Past News Notices

Museum now on January Winter Hours & reduced hours Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Holiday 2015

We are now on Winter Season Hours - January style - which means we will be closed on Sundays during this coldest month of the year - even though for a few days we are getting a nice Kansas January thaw. We are taking advantage of the warm up to complete some moving and inventory projects before we are forced into only indoor activities by the next winter blast. So we will be closed on Monday - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The Visitor Center in the Depot will be open Monday, Jan. 19, 2015 from noon to 4 p.m. and the museum may open in the afternoon too - but we will be working on a collection inventory project Sunday and Monday and may be closed to the public the entire day while we update inventory info on our Military collections. We apologize if this hinders a planned visit but it will allow us to move ahead with exhibit upgrades on a faster timetable. We will resume regular hours on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

Regular January Winter Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Monday - Friday ; 10 am - 4 pm Saturdays ; closed on Sundays.

We currently have a special exhibit up in the Museum and a challenge to to visitors to come in to see how many What-Iz-Its you can identify in the museum gallery. The recently donated collection of odd and unusual items from Bob Staley - auctioneer and knower of the odd and unusual - are on exhibit as the first of a series of mini-exhibits looking at the things we collect and how to preserve your treasures. The exhibit is laid out with an answer key so you can tour the exhibit and compare your guess to what the objects actually are. And check back as we expand and change out the exhibit to give you tips on preserving your own family heirlooms. We are taking suggestions for the kind of objects you want advice on preserving for future generations - so far some of the types of things you want advice on are: family photographs, dolls, arrowheads and other archeological artifacts, 1920s-1950s era clothing (sweaters and other textiles), metal toys and various farm hand-tools. Keep giving us your requests we are planning new exhibit segments and a special program later this winter to give you a chance to show off your special heirlooms and get ideas on how best to preserve them.

Can't make it to the museum right now - email your requests for preservation ideas to

Pioneer Club: Robot & Christmas Fun in the Museum

Pioneer Club Invite

Pioneer Club will have a very special event in the Museum - Winter Break has started and its time to get out and have some fun and get together for Christmas - and maybe learn something if your not careful. Pioneer Club is our youth education program aimed at 4th-7th graders with a little younger or older just fine. If you're not already a Pioneer Club member you can still attend - just give us a call if you need details and have your parent sign you up when you come out for the Robot Christmas Party.

In case you're asking - Why Robots? This is a program we first began while hosting the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit "Yesterday's Tomorrows" and it has been so popular, fun for kids and chock full of hands on learning we offer it on a regular basis for Pioneer Club, outside groups and periodically as a special Robotics Day in the Museum. Come out and see how Robots can see, hear, touch, and tell us what they want. See if you can fly Santa's Robot Blimp - Help us design a Robot to help Santa do all his Holiday duties and help the community (while not a real working robot - you can add the tools a Santa Bot would need).

Monday, Dec. 22nd 2014 - from 6-8 p.m. come on out, bring a friend or sibling - decorate our Robot Christmas Tree, have some fun, have Christmas Snacks and take home a prize.

Download the pdf of the Invitation Here (pdf)

2015 Membership Drive underway

See current - Nov. 2014 Newsletter

Remember you can send gift memberships to friends and family and we will announce your gift with a Christmas Card.

Check back soon for online ways to renew or start a new membership in the Atchison County Historical Society.

Monday, October 20, 2014 Annual Meeting to Salute Historical Society Supporters and Program to Look at the REAL Kansas

program poster

The Atchison County Historical Society Annual Meeting evening on Monday, Oct. 20th will begin at 6 p.m. with a Social Hour in the Museum to include the induction of the 2014 Class of the Historical Society’s own Roll of Honor. The Annual Meeting is free and open to the public

Documentary filmmaker Audrey Kalivoda is a native of Brantford, KS who grew tired of hearing only Wizard of Oz references to her home state. “We just don’t realize what our great state has to offer…” so she set out to change that perception.

Kalivoda will bring that vision of Kansas to Atchison on Monday, Oct. 20th when she will be the featured program at the Atchison County Historical Society Annual Membership Meeting at the Museum in the Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. 10th Street in Atchison, KS.

Her 35-minute documentary film takes aim at the view that Kansas is a flat spot to drive across on the way to more interesting locations. “Kansas: The Center of It All” looks at the geology, history, wildlife and the interesting places and people of Kansas. She notes that Kansas certainly is not flat – from the Glacial Hills around Atchison to the Kansas Canyonlands and the Flint Hills.

“There’s a quote about how the mountains and oceans speak to you,” said Kalivoda, “but the Prairie…you have to sit and listen to it…let it talk to you…slow down and look around.”

“Kansas: At the Center of It All” came out of her own love for her home state of Kansas and the trips her parents took with Kalivoda and her younger sister as children – criss-crossing the state. She credits her parents for fostering her love and understanding of what Kansas is and what the state has to offer. Kansas: At the Center of It All “is for out-of-state and in-state tourists who don’t really realize what we have to offer.”

Kalivoda will talk about her vision, her Kansas based projects, her documentary film company (Mesquite90) and what Kansas means to her, before showing “Kansas” for the Annual Meeting of the Atchison County Historical Society. DVDs of The Center of It All and her other films will be available for sale and to be autographed by the filmmaker.

A Special Segment of this Year’s Historical Society Annual Meeting will be the induction of the 2014 Class of the Roll of Honor.
Created in 2007 as a permanent way to pay tribute to the key individuals who have made a significant impact on the Atchison County Historical Society the 2014 class spans the years from the Society’s beginnings in 1967. Long time board members and former presidents Emogene Kautz and Jim Ewbank lead the 2014 group, with Bob Staley - the co-creator of our popular WhatIzIt Programs. Early supporters inducted for 2014 are Father Peter Beckman, Edgar Lansdorf (a key advisor to the Atchison County Historical Society during its formation from the Kansas State Historical Society) and former County Commissioner Robert Lykins.

The Annual Meeting also includes election of board and officers. The slate of Board nominations for terms through 2017 are: Galen Pruett, Pat Brox and TBA. President - Harold Scheopner; Vice President - Steve Caplinger; Treasurer - Gail Fox. This slate will be presented to the full membership at the Annual Meeting.

The Atchison County Historical Society Annual Meeting evening on Monday, Oct. 20th will begin at 6 p.m. with a Social Hour in the Museum to include the induction of the 2014 Class of the Historical Society’s own Roll of Honor & heavy refreshments and beverages. At 7 p.m. the Historical Society Annual Meeting will begin – including election of board and officers followed immediately by Audrey Kalivoda, Kansas filmmaker and “Kansas: The Center of It All.” The Annual Meeting is free and open to the public as well as Historical Society members. For questions or additional info email or call Chris Taylor, executive director of the Historical Society at the Museum -  •  913-367-6238.

Additional Information on Audrey Kalivoda:
Kalivoda operates Mesquite 90 Productions which produced travel and history documentary films. Current titles by Kalivoda include: “Kansas: The Center of It All,” “Palo Duro Canyon,” “Kansas Canyonlands…the Arikaree Breaks,” and “Nashville…the Making of Music City.” Additional projects under production: “Following the Parker Trail,” tracing Cynthia Ann Parker and her family’s move West and a driving tour CD of the Palo Duro Canyon. Kalivoda and Mesquite 90 Productions can be found online at Facebook <>  or DVDs purchased on Etsy <>.

2014 paper airplane contest

Piece of Atchison County History looking for new home with Atchison County based non-profit or business

Look for this Atchison County historical item in Muscotah at the new mercantile in the near future

The Atchison County Historical Society is looking for a good home and a new working life - for the old Treasurer’s Office Counter from the County Courthouse that was replaced by modern service desks in 2005.

The original counter- dating back to the building of the courthouse – has seen years of history and the Historical Society is looking for someone with a vision to give it a new use to continue to serve the people of Atchison County. All the parts, as they were removed from the courthouse, are here including the 1970s or 1980s era replacement butcher block laminate countertop. Although the original marble inlay will remain as part of the Historical Society Collection.

If you have a project, business location or idea for a new use for this historic piece of furniture – contact Chris Taylor, executive director of the Atchison County Historical Society – 913-367-6238, <> or P.O. Box 201, Atchison, KS 66002. The Historical Society will consider proposals received with preference to Atchison County non-profit organizations, then Atchison County businesses, with lowest preference given to locations outside of Atchison County. Taylor said even if you are working out details of your idea you should contact the Historical Society by Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 5 p.m. – as proposals will be reviewed on Sept. 15th.

Chris Taylor said that the Historical Society is looking for the right project and location for the counter to have a new purpose and the Board of the Historical Society wants to find a place in our county for this historic piece to be donated or ownership transferred. Proposals should include full details of purpose and location and how costs for moving and installation will be covered. The counter was removed in two sections – one 142 inches long and the second 118 inches long. The top is 34 inches across and the counter would be approx. 42 inches high depending on what is done with the countertop.

“Right now the old Treasurer’s Counter is in storage and we don’t want to just transfer where it is stored,” said Taylor. “We want to find a working home where it will be seen and used in the near future.”

Historical Society Museum OPEN over 2013 long Thanksgiving weekend

Final chance to see Amelia Earhart Memorial Bridge exhibit, See Walter Yost exhibit preview, coffee and free Wi-Fi available for Thanksgiving holiday visitors

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend visitors to the Santa Fe Depot can take in a last look at one popular exhibit and get a sneak preview of plans for a blockbuster future exhibit.

“We know there are lots of family coming back to Atchison this time of year so we try to have something special for them,” said Chris Taylor, executive director of the Atchison County Historical Society. “This year we’re doing something a little different again – we are holding over our most popular exhibit of the past year – on the old Mo-Kan Free Bridge – and giving a sneak preview of an exhibit we are working on for 2015 on the art of Walter Yost. We always have a good audience this time of year so we go a little extra and have a new exhibit and offer free coffee each day for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.”

“One great thing about both of these exhibits the one closing and opening – is we are giving visitors a way to share their connections and be a part of the history gathered on the old bridge and share their connections to Walter Yost and be a part of that future exhibit.”

Yost Painting Walter Yost

Walter Yost & Watercolor Painting

The Museum hopes to have a new bridge highlight for this final weekend of the “Crossing the Big Muddy” special exhibit – adding in some pieces of the former bridge KDOT has donated to the Historical Society for preservation. “We have been waiting to get the word from KDOT’s demolition crew when we can access some of the pieces set aside for history,” said Taylor, “and if we can arrange it we will have some artifacts from the old bridge on display.”

“Crossing the Big Muddy” first opened last November with the opening of a new Missouri River bridge looking back at our community’s river crossings and the challenges and benefits of being a river town.

This Thanksgiving’s new thing in the museum will be a sneak preview of a planned Walter Yost blockbuster exhibit – set for late 2015. The Walter Yost preview will give people a chance to see a bit of what we are planning and give everyone who knew Walter Yost or the family or who own a Walter Yost painting an avenue to be a part of the exhibit and planned book on the art and the man- Walter Yost. Taylor said the Historical Society is collecting names of people who are willing to write or share their Yost artworks for the exhibit and book project. Visitors can pick up cards to submit their information and willingness to take part.

Taylor said that the museum has become a popular stop over the long holiday weekend for people who just want to get out of the house and look around town or a place to stop after doing some shopping around town.

“We want to give visitors some of the things they are often looking for: a place to check their email with free Wi-Fi and cup of coffee and some doughnuts. Although the doughnuts usually go pretty quickly,” said Taylor. “We always strive to give visitors a chance to renew their connections to their hometown over the holidays whether it’s just seeing our 14-foot Christmas trees decked out in the Depot, looking over our new exhibits or our permanent exhibit galleries we hope they find something meaningful each year.”

The Museum and Visitor’s Center in the Santa Fe Depot, 200 S. 10th Street, will be open Friday, Nov. 29th from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 30th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 1st from noon to 4 p.m.  Museum admission is by donation. For more info contact Chris Taylor at the Atchison County Historical Society 913-367-6238 or by email <>.

Atchison's Hauntings on NPR Here & Now

Here & Now

Is Atchison, Kansas, The Most Haunted City in America? Visit the Here & Now link to hear the interview with ACHS Executive Director Chris Taylor as it aired on the national NPR program Halloween eve.

Link to NPR Here & Now - Atchison Most Haunted City

Or click here to listen to the MP3 of the Interview

Want to know more about Atchison's "Haunted Season" visit the Chamber of Commerce site to find what offerings are still available - Saturday Nov. 2 are the last tours of this year - and what is on tap for 2014. Link here to visit Chamber Site

The Museum did not host our usual seasonal "Burial Practices exhibit this season because of environmental issues in the museum due to the failure of the HVAC system that left humidity levels into the danger levels for museum objects. We did not make several planned exhibit changes from July to today because of this problem. However with the help of Mother Nature moderting the humidity in the natural manner - we are resuming our schedule and plan to install the exhibit for a short time to complete additions and improvements to the text and image panels - so if you stop in during November you may see Burial Practices as we upgrade it for its next full exhibition starting in Sept. 2014.

Do you have any Haunted Tales from Atchison County you would like to share? If so please email us and we will continue to collect your stories - as a planned addition to next year's Burial Practices exhibition. Click LINK to email us

Check back here for more exhibit details coming up for the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.


Atchison County Historical Society Annual Meeting program to feature 1922 story of Maurice P. O’Keefe – attorney who cleaned up Atchison County government

2013 annual meeting

Monday, Oct. 21st – 6 pm Social Hour in the Museum in the Santa Fe Depot –7 pm Meeting & Program

featuring local author Robert D. Caplinger

The story of the young idealistic attorney who cleaned up the most corrupt county in Kansas (Atchison County in 1922) will be the focus of the annual meeting of the Atchison County Historical Society.

Local author Robert D. Caplinger will share the story he found and pieced together about this dark chapter in Atchison County history on Monday, October 21st in the Historical Society Museum in the Santa Fe Depot. Caplinger came across the beginnings of the story while searching for details on the building of the first concrete road in Kansas (during 1921 between Atchison and Effingham). What he found was a story of corruption, political entrenchment and how one man led the battle to set things right in Atchison County.

Caplinger relates that Maurice P. O’Keefe – the “Wild Irish Rose” of his book by the same name, was one of the first men he met when he began his own legal practice and that connection led him on his journey to track down all the details of O’Keefe’s tilt at the political windmill of his time.

Caplinger will relate his own journey to find this story as well as give insight into the O’Keefe and how this battle changed the young O’Keefe’s life.

“We always look for something unique and special for our annual meeting program,” said Chris Taylor, the executive director of the Atchison County Historical Society. “As soon as I had a chance to read Robert Caplinger’s book, ‘A Wild Irish Rose,’ I knew we had to have him as our program for this year. Not only is the story something that will open your eyes to how things used to work – and how Atchison County was the most corrupt place in Kansas – but Mr. Caplingers insights into the people will bring this to life.”

“A Wild Irish Rose” is currently sold out but attendees who do not have a copy yet can place an order for the next and final printing - to be available in November.

The Atchison County Historical Society Annual Meeting evening on Monday, Oct. 21st will begin at 6 p.m. with a Social Hour in the Museum to include entertainment & heavy refreshments and beverages. Musical entertainment will be provided by Jim & Lynn Dixon and Lois Reid playing a variety of folk and popular music from the 1920s -1930s era to set the mood for the evening program. At 7 p.m. the Historical Society Annual Meeting will begin – including election of board and officers followed immediately by the Robert Caplinger’s “A Wild Irish Rose” program. The full evening of events is free and open to the public.

For additional information email or call Chris W. Taylor at the Atchison County Historical Society Museum: <> or 913-367-6238.

"Deafy" Boular statue dedication

Thursday, Sept. 12th - 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. on the Mall in Atchison sneak preview - "Deafy" being prepped for installation at Byrd Memorial

Deafy Boular Statue

Statue Honoring William “Deafy” Boular to be dedicated Thursday, Sept. 12th on the Mall in Atchison  

Unveiling by Artist, Bricklaying Contest, Free Refreshments and more to highlight evening

The Atchison man most noted for abilities and accomplishments despite his physical challenges will be honored in bronze this Thursday evening, Sept. 12th on the Mall in Atchison.

William “Deafy” Boular will take his permanent spot in Atchison’s rich history in the form of a bronze statue honoring his ability to overcome life’s difficulties. Boular, most noted for his accomplishments laying the brick streets of his hometown in spite of being deaf, mute and having lost both legs as a child, will be right at home along newly laid brick pavers on the 400 block of the Mall.

The statue by Aleda Haug entitled “Lessons from the Master” will be unveiled the evening of Sept. 12 on the 400 block of the Mall along with other activities to pay tribute to Boular. Activities will begin at the statue site, next to the Mall and Fifth Street intersection at 5 p.m. with the statue dedication ceremony and unveiling at 6:30 p.m.

Sponsored by the Atchison County Historical Society the evening program will include free light refreshments including barbecue h'orderves from Iron Horse Barbecue and Deafy Boular Birthday Cupcakes – Boular was born Sept. 9 1869. From 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. there will also be a Deafy Boular Memorial Bricklaying Contest for youth and the Traveling Trophy contest open to any Atchison County business. Entertainment is pending.

Boular, featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not for laying 46,000 paving bricks in less than 8 hours, has long been a topic of lore in the community – but the real story is even more inspiring than any fiction about the man.

Boular was born in the small town of Sumner south of Atchison in 1869 - he later moved with his fam­ily to Atchison - where at the age of four he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis which left him deaf and unable to speak. Even with these difficulties he still was an active child playing with his friends and exploring the early river town and railroad boomtown. At the age of 10 he and his friends were playing along the tracks between Ninth and 10th Streets when an express train approached without warning. His friends were able to get out of the way, but not hearing the approaching engine Boular was hit by the train cutting off both his legs below the knee.

In the 1880s someone with the disabilities Boular faced would not have been blamed for leading a sedentary life, but not Boular. He overcame all he was faced with - worked for years around the town at jobs including bricklaying, foundry work, repair work - hauling with his horse cart, bee keeping and in later years work­ing in the infamous Fedderson’s Pool Hall - cleaning and keeping up the place for many years.

The Historical Society will also display the special boots Boular wore on the Mall (if the weather allows) Thursday evening. Boular had a pair of prosthetic legs but was never comfortable with them so he had special boots made to wear on his legs below his knees. Since his legs were cut off at different lengths the boots had to be built up to allow him to walk and get around as he wished. A pair of these boots used by Boular is now in the collection of the Atchison County Historical Society and was used by the artist in developing the new sculpture.

Boular was a strong and big man - spending much of his years working at hard physical labor - it is said he would have been over 6 feet tall had his legs not been cut off. He used his height and strength to his advantage in his brick laying days - being the right height to do the tough job of paving streets without having to bend to put in bricks the way other men would have to.

Boular’s story is one that inspires to this day and sets an example that any difficulty may be overcome. The statue of Boular will bring his story into the everyday world of Atchison citizens and visitors making this unique man and his perseverance known to a wider audience and serving as an everyday reminder of what we all are capable of.

The Artist
Long time Atchisonian Aleda Haug took on the project of honoring Boular with her first public art piece. Haug will return to Atchison to take part in the dedication Thursday to see her life-size bronze presented to the people of Atchison. Haug said she is primarily self-taught, also taking part in workshops to develop her skill. Boular began as a clay sculpture in the garage of the Haug’s home in Atchison where she adjusted the image of Boular until she had the final spirited image to be cast in bronze.

The statue was cast at Ad Astra Bronze in Lawrence and Byrd Memorial in Atchison prepared the base for the statue.

Funding for the statue came from the Guy I. Bromely Residuary Trust and the Courtney S. Turner Trust. The project was administered by the Atchison County Historical Society.

The Bricklaying Contests
The Thursday evening contest will award two trophies: one in the youth category and the large Deafy Boular Memorial Bricklaying Contest Traveling Trophy to an area business to display in their business until the next contest date.

The contest is simple – the fastest time laying a 3x3 foot square of bricks in a frame will win. Contestants should come to the contest between 5 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. – sign up and then be timed laying the bricks into the frame. Come early to make sure and have a chance to compete. The fastest time for the Youth Contest will be awarded during the dedication ceremony – while the top two times for Atchison Businesses will compete head to head immediately after the dedication.

The 32-inch circumference Traveling Trophy bowl will go to the fastest time during the evening and any local business is eligible to enter to have the honor of hosting this unique trophy which was first began in 2004. Past winners have been Betts Electric and The City of Atchison.

“The Traveling Trophy was originally aimed at only businesses in the contracting trades, but we wanted to open it up and boost the competition – make it something of bragging rights,” said Chris Taylor, executive director of the Atchison County Historical Society. “We wanted more competition going forward and with Deafy Boular now having a statue honoring him, we thought this was the time to open up the competition.”

For more details on the Deafy Boular statue dedication or the bricklaying contests contact the Atchison County Historical Society at 367-6238 or <>.


Visit Kansas' other Presidential Library

The David Rice Atchison World's Smallest "unofficial" Presidential Library

as seen on CNN's 2013 Inaugural coverage

The Real 12th President of the United States

The David Rice Atchison Presidential Library is part of the Atchison County Historical Society Museum in the Santa Fe Depot in Atchison, Kansas featuring the story and artifacts of David Rice Atchison.

The David Rice Atchison World’s Smallest “unofficial” Presidential Library premiered in 2006 with the exhibit featuring Congressional Printings of Atchison’s Senate career, books that include his career and items that connect to our community’s other Presidential visitors and the Presidency in general. The three most noted parts of the Smallest Presidential Library said Taylor, are David Rice Atchison’s sidearm, his Whitney Navy .36 caliber revolver, the Daily National Intelligencer (Washington D.C. newspaper from March 10, 1849) that includes the mention of Atchison’s Presidency for a Day, and the mini-Hall-of-Presidents.


Get our brochure on the World's Smallest Presidential Library download pdf

David Rice Atchison

See the CNN video on "The Man Who Was President for a Day" - click here to go to the CNN State of the Nation with Candy Crowley website.

About the Atchison County Historical Society

Established in 1967, the first museum was opened in 1968. The Society moved into the current museum, the 1880 Santa Fe Depot, in 1989. We host quarterly evening adult education programs and sponsor K-12 programming, including the monthly Pioneer Club for 4th-7th grade students.

The Atchison County Historical Society, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in the State of Kansas.

More About Us
Join / Donate

About Independence Creek: Lewis & Clark Historic Site

Open Sunrise to Sunset year round. Located 5 miles north of Atchison's Main Street this site may be reached by car or by hiking/biking trail. The 13.5 acre site has reestablished the prairie as seen by the Corps of Discovery and encompasses a stretch of Independence Creek referred to by Captain William Clark in his July 4, 1804 journal entry. A pedestrian bridge completes the 5-mile trail link to the Atchison Riverfront. A re-creation of a 1724-1804 era Kanza Indian Earthlodge interprets the Kanza habitation of this location.

Physical location:

19917 314th Road, Atchison, KS

Explore more about Independence Creek

Museum Hours & Admission

Summer Hours:

9 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday

noon to 5 pm Sundays

Winter Hours: (November - March)

9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday

10 am to 4 pm Saturdays

noon to 4 pm Sundays (closed Jan & Feb)

Open to the public 350 days a year - closed: New Years, Sundays in January and February, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas & New Year's Eve.

Museum admission is by donation - requested donations $2-adults, $1-children, $1.50-seniors, $5-family.

Contact us for Group Tours booking, rates and details.

Get in Touch

  • Phone:
    (913) 367 6238
  • Email:
  • Address:
    Atchison County Historical Society
  • P.O. Box 201
  • 200 S. 10th Street, Santa Fe Depot
    Atchison, KS 66002