By Dr. Ferrell Miller
Geary County Historical Society Board Member
“The 1874 Grasshopper Invasion Of Geary County”
Charles H. Manley, Sr. was a farmer who arrived in Geary County from New York in 1870 as a 17-year-old youth. Mr. Manley kept an extensive diary of his farming experiences, which gives us an account of the grasshopper invasion in 1874.
Charles Manley, Sr. recorded that “when the grasshoppers came in August, the drought had already killed most of the corn in the county. I had roasting ears (or corn) growing on about 3 and a half acres, but only got a couple of sacks full. The grasshoppers got all the rest. I had one neighbor who had about 15 acres of early corn, which made 10 to 12 bushels to the acre. It was dried and hard enough so the grasshoppers seemed to be able to only gnaw the surface of the corn. They ate everything that was green. Even the onions were eaten out of the onion beds, leaving a saucer-like depression. The grasshoppers ate peaches leaving the stones hanging on the limbs of the trees. The grasshoppers even ate the bark and girdled the limbs of some small cottonwood trees. When the invasion of 1874 came, I owned nothing but a $5.00 pair of boots. The grasshoppers left me nothing else.”
This story once again reminds us of the challenges farmers face to provide us with good food. They deal with insects, the weather and other things unknown to many of us who purchase our food from the farmer’s market or the local grocery store. Little thought is given to where the food comes from and what it takes to provide it for us.
“The Goat Gland Doctor”
Today’s story comes from an article published by the Kansas Historical Society. “John Romulus (later changed to Richard) Brinkley was an orphan at age 10 and was reared by his aunt. After a nomadic life as a railroad telegrapher, he attended Eclectic Medical College in Kansas City, Kansas, but never graduated. He was, however, able to practice in Arkansas with an undergraduate license and managed to acquire several fraudulent (or questionable) diplomas.
He made use of the reciprocal agreements between states and settled in Milford, Kansas in 1916. It was in Milford that he began to transplant the gonads of goats into aging human (male) customers with the promise of masculine virility. For several years, the practice was successful financially and Brinkley built a clinic, (a hotel) and a powerful radio transmitter.
He was able to build and operate one of the first radio stations in Kansas, KFKB (Kansas’ First Kansas’ Best). With this station he attracted interest in his work and acquire customers. Ads were interspersed with musical entertainment. Brinkley’s secret remedies were shared and he began diagnosing the nation’s illnesses over the airwaves. In 1923, it was discovered that he had no formal medical training.
When opposition from the organized medical community resulted in revocation of his radio and medical license, he turned to politics. He conducted a vigorous write in campaign for Governor of Kansas in 1930. After two unsuccessful campaigns for the office, he shifted his headquarters to Del Rio, Texas and built what would become radio station XERA in Villa Acuna, Coahaila in Mexico. He shifted his specialty to the prostate gland.
During his last years Brinkley was sued for malpractice and forced to declare bankruptcy in 1941. After three heart attacks and the amputation of a leg, Brinkley died in 1942 in San Antonio, Texas.”
We have more information about Dr. Brinkley in a book at our Museum. There is also a display on the second floor of the Museum dedicated to Dr. Brinkley and his work. The display was put together by our Curator, Heather Hagedorn. A special feature in the display is an audio recording of the song used during Brinkley’s unsuccessful campaign to be the Governor of Kansas.
Stop by any day Tuesday through Sunday between the hours of 1 and 4 in the afternoon and learn more about the “Goat Gland” doctor. Our Museum is located at the corner of Sixth and Adams Streets in Junction City,