|
|
|
Morning Sun
  • Exhibit shows off tools of the trade

  • One of the most basic human activities is the making of tools, and tools are the theme of the January exhibit at the Miners Hall Museum, Franklin.



    “The Way We Worked in Southeast Kansas - Tools of the Trade,” is the latest in a series of monthly exhibits leading up to the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit “The Way We Worked,” scheduled May 11-June 23, 2013, at the museum.

    • email print
  • One of the most basic human activities is the making of tools, and tools are the theme of the January exhibit at the Miners Hall Museum, Franklin.
    “The Way We Worked in Southeast Kansas - Tools of the Trade,” is the latest in a series of monthly exhibits leading up to the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit “The Way We Worked,” scheduled May 11-June 23, 2013, at the museum.
    It is hosted by General Machinery, Pittsburg, which sells industrial supplies. The business was founded in 1913 by Samuel A. Rose and Thomas McNally to meet the mining needs of southeast Kansas. Another early investor in the business was A.H. Schlanger, for whom Schlanger Park is named.
    It was incorporated in 1914 at 701 N. Broadway, and from 1916 to 1963 it was at 202 N. Broadway.  A fire destroyed the building on March 29, 1963, and the business re-built at 510-512 N. Elm, its present location.
    Samuel Rose’s son, Delbert Rose, later managed the company, and his other son, Lester, operated a salvage yard but also did the books for General Machinery. The business  was purchased by the Mitchelsons in 1979.
    “Mining was a big part of  General Machinery’s existence, but we’ve only touched on that since the other half of the building is devoted to mining history,” said Kevin Mitchelson. “We’ve also hit on printing and photography as a southeast Kansas industry.”
    He said that a masonry display was coordinated by Adam Lusker, local masonry contractor, with assistance from John Creller, Springfield, Mo., a representative of Local 15, Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.
    McNally’s, which manufactured equipment used in coal mining, is represented by the original 1919 drawings for a steel mine tipple, signed in approval by Thomas McNally. Measuring 60 feet from the ground to the top, it was the first steel mine tipple in the United States.
    There were always close ties between General Machinery and McNally’s.
    “I  heard Delbert Rose call McNally’s and tell them they hadn’t spent enough with us one month,” said John Matson, who started at General Machinery in 1968 after finishing high school.
    Jim VanBecelaere and Richard Ryder set up a display with a machinist’s lathe.
    There is a wall with photos of early Pittsburg businesses, and by it a map of the city with the business locations marked on it.
    Many of those businesses are closed.
    “In the 1970s, McNally’s was 90 percent of General Machinery’s business,” said Dan Lewis, a 35-year General Machinery employee. “McNally’s is gone, but General Machinery is still here and doing well.”
    “I used to make two trips a week to LaCygne with rags, chains and other things they needed in the coal mines,” Matson said.
    The mines are closed,  too. So how has General Machinery, now entering its 100th year, kept going?
    Page 2 of 2 - “Through trials and tribulations, through both world wars and the Great Depression, it’s amazing how the old-timers kept this above water,” said Rock Anderson, manager. “This is a constantly changing business. We have to keep ahead of it or we’re gone.”
    However, one thing doesn’t change, and that’s the emphasis on customer service.
    “Delbert Rose would spend an hour working on a pump,” Mitchelson said.
    “In those days, people didn’t have rural water, so they had to have pumps,” Matson said.
    Tom Lewis added that the staff always makes it a point to be exceptionally nice to women who come in.
    “Most of the time they don’t want to be there,” he said.
    Lewis added that General Machinery probably has one of the oldest employee bases in the area.
    “No one quits,” he said. “We don’t fire the old and hire the young. I lost my leg last year and I called and asked if I could come back to work in a wheelchair. They said sure, come on. A lot of businesses wouldn’t do that.”
    The exhibit also features costumed mannequins representing various professions.
    “They are all amazing, and the variety of tools, photos and stories is astounding,” said Phyllis Bitner. “Everything is well-marked and very interesting. We hope that the schools will want to bring students for tours, which they can schedule in advance by calling 620-347-4220.”
    “I’d pay to see this,” said Dale Bryan, General Machinery employee.
    However, payment is not necessary. The Miners Hall Museum is open free to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
    A special  exhibit program is planned at 2:30 p.m. Jan. 13. At 3 p.m. will be a dedication of a restored dragline bucket used by the Wilkinson Coal Company. Donated to the museum by Wendell and Lynda Wilkinson, the bucket’s restoration was an Eagle Scout project of Zachary Lambert. Tim McNally will present a program on the history of southeast Kansas industry at 3:30 p.m.
     
      • calendar