SEK ghost town comes to life in a big way during annual Fall Tour
It’s been more than 60 years since the one-room Cato School conducted official classroom business. But come one weekend each fall, when more than 600 students descend upon the ghost town of Cato, that tiny historic school and its community come back to life in a big way.
Teachers gather students for turn-of-the-century math and reading lessons. A horse-drawn stagecoach wanders near. Kids play traditional pioneer games outside the schoolhouse windows.
It all happens at Cato’s annual Fall Tour, this year set for the first weekend in November. The event highlights the history of Cato and offers several historical reenactments, music, refreshments, informational booths, tours and more…
Want to keep reading about Cato and its annual Fall Tour? Check out the fall issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It … Read More »
Rural By Choice
Schenker Family Farms and McCune Farm to Market invest in SEK – while serving customers around the world
It was 2008. Cherie Schenker logged on to Craigslist, a relatively new website at the time, to advertise a quarter of Schenker Family Farms’ grass-fed beef to local consumers.
It didn’t work.
“Somehow, it ended up going on the Craigslist in Orange County, California,” she says with a laugh. “But then – someone called.”
And someone else called. Then someone else. Quickly, Cherie and her husband, Kevin, realized: There’s a huge market for this.
“We needed a website and we needed to figure out how to ship this stuff,” Cherie says. “Necessity is the mother of invention … and we just kind of got propelled into it from there.”
Where they’ve landed 10 years later is one of the largest direct-marketing livestock operations in the state … Read More »
Welcome to The Lavender Patch
Fort Scott family farm features 1,000+ lavender plants
When you enter Davin and Betsy Reichard’s home, you can’t miss it: that familiar, unmistakable scent of lavender.
It’s inevitable. The Reichards are surrounded by lavender, from the hundreds of lavender plants that are blooming just outside their front door to the dozens of homemade lavender products they make in their home each week.
That’s just everyday life (“I don’t even smell it anymore,” Betsy says) as the Reichards run The Lavender Patch Farm in Fort Scott. Their small family operation centers on just over 1,000 lavender plants, plus a gift shop filled with Betsy’s lavender creations…
Want to keep reading about The Lavender Patch Farm? Check out the summer issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand … Read More »
Fall in Love at Summit Hill Gardens
There’s just something about Summit Hill. It captivated Patsy Smeed from the very beginning.
She moved there – one acre of land south of Chanute, the site of an old one-room schoolhouse – more than 40 years ago with her late husband Larry, an artist and professor. All these years later, she still hasn’t left.
“I just fell in love with Summit Hill,” she says. “It’s been a lot of great therapy for me.”
Since her arrival, Patsy has slowly expanded her land from one acre to 65 acres. The sprawling property is much more than her home or the location of a historic schoolhouse: It’s also the site of her business, Summit Hill Gardens, which offers a soap shop (all products Patsy makes herself) and wedding venue/event center in partnership with her sister-in-law Gretchen Brant.
No matter … Read More »
Every other year, we publish this special tourism issue to give Southeast Kansas readers ideas for places to go and things to do right in their own backyard — and this one is our best yet, packed with more than 150 ideas!
Southeast Kansas Living subscribers received the 68-page Adventures & Day Trips issue for free as part of their subscription. Looking for your own copy? Contact us to purchase a copy and have it shipped directly to you.
Southeast Kansas provides endless opportunities for discovery and fun. We hope you’ll use the Adventures & Day Trips issue as a guide to get out and explore this beautiful, historic corner of Kansas!
1892 Neodesha oil discovery changes Southeast Kansas forever
The Mid-Continent Oil Field has historically been one of the largest producers of oil in the United States. It consists of hundreds of oil fields, spans six states and at one time was responsible for generating more than half of the nation’s oil supply.
Its birthplace? Right here in Southeast Kansas – Neodesha, to be exact. The discovery of Neodesha’s Norman No. 1, what many believe to be the first commercial oil well west of the Mississippi River, not only forever changed the town, but also kicked off an oil boom that put the entire region and state on the map…
Want to keep reading about Norman No. 1? Check out the winter issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a … Read More »
Art is Ageless
Art competition for seniors emphasizes creativity and encouragement
Aggie Keesling, 89, has taken up painting just in the last several years. She’s teaching herself, experimenting with colors, learning from trial and error. She even paints over old canvases multiple times so she doesn’t have to drive to town to buy more.
“I paint quite a bit, especially in the wintertime because it’s so quiet out here,” says Aggie, who lives in Farlington. “When I have nothing to do, I’ll sit and paint. It gives me so much enjoyment, I wonder where the hours have gone.”
This year, for the first time, Aggie submitted her artwork to a contest: Art is Ageless, hosted by Fort Scott Presbyterian Village. She selected two of her paintings to enter into one category – and, much to her shock, she took home first and second place.
“A … Read More »
Mined Land Wildlife Area boasts premier hunting and fishing – and unique history
You’ve never experienced a Kansas wildlife area quite like this one.
Spread over 47 different tracts of land, the Mined Land Wildlife Area encompasses nearly 15,000 acres throughout Cherokee, Crawford and Labette counties. But it’s the area’s history that makes it extraordinary: Once wrecked by coal mining, the land is now home to perhaps the most unique wildlife area in the state, having been transformed to offer some of the state’s finest hunting and fishing.
“What was at one time environmental devastation has, with some reclamation, turned into a dense growth of vegetation, along with these strip mine lakes that cover up to 1,500 acres in the area,” says David Jenkins, wildlife manager for the Mined Land Wildlife Area. “There’s nothing else quite like it in the state of … Read More »
House on a Hill
Peek inside the historic Brown Mansion in Coffeyville
A four-story, 111-year-old mansion is bound to have its haunted tales. The Brown Mansion in Coffeyville boasts plenty of them.
“It’s a big old giant house,” says Kris Crane, president of the Coffeyville Historical Society. “And there are personal items here: All of this furniture belonged to the Browns; these are their clothes; they ate off these plates. People are always thinking it’s haunted.”
For Kris, the ghostly stories and random eerie incidents – a wandering voice, a creaky step – don’t bother her much. After all, she’s at the mansion every week to host events and guided tours (including occasional visits from paranormal investigation groups) and has come to know the mansion inside and out.
But legends of the supernatural come with the territory, particularly when a home’s history is as storied … Read More »
World-Class Boats Built in Small-Town Kansas
Cobalt Boats in Neodesha celebrates nearly 50 years in the marine industry
When it came time for Casey Lair to buy a boat, the choice was clear.
In fact, he says, there really wasn’t much of a choice to be made at all.
“We had bought a lake house at Table Rock, and I just assumed that if I was going to have a boat, Cobalt is supposed to be the best boat made – and it’s made in Neodesha,” says Casey, who’s lived and worked in Neodesha for 32 years. “So that’s what I needed to have.”
Seven years and two boats later, Casey is a Cobalt Boats devotee. And he’s in good company: Tens of thousands of people across the country (and the world, for that matter) own a Cobalt luxury boat, all of which are built … Read More »