Tonganoxie Historical Research

Artifacts and Historical Information

The artifacts on display in the museum are but a fraction of the artifacts and historical information that is housed at the historical site.

There are many documents and photographs in the archives that are waiting for local history research projects.

Our volunteers can assist in genealogic research, as well as other local history research.

Call the museum for additional information.


As a non-profit, privately funded organization run by volunteers, we have found that we must charge for copies that are reproduced by request.

Our charges are:
Black & White copies: $0.50
Color copies: $1.00
Copies on photo paper:
4" x 6" $3.00
8" x 10" $5.00
Copy of DVD: $10.00
Research by TCHS volunteer:
1st 30 minutes FREE
Hourly, thereafter $10/hour

Spring at the Fairchild Farm

Humanities Kansas has funded a grant to research the history and geology of the natural spring on our property. The Spring at the Fairchild Farm is located just south of the milking parlor and hay barn. Frank Fairchild used this spring to cool the milk produced on the farm in the late 1800s. There is also some historical reference to this spring being used as a watering station on the Leavenworth-Lawrence Road prior to that.

The Spring at the Fairchild Farm

The Fairchild Spring Project September 2019 Update. Staff has been busy working on the Fairchild Spring Project, which is funded by a grant received from Humanities Kansas. A major task was hauling away the wood from the dying mulberry tree that had grown out of the spring area. When the area was cleared of wood, we needed to address the weeds, including tree sprouts and poison ivy, growing around the hole.

In order to protect the water course into which the spring flows, we opted to start with non-chemical approaches. Vinegar had little impact on the weeds. Black plastic was more effective, but when it was removed, the weeds sprouted back. The plan for the fall is to re-apply vinegar, followed shortly afterwards by the black plastic. In the spring we will evaluate the weeds and decide whether chemicals are necessary.

Thanks to our mowing volunteers, we have a mowed path from the driveway to the spring. When our signs are complete, there will be directional signs pointing from the driveway to the access paths.

iron ring from spring houseThe iron ring found by Garrett Seuser at the site of the spring house

The likely footprint of the spring house has been identified by the metal in the ground, probably the nails from the roof. Our student volunteer and metal detector enthusiast, Garrett Seuser, flagged the area and also discovered square nails and an iron ring. These artifacts will be part of the museum display about the spring.

We know that the spring house was built of stone. It seems likely that the stone was not transported a long distance. J.W. Evans is going to show us the quarry up the hill to the west of the museum, and we hope to be able to determine if that was the likely origin of the rocks in the spring area.

We met with the graphic designer, Nate Forsberg, to plan the outdoor signage. We will get the final material to Nate in December, and he will begin laying out the signs. We hope to have the concrete base for the outdoor signs poured this fall.

There will be an indoor display about the spring near the south wall of the museum. We have begun designing this display, which will include historical text, maps, drawings or photos, and perhaps an interactive element. One panel will contain general information about springs and spring houses, and one will have more specific information about the Fairchild spring. Our newest volunteer, Natalie Vondrak, is helping to design this display.

Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy. Since 1972, our pioneering programming, grants, and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights. Together with our partners and supporters, we inspire all Kansans to draw on history, literature, ethics, and culture to enrich their lives and serve the communities and state we all proudly call home. Visit

Progress Report, June 30, 2019. In May, we cut down the dying mulberry tree that had grown out of the stones around the spring. Little did we know that the continuous rains would make it nearly impossible to remove the brush and logs leftover. Over the month of June, many volunteers hauled logs and brush away from the spring area. Poison ivy eradication is in progress.

To our surprise and delight, we found that the spring appears to still be flowing. Perhaps the water is coming up through layers of debris in the old pool, but it is difficult to tell. However, just to the east of the spring, water is definitely flowing (albeit slowly), making a small slough with different grasses from the rest of the field. In the coming months we hope to determine the location of the spring house that was used for cooling milk and perhaps confirm the building materials.

If you have any information about this spring, or if you know anyone who might have some stories to share, please contact us.  We are eager to learn more!

Press Release, April 9, 2019 (pdf)

Vignettes of Yesteryear

  • The Franklin Ice Cream Corporation was located in Tonganoxie on the banks of Tonganoxie Creek. This photo is ca. early 1930's

  • The Interior of Zoellner's Mercantile, 1905