The young man was feeling homesick. He was browsing through a used bookstore in Georgia when he came across a book about his home area in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The book gave him a lift. Years later, he would create his own tour company to share the beauty of the Flint Hills with others.
Four statues stand in the rotunda of the Kansas Capitol. They honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Sen. and Gov. Arthur Capper, aviator Amelia Earhart, and country newspaper editor William Allen White. White was one of the most famous newspaper editors of his day. He was nationally influential while publishing the daily newspaper in his small town in rural Kansas. His legacy continues through the years.
Last week we learned about Red Rocks, the William Allen White home which is now a state historic site in Emporia. At Red Rocks through the years, William Allen White and his wife Sallie hosted many visitors, including several presidents and thought leaders from across the nation.
One of those was Edna Ferber, the most successful female novelist in the first half of the twentieth century. She wrote: “…there is no ocean trip, no month in the country, no known drug equal to the reviving quality of twenty-four hours spent on the front porch or in the sitting room of the Whites’ house in Emporia…”
White was a gifted and articulate writer. He wrote 22 books. His newspaper editorials through the years dealt with topics ranging from national policy to his favorite recipes. His 1896 editorial, “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” first brought him national fame. This editorial led to him meeting and becoming a longtime friend of Teddy Roosevelt. In later years, White came to embrace Roosevelt’s progressive policies within the Republican party.
Guess who’s coming to dinner? A Hollywood movie star, a best-selling author, or maybe even the President of the United States. These were the remarkable types of visitors who came to call on rural Kansas newspaper editor William Allen White.
In 2018, White’s home in Emporia is celebrating 150 years since the birth of this amazing Kansan.
William Allen White was born in 1868 in Emporia. Roger Heineken and Kathie Buckman, volunteers with the William Allen White Community Partnership, shared the story of his home and his life.
White grew up in the rural community of El Dorado, with a population at the time of 3,466 people. Now, that’s rural. He attended the College of Emporia and the University of Kansas.