As usual, on a journey this time searching for more history regarding the Horton, Kansas REA program. The historical request was explicitly made by the Historical Society President.
A marker in Horton, Kansas, marks the location of the first pole. But did you know that the project was one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deals” during the Great Depression? The “New Deals” brought jobs and opportunities to many people across the nation, including people in Kansas. The program was the rural electrification administration, and it was a big deal for people living in rural areas. Roosevelt himself was appalled that people in rural areas were living without electricity. Roosevelt later established another program that provided low-interest long-term loans to cooperatives seeking to provide electricity to rural areas. The original line was an 80-mile stretch, and on April 1, 1938, two hundred farms established electric services. A household could join the rural electric cooperative for $5.
The photo “Four Horsemen of the Lines,” taken on March 31, 1938, in Horton, Kansas, and became a circulated image across the country and came to symbolize the rural electrification movement. The individuals pictured Lynn Jacobson, Junior Adams, Elmer Krebs, and Carl Jacobson. The “Four Horseman of the Lines” photo commemorating fifty years since rural electrification prominently displayed in a Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The pole setting ceremony occurs complete with a parade and the governor of Kansas in attendance on November 10, 1937. The ceremony takes place in Horton, Kansas. The Brown Atchison REC board president, Joseph Nelson, gave the speech at the ceremony. One of the photos provided shows men seated in a vehicle. Sitting in the vehicle’s back row are from left to right, 27th Kansas Governor, Governor Huxman, Brown Atchison REC Board President, Joseph Nelson, and an unknown individual. Front row, unknown individual and unknown individual. Perhaps you have some information on the unknown individuals. If you do, be sure to reach out and let us know. As the research continued, I uncovered from Vada a book was published on the rural electrification program, and the name of the book is “The Next Greatest Thing.” The book features photographs from Horton, Kansas. If you are interested in the rural electrification program, you should check the book out!
I would be remiss if I did not extend my gratitude to the Brown Atchison REA, specifically Whitney Linck, who allowed me the opportunity on several occasions to ask questions and dig through the historical information on file. I would also like to extend my gratitude and appreciation to Vada Kletchke. Vada allowed me to come to her home and interview her for this piece and offered critical details no one else could answer. The REA truck has been on display at the Brown County Historical Society Ag Museum and Windmill Lane. If you have not stopped by to appreciate this gem that helped establish electricity in Kansas, I hope you will soon. As always, there is so much more to every story! Find It! Be sure to stop by and let me know what you discover! #historymysteries.