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Every corner of the county is rich in history

Staff writer

For the second consecutive year, teacher, historian, author and storyteller Brian Stucky will be leading the “Secrets of Goessel” historical tour Oct. 1 during Harvest Festival in Goessel.

He specializes in the history of Goessel and surrounding area, but he said all of Marion County is rich in history.

“I’ve traveled a bunch around Marion County and gained an appreciation of how big and how diverse it is,” he said.

One of his favorite things he has learned about local history is Goessel’s namesake. Kurt von Goessel was captain of the German steamship, Ebel. Stucky said the local postmaster read the story of the captain going down with his ship in the English Channel, and proposed naming the post office after him.

Although it may not be widely known, Goessel holds a special place in sports history, he said.

“Goessel is not famous for football, but maybe it should be,” Stucky said.

In 1971, Kansas became the first state to adopt overtime rules for high school football. The rules became necessary because of a new playoff system.

On the first Friday of the football season that fall, Sept. 10, 1971, five games went into overtime, including Goessel High School’s home game against Burrton. The game went to five overtime periods before Burrton won. This was years before the National Collegiate Athletic Association or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics adopted any overtime format, and before the National Football League used overtime in the regular season.

Goessel was also the birthplace of movie star Shirley Knight. Stucky said his understanding is that her family was traveling east from Lyons, when her pregnant mother went into labor near Goessel. They rushed her to the Bethesda Hospital that was in Goessel at the time, and she gave birth there.

Knight has been nominated for an Oscar twice, both for Best Supporting Actress: in 1960 for “The Dark at the Top of the Stairs” and in 1962 for “Sweet Bird of Youth.”

“That would put her in legitimate movie star status,” Stucky said.

Knight is also in a movie currently in theaters, “Our Idiot Brother.”

Stucky said his interest in local history began at an early age growing up in nearby Moundridge, and it grew while he was at college. In 1974, Mennonites celebrated the centennial of their immigration from Russia to the U.S., which piqued his interest in history and genealogy.

“I’ve always been interested in local history, and I’ve just continued to collect stories,” he said.

Currently he is exploring an interest in pioneer and Indian trails in Marion, Harvey, and McPherson counties, which may become a book someday. An old Kaw Indian trail passed through Marion, as did explorer Zebulon Pike on his trek through the Great Plains.

The Chisholm Trail, famous for cattle drives, and the Santa Fe Trail both make their way through the county.

Stucky’s “Secrets of Goessel” tour will cover 45 points of interest, including the football field, post office, Knight’s birthplace, cemeteries, Civil War veterans’ graves, historic school sites, Indian and historic trails, and more, in about two hours, starting at 1 p.m. Oct. 1 in Goessel. The tour costs $12. To reserve a seat on the bus, call (620) 382-8830 or e-mail thuffman@marioncoks.net.

Last modified Sept. 16, 2011

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