Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

The Lawrence Ice Jam of 1910

January 30th, 2018

Postcard images in Spencer’s Lawrence Photo Collection document the destruction and disruption caused by large ice jams (or ice gorges) along the Kansas (Kaw) River near Lawrence in January 1910. Articles from area newspapers provide additional details about the situation. For example, the Topeka Daily Capital reported on January 15th that “travel on the Santa Fe [railroad] tracks between Lecompton and Lawrence is practically blocked and all westbound Santa Fe trains are coming into Topeka over the Union Pacific tracks.”

Between Lecompton and Lawrence the tracks are partially submerged with water and ice and from the bridge across the Kaw river at Lawrence three miles this way the Santa Fe tracks are covered with from one to three feet of water and ice. An immense ice jam has formed at the bridge at Lawrence and the checking of the river’s flow has forced the water over the tracks. The jam is about six miles long.

Postcard showing an ice gorge at Lawrence, Kansas, 1910

The ice gorge at Lawrence, 1910. Lawrence Photo Collection.
Call Number: RH PH 18. Click image to enlarge.

Newspapers also described how widespread the problem was elsewhere along the Kaw and other rivers, in Kansas and beyond. A headline on the front page of the Topeka Daily Capital on January 15th stated that an “ice gorge in [the] Mississippi [River] in St. Louis goes out causing damage estimated at $200,000.”

Postcard showing high water caused by an ice jam, Lawrence, Kansas, 1910

High water caused by an ice jam, Lawrence, 1910.
Lawrence Photo Collection. Call Number: RH PH 18. Click image to enlarge.

Postcard showing an ice gorge at Lawrence, Kansas, 1910 Postcard showing an ice gorge at Lawrence, Kansas, 1910

The ice gorge at Lawrence, 1910. Lawrence Photo Collection.
Call Number: RH PH 18. Click images to enlarge.

A letter to the World from Burt Brown, who is at Junction City, says: “The ice has broken in the Republican river today, and at Ft. Riley the Kaw river is full of floating ice. The water is considerable above the normal stage. If all the floating ice I saw in the Kaw east of Ft. Riley reaches the ice jam at Lawrence it will surely do some damage there.”

Lawrence Daily World, January 27, 1910

Lawrence, Kan., Jan 28. — Even being a fish has had its handicaps lately, and the dwellers in the Kaw thought that the world had come to end when the ice began moving. Lou McCann was standing near the water’s edge watching the ice move down the stream, when almost at his feet a forty pound catfish was crowded out on the bank, and started for the timber to [e]scape the ice. McCann, who is fleet of foot, took after it and soon overhauled the monster cat and put it out of harm’s way.

Topeka State Journal, January 28, 1910

Since the ice gorge at Lawrence has been broken and the water has receded to the channel of the river, the Santa Fe has been able to restore its train service to normal condition.

Osage City Free Press, February 10, 1910

The county boards of Jefferson and Douglas counties held a conference at the Lecompton bridge this week for the purpose of taking some action to repair the bridge, which was partially destroyed by an ice jam in January. Nothing definite was accomplished. All three of the wrecked spans are in sight; one is about 100 feet from the wrecked bridge, one about 150 feet and the third about 400 yards distant at the mouth of the Delaware. Their condition could not be ascertained, owing to the mush ice in the river and the fact that they are partly buried in sand which is rapidly forming a bar around them…Cal Walton estimates that it will take $14,000 to repair the damage.

Lawrence Daily World, February 26, 1910

Meredith Huff
Public Services

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: January 29-February 4, 1918

January 29th, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature selected letters from Forrest to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

Highlights from this week’s letters include Forrest’s frozen ear (“this morning I froze the top of my left ear on my way to school”) and a dispute during guard duty (“[the Officer of the Day] criticised me for not turning out the guard when he came in sight…I was on duty from 10 to 12 P.M. and believe me I halted everyone strictly according to regulations”).

 

Jan 30, 1918

Dear Marie,

No letter came Monday nor Tuesday but three came today which made it all “fine” once more. You didn’t tell me exactly what an Earth Trodder is, so I am not justified in condemning the idea, however it doesn’t “listen” very good to me. I would be glad to get a fruit cake from you, so you better get Blanche to show you how to make one. I would eat it all myself, too – you see if the whole First Section were tied up with a “tummy-ache,” Co. “A” would be very seriously crippled.

Marie, don’t ever think for a minute that I will get tired of receiving your letters. I am at least as glad to get letters from you as you are to hear from me. But at the same time I think it would be better to write every other day as lots of times I get two letters on one day and none the preceding day.

Now please, little sweetheart, don’t think that I am tiring of you in the least.

We rode all afternoon yesterday. As soon as we hit the hills we left the main road and hit for the tall timber. You should have heard the hooting and yelling when we got in the woods. There is only about six inches of snow on the ground and the ground underneath is hard and slippery so we could not trot very much. Even at that we had a lot of fun. Our new first sergeant is a fine fellow. The other one was promoted and Sg’t. Ryan took his place. Sg’t. Ryan is the one that got kicked just below the eye by the same horse that tickled me on the jaw. I guess he will wear that scar all his life.

The Co. had a big test in semaphore yesterday. We are supposed to be able to send and receive five to eight words a minute in wig-wag and ten to fifteen words a minute in semaphore. The words are supposed to average five letters each. It is easy to read wig-wag as it is impossible to transmit very fast with a large flag. I didn’t take the test as I was down to the class at the Army Service School. During the wig-wag class period in the afternoon, I sent wig-wag at the rate of eleven words per minute for a few minutes, and when I quit I had a blister on the side of my hand. Sending semaphore is not so much work, but it takes lots of practice and a quick eye to get fifteen (that is 75 letters) a minute. This is about as fast as the average person writes. I can receive about twelve words and send about fifteen words per minute. Sometimes we semaphore French words and one is out of luck if he misses a single letter.

This morning I froze the top of my left ear on my way to school. It was hard and stiff so I kept it in the snow until it got soft then I turned the cold water facet on it. It is swollen up and is pretty blue and tender, but I guess it will be O.K. in a few days.

Tonight, Stock and I hiked to town – an auto delivery took us most of the way.

Tomorrow is muster day, so we will have Battalion inspection, which means that yours truly must scrub his leggins before he hits that little straw bunk.

Stock says “That’s enough Bassett, that’s enough” and I guess he is right, don’t you think so?

With love,
Forrest.

I know this writing is fierce but I had to hurry.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, February 3, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, February 3, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, February 3, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, February 3, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, February 3, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, February 3, 1918

Click images to enlarge.

Feb. 3, 1918

Dear Marie,

Glad to hear you liked the pictures. I guess we say our final “Goodbye” to our horses this week. Yesterday we saw our motor radio set. It is for the main station and is set up on a “White” motor truck. The motor class I was in was discontinued at the end of the month. (Jan.)

Stock leaves for Urbania, Ill. tomorrow or Tuesday. He will attend the “ground school” and then go to some aviation field to learn to fly, later. I wish I were going to Urbana as it is only about 160 miles from Beloit. Stock’s final success in getting his transfer has stirred up quite a spirit of unrest among some of the more ambitious men in the Co. Serg’ts Ryan, Carr, and Ward are going to try for a transfer but I doubt if they can “put it over” in the way that Stock did. Maybe Stock will go to Beloit some time before he leaves Urbana.

Friday night and Sat. we were on guard again. The “Officer of the Day” was a pretty strict one and about fifteen minutes after “retreat” was blown he came around to look us over. I was on duty at the Guard House (Post No 1.) and he criticised me for not turning out the guard when he came in sight. Well it happened that I was right because the thirteenth special order, applying to Post # No 1, starts out “Between Reveille and Retreat, turn out the guard for —- etc.”, but it got my goat anyway. The O.D. came around again on an inspection tour and Cpl. Abrams told me to be very sure to challenge all persons and to advance no one without calling the Corporal of the Guard. I was on duty from 10 to 12 P.M. and believe me I halted everyone strictly according to regulations. At midnight I was relieved and went to bed. Just as I was dozing off I heard Corporal Clayton make a remark about “Bassett waking him up several times by calling the Cpl. of the Guard to advance men coming to the guardhouse. Finally he said, “He’s a d-d good kid, but bullheaded as H—l.” I thought that was about “nuff ced” so I cut loose with a few remarks on the subject that cleared the atmosphere considerably. I knew he was pretty unpopular with almost every man in the Co. so I didn’t leave very much unsaid. It’s a gay life. I have only been to one “movie” since Thanksgiving. I saw one of the “Bab’s Diary” pictures last summer. It was the one where her mother wouldn’t let her have her new party dress made with a low neck. She scared her folks into thinking she was going to run away and marry, and finally got her dress. It sure was a good story, was it the one you saw? Well I must quit for tonight. Would you like to learn the radio telegraph code and the Semaphore method of signaling?

With love,
Forrest.

The radio code is the same one we used to use with the buzzer in my desk.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

Throwback Thursday: Jo Jo White Edition

January 25th, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

This week’s photo honors KU basketball legend Jo Jo White, who passed away last Tuesday, January 16th.

Photograph of KU basketball player Jo Jo White, circa 1966-1969

KU basketball player Jo Jo White, circa 1966-1969. University Archives Photos.
Call Number: RG 66/13 White, Jo Jo: Athletic Department: Basketball:
Players (Oversize Photos). Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services

World War I Letters of Forrest W. Bassett: January 22-28, 1918

January 23rd, 2018

In honor of the centennial of World War I, we’re going to follow the experiences of one American soldier: nineteen-year-old Forrest W. Bassett, whose letters are held in Spencer’s Kansas Collection. Each Monday we’ll post a new entry, which will feature selected letters from Forrest to thirteen-year-old Ava Marie Shaw from that following week, one hundred years after he wrote them.

Forrest W. Bassett was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, on December 21, 1897 to Daniel F. and Ida V. Bassett. On July 20, 1917 he was sworn into military service at Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Missouri. Soon after, he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for training as a radio operator in Company A of the U. S. Signal Corps’ 6th Field Battalion.

Ava Marie Shaw was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 12, 1903 to Robert and Esther Shaw. Both of Marie’s parents – and her three older siblings – were born in Wisconsin. By 1910 the family was living in Woodstock, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. By 1917 they were in Beloit.

Frequently mentioned in the letters are Forrest’s older half-sister Blanche Treadway (born 1883), who had married Arthur Poquette in 1904, and Marie’s older sister Ethel (born 1896).

Highlights from this week’s letter include horseback riding (“nearly three weeks of loafing around in the corral made them feel pretty funny”) and guard duty (“All I did Wednesday after 8:30 A:M was to take one of the prisoners from the guardhouse to his Company mess house for dinner. This fellow had a couple pretty serious charges against him”). This week’s letters also include a field message from Forrest (writing as “Gen. Nuisance”) to his sister Blanche, thanking her for the “war munitions.”

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918 Image of Forrest W. Bassett's letter to Ava Marie Shaw, January 27, 1918

Click images to enlarge.

Jan. 27, 1918.

Dear Marie,

Stock has gone to K. City so I came down to the Leav. “Y” to write. I sure was glad to get your letter. Yesterday I tried to bribe the C’p’l in charge of quarters to bring a letter from Beloit with the mail, but even a big slice of Blanche’s cake was not enough.

I am still going to the motor class at the Service School. Have you a picture of the latter?

Tuesday afternoon we took the horses out for exercise. Nearly three weeks of loafing around in the corral made them feel pretty funny. We had quite an exciting time rounding up our own horses. I got “Ten” out before the stampede but had a gay time “snagging” a mule to lead. “Ten” had fattened a little since I saw him last, and when I saddled him, had to let out the cincha (which is the strap around the belly) about two inches more than usual. I am showing the effects of Army starvation in the same way. The mule I caught was a new one but he performed alright except that he kept a good stiff pull on the rope most of the time. Neither the Captain nor the Lietenants were with us and when we got into the woods we kicked a few slats loose. We hooted and yelled like a bunch of kids on the last day of school. The horses and mules had the same spirit and about every two minutes one would get loose (accidently on purpose on the part of the rider) and we would have some more fun catching them. Ten sure is one wise horse and is “on” to everything going, whether it’s heading off loose mules or jumping up a slippery hill. Gee, but you can’t imagine what great fun it is to ride a good, easily guided horse. When I think of the good times we used to have canoeing, and in the water, and shooting, it makes me wish we could be together on horses. We have fine saddles and the Company looks great mounted, every man in same uniform and every one in line with his “lead” horse to the right of the horse he is riding. We rode again Thursday but we didn’t have much fun as it was too slippery to let the horses go faster than a walk.

Tuesday night and Wednesday the Co. A-6 went on guard. I had it pretty soft, as I only had 6:30-8:30 P:M 12:30-2:30 A:M and from 6:30-8:30 A:M on actual guard duty. The night was not very cold and was clear and moonlight. All I did Wednesday after 8:30 A:M was to take one of the prisoners from the guardhouse to his Company mess house for dinner. This fellow had a couple pretty serious charges against him. One was impersonating an officer and the other was being absent without leave. He belonged to the same Co. that the other Bassett is in. The latter is in the same class with me at the Service School. His home was in Rockford, Ill. and he worked for awhile as telegraph operator at the N.W. R.R. depot in Beloit. When he enlisted he was in San Francisco. This makes me think about addressing my letters. It is uneccessary to write out my middle name. (but always my first)

Here is the address:

Forrest W. Bassett
Co. A-6th Fld. B’n. Signal Corps
Ft. Leavenworth, Kans.

Write Signal Corps in full as you have been doing but abbreviate the Fld. B’n.

Well I am in hopes that there will be a letter from A.M.S. [Ava Marie Shaw] on my bunk when I come in tomorrow noon. Please.

With love,
Forrest.

 

Image of Forrest W. Bassett's field message to sister Blanche Treadway Poquette, January 27, 1918

Click image to enlarge.

 

Meredith Huff
Public Services

Emma Piazza
Public Services Student Assistant

 

Throwback Thursday: Sledding Edition, Part II

January 18th, 2018

Each week we’ll be posting a photograph from University Archives that shows a scene from KU’s past. We’ve also scanned more than 34,800 images from KU’s University Archives and made them available online; be sure to check them out!

Have you braved the cold this week to enjoy some sledding on campus?

Photograph of people sledding toward Memorial Stadium, 1950s

Sledding on campus with Memorial Stadium in the background, 1950s.
University Archives Photos. Call Number: RG 0/24/1 Snow 1950s Prints:
Campus: Areas and Objects (Photos).
Click image to enlarge (redirect to Spencer’s digital collections).

Caitlin Donnelly
Head of Public Services