By Dr. Ferrell Miller
Geary County Historical Society Board Member
“The Good Neighbor Program”
In 1949, Junction City’s new radio station, KJCK, was located above the Leedy Drug Store. During the programming there was a segment titled “The Good Neighbor Program”. On this show, local residents were recognized for being “good neighbors” and good citizens.
One of the first honored was Mary A. Verbeke. She was recognized for her kind acts of sending encouraging words to people.
Mary Verbeke was born in Belgium. When Mary was eight years old, she immigrated to this country with her mother. During their train trip to Junction City, there was a need to change trains in Kansas City. Mary and her mother witnessed women chewing something at the train station. It was uncommon in Belgium to see women chewing and the only reference was that of men, who chewed tobacco. So, strange as it may have seemed to them, Mary and her mother assumed the women were also chewing tobacco. However, in fact, the women were chewing gum.
Upon arrival in Junction City, Mary and her mother spent their first night with the Muenzenmayer family, who lived on West 6th Street. A neighbor recalled the first time Mary was given ice cream. Mary had declared the ice cream was too cold for her. So, she put the dish of ice cream on the stove to warm it.
Mary and her mother moved into their first home on West 5th Street in 1893. Mary lived there the rest of her life. Because Mary was on the “remembrance committee” of several organizations, she developed the habit of sending greeting cards, cheery notes and messages during her life time. In 1949, those acts of kindness earned her KJCK’s recognition as a “Good Neighbor”.
“The Old Indian Statue”
A question was asked about the “Indian Statue” which sits in a field about three miles south of Junction City. After confessing to know little about the statute, visiting with Geary County Historical Society staff and doing some research, a November 3, 2002 article was found written by Bob Honeyman. This is some of what Bob wrote:
“Geary County has had a statue known simply as “The Indian”. It was erected on May 20, 1920. The statue originally cost $2,000.
The figure is not a work by a famous artist, but was cast in concrete over an enduring reinforcement of steel in accord with the description of the Indian as he appeared at the time of an historical account by Coronado’s personal historian. The 9 foot tall statue, which is now in a decrepit state having been marred by vandals and weathering, still stands near the intersection of the Skiddy County Road and Lyons Creek Road. It is obscured by a tall growth of scrub trees, weeds and other vegetation.”
In a February 28, 1974 article written for the “Daily Union” by Susan Morton, she stated that “the statue was erected by two brothers, Robert Douglas Henderson and James Bell Henderson to represent a serious study of the Indian scout as he surveys the approach of the white man.” Jeff Loeb in a December 17, 1978 article for the “Daily Union” wrote that “a few feet below the monument was an Indian trail, which ran westward and then southward to the Santa Fe Trail. It was used by Indian tribes in the area including the Kaw, Pottawatomie, Pawnee, Wichita and other Kansas tribes as the direct trail to the plains. This trail was used for thousands of years before the coming of the white man.”