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Organization Spotlight: Caldwell Historical Society

Caldwell Historical Society – “As we go to press, hell is again in session in Caldwell” taken from the Wichita Eagle 1885

The 1993 centennial celebration of the Cherokee Strip Land Rush brought about a renewed interest in the storied history of Caldwell and the Caldwell Historical Society was eager to capitalize on that newfound interest by taking on several ambitious projects as part of the huge multi-state celebration. The resurgence led to the erection of historical markers along the downtown sidewalks telling some early history of the town and the relocation of the Border Queen Museum from the city park to Main Street for more visibility. The organization continued to build on this momentum by purchasing and restoring the original Opera House building into an events venue. The venue is used for a variety of functions such as receptions, reunions, performances, as well as for meetings. To reserve the Historic Opera House for your next event contact, Lu Ann Jamison at 620-845-1168.

The Historical Society has remained an active part of the community by being involved in numerous events and celebrations throughout the years including the annual Chisholm Trail Festival, longhorn cattle drives, the sesquicentennial celebration of the Chisholm Trail, and Caldwell’s own 150th anniversary. They have sponsored several speakers from the Kansas Humanities Speakers Bureau, portrayed historical figures from Caldwell in the Talking Tombstones cemetery tour, hosted cowboy encampments, and recognized Caldwell’s Pioneer Families in a special ceremony. They are currently working to have Caldwell’s downtown designated as National Historic District. Break-out groups such as the Opera House Theatre group, the Border Queen Bellas Can-Can dancers, Wild Women of the West performers, and the Regulator gunfighter reenactors were formed as an arm of the Historical Society. The theatre group presents an annual Homecoming Show and Christmas Show while the Bellas, Wild Women, and Regulators perform during the Chisholm Trail Festival as well as travel around the state to attend other reenactor events throughout the year.

The Caldwell Historical Society meets bi-monthly at the Opera House on the second Monday of the month. The Nov-Jan-March meetings are at 7:00 p.m. and May-July-Sept. meetings are held at 7:30. All are welcome to attend the meetings which include a variety of interesting programs about Caldwell’s history or other related subjects. Recently the group sponsored a bus trip to tour the Arkansas City Land Rush Museum and the nearby Etzanoa Lost City archaeological dig site. They also hosted a “pasture tour” to Mount Lookout south of Caldwell to observe the site of the original First/Last Chance Saloon and remnants of the old railroad spur and cattle loading pens. We invite anyone interested in learning more about or helping to preserve Caldwell’s rich history or to become a part of the actors and reenactors to join our organization. Annual dues are $20/per person.

Current officers and board of directors are President, Lu Ann Jamison; Vice President, Billie Jo Perry; Secretary, Michelle Schiltz; Treasurer, David Mardis; Directors, Trish Wesemann, and Terry Williams. Contact us at Caldwell Historical Society, P.O. Box 4, Caldwell, KS 67022. Visit our website at or like us on Facebook.


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