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Here are newspaper clippings and photographs showing the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific wreck located two miles east of Smith Center, Kansas.  The wreck occurred when the Rock Island passenger train No. 7, the Rocky Mountain Limited, was derailed, resulting in three cars being burned and passengers and employees being slightly injured.  It was reported the accident was due to excessive speed over a defective piece of track. The train was traveling about 35 miles an hour when the accident occurred.  The locomotive left the rails and landed in a field.  The cars were dragged with the locomotive, and the large tender was wrenched and twisted. One of the mail cars collided with the tender and the wrecked cars immediately caught on fire and quickly burned.  A mail clerk was quite badly wounded and four others were slightly injured.  Ray Wiggins, engineer, and Will Doleman, fireman, were in charge of the engine and retained their places on the locomotive during the accident.  Wiggins sustained slight injuries by being thrown from his seat.  The fireman Will Doleman is credited with rendering assistance to the injured and extinguishing the fire.


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Ekart, Umscheid, Riat, Hoferer and Repp family histories and photographs Ekart, Umscheid, Riat, Hoferer and Repp family histories and photographs


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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.



Kansas Memory Blog

Feb 20, 2015 by Megan Macken

In 1879 and 1880, freedmen (former slaves) sent around 1,000 letters to Kansas Governor John St. John seeking information on migration to Kansas (the Exoduster movement). Governor St. John replied to many of these letters. This exchange between Kansas’ highest official and the freed people of the South documents the hardships, hopes, and misconceptions of southern blacks at the end of Reconstruction.


Community and religious leaders penned many letters on behalf of others, such as small communities or churches. Most of the letters seek to discern truth from fictions--as Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, "Father of the Exodus" advised--about settling in Kansas.

Though the envelopes have not survived, many letters were likely addressed to “John St. John” instead of the “Governor of Kansas.” Isaiah Montgomery explains: “note that I address you without prefixing title in order that the letter may not attract undue attention. Nothing is too hard to suspicion of this Country where it has been the custom for a century or more to ransack the mails to prevent the circulation of documents breathing the spirit of freedom.”

Upon receiving a letter, the Governor’s Office summarized its contents on a memo, noting the author’s name and date, and pasted the memo to the back of the letter. Staff filed the letters first by subject (i.e. “immigration – Negro exodus”) and then in chronological order. St. John or his secretary would then pen a response and “press” a copy of the reply into a letter press book. Pressing involved wetting copy paper (often referred to as “onion skin”) with water, interleaving letters between these wet pages, and applying pressure to the whole until ink from the letters transferred to the copy paper. Too much or too little water could result in a poor copy.

Since many correspondents wrote the governor back after receiving his letters, it is obvious that many of the governor’s letters reached their intended audience. But did the governor intentionally conceal his title/office on the envelope as some of the letters request? Again Isaiah Montgomery: “Please address an answer (as early as convenient) with no mark on the Envelope to denote that it comes from the Capital or any official.”

Here at the State Archives, we hold both the original letters sent to Governor St. John and copies of his responses “pressed” into letter press books. All correspondence received by the Governor has now been digitized and transcribed and is available on Kansas Memory.

Dec 18, 2014 by Matthew Powell

As we enter the winter season and receive our first significant snow fall, we all reminisce about the snow storms from the past. There aren't many that reach the magnitude of the recent snow fall in Buffalo, New York, but Kansas has had its share of blizzards and large snow falls, as these photos illustrate. We hope you enjoy viewing them from the warmth of your home, even though the photos may make you shiver

View this special exhibit

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