2012 HAPPENINGS: April 28, Hays Fire Department Museum officially opened to visitors. After four years, ECHS and the Hays Firemen's Relief Association hosted a grand opening for the museum, which is located on the ECHS grounds, at 3pm that Saturday afternoon. Vintage firefighting equipment and gear plus classic 1927 and 1936 fire engines are on exhibit.
May 18 and 19, "HONORING OUR HISTORY," a remarkable World War 1 traveling exhibit was stationed in front of the ECHS Museum main building and open to the public for tours both days. Admission was free, however donations were accepted; half of which went to benefit the Ellis County Historical Society. The traveling exhibit which is housed within a customized "big rig" truck travels from Kansas City Missouri and was sponsored by Waddell & Reed. Visitors experienced the 1914-1918 battlefield environment with a walk-through trench simulation. Also on display were equipment, tools, uniforms, and weapons from the Great War. ECHS also displayed their own in house WW1 exhibit in the main gallery of the museum.
In July, ECHS hired an administrative assistant who will be taking on tasks such as museum store operations, membership material and database maintenance, and assisting in ECHS puplic relations operations. Amanda (Goetz) Rupp is a 2005 FHSU graduate, with degrees in Graphic Design and Art History, who has Volga German roots to Ellis county and farming communities west of Hays. She is excited to be working with ECHS team as they plan to make Ellis County Heritage more relative and enteractive with todays' county communities.
August 24, ECHS participated once again in the Hays Fall Gallery Walk after years of not being a part of this annual downtown event. A temporary exhibit "Cases of Curiousity" for this event was set up in the gallery of the Stone Church and will be up through the end of the fall.
Also in August, Ellis County Historical Society hired a part time Curatorial Assistant named Jamie Schlesinger. Jamie is a graduate student in Public History along with receiving her BA in History from Fort Hays State University. She also has a Public History Certificate from FHSU. Along with these types of certificates ECHS is hoping to gain more FHSU student volunteers each semester as they work towards hours for their Museum Studies Certificates through the History department at the university.
October 5th's Oktoberfest celebration marked the 40th Anniversary of the Ellis County Volga German Society. "Honor Our Heritage" was an event ECHS hosted in conjunction with the VGS & FHSU traditional weekend events. This was the first heritage event of many, which brought back youngsters to the park to learn of the rich Volga German culture. ECHS demonstrators engaged area school children in hands-on activities such as soap making, rug braiding, saddle making, wheat weaving, corn shelling and many other early settler daily tasks. Fort Hays State Athletics were on hand to lead the children in fun physical group activities. Local uniformed city authorities/services were on site with their vehicles to educate the school kids about different aspects of police, fire and emergency duties. In the afternoon ECHS had a program of musical performers and historical interpreters who took to the stage every hour to entertain the festival goers as they strolled the booths under the big tent. All "Honor Our Heritage" activities took place north of the dike in Memorial Park, beer sales and consumption was contained to the south of the dike on Frontier Park ground.
The Sharps 45/70 Rifle (1874 Billy Dixon model) raffle raised money for ECHS. The winners of the raffle were drawn on Nov. 2nd and are as follows: 1st (Billy Dixon Sharps Rifle): Brian Christen of Great Bend; 2nd ("Partners - The Kansas Pheasant" print by Jo Boswell Lumpkin): Paul Andreson of Plainville; 3rd ("Wild Bill Hickok: The Law in Hays City" by Blaine Burkey): Norman Pfeifer of Hays.
As of mid December the Hadley Dish Collection has been cataloged and is now on display at the Hadley Office Center, located on East 7th Street downtown Hays. Over three hundred pieces of glass and rare dishware are on display as part of ECHS satellite exhibits. The collection belonged to and were used by the Hadley family of Ellis County.
2011 HAPPENINGS: Effective June 30, 2011 the ECHS Museum hours changed. We are now open Tuesday thru Saturday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Sunday 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Closed on Monday. Along with the hours the ECHS Museum prices also changed to $6.00 adults; $2.00 children (ages 6-12 yrs). If you are an Ellis County, KS resident you will receive a 50% discount. Research facility included in the museum fee. (Tuesday-Saturday)
The Ellis County Historical Society Board of Directors has hired an executive director. Donald Westfall has arrived in Hays and is officially in the position as of April 18. For the past two years he has been executive director of the Uinta County Museum (Evanston, Wyoming).
Where History Walked the Streets ~ a new radio series started April 11 on KAYS-AM (1400) and KHAZ-FM (99.6). The broadcast times are 7 am/12pm/5pm each day, every other week. Bob Wilhelm, Fort Hays State Historic Site, presents their series, which will rotate every other week with ECHS. Series subject matter is taken from the ECHS Archives and covers all Ellis County history. We would like to thank the sponsors for being a part of this series. Oren Windholz, ECHS volunteer, narrates each episode.
German Brochure ~ We are excited about our new 2011 German brochure (30 pages), that lists the German events and festivals of Ellis County for the entire year. Thanks to Ruben Schuckman from the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mary Karst and her staff from the Hays Daily News, and the GREAT SPONSORS that have made this brochure possible. You may get your brochures FREE at the CVB, 27th and Vine Streets or the ECHS Museum, 100 West 7th Street. If you prefer, print your own brochure by clicking on WELCOME (see left column this page) and go to the bottom of the page. Then click on German Brochure.
2010 HAPPENINGS: On February 1, 2010, the Sternberg Museum of Natural History loaned artifacts of Ellis County human history to the Ellis County Historical Society Museum. That was on moving day! ECHS Museum staff and volunteers wrapped, boxed, and moved the Memory Lane exhibit (that was on display) from the Sternberg Museum to the ECHS Museum. The Sternberg Museum has agreed to loan about 1,000 artifacts to the ECHS. We certainly appreciate these objects, but our current "good problem" is where do we store them. In April 2010, ECHS started renting a storage area at the Hays Daily News building for the storage of the Sternberg artifacts. If you would like to help us pay for this storage area, please send your donation (indicate on your check that it is for "Sternberg Storage") to ECHS, 100 West 7th Street, Hays, KS 67601.
Friends of the Museum ~ ECHS has organized a Friends of the Museum group. This is an organization for anyone who would like to volunteer to help with events, exhibits, and numerous other things that are needed to run a museum. We hope you will be a part of our friends group. Stop in at the museum, 100 West 7th Street, Hays, KS 67601, and see what we have to offer.
We need lots of hands to help in the archives clipping articles from newspapers, putting data in the computers, helping with research, etc. If you like to read history you will love the archives. We always can use help at our various yearly sponsored events. When the Hays Fire Department Museum is open we will need tour guides. Call 785-628-2624 with any questions or email us at email@example.com.
2009 HAPPENINGS: The Ellis County Historical Society Museum had a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hays Fire Department Museum on August 31, 2009 at 5:30 pm. The museum will be located on the southwest grounds of ECHS. The building is scheduled to be finished in late December 2009 or early January 2010. Watch for the Grand Opening!
If you would like to make a donation to any of our projects, please send your check payable to ECHS, 100 West 7th Street, Hays, KS 67601. Indicate on your check the project you want to support. Thank you!
2008 HAPPENINGS: Several exciting events happened during the year. We were accepted as a member in the Partnership Historic Sites program. This allows us to apply for Partnership Historic Sites tax credits for future fundraising efforts. ECHS received an award for being one of the 8 Wonders of Ellis County.
We took a tour of the John Schlyer home at 601 Oak Street, which is owned by Larry Rupp. Mr. Rupp has deeded this property to the ECHS upon his death, but retains all rights and control of this property until then.
In the spring of 2008, the Hays Fireman's Relief Association visited with us about constructing a new building in our park area to store their 1936 Ford fire truck and 1927 International fire truck along with firefighting items and artifacts. They had fundraisers to fund the cost and volunteers to build the building. Thank you to everyone that has helped with funding of the Hays Fire Department Museum.
ECHS Board and staff held strategic planning meetings in 2008. We started with the 1976 plan of obtaining the property at 110 West 7th Street. This would enable us to start planning for a larger facility to fit our growing needs. ECHS has now acquired the property and at the present time is drawing income from apartment rental at that location. ECHS now owns the north half of our block, allowing the freedom to build at some future time. ECHS is in great need of more space for exhibit area, work area, collections storage area, and archival storage area. Any plans will include the repurposing of the present museum building.
2007 HAPPENINGS: ECHS has made great strides since the museum started. The collection keeps growing, which tells us that the people of Ellis County care about their history and want to preserve it for future generations. To ensure that we can safely display the treasures that people give the museum, we have started upgrading the exhibit areas by enclosing them, where possible, and starting over where we must. To do this we need your help. If your business or organization would like to help by donating money or volunteering hours, please contact us at (785) 628-2624 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Come by to see how you can help. We have special events that need volunteers. See our Exhibits/Events schedule. Your help will be acknowledged in the newsletter, in brochures, and at events and exhibits programs.