Category Archives: Labette County

Honor A Local Veteran Today


These people are from Parsons Kansas, and are just a few veterans from my small town. I’m sure there are many more local veterans worth featuring. Parsons will always remember Cpl. Daniel Cox, killed in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in 2009.

Ron Phillips

Ron Phillips, 14th Air Force

My name is Ronald M. Phillips (Ron) and as I write this in Feb. 2012 I am within three months of turning 90. That means that I am a Veteran of WW-II, and I was drafted only a few months after the Pearl Harbor disaster at the age of 19. After my entry into the U.S. Military I managed to carefully observe the opportunities on the company bulletin board. By taking advantage of those opportunities I moved from Buck Private rank to that of “O” three, meaning–“Captain”, in the U.S. Air Corps. (which later became the U.S. Air Force.) After entering, and graduating, from the Airplane & Engine school in Glendale, CA, I entered the Aviation Cadet training center in San Antonio, TX and about a year later I graduated as a 2nd Lt. Fighter Pilot in Moore Field, McAllen TX. That put me into a ‘combat-ready’ status so I ended up being sent to China to join General Chennault’s 14th Air Force “Flying Tigers”. The “Tigers” by then, were known world-wide because of their record. In the nine months before Pearl Harbor they were known only as The A.V.G., or the “American Volunteer Group”. There were only one hundred of them to begin with. They were flying the previously used, beat-up old P-40 Warhawks, and had shot down 297 Japanese aircraft with a loss of only 12 of ours. I don’t believe that record was ever broken.

After Pearl Harbor the AVG became “The Fourteenth Air Force”, under the tutelage of Brig. Gen. Clair Lee Chennault, and that’s when I joined the Fourteenth Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group Flying Tigers. ~Ronald M. Phillips

Leon Crooks

Sgt. Leon Crooks (left) Rome, 1944

It took 66 years for Leon Crooks to be awarded a Bronze Star for his World War II service, including an act of heroism that saved the lives of around 30 soldiers.

Crooks served in Company B, Second Chemical Mortar Battalion, also known as the Red Dragon Battalion, which dates back to Aug. 17, 1917, in the first World War. It was the first chemical battalion in the U.S. ranks. Crooks had a total of 511 days in combat. This unit tied with one other unit for the number of days on the front line in the European theater of operations.

The Bronze Star award recognizes Crooks’ entire military service, from June 22, 1943, to Sept. 18, 1945, but focuses on an action on Feb. 12, 1944, after the end of the first Battle of Cassino in Italy against German and Italian forces.
The lull in fighting had provided the Allies and opportunity to relieve and replace war-weary troops, and First Sgt. Crooks and his driver, T/5 Herbert Aram were asked to move to the rear echelons to pick up replacements and bring back PFC Norman Gearhart and PFC James Egoff.

Leon Crooks receives the Bronze Star

The Germans opened up with 88mm guns, shelling members of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, whose gear had been loaded on a mule train.

“I was talking to my driver, and I said, ‘A lot of men are going to die out there today unless we do something’,” Crooks said. “The driver said, ‘If you get a truck, I’ll drive’.”

They got a 3/4 ton weapons carrier and, making three trips under German fire, transported the New Zealand soldiers to safety.

“We’d pull up, I’d get out and load the guys up, and when we got all we could handle, we’d drive back to the aid station, which was not too far behind us,” Crooks said. “Then we went back for our men.”

The driver was injured during the rescue. Crooks said that Aram didn’t even realize it at first.

“He said, ‘Sarge, I  think I’ve been hit,’ and a piece of shrapel had got him in the arm,” Crooks said. “I was pretty lucky, I never did get hit.”

David R. Larsen

Dave Larsen (Navy Cross) left
Charlie Vance (Bronze Star)

David Larsen is a Navy Cross Recipient, for extraordinary heroism on 2 August 1969.

GMG3 Larsen was serving as a gunner’s mater mate aboard PBR 775 which was part of a two-boat night waterborne guard post stationed on the upper Saigon River. Operating in conjunction with the patrol, a six-man ambush team, which was providing bank security for the guard post, engaged four enemy soldiers who were part of an estimated 35 to 50-man force that returned the contact with accurate rocker fire, killing or critically wounding all but one member of the six-man ambush team. One man from the team managed to call for the PBR crewmen’s help. Armed with a machine gun and several ammunition belts, Larsen hastened to the assistance of the ambush team. As he led his small force ashore, he saw three enemy soldiers about to overrun the friendly position. He immediately rushed toward them, firing his machine gun, and single-handedly tu rned back the enemy assault, killing at least one of the enemy. Larsen then maintained a one-man perimeter defensive position and, although under continuous enemy fire, succeeded in discouraging further enemy attacks until additional help arrived. Later, armed with three different weapons, Larsen was the first man to take his post on the perimeter established to provide security for the medical evacuation helicopter. By his extremely courageous one-man assault in the face of direct enemy fire, Larsen was responsible for saving the lives of three fellow servicemen, and for protecting his shipmates as they administered aid to the wounded. His valiant and inspiring efforts reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Charlie Vance of Portland, Ore., was there that August night, and earned a Bronze Star.

“I brought out ammo and helped bring the wounded back,” said Vance, a former petty officer.

He said Larsen was an unlikely candidate for heroics, but he rose to the occasion.

“He was just a quiet old farm boy and he took in an M-60, and he was the first one off the boat,” Vance said of Larsen. “He actually saved lives.”

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Customs Of The Osage People


An Osage Village

An Osage Village

 I am writing this from the Osage point of view, written by memory from the writings of an Osage descendant, Louis F. Burns. I have found his book to be the most comprehensive. If you are a student or researcher, please consider Mr. Burns as my main reference here. While searching the internet, I have found several inaccurate sources with widely varying information.

This brief overview generally deals with the Osage nation prior to the “Louisiana Purchase” of 1803. After 1803, everything changed for the Osage people at such a quick pace that they were unable to adapt and survive as the proud nation that I write here about.

Osage Territory (1700's)

 For centuries, the Osage possessed the most prime real estate on the continent. The four-state area that they claimed during their height of power is a humid, temperate climate, encompassing just about every type of geography; wetlands, mountains, and bluegrass plains of the buffalo. Their enviable position in the center of the nation fashioned their customs and religious practices.

 The Osage style of government is thought to have been used by our founding fathers as a model for our present American style of government. The Osage had developed a special relationship with the French, and a group of the natives were taken to France a full half-century before our war of independence. A famous French treatise on this style of government was written shortly after this event and this treatise was indeed part of the model for our present constitution. Although no written proof of credit to the Osage is found, the similarities are beyond coincidence. Not the least of these is the concept of “inalienable rights” of each individual.

 At the top of the Osage government there was a powerful group of elderly ‘wise men’, who were referred to as “The Little Old Men”. The Little Old Men shared power and were made up of men from varied factions of the nation. It was their job to make judicious decisions based on petitioning from various counsels of “Grand Chiefs”. These Grand Counsels were specific to areas of tribal life. For instance, a Grand Counsel on war-making and another one meant just to lobby for peace.  At the more local, or “band” level, there was also some allowance for their own government. There were Chiefs and Councils at all levels. Sound familiar? This system was known to be in effect as early as the 1500’s.

 The government reflected the Osage personality. Slow to action and deliberate in all things, the system eventually became so top-heavy that it was cumbersome and had to be modified to meet the changing times. As such, The Little Old Men had a decreasing power as they approached 1800.

 The Osage had no concept of individual land ownership. The land was claimed by the entire nation. As a nation of hunters, these claims of territory were fiercely defended by warriors whose full time job was policing their claims. These small ‘war parties’ were not without rules.

Intruders were generally watched from a distance without them knowing they were observed. They were subsequently categorized and then dealt with. Although the whites considered these Osage people cruel savages, the punishments usually were comparable to the white’s justice.  

Three classes of intruders were considered. First was the traveller. If you were observed to be just passing through, and you took only what game and resources you needed to survive your journey, you would probably not even know you were watched. Minding you manners would save your life. Second was the hunter/trapper. These intruders were considered the worst, and were just common poachers as far as the Osage were concerned. White men would promptly hang a cattle rustler, and Osage warriors took it one step further. Poachers were beheaded and the heads displayed as a warning to any others with the same ideas. Third consisted of two different types of offenders who were treated similarly; settlers and traders. If traders were not poachers, they were not killed. If they were not trading directly with the Osage, they were however, robbed of their trade goods and sent on their way. The message was clear; Osage controlled the early merchants. Approved traders (mostly French) were encouraged.  Unapproved traders were harassed out of the area. Any trade with other native nations was not approved, as the Osage were constantly at war with them on all sides. Agricultural settlers, white or native, were treated much the same. Since the Osage were primarily concerned with hunting, and hunting territory, small groups of settlers were tolerated on their eastern border, along the Mississippi river. They were subject to some harassment though, and stealing their horses was fairly common. If they were not inter-married with the Osage, they were usually harassed until they left the area.

 At the time of Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the Osage Indians lived in most of Missouri, northern Arkansas, eastern Kansas and northeast Oklahoma. They were thought to have descended from one branch of the Omaha Sioux and migrated from the lower Ohio River Valley. They were divided into three clans: the Great Osage, Little Osage, and Arkansas Osage. Their first experiences with Euro-Americans came in the mid 1600’s when French trappers and traders encountered them. Early records from the Trading Post that was to become St. Louis indicate that early Americans traded with the Osage at nearly twice the rate of all the other Native Americans combined.

 The Osage had a special relationship with the French from the very first encounters. This has been attributed to the temperament and manners of the French explorers, more than anything else. The official French government policy was to subdue the Osage and make them proper colonial subjects. The actual practice was nothing like this. Several French were married to Osage women, and are now the ancestors of many thousands of Osage people. Apparently the Spanish and English did not have the good sense to treat the Osage as equals, and subsequently were nearly completely shut out of the lucrative fur trading, unless done by proxy through the French. Osage warriors were known to attack British soldiers on sight.

Osage girls married immediately upon reaching puberty, unlike boys, who married in their late teens. When the oldest daughter in a family married, her husband also got marriage rights to all of her younger sisters if he so chose. However, this did not happen often; polygamy was rare. A distinction was always made between the first born daughter and those that came after. Marriages were arranged by the girls parents, and though inter-marrying with other clans, tribes and even whites was done, it was not the norm. When a daughter was married away into other clans, it was a political advantage and the family ties were never forgotten. The marriage to a first-born daughter was the highest honor. When a baby was born, the town would have a naming ceremony to make it a “real” person. As the children grew up, girls were educated mainly by their mothers in domestic arts, horticulture, and gathering. Children of native and white mix were considered “real” people as long as they followed Osage traditions. If they did not adhere to Osage customs, they were allowed to move about the clans and villages as they pleased, but they were not “real”, as such, they were not spoken to, or spoken of at all. Usually these ignored offspring would live with their French relatives.

The Osage were not an agricultural society, but the women did keep gardens at semi-permanent villages. They grew maize, squash, pumpkins, gourds, and beans, as well as gathering wild fruit, berries, acorns, and nuts. In autumn they would harvest the crops and preserve them for winter. Families lived in lodges made of wood and reeds, or of tall poles covered with animal hides. The lodges were thirty to forty feet in length, with two doorways and an opening at the top for venting campfire smoke. They were permanent, yet villages were regularly moved just short distance when conditions warranted, such as sanitation, gardening, flooding and draught. Osage warriors left them twice a year, once in the summer and once in the fall, when they headed west to hunt buffalo. Although some women travelled with the buffalo hunt, the main job of women in the villages was to grow crops and gather food, as well as raise children and take care of the home. The only time the Osage used “Teepee” style shelter was when they hunted far out on the plains, away from woodlands.

There were ceremonies in all seasons for naming, mourning, peace, planning, and harvesting, where women would dance in the rituals, but singing, priesthood and religous ritual and authority were only the dominion of men. Women commonly got tattoos, especially to remember their husbands, if their husbands were killed. If a man committed a notable act of bravery he earned the right to tattoo his wife and daughters. Mothers taught their children well-defined rules of behavior. They raised their kids gently, disciplining them using ridicule and rewards, never physical punishment. Osage women carried their babies on boards on their backs, because it was convenient. As a result of this the babies’ heads were flattened in the back and stayed that way for life.

 The mode of burial among the Osages was to place the corpse in a sitting posture on the ground, at most only in a slight excavation, and pile around it a heap of stones for its protection. When the early settlers came here many such graves were seen in which the skeleton was remaining intact, and in some instances the flesh scarcely yet having entirely disappeared.

Related articles – tag/osage

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Antique Postcards ~ Fatherless Children of France, World War One


This card is dated 1918, and World War 1 had created approximately 3 million widows and 10 million orphans. Europe was in ruins, but the United States homeland remained completely unaffected, with a booming economy and the good times of the roaring twenties on the way. Obviously, this card is sent to let someone know that you donated to a charity for French orphans, in their name. What a wonderful gift!

Any Parsonions related to Mrs. Stella Lynd, 2718 Main?

For more about The Fatherless Children Of France; http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=940DEFDD133FE433A25755C0A9679C946996D6CF 

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Click the photo below to read the entire book of letters from orphans to their American benefactors. The book is ‘public domain’ from google.

The book above is priceless. Sweet, cute, and heartbreaking all wrapped up in one.

The true spririt of Christmas, COMPASSION.

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The Bloody Benders of Labette County ~ a TRUE Ghost Story!


 I wrote this years ago for Halloween and I keep recycling it every year. This post also gets more views (from all over the world) than anything else I’ve ever written. I did quite a bit of research for this piece. I wish I had listed my sources at the time. Be assured that this story is as accurate as any you’ll find about the Benders. ~ sekanblogger

The old Bender property is haunted. A mere decade after the gruesome killings, nothing was left of the cabin and outbuildings on the property, the only thing that remained — an empty hole that had once been the cellar, has long been filled in. From these depths come the souls of those murdered on the site, wandering about the property and making moaning sounds that can be heard by any passersby. Of those most often reporting seeing glowing apparitions on the property are those who come to the site in search of some long lost souvenir of the grisly murders. Quickly, the scavengers are frightened away by the dead souls to spread their ghostly tales.

As the legend of the haunting continues, people say that Kate Bender, herself, returns to the property, doomed to roam the land where she had committed so many atrocities. Whether folklore or fact, many believe that the trapped souls of these century-old ghosts continue to lurk at the site today, looking for the cabin, well, and shallow graves they were left in. Of those who were mistaken for the Bender family, and murdered by vigilantes, they continue to roam Southeast Kansas, seeking revenge! The old Bender property is approximately 10 miles west of Parsons Kansas.

benders

 Through the Treaty of 1870, the Federal Government moved the Osage Indian tribe out of the state of Kansas completely and finally. The Osage defense of the best of their territory had become impossible, due to a flood of European immigrants. Prior to 1870, the immigrants were entirely illegal, but the State refused to accept that fact, while the Federal Government simply turned a blind eye. The Osage had been promised the land, literally “As long as the wind blows and the grass grows.” This was the actual wording in one of the treaties. However, the Osage saw the future, and had capitulated long before 1870, in heart and mind, if not in writing. One well used Osage trail led from Ft. Scott Kansas, to Independence Kansas. It was mid-point along this stretch of trail, near a mound that still bears the name “Bender’s Mound”, that our sordid story ensues.

The landmark known as "Bender's Mound"

At about the same time, and just a few miles from the now famous Ingalls family (Little House On The Prarie), a family of Germans, consisting of four persons – a man, his wife, son and daughter – moved into southeast Kansas, at Osage township. The man was known as William or John Bender, the son and daughter as John Jr. and Kate. In reality, none of them were named Bender, and the woman and daughter were the only ones actually related. Continue reading

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Parsons City Commission Code of Conduct – proposed


 It appears that Parsons City Manager Fred Gress and Commissioner Greg York are pushing a code of conduct for our City Commissioners. This code seems to be aimed at new commissioner Frankie Barnett, since he is to our city what “Columbo” was to detective shows.

 True or not, the appearance (to the public) is that Gress basically wants control over who Frank can speak with, and what the topics/questions are.  Since the other commissioners almost always vote in favor of whatever the City Manager proposes, and Mr. Barnett is often the only dissenting vote, it only stands to reason that certain portions of this proposal are intended to affect Barnett and his remarks regarding the issues at hand.

Love or hate Frankie, I believe there are NO inappropriate questions, as long as they pertain to city works and finances. We elected Frank to shine some light into the process so that we see where our tax dollars are going.

Here’s a sample that reads much differently than Fred and his allies propose. This sample certainly does not need a manager or mayor to filter questions to city staff.  http://www.battlecreekmi.gov/City_Government/Mayor_and_Commission/Code_of_Ethics.htm

I’m assuming you haven’t seen a copy of this proposal, so I have attached this below. There are other copies already around town, so some of you may have seen this.

I believe section 6 of the proposed rules is completely unacceptable. It basically says asking questions is inappropriate, unless Fred Gress says it’s appropriate.

From section 12, who will it be that makes the judgement call on what comments are “belligerent, personal, impertinent, slanderous, threatening, abusive or disparaging? Will Mr. Gress or Mr. York be making these decisions?

It is a well-known fact here in Parsons that Mr. Barnett has been attending public meetings and has often irritated Mr. Gress and other commissioners by simply asking that they enforce City regulations with a fair and even hand for all, while pointing out cases where inconsistencies exist. He has admittedly been an outspoken critic of the current City Manager and the city’s management in general. This past history practically insures that Frank Barnett has prejudice against him when someone claims he is making disparaging remarks.

We elected Frank to ask questions and get information. Especially when taxpayers feel inappropriate actions or spending is being done.  In essence, he was elected to be an outspoken critic. Not liking Frankie’s “tone and tenor” at a meeting is an emotional reaction, and not a good reason to create this over-reaching code of conduct.

If Frank speaks the truth, as he sees it, he will be in danger of being labeled belligerent and then being admonished publicly. Is that what this document is leading to, a public spanking for constantly asking tough questions?

Who would be a fair and impartial judge of what a disparaging (section 12) or “personal remark” is? Are we leaving it up to Gress and York to decide what’s appropriate and what’s not?……well THAT’S NOT APPROPRIATE!

Much of the document below is “standard boiler-plate” stuff and just common sense. I have no objections to those ordinary and customary requirements of code, they are quite acceptable and possibly should be accepted.

My questions are these: why wasn’t some of this boilerplate already in place years ago? If this was un-needed before, what has suddenly changed that we need to adopt these rules and give the City Manager these new controls and powers? 

Some of this common sense stuff was needed in the past, especially for conflicts of interest when giving JOBS Inc. $24,000 that was ultimately wasted. The City Manager and a former City Commissioner (the Commissioner has since been voted out) who belong to that private group had a glaring conflict of interest then (see section 2). What has changed?

The bottom line is this; The document and the timing of it’s proposal just don’t pass the “smell test”. Does anyone else get that feeling? If so, or not….feel free to comment!

Sorry so small – please ZOOM IN.


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Filed under Human Rights, Kansas, Labette County, Opinion, Politics, Southeast Kansas

Antique Postcards ~ Broadway Street, Parsons Kansas 1924


Be sure to visit KATY DAYS  for more area history.

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Local Entertainment – The Canadian Tenors


These gentlemen preformed last night at our local Municipal Auditorium. As all the acts from our Area Concert Association, they are world class. Had Randy Jackson been there, he would have certainly commented; “Dawgs,….You guys BLEW IT OUT DA BOX!”

HAT TIP to Pastor Paul  and Peck Cam for providing the tickets. (Umm, sorry about missing that meeting last night Pastor.)

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Happy New Year Parsons – 1924


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Antique Postcards ~ Merry Christmas Parsons


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Antique Postcards ~ The Wise Men


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