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sold and then not presented for payment as they were in every
other county. What we do know positively is that the bonds were
never presented for payment and that Dr. Rodgers and his colony
never cost Ness county one cent.

Essentially Dr. Rodgers seems a tragic figure. The very device
that seemed to make his colony possible the organization of the
county and the voting of the bonds to carry it through the winter
was the instrument of his undoing. In the end the politicians de-
stroyed him with the very weapon they taught him to use. His
dream was broken and his hopes blasted. Surely he deserves a
better memory than posterity has so far held for him. When the
whole record is read and the bits of evidence put together, we can-
not do better than to concur in the opinion of William Lenihan, his
colonist, when he said of Dr. Rodgers, "I always thought he meant
to do the right thing."

Light on the Brinkley Issue in Kansas: Letters
of William A. White to Dan D. Casement


'T^WO examples of an older generation of men who lived their
JL lives in Kansas but knew intimately the great and near-great
and were vitally concerned with public issues are W. A. White of
Emporia and Dan D. Casement of Manhattan. 1 Their range of
interests and their intense feeling for the welfare of the American
man in contemporary society often led them to resort to the power
of the pen both for publication and in letters where some inmost
thoughts were bared. Both men were extremely effective in the
use of the now near-gone art of writing personal letters on public

White's reputation for free, frank expression stands out on the
record. His close friend, and intimate correspondent, Casement,
is in his own words, "the last Viking of the Plains." Former rancher
of the open range, breeder of nationally famous Herefords and
quarter horses, vitriolic critic of the New Deal farm program, he
remains among the most rugged of the remaining exponents of
rugged individualism. By pen and voice he has entered state and na-
tional political discussion whenever he felt the dignity of the
individual was imperiled. Casement, described as an "educated
roughneck" by George Clammer, Manhattan lawyer, loathed the
public official who valued constituents' votes above honest expres-
sion of opinion. His "fearless pronouncements" against his congress-
men gained attention far beyond the limits of Kansas. 2

It is our purpose here to look at one incident in Kansas history.
That is the action of these two men concerning one aspect of the
gubernatorial race in 1932. Prior to examining White's letters to
Casement on this point, it is important to note one interpretation
Casement made of his friend's character. White was characterized
by Casement in a letter to Dr. Harold Willis Dodds, president of
Princeton University, as follows:

DR. JAMES C. CAREY and DR. VERLIN ROBERT EASTERLING are associate professors in
the history, government and philosophy department at Kansas State College, Manhattan.

1. William Allen White, known as the "Sage of Emporia," died in 1944. Dan D. Case-
ment, 84 years of age at this writing (1952), is a very active citizen of Manhattan.

2. From "back home" he wrote to his congressman as follows: "If the vote represents
your sincere convictions, it gives conclusive proof of an inferior mentality ....
I ask you, how long can America hope to survive if the people's chosen representatives persist
in the shameless display of either ( 1 ) such a low order of intelligence, or ( 2 ) such a dearth
of courage and honor as your vote in this instance has evidenced." An editorial from the
New York Sun reprinted in The Watch Dog, New York, published by the National Economy
League, July, 1939.



P. S. I have sent your speech to my dear friend, Bill White in Emporia, who
believes profoundly in democracy but who is so damned patient and tolerant
and forgiving of human weaknesses that he seems able to see little threat to
liberty in the present political scene and sometimes appears to be almost
incapable of righteous anger even against demagogues, be they ever so con-
temptible. 3

It would appear that at times White needed to be pushed into a
fight. The "Sage of Emporia" who had helped to whip the Klan
in Kansas could not make up his mind to pronounce against the
political neophyte from Milford, Dr. John R. Brinkley, who was
making a second serious bid for the office of governor.

"The trouble with Brinkley/' editorialized White in the Emporia
Gazette on October 7, 1932, "is his inexperience. He is not a politi-
cal crook. He just doesn't knofa any better." 4 The editor claimed
that the "weird wizard," Brinkley, who promised anything for
votes, would, if elected, not only regain his medical license but
would "wreck Kansas." On September 23, 1932, White wrote as


You and I agree exactly on the Brinkley situation. Brinkley is going to carry
this state if Landon and the State Committee doesn't make an aggressive, two-
fisted fight.

The reason why I don't do it is that my fight would of course be linked up
inevitably with Landon in spite of my protest and if Landon was licked they
would point the finger of scorn at me. And blame me for the defeat of Hoover
in Kansas also. Until they get some guts I cannot begin to fight. But Lord
I would like to start! I am not afraid of a libel suit!

If you have any suggestions to make how I can proceed, please let me know.

Sincerely yours,

The next few days, late in September of an interesting election
year, must have been a time of decision. Just five days later, on
September 28, there followed a brief but revealing letter:

SEPTEMBER 28, 1932

I've crossed the Rubicon.

I am not going to take my Brinkley licking lying down. I enclose an edi-
torial and I am going to shoot more of them. This may not please Alf and
may not please anyone, but it satisfies my conscience. I think as you say we
have let this fellow get away with murder because we are afraid of offending
his poor half-witted dupes, and I am going to go to it.

3. Draft of a letter, Casement to Dodds, dated April 24, 1937, in "Casement Manu-

4. The Emporia Gazette, October 7, 1932.

5. Letter from White to Casement dated September 23, 1932, in "Casement Mss."
Neither the original nor carbon copies of Casement's letters to White have been found at this
writing (1952).


Take this around to Fay Seaton and tell him I dare him to print it. 6

Sincerely yours,


On November 9, 1932, during the evident flush of victory in a
battle furiously fought and won, Casement received the following
unique letter:


I owe a lot to you. Your letter prodded me up and I decided not to take
my licking lying down. I wrote a letter to start with, to all my friends in the
daily newspaper business, thirty of them, and asked them to join me. Then
I wrote this editorial "Save Kansas" and sent it out and they all printed it.
I didn't consult with the State Central Committee, nor with Landon, nor with
Mulvane on behalf of the National Committee. I just went to it hog wild
and plumb loco which I believe is my best technique. Then I got a list of
Republican weekly newspapers and wrote to them and soon had a hundred
editors with whom I was corresponding and to whom I was sending editorials
every week and to the dailies two or three times a week. And we shot the
old goat's guts full of holes and there he lies today belly up.

And you did it and I thank you.

Always cordially yours,


Three more days passed during which the Emporian could evalu-
ate the recent political campaign. On November 12, 1932, this note
was penned:


I had the same fun fighting Brinkley that I had fighting the Klan and it was
the same outfit, the organized moron minority, plus the despairing and the
disgruntled who knew better. Generally both outfits divide in the ballot box,
but this year they got together and two years ago they got together. But it is
a comfort to think Brinkley did not get a larger per cent of the vote this year
than he got last year.

Come down and see us some time.

Sincerely yours,

The "despairing and the disgruntled" in the above letter reminds
one of White's early impressions of the social elements which com-
prised the Populist movement and provoked his "What's the Matter
With Kansas." Still there was a difference, but in the light of what
has happened at the level of state government and politics, the pub-
lic-spirited citizen had a duty to perform. The editor of the Em-
poria Gazette could turn crusader and help to save the people from
what he considered folly and poor judgment. There was an era of

6. This editorial, entitled "Save Kansas," was printed in the Manhattan Mercury, October
8, 1932.

7. Letter from White to Casement dated September 28, 1932, in "Casement Mss."

8. Letter from White to Casement dated November 9, 1932, ibid.

9. Letter from White to Casement dated November 12, 1932, ibid.


"Governors' trouble": Jim and Ma Ferguson in Texas, and Walton
and Johnston in Oklahoma. There have been characters who graced
or disgraced the office of chief executive of states such as "Alfalfa
Bill" Murray of Oklahoma, "Kingfish" Long and "You Are My
Sunshine" Davis of Louisiana, and "Pass the Biscuits Pappy"
O'Daniel of Texas. On the other hand, presidential timber came
out of the West in 1936, Alf Landon of Kansas. Depression and
disillusionment brought some strange political manifestations. So
it is not surprising that Kansas narrowly missed having a unique
"medicine-man" as governor in 1932.

Everett Rich of Emporia State Teachers College has elicited a
fine collection of letters from White's friends in connection with the
opening of the new William "Allen White Memorial Library at
Emporia. The following is an excerpt from the letter by H. J.
Haskell of the Kansas City Star:

When "Old Doc Brinkley" made such an astonishing showing in the Kansas
governorship race Mr. White sent a brief comment to The Kansas City Star.
"In every age and clime," he said in effect, "there is a great seething moronic
underworld. Its denizens are literate. They can read and write, but they
can't think. They live on the level of their emotions and vote their prejudices.
Usually they are divided between the two great political parties, but occasionally
some man or issue comes along that stirs them and they boil up and hold a
Scopes trial in Tennessee, or elect a Big Bill Thompson mayor of Chicago and
almost put in Doc Brinkley as governor of Kansas."

At once Brinkley voters deluged him with letters of protest. They didn't
know what "moronic" meant, but they knew "underworld" had bad associa-
tions. They weren't wicked, they wrote. They were good Christian people.

"Dear Brinkley voters," he replied, "you got me wrong. I didn't mean that
you were wicked. I only meant that you were dumb." 10

The contemporary nature of the Kansas political campaign of
1932 no doubt accounts for the fact that no adequate attempt has
been made to diagnose the Brinkley political appeal from the stand-
point of historical analysis. 11 While this has not been done here, the
above letters have shed some interesting light on "why" and "how"
one fight was made on the Milford man. W. A. White sensed not
only a shirt-sleeve fight but the need to do battle. It is quite evident
that the impetus (push) came from his good friend in Manhattan,
the "Deever," Dan D. Casement.

10. The Kansas City Star, April 6, 1952, p. 8D.

11. There is, of course, the interesting, exploratory work of W. G. Clugston, Rascals in
Democracy (New York, 1940), which gives considerable attention to the Brinkley election


The Annual Meeting

THE 77th annual meeting of the Kansas State Historical Society
and board of directors was held in the rooms of the Society on
October 21, 1952.

The meeting of the directors was called to order by President
William T. Beck at 10 A. M. First business was the reading of the
annual report by the secretary:


Acting upon the request of Kirke Mechem, the board of directors of the
Kansas State Historical Society accepted his resignation as secretary at the
annual meeting in October, 1951. Mr. Mechem continues with the Society,
however, as editor of the Quarterly and the Annals of Kansas.

At the conclusion of the 1951 meeting, the newly-elected president, Will T.
Beck, reappointed Charles M. Correll, Robert C. Rankin, and Wilford Riegle to
the executive committee. The members holding over were John S. Dawson
and T. M. Lillard.

Death claimed several members of the Society's board of directors the past
year, and it is with deep regret that we record their passing. On the memorial
roll are Sen. Arthur Capper, Topeka; W. C. Simons, Lawrence; H. K. Lindsley,
Wichita; W. B. Trembly, Kansas City; F. L. Carson, Wichita; Frank A. Hobble,
Dodge City; Mrs. Effie H. Van Tuyl, Leavenworth; and Mrs. Mamie Axline Fay,
Pratt. Mr. Simons and Mr. Lindsley were former presidents of the Society.

Miss Edith Smelser, curator of the Historical Society's museum, died un-
expectedly October 4. She was at work until two days before her death. Miss
Smelser served the Society for 37 years, and was a valued and faithful member
of the staff.

A gift of $134.57 was received from the estate of Lillian Forrest of Jewell.
Miss Forrest, a life member of the Society, died in 1950.


Appropriation requests for the next biennium have been filed with the state
budget director. In addition to the usual requests for salaries and maintenance,
several increases and special appropriations were asked. These included
$48,000 for steel stack floors, $15,000 for partial rewiring of the Memorial
building, $11,000 for new lights in the business office, newspaper sorting room,
and throughout the old newspaper and library stacks, $3,000 for painting, and
$3,200 for plumbing and for insulating steam pipes.

The largest item in the Society's budget, $48,000 for steel stack floors, was
made necessary because of the deterioration of the glass floors in the old stack
area. Over the years the glass has become dangerously brittle and weakened.
One of the staff narrowly escaped serious injury the past year when the glass
broke under him and he fell through the floor. Several of the glass sections
have been replaced with steel plates, but the entire five levels of glass need
to be removed before a serious accident occurs.

The electrical wiring is in much the same condition as the stack floors. It
is now about 40 years old and has deteriorated dangerously. We have been



warned by the state architect's office, as well as by electrical contractors and
servicemen, that it should be replaced.

Two thousand dollars was requested for repairing the roof of the First Capitol
at Fort Riley, and for painting and other repairs.

A maintenance fund of $1,500 a year, in addition to the caretaker's salary,
was asked for the Old Kaw Mission at Council Grove, which was purchased by
the state last year. If this amount is granted some museum displays can be
built and the landscaping can be improved.

An increase of $500 a year in the maintenance fund of the Old Shawnee
Mission was asked, in addition to the following special requests: $3,000 for
the construction of a wing on the tool house to provide increased storage for
machinery and supplies, $800 for the purchase of a power saw and a three-gang
lawn roller, $2,450 for a sewer connection and for payment of special sewer
district assessments, $2,500 for waterproofing the porous brick exteriors of the
buildings and for tuckpointing ancL other repairs to the masonry, $500 for
painting and decorating, and $1,000 to be used for repair and maintenance of
the roofs.


During the year 2,977 persons did research in the library. Of these, 1,038
worked on Kansas subjects, 1,089 on genealogy and 850 on general subjects.
Many inquiries were answered by letter, and 127 packages on Kansas subjects
were sent out from the loan file. A total of 5,131 sheets and biographical cards
of clippings were mounted, of which 634 sheets were on the floods of 1951.
Five hundred and seventy-five pages of old clippings were remounted. Twelve
pieces of sheet music have been added to the collection of Kansas music.

The Kansas society of Colonial Dames of America presented a microfilm
copy of the federal census of 1850 for Ohio, and Mrs. Pauline Keller has given
for the John Haupt chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution a
microfilm copy of the federal census of 1850 for Iowa. The Emporia chapter
of the Daughters of the American Revolution gave nine typed volumes of
"Tombstone Inscriptions of Lyon County," and other gifts were received from
the Topeka town committee of the Colonial Dames of America, the Daughters
of the American Revolution, the Woman's Kansas Day Club and the National
Society of Daughters of Founders and Patriots of America. Several gifts of
Kansas books and genealogies have been received from individuals. Fourteen
volumes and pamphlets were bought with funds from the Pecker bequest for
New Hampshire items.

Microfilm copies of the following have been added to the library:
KARPENSTEIN, KATHERINE, "Illustrations of the West in Congressional Docu-
ments, 1843-1863. . . ." Thesis.
LAIRD AND LEE, pubs., The Dalton Brothers and Their Astounding Career of

Crime. . . .

LINES, CHARLES B., [Scrapbook of Clippings from 1840-1857].
RUSSELL, CHARLES, [Scrapbook of Drawings, Prints, and Clippings].
RYAN, RAYMOND, "Mr. and Mrs. William Ryan, Hays City Pioneers."
SHAW, VAN B., "Nicodemus, Kansas. . . ." Thesis.

U. S. ADJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE, "Eighth United States Cavalry Organiza-
tional Returns and Miscellaneous Letters, 1866-1898."

With Hostile Indians.
WELLS, FARGO & Co., vs. THE UNITED STATES ET AL., Indian Depredations.



During the year, 768 photographs were added to the picture collection, of
which 370 featured the floods of 1951. An oil painting of Edgar Watson Howe
was received from Al Bennett, editor of the Atchison Daily Globe, and an oil
painting of the late Gov. George Hartshorn Hodges was given by his brother,
Frank Hodges, of Olathe. Through the Woman's Kansas Day Club a portrait
and an album of pictures of the late U. S. Sen. Clyde M. Reed were given by
his daughter, Mrs. James E. Smith. From the Lions club of Lawrence the
Society received seven reels of motion picture film showing Lawrence build-
ings, the National Guard, and other scenes taken in 1941 and 1942.

The 1951 legislature appropriated $2,000 for repairing and restoring the
Society's oil paintings. This work has been nearly completed and the appear-
ance and physical condition of the paintings have been greatly improved.
Such renovation should be done periodically to prevent the canvas from be-
coming brittle and the paint from blistering and chipping.


Edgar Langsdorf, state archivist, was advanced to the position of assistant
secretary on November 1, 1951. A new state archivist, Robert W. Richmond,
joined the staff October 1, 1952. Mr. Richmond is a native Kansan, a graduate
of Washburn University, with a master's degree in history from the University
of Nebraska, and for the past year has been employed by the Nebraska State
Historical Society as state archivist.

Records received by the division during the year are as follows:

Source Title Dates Quantity

Board of Agriculture .... Statistical Rolls of

Counties 1945 1,725 vols.

Statistical Rolls of Cities . . . 1951 1,557 vols.

Board of Engineering

Examiners Engineering Applicants'

Folders 1948-1951 5 reels

Budget Director Correspondence Files 1932-1946 5 transfer

Budgets (city, county, cases

etc.) 1941-1945 53 vols.

Civil Service Depart-
ment Minute Book of the Civil

Service Commission 1915-1921 1 vol.

Insurance Department . . * Admission Statements . . . 1944, 1945 2 vols.

* Annual Statements 1944,1945 106 vols.

* Record of Agents'

Licenses 1939-1944 54 vols.

* Casualty Insurance Ex-

pense Exhibits 1946-1949 4 vols.

Shawnee County, Regis-
ter of Deeds fDeed Records 1855-1858 2 vols.

f Lien Book 1860-1867 1 vol.

fRecord of Civil War

Discharges n. d. 1 vol.

flndenture: Wm. D. Cor-
nish, Special Master to
Union Pacific Railway. . 1898 1 vol.

Microfilmed and originals destroyed,
f Microfilmed and originals returned.


The correspondence files of the office of the budget director will be screened
for important material and the remainder will be discarded. Two volumes of
the 1925 census which are becoming badly worn were filmed as a precautionary
measure, although the originals are still in regular use.


During the year approximately 1,200 individual manuscripts and two reels
of microfilm were added to the manuscript collections.

In July the Society acquired a group of 800 letters and business papers of
Hiram Hill, a Massachusetts businessman who invested heavily in lands and
town lots in territorial Kansas, particularly in Quindaro. Much of the corre-
spondence is between Hill and his Kansas agents, Simpson brothers of Law-
rence. The bulk of the collection falls within the period 1855-1870.

The following records of the First Baptist church of Topeka were filmed
through the courtesy of the church, and the originals returned: history of the
church, 1857-1880; minutes of the church clerk, 1857-1948; financial record and
minutes of the board of trustees, 1884-1890; register of members, 1857-1892,
1910-1947; and minutes of the secretary of the building committee, 1923-1927.
Edward M. Beougher of Grinnell secured from the National Archives a
microfilm reel of War Department general and special orders relating to Fort
Wallace, 1866-1876, which he donated to the Society. He also sent a typed
copy of a letter of Col. H. C. Bankhead, concerning the Battle of the Arickaree,
and two reports of .the attempt to recover the bodies of soldiers who were
killed. Five photostats of a diary of Sigmund Shlesinger, written in 1868
during the same battle, were given by Robert Taft of Lawrence. Dr. Taft
secured the photostats from the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, owner
of the original diary.

Several letters of E. W. Howe, the "Sage of Potato Hill," were presented by
Mrs. Sheila Burlingame of New York.

The late Sen. Arthur Capper gave 32 letters, written by Kansas Republicans
in February, 1912, reporting political sentiment on the Taft-Roosevelt-LaFol-
lette presidential race, and on voluntary precinct primaries to nominate and
instruct delegates to the convention.

More than 200 letters to and from William Allen White were received from
Rolla A. Clymer of El Dorado. Of this group, 128 letters were written by
White to Clymer and 61 by Clymer to White.

Frank Haucke of Council Grove, on behalf of the family of Addison W.
Stubbs, presented a collection of Stubbs' papers consisting largely of unpub-
lished poems, articles, and addresses. Mr. Stubbs and his father, Mahlon
Stubbs, were for many years agents, teachers, and interpreters to the Kaw

A collection of autographs of more than 100 writers, statesmen, artists,
actors, and educators was given by Charlotte M. Leavitt of Topeka.

Mrs. Carl F. Trace of Topeka presented more than 200 pieces of scrip issued
by the Topeka Bridge Company in 1857-1858. Her great-grandfather, F. L.
Crane, was president of the company.

A journal of Patrick Walsh, recounting his experiences in the U. S. marine
corps in 1862-1864, especially in Confederate prisons in 1863 and 1864, was
received from his daughter, Agnes Walsh of Topeka.


Other donors were: Ward Atwood, Colorado Springs, Colo.; L. J. Bond,
El Dorado; Dickinson County Historical Society; Alan W. Farley, Kansas City,
Kan.; Conie Foote, Kansas City, Mo.; Mr. and Mrs. Grant Harrington, Kansas
City, Kan.; Clint W. Kanaga, Kansas City, Mo.; Mary Cornelia Lee, Manhattan;
Mrs. A. W. Lewis, Galva; Dr. Karl Menninger, Topeka; Marco Morrow, To-
peka; George and Mrs. W. D. Philip, Hays; Judge J. C. Ruppenthal, Russell;
Mrs. Dale Van Valkenburgh, Manhattan; and Otto Wullschleger, Frankfort.


The number of photographs made by the microfilm division since its estab-

Online LibraryKansas State Historical SocietyThe Kansas historical quarterly (Volume 20) → online text (page 42 of 76)