peony garden, memorial rose bushes can be purchased in the memory of a loved one.

Master gardeners have devoted countless hours in nurturing these lovely gardens. This past weekend they opened the gardens for viewing but due to the downpour Saturday morning, not many ventured out to take advantage of their guided tour and plant sale. Before the heat of the summer takes its toll, why not take a little time out from your busy day and drop by to see for yourself. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm for tours and the gardens are free for viewing. Come sit on one of the benches and revel in the magnificence of these Victorian gardens!


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June 8, 2014 · 8:57 pm

History Mystery Solved!

history mystery003On the evening of May 19, 1960, a tornado leveled the home of George & Gladys Stein of rural Leavenworth, leaving the couple without their home furnishings including a collection of family photos. George was the caretaker of the Mt. Zion Jewish Cemetery for 48 years, taking up the work from his father, Otto Stein, a son of German immigrant pioneers of Leavenworth County. Use of the home and adjoining 40 acres of land was essentially his payment. Stein had also been clerk of Kickapoo Township, held office as road overseer, was appointed a special deputy sheriff for Kickapoo as well as being named game warden.  He had married Gladys, a daughter of Agnes Bonskowski Cook Stanley (1892-1965) in 1930.

The Steins were the parents of five children. A son, Joseph Charles Stein and his wife Sharon, currently reside in rurual Leavenworth County. Both are now retired after being employed at Fort Leavenworth and are faithful readers of the Leavenworth Times. When Joseph finishes reading the paper, he passes it to Sharon. So, imagine Sharon’s surprise when she recognized a “History Mystery” photo, submitted by the Leavenworth County Historical Society, to be her husband’s grandparents, exclaiming to Joe: “Here’s a picture of NaNa and Punsa!” Joe had not recognized the couple pictured as Agnes M. Bonskowski and Joseph Charles Stanley, his namesake, but Sharon remembered the flower on the dress of Agnes from another photo she had seen in an album of photos gathered by family members following the 1960 tornado. Sharon called Joe’s only living sibling, Florence Rodgers, also a Times subscriber, who resides on the Stein Family Farm, and she readily agreed. The photo had been taken on the wedding day of Agnes to Joseph Charles Stanley, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth, on January 29, 1928.

As fate would have it however, another Times subscriber, Robert Holt, now a resident of Niagara Falls, Ontario Canada, thought he recognized his great-grandmother in the “History Mystery” photo and contacted the museum. Robert’s mother, Agnes Marie “Sissy” Stein Holt (1938-1990), was a daughter of George & Gladys Stein, and therefore a granddaughter of Agnes Bonskowsky Stanley, her namesake. Yet another interesting connection is that Robert Holt was the administrator for the Carroll Mansion Museum, home of the historical society, for ten years in the 1990s and was instrumental in obtaining the Everhard Glass Plate Negative Collection for the museum. The collection is comprised of nearly 30,000 portraits, taken by early day photographers of residents in the first 100 years of Leavenworth’s existence.

With the solving of this particular “History Mystery”, a little piece of Leavenworth history has been saved for not only future generations of historians and researchers but also for a Leavenworth County pioneer family.   Watch the Times for more “History Mystery” photos that remain unidentified in the photo collections of the Leavenworth County Historical Society at the Carroll Mansion Museum, 1128 Fifth Ave. The Society celebrates its 60th year of service in the discovery and preservation of the rich history we enjoy here in Leavenworth County. For more information, contact the museum at 682-7759, email: or visit their website:

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Voices From the Past Provide a Link to the Present


The Leavenworth County Historical Society, at the Carroll Mansion Museum, is a repository for collections of photographs, stories, and memorabilia of past and present residents of Leavenworth County.  Last year, the museum received a donation of an early 1940s scrapbook, assembled in memory of Bertha Mayer Renensland, a Kickapoo resident.  The donation was unusual, in that the scrapbook had somehow made its way to Louisiana, among the contents of a hope chest that had been purchased at an estate sale in Leavenworth.  Luckily, the new owner realized the historical value of the book to Leavenworth and contacted us!  

Within the fragile, brittle pages of the scrapbook were newspaper clippings, unidentified old photos, school programs, and greeting cards sent to Mrs. Renensland for every occasion.  As with many items that are donated to the museum, research was initiated in order to learn more about this Leavenworth County individual.  Within the museum’s vertical files the Renensland family was immediately located and filled in an extensive family chart.  Bertha Mayer had married, in 1897,  John Renensland, whose parents had settled in Leavenworth County in the early settlement days. They made their home in Kickapoo, just north of Leavenworth, on forty acres of land, where John made his home his entire life as a farmer and stock raiser.   Eleven boys and five girls were born of this union, out of which twelve survived to adulthood.  One of those children, Gilbert Renensland, was the caretaker of the Kickapoo Cemetery for many years, as noted in the March 22, 2014 Times article, “Q5: Respect and Resurrect”.    John Renensland served as clerk of the Kickapoo district school board for more than 50 years and as treasurer of Kickapoo Township for 35.  

Luella Baker, another Kickapoo native, who lived to the age of 101, fondly recalled the large Renensland family   . . . They would bake 40 large loaves of bread a week, and many pans of cinnamon rolls.  At one meal they would consume about 4 of those large loaves of bread, 2 gallons of coffee, a peck of potatoes (mashed), a half of a ham.  In their smoke house they usually had 20 hams and 20 shoulders hanging, along with 40 sides of home cured bacon.  They canned between five and six thousand quarts of tomatoes, fruit of all kinds, jams and jellies.  They always made 4 or 5 copper kettles full of apple butter every fall in the yard.  In addition, they stored Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, and buried cabbage and carrots and beets.  They were about the only family that raised their own navy beans in the Kickapoo community.  They made their own ketchup.  One winter they had 600 quarts of tomatoes and 200 quarts of strawberries…..the land that their grandfather homesteaded in the 1840s remains the last property in the area which has never been bought or sold, but has always been in the possession of the family from the time it was homesteaded. Their home was a haven for many people who came from a distance to the community.  When they came to clean off their graves at the cemetery, they knew there was a good meal at the Renensland home and that they would be welcome . . . . 

A drive out to Kickapoo reveals a Renensland road sign, regrettably misspelled, and at the curve in the road, a stand of trees is all that remains, marking the location of the old homestead.

Discovered in the museum vertical files is a 1980 news clipping from the Leavenworth Times noting a recent visit by Howard Renensland, in the home of his parents, Howard and Shirley Renensland at 1230 Spruce Street.  A “Google” search on the internet revealed the Renensland grandson’s current whereabouts so we were able to get in touch with him to not only secure the identification of the numerous photos we had acquired within the family scrapbook, but additional family information as well.   Having been a 1966 graduate of Leavenworth High, some may be aware of Mr. Renensland’s television and stage fame.  From a biography furnished by Mr. Renensland:  

Howard Renensland, President and Founder of [with]tv, is a career professional actor. He is a member of Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Actors Equity Association. Mr. Renensland has appeared in over 400 television commercials, numerous radio ads, and hundreds of print ads as well. He has appeared on and Off Broadway, on National Tours and Summer Stock as well as with The Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, The Missouri Repertory Theatre, The Cleveland Playhouse and The Dallas Theatre Center among others.On television he has been seen in Hill Street Blues, The Ted Knight Show, Family Ties, We Got It Maid, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, a number of Daytime Dramas and in the films Black Beauty, Batteries Not Included, The Wandering Muse of Artemeus Flagg, co-starring with Burgess Meredith and Friendly Persuasion with Richard Kiley and Shirley Knight . He was a Guest Professional Artist at Kansas University, Clark College, Case Western Reserve University, and Park College.  He earned a B.A. from Washburn University and an M.A. from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.  In 2008 he was honored  as a Leavenworth High School Graduate of Outstanding Artistic Achievement by the LHS Alumni Association.Since the birth of Renensland’s first child Victoria, who is a person with disabilities, he has actively advocated for her inclusion. He has written and spoken extensively on the issue of inclusion of students with disabilities from preschool through college. Most recently he and his daughter Victoria were invited by The Circles Network to travel to Great Britain for a two week engagement speaking to parents and educators. He has written a variety of plays and is at work on a memoir of his life with his daughter, INCLUDING VICTORIA. He currently resides in New York City with his wife Kathleen and daughter Victoria. His other daughter Olivia, is a graduate of The University of Chicago and is completing her program at Duke Law School. Upon graduation she will be working at the NYC Law Firm Cleary Cottleib.

Mr. Renensland informs us that he is always happy to talk about [with]tv and encourages all who are interested to follow and “friend” [with]tv on Facebook ad Twitter as “we will soon have a KickStarter Project to launch the project and put dozens of people with disabilities, and others, to work on the web and in Film & TV.”   


In visiting Howard’s website at, it becomes immediately apparent that the human kindness found in the Renensland family of old Kickapoo, lives on in their descendants.  

With a mission to gather, collect, and preserve Leavenworth history, the Carroll Mansion Museum is often a place where researchers of family or Leavenworth history visit to explore the extensive information gathered over the past sixty years since the founding of the Society.  Plan to visit the museum at 1128 Fifth Avenue, just south of Cushing Hospital or call 913-682-7759. Website:  “Like” us on Facebook  under Leavenworth County Historical Society.


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In God we trusted. In KANSAS we busted!


As the calendar turned to January of a new year and the 29th passed by,  commemorating the day of our statehood, we were reminded of the sufferings of our Kansas ancestors.  In their struggle to settle here, they were often faced with the lack of many of the basics of life that we now take for granted—the lack of food due to crop failure, lack of fuel to heat their meager homes, and the lack of money to procure either.  The Leavenworth County Historical Society is dedicated to preserving this history.  Many stories in our files chronicle the struggles faced by our forefathers here in Leavenworth County.   We marvel at the determination and stamina these pioneer seekers of land and freedom exhibited as they endured ongoing hardships.   While we are aware that just as many settlers left Kansas because of the very same circumstances, their stories are told less often.

Last fall a researcher came from Florida, tracing the history of the Stackhouse family, who had, at one time attempted to make Kansas their home.  As the story was told, William F. Stackhouse journeyed to Leavenworth around 1881 from his home in New Jersey.  His wife-to-be, Mary Ellen Shimp, at that time went from NJ to Illinois to visit relatives.  Stackhouse married her there and returned to Leavenworth, where three children were born, from 1888 to 1892.  At first, Stackhouse was a carpenter and made carriages at 725 Shawnee.  He also taught carpentry to prisoners in Leavenworth.  He bought a lot and built a house, then later bought a farm nine miles west of Leavenworth.  The Stackhouse luck then turned for the worst.  As they had nearly completed building their house on the farm, they watched from their covered wagon as a tornado destroyed it.  The next year, a drought caused their crops to fail.  In 1893, they finally gave up and returned to New Jersey. 

Years later, Stackhouse was honored as a half-century farmer in Bridgeton, NJ.  His story was printed in the Salem Stand and Jerseyman, noting that William, the oldest in his family, was born on the 25th day of July 1853 to Archer Stackhouse, the “village blacksmith” of Harmersville, NJ.  When about five years old, his father died, leaving his widow Charlotte and four small children facing a hard struggle ahead.  Charlotte died a few years later and the family was broken up, going to relatives and friends.  The article then noted,

“After he finished his education at the “Hell Neck University,” Master William, who was not quite nineteen found himself on the first day of April 1872, apprenticed for four years to R. M. Rocap of Bridgeton, NJ, to learn the mysteries of the wheelwright and carriage builders trade.  (The financial consideration for those four years labor was meager.)  After finishing his apprenticeship, the subject of this story, William Stackhouse, started business for himself at his father’s old stand in Hammersville, with very little capital except faith, hope, and “elbow grease.”  The second year his brother, James, was taken in partnership as a blacksmith, doing business as Stackhouse  Bros.  At the end of three years they separated with debts paid and a small margin ahead of the game.

“Already at this time, the large factory and the advancing auto or ‘horseless carriage,’ as they called them, was choking the small shops out of existence and driving mechanics back to the farm or to the city.

“This little sketch of a man’s life is hardly complete without a shade of romance along with it.  We are informed that William, being a member of the Baptist Church and a bass singer in the choir, at the age of 23 was elected Superintendent of the Sunday school.  Along with his work and business and Sunday-school duties, he walked miles and miles of country road with his No. 8 feet hot on the trail of his Sunday-school organist and vocal leader in an extended, preserving and precarious matrimonial campaign.  About the time the hope of success seemed to be visible, ‘Billy’ found out that man proposes, but woman disposes, and that suddenly, like a connubial acrobat, his fair one had married a better looking man and left him for better or worse, which he never found out.

“After a few other little ventures and failures, he scraped together about $60 out of the wreck of love and business and, with the prospect of a second courtship in the distance, he bid goodbye to Jersey and went to the then booming state of Kansas.  In this state he had great hope for, it seemed from the reports that came east, riches were supposed to given you if you would only accept them.

“Mr. Stackhouse arrived in Leavenworth where he worked at carpenter and cabinet work for three years, bought lots and built a little house ready for the girl who left the salt marsh and muskrat township of Salem county to meet her mate in the West.  They met in Peoria County, Illinois, and were married and began housekeeping in Kansas.  After a few years of carpenter work, he bought a farm nine miles west of Leavenworth and began Kansas farming behind a pair of raw boned mules.  In this venture he gained experience faster than money, selling wheat for 50 cents per bushel, corn for 19 cents per bushel, live hogs for $2.50 per cwt and a grown chicken for 20 cents and, in addition to such prices, have flooding rains one year and drought with hot winds that burned up all one’s crops in three or four days.  This was sufficient to make a ‘tenderfoot’ strongly inclined to go back East and ‘pay a visit to his wife’s folks.’

“In 1893 after twelve years sojourn they returned to Jersey not as conquerors . . . . but they traveled with a more familiar and at that time more popular slogan, ‘In God we trusted, in Kansas we busted.’



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Edward Carroll Family Exhibit to be featured on Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour at the Carroll Mansion Museum

1-8 Edward Carroll

IMG_1278In 1964, Miss Ella Carroll donated the beautiful sixteen- room Victorian mansion at 1128 Fifth Avenue to the Leavenworth County Historical Society  in memory of her father, Edward C. Carroll.  The Carroll family had resided in this house, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for 77 years, from December 1887 to June 1964, when, Ella, the last Carroll family member  in residence, made the donation to the Society for use as a museum.  Now, nearly fifty years later, the house will come alive with memories of the Edward Carroll family with an exhibit, to be highlighted during the 22nd annual Candlelight  Vintage Homes Tour on Sunday, December 8th, from 1 pm to 7pm.

The Carroll family has long maintained a significant presence in Leavenworth, having first come to reside here well before Kansas became a state.    Edward C. Carroll was the youngest child of Edward and Bridget Murray Carroll, who immigrated  from Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, Ireland, to the U.S., first settling  in New York and then Chicago, Illinois, before coming to Kansas Territory in the mid to late 1850s. 

Carroll family descendants note known  siblings of Edward to be Peter, Thomas, Ann, Bridget, and Mary Carroll.  While Cutler’s History of Kansas, census lists, and an obituary confirm the presence of Peter Carroll here in Leavenworth,  little is known about Thomas, Ann, and Bridget.  An intriguing story however surrounds their sister, Mary A. Carroll, who was introduced to her future husband, Casper Hawickholst, by her younger brother Edward, following their chance encounter during the Indian wars in Texas and New Mexico, in the 1850s.  

As the story goes, in his bachelor years, Mr. Hawickholst, having been struck by an arrow in his shoulder during a fight with the Indians, rescued a young man who was on the ground and in great danger.  Pulling him onto his own horse and “hightailing it out of the slaughter”, Casper thusly saved  young Edward Carroll from a certain death.  A grateful Edward took him to Leavenworth  to meet his family.  As a result, Mary Carroll and Casper Hawickholst were married May 1, 1856, by the new Catholic Bishop,  John B. Miege who had located to Leavenworth the previous year.   

Josephine Hawickholst Middlekauff,  one of three daughters born to Mary and Casper Hawickholst  in Leavenworth, was raised in Hays City, Kansas, from the early days of its founding, when she and her parents relocated there.   She watched frontier scouts, wagon trains, Indians and settlers come and go as Hays emerged from its infancy in 1867 to become a thriving town.   Often, her childhood memories of life on the Kansas frontier were seen in print, from western Kansas newspapers to several pages in Joanna L. Stratton’s “Pioneer Women:  Voices from the Kansas Frontier”, a collection of autobiographical accounts written by hundreds of pioneer women,  published in 1981.  

An older brother of Edward Carroll,  Peter Carroll was a builder and contractor in the firm of Carroll & Reagan and helped construct many buildings in Leavenworth and at the Fort.   He was active in public affairs holding the office of city commissioner, police judge and was a candidate for mayor.   He married Bridget Malloy in 1865.  After six children were born, Bridget died in 1877.  With his second wife, Mary Remington Atkin, he had three additional children.  Young people of the city eagerly listened to  Peter’s descriptive stories  of the early days of Leavenworth. 

Other than accounts shared by Josephine Hawickholst Middlekauff of Hays City,  little information has yet to be uncovered about  the early days in the young life of Edward Carroll prior to his residence in Leavenworth.  His obituary stated that he came here in 1859, in the border warfare days, following the move of one of his sisters.  It is known with certainty that Edward was employed by W.C. Lobenstine,  who located here in 1857, conducting a large wholesale establishment for handling hides and furs.  The 1860 Leavenworth City Directory placed Edward as a boarder at the Washington House, operated by his brother-in-law, Casper Hawickholst.  In 1862 Peter Carroll and Thomas Carroll also boarded at the Washington House.  Edward eventually became clerk of the city of Leavenworth.  Under the administration of President Andrew Johnson, Edward, at the age of 23, was appointed collector of internal revenue. 

Later Ed Carroll served as clerk of the district court under Justice David Brewer, who was then judge of the Leavenworth County District Court and later U.S.  Supreme Court Justice.  During this time, Edward boarded at the Planter’s House and was listed as a boarder in 1872 and employed as  a bookkeeper for W.C. Lobenstine.

                         In politics, Edward Carroll was described as an independent Democrat and became a delegate to four consecutive national conventions, elected to the lower house of the state legislature, serving three terms, and four years in the state senate.  After his marriage to Mary Ellen Ann Hunt, only daughter of the Col. F.E. Hunt, Edward engaged in the wholesale grocery business in Kansas City with his residence in Leavenworth, at 418 Osage Street.   After the Leavenworth National Bank was organized in 1885, he became cashier, a position he held until 1913, when he was elected president of the bank to succeed the late Paul E. Havens.  

By 1887, an issue in Leavenworth  was female suffrage as was the enforcement of the prohibition act of 1881.  The Leavenworth City Directory of that year recalled that it had been a mere thirty-three years since the site of Leavenworth was “dotted over with only stakes for town lots, and hazel brush marked the now busy line of cedar paved Delaware street.”     Immense coal beds underneath Leavenworth were providing cheap fuel which,  in turn, brought factories and railroad facilities.    The Santa Fe Depot was built here in 1887 as a passenger and freight depot.  The working man could live better and cheaper and raise a healthier family in Leavenworth.  An investment in land in the county was highly profitable. 

The Edward Carroll family had resided at 617 N. 6th Street since the early 1880s.  But it was in December, 1887, that Edward Carroll purchased the grand house, then listed as 334 Fifth Avenue, from Lucien Scott and his wife Julia.  Scott was considered one of the wealthiest men in Kansas then and was president of the First National Bank of Leavenworth.  Carroll and his wife had just lost their beloved 8 month-old son, Charles Agricola  in July.    The remaining six Carroll children, three girls and three boys, ranging in ages from  four to fourteen,  easily filled the spacious rooms of the Victorian mansion. 

Following the death of Carroll’s first wife, he retired from politics, having described himself as “the lone bird of my own party…I was the only Democrat in the Senate.”   When Ed Carroll died, at the age of 75, in 1917, D.R. Anthony, Jr., then publisher and editor of the Leavenworth Times, remarked that “no man ever served…more conscientiously or with greater intelligence.  And with it all Mr. Carroll had a kind heart, inherited from his Irish ancestors. . . . Few have been held in so great esteem in Kansas as Ed Carroll.”  From all indications, through news articles and the few family papers and memories,  the personal history of Edward Carroll somewhat parallels the history of the Carroll House, in that, what began as a humble farmhouse became a grand mansion.  Carroll, no doubt, weathered the prejudices of being both Irish and Catholic, to emerge as a leader in the community and a highly respected man in the state.

The Edward Carroll Family exhibit during this year’s homes tour will highlight personal possessions of the family to include photos, letters, mementoes, and record books.  IMG_1227IMG_1209The centerpiece of the exhibit will be the Carroll family Christmas china, a gift to Edward Carroll and Mary Ellen Hunt, upon their marriage in 1872.  News clippings noting the high points of their lives are displayed, as well as a letter from Col. Cyrus H. Robinson, who commanded a unit in Leavenworth during Price’s Raid into Missouri, ordering Carroll to report as officer of the day.   Calling cards of Edward and his bride, enclosed with an invitation to their wedding reception in August, 1872,  an invitation to the Chicago World’s Fair, a doll made by the mother of Mrs. Carroll, and a cane purchased in France by Fred Harvey and personally presented to Edward number among the artifacts shown in the exhibit.   A Victrola, purchased in 1915 by Mr. Carroll has been donated to the museum by the family and will be played throughout tour day.     

For more information on the Carroll family or this year’s homes tour, a major fund raiser for the museum,  contact the museum:  913-682-7759,  email:  Website: to view the homes on the tour. 


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22nd Annual Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour

Carroll Mansion by ZohnerAdvance tickets are currently available for this year’s Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour. The tour date is Sunday, December 8th, from 1 pm to 7pm, organized in conjunction with the Leavenworth Vintage Homes Society. The tour is a favorite of not only local residents, but of visitors from out-of-county and out-of-state. It has become a Leavenworth Christmas tradition and this year’s slate of historically significant homes, adorned in their holiday finery, will not disappoint.
Headquarters will again be the Carroll Mansion Museum, home of the Leavenworth County Historical Society, beneficiary of tour proceeds. Here, tickets can be called for beginning at 11am on tour day. The Victorian Gift Shoppe will also be open and holiday breads, baked in some of the best kitchens in Leavenworth, can be purchased. Live entertainment is scheduled throughout the day at the museum which will also be featuring an Edward Carroll Family exhibit throughout the house, decorated for the holidays. The centerpiece of the exhibit is the Carroll family Christmas china, a gift to Edward Carroll and his bride, Mary Ellen Hunt, on their wedding day in 1872. On temporary loan from the family, a festive mood is set in the dining room.
Six additional vintage homes will be on this year’s tour and include the grand 1201 S. Broadway home of Patsey and Robert Hessenflow. Constructed in 1932 by Leavenworth’s premier architectural firm of Feth & Feth, the Hessenflows have resided here since 1974. The home features many of its original fixtures, an impressive fireplace and three screened-in-porches. The home will also highlight favorite family mementoes and quilts.

The home at 1036 Third Avenue is a recent purchase of Kelley and Jeff Perry. The two-story Queen Anne, situated on a spacious lot, was originally owned by U.S. Senator Lucien Baker and his wife Mary. It was acquired by Fred and Elenora Reyburn Wulfekuhler in 1910, the year of their marriage. They purchased the adjacent lot and built a lovely gazebo, a focal point of the expansive shaded yard. Original to the house are two fireplaces, ornate double oak doors and oak floors.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Colonial Revival home at 605 N. 6th street was built in 1900 by Louis Vanderschmidt, who came to Leavenworth in 1868 and resided here his entire life, becoming a partner in the William Small and Company Dry Goods store. The three-story home with fireplace was purchased in 2001 by life-long Leavenworth residents, Gail and Fred Bergman from Robert and Robin Frank who had owned the home for 12 years. Memories were made here for Fred. At the time of his birth, the home was owned by Dr. Gerber who delivered Fred at the old St. John’s Hospital, just a few blocks away. The doctor’s address, 605 N 6th, is listed on Fred’s birth certificate. The back room of the home, which is now a T.V. room, had been used as Dr. Gerber’s office. One of Fred’s not too fondest memories is that of getting his childhood shots in this room.
In 2005 the stairway and all but one of the upstairs bedroom floors were refurnished to reveal the original beautiful oak floors which are throughout the home. All the floor and ceiling moldings in the home are original.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen it comes to decorating for Christmas, Susan and Michael Garner are enthusiastic about transforming their circa 1880 home at 819 N. 6th street into a magical celebration of the season. In the old northern section of the city, this pastoral two story brick Italianate home with picket fence is situated on the southwest corner of 6th and Dakota streets. The area, which was once in the shadow of the Old Cathedral from back in the early settlement days of Leavenworth, is historically significant. After being bought and sold among early land investors, the property came under the ownership of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. Founded by Sister Xavier Ross, a small group of nuns came to Leavenworth in 1858 and established a school, orphanage and hospital at the request of Bishop John B. Meige, who built the magnificent Immaculate Conception Catholic Cathedral. The present structure was likely built in the early 1880s by John McCormick who came to Leavenworth in 1858 and established his brick manufactory. The homes was later owned by the William and Agnes Dawes family. William worked as maintenance foreman at the U.S. Military Prison at Fort Leavenworth and later as a general contractor. He built the parish house at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Kickapoo, St. Joseph of the Valley Catholic Church (9 miles west of Leavenworth, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year), The First Missionary Baptist Church at 120 N. Broadway, and numerous other structures and private residences. William and Agnes raised nine children, one of whom was Joseph Jerome Dawes, who later became Judge of the District Court of Leavenworth County.

Vintage Homes 2013 303_N_EsplanadeThe residence of John & Beverly Lynch at 303 N. Esplanade is being brought back to life, after years of neglect. Built in the late 1850s during the ownership of Major Jacob Bloom, this original two-story red brick Italianate home saw its first major addition in 1865-66 by Richard Rees. Having acquired the home in 1876, Judge Edward Stillings hired premier builder, J.A. McGonigle, for an extensive upgrade adding an indoor bathroom, new kitchen, library, 32 gas sconce lights and 15 overhead gas lights. H.S. Burr, who built a large shoe manufacturing company in Leavenworth, called this his home from 1895 until 1903, prior to the ownership by the very colorful Ferdinand “Jesus” Mella, proprietor of the National Hotel. Current owners purchased the home a few years ago and began a complete renovation incorporating modern insulation, electrical, and plumbing while maintaining the original character of the home. The original floors, moldings, and doors are being restored. Of particular note, are the restored, original ten foot high, 6/4 double hung windows that allow the lower windows to be raised into the wall above the upper windows. With 4000 square feet of living space, the house comprises 14 rooms, 3 bathrooms, 3 fireplaces, and 5 bedrooms. Four of the original 5 double chimneys remain. The centerpiece of the home is an elaborate three-landing winding staircase and 10 foot high pocket doors from the parlor to the dining room. As the renovation continues, plans for the home’s exterior include the replication of the southern porch, the original deck on top of the eastern porch, and a widow’s walk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnother residence on North Esplanade is that of Paul and Susan Backs, at 219, built back in 1869. Paul and Susan met while students at CGSC and before the end of the first semester the Marine jet pilot and the Army nurse were married. While participating in many runs and Volksmarches in Leavenworth, the newlyweds fell in love with the Victorian homes on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. One of the oldest of these homes, at the corner of Miami and North Esplanade, was their favorite. Years later, when it came up for sale, the Backs purchased it without hesitation. What is today a handsome two-story Italianate brick home was built in 1859 by Marcus Parrott, a Leavenworth attorney who served in the Kansas Territorial Legislature. Elias H. Durfee, a Fort Leavenworth sutler and Indian trader, purchased the home in 1868. Subsequent owners were John Richards and Orsino Giacomni, a well-known hotelier in Leavenworth. Over the years alterations incorporated Georgian Revival details. Victorian restoration began in 1984 and has continued under the Backs ownership. An addition doubled the house size to 4600 square feet, blending old with new. Today, the visitor can view a Victorian conservatory, new master bedroom, a completely remodeled kitchen and a two-car garage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast stop on the tour is the historic Masonic Temple in downtown Leavenworth at 423 ½ Delaware Street, which is a fine example of preservation of architectural integrity. The three-story, symmetrical brick building features classical terra-cotta ornamentation with brick pillars separating the upper story bays. Construction of the Historic Masonic Temple first crystallized on September 1, 1893. At this time plans and specifications were authorized and prepared by Brother Mason William P. Feth, noted architect, who designed numerous buildings in Leavenworth, now listed on the Federal Register of Historic Places. Work commenced on March 1, 1914, and the Cornerstone laid by the M.W. Grand Master, Charles H. Chandler on May 10, 1914. Occupying the upper floors, the Masonic Temple interior offers many examples of detailed craftsmanship in its architectural elements. Portraits on the walls are those reverenced by the members of the order and are those who were instrumental in the growth of the order in Leavenworth and across the state. One of these portraits is of Richard R. Rees, Leavenworth Probate Judge, who was one of the state’s pioneer Masons. He was elected grand master of the grand lodge of the state of Kansas when the body was organized in Leavenworth in March 1856. If you have always wondered what was above Leavenworth’s street level, now is your opportunity to visit this magnificent building’s upper floors. It’s handicap accessible!
Advance tickets for the tour may be obtained for a $12 donation at the museum and the following businesses: Candle Queen, dorMail, Ginny’s Antiques, June’s Northland, Leavenworth Antique Mall, The Pot Rack, and 5th Avenue Frames. Tickets will also be available for purchase on tour day at the museum and each of the homes on the tour for a $17 donation. The tour goes on regardless of weather. Homemade holiday breads will be available for purchase at most tour stops. For more information on the Carroll family or the homes tour, contact the museum: 682-7759, e-mail: or the website: http//

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22nd Annual Leavenworth Candlelight Vintage Homes Tour

Edward Carroll Family Exhibit at the Carroll Mansion during the homes tour

Edward Carroll Family Exhibit at the Carroll Mansion during the homes tour


The date is Sunday, December 8th, from 1 pm to 7pm for the annual Leavenworth  Candlelight Vintage Homes  Tour, organized in conjunction with the Leavenworth Vintage Homes Society.   The tour is a favorite of not only local residents,  but of visitors from out-of-county and out-of-state.  It has become a Leavenworth Christmas tradition and this year’s slate of historically significant homes, adorned in their holiday finery, will not disappoint. 

Headquarters will again be the Carroll Mansion Museum, home of the Leavenworth County Historical Society, beneficiary of tour proceeds.  Here, pre-ordered tickets can be called for beginning at 11am on tour day.  The Victorian Gift Shoppe will also be open and holiday breads, baked in some of the best kitchens in Leavenworth, can be purchased.  Live entertainment is scheduled throughout the day at the museum which will also be featuring an Edward Carroll Family exhibit throughout the house,  decorated for the holidays.  The centerpiece of the exhibit is the Carroll family Christmas china, a gift to Edward Carroll and his bride, Mary Ellen Hunt, on their wedding day in 1872.  On temporary loan from the family, a festive mood is set in the dining room.

Advance tickets for the tour may be purchased for a $12 donation at the museum and the following businesses:  Candle Queen, dorMail, Ginny’s Antiques, June’s Northland, Leavenworth  Antique Mall, The Pot Rack, and  5th Avenue Frames.  Tickets will be available for purchase on tour day at the museum and each of the homes on the tour for a $17 donation. The tour goes on regardless of weather.   Homemade holiday breads will be available for purchase at most tour stops.   For more information on the Carroll family or the homes tour, contact the museum:  682-7759, e-mail: or the website: http//


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