Smith: All about Kansas
Next week we will be observing the most “forgotten” holiday in our state. On Saturday the State of Kansas will celebrate the 150th anniversary of statehood. Kansas officially joined the union on Jan. 29, 1861. This happened following a decade of bloody violence as a territory and the state endured a variety of attacks from pro-slavery forces from across the border in Missouri. Despite hardships, Kansas became a member of the union as a state free from slavery. Certainly our state has a colorful and interesting history.
It is sad that we Kansans don’t take greater pride in our state. I know there is a geographic divide in opinion in Kansas, and eastern residents don’t agree with or understand the western half of the state. Consequently, those in the western half certainly don’t often agree with those of us who live in eastern Kansas. The rest of the nation has never had a very high opinion of Kansas, since we still suffer from the “Dorothy” and “Carrie Nation” images.
Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the unique facts about Kansas. So, after a little research, I put together a little quiz. To be honest, I didn’t know all the answers either.
Q: The first woman mayor in U.S. history was elected in Kansas. Who, when and where was this?
A: Susan Madora Salter won the race for mayor in Argonia in 1887. Argonia is located in central Kansas.
Q: Name the Kansan who invented the dial telephone?
A: The dial telephone was invented by Almon Stoger of El Dorado in 1887.
Q: One native Kansan has been world heavyweight boxing champion. Can you name him?
A: Jess Willard, known as the “Potawatomie Giant” won the title in 1915 with the knockout of Jack Johnson in Havana, Cuba. Willard lost the title when he was beaten by Jack Dempsey in 1919.
Q: Kansas is known as the wheat state and regularly produces more wheat than any other state. What county in Kansas produces the most wheat?
A: Sumner County in south central Kansas claims the title. Wellington is the county seat of Sumner County.
Q: Three Kansas natives have been nominated for president of the United States by the Republican Party. Can you name them?
A: Dwight Eisenhower was elected president in 1952 and again in 1956. Bob Dole lost to Bill Clinton in 1996 and Alf Landon lost to Franklin Roosevelt in 1936.
Q: One Kansan has served as vice president of the United States. Who was he?
A: Charles Curtis was elected in 1928 and served with Herbert Hoover. They were defeated in 1932.
Q: Just how big is Kansas and how does that compare with the rest of the United States?
A: The state is 411 miles long and 208 miles wide. Overall the area of Kansas is 82,282 square miles and is the 15th largest state:
Q: Everyone knows that the official Kansas state flower is the sunflower. However, what is the state’s official animal, insect and reptile?
A: The American buffalo or bison is the state’s official animal. Yes, we really do have an official insect and it is the honey bee. The ornate box turtle is the official reptile.
Q: How many state parks do we have in Kansas?
A: There are 24 state parks located in various sections of Kansas.
Q: Can you name the five largest cities in Kansas:
A: The largest city in Kansas is Wichita, followed by Overland Park, Kansas City, Kan., Topeka and Olathe.
Q: Where is the geographic center of the contiguous 48 states?
A: Smith County. (No relation)
Q: The first black woman to win an academy award was a Kansan. What was her name?
A: Hattie McDaniel was honored for her role in “Gone With The Wind.”
Q: Name a successful silent movie comedian from Kansas?
A: Buster Keaton was from Piqua.
Q: Who was the first woman to receive a pilot’s license.
A: Amelia Earhart.
Kansas has had a great history. It is a state with both a diverse geography and population. It has been a state that has alternated between progressive and conservative over the years. But there is one ongoing theme: Kansas is never boring.