Christmas Greetings From Sylvia Muse.

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

A number of years ago, the family of Sylvia Muse donated her postcard collection and research material.  Sylvia started her collection one year after she was born when her grandmother, Fianna B. Graybill,  sent her a first  birthday card with “bluebirds embossed on it and was beautiful” was sent to her by her grandmother, Fianna B. Graybill.

Sylvia was born in Lancaster County, Pa, to Henry M. & Harriet A. Dibble Graybill on Valentine’s Day in  1911.

Sylvia, age 4, at the family home near Hesston, Ks

A few years later, the family moved to Hesston, Ks.  All of her father’s family remained in Pennsylvania.  To keep in contact, cards and letters were mailed back and forth between the family.  Each card Sylvia received, she  placed in a special box.  As she got older, she would take out the cards and make up stories or her mother would sit with her and tell about her family in Pennsylvania who had sent the card.

In her later years, as she began writing her family history, the cards recieved from far away family provided a touchstone.  She described, “it was like meeting old friends and I thought of all those people who had sent me the cards.”

Christmas Greetings – Sylvia Graybill Dewey Muse

Muse had a large collection of Christmas cards and she noted, “I found that the cards reflect the issue and interest of that particular year.”


Sylvia Graybill Dewy Muse

She drew on the cards she had collected throughout her life to create a program as part of the “I-Witness” program at Larksfield Place, Wichita, Ks.

Sylvia Muse’s Christmas Greetings

The images below are pages from programs she gave in the 1990s based on her collection.  Notebooks with her complete Christmas collection will be available to view at HCHM on Dec. 2 through Dec. 30.

Early 1900s




1929 Card





Cards produced in the 1960s reflected events such as space travel.





In the early 1970s, cards began showing children of different color and nationalities.



In 1977, Hallmark produced what would become their best selling Christmas card.  By 1996, 36 million cards with the three angels had been sold.


Remake of the 3 Angels Card was not as popular, 1993.


1985 The Olympics

2000 A New Millennium







Sylvia died October 27, 2012 at the age of 101.



New & Cool: A Garage Sale Treasure

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator


A recent donation to the museum’s collection had a unique journey to us.


This sketchbook was found at a garage sale by a sharp eyed customer who recognized the name on some of the sketches. She later donated the sketchbook to HCHM.

A Landscape

The sketchbook belonged to Lloyd T. Smith, inventor and businessman in Newton, Ks.  Most of the dates in the sketchbook are from the 1980s.


An early drawing.

The original emoji?


1 of 3 self portraits in the sketch book.

A few animals.

Dramatic shading.

Unknown woman

Unknown woman


Unknown woman

The sketches in the book show another side of a man who was an inventor and instrumental in early historic preservation efforts in Newton.


What is Behind the Name? Finnell & Whitesell VFW Post #971

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

In Flanders Fields” poem by Lt Col John McCrae.

Today, with all of the ways to communicate across the globe, it is hard to remember a time when news of a loved one overseas came weeks later and was often incomplete.

Sad News in Soldier Letters

The news first came in letters.

“Sunday was ‘soldier mail’day and there were many smiling faces that were soon overshadowed as the word was noised about that three of the Newton boys, Roy Barker, Arthur Whitesell and Loren Finnell had fallen.” -Waive Kline to Glenn Wacker, October 18, 1918.

Evening Kansan Republican, October 1918. Clipping in letter to Glenn Wacker dated 18 October 1918

Roy Barker was not among the fatalities.

In a letter dated October 1918, Walter Deschner, who was involved in the big battle of Meuse-Argonne, wrote:

 “I am back from the front safe and sound. . . . Leo Burgener was injured, but not seriously, but  Arthur Whitesell and Loren Finnell were both killed within 15 yards of me.” 

Page from Walter Deschner’s Soldier’s Memory Book, 1918, noting the deaths of Whitesell & Finnell. HCHM Archives.

He also remembered the two men in his Soldier’s Memory Book after his return to Harvey County.

Eventually, official word came to Harvey County.

“A Gloom Spread Over the Entire Community.”

“When the truth of the sad news was forced upon the neighborhood that Lauren Finnell had made the supreme sacrifice, a gloom spread of the entire community.”

“In Flanders Field”

The Battle of Meuse-Argonne, which began 26 September 1918claimed two Harvey County men who were members of Newton’s Company K, 139th Infantry.

On  September 27, 1918, the second day of the battle of the Argonne Forest, Lauren J. Finnell was seriously wounded by a high explosive shell.  His friend,  Arthur P. Whitesell , on duty with the intelligence department, remained to assist him to the dressing station.  A second high explosive shell came ending the lives of both Newton men.

Lauren J. Finnell graduated from Newton High School in 1916 and described as a “general favorite among both old and young.”.  He also completed one year at Bethel College, North Newton, and was employed with the Santa Fe Railroad. He enlisted in Co. K, 3rd Kansas National Guards on May 21, 1917.

Loren J. Finnell, 1918.

Arthur P. Whitesell, was born in 1898 in Iowa.  His family came to Newton in 1909 and he graduated from Newton High School in 1916.  He worked in the civil engineering department of the Santa Fe Railroad until he was mustered into the army on August 5, 1917.

Arthur P. Whitesell, 1918.

“He sleeps where the poppies bloom near Charpentry, France”

Both men were given a military burial near Charpentry, France by the army chaplain. A number of years later, their bodies were shipped back to Kansas arriving on September 18, 1921. The newspaper editor noted that “both boys were returned to Kansas soil almost three years after being killed in France.” The two friends in life share a final resting site in Greenwood Cemetery, Newton, Kansas.

Photo by Jullian Wall, Greenwood Cemetery Newton, Harvey County, Kansas, USA
PLOT Add. 2, Bk. 7, Lt 16.

In 1922, VFW Post #971 was named  Whitesell & Finnell Post VFW for the two men that died “in Flanders fields.”

Evening Kansan Republican, 22 August 1922.


  • “My Soldier” Scrapbook Walter H. Deschner Collection, HCHM Archives 98.1.9.
  • Kline, Waive to Glenn Wacker, October 1918.  Waive and Glenn Wacker Collection, HCHM Archives.
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 20 July 1918, 12 October 1918, 8 November 1918, 10 December 1918, 24 August 1921, 12 September 1921, 16 September 1921, 22 August 1922.