The Story of Kansas

1931-1939 Timeline


March 14 — Kansas Legislature passes a law requiring driver's licenses. Drivers must be at least 16 years old. Licenses cost 25 cents.

March 31 — A Transcontinental-Western flight en route from Kansas City to Los Angeles crashes over the Flint Hills outside Bazaar at 10:37 a.m., killing national football legend Knute Rockne and seven other men.


Walter and Olive Ann Beech start Beech Aircraft Corp.

Feb. 7 — Actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose grandparents live in Arkansas City and where she spends some of her childhood, is born in London.

July 21 — Samuel P. Dinsmoor, founder of the Garden of Eden at Lucas, dies. He is placed in a concrete coffin that has a glass plate in the lid so visitors can see his face.

Sept. 15 — Franklin D. Roosevelt addresses a crowd in Topeka sympathizing with farmers and the rock-bottom prices they receive.

Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. tests its first rubberized tractor tires on a Stafford County farm. Later that year, the company starts its "Put the Farm on Rubber" campaign.


During the summer, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow stay at tourist courts in Great Bend while Bonnie recovers from major injuries she received in a car crash.


Kansas voters refuse to allow alcohol to be sold within the state's boundaries, long after the nation has lifted a ban on prohibition.


The dust begins to blow in huge rolling clouds and for the next four years western Kansas seems to be blowing away.


The National Baseball Congress tournament begins in Wichita.

Western Kansas is plagued by jackrabbits. The Wichita Beacon estimates there are 8 million rabbits in 30 western Kansas counties.

March 25 — Kansas Gov. Alf Landon obtains federal approval of the soil erosion control program for western Kansas.

April 14 — The worst of the dust storms hits western Kansas on Palm Sunday, now known as Black Sunday. The swirling clouds block the sun, drift over roads like snow, fill ditches, and threaten lives.

May 11 — President Franklin D. Roosevelt creates the Rural Electrification Administration.


Alf Landon is nominated as the Republican presidential candidate. He loses to Franklin Roosevelt. At the same time, one of the most powerful Communist leaders in America — Wichitan Earl Browder — runs for president. He draws only 80,000 votes.

Oct. 2 — The first alcohol is produced and sold for fuel from the only alcohol-fuel plant in the nation, located in Atchison.

Burned in a fire so badly as a child that doctors wanted to amputate his legs, Kansan Glenn Cunningham of Elkhart wins an Olympic silver medal in the 1,500-meter race.

A team from Kansas — The McPherson Globe Refiners — wins the gold medal in the first Olympic basketball tournament, beating out teams from 21 countries in Berlin.


July 2 — Amelia Earhart of Atchison vanishes on a flight around the world.


Wichitan Sidney Toler begins playing Charlie Chan in Hollywood.

Fort Scott native Gordon Parks buys his first camera in Seattle.

The Brown-Atchison Electric Cooperative begins stringing wire to farms.


Hattie McDaniel, who spent her childhood in Wichita, wins the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mammy in "Gone With The Wind."

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