Kansas still has milestones to markBy Beccy Tanner
The Wichita Eagle
The celebration of the state’s 150th anniversary has ended. But there are more anniversaries to mark in 2012.
• The Homestead Act of 1862, which brought a flood of settlers to the state. The act offered 160 acres of "free land" to settlers who would farm and live on it for five years. The Ingalls family – Ma, Pa, Laura, Mary and Baby Carrie – claimed land near Independence and spent two years there before moving on.
• Founding of Sedgwick County.
• Construction of a Smith County cabin where Brewster Higley would write “Home on the Range.”
• Publication of The Wichita Eagle, which started April 12, 1872. “To print a paper worthy of such a community’s support, a paper that will be welcomed by every family and place of business in the city and by every fireside and homestead in the valley, is now our highest ambition and will be our studied duty,” publisher Marshall Murdock wrote in the first edition.
• Settling of Nicodemus by a colony of 30 African-Americans from Scott County, Ky. Nicodemus is one of the oldest surviving African-American towns west of the Mississippi.
• Construction of Park Villa at 10th and Bitting in Wichita, a shelter spearheaded singlehandedly by Laura Ford Buckwalter. There weren’t many trees in Wichita back then, and the summer brought hot, dusty winds. Buckwalter, the wife of dentist Oliver Buckwalter, started a campaign to bring a shelter to Riverside Park.
• Construction of St. Mary’s Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, at 307 E. Central.
• Founding of the Kansas Blue Print Co.
• Dedication of the First Presbyterian Church, 525 N. Broadway.
• Birth of Gordon Parks.
• Clyde Cessna began building the first planes constructed in Wichita.
• Opening of the Orpheum Theatre, which was designed and built by one of the nation’s leading architects, “Opera House John” Eberson, at First and Broadway.
• Walter and Olive Ann Beech started Beech Aircraft Corp.
• Invention of the electric guitar in Wichita.
• Amelia Earhart went missing on her historic flight around the world.
• Creation of Wichita’s flag by C. Cecil McAlister. It was considered one of the prettiest in the nation by the North American Vexillological Association and symbolized the Indian word "Wichita," meaning "scattered lodges."
• Dedication of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. A special exhibit through March 31 provides a glimpse of what is stored in the library archives, including documents, photos and artifacts. For details, call 785-263-6700 or go to www.eisenhower.archives.gov.
• Opening of the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson.
• Opening of Botanica, the Wichita Gardens.
• An EF-5 tornado tore through Greensburg, destroying almost all the town.
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