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Johnson County Museum

Phone: 913-715-2550

6305 Lackman Road, Shawnee, KS 66217

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Museum Blog

The Last Stand of Elizabeth Porter

In 1941, the great real estate developer, J. C. Nichols, began planning his newest community: Prairie Village.  While Nichols would later come to regard Prairie Village as one of his jewels, the development was far from easy.  Several obstacles stood in Nichols’ path; a snaking creek that had to be straightened, and a large farmer-used landfill that needed to be covered and graded were just two of the many problems that had to be dealt with.  But one of the largest obstacles that... - published on: 07/14/2015 - 3:32pm

Jim Lane and “Bleeding Kansas”

James HenryJames Henry “Jim” Lane is a figure who in many ways has been lost to history.  His name does not ring familiar when mentioned to most people these days, but during his lifetime, Jim Lane was regarded as a hero and he had a town in Johnson County named after him.  Lane played an important role in determining the future of Johnson County and of Kansas during the pivotal years of 1855-1865. Jim Lane was born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana in 1814.  He served in the Mexican-American War... - published on: 06/10/2014 - 1:32pm

Vigilante Justice in 1916 Olathe

Newspaper clippingMany people think of the early twentieth century in Johnson County as an innocent time, where residents worked hard and pursued a good life.  There were, however, certain incidents that may shock the casual observer of our area’s history.  One such incident was the case of Bert Dudley.  Dudley was the victim of the last known lynching in Johnson County.   Dudley’s lynching occurred during the early morning hours of September 21, 1916 at what is now... - published on: 05/27/2014 - 1:27pm

Taco Via Enjoys a Cult Following

Taco Via Restaurant“Countdown to Taco Via:  In 7 days I will board a plane and travel 1,300 miles for Taco Via. If I could teleport, I would.”  Posted by Adam Hutton on the “I Love the Taco Via!!!” Facebook page, April 24, 2014. Brooklyn, New York resident Adam Hutton grew up in Shawnee and returns home to Johnson County about once every 18 months.  Every time he visits, there is one mandatory stop on his itinerary; Taco Via.  On a recent trip, Hutton traveled directly from the Kansas... - published on: 05/13/2014 - 1:23pm

Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant: A City Unto Itself

Sunflower Plant ViewThe Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in northwest Johnson County functioned like an independent city because of its massive size.  Its infrastructure included a power plant, a water treatment plant, a hospital, a fire department, a security force, over 100 miles of paved roads, and 70 miles of railroad track.  The plant was roughly the size of the city of Leawood, and covered 15 square miles. The work at Sunflower was dangerous, requiring skill and focus to ensure everyone’s safety... - published on: 04/28/2014 - 2:06pm

El Salvadoreno in Downtown Overland Park

El Salvadoreno in Downtown Overland Park“This restaurant is bright, colorful, and clean, just like the houses in El Salvador,” Benjamin Sol says about El Salvadoreno, the Downtown Overland Park restaurant he owns with his wife, Blanca.  The couple opened the restaurant in October 2011, and it has become a gathering place for natives of not only El Salvador, but other Central American countries as well.  “Eating here either kills or increases their homesickness,” Benjamin says with a laugh about his Central American... - published on: 04/15/2014 - 9:50am

Johnson County’s “In Cold Blood” Legacy

In Cold Blood ActorTruman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” is sometimes called the first “non-fiction novel.”  The book documents the 1959 murders of four members of the Clutter family in Holcomb in southwest Kansas.  The two men ultimately captured and executed for the crimes play a major role in the book and in the 1967 film adaptation.  Although these brutal crimes took place over 350 miles away from the area, one man’s connection to Edgerton thrust Johnson County into the spotlight. Richard Eugene “... - published on: 03/18/2014 - 9:39am

Dickinson Drive-In Theatres in Johnson County

Shawnee Drive-inJohnson County became swept up in the drive-in movie craze when Dickinson Theatres opened the Shawnee Drive-In in 1949 and the Leawood Drive-In in 1953. The Shawnee Drive-In was located just east of Long Street on Shawnee Mission Parkway and was the first drive-in theatre in Johnson County.  The parking lot was able to accommodate 1,000 cars at a time, and sometimes as many as 4,0000 people enjoyed a film outside under the stars on a 60 foot by 40 foot screen.  The base of the... - published on: 03/04/2014 - 8:34am

Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant Portrait: Gayla Frazier

Sunflower Plant VehiclesWorking at the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant in northwest Johnson County was truly a family affair.  Fathers and sons, husbands and wives, mothers and daughters all worked at the plant together.  Even those who were not related by blood talked about the family atmosphere at Sunflower throughout the years.  Gayla Frazier represents the third generation of her family who worked at Sunflower.  The Gardner native worked at Sunflower from 1965-1973, and from 1975-2002... - published on: 02/18/2014 - 8:54am

Celebrating Black History Month: Olathe’s early African-American community

Black History MonthEven after slaves were freed by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the bloody Civil War ended in 1865, black people in the South were still marginalized and desired a new life in another part of the United States.  Black people left the South in huge numbers.  From 1870-1881, over 50,000 black men, women and children descended on Kansas.  Nearly 6,000 of these people crossed the border from Missouri for a fresh start in Kansas.  The anti-slavery legacy of the... - published on: 02/03/2014 - 1:02pm

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