Fred Harvey Farm

May is Historic Preservation Month! Our focus this month is the stories of of the people behind the buildings.  The demolition of the Fred Harvey Building on West First reminded me of my own family’s connection to the building – my great uncle was one of the many people from the Newton community that spent his working life in that building.

“Building to the left: Fred Harvey Produce and Carbonating Plant. Open area between the two buildings once contained the warehouse and refrigeration plant. Building to the right (south): Fred Harvey Dairy. – Mike Hurley.”

The Fred Harvey Building – North

Thanks to the meticulous research of L.M. ‘Mike’ Hurley, we know details that otherwise may have been lost about the operations of the Fred Harvey Farm.  In 1905, Fred Harvey moved his operations from Kansas City, Mo. to the east bank of Sand Creek, Newton, Ks. The three story building, known as the north building, was built in 1918. The whole area was the Fred Harvey Farm, complete with a dairy, poultry, produce and processing plants, provided food for the Fred Harvey restaurants and dining on the Santa Fe cars.

North Building, built in 1918. Photo taken in 1922.

Hurley described the layout of the north building. The third floor housed the poultry.  The many windows allowed for ventilation and sunshine.

3rd floor Interior, 1922

According to Hurley, the first floor was used only for killing the poultry with the only entrance on the west.

The second floor of the building was divided into two sections. The north section dealt with the processing of the poultry and divided into offices on the north and the south, where the poultry was dressed and chilled before packing.

“Inside Fred Harvey Produce Building, Newton, Kansas. John Howard, buyer for Fred Harvey, inspecting and grading a rack of fowl in the chill room. Santa Fe Magazine. September 1954.”

Fred Harvey Coca-Cola

The south section of the second floor contained the carbonating plant, both the offices and the bottling, for the Fred Harvey brand of cola, root beer, club soda, ginger ale and fruit-flavored soft drinks.  In 1914, the Coca-Cola Company allowed Fred Harvey to bottle Coca-Cola. Newton, Ks was on of the few  places where Coca-Cola was bottled  under a franchised issued by the company.

Fred Harvey Coca-Cola bottled in Newton, Ks.

The Coke bottled at the Fred Harvey carbonating plant held high standards. Coca-Cola ran ran tests every six months to insure that standards were maintained.  Everything produced at the Fred Harvey Farm was served exclusively at Fred Harvey dining facilities, news stands and aboard Santa Fe dining cars.

“Inside Carbonating Plant,”  Santa Fe Magazine, September 1954.

My great Uncle Ted Reimer worked for many years for Fred Harvey Enterprises in the carbonating plant.   In 1954, he was the assistant manager, and pictured above on the right.  Warren Boese  is on the left. By the time, I got to know Uncle Ted, he was retired and all about fishing and teaching the great nieces and nephews to play pool.  One thing was clear though, he had a sense of pride for his work for Fred Harvey Enterprises.

He was one of many who worked to insure that excellence was associated with the Fred Harvey name.

The Fred Harvey Farm was discontinued in 1960. Grover C. ‘Tex’ Owen was the last manager in charge of the farm.


  • Hurley, L.M. ‘Mike’. Newton, Kansas #1 Santa Fe Rail Hub 1871-1971. North Newton: Mennonite Press, 1985. Pages 137-139 specifically describe the Fred Harvey Farm. Information about the physical layout of the interior of the building is possible because of Mike’s research.



Pioneer of Health Care: Sister Anna Gertrude Penner

By Kristine Schmucker, Curator

We are so grateful to the health care workers that are working tirelessly during this time of a global pandemic. Harvey County has a long tradition of caring. Early on the women of Harvey County played a leading role in providing health care for the community.  Dr. Lucena Axtell worked with her husband, Dr. John T. Axtell, to establish Axtell Hospital as the first health care facility in Newton. Harvey County women were also leaders in the field of public health. In the 1920s, Miss Johanna Conway, along with a group of women from St Mary’s Catholic Church worked on education for the “Mexican Camps.” In 1916,   Harvey County was one of the first Kansas counties to establish a Public Health Nurse. Initially, the Public Health nurses was under the direction of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Bethel Deaconess Hospital, Newton.

Sister Anna Gertrude Penner, a Deaconess with the Bethel Deaconess Hospital, served as the first Public Health Nurse from 1916-1921.  In this role, Sister Gertrude joined a national movement started by Lillian Wald in New York that sought to educate and care for the health of the community and especially the poor.

The Deaconess movement that started among south central Kansas Mennonites came at a unique time when needs in health care and desires to devote one’s life to caring for others came together for several women in the Mennonite Church. June 8, 1908 Sister Frieda Kauffman, Sister Ida Epp, and Sister Catherine Voth, after completing their training, were the first ordained Deaconesses of the Mennonite Church. This was during a time when women were not allowed to attend “Brotherhood meetings” or vote on church matters.

Deaconesses were not paid wages, rather all of their needs were met by the “motherhouse” and any wages received from other sources went to a common account at the sponsoring organization.  In Newton, the Bethel Deaconess Hospital provided the Deaconess with a home, full maintenance, monthly pocket allowance, an annual vacation allowance, and opportunities to attend institutes, conventions, and take post graduate work with expenses paid.

Born October 4, 1886 near Hillsboro, Ks, Anna Gertrude Penner was the second of fourteen children in the family of Rev. Heinrich D. & Katherine Dalke Penner.  Education was important to her parents.  In addition to serving as a minister for the Hillsboro Mennonite Church, Rev. Penner taught at several schools in the area including the elementary school in Lehigh, Ks, Bethel College, North Newton from 1893-1897 and the Hillsboro Preparatory School from 1897-1913.  No doubt he instilled this value in his children and encouraged their education.  As the second oldest, Anna would have also been called on to assist her mother with the younger siblings as she grew to adulthood.  Perhaps these influences led her to consider dedicating her life to educating and caring for the sick and infirm.

Anna Gertrude Penner graduated from the Bethel Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing in Newton, Ks in 1915.  Following her graduation, she took four months of additional classes in Chicago specializing in public health, paid for by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Bethel Deaconess Hospital. Upon her return to Newton in 1916, she became Harvey County’s first ‘visiting nurse’.

On October 1, 1916, at the age of thirty, she was ordained as a Deaconess by her father Rev. Heinrich D. Penner. For the next fifty years Sister Gertrude served the Newton community in a variety of ways.  She served as the public health and school nurse until 1921, when she serviced as a R.N. at Bethel Deaconess Hospital, Newton. She also taught future nurses and finally served as a receptionist at the Bethel Student Nurses Home.  Rev. Penner also remained a supporter of the Deaconesses at Bethel Deaconess Hospital, serving as a teacher and spiritual advisor. He also published several educational pamphlets for use in classes.

As a Public Health Nurse, Sister Gertrude cared for the sick, but more importantly, she worked to educate households on preventative measures. She provided information and care to new mothers in their own homes.   In 1917, Sister Gertrude expanded her duties to include school nurse for the Newton schools.  To assist her, Sister Anuta Dirks joined her as public health nurse for the county.

According to Sister Gertrude the role of the public health nurse was more than just caring for the sick patient, they must “look for causes outside the patient and family, and see what role the community plays in the matter of health and disease. It is possible  . . . that neither the patient nor his family is to blame for having typhoid fever or tuberculosis or even for being poor and ignorant.”

(Sister Anna Gertrude Penner 1917)

At first, the Public Health Nurse was supported solely by the Women’s Auxiliary of the Bethel Deaconess Hospital.  They provided the funds for Sister Gertrude to attend the additional classes in Chicago.  Although after her ordination, Sister Gertrude did not receive any salary for her work, there were other expenses.* The Auxiliary requested that the Newton City Commission help pay for the support of the Public Nurse.  In 1918, the city contributed $150 to the program.  By 1920, a monthly allotment of $100 was allowed and the Newton Board of Education funded the school nurse position at $70 a month.

Due to a shortage in nurses in 1921, Sisters Gertrude and Anuta were needed at the Bethel Deaconess Hospital.  From that point the Women’s Auxiliary arranged for non-Deaconess nurses to take over the position of Public Health Nurse in Harvey County.

In 1966, Sister Gertrude was the first Bethel Deaconess to serve for 50 years

Sister Anna Gertrude Penner “quietly departed” on February 22, 1967. She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery along with the other Bethel Deaconesses.

A Useful, Busy Life: Miss Challender

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

This post was originally posted on our old blog site on December 13, 2012.

The next Harvey County community that will be featured at HCHM is the oldest city in the county – Sedgwick. The exhibit featuring Sedgwick will open January 11, 2013. The next series of blog posts will feature people and events from Sedgwick’s history.

Some people are able to extend their influence across city boundaries—Miss Olive May Challender may have been one such woman. Her fourteen year teaching career included two Harvey County towns, Burrton and Sedgwick.  Her involvement in her church extended her influence beyond the county to include the state.

Miss Olive May Challender
Photo courtesy Chris Child
Find A Grave

“A useful, busy life. . .”

Olive May Challender was born in Neponset, Illinois, October 25, 1877 to Josiah S. and Alice Challender.  Two years later a brother, Alton, was born.  The family came to Kansas in 1892 and settled in rural Harvey County near Burrton.

Wheat Harvest, Challeder Farm near Burrton, 1899
A.R. Challender, R.T. Challender and Mr. Billings
HCHM Photo Archives

Olive graduated from Burrton High School and taught for three years before attending the State Normal School in Emporia, Ks. After her graduation in 1900, she returned to Burrton to teach in the Primary School.

Burrton’s First Primary Teacher, Olive May Challender
HCHM Photo Archives

The Burrton Graphic  noted that Miss Challender “endeared herself to the children whom she taught by her kinds and loving actions toward them.” (Burrton Graphic, February 10, 1911)

Burrton Primary School, April 23, 1903
Olive May Challender & pupils
HCHM Photo Archives

In 1907, she and her mother moved to Sedgwick and Miss Challender began teaching the children of Sedgwick.

Sedgwick School
HCHM Photo Archives

“A noble, Christian life”

Miss Challender was described as a “talented and loveable” person. While living in Burrton, she joined the  Methodist Episcopal Church. When she moved to Sedgwick, she transferred her membership the M.E. Church there.

Methodist Episcopal Church, 1903
Sedgwick, Ks
HCHM Photo Archives

During this time, she served at the state level as County Sunday School Association Superintendent of Primary Work.  Through this work she became known county wide and her “influence extended beyond the circles of her immediate community.”

“The unexpected death . . . caused universal sorrow”

At the age of 33, Miss Challender suddenly died.  The Newton Weekly Kansan Republican reported that she had left school on Thursday complaining of a sore throat, but no other “alarming symptoms.”  On Sunday morning, her family was felt some concern “because her lower extremities were cold.”  At noon, she tried to get out of bed, but she could not walk.  Her family helped her back to bed, “and death came quickly.”  The paper goes on to report that the physicians were puzzled because there were no indications of acute disease.  They finally concluded that her heart was weakened for some reason and simply gave out without warning.

“The unexpected death of Miss Ollie Challender at Sedgwick last Sunday caused universal sorrow . . . She was greatly loved . . . A useful, busy life.” (Sedgwick Pantagraph, undated clipping, HCHM Archives)

Burrton Graphic Feb. 10, 1911; Newton Weekly Kansan Republican 9 February 1911; Sedgwick Pantagraph,February 9, 1911; HCHM Archives – Olive Challender’s Memorial Service; Combined Kansas Reports (Google Books) p. 127; The Development of the Sunday School, 1780-1905, (Google Books) p. 518-519; Report by Kansas Department of Public Instructions, 1910 17th Biennial Report, (Google Books) p. 293;Yearbook by Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia, 1904 (Google Books) p. 120 Elementary Courses

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Posted by hvcurator at 12:07 PM

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Labels: BurrtonM.E. ChurchOlive May ChallenderSedgwickState Normal SchoolSunday School Associationteacher