JoCo Street Names: M – Z

This third and last installment will highlight the last remaining road and street names in the alphabet. Thanks again to the Johnson County Museum for providing the research on the background of these names in Johnson County, Kansas. Now when you drive down roads, like Metcalf, Nall and Roe, you will know a little bit more about their history.

Mastin:  J.J. Mastin owned several acres west and south of Merriam where the Mastin subdivision is now located. [Journal Herald. May 13, 1999 p. 7.]

Marty Street: John Marty, vice president of the Overland Park State Bank in 1910. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 58.]

Mastin: J.J. Mastin owned several acres west and south of Merriam where the Mastin subdivision is now located. [Journal Herald. May 13, 1999 p. 7.]

Metcalf: Named for a George Metcalf, Oklahoma banker, who bought land for investment purposes and to farm when he retired. Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 58. [see portrait 1997.077.000 in museum collection]

Mission Road: Once named Porter road because it bisected the Porter Farm. [“Historic Johnson County” Johnson County Herald September 3, 1969 p. 7.]

Another possible reason for the name for Mission Road – once called Rock Road, followed the Rock Creek from Westport to the Indian mission. [“Many creeks take names from area’s history, but some are just a mystery.” Johnson County Sun September 1, 1993 p. 5A.]

Nall Avenue: John Nall and his brother purchased school land, then built a home near Nall and 67th. The land was later turned into city lots. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 58.]

Nieman Road: Nieman Road was a branch of the Santa Fe Trail. It was named after C. Nieman, cashier of the Shawnee State Bank, which opened in 1908. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Noland: T.W. Noland was a Johnson County engineer and was in charge of every road build in the county. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Pawnee Road: Indian name meaning “horn.” [“Historic Johnson County”.  Johnson County Herald September 3, 1969 p. 7.] [note: Pawnee became synonymous with “Indian slave” in general use in Canada, and a slave from any tribe came to be called Panis.–Carter Godwin Woodson, “The Slave in Canada”, The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 5, July 1920, No. 3, pp. 263-264]

Pflumm: Named for C.H. Pflumm, president of Shawnee State Savings Bank in 1958. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 58.]

Quivira: Name is indirectly linked to land sought by Coronado in Kansas in the 1880’s and by the name of the Quivira Indians who got their name from the Quivira River where they lived. Quivira was previously named Schlagel Road. The Schlagel family owned large tracts of land in South Overland Park. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 59. ]

Reeder: Andrew Reeder was the first territorial governor of Kansas. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Riley: This street was named for Thomas Riley, vice president and general manager for the Strang Line. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 59.]

Roe Avenue: John Roe came to the United States in 1860 from Ireland seeking farmland. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 59.]

Roe Avenue and Roe Lane: Named also for John Roe. [“Historic Johnson County” Johnson County Herald. September 3, 1969 p. 7.

Santa Fe Drive: Named for the Santa Fe Trail that follows through Overland Park. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 59.]

Slater: Named for Cyprian Slater, one of the earliest residents who served as the first school board treasurer in 1871. [Journal Herald May 13, 1999 p. 7.]

Strang Drive: This street is named after the founder of Overland Park and president of the Strang Interurban Railroad. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 59.]

Strang Line: Named after the interurban railroad started by William B. Strang, Jr. (1857-1921). [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Switzer Road: One of the two Breyfogle roads that were in the Shawnee- Overland Park area that were combined and named Switzer. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 60.]

Walmer Avenue: Named for Edwin Walmer, assessor for Mission Township from 1927-1955. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 60.]

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JoCo Street Names: D – L

This is the second installment of our three part series about Johnson County, Kansas street names. Please stay tuned for the third installment that will be published next week. The street names are followed by a brief description about who or what they were named after and then a citation. Thank you to the Johnson County Museum for conducting this research.

Dice: Named after Fred Dice, a civil engineer, who was a Lenexa City County member in the 1970s. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Earnshaw Drive: Earnshaw family came to Shawnee in 1857 and was prominent landowners. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Flint: Lazarus, Elias and Levi Flint were landowners in Shawnee. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Garnett: Named after Hal Garnett, former mayor of Shawnee and jewelry store owner. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Gillette Street: H.D. Gillette moved to Lenexa in 1870 and started the first blacksmith shop. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Goddard Avenue: Named for prominent pioneer family in Shawnee. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Hadley Street: Named for Jeremiah Hadley the superintendent of the Quaker Mission in 1856. [Journal Herald. May 13, 1999 p. 7.]

Hallet Street: Hallet C. Parrish was former City attorney of Shawnee. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Hayes: Named for Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th president of the United States. [Journal Herald. May 13, 1999 p. 7.]

Hocker: Richard W. Hocker developed 40 acres west of Turkey Creek and named it Hocker Grove, but he never lived there. [Journal Herald. May 13, 1999 p. 7.]

Johnson Drive: Named for Reverend Thomas Johnson, founder of the Shawnee Methodist Mission and director of the Manual Labor Training School. [Journal Herald. May 13, 1999 p. 7.]

Kessler Lane: German immigrant George Kessler settled in the area on Kessler’s bluff, now called Sherwood Forest. [Journal Herald May 13, 1999 p. 7]

Lackman: William Lackman was a farmer, stock raiser and landowner who built a Victorian home at 11800 Lackman Road in 1886. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Lamar: Buxton named the street Lamar after Lucius Quitus Cincinatus Lamar, Georgian politician and mathematics professor. Overland Park (Kan.).  [Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 58.]

Lee Boulevard: Named for Oscar Grant Lee, who built a house at 2320 West 96th Street in the early 1920s.

[“Home of Oscar Grant Lee (boulevard namesake) is still occupied today” Sun July 11, 1986]

Legler: Named for Adam Legler family who came to area.

Lenexa: Name changed from East Frontage Road to Lenexa Drive. Lenexa was named after a Shawnee Indian woman, Na-Nex-Se Blackhoof. [ Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Lichtenauer Drive: Named for Joseph and Berdine Zahner Lichtenauer. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Lone Elm: Named for a campground on the Santa Fe Trail. It took its name from a large Elm tree that served as a landmark. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

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JoCo Street Names: A – C

Street names have been a hot topic around here lately and we would like to share with you some interesting information researched by the Johnson County Museum. Below is a list of street and road names in Johnson County, Kansas in alphabetical order A – C. The citations follow the description. Stay tuned for the next set of names in this three part series.

Acuff Lane: Named for Phil and John Acuff, residential developers in Lenexa and Shawnee. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Alden Road: William Alden owned 120 acres from one mile west of Shawnee and donated land for the Greenwood School. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society.]

Allman Road: Robert O. and Frances Allman were landowners of an area north of 79th and west of Lackman Road. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society.]

Antioch: Originally called Chase Road after the Chase family; later renamed Antioch because the Antioch Church was located there. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 55.]

OR

It could have been named for the city mentioned in the Bible. [Journal Herald May 13, 1999 p. 7]

Ballentine: Named for John N. Ballentine, grocer from Kansas City, Kansas who moved to Johnson County in 1919, [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 55.]

Barkley Road: John L. Barkley helped develop the area and was on the mission Urban Township board. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 56.]

Barton: John Barton was the treasurer of Johnson County in 1857 and founder of Olathe. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Blackbob Road: Blackbob was the recognized chief of the Black Bob Band of Shawnee Indians in the Stanley – Stillwell area. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society.]

Bluejacket Street: Could have been named for the famed Bluejacket spring used by Indians for water.

OR

The Shawnee Indians of White decent, Charles, Julia and Robert Bluejacket. [“Historic Johnson County.”  Johnson County Herald September 3, 1969 p. 7]

Boehm Drive: New street west of Loiret Boulevard in the Villas of Loriet. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Bradshaw Drive: Named for the family of Squire Charles A. Bradshaw, one of the founders of Lenexa. Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). [Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society.]

Bregfoyle: Well-known member of Overland Park and Olathe areas; a portion of this street was renamed Switzer. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 56.]

Caenen: Named for Remi Caenen, Belgium immigrant who moved to the area in the 1860s. [Overland Park (Kan.). Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 56.]

Cedar Creek Road: Named after Cedar Creek, small stream that enters Kansas about 1 ½ miles east of De Soto. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society.]

Cherry Lane: Believed to have been named after the Cherry Lane School located at 95th and Woodland. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

Cody: Some people believe it was named after Buffalo Bill Cody. [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

College: Name changed from 111th street after the construction of the Johnson County Community College.  [“Man who named College Blvd. never foresaw massive growth” Sun October 30, 1991] [Lenexa Historical Society. (1999). Heritage of Lenexa: Historic sites, street names. Lenexa, KS: Lenexa Historical Society. ]

 

Conser: Named by Grant Conser, second generation Conser, when he came to the area. [Overland Park (Kan.). Johnson County Democrat March 4, 1954. Community Development Dept. Comprehensive Planning Division. (1978). History of Overland Park. Overland Park, KS: City of Overland Park. p. 57.]

Thank you for reading and remember to come back to see the next set of street names! Feel free to comment with any additional street names you’re interested in knowing more about.

-Beth Edson, Johnson County Library

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Rising from the Ashes

Class_at_Hickory_Grove_School

Photo pulled from fire damage at the Hickory Grove School

Fire has always been a concern for schools, especially when we’re talking about old school buildings. Fire drills were first introduced because of the numerous severe fires in schools. Of course today, we have the newest technology for early detection, but the early days of Johnson County were not so lucky.  Two such fires were in 1920 and 1949.

In January of 1920, a fire completely destroyed the Overland Park High School building. Sources are conflicting as to the actual date, but the Kansas City Star states the date as Monday, Jan. 26. At that time the building was located at Santa Fe Road and Robinson Street. According to the Kansas City Star, the origin of the fire is a mystery, but possibly caused by a gas explosion. Witnesses claimed to have seen a bright light around 2 a.m. toward the vicinity of the building.

Overland_Park_School_fire

Overland Park High School fire in 1920

This building, built from stone, was not the first school at the location. A wood structure called Pleasant Prairie was built there in 1873. Because enrollment increased over the years by 45% and costs increased 56%, it was felt a new structure was needed. So in 1909 a new stone structure opened. There were four rooms on the first floor and four in the basement, with an annex attached at a later date. Enrollment continued to grow.  Four teachers were hired and the costs totaled upwards of $9,000. But on that fateful morning in January 1920, the building and its contents were a complete loss. The district rallied again, and a new school of a larger scale was built.

John_Douglas_Patrick_inside_school_building

Pleasant Prairie School in 1899, the location where Overland Park High was later built.

Overland Park High would not be the last school to experience a devastating fire. The first Hickory Grove school, a one-room wooden structure, was built in 1865 and was once the largest school in the county. The name for the school was chosen because of the beautiful grove of Hickory trees on the site in Mission, Kan. This one-room structure stayed until 1916 when a larger one was needed. Stone structures were popular around this time, possibly from fear of fire, and this two-story stone school with two classrooms and one big community room on the ground floor was built.  The basement was converted to classrooms at a later date, with additions built in 1926, 1937 and 1946. The latest addition consisted of 11 more classrooms, a library, a gymnasium and increased cafeteria facilities.

Fire_at_Hickory_Grove_School

Fire at the Hickory Grove School in 1949.

On July 21, 1949, a fire erupted in the new stone building.  Children who were rehearsing a play had just left the building when J. M. Smothers, the assistant custodian,  was locking the doors when through the windows he saw a light coming from the auditorium area. He discovered the entire stage curtain on fire. Previously, he had sternly advised the college students who had been directing the play not to smoke backstage.

Fire_damage_at_Hickory_Grove_School

Fire damage at Hickory Grove School

Firefighters from different local communities rushed to help control the blaze. Fire trucks from Overland Park, Shawnee and Mission townships, Mission and Kansas City, Kan., hurried to the scene. Six pumper trucks with eight streams were directed on the 100-foot high flames. Seen for miles, the fire drew 500 people. Thick black smoke billowed above until the roof was consumed an hour later. The damage was estimated at $100,000, but the new $250,000 addition was saved.

On a happy note, the play was also saved and moved to another school. Just like the old saying, “The show must go on.”

-Terri Bostic, Johnson County Library

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Path of the Shawnee

Living in Johnson County, Kansas, we see the name Shawnee all around us. Schools, streets, newspapers, neighborhoods and cities adorn the name. Our county’s namesake, Thomas Johnson, ran the Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission. The Shawnee were not originally from this area, so we pay our respect this Native American Heritage Month by taking a look at the path that led them to Kansas. It was not what we would call a voluntary path by any means.

According to the Shawnee Tribe’s official website, Shawnee are an Eastern Woodlands tribe. In Sauk, Fox and many other Algonkian languages the name for the Shawnee, Shawunogi, and its variants means “Southerners.” Before being forced west by European encroachment, the Shawnee lived in areas that include Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Tenskwatawa

Tenskwatawa, a Shawnee who was strongly opposed to Indian removal and brother to the legendary Tecumsah. He was forcibly relocated from Ohio to Kansas. Image courtesy of the Kansas History Society.

In 1793, the Shawnee received a Spanish land grant near Cape Girardeau, Missouri and a large group of Shawnee headed west for that land. After the Louisiana Purchase, that land became property of the United States government. This prompted some of the Shawnee to leave and head even further west to Texas and Old Mexico. They are known as the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, and they later moved to Oklahoma.

For the Shawnee remaining in Ohio, the Treaty of Fort Meigs granted them three reservations in 1817. By 1824, there were 1,383 Shawnee left in Missouri and about 800 in Ohio.

hist_map_span_1793

Spanish Land Grant map from 1793. Courtesy of the Shawnee Tribe.

Not long after 1824, the Missouri and Ohio Shawnee would find themselves being forced out of their homes and onto 1.6 million-acres in eastern Kansas, part of which is now Johnson County. Relocation of the Ohio and Missouri Shawnee started in 1826. To begin cultural assimilation, missionaries were setup throughout the Kansas reservation, one being the Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission located in present day Fairway.

indianGirlsNew

Girls at the Shawnee Indian Mission School. Photo Courtesy of KSHS.

By the late 1860s, the Shawnee would once again find themselves compelled to leave their home for several reasons. The 1.6 million-acre reservation had been decimated to 160,000 acres by the U.S. government after the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Shawnee were also antagonized by the settlers coming into Kansas during and after the Civil War. The Shawnee and Cherokee Nation were then forced into an agreement by the U.S. government allowing the Shawnee land and citizenship in the Cherokee Nation reservation in Oklahoma. It was not until the Shawnee Tribe Status Act of 2000 that the Shawnee Tribe was restored to its position as a sovereign Indian nation.

We didn’t address the fascinating history of Indian removal resistance that took place in Ohio or the Shawnee involvement in the War of 1812. Perhaps we can look into that another time.

-Beth Edson, Johnson County Library

Resources:

Howard, James. (1981). Shawnee!: The ceremonialism of a native Indian tribe and its cultural background. Ohio University Press: Athens.  

Kansas State Historical Society. Shawnee Indians. Retrieved from: http://kshs.org/kansapedia/shawnee-indians/19230

The Shawnee Tribe. History. Retrieved from: http://www.shawnee-tribe.com/History.html

 

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Flights and Phantoms, Part 2: Lives Lost

January 3, 1949, was like any other cold January day when 1st Lt. Neal R. Webster started his navigation training flight from Omaha to Tulsa and then back again.  But on the return trip, his luck did not hold.  He was cleared to fly from Tulsa to Topeka, but during the flight, the fog thickened, and because of zero visibility the Topeka airfield was forced to close.  So Webster had to change route, and Lowry Air Force Base, the technical training base in Denver, notified the next closest airfield, Olathe Naval Air Station.  With only 150 yards of visibility, they readied for the possibility of a rough landing.  Just the  previous week crews in Washington, D.C.,  had faced a similar situation when they had to guide President Truman’s plane during low-visibility conditions. They were successful, and the Olathe airfield used the same techniques to prepare for Webster’s landing, but with more tragic results.

Aerial view of New Century AirCenter

Aerial view of New Century AirCenter, site of the former Olathe Naval Air Station.

Low on fuel, Webster was in constant communication with the Olathe tower.  Those in the tower were steering him in, but because of the limited visibility the building came upon him all too soon.  He flew right into the side of the Administration Building, just past Hangar 43.  The engine shot from the plane and sailed into the air knocking a hole in the building’s roof. The plane was instantly engulfed in flames, rising higher than the roof of the building.  Because of the fog these flames were hardly discernible.  Bricks were strewn everywhere, even breaking the plate glass windows on the south wing.  Damage included a bulge in one office’s ceiling and the side wall suffered extreme damage.  A deep furrow was created along the length of the building, and later parts of the plane would be found as far as 200 yards away.

Administration Building of the Olathe Naval Air Station, circa 1945

Administration Building of the Olathe Naval Air Station, circa 1945

The ground crew rushed to assist and immediately extinguished the fire. Since the front of the plane was completely demolished, they were forced to pry the pilot and an unexpected passenger from the underbelly of the wreckage.  Webster was pronounced dead at the scene, but the unknown passenger was alive and rushed to the base hospital.  He regained consciousness but died six hours later.  Initially the only trace of this person’s identity was an illegible signature on the flight forms.  His baggage later revealed he was Pvt. Thomas Ruse from Lowry Air Force Base.

A man in uniform stands before a Naval Air Transport plane, circa 1945

A man in uniform stands before a Naval Air Transport plane, circa 1945

Immediately following the accident strange occurrences started happening.  One eye-witness claimed that someone walked from the plane crash, but that person was never found.  Witnesses started claiming to hear whistles, footsteps, voices, locks refusing to lock and doors opening unaided.  More than once people have claimed to see a man in all white on Hangar 43’s catwalk.  Dubbed the “Commander,” his purported sightings have caused some to question whether or not Webster still walks at the site of the Olathe Naval Air Station.

The Naval Air Park at New Century AirCenter

The Naval Air Park at New Century AirCenter

While the Olathe Naval Air Station was officially decommissioned in 1969, Johnson County acquired the property in 1973.  New Century AirCenter, as it is now titled, includes a business park with over 64 companies, a rail center and the airport. Also onsite is the Naval Air Park, a small park honoring 16 Navy and Marine service members who trained at the station but “did not return from deployment.” Along a winding path are street signs commemorating the names of these 16 aviators.  All lives lost continue to be honored in memory and encapsulated in lore through the present day and beyond.

See more photos and learn more about the history of the Olathe Naval Air Station from JoCoHistory.org at http://bit.ly/ONAShistory.

-Terri Bostic, Johnson County Library

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Flights and Phantoms, Part 1: Olathe Naval Air Station is Constructed

As a result of the United States’ involvement in World War II, the Navy felt an additional Kansas station was needed to train young flyers. So in 1941, the Olathe Naval Air Station was established. The original 640 acres included a county airport and land that had been established for the rich and elite. However, with the onset of the Great Depression, only two homes were built. Being the perfect location, papers were signed, and the land was sold.

Aerial view of the Olathe Naval Air Station Administration Building, circa 1945

Aerial view of the Olathe Naval Air Station Administration Building, circa 1945

In 1942, the first cadets entered the basic training program. Among them was John Glenn, who would later be one of NASA’s first astronauts and a celebrated American icon. He took his first solo flight in a military plane from the Olathe base. In John Glenn: A Memoir, he mentioned his first days, “Walking around on duckboards while the construction crews finished pouring concrete for the sidewalks. … The paint was still drying in the barracks.” By November 17, 1942, Glenn and the first group of cadets left for advanced training elsewhere.

View from inside an Olathe Naval Air Station hangar in 1949.

View from inside an Olathe Naval Air Station hangar in 1949.

At first, the base only operated out of a few structures on the premise, but by 1948, it had expanded to 19 buildings. Those included were the main Administration Building and three gigantic hangars, including the infamous Hangar 43. Throughout the years there have been many testimonies of paranormal activity connected to this hangar. While numerous deaths have occurred on site, the one usually associated with hauntings  is that of a young Air Force pilot who crashed in 1949.

-Terri Bostic, Johnson County Library

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