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Museum history programs to get underway

Navajo Code Talker Samuel F. Sandoval

The Finney County Historical Museum’s fall series of Evening at the Museum and History at High Noon presentations will get under way soon with a pair of programs about one of the last Native American code talkers of World War II.

The presentations are sponsored by the Western Kansas Community Foundation and take place at noon the second Wednesday and 7 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month, September-November, and January-April.  

Admission is free and those attending should use the museum’s north entrance at 403 S. Fourth St.

Listeners are welcome to bring their own lunch or dinner, if desired, with the museum providing cookies and beverages.


The first two programs are set for noon Sept. 14, and 7 p.m. Sept. 20, featuring the life and experiences of World War II Navajo Code Talker Samuel F. Sandoval, who died in July at Shiprock, NM.  

The programs will be presented by Paul Kyle, founder of the Upchurch Foundation. 

Kyle’s presentation is based on “The Heart of a Warrior,” a documentary about Sandoval and hundreds of others who used a code based on their native language to transmit messages for U.S. Army and Marine Corps units fighting against Japanese forces in the war’s pacific theater.

With Sandoval’s recent death at the age of 98, only three code talkers remain alive.


The sessions at noon Oct. 12 and 7 p.m. Oct. 18 are each entitled “In Case You’ve Ever Wondered.”  

Offered by Museum Education Coordinator Johnetta Hebrlee, the segments will explain the names of various local buildings, parks and streets.

“We’ll also be solving some other quirky little mysteries in the community,” the presenter predicted.

The fall series will conclude at 7 p.m. Nov. 15, when James F. Vanek, Winfield, will present a program about controversial U.S. Cavalry officer George Armstrong Custer.  

Custer, who served with flamboyance and distinction in the Union Army during the Civil War, died 11 years later in 1876 at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana territory, where he was defeated by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

Vanek is a former teacher, coach, school administrator and newspaper columnist who has extensively researched Custer’s life and times, and has walked every mile of the Little Bighorn battlefield.

The guest lecturer’s session, focused in part on Custer’s connection to the 19th Century American concept of Manifest Destiny, will be preceded at noon Nov. 9 with a different segment by Hebrlee about the one-time brigadier general, as well as about his wife, Elizabeth “Libbie” Bacon Custer.