In The Beginning….Healing Waters

The beginning of Sycamore Springs or Sycamore Mineral Springs began when the Native American Indians roamed the Plains.  The place was not called Sycamore Springs, but it was the land where “healing waters” flowed.

Sycamore Mineral Springs Health and Pleasure Resort has a background of service to suffering humanity that reaches back in the earliest history of the North Western Tribes of American Indians.

The following is a summary (with added information) of a recorded story by Alice Gray Williams:

American Indian Background:

The old Indian tribes had no written history (Oral Traditions-Storytelling). Their history was passed from father to son. From some of the oldest Indians the knowledge of Indian tradition, customs and life were revealed to her.

It is said by these Indians, and history bears them out in their statements, that the first Indians of Kansas were a part of the Great Dakotah Tribe, and that they came here with the great bands of Indians who migrated from north of the Great Lakes. They wandered around for many years and finally settled on the Missouri River and its tributaries.

They were called the Kanzas (Kansa) or Kaw Indians and the Osages. The Kanzas had as their territory the land from Nebraska on the north to Arkansas on the south and all west of the Missouri river. The Osages were to have Missouri and all the land along the Missouri and that along the Osage River, and part of their hunting grounds extended into Kansas.

The Story of Alice Gray Williams:

Alice was the daughter of John Gray, one of the earliest pioneers in Kansas, growing up near Hiawatha, Kansas. John Gray became friends with a Kickapoo Indian Chief named Chawkeekee who spoke of “healing waters”. The Chief would frequently call at the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Gray and daughter, Alice.

Alice Gray of whom the Indians delighted to call, “Soniskee,” meaning- “Our Good Red Mother.”

The Indians attached a superstitious importance to Alice’s red hair.  She was a favorite among the friendly Indians.  As Alice grew older, this association with the Indians grew continually closer until she was at time permitted to sit in some of their tribal councils, a privilege accorded few white men and almost no white women.

Chief Chawkeekee said that many times he had seen sick Indians carried to the banks of the Healing Waters unable to walk, and after a few day’s sojourn, go away full of life and health again.  He said Indians came from “out of the sun” (the far west) and trekked many “moons’ just to recover their health at the magic health springs.

Because of the many tales that Alice and her father had heard about the springs, they were greatly curious to see them and after much urging.  Chief Chawkeekee consented to take them to the springs within a period of five “sleeps” (five days).  True to his promise, on the fifth day, Chief Chawkeekee appeared at the door of the Gray Homestead riding one pony and leading two others.  Alice and Mr. Gray mounted and they were off on their journey to the spring of “healing waters”.

Until next time…ahhhhh


Prospective Kansas Retreat for Artists and Creative Writers

There is a rich history connected to Sycamore Springs Resort near Sabetha, Kansas.  Yes, I will get to the history later!

At this time, the resort is for sale.  It makes me sad to see what is happening to the place.  It has been a vibrant, active, go to place, for so many years.

I lived there during the 1950s and 1960s and the place was alive and well.  It was” the” place to be.  It was Mid-Century Modern as we would know it now.

What I envision for the coming years for Sycamore Springs could be meaningful for future generations.

Exploring the web for information about creative artists and writers and their resources I came across several established properties pertaining to this issue. Yaddo   is located near Saratoga Springs, New York; and the other Hedgebrook is in the Seattle, Washington area. Also, D.H. Lawrence Ranch, Taos, New Mexico offers retreats for writers.

Am I missing something here?  Wouldn’t it fit to have a place to retreat like these in the middle of the United States? Like Kansas?  There are many opportunities to preserve the history and offer the property a new legacy.

The Swimming Pool and Skating Rink could be for public use and add financial resources for the Residence.

Sycamore Springs is perfect for this type of Retreat or Residency.  It has accommodations available; it is in a rural setting; and there are many areas to wander (wonder, too) and create.  I think there is potential here, not only for writers but artists of any genre.  Yes, it needs some TLC and upgrades but the bones are there.

I don’t own the facility but I do know who does.  If this is something of interest, email me:

Adding Value or Needing To Be Seen

An article I recently read, made me re-evaluate why I want to write. This person is an artist and I am too, but the concept looks much the same. Writing a book is an art, eh?

With the message in this article I have taken away the idea that I need to be seen through my art or in this time, my writing. The “value” is in doing it and doing it for myself. If no one sees my writing, that’s okay because I am adding value to my life for writing it.

So what is the bottom line? I have been given some clarity about why I want to write a book. I think the book is inside of me and writing it allows the story to finally be told. Stories (or Memories) are what life is about. I think we all have memories we can relate.

Growing up at a resort (Sycamore Springs-Kansas) environment gave me a broad perspective on life. My family was in the hospitality service industry. We were there to give everyone a good time. Making sure our visitors had a great time was sometimes a challenge. My Mother taught me that there are two sides to every story.

Her father, my Grandfather, made her look at both sides of a situation too. (So, this is a shared family trait or tradition handed down, and I have tried to teach my two children, and now my grandchildren, the same way).

I had a great childhood living at Sycamore Springs. I met so many people and there is also a rich history with Sycamore Springs. The history goes as far back as the Native American Indians. You have to wait for that story.

I plan to share my stories and also about a lot of the people who came there. Living in a rural setting was influenced by the surrounding communities. There will be stories about them too.

I think this experience prepared me for an entrepreneurial life, I like to look at many ideas and I am willing to try new things. Writing a blog is one way to share these ideas and thoughts – here I am!

I was a late bloomer when I attended the University of Kansas. Anyone can start an education at 49. I studied Fine Arts and attended a course in Creative Writing. In that semester I realized (and my Professor too) that I write in a different manner than some and that is okay.

Until next time….

Hello world! Welcome to My World!

This is my very first post..  Excited! Scared! Excited!

BUT ready to share Pieces of A Story, not necessarily all my story but History, Facts, Humor, Inspiration and Thought Provoking information, –Storybook Pieces.

Stories have a heart-felt soul – touching each of us in different ways.

Share Your Story With Me.

Happy Days Are Here-Again!


Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue in 1492-Who?

Many of the people who came to the Americas, the United States as we know it (before 1850 and of course, later), had abandoned a safe and predictable life elsewhere. The excitement and the pleasures of this lost continent seemed to create a new challenge.
Is it the “unknown” that we are drawn to? Do you have that exploring, wondering mentality? If you do, this how there are so many accomplishments made. (I love challenges too, that is why I am undertaking this project)

Their pioneer spirit captivates me. For the fascinating and intriguing interest of the people there were new frontiers everywhere; new horizons, a new sense of confidence; and a passionate belief that this new adventure was worth the risk.

The story will begin before 1491 though. I need to set the stage for this new beginning.
Christopher Columbus of Genoa Italy had searched for someone to finance his trip to the Americas and he approached Queen Isabella I to help make his trip possible.

At the time (1491) Queen Isabella I (Spain) was the most powerful woman in Europe. She had heard of the new land with natural wealth, a land of many contrasts, and riches for the taking.
Queen Isabella I (born in Portugal-1451) was queen of Castile and Leon and had married Ferdinand II of Aragon, King of Sicily and through this arrangement they brought their kingdoms together to become the country known as Spain.  With this added influence, Queen Isabella was able to finance the trip for Columbus.

As added information, the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand was Catherine of Aragon who became the first wife and Queen of King Henry VIII of England.

Being familiar with Henry the 8th I want to create a connection and how the monarchies worked in Europe. Who knows whom, and where do you come from, and what do you govern so together we can control more of the land? Hmmm! This is getting interesting….

Where do we go from here?

Does technology ever get to you? When is enough, enough?

Last night while I was flipping from a basketball game, to a news show, and a Roman movie, I have seen several times, all of a sudden it was too much. Of course I waited until the game was over (it was a close one); I had heard all of the rhetoric on the news before; and, of course, I knew how the movie was going to end (but I watched it to the end anyway). Suddenly, I leaned back and pushed the “off” button – Silence. Wow, it had been so noisy, and then it became quiet. I could hear the dog breathing, the wind was blowing outside, and I took a sigh of relief or was it detachment?

I talked recently about “oral tradition”- Indian folklore or stories handed down from one generation to the next. How did the story remain consistent? Haven’t you heard a story and somehow added in a few tidbits and made it more interesting? Today we have the internet, books written, a lot of media ways to preserve a story. But how did family members from generation to generation keep it all straight? I am sure they couldn’t and didn’t, not sure. But that isn’t a concern at this point in my story.

Some years ago I was a teacher for 5thand 6th graders in our Vacation Bible School. We were learning about Paul’s journeys in the Bible. He wrote letters to the various churches he visited and that is what we have today in the Bible. (I am not preaching here by the way).

My point here is, I did an experiment with the kids. I set up a tape recorder in a cave-like setting. (I was thinking of the movie “Planet of the Apes” at the time, where they found an old book in a cave. (Do I have the right movie?) Anyway, I recorded a futuristic story somewhat about the movie and finding this book. Each student could only listen to the previous recording and then record the story the way they interpreted it. By the end of all the recordings, there was a lot of blah, blah, blah! No sense to the story at all.

So what do we learn from this? The “oral tradition” stories had to be carefully articulated so as not to lose its meaning.

State of Kansas Seal

Today is “Kansas Day

Kansas became a state 154 years ago – January 29, 1861. I am thinking of all the history passed down since then. Was it recorded correctly?

Seal of Kansas

Snowstorm Rescue

We were in the middle of a blizzard and couldn’t go anywhere, as they say, snowed in.  I had decided to organize the drawer in the chest of drawers that contained old photographs, papers, and letters.  Spreading every piece out on the living room floor was like peering into the past and I didn’t know what I was looking for.

But, there was the pile of letters tied with string…I felt they must be important.

Grandpa Slayton had attended Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan in the early 1900s.  The letters were written around 1909-1910.  They were sermonettes as he called them.  There were poems, little drawings, doodles.  Here was a part of my Grandfather I didn’t know about.

That day during the snowstorm, I met my grandpa from 80 plus years ago.  It was like he had written these words just for me, and I received them just at the right time.  How inspirational and how uplifting! What a treasure!

There were also letters written to my grandmother before they were married. Wow, what a treat!  I will fill in those details later.

So, we never know how or what comes into our lives that can touch our souls at just the right time.  I must keep my mind open to what comes into my life today.  You never know, it may change my thinking, my ideas about something, or the path I take.

I hope you feel the same way about what happens in your life today.

Forgotten Letters

I think I’m going to just jump in and start telling a story.

When I think of telling stories we have to go back many years ago. The history of telling stories called “oral tradition” with the Native American Indians was commonplace. Oklahoma State Historical Society has written a whole section on oral traditions, folklore and narrative that explains how they kept their stories alive. (More to come relating to Sycamore Springs on this subject).

Many years ago my family would receive letters and postcards (that is another story)  from family members who were missionaries.  It was always a long letter that you always had to “jump in” somewhere and start reading because it was written all over the page not in an orderly way.  They had great words of wisdom in every letter that we received.

So, in order for me to tell this story I have to “jump in” somewhere and start telling my story.

I think it was from the movie “Amistad”, one of the slaves said that “we are products of our past, we are who we are because of who and where we came from” (not a complete quote). I truly believe the words are true.

I remember an incident as a young child when my grandparents’ home was being sold and where they were no longer able to take care of it.  The family had an auction to sell off the furniture and extra belongings.

I was too young to know what was important to keep and my parents allowed the neighbor men to clear out the house, cupboards and drawers too. My father only allowed my mother to keep a few pieces. The men focused on the things that seemed most important and hauled the rest of the things to a ditch to be burned later (this was in the early 1960s when you could do this).

My mother had enough sense to know that there were probably documents that needed to be kept and we went  down to where they were going to burn the pile and we picked through most of it and she chose a bag full of papers and photos that should be saved.  Years later, she gave those to me and I tucked them away in the attic for many more years.

I can remember one winter when we had lots of snow in Kansas and we could not go anywhere, I was depressed and just needed some kind of a lift.  I had put all those old papers in an antique chest of drawers where it didn’t have handles. For some reason, I felt really drawn to that the drawer.

I got a screwdriver out and you know how you wiggle the end on each side until you get the drawer partially to open?  There in the drawer were old family pictures and letters that were just scattered. I decided it was time to make sense of what was going on since I love to organize everything.

There were old photos from my grandfather’s side of the family. He had grown up in Hillsdale, Michigan and later moved to Nebraska with my grandmother.

My grandfather was a lay preacher. In the messed up papers and pictures there were a bundle of his letters.  They were handwritten letters tied together with a string.

More to come….

Vanishing Past-Connecting the dots


Skating Rink and Swimming Pool
Skating Rink and Swimming Pool

Historical Fact or Fiction

The story is a journey of pieces.  How did we end up living where we live?  What sort of links along the way influenced our families? How and why.

I am from Kansas.  My parents owned a resort – Sycamore Springs for the first 17 years of my life.   My parents owned this business but they also made it our home.  We met so many people along the way, what a life! and what a story!

Sycamore Springs, Sabetha, Kansas, has a rich history back to the 1800s.  There are ever-flowing mineral springs, the Native Americans lived here, the place had a hotel and also a health sanitorium (mineral baths) was established here, Doctors and all.  Merry-go-rounds, live performances, skating rink, swimming pool, recreation areas, ball field, and much more.

I grew up here with all of this history and stories of Sycamore Springs. also I will link this to the Kansas area communities of Pennsylvania Avenue, Sabetha, Morrill, Hiawatha, Bern, Salem, Nebr., Falls City, Nebr and other towns, Lawrence and Lecompton,KS and churches in Northeast Kansas.

My blog will create links to historical events; family genealogy; stories, humor, inspiration; and family heirlooms. Why do we collect or keep family heirlooms?  Hmmmm, can’t wait to figure all of this out!