Category Archives: Social & Civic Groups

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Spring is a busy season for many as they cultivate their gardens with the hope of seeing blooming dividends.  One organization dedicated to the pursuit of gardening is the Kansas Associated Garden Clubs.  At one time, more than seventy-five individual garden clubs belonged to the KAGC.

In 1926, a garden club in Emporia, Kansas was formed and became the founding member of the Kansas Association Garden Clubs.  Six years later, the Emporia group joined the National Garden Club, Inc.  In the next several decades, several groups throughout the Midwest joined the KAGC.  The Kansas groups were broken into districts based on their location: East Central, Mid East, North Central, Northeast, Northwest, South Central, Southeast, and Southwest.

One of the many highlights from the KAGC is the annual garden shows that take place among the various groups.  The Johnson County Museum houses several artifacts and photographs from various garden shows, particularly those of the East Central District.  I was able to speak with KAGC historian Sheila Miller on the history of garden clubs in Kansas and several of their traditions.

Not just for adults, youth would often participate in garden shows.  Pictured above are Susan Miller, Jeffery Woods, and Janet Elswood circa 1959.  (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory)

Sheila Miller has spent decades with the Kansas Garden Clubs and belongs to the Bonner Springs Group. The group in Bonner Springs joined the Kansas Associated Garden Clubs in 1960, and Sheila joined in 1964 after getting a recommendation from a friend.   Being new to the community at the time, she saw joining the group as an opportunity to get to know her fellow gardeners.  For the past seven years, Sheila has worked diligently as the historian for the KAGC, preserving official documents, memorabilia, and general history of the organization.  These include yearbooks from the different Kansas clubs, which can provide inspiration for club members.  Some of the fond memories include working together on projects, visiting nursing homes, planting flowers at Kelly Murphy Park, and other gardening events (like the yearly garden shows).

Kelly Memorial Park, located in Bonner Springs, honors slain police officer Maureen Kelly Murphy.  (Photograph is courtesy of City of Bonner Springs.)

The annual garden shows are intended to educate the members and community about various gardening techniques and showcase the plants and flowers that are on display.  Members have the opportunity to show off ‘the very best of their garden’.  It takes a great deal of careful planning and preparation to be able to enter the show.

Mrs. Charles O’Conner stands proudly with her flower arrangement, circa 1959. (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory)

The majority of the flower shows are open to the public, with family and friends of the members coming to show their support and learn a little bit about gardening in the process.

The East Central District Garden Show was held in a local school gymnasium.  Date unknown.  (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory).

While there may not be monetary prizes involved with winning at a local garden show, there is a great deal of pride and honor that goes with the title.  Ribbons are given out to the winner in each group.  The JoCoHistory Collection houses over 40,000 historical photographs and maps, including many garden exhibits and flower gardens.

Mrs. N.L. Wilson poses beside her prize-winning iris, circa 1954. (Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum Collection on JoCoHistory).

The Kansas Associated Garden Clubs has gone through many changes over the past several years.  There are currently nine local Kansas gardening clubs that fit under the KAGC banner, and the impact of the 2020 pandemic has forced groups to meet virtually for the time being.  The Bonner Springs Garden Club is one of the nine that continue to meet and discuss various garden topics including horticulture, health and environmental issues, and participation in projects for the benefit of the local community.  Though the club may seem different, their goal of beautification and education remains the same.

This image is provided courtesy of the Bonner Springs Garden Cub.

-Heather McCartin, Johnson County Library

Author note: The author offers her deepest gratitude to historian Sheila Miller for her cooperation and knowledge of the Kansas Associated Garden Clubs.

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Olathe Club for the Deaf party

This photo depicts a party game along the lines of dunking for apples. Participants are trying to bite apples that hang from strings without using their hands.

apple game

People depicted here are members of the Olathe Club for the Deaf but are not identified by name. The year is not given, though it has a definite 1950s look to me.

Does this game have a name? Does anyone in the photo look familar?

Click the photo to view a larger image.

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Homestead Country Club

Homestead Country Club opened on Mission Road and Homestead drive in northern Prairie Village in 1953. Here’s a snapshot of two kids in the wading pool with adults lounging in the background.
The picture dates to about 1954 or so. The children are Ellen and Richard Parenteau.

See all the Homestead Country Club photos now

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The Red Cross in Johnson County

This gentleman is wearing a Red Cross uniform from the World War I era.


He is identified as Melvin Golden who went on to become a driver in the DeSoto area for many years. He died in 1968 at age 80 and is buried in DeSoto cemetery.

Another Red Cross person is depicted in this cheery photo.


Her name is Ruth Miller. She joined Red Cross Club Mobile Unit in 1941, serving in England and Belgium.

See more Red Cross material now.

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History Mystery: Rural Service Club

From the files of the Home Demonstration Agent we have a group portrait of the Rural Service Club from 1935.


Members are not identified, nor is their association with the Home Demonstration Agent described. The image comes from the collection of the Johnson County Archives.

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