The film series, "Olathe -- The City
Beautiful", has received a lot of local interest.
Greg Sheffer, film director, approached the Olathe Historical Society in 2003
with the idea to create a film series to be shown in schools and made available
to the community that told the story of the people, places, and events that shaped the history of Olathe. The stories would be short; 10 to 15 minutes long. Twenty topics were chosen by Greg, Bob Courtney - Historical Society President, and Maureen Donegan - Olathe Public School's Social Studies Coordinator.
In August, 2009, Greg and Bob Courtney visited with Maron Moore about
sponsoring one of the twenty films. She chose the film "The Bricklayer" because
she witnessed the event personally in 1925. She also chose to sponsor
the film about the Mahaffies ("A Place Called Home") due to her many years
of volunteering at the farm and stagecoach stop. Also, she chose the film about
Marshall Ensor ("Renaissance Man"). Marshall was a teacher at John P. St. John
Memorial High School when Maron Moore was a student there.
Greg began the first film ("The Bricklayer")
and it was shown at the March, 2010, meeting of the Historical Society. The Ensor film ("Renaissance Man") was
completed and shown at the Heritage Center on January, 2011. While the Mahaffie film was being completed, Greg entered "The Bricklayer" in the AMC Kansas City Filmfest in April, 2011, and out of a total of 135 films it won first place in its division for "Best Heartland Documentary Short film." At this same time, Maron Moore chose to sponsor three more films.
The Mahaffie film "(A Place Called Home") was premiered at the Heritage Center
in July, 2011, to an audience of over 130. Many good comments were expressed
about the film. A decision was made by Greg and the Historical Society to place
the first three films plus a short film about the Hodges brothers ("Out of the Mud"), funded by a grant from the Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund, on a single DVD and make it available to the community. Copies of this disc would be donated to each school library, the public library, and the Deaf cultural Center. The disc would also be closed captioned for the deaf community.
Volume 1 of the film series was released at Johnson County Old Settler's in September 2011.
Since three of the films from Vol. 1 were shown on Olathe's public TV channel,
they were eligible to be nominated for the 2011 Regional Emmy Award in the
Heartland. They received three nominations for director, cinematography, and
historical documentary. Greg Sheffer and his wife Donna traveled to St Louis on
October 22 to the Mid-America Emmy Awards
presentation. They came home with three Emmys, one for each nomination category.
Volume 1 includes the following
"A Place Called Home" - The Mahaffie Family
In 1857, J.B. and Lucinda Mahaffie came to Kansas in search of a
farm. Settling in Olathe along the Santa Fe Trail, the Mahaffies
braved the volatile Kansas/Missouri border and established a
successful farm and stagecoach stop that still stands today.
"The Bricklayer" - Indian Jim and the Kansas City/Olathe Highway
He could lay over forty thousand bricks in a single day and in 1925
he paved the new Kansas City/Olathe Highway. James Garfield
Brown would finish the highway in Olathe to a grand celebration
and a world record.
"Renaissance Man" - Marshall Ensor
Teacher, farmer, Navy commander, radio pioneer - Marshall Ensor
was a man of many trades. For 46 years he passed on his
knowledge to thousands of Olathe High School students. He and
his sister Loretta, through the use of early radio, would come to
"Out of the Mud" - Frank and George Hodges
No two brothers have had a greater impact on Olathe. Both were
successful businessmen and bankers; one was mayor of Olathe,
the other Kansas State Senator and Governor - Frank and George
Hodges truly made Olathe a better place. This film was funded by
a Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund Grant made possible by
the Johnson County Commissioners.
Volume 2 and Volume 3 were released at the Johnson County Old Settler's event
in September 2013.
Volume 2 contains the following story:
"I've Paid the Bill" - William Quantrill
Seeking revenge for the execution of his friend Perry Hoy, William
Clarke Quantrill, and 150 of his men saddled their horses and set
their sites on Olathe, Kansas. Riding into Olathe on September 6th,
1862, Quantrill's guerillas ransacked the town -- killing over a dozen
men, and destroying both town newspapers, pillaging goods from
Olathe homes, and taking over 100 men as prisoners.
Volume 3 features the following four stories:
"The Lynching of Bert Dudley"
In August of 1916, Bert Dudley, a local farm hand, murdered a
farmer and his wife in Stilwell, Kansas. He was captured by the
Johnson County Sheriff and convicted by a jury in downtown
Olathe. However, a mob felt justice was not served and decided
to enact its own punishment for the crime.
"A Foundation to Build Upon" - J C Nichols
One of the top urban developers of all time, Jesse Clyde Nichols
was born and raised in Olathe, Kansas. The pranks that were
played on young J C and the enormous success he had in his early
life all played a role in shaping this great man.
"Broken Silence" - Kansas School for the Deaf
For 150 years the Kansas School for the Deaf has called Olathe
home. This institution has shaped the lives of thousands of deaf
students, contributed much to the story of our country and played
a vital role within the community of Olathe.
"Olathe Arts and Entertainment"
From music to painting to theater and sculpture, Olathe has a long
history of the arts. Some notable names from Olathe went on to
have national stardom, while others remained close by but were no
less prolific. The Olathe Historical Society produced this film for
the Olathe Arts exhibit at the Olathe Heritage Center. This film was
funded by a Johnson County Heritage Trust Fund Grant made
possible by the Johnson County Commissioners.
These films are also available on-line at OlatheHistoricalSociety.org
Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 were awarded 8 Emmys in early October 2013.