Help slow to come for Edwardsville history compilation
In late June, the city of Edwardsville put out a call for citizens’ help as it planned the 100th anniversary of becoming an incorporated city.
Residents and former residents were asked to contribute pictures and documents, which the city would scan and immediately return, to help the city create a scrapbook of Edwardsville throughout the years in advance of a Sept. 19 event at Edwardsville City Park. The city itself doesn’t have much in the way of historical information, and response from the public so far has been less than favorable.
“We have only had one person bring in photos,” Jessica Beaumont, administrative assistant for the city, said. “We were able to locate a photo of the old elementary school and just a few minor things, but we just haven’t received as many as we were hoping to get.”
So in addition to the submitted photos of the 1951 flood and the old general store, members of the 100 Year Celebration committee have been scrambling to find information to compile a history for the celebration, as well as the city’s own records.
“We hope to have enough information or pictures that we can set up an area for that, or maybe we can do something by the decade so we can say in this decade, this is who was mayor,” she said. “We tried to find more detailed information about previous mayors, but that’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially in such a small town.”
Many know some of the historical stories of the town of Edwardsville — most famous is probably the story of settler Junius Groves, named the "Potato King of the World" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1902. But the city's more recent history is not so easy to find.
Heinz Rogers, former mayor and member of the 100 Year Celebration committee, has been looking through microfilms of older issues of The Chieftain at the Bonner Springs City Library to find information about Edwardsville. The next step is to visit the Wyandotte County Historical Museum, which does have some historical file photos of Edwardsville people and places.
Monty Gross, a volunteer researcher for the museum, said the museum didn’t have a compiled history of the city, unlike some cities or communities in which perhaps a historical society had at least put something together. He said he could help the committee find information scattered among documents in the museum's research library.
Beaumont still hopes for help from the public and emphasized that they want all of the city’s history, not just things from the early years, so residents shouldn’t discount photos and other documents from, say, the last 50 years.
“If we got some really good photos in, it may be something we would put up on the walls (of City Hall),” she said.
She said the celebration committee has tried to contact some of the families who have lived in the city for a long time, but they haven’t had much luck.
“Some of them just don’t have the information or haven’t reached out, so it’s not for lack of trying,” Beaumont said. “We’re willing to contact anyone that anyone might suggest.”
The 100 Year Celebration will be an old-fashioned family picnic 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Edwardsville City Park, with food available for purchase, live music, rides in the train, balloon artists, face painters, cotton candy and old-fashioned games like a potato sack race and three-legged races. Cake will be served at 1 p.m.
The event also will include a dedication of the new section of the city parking trail, which will be named in honor of former city clerk, the late Phyllis Freeman.
A cut off date for bringing photos and documents to City Hall was set for Aug. 14, but Beaumont said it has been extended through the rest of the month, at least. The items can be brought to City Hall during business hours so they can be scanned digitally and returned to the owner.
For more details, visit edwardsvilleks.org or call 913-441-3707 ext. 10.