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John Walter Garland - Chisholm Trail Museum Founder and Well-Known Wellington Citizen

Cari Cook

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

John W. Garland played an important part in the formation of the Chisholm Trail Museum and served on the board for several years.  I’ll talk more about that later.  First, let me tell you a little about John and his family’s ties to Wellington and its early years.  Ever the genealogist, I’ve researched his family history.  (Genealogy research is an addiction, and those of you who partake in this hobby know exactly what I’m talking about.)

John Walter Garland was born in Wellington in 1909 to Charles Jepson and Sarah “May” Myers Garland.  He was the only grandson of Capt. L.K. Myers, a very important person in Wellington’s history.  Capt. Myers was a member of the Town Company formed in 1871 and surveyor of the site which would become Wellington.  Capt. Myers also built and resided in the first house in Wellington.  Watch for a special article on Capt. L.K. Myers at a later date.

John, who during my research I’ve been kindly calling JW #3, was named after his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather, both of whom were born in England and came to the U.S. in the 1860’s.  The eldest John Walter Garland, JW #1, his wife Elizabeth, their six sons and only daughter settled in Illinois upon their arrival in the States.  Their son John Walter, or JW #2, married Ida Tulley and lived in Xenia, IL, where their son Charles Jepson, JW #3’s father, was born in 1873.  They later moved 79 miles east, as the crow flies, to Washington, IN, and while living there, JW #2 passed away.  It was the early 1880’s, and Charles was just a boy.


During this same time, Charles’ uncles, Tom and Fred Garland, had moved to Wellington and gone into business with Henry Knowles, opening the Knowles and Garland Meat Market in the 100 block of S. Washington.  Both Garland brothers remained in Wellington and raised their families here.  Fred’s daughter Edith married Walter Archer, who would later go into business with his father-in-law, and the name of the market would change to Garland & Archer. 

Charles came to Wellington in 1890 at the age of 17 but soon returned to Illinois to attend Business College.  He returned to Wellington in 1893 and began working for his uncles at the meat market while living with his uncle Fred and his family.  Charles married May Myers, daughter of L.K. Myers, in 1900.  Their daughter, Dorothy, was born a couple of years later, followed by John Walter (JW#3) in 1909.

In my research for this article, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and corresponding with John’s daughter Sally Garland Foulks via phone and email.  As I mentioned earlier, John was the only grandson of L.K Myers and as such was surrounded by female cousins at family gatherings growing up.   Sally shared this memory of a story her father shared with her when her children were growing up.  “Aunt Edie had four daughters, one of whom died in infancy.  Our relative Walter Archer, a partner of our grandfather’s and father's in the grocery store, had three daughters.  So when the family had holiday dinners or get-togethers, Daddy was the only boy.  Not only did he not have anyone to play with, he had to act like a little gentleman, which he said was no fun.  Our grandmother confirmed this!”

JW #3 was a go-getter from a very young age.  According to his daughter Susanne Garland Evans, her father started school a year early by following his sister Dorothy to First Ward School and telling the first grade teacher he was in first grade.  He didn’t turn six until the following February, so he was younger than most of his classmates.

His daughter Sally shared that her father began working at the Meat Market when he was just a little boy, sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store every day.  Sally said, “He was paid a dime (I don't know how often), and our grandmother had a tiny hole for a chain made in the first dime he made and wore it around her neck for years.” John was active in the community from a young age.  While attending Wellington Junior High, he wrote for “The Blue and White,” a column in the Wellington Daily News.  His name comes up often in the society pages of the WDN, for both hosting and attending parties and other events for the youth of Wellington.

John graduated from Wellington High School with the class of 1926.  He went on to attend the University of Kansas, where he was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity and Owl Society and was on the steering committee of the fifth running of the Kansas Relays. 

Not to go off subject too far but… What exactly is the Owl Society, one might ask?  Well, “one,” being me in this case, I did a little quick research and found some information from the Department of History at KU.  The Owl Society, which I believe is still a current honor society at KU today, is an honor society of the junior class founded in 1914. According to kuhistory.com, this organization’s stated purpose at its conception was “to initiate and promulgate movements for the best interests of the Junior Class and of the University, and to advance the spirit of fellowship among the students.” 

The Owl Society itself is a respected society; however, it does have a bit of a scandalous past regarding an interesting and inflammatory campus humor publication, “The Sour Owl.”  It began the same year as the society and was their official publication.  It had an intermittent run of 40 years, 1914-1956, during which it created quite the stir on campus and beyond.  The humor was less than appropriate, and items published frequently targeted specific KU students’ private lives and was called by one undergraduate in May of 1915 “a bunch of malicious, dirty gossip” contained in a “vile smut sheet.”  The group was reprimanded by the Chancellor after which they issued an apology which included these words regarding their promise never again “to take part … in the publication of anything which casts unwarranted aspersions on the moral character of any person, or which would be regarded by right-minded people as an indecent publication.”  This appeased the university and they were allowed to continue and seemed to clean up their act for several years, including the time John would have been involved.  However, there was more controversy in the 1930’s and 40’s, including being “barred from the mails, according to local post office authorities” in 1944 “on the basis that the magazine contains obscene literature.”  The Sour Owl ceased circulation by 1956.

Now back to John… In 1930, according to that year’s United States Federal Census, JW #3 and wife Marianne were living with his parents in the family home located at 601 N. Washington in Wellington, the current location of Jack Potucek’s law office.  The young couple was newly married, and John had just joined his father and cousin, Walter Archer, in the family meat market business.  

John and Marianne had four children, two daughters, Sally and Susanne, and twin sons, John and Jepson.  For a few years when his children were young, John began working as a traveling salesman for Swift & Co. Meat Packers.  Sally said they lived in Arkansas City, El Dorado, and Wichita, where she started school.  Sally was in second grade when the family returned to Wellington in 1937.  Mr. Archer retired in the early 1940’s and John bought out his share of the partnership, and the store became Garland’s Market.   He would continue the operation of the family business after the retirement and death of his father in 1944. 

According to an article upon his death in the Wellington Daily News on November 8, 1991, after the meat market closed, John joined the staff at the National Bank of Commerce and remained there until the mid-1970’s, when he retired as bank president.  From there he joined the staff at First National Bank.  He was a member and elder of the First Presbyterian Church.

John was a member of the group of history-minded folks who formed the Chisholm Trail Museum in the mid-60’s.  He served on the board of trustees for 22 years in the capacity of treasurer.  The museum saw many accomplishments during those early years, including the acceptance of the Hatcher Hospital building from the Hatcher family in 1964 and the subsequent “move in” of artifacts and opening of the museum in 1965.  He played a very active role as a trustee, heading up special committees and helping to build the museum’s savings over several years.  No doubt his commitment to the museum was fueled by his family’s deep roots here in Wellington and his desire to preserve those early beginnings for future generations to discover and learn from.