The Finney County Historical Society is resuming its free evening and noon-hour history programs for the public, beginning Jan. 13.
The winter-spring sessions for 2021 will take place with socially-distanced seating and additional COVID-19 precautions. Each is scheduled in the Mary Regan Conference Room of the Finney County Museum, 403 S. Fourth Street in Garden City’s Finnup Park, with access via the north entrance.
Programs are sponsored by the Southern Council of the AT&T Pioneers, and include “1921: The Year That Was,” at noon Jan. 13 and 7 p.m. Jan. 19; “Calkins Hall and Sabine Hall” at noon Feb. 10 and 7 p.m. Feb. 16; “Influenza 1918,” set for noon March 10 and 7 p.m. March 16; and “The 200th Anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail,” at noon April 14 and 7 p.m. April 20.
The segments about 1921, offered by Museum Education Coordinator Johnetta Hebrlee, will focus on the events and developments of 100 years ago. She is planning to share pictures and information about everything from baseball and racial violence in Oklahoma to Irish independence and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider created after World War I, with parallels to Finney County history of the same period.
The two programs in February constitute a reprise of an earlier presentation by Hebrlee, with photos and additional details about the two substantial early 20th Century structures on Garden City’s Buffalo Jones Avenue that originally served as home to Garden City High School and later Garden City Community College. Sabine Hall, still in use as Sabine Apartments, stands at Eighth and Buffalo Jones; while Calkins Hall, demolished in 1979-80, was located just to the west.
The noon and evening sessions in March should offer insight on an earlier pandemic that struck Kansas and the nation, when severe influenza swept the globe in 1918-19. Both gatherings will include a 60-minute PBS documentary featuring historic photographs and film footage about the health crisis that killed 650,000 Americans, as well as millions of victims around the world, more than a century ago. The documentary is part of the American Experience series and originally aired in 1998.
The two presentations in April will mark the two-century anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail, which opened in 1821, linking the American frontier with what was then the Spanish colony of Santa Fe in present-day New Mexico. The April 14 program will be offered by Linda Peters, Lakin, who leads the area chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association and serves as a Kearny County Historical Society board officer. The April 20 session will be given by Dr. Leo E. Oliva, an author whose work concentrates on the U.S. Army of the 1800s, Native Americans and related topics including the well-known trail. The retired collegiate history professor lives in Rooks County, Kansas and owns Western Books Publishing Company.
All 2021 FCHS event scheduling is subject to adjustment due to COVID-related conditions, precautions and regulations.
In addition to spacing out audience seating for social distancing, as in the recent fall series, the program series is breaking with museum tradition by offering beverages but no food. No tables for dining will be available and attendees are asked to refrain from bringing lunch or dinner. Attendance will be limited to 40 listeners per session, hand sanitizer will be accessible and masks are required by city and county ordinance.
Information is available by contacting the museum at 620-272-3664.