The Panorama Man: H.S. Stovall

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

View of Newton, Ks from the roof of the Opera House, taken by H.S. Stovall.

“Photography is history and in a book like the Semi-Centennial edition of the Kansan, the the contribution of this profession to its success is obvious.” -Editors of the 50th Anniversary Edition of the Kansan, 22 August 1922.

Harvey County was fortunate to be home to several talented photographers that documented the progress of  county communities through photographs. From the earliest photo taken in the summer of 1871 to today, HCHM has an extensive collection of images created by Harvey County photographers.

H. S. Stovall was one of several photographers active in the county in the early 1900s.  Born in Kentucky in 1872, Stovall moved with his parents to Missouri. He attended the Chillicothe Normal School and Business Institute located in Chillicothe, Mo.  While studying business at the college, Stovall became interested in photography. After he graduated, he “devoted his entire business energy to this profession.”

Evening Kansan Republican, 9 September 1909.

By 1909, this “progressive business man” had moved to Harvey County where he was “an earnest worker for the best interests of Newton.”


H. S. Stovall

He opened a gallery above Hanlin’s Department Store at 603 Main in Newton, Ks.  Stovall provided many of the images for the 1911 Souvenir publication “Newton, Ks: Past & Present, Progress & Prosperity.”

Panorama Photography

One focus of his work was on creating panoramas including one taken pre-1915 from the roof of the Opera House.

View of Newton, Ks from the roof of the Opera House, taken by H.S. Stovall.


Enlargement  looking east.

Enlargement looking north.

Large Groups Photos

He also was a popular photographer when the subject was a large group.

District Meeting. Church of the Brethren, 1015 Oak Newton, Ks. 1911 taken by H.S. Stovall.


McMannus Employee Picnic, June 11, 1914, Photo by Stovall.


1st Christian Church, Main & E 1st, Newton, 1918. Photo by Stovall.

Senior Photos

Florence Holmes, 1928.

NHS Class of 1922, by Stovall.


Janet Parris, 4 years old, 1916. Photo by Stovall.


Evening Kansan Republican, 19 August 1914.

In 1924, Stovall is listed on Socialist Ticket Presidential Electors, along with Reed Crandall from Newton, Ks.

Council Grove Republican, 24 July 1924.

He was an active photographer in the Newton community throughout the 1920s.

Evening Kansan Republican, 10 December 1920.

By the 1930s he is advertising in Dodge City, Kansas newspapers and the Catholic Advance.

The Independent, 9 July 1938.


Catholic Advance,9 February 1935.

The last advertisement that was found for this article was in the Catholic Advance January 16, 1942. Stovall would have been about 70 years old.

Catholic Advance, 16 January 1942.

If you have information on H.S. Stovall, contact HCHM.

Other Harvey County Photographers

Charles L. Gillingham, W.E. Langan, F.D. Tripp, W.R. Murphy,  Mrs. B.F. Denton.


  • Catholic Advance: 1 October 1929,  2 February 1931, 9 February 1935, 9 July 1938, 16 January 1942.
  • Council Grove Republican, 24 July 1924.
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 9 March 1909,   20 April 1909, 7 September 1909, 9 September 1909, 8 September 1910, 13 February 1913, 6 March 1913, 19 August 1914, 5 September 1914, 8 March 1916, 17 April 1917,  8 September 1917,  30 September 1918, 10 May 1920, 17 September 1920, 21 September 1920,  30 September 1920, 20 October 1920, 23 October 1920, 10 December 1920, 22 August 1922,1 September 1920.
  • The Independent: 27 July 1922,  2 November 1922.
  • Newton City Directories: 1911, 1913, 1917, 1919, 1931, 1934, 1938.
  • United States Census: 1900, 1910.
  • Kansas State Census: 1915.

The Newton Snake Story: Fact or Fiction?

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

“Milked by a Snake?”

Sometimes it is hard to know how much truth is in a story, like this recently discovered oddity from the Newton Daily Republican 27 June 1895 with the headline “Milked by a Snake: A True Snake Story that Should Take the Leather Medal.”

The newspaper editor assured people the story was “vouched for by A.L. Bartlebaugh, who is well enough known throughout the county as a truthful man.”

Newton Daily Republican, 27 June 1895

According to the Newton Daily Republican, J. W. Miller, a Dunkard farmer living north of Walton, was having difficulty with his cows.  For several weeks they had been coming home “in a somewhat excited condition.” Every evening one would have a swollen, inflamed  udder and would give no milk.  The cow had symptoms similar to poisoning and would eventually die.  After the eighth cow died, Miller became desperate to learn the cause.  He decided to “spend a day with the animals to watch developments.”  He witnessed the “strangest sight.”

The Strangest Sight

“A monster bull snake, eight feet in length, appeared in the pasture and raising itself to the udder of the cow, grasped the teat with its mouth.  The cow was badly frightened and ran about the pasture in a frenzied manner.  The snake hung on for dear life, fastening its fangs into the teat, and sucking out the milk.  When it had had its fill, it dropped off.”

Miller quickly worked to kill the snake and solved his problem. He did not lose any other cows.

“Truthful Men”

The reporter agreed that the story seemed incredible and that they had never heard of a similar case.  In fact, “the incredulous are scarcely willing to believe it until given the names of those concerned”  – A.L. Bartlebaugh and J.W. Miller – deemed to be truthful men.

Alexander L. Bartlebaugh, a veteran of the Civil War,  was an early settler in Harvey County, establishing his farm in May 1872.  His obituary noted that with his passing “the community loses one of its oldest and most highly respected men” known for his hospitality to travelers and kindness to all.

The Tale Travels

Over the next several months the “Newton Snake Story” appeared in newspapers across Kansas including the Osborne County Farmer, Galena Times, and the Leavenworth Times with no additional comment.  One article from a paper identified as  Inter Ocean – August 16, 1895 included the added comment that “the body of the monster has been preserved in alcohol and will be donated to the museum of the State University at Lawrence.”

Tall Tale or Truth?

Since the last article specifically mentioned a museum at Kansas University, contact was made with Dr. Rafe M. Brown, Curator-in-charge, Herpetology Division,  Natural History Museum, Dyche Hall at KU. He graciously replied noting that the story seems to be part folklore and part mis-identification.

Bull Snake

The story likely involves incorrectly identifying the snake as a  Bull Snake (Pituophis melanoleucus) when it likely was a Milk Snake (Lampropeltis triangulum).  Neither snake could actually “milk” cows.  The Milk Snakes got their common name when farmers would blame low milk yields on the snakes. The farmer observed a snake in the area of the herd and assumed the snake  had somehow attached to the  udder and drained it.

Red Milk Snake

Over the years this has given rise to stories and legends about snakes ‘milking’ cows. Dr Brown states;

There is zero factual basis for these kinds of urban legends; in any case, perhaps the reporter of your 1895 piece observed a Pituophis in the area of a herd, and assumed it must be up to no good?”

Curious to know more about Kansas snakes?

“Got Snakes? “” is a great place to start!


Original Story

  • Newton Daily Republican, 27 June 1895

Story Retold

  • Osborne County Farmer 4 July 1895.
  • Galena Times, 5 July 1895.
  • Leavenworth Times, 7 September 1895
  • Westmoreland Recorder, 21 November 1895.


  • Evening Kansan Republican: 8 April 1907; 29 May 1915.

Additional Research

  • Dr. Rafe Brown, e-mail to Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator, 16 October 2018.
  • “Udder Snakes” 15 June 2015. Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog

Leather medal was slang (1830+) meaning an imaginary reward for laziness, ineptitude.

Source:  Lighter, J.E..Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang: Volume II, H-O. Random House, NY 1997


Wayne G Austin of the Fifth Marines

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Wayne Austin was born on July 17, 1897 in Burrton, Ks, to parents, Stephen P. and Mary Austin.  He was one of 12 children.  Throughout his childhood, the family moved around due to his mother’s health, living in Ohio, Kansas and Colorado. By 1909, the Austin family established a home on the east side of Burrton, Ks.

While at Burrton High, Wayne Austin was an excellent athlete.  In the 1914 Burrton Field Day, he took first in the hurdles and the broad jump, second in the 50 and  100 yard dash. Following high school, Wayne lived with his brother, G.C. Austin, in Mullinville, Ks.

The Burrton Graphic on July 26, 1917, reported that  “Wayne Austin departed for St. Louis, Sunday night and has joined the U.S. Marines.” He trained at Port Royal barracks, South Carolina.  Assigned to Co L 5th Marines, he went over seas on February 6, 1918..

Burrton Graphic, 26 July 1917 – clip.

First to be Missing

Austin was reported as missing in action on July 4, 1918.  For the next several months, there seemed to be confusion about Austin’s status.  Was he captured? Was he killed in action? It took months for his family to learn the answer.

Newton Kansan, 4 July 1918

Throughout the summer and fall of 1918, the Austin family held on “the profound hope that he was captured by the enemy, but he has not as yet been located.” A letter from the American Red Cross noted that they understood the“deep anxiety and worry during these days that you must wait for news of your son . . . we are exercising every effort to get the facts.”

Burrton Graphic, 24 October 1918.

“No Eye Witnesses”

On October 24, 1918, the Burrton Graphic published a letter that Mrs. Mary Austin had received in answer to her queries about her son, Wayne.  Her letter was sent July 5, 1918. She received a response in a letter dated September 27, 1918.

R.O. Williams, 1st Sergeant for Capt Quigley wrote the following:

“he was in action with this company on June 6th. The circumstances, as far as I know are as follows: Two platoons were making an advance in Belleau Woods and found the opposition very stiff, . . . the Lieutenant in command . . . found it necessary to send a message to the Company Commander. . . Your son was one of seven runners who bravely attempted to carry back this message . . . It is not known for certain just what happened to Private Austin as there were no eye witnesses.”

Even after the Armistice there seemed to be no answers regarding the fate of Wayne G. Austin.

Gave Life at Chateau Theirry”

Finally in late January  1919, Austin’s mother received a telegram from George Barnett, Major General Commandant, with the news that “Private Wayne Austin, Marine Corps buried July 2nd and cause of death to be determined.”

Burrton Graphic, 6 February 1919.

In May 1919, a memorial service was held for Austin.

Burrton Graphic, 15 May 1919.

“Killed Outright”

Over a year later, another piece of the puzzle. In an August 6, 1920 article, the Evening Kansan Republican reprinted part of a letter received “some weeks ago” by Austin’s mother, Mrs. Mary Lynn. Written by Austin’s commanding officer, Capt George Brantingham,  who was also injured,  “shot through the wrist . . .[he] laid in No Man’s Land from 5:15 till 1 o’clock in the morning.” Prior to being injured, he had gone to look for his missing runners when they did not return.

“I went myself and found all my runners killed in and around the same spot, there was a kind of a path worn through the wheat and a machine gun sniper got them all.  I do not know where Wayne was shot but was killed outright.”

The commander went on to say that he was wounded three times and my health is pretty bad.  The gas I got on the Argonne drive knocked me out all together.  It has eaten about four holes through my left lung and  . . . bothered me ever since.”


Wayne G. Austin was the first young man from Harvey County to be killed in action. He died carrying a message during the Battle of Chatteau Thierry and Belleau Woods on June 6, 1918. He was buried in the American cemetery on the Aisneriver, Torcy, France.  In 1921, his body was returned to Kansas in the fall of 1921.

Newton Kansan, 16 September 1921

In 1921, Post No. 2 American Legion was named for him.

Newton Kansan, 14 July 1921.


  • Burrton Graphic, 26 July 1917, 24 October 1918, 6 February 1919,  15 May 1919, 22 September 1921.
  • Evening Kansan Republican 19 May 1919, 20 August 1920, 14 July 1921, 16 September 1921.
  • Newton Democrat 5 July 1914.
  • Newton Kansan, 4 July 1918.
  • Mullinville News 4 July 1918, 12 August 1920.