Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cat People vs. Dog People

Isaac Beckley Werner was definitely a Cat Person.  He mentions being given a puppy by a neighbor once, but after the entry about the gift the puppy was never mentioned again.  I assume it was returned.

However, he loved his cats.  This was rather unusual, because he also had a great fondness for birds.  He trusted the predictions of seasonal changes from migrating ducks and geese flying south in autumn and returning to the north in the spring, and he knew the predictable time that his favorite song birds would return in the spring.  

He also liked chickens and had a favorite among his flock.  Unfortunately, when a skunk got into the hen house, it was his favorite that was killed.

But his favorites were his cats.  Before giving away a kitten, he made sure the neighbor taking it had some sort of shelter available for the cat.

Just for fun, this blog is about the distinction between Dog People vs. Cat People.  Studies have found that there are personality differences! Mark Twain was among the authors in Isaac's library collection of books, and Twain is known for being a Cat Person!

Portrait by Lyn Fenwick (c)
Of course, some people love both cats and dogs.  However, if people have a specific favorite, more are dog lovers than cat lovers.

Researcher Denise Guastello, an associate professor of psychology at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin concluded that such preferences may be related to the types of environments cat or dog people prefer.  Quoted by Rachael Rettner in her article, Guastello said: "It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they're going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog.  Whereas, if you're more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you're more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn't need to go outside for a walk."

The studies do seem to confirm that Dog People are more likely to be extroverts, while Cat People are more likely to be introverts.  In addition to being more likely to be introverts, cat owners are more likely to live alone, to be more timid, modest, obliging, and fairly trusting. Dog People, on the other hand, are generally described as being forceful, assertive, persistent, self-assured, and self-confident.

Dog a descendant of Rin-Tin-Tin
Those who identify themselves as Cat People are unlikely to want to have a dog in their household.  When asked if they were given a dog would they keep it, Cat People tended to say "no," while if Dog People were given a cat, they were more likely to say they would keep it.  That seems to have been true of Isaac, when his friend gave him a puppy.

I tend to identify myself as a Dog Person, but we have had both cats and dogs and we've loved them all.  The photograph at right is of me with a breeder of German Shepherds whose line is descended from Rin-Tin-Tin.  He was a gorgeous dog!

Because cat lovers tend to be introverts, and often book lovers, that would certainly apply to Isaac.  In our family, it may be our cat who is the book lover!

Emerson the Cat

Isaac Werner was a single man who lived alone, enjoying his reading.  He was willing to work hard for the things he supported, but he often did his work in a solitary way, for example, going to the school house to make repairs when he saw that they were needed.  He was modest and obliging, for although he initiated the formation of the County Agricultural Society and the local group of Progressive neighbors, he was content to serve as the Secretary of the groups, rather than feeling snubbed because he wasn't chosen as the President of the groups he formed.  In fact, he was elected Secretary of nearly every organization of which he was a part.  He definitely met many of the common characteristics of a Cat Person.

I thought you might have some fun with some of the generalizations about common traits.  Cat people are more intelligent than dog people.  Cat people are more neurotic than dog people.  Dog people tend to be more conservative than cat people.  Dog people are more obedient--just like dogs.  Cat people are more open-minded that dog people.  Dog people are more masculine than cat people.  Dog people and cat people have a different sense of humor.  (These Basic Differences Between Dog People and Cat People are taken from a list by Lorenzo Jensen III.)

Frankly, I agree with some of the generalizations, but many do not seem to fit my friends and their pets.  The generalizations are based on studies and are simply a measure of what is more likely to be the case.  They certainly aren't absolutes! 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Roads Across Kansas

Oregon Trail near Kansas City
The earliest settlers arriving in Kansas probably found more ruts than roads, as covered wagons followed the depressions in the prairie sod left by earlier travelers.  However, in 1855 the territorial legislature had recognized the importance of wagon roads and a basis for highway construction was defined, making counties responsible for road-making.

A township road in 2014 a mile from Isaac's claim
In 1857 township road-making was organized.  Isaac B. Werner came to Kansas in 1878, as did many of his neighbors, and by 1884 when he resumed writing in his journal, he described his township road tax which was owed by every man 45 and younger.  Each year the men had a duty to work a certain number of days on the roads and bridges of their township.  Although Isaac did not have a horse for several years, he worked alongside his neighbors to satisfy the road tax.  The township was initially 6 miles from north to south and 12 miles from east to west, and he mentioned working on the bridge in the western part of Clear Creek Township.  Later, that township was divided into two separate townships 6 miles by 6 miles, and Isaac continued working in the new eastern Albano Township where his claims were located until his 45th birthday passed.  Once he had a horse, he used it, if the work they were doing called for a horse.

When railroads reached Kansas in the 1870s and 1880s, trains were available for distant travel.  By the 1930s there were nearly 10,000 miles of railroad in Kansas, most belonging to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe, the Missouri Pacific, the Union Pacific, and the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific.  However, local roads were still needed.  Until 1917 counties and townships worked independently to provide roads for their communities, although in 1909 the office of county engineer was created and in 1911 a state engineer was provided.  Federal aid for road-making was passed in 1916 but approved in Kansas in 1917, and that resulted in significant progress.  By 1930 Kansas had almost 4,000 miles of surfaced highway.  However, only about 1,000 of that number was hard surfacing, such as concrete or brick.  The remainder was sand, gravel, or chat surfacing.

The next big leap in road improvements occurred with the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act.  Initially, $25-Billion was designated to construct 41,000 miles of Interstate Highway over a 10-year period.  

A Network of Interstates
President Dwight D. Eisenhower's support for the project was key and explains part of the reason for the inclusion of "Defense Highways" in the title of the Act.  As a young army officer, Eisenhower had participated in the Army's first transcontinental motor convoy across the United States.  Even then it was intended to show the need for better highways.  Eisenhower still remembered the cracked bridges, the nearly impassable muddy roads, and the broken equipment damaged while traveling.  In addition, Eisenhower had seen the German autobahn network during World War II, which convinced him of the need for a highway network in the United States.  The President's support was expressed as a national defense issue, rather than merely highways for convenience, comfort, and progressive business.  When the new interstate highway was completed, it took only 5 days to transverse the distance that had taken the Army convoy 2 months to travel in 1919!

Today, many of us have become so accustomed to the convenience of our well-paved state and national highways that we forget to explore some of the lessor roadways and the discoveries that await us.  One purpose of this blog is sharing some of the sights to be found by pulling off the major highways to explore.  Some of you have told me that this blog has encouraged you do just that!  But, of course, when we are in a hurry those well-paved roads are appreciated!!

When we first returned to the farm our sandy roads leading to the house had been neglected for years, with little traffic past an old vacant house to justify serious road work.  I want to use this opportunity to say "Thank You" to the township board and our road grader for working so hard since we have returned to the farm to give us a good way to the nearest paved road when it rains and for remembering to open a way for us to get out when it snows.  Our sandy loam soil is a challenge, but it is so much better now.  Isaac would be impressed!

Remember, images can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Goldilyn and the Three Bears

Illustration by John Batten, 1890
Once upon a time there was a not-so-little girl named Goldilyn.  One evening she was on her way through the not-really woods when her Prince Charming called out to her.  "Come here!"  He pointed to the crest of a low hill and said, "What do you think those are?"  Goldilyn couldn't believe her eyes, and she ran through all the things they weren't--not coyotes, not wild hogs, not deer...  Finally she turned to her Prince and said, "I think they are bears."  "So do I," he replied.

Photo credit:  Lyn Fenwick
OK, I'll stop with the nursery rhyme, because that evening what my husband and I saw were three bears running across our field, and they were no fairy tale.  We suspected that people might think we had lived in cities so long that we didn't know what wild animals in Kansas looked like.  We avoided mentioning the bears, although we did notify the Forestry, Fish, and Game.  We also alerted our neighbors who might be out in the fields or tree belts, especially those with children.

A few days later I went out to water my trees.  It was still daylight and I had been there not long before and had noticed nothing.  However, as I walked to the hydrant behind the barn there they were--a series of bear tracks between the hydrant and the barn.

We took photographs, laid a ruler beside the tracks to document size, and put flags beside each print from where they began to where the soil became too hard for tracks to show.
Photo credit:  Lyn Fenwick

About two days before we first saw the bears there was a large pile of scat on our lawn, perhaps ten feet from our back door.  There was a smaller pile about twelve feet from our garage door.  We both commented that they didn't really look like the raccoon scat we occasionally see, but we dismissed the scat by assuming the raccoons had eaten something unusual.  My husband had mowed over both piles before we saw the bears, but what we saw definitely looked like the bear scat pictures we found online later.  

Photo credit:  Lyn Fenwick
People are sometimes reluctant to tell anyone when they see something likely to be dismissed by others as being misidentified or imagined.  We certainly experienced that.  However, once news spread about our having seen the three bears, other local people began telling their own stories about  recent sightings.  One man said he had seen "three black animals" run across the road in front of him, too far away to identify.  Another man said something had frightened his horse badly enough to run it through the fence.  Still someone else said their custom cutters during wheat harvest reported having startled a bear in the wheat field with their combine.

We are confident we saw three bears, but we have seen nothing for several weeks.

Photo credit:  Lyn Fenwick 
One of the things I was very diligent about while writing my manuscript about this area of Kansas in the late 1800s was not to describe plants or animals in the community where Isaac Werner homesteaded unless he mentioned them in his journal or I could otherwise document that they were present in his locale during the years he homesteaded.  So, if anyone is writing a story about central Kansas during the summer of 2017,  here's your documentation that there were bears in the vicinity.  Isaac, however, never mentioned seeing a bear! 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

One Very Special Book

Isaac Werner's Journal
Certainly I could not title a blog as I have without including a picture of Isaac Beckley Werner's journal.  That journal is what started everything, including my weekly blog!

However, this week's blog is not about Isaac's journal.  

Some of the titles Isaac owned

Those of you who follow this blog regularly might have thought I was going to write again about having bought books, in the oldest editions I could find, that Isaac's own library contained.

However, this week's blog is not about the incredible number of books in Isaac's library on an amazing range of subjects.  

Some of the research material for Isaac

Some of you might have wondered if I was going to write about a specific book that had been particularly helpful during my research on Isaac.  The picture at right shows some of the books I have purchased for researching Isaac, his community, and the Populist Movement--and a few I already owned.  The file drawers beside the bookcase contain more research, and the 3-ring notebooks on the top of the bookcase contain research on specific subjects.  The handmade cardboard file on top of the 2-drawer file contains copies of newspaper pages from my research.  As you can see, the research overflows the space.  What you cannot see are the 3 tall stacks of research on the top of my desk waiting for me to organize them when I finish writing this blog.

However, this blog is not about my research.

One of Isaac's own books with his signature
 The very special book that inspired this blog is from Isaac Werner's own library!  Isaac's journal was given to the Lucille M. Hall Museum in St. John, KS at the time of Lucille's death.  They have been very generous to allow my use of the journal during the time I have researched and drafted my manuscript about Isaac, his community, and the Populist Movement of the late 1800s.  But eventually it will be returned to the museum.

However, I own the very special book that this blog is about!

When the Pratt Library de-accquisioned many of its older books during the recent renovation of the library, a very  thoughtful person spotted this book and knew how much it would mean to me.  She bought it and gave it to me as a gift.  

Isaac's signature inside the book
The signature of I. B. Werner is clearly visible inside the book, along with the date of its receipt and the place where he was living.  In 1870 Isaac was the proprietor of a drug store in Rossville, Illinois.  He was prosperous, and he ordered a great many books from dealers in cities such as Boston, Chicago, and New York.   He suspected he might be ridiculed for spending so much money on his library, so if someone happened to be in his store when the books he had ordered were delivered, and they inquired what the crates and boxes contained, he told them "supplies for the drug store."

This book also contains the bookplate of Dr. I.H. "Doc" Dix, Isaac's neighbor and close friend who moved to Saratoga to resume his practice of medicine, and later moved into Pratt where he was very active in civic organizations.  Marsha Brown, the kind person who gifted this book to me, also gave me two other books with Doc's bookplate, although they did not contain Isaac Werner's signature.

What I believe is very likely, however, is that Doc bought a great many of Isaac's books at the estate sale, as did William Fisher Brown and other neighbors.  The other two books with Doc's bookplates may very well also have been Isaac's.  

But, it is certain that my own personal copy of James Russell Lowell's book titled Among My Books, belonged to Isaac!  One of the book's chapters is titled "Shakespeare Once More," and that alone would have made Isaac wish to own the book.  He loved Shakespeare.