A Life Well Lived: Dr. Frances Ann Allen

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

Today’s post will feature Dr. Frances Ann Allen – another fabulouswomenofHVcounty.

Photo courtesy Jerry Wall.

Dr. Frances Allen had a long and productive career as a doctor, but she started as a teacher. Born on 21 June 1915 in Doniphan, Missouri, her parents were Charles F. and Hope (Harmon) Allen. Frances spent her growing up years in Doniphan and graduated valedictorian from Donphan High School. In 1937, she graduated from Southwest Missouri State Teachers College and got a job teaching history and physical education at Normandy High School, St. Louis, Missouri.

Even as she taught high school students, Frances was not done with pursuing her own education. She entered the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1939 and  graduated in 1943. Following graduation she interned at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City.

She came to Newton, Kansas following her internship and worked at a general practitioner at Bethel Clinic. Some of the motivation to come to Harvey County was to stay close to her parents and brother who had moved to Newton.  She practiced in Newton, delivering babies of the baby boom generation for nine years. In 1959, she was named Newton’s Woman of the Year for her work in at Bethel Clinic and in the community.

Still seeking more education, she went back to KU Medical School. While at KU, she participated in several research projects and published research related to “radioactive isotope of red blood cell survival time in liver disease.” She also studied extensively with Dr. E. Grey Dimond a renowned cardiologist. This training she would put to good use in Newton, Ks.

She returned to Newton and was the chair of the Medical Department of Bethel Deaconess Hospital, Newton, Ks. She continued  her research ” conducting  clinical trials for L-DOPA, a new medication for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.” Because of this research she became a leader in the treatment of the disease.

One accomplishment that had direct effect on the people of Harvey County was access to defibrillators for ambulance personnel. Due to her efforts, Newton was only the second city in the U.S. to have defibrillators for the ambulance.

Dr. Allen retired in 1978 at the age of 62.  With increasing deafness, she recognized she could not longer practice medicine well.

Dr. Allen’s next focus was on art, specifically painting, and joined the Newton Art Association.

Arkansas Valley Interurban, VanArsdale Stop,  Pastel, Dr. Frances Allen. HCHM 2016.9

She was instrumental in obtaining a building for the Newton Art Association to meet at rent free – the old carriage factory on east 6th. Dr. Allen became a tireless fund raiser for the newly created Carriage Factory Art Gallery.  Due to her efforts, along with others in the community, the building underwent significant renovations in 1993, taking the shape of the art gallery we enjoy today.

On October 26, 2014, a reception for Dr. Frances Allen was held at the Carriage Factory Art Gallery, Newton, Ks.  Several of Dr. Allen’s paintings were also exhibited.

Throughout her life, she traveled extensively holding to the idea that travel makes a person a better world citizen.

Dr. Frances Ann Allen died on February 28, 2016 at the age of 100 – a life well lived.


  • Wichita Eagle: 6 March 2016, “Dr Francis Allen Obituary.”
  • Press Release from the Arts Council, Wichita, Ks.  October 22, 2014 at wichitaarts.com-gallery-founder-dr-frances-allen-honored-october-26-reception


Harvey County Roots: Jesse L. Dickinson

by Kristine Schmucker, HCHM Curator

In 1976, the Dickinson Fine Arts Academy, South Bend, IN, was dedicated.  Named for Jesse L. Dickinson, who was active in South Bend, IN as a musician and civic leader, the school continues today as a magnet school for grades 5-8 and  is noted for the After-School Arts Adventure program.

Who was Jesse L. Dickinson? What is the connection to Harvey County?

An accomplished musician, Dickinson was also active in public service.  He served six terms in the Indiana House of Representatives and two terms in the state Senate.  Although he spent his adult life in Indiana, his childhood was spent in Newton, Ks.

Jesse L. Dickinson, 1924 Newtonian, HCHM Archives

Known all over the state for his tenor voice

Jesse L. Dickinson was born in Chandler, Oklahoma in 1906 to George & Fannie Junkin Dickinson. By 1910, his family had moved to Newton, Kansas.  Shortly after arrival in Newton, his mother, Fannie, died and Jesse lived with his grandmother, Elizabeth Dickinson. At a young age he was active in Newton’s Junior Boys’ Working Reserve. A gifted musician, Dickinson was a  popular soloist for Newton High activities, “known all over the state for his tenor voice.”

Evening Kansan Republican, 12 April 1922.

Involved in “All School Plays” throughout his high school years, Dickinson often sang. He was recognized by the by his peers and received a gold medal for the “best student in the state” from the State of Kansas.

Evening Kansan Republican, 11 Nov. 1922.

NHS Glee Club, 1925-1926. Jesse Dickinson identified.

In addition to vocal and instrumental pursuits, Dickinson was active in debate and on the track team.

Newtonian, 1924.

In 1924, he graduated from Newton High and married Helen Bledsoe, the daughter of Rev. William & Adella Bledsoe of Newton, Kansas. He studied music at Bethel College, followed by Western University, Kansas City. Throughout the 1920s, he performed on the Redpath Chautauque and Lyceum circuits.  In 1928, he moved to South Bend, Indiana. He and Helen had four sons.

In South Bend, Dickinson was also well known for his musical talents.  He directed a popular quintet known as Dickinson Plantation Singers in the 1930s.  He also conducted choirs at churches and local festivals.

He entered public life and was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives for the first time in 1943.

Throughout his life Dickinson’s commitment to others was evident in the organizations he served.  The finding aide for his collection at Indiana Historical Society reveal areas of interest including education, health, aging, human relations, and urbanization. Dickinson is included on the Indiana University “Outstanding Black Americans” list for his efforts in improving race relations in South Bend, including the desegregation of the Natatorium (a segregated swimming pool in South Bend).

He maintained connections with Newton, Ks and attended his 50th class reunion in 1975.

Newton High School Class of 1925 50th Anniversary, August 30-31, 1975.

Dickinson died 5 June 1986.


  • The Newtonian, 1924.
  • Evening Kansan Republican: 17 March 1913, 9 November 1917, 22 May 1918,  29 May 1920, 26 February 1921, 14 May 1921, 12 April 1922, 14 April 1922, 15 April 1922, 23 May 1922, 14 October 1922, 11 November 1922
  • Kansan: 14 April 1939.
  • Site for the Dickinson Fine Arts Academy:  http://dickinson.sb.school/home_old-aug15
  • https://library.iusb.edu/search-find/archives/crhc/JesseDickinson.html
  • The repository for Jesse L. Dickinson Collection, 1911-1986 at Manuscript Collections Department, William Henry Smith Memorial Library, Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis, IN. www.indianahistory.org


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.