Our Western Heritage

Our Western Heritage
Front Street, Dodge City, circa 1879

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dodge City Police Docket Book, 1878 - 1882, Public Viewing Dec. 7, 2009

On December 7, 2009, the City of Dodge City, Kansas will accept the return of the Dodge City Police Docket Book, 1878-1882, a book which contains the escapades of some of the most famous lawmen in the American West. Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Ed Masterson and many other historical lawmen are chronicled in this court docket.

A public viewing of the docket book will be from 3:00-6:30 pm, Monday, Dec. 7, in Boot Hill Museum's Old House Saloon. A few selected pages of the book carefully scanned by the Southwest Kansas Library System will be enlarged and displayed next to the protected book. Immediately afterward, the book will be presented to the Dodge City Commission at 7:00 pm in City Hall and signed over from the Ford County Sheriff to the City of Dodge City.

The City of Dodge City and the Ford County Historical Society are making arrangements for all the pages of this fragile and important book to be scanned into computer files so that western history researchers all over the world can access the information it contains.

Again, thanks to: Roger Myers, FCHS member, who first saw the auction information on the docket book in 2007 and brought it to my attention; Ford County Attorney and Dodge City Prosecutor Terry Malone; Ford County Sheriff Dean Bush, and investigators; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the United States Attorney’s office, District of Kansas.

Best, George Laughead
President, Ford County Historical Society
Dodge City, KS

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dodge City Police Docket Book: Federal Judge rules: "belongs to Dodge City"

Just in -- in federal court, Wichita, Kansas, today, a judge has ruled that the City of Dodge City, Kansas is the sole owner of the Dodge City Police Docket Book, 1878-1882.

It could be returned to the City as soon as next week.

Now the Dodge City Commission has to decide whether to scan the docket book, or just put it in a bank safety box. There is no other way to protect it.

Thankfully, a few of the Dodge City Commissioners have already indicated that scanning the Dodge City Police Docket Book is the way to go.

Photograph from Bob Boze Bell's Blog, Oct. 5, 2007

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Video on tourist venues in Dodge City -- well done, actually.

And does show Ford County, KS, unique Mueller-Schmidt House Museum (1881) QT virtual tour as part of it -- the oldest house in Dodge City -- maybe the nicest house museum of the Old West, built by John Mueller, boot maker on Front Street, and cattleman.

For more on John and his family, see: John Mueller, Dodge City pioneer boot maker & cattleman

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thanks to Great History blog and Tom Goodrich

Tom Goodrich on Bat . . . Bat Masterson

Bat Masterson, one of Dodge City's better known lawmen (and actual citizen, home and land owner, elected official) is the first subject of historian Tom Goodrich's new blog -- the blog also includes a follow-up on the return of the Dodge City Police Docket Book.

Dodge City continues to benefit from our positive actions to protect our unique history -- news coverage on the return of the Dodge City Police Docket Book has been in at least 60 newspapers (including many in other countries), and on over 15 television news shows. Can't beat that for great public relations.

I should point out that there are many history blogs at Great History Blogs, covering every historical age. Take a look.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dodge City Police Docket Book Found

Hutchinson News coverage, Dodge City Police Docket Book Found

Thanks to Ford County Historical Society member, Roger Myers, seeing the photograph of the docket book on Bob "Boze" Bell's True West magazine editor's blog, I learned about it being up for auction. Roger made me aware.

I was convinced it was authentic due to Boze Bell thinking so ...Bell is an expert, as is the innocent auction house owner, Brian Lebel, an Arizona resident. They clearly thought it was real.

The photograph also matched anther docket book currently in the Dodge City Engineering offices which we, the Historical Preservation Committee of Dodge City, studied and compared to a print or the blog photograph..

After letting the auction know I wanted to know their source of the docket book, I also then contacted Terry Malone. He was the starting point of the legal process. This was before his was elected Ford county attorney -- he was City of Dodge City prosecutor at the time. After that, the Ford County Sheriff's office, and then the FBI became involved.

The importance for Dodge City and Ford County is that for the first time since the 1950s, history oriented tourists and Old West historians can see pages covering the actual work of Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Ed Masterson, and all the Old West lawmen from about 1878 to 1882.

One suggestion I've made to the city manager is that CFAB funds pay for a state of the art multi-thousand dollar archive exhibit case for the docket book and let it be displayed at Boot Hill Museum. Tourism would benefit greatly. Anyone that studies the Old West would have to come and see it. But the safety and security of the police docket book would be the first issue.

The main point is that I value real history, and when I found out that someone had taken the first hand accounts of Old West Dodge City, it made me mad. It is owned by the citizens of Dodge City and Ford County. I just wanted it back. I also don't want people making easy money from artifacts that belong to the public

Thanks to all involved:

In addition to Ford County Attorney Terry Malone, Ford County Sheriff officials, including Sheriff Dean Bush, and Investigator Mike Albert, and FBI agent Robin Smith were clearly fully involved and successful. I truly appreciate all their efforts. Also to Arlyn Leaming, former Ford County Sheriff Investigations Captain, for early work on the case.

Also, due to coverage in over 68 newspapers when we first found the police docket book was up for auction -- thanks to an AP article from the Hutchinson News -- the nation has been put on notice that we will make it harder to sell artifacts that belong to Dodge City. Big thanks to Hutchnews reporter, Jon Ruhlen, for running with the information I gave him.

Also see:
Dodge City Police Docket Book Coverage

Friday, May 8, 2009

Don Steele's blog: Expert tourism leader reviews Dodge City Master Tourism Plan

There is no one more expert in tourism for Dodge City than Don Steele. His years of building the Depot Theater company (nee, Boot Hill Repertory Company), and the massive amount of work he planned and pushed over a decade to get the millions of dollars for the renovation of the Santa Fe Depot has no equal in our area -- perhaps the state.

His view of the new Dodge City/Ford County Master Tourism Plan, from Herberling Associates Inc., has to be taken very seriously -- or at least by those that know what has worked. Here's his May 6th blog on the Master Tourism Study:

A shaky plan

So the Tourism Master Plan has been released, and National Tourism Week is coming up soon. Time to step back and look at the state of the tourism industry in Dodge City.
The world in financial crisis, gas prices on the rise again, and now a potential pandemic that has health officials threatening to close the borders and outlaw travel — not the best time to hope for better business at local attractions.
The Master Plan was an idea that had been bandied about for years but nobody could agree on what agency should write it or what it should contain.
In my view, the plan should address everything from redesigning the traffic flow around town to creating a "war chest" and going out in aggressive search of new television, movie and book projects that are set in Dodge City. Disappointingly, the current plan is much more limited in scope...

Please read the rest -- and hope that Don keeps helping us solve our tourism problems. He is the best.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Missing museum addendum: submitted more than once

Oddly, of all the submitted thoughts, plans, suggestions to Heberling Associates, Inc., the Dodge City Master Tourism Plan consultants -- this one is missing in the Master Tourism Plan final copy (although the draft was not seen by the public for about three months?).

Although the need for a Ford County History Museum is listed in about eight places, the only direct statement about this plan is --
If the Ford County Historical Society is interested in adding a county museum, it would be wise to do a feasibility study and/or a long-range plan to determine appropriate funding strategies, location, and possible partners or cooperative ventures.

Note that no other addendum or section -- from a $18 million agro center to a multi-million dollar new Kansas Heritage Center -- lists this requirement for a feasibility study, nor does this statement stand with the many places in the master tourism study that call for a new museum. (Although the study does echo in many, many places my early suggestions to Heberling Associates -- in fact, every point shows up except the big one -- a plan for a Ford County History Museum. Gee, wish we had seen the draft of the plan.)

Museums in Dodge City & Ford County, Kansas

by George Laughead Jr.

Faced with major archives unseen, major donations ungiven, dropping tourism numbers, high levels of needed capital improvements in current facilities, and on-going operating costs, et al -- I wanted to think out loud (or out web, in this case) about what we might do to work together, solve major problems of finance and support, and grow back to having world-class Western Heritage archive and museum.

For tourism, this would work with the world class dirt race track, softball fields, and the Santa Fe Depot, truly world class of its type. For those that love movies and theatres, the Dodge Theater again fits into that level, and for house museum or Victorian house fans, the Mueller-Schmidt House represents much more than its true Old West heritage, and cattleman builder. Windthorst Church is another venue becoming known around the country, thanks to their work and PBS television. And Fort Dodge is still a living Old West fort. The bridle collection and the DC Roundup Rodeo are both on this list. We start with assets.

Why this matters -- local views are not in line with world interest in the Old West

It has become clear to me in the last few years that local views of the importance of our place in frontier, pioneer, Old West and American West history are not in line with the on-going and large interest that the rest of the world has in our history.

Among the millions of users each year on web sites that I'm involved with, most of the hits continue to be for Old West history. I get tens of thousands of users a month for sites related directly to Dodge City and Ford County, including the WWW-VL: American West history, Old West Kansas, and Dodge City history. There is no lack of interest, even if local viewpoints are not focused on this.


Fact: Ford County and Dodge City government giving to museums, et al, has been on an emergency basis, or in the case of the Mueller-Schmidt House Museum, a minimum amount to keep the facility open. We must see the combination of Why Not Dodge! money, county and city support, USD support, possible casino funds, coordination with CVB funds, and grants as necessary for the long term growth and protection of our history.


Fact: Among the collections owned by Boot Hill Museum, the Kansas Heritage Center, the Ford County Historical Society, Trail of Fame Inc., and others, we have a world class pioneer Old West, American West and Great Plains archive potential.

The Ford County Historical Society alone owns much, from business records and hand written notes of Dodge City founder, Robert Wright, to Josephine Earp's journals and an original carbon of Wyatt Earp and John Flood's book, to Dr. C. Robert Haywood's complete history library and research files (FCHS Haywood Collection -- on loan to the Kansas Heritage Center) and the Betty Braddock FCHS Photograph Collection -- the list of important items goes on and on.

The possible combining of all these into one modern facility under the staff of Kansas Heritage (protecting each group's ownership), would make us one of the stops necessary for research for magazine articles, books or movies on almost any topic of the American West, and especially on the Wild West of Dodge City and Southwest Kansas. It would protect all of these for the future.

Boot Hill Museum

Fact: Cost of both being an entertainment/retail tourist attraction and being an archive/museum is a major double burden. Possibility of lifting some of that cost and responsibility may be one answer to allowing Boot Hill to become more focused on different elements of the tourism industry, retail, entertainment, events. Possibilities might include the funding of the archive and curator costs through other funds than those raised by Boot Hill Museum Inc. I suggest that any decision has to keep Boot Hill Museum Inc. clearly involved and of primary importance.

World-class exhibitions

Fact: Drawing all the most important artifacts into one modern designed small museum exhibition area would allow the best presentation of unique historical items, from Old West Wyatt Earp related artifacts to actual coverage of major events from Dust Bowl to hot rods, the WWII air base to the Great Arkansas River Flood, the Santa Fe Depot and Mexican Village -- events of high interest to the world but not covered in any local museum. (And, I believe, still all part of the American West, the Great Plains, the Wild West.)

Future artifact donations

Fact: Donors will open up gates of giving when the right modern and protect exhibition space is available. The donation of the most famous gun in the Old West is on hold, due to the lack of modern secure exhibit space. The Kansas State Historical Society has suggested that their world-class exhibits could come to Dodge City for viewing, given the right space. Time is an issue, too. Some major possible donors are aging, and might give their donation to other states and museums.

Submitted to Heberling Associates Inc., 2007

Dodge City/Ford County, KS, Master Tourism Plan On-line

Dodge City/Ford County Tourism Plan: Major museum section

That we have a multi-hundred thousand dollar visitor center now is one point -- but that a new Kansas Heritage Center/Ford County History Museum is needed is stated about eight places in the study -- but the submitted suggestion for an actual Ford County History Museums seems missing from the study -- although proposed to Heberling Associates Inc. by several groups involved:

New Dodge City Visitor Center with exhibits

Explore the feasibility of the creation of a Dodge City-Ford County Visitor Center in the downtown cultural corridor. The center, which could share a facility with the expanded Kansas Heritage Center and/or a proposed Ford County Museum, would orient tourists to Dodge City, Ford County, and Southwest Kansas sites and experiences through front-line visitor services as well as interactive orientation kiosks and exhibits describing the region’s history and its cultural, arts, recreational, and environmental sites and attractions.

Use of empty buildings in Dodge City for exhibits

Initiate an assessment, including a market survey, of the Robinson’s complex, or a portion thereof (perhaps removing the 20th century one-story additions), for possible adaptive reuse as a heritage and arts center in the downtown cultural corridor. Uses could include artists’ studio rental space, studio space for workshops and classes (possibly including homes for various kinds of artists’ guilds), opportunities for showcasing large exhibits or exhibits of large pieces, meeting rooms, and a Ford County History Center with a collections storage area.

Use of Ford County Government Center for exhibits

The Roundup could also develop an interpretive exhibit—or series of exhibits—on its own interesting history, either in conjunction with the hall of fame or in another location, such as the lobby of the County Government Center, a Dodge City/Ford County Visitors Center, the Boot Hill Casino and Resort (or all of the above).

New Kansas Heritage Center for exhibits

USD 443 representatives should authorize a feasibility study for the development of an expanded Kansas Heritage Center and determine the best location for such a facility.

Possible sites include the former T.M. Deal Lumber Company at Third and Spruce, the old City Hall and parking lot property on top of Boot Hill between Third and Fifth Avenues on Spruce, the former Robinson’s furniture store, casino land west of town, and the Roundup Rodeo-Fairgrounds neighborhood south of downtown. There has been general agreement thus far that one of the downtown locations would be the most appropriate. Butler National has already generously donated the services of a talented architect who has prepared a very preliminary design concept and floor plan for a new KHC.

The study should also determine whether a new KHC should share a complex or be linked architecturally to a related or complementary organization’s facility, such as a Dodge City-Ford County visitors center, a Ford County Historical Society, the Genealogical Society Library, and/or a joint archival research center made up of the two-dimensional collections perhaps from the KHC, Boot Hill Museum, and County Historical Society.

The Kansas Heritage Center could provide expanded facilities for its existing educational and research service operations as well as gallery space for traveling and temporary exhibits from large to small and on all topics relevant to the history, cultural heritage, environment, and lifeways of the High Plains. It could also include spaces for public meetings and events. The KHC should avoid the temptation to become a museum that collects three-dimensional artifacts.

No actual museum in the study:

But, alas, the submitted and discussed material on an actual modern secure history museum is just not in the Dodge City Tourism Master Plan at all? Could it have been lost by Heberling Associates? Edited out?

Dodge City/Ford County, KS, Master Tourism Plan On-line

Dodge City/Ford County Master Tourism Plan: how to measure success

Here's the check list that Heberling Associates Inc. say should be used to measure the success of the new Dodge City/Ford County Master Tourism Plan, the new arts & tourism director position and the community putting it all into action.

􀁸 Annual increase in visitation and attendance at events.
􀁸 Broader visitor demographics.
􀁸 Expanded volunteer base.
􀁸 New events and programs.
􀁸 Expanded community participation and support.
􀁸 Expanded casino attendance.
􀁸 Increased corporate, agency, and attraction partnerships and collaborations.
􀁸 Implementation and expansion of cross-marketing between Boot Hill Casino and
Resort and downtown retail and attractions.
􀁸 Expanded donor base.
􀁸 Increased public and private funding.
􀁸 Increased sales and bed tax revenue.
􀁸 Positive and increased gaming revenue.
􀁸 Increased in-kind support for projects and attractions.
􀁸 Increased number of capital projects and infrastructure improvements.
􀁸 New and expanded downtown tourism-related businesses and services.
􀁸 Increased number of tourism-related jobs.
􀁸 More positive visitor feedback.
􀁸 Improvements in visitor/hospitality services.
􀁸 Increased downtown activity.
􀁸 Increase in number of restored and rehabilitated historic buildings.
􀁸 Expanded media coverage.
􀁸 Expanded web presence and feedback.
􀁸 Increased number of positive online comments.
􀁸 Expanded use of appropriate and relevant digital technology and user feedback.

Dodge City/Ford County, KS, Master Tourism Plan On-line

Dodge City/Ford County Master Tourism Plan: $103,000 Answers

Here's the meat of the Heritage Tourism Plan for Dodge City and Ford County, Kansas -- not Heberling Associates, Inc. fault that it reads almost the same as the study done in early 1990s and in about 2004 -- paid for again -- these are obvious points:

􀁸 To recognize tourism in general as a powerful economic development tool for the community and the region.
􀁸 To enhance visitor satisfaction.
􀁸 To integrate tourism into the social and economic life of the region.
􀁸 To enhance history and the arts as opportunities for heritage tourism and economic development.
􀁸 To promote a sustainable High Plains environment as a significant component of a visitor marketing and promotional plan.
􀁸 To effectively promote and market the region’s unique visitor assets.
􀁸 To create lively and educational experiences for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
􀁸 To enhance the tourism infrastructure.
􀁸 To implement needed wayfinding and informational strategies and an integrated
system of logistical links and connections among visitor venues.
􀁸 To be accessible to a diverse local, national, and global market.
􀁸 To create experiences and the opportunities for discovery about the region and its natural, historic, and cultural setting.

And they add:

A reasonable degree of public funding for attractions in the current economic environment and beyond is a wise investment in regional economic development and an expanded visitor industry.

Dodge City/Ford County, KS, Master Tourism Plan On-line

Tuesday, February 10, 2009