Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2005

Prison’s chief engineer had inventive streak

May 19, 2005

Albert Eugene Sherley was the chief engineer at the Kansas State Penitentiary from 1921 to 1934 and from 1937 until his retirement in the late 1950s. He was in charge of all the physical equipment at the prison, electrical systems, plumbing and maintenance of buildings. He had a direct telephone line from his home on Kay Street to the prison. That phone is now in the archives of the Lansing Museum. He was also in charge of building the gallows, a task he disliked immensely.

Albert had a very inventive mind.

He built a riding lawn mower before you could buy one.

He invented a nutcracker from the bendix of an old car starter. It worked like a dream. It gave you walnuts shelled out in halves.

He also invented a vibrating machine that separated the walnut meats from the shells and sent them in different direction. Part of his reason for doing this is that he loved to make "walnut brittle" and was famous for it.

He was very good with the shotgun at the turkey shoots and always came home a winner. He had many hobbies. After he retired, he built a wooden fishing boat, as he loved to fish.

Albert was born in 1882 in Osborne. His family moved to Lansing in 1888. He graduated from Lansing Elementary School, and by 1905, he was working as a machinist in Leavenworth at the Kramer Machine shop.

Albert married Elizabeth Veronica Young, my dad's sister, on Sept. 4, 1905.

Albert bought three small buildings from the Brighton Mine area west of Lansing, moved them to town and put them together at the location that is now 106 E. Kay St. That home is still in the family.

Uncle Albert was a good person, always willing to help. I learned a lot from him.

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