Hot times in old towns of yesteryear

My husband and I were traveling fast from CA to Kansas City. There wasn’t any particular reason for speed except we wanted to get to my sister’s place. Driving through Kansas is pretty much a bore. Until… Suddenly I caught sight of a sign out of the corner of my eye…Council Grove. I pointed it out to Gene noting that’s where his dad was born…which is about all we knew about his dad’s origins. He and his brothers never talked about their childhood. Of course we turned around to follow the sign. It was one of those little green ones with the sparkly white letters. We found ourselves following a road down a fairly steep hill, which eventually flattened out and meandered into a small, old town, just barely stepped out of yesteryear. The sides of the street were peppered with those historic marker signs telling you something happened on that spot. We didn’t know until we read some of those that Council Grove was one of the last stops on the Santa Fe Trail.

But we were looking for the more esoteric, less epic Lampson history.

The square brick two story building identified as the Library seemed a likely place to start. We explained our mission to the librarian. She got pretty excited…like a sleuth with a new case or a young girl opening a letter from her lover. She led us to the basement where they had gathered up and stored old scrapbooks from waaay back donated by local citizens. (Yes, scrapbooking is NOT NEW!) They were full of pictures, old cards, and newspaper clippings, dried roses. Some entries were of stuff so unconnected we wondered why they were in the same scrapbook. I was especially taken with the notices about who visited whom from where and who was doing what. It was probably interesting neighborhood gossip at the time, but the underlying one-upmanship was very apparent and it made me chuckle. It’s not hard to see the beginnings of “society” pages!

We told the librarian our story…that all we really knew about my husband’s father was that he was born Jan. 2 in Council Grove, KS. She helped dig out likely scrapbooks and we started looking. We did find one small notice of someone visiting on the occasion of Max’s birth and some useless info about where the Lampsons had visited.

Carnegie_Library_Council_Grove,_Kansas

We were out of time, but so encouraged by search clues from the librarian, we got a room at The Cottage House, went to the Hays House for dinner and planned the next day as if we were mining for gold. My sister was as excited as we were when we called to say we’d be a day late getting in.

iu-1The Cottage House B&B

Hays House, the oldest continuously operated restaurant west of the Mississippi River.

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We talked with a doctor who actually knew the Lampsons, but said lots of records were lost in a fire so that turned into a dead end.

On we went to Missouri to tell my sister and her husband the story so far. But it didn’t end there. Just wait until you read about Topeka and what happened on the way home!

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