The Womens Hat Shop - The Hat Box

My grandmother Kirkpatrick was born in 1900 and came to Dodge City as a young woman to work. Her and her twin sister had both been to college and that was a very rare and new occurrence in those days. 

She had learned to make hats and that being quite the rage among women then for the next 30 to 40 years she worked at that job even in the years when I would visit them for extended times and I was about 13 years old. 

She worked then at a store called The Hat Box. I would ride my bicycle downtown and visit her about every day. I recall the store being about a block east of the Sante Fe Depot and North of Front Street about a block. It sat about 2/3rds the way down the block from where Hwy 50 turned at the Depot and was on the North side of the street. 

My memories are of sweet smelling older ladies scurrying around the store. Hats were perched for display everywhere and some had feathers poking out of them. I think at that time they were boxy little things that sat atop a woman's head and I never recall seeing my grandmother dress up without a hat on. 

Growing Up In Dodge City 1937

This story comes to me from my father who was born in Dodge City on October 21, 1930. Today he divides his time between Luray, Kansas and South Fork, Colorado.

Once upon a time, well really the time was about 1936-37.  We had just moved back from Hutchinson, where my father had worked for the Hutchinson Foundry as a salesman for a  year or so while the City of Dodge was trying to accumulate enough money to pay their employees.  It was the middle of the depression, and no one had any money to speak of.  We moved into a house on Sixth Avenue which was about 3 blocks north of Lincoln Grade School.  I was a second grader and Miss Tulis was my second grade teacher.  Getting started there was not hard since I had attended there before our move to Hutchinson and knew all the kids in my grade.

     Our house was a nice one story on a corner lot.  And best of all it had an old chicken house behind it which immediately became a "club" house.  Not that we had any important meetings there, but it was a place a fellow could get away.  The reason I mention this is that it had some old oak flooring stored in it, and that provided for some really great inventions.

     Our neighbors two houses to the north had a bunch or kids.  The Winfrey's had twin boys, a couple of years older than me, named Larry and Darrey, and a girl named Margie, who was a year younger than me, and a younger boy who was an infant when we lived there.  Anyway we had great times playing together.  

     The area around where we lived was hilly and so provided some exciting entertainment if you were lucky enough not to kill yourself.  One of the great things was that the whole area had sidewalks which served as a place to skate.  We had the clamp on type of skates, which would expand as your shoe size changed.  Now we come to the oak flooring I mentioned.  I cut one of the pieces of flooring and put it between my legs and had a great brake by leaning back and pulling up which caused the wood to drag on the sidewalk.  You could control your speed that way which was really important when you were skating down the steep hills just east of our house.

     Another great entertainment was to walk on stilts. Here again the oak floor was a godsend.  I should mention that my dad made my first stilts, which had long handles and whose foot rests were about 8 inches off of the ground, but they were good enough to learn and master the art of stilt walking.  So after becoming proficient at stilt walking, I graduated to a pair of oak flooring uprights with the foot rest about two feet off the ground, and the tops of which just came to my waist when on them.  I got so I could run on them and jump on them and they became a great source of transportation. There were of course a few spills, but nothing serious.

      Since I have mentioned Lincoln grade school, I should also mention our flag pole which was about 6 inches in diameter, and made of steel and painted with aluminum paint.  The flags were flown every day when the weather was good, and were always taken down at night, to do otherwise was to desecrate the flag.  That has nothing to do with the insane attempt at licking the pole in the dead of winter, lots of kids learned the hard way that your tongue would immediately be frozen to the pole.  It always looked like a losing proposition so I never tried it.


Ford County Lake

I spent many a evening out at Ford County Lake with my Grandfather Glenn Hoofnagle. He was my mother's father and was a great fisherman. He could catch fish when no one else did and my love for fishing was fueled by going with him and watching him haul in huge catfish and bass from the lakes we visited.

They ate everything they caught and never wasted a thing. Combined with garden produce we had some good meals around that old dining room table.

The lake itself is in a small draw with some rock bluffs around it making for good hiding places for the fish when it is full. Grandpa told me he would go out there when the lake was low and memorize each rock formation so that later he could fish those areas when the water level came up.

One method he used was to cast a plastic worm out over one of the submerged cliffs and let t settle to the bottom. Then, ever so slowly, he would turn the handle on his fishing reel one revolution about every 30 seconds. This was too slow for an impatient youth to fish like that but he caught some massive channel cats like that.

The lake is a muddy one but he was able to catch fish on lures regardless. I have not been here for some time but would like to know if it even has water in it.

Ford State Fishing Lake




Dodge City, KS
GPS: 37.82573 -99.91644

Contact Information

Manager: Todd Gatton
Phone: (620) 895-6446


The dam was originally built in 1936. In 1990, the area was donated to the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks in order to renovate the lake for fishing. At the same time, Ford County assumed management of the area for public use. In 1991-1992, the lake was renovated and stocked with fish after filling.


Ford State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area is located in Ford County, approximately 3 miles north and 5 miles east of Dodge City. The property consists of 260 acres of uplands, 10 acres of wetlands, and a 45 acre lake. The uplands and wetlands are made up of heavily timbered riparian areas along the creek, native grass on the side slopes, and old crop fields on the flatter upland terrain. An old 4-H campis located on the east side and is presently maintained as a Boy Scout area

Black Sunday April 14, 1935

This story comes to me from my father and grandparents telling me. The dust bowl was raging across the mid sections of the United States and Dodge City was right in the middle of some of the worst of it.

On this day one of the worst storms of the period occurred and this is the story about that day.

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Fishing on Duck Creek, North of Dodge.

Below, you will find a story my dad sent about fishing on Duck Creek which is North of Dodge City, Kansas. I find it interesting to note that since that time, farming practices have pretty much depleted the water found in those creeks and streams just 50 years ago. With the advent of the tractor, terracing of the land and building of small dams on the draws, there is virtually no runoff to the streams. Enjoy a look to the past.

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Race Track Stadium Dodge City Kansas - Great Depression

Along with a lot of other municipal structures built across the USA, the old racetrack stands were constructed by men under the WPA program in the 1930's. This program was in response to the great Depression where millions of people were suddenly out of work and penniless. The Government came up with a NEW DEAL and got the young men into camps where they could work on projects and at least have food and shelter.

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LAND CLAIM Near Ulysses Kansas

This is a story about my Grandfather Fred Kirkpatrick, Sr. and his older brother. It happened sometime around the turn of the century and that's 1900 not 2000, hah.,

His brother had filed on a land claim down near Ulysses Kansas. This was free land to anyone who wanted it and you could get 160 acres per person just for living on it for a period of time and making improvements to it over time. After awhile you could then own the land and sell it or keep it. He had a shack on it with one room and so every so often would go down there and repair the shack from the wind damage and stay there a week or so to keep the claim active.

His brother had one of the first automobiles in Ford County so not sure when cars came out. His brother and a friend started for the claim and grand dad went along. The car developed engine problems and granddad had to lay on the running board and hold the cam in to keep the engine running. This meant being down in the tall grass and in those days there were tons of rattlesnakes.

He said at the edge of Dodge City there was a fence. West of that was open range and no roads. So to go to a town west of there, you just pointed in the general direction and hoped for the best, stopping along the way and asking if you found someone.

The claim was near Ulysess, Kansas about 60 miles SW of Dodge. They were late due to the engine trouble and it got dark and they kept driving along. Finally, someone decided to stop and try and see where they were. They had seen the lights of town ahead and were using those for a guide.

The friend with them walked ahead and fell off a 60 foot cliff down into the Cimarron River. He wasn't hurt but saved them from driving the car off the cliff. They stopped and spent the night on the cliff and continued the next day....

More tomorrow on their journey.....