Beautifying a building simply for the sake of making it better and preserving part of the community’s history isn’t something everyone is willing or able to do. Fortunately, Charlie and Missy Adamson were willing to make a philanthropic investment from which everyone can benefit. Their building, Adamson Brothers Heating & Cooling, 102 S. Walnut St., at the corner of First and Walnut streets, previously was the home of the intersection of two railroads. And because of the Adamsons’ recent efforts, today it is adorned with a mural depicting those former railroad glory days.
Besides the 12-foot-by-80-foot railroad treasure, the community can be buoyed by the knowledge the mural was completed by a talented local artist, Matt Morton. It is the perfect greeting across the bridge from the Old Depot Museum for those walking or riding bikes.
History is important — or at least it should be to every community. Knowing our roots explains so much about the way we do things and why. Just look at the names of the counties in Kansas. Many are the names of the Native American tribes that lived there. History also helps us learn from our mistakes and build upon our successes.
Because history often repeats itself, it can be a good indicator of what is to come in the future. Knowing the evolution of how we got from here to there provides perspective. The Franklin County Historical Society invited descendants of some of the Franklin County area’s early inhabitants to a special event Saturday recognizing the society’s 75th anniversary. “Native Neighbors from Franklin County’s Past — A Native American Experience” offered the community an opportunity to see traditional Native American dancing and historical exhibits. One of the handouts detailed the Ottawa tribe’s migration from around the French River in Canada to Michigan, near the Maumee River in Ohio, later in Ottawa, Kan., and eventually to the Indian territory in Oklahoma.
The Ottawa tribe was determined by the U.S. government in 1956 to serve no purpose, and its official designation was terminated. That status was restored in 1978, according to historical society files, and was re-established as a sovereign government the next year. What lessons can be learned? It takes vigilance to maintain a strong community, otherwise it can atrophy and be disregarded. The Ottawa tribe’s trials can serve as an inspiration for the rest of us to preserve and promote our collective history.
Again, the history being memorialized by the Adamsons captures an important moment in time that shouldn’t be forgotten. It all matters, and it would be shortsighted to think the past isn’t an important part of today’s community identity. The mural at First and Walnut streets helps tell the story of the Ottawa area’s past, present and future. It is a story well worth sharing.
— Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher