Oct 08, 2022

Ellis County Historical Society to split exhibits between Victoria, Hays

Posted Oct 08, 2022 11:01 AM
The newly remodeled basement of the Ellis County Historical Society's brick church. Society officials hope to move their office back into the basement by Nov. 1. Courtesy photo.<br>
The newly remodeled basement of the Ellis County Historical Society's brick church. Society officials hope to move their office back into the basement by Nov. 1. Courtesy photo.

Society also schedules trivia night fundraiser

Corrected 11:20 a.m. Oct. 8.

Hays Post

The Ellis County Historical Society is moving forward with two major capital improvement projects.

The society had mold treated in the basement of the brick church. The basement is undergoing remodeling, and Amanda Rupp, executive director, said she hopes to have the archives and offices moved back into the basement by Nov. 1.

An anonymous $25,000 donation was made at the begining of the summer to help make repairs to the brick church basement.

Once the main office moves back to the brick church, the stone church gallery, which is housing the Sternberg firearms collection, will be open the same hours as the office. The collection had been available only by appointment or during special events.

An accessibility ramp, which is being paid for in part with a Heartland Community Foundation grant, is also being added to the limestone church next door.

The society is applying for a Heritage Foundation grant to help pay for a $100,000 project that would repair the mortar and structural cracks in both churches.

A volunteer paints in the basement of the Ellis County Historical Society's brick church. Courtesy photo<br>
A volunteer paints in the basement of the Ellis County Historical Society's brick church. Courtesy photo

This should make the building watertight and allow the society to finish restoration to the basement rooms that have outside walls. Both churches would also receive new gutters.

Part of the money for the mortar repairs will come from what is left of a donation from the Blender sisters that was designated for capital improvements.

Volga German heritage

The society will also sign a lease soon with the Victoria Community Coalition to rent space in Victoria's former nursing home.

The society will be using the front portion of the building. The roof over the society's portion of the building will be replaced soon. The society hopes to use the second floor for storage.

The bottom floor will be a gallery space, featuring the Volga German heritage of Ellis County, including the county's historical Catholic churches and small farm communities.

Rupp said she hopes the society could start moving items into storage in Victoria by the end of the year. It may be a year before the gallery space is ready for guests.

Rupp said the society continues to fundraise for the Victoria project but has already had significant donations dedicated to the project.

The Hays campus will feature the Wild West history of the area.

"I think we have enough interest and support for both of them that those who are interested in the Volga German heritage can help us in that realm and those who want to be more involved in the Wild West history of the Hays can help there," Rupp said.

In the past, what was featured in the museum largely depended on whom was leading the board and their interests, she said.

The society has enough artifacts to support the telling of both stories, Rupp said.

"We have a really energetic board that is doing some great fundraising, and I think they can put in all the extra hours that are going to be needed to basically build this thing back up," she said.

Rupp said it is an exciting time to be part of the historical society.

"I tell people it's not starting from scratch, it's starting from scrap," she said. "We have the collection. We just now have to have a place to put it."

Trivia night fundraiser

The society will have a Twist and Shout Trivia Night from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, at the Hays Community Theatre. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Teams will be made up of eight people with an $80 entry fee per team. Fifteen teams will be accepted.

There will be nine categories. Each team will have 30 seconds to answer. Team members will write answers on a dry-erase board.

If you don't know an answer, you can buy your answer. If your team doesn't think it will do well in a category, it can choose to buy an opportunity to double its points in that category.

Between rounds, there will be physical challenges as well.

Prizes will be given to team members winning each category. Every member of a team will receive a prize if they win a category.

Prizes will be given to the team with top points using the least amount of  purchased "cheats." Prizes also will be given to the team with the highest overall score that purchased the least amount of "cheats." The overall team winner will have their name engraved on a traveling trophy, and each member of the team will receive a T-shirt.

Prizes also will be given for the best team name and team spirit.

Door prizes will be offered and chili supper. The cost for the meal is $8 per person. Spectators are welcome. A cash bar will be run by members of Hays Community Theatre.

Early registration is due by Oct. 31. The registration fee will go up to $120 on Nov. 1.

You can sign up teams online at the society's website.

Funds raised during the trivia night will be designated for operating expenses.

The society will accept monetary donations at any time. General donations also can be accepted through the society's website.

If you would like to make a donation to a specific project, Rupp said she is happy to accommodate those designations.

The society is also seeking general volunteers. An application can be found on the website or call 785-628-2624.


The society recently created an endowment fund with the Heartland Community Foundation. This will allow the society to grow its funds more quickly. It also allows the society to take advantage of non-cash donations. Rupp gave examples of a load of grain or an IRA.

Heartland is also part of the Dane G. Foundation network, which allows people to access free estate planning help if they agree to donate a certain amount of their estates to local charities, Rupp said.

"We have two large building projects, but I think people are ready for it because we have been sitting idle for a while. The county upped our allowance, and the city upped our allowance, and I think we are really ready to get up and rolling," Rupp said.