Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Visit to Agenda, Kansas

Ghost town? I don't think so.

Main street and grain elevators, Agenda, Kansas

Agenda, Kansas, is an important place name in my family tree. During the 1880s, my great-great-grandfathers, Ashbel Mapes and Almus Hill had neighboring farms just a few miles from this prairie village. Their children married, and to make a long story short, here I am today!

I took these photos when we visited Agenda in July, 2012. The business district has only a couple of stores that are open. One of them is a little ice cream shop where you can get a cold soda and a plate lunch, as well as a scoop of ice cream. As I recall, it's in the building at right in the photo above.

The photo below looks down Agenda's main street from one end. The building with the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer sign appears at left in the photo above and at left in the photo below.

Agenda has a population of less than 100 people. Huge grain bins tower above everything else in town.  The streets are not paved, but there's a pretty good sidewalk along the front of the business district.

Ice cream shop in Agenda, KansasPressed metal ceiling, Agenda, Kansas

The ice cream shop is delightfully old-fashioned with a long wooden counter and a pressed metal ceiling. A friendly lady was tending the shop. After we ate our ice cream, she took us down to the small museum/library at the end of the street and let us inside. She also told us to be sure to walk outside through the back door of the ice cream shop.

Public park, Agenda, KansasPublic park, Agenda, Kansas

The back side of the ice cream shop opens to a pleasant little park. If it had not been so hot that day (over 100°), it would have been nice to sit at an outside table with our snack.

Water and stone landscaping, Agenda, Kansas Water and stone landscaping, Agenda, Kansas

The park may be some empty lots that have been reclaimed and repurposed. A local resident has done an interesting landscaping project. He painted a "hills-and-sky" mural on the side of a building on one end of the park. The stream in the painting merges with a real stream that runs across the park and ends in a fountain.

Frog at rocky stream edge

Birds love this sheltered, shady spot, and their songs fill the air. Frogs like it here, too. This little fellow was soaking himself near the foot bridge.

I took the rest of these photos in the small Agenda museum.  I attempted to photograph some of the museum's interesting old photographs, but it was challenging. I had a lot of trouble with reflections on the glass, and my photos didn't turn out too great. But irregardless, here are a few of my pictures, showing Agenda in its early days -- a little prairie town, fortunate to be on the railroad.

Train depot, Agenda, KansasTrain depot, Agenda, Kansas

Lindahl grain barns, Agenda, Kansas

Dart's Store, Agenda, KansasAgenda, Kansas, around 1900

List of WWII soldiers, Agenda, Kansas

The store in the photo above was lost in a fire. The business district today is not the business district that my great-great grandparents knew.

The USA Service Roll is from World War II. It's about four feet long. It probably hung on the wall of a store in Agenda. Or maybe it was displayed in the same building where it is hanging today -- the Agenda State Bank, which serves as the museum. The main room of the bank is now a small library, and the vault has become a storage closet.

The museum also has some records for the Agenda cemetery, including a notebook of funeral records and a listing of the location of graves.

Agenda is listed in a book of Kansas ghost towns, but it's not dead yet. I saw evidence that its residents are improving their little town and preserving its history. They are planning a 125-year-anniversary celebration and homecoming for next summer. I think it would be interesting to attend.

Old bank vault at Agenda, KansasAgenda's small library in the bank building


Fred said...

Hi G,. Great writing, and great photography. I like the Blue Ribbon sign. The sign is from an era
from long ago.

Genevieve said...

Thanks, Fred. I am not sure if that bar is still open or not.

Ron said...

Hi G. I live in Central New York State. While visiting a local flea market this past weekend, I saw 4 different calendars that were distributed by the Agenda State Bank ranging from the late 30's to the early 40'. They were in very nice condition. It prompted me to learn more about Agenda and it's history. My question is, do you think the museum would be interested in purchasing them for their collection? Would you have any contact information? Thanks.
Ron B.

Genevieve Netz said...

I do not have any contact information for the Agenda museum. You could try contacting The Belleville Telescope, and perhaps they could advise you about how to contact the library, or help you advertise the calendars for sale. I'm sure the museum would love to have the calendars. I'm also pretty sure that the museum is a volunteer operation funded entirely by donations. Maybe you would consider just giving them one...

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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