INMAN — One of Inman Musem Director Ralph Vogel's favorite historic photographs is an image of two men, pencils in hand, looking over a manuscript. Those men are the famed Buffalo Bill Cody and Col Henry Inman, for whom the town of Inman was named.
Humanities Kansas recently awarded a $3,500 grant to Inman Museum to digitize more than 400 slides depicting life in the town's early years.
"They were taken from pictures of early Inman from the late 1800s to the early 1900s," Vogel said. "Slides were made of those pictures and now we want to digitize them, clean them up, put them in a movie format and put narration with them in a little theater in the museum."
The museum plans to convert its current military-themed area into a small theater that will show some of the photographs, along with narration about the history of Inman, on a 75-inch TV screen.
"The seats that people will sit on come from the old Superior Township Hall, so that's fitting," Vogel said.
The slides were shown to a group of Inman's older residents who helped identify and name businesses and individuals show in them.
"Businesses, homes, schools, events ... most of those things are no longer here, though some still are," Vogel said.
One of the earliest pictures in the museum's collection shows the Rock Island train depot just after the deck was built on July 4, 1887.
"That's when things really started moving, because transportation came in," Vogel said.
Col. Inman was known for his many military exploits and also writing books such as "The Old Santa Fe Trail."
"t was Buffalo Bill Cody who encouraged him to write it," Vogel explained. "They were very good friends."
According to his obituary in the Nov. 16, 1899, edition of the Ellsworth Messenger, Col. Henry Inman was born in New York and joined the Union Army, fighting and being wounded in the Civil War.
"During his Indian fighting, Col. Inman served with some of the most illustrious soldiers who earned fame on the plains," the article read. "He was with Custer until shortly before the massacre and had scouted with Buffalo Bill. The friendship between Colonel Cody and Colonel Inman was so marked that the former never went with his Wild West show to Topeka that Colonel Inman did not ride in the parade with him."
After leaving military service, Inman worked as an editor for newspapers in Ellsworth and Larned. At the same time, the population of Kansas was booming with the expansion of the railroad and settlers heading west.
"Inman, at one time, had a pretty good-sized business district," Vogel said. "...There were even photographers in Inman."
A photographer's studio is reproduced as one of the many businesses featured in the museum's indoor town square.
"Most people don't think there's much here, because it's a small town, but when they leave, they say, 'I had no idea,'" Vogel chuckled.
Inman Museum, located at 101 N. Main. St., is open from 1:30 to 4 p.m. each Sunday or by appointment by calling 620-585-6659. Admission is by donation.
"People shouldn't hesitate," Vogel said. "They should call and come see it."
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