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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • New book of photographs documents Dodge City's early history

  •      The history of Dodge City will soon be documented in a new book by George Laughead Jr.

         The book, "Images of America: Dodge City," has been assembled using photographs from the collection of the Ford County Historical Society, of which Laughead is president.


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  •      The history of Dodge City will soon be documented in a new book by George Laughead Jr.
         The book, "Images of America: Dodge City," has been assembled using photographs from the collection of the Ford County Historical Society, of which Laughead is president.
         Laughead, a Dodge City native, has extensive credentials in both history and media.
         He spent over 20 years in management positions at media companies and trained under Dr. Lynn H. Nelson, University of Kansas history professor emeritus.
         If you watched the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, you saw one of Laughead's employers, Tim Berners-Lee, who was honored as inventor of the World Wide Web.
         Laughead has been a board member of the Mountain-Plains Museums Association and received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Kansas.
         "I only used photos from the historical society's archives — most of which have never been published before," Laughead said in an interview Thursday.
         Many of the photographs in the book were obtained by the historical society when a collection of Rath family photos was donated.
         Charles Rath came to southwest Kansas with the buffalo trade when Dodge City was becoming a town.
         He eventually built a home at the corner of Spruce and Second Avenue, where Carnegie Center for the Arts is now located.
         He and his family lived there until 1885 when Dodge City suffered several severe fires.
         The Rath house was apparently a gathering place for lots of youngsters and Laughead partly structured his selection of images around that generation.
         "I haven't identified all the people or places in the photos," Laughead said, "Because it's so easy to make mistakes doing that — I'm reasonably sure that all the photos were taken in Dodge City."
         But he did develop a curiosity about that generation of children who grew up in early Dodge City.
         "They were the beneficiaries of the civilization of Dodge City that was accomplished by their parents. They were too young for the Spanish American War and too old for World War I, but the did live through the Dust Bowl when they were older," Laughead said.
         As a result, the book is a visual chronicle of the iconic Victorian period that existed in the old West from the 1890s to the 1910s.
         Laughead includes the important Dodge City families but also the unnamed and ordinary residents of the young town.
         Because of the historical society's association with the Mueller-Schmidt house, Laughead included images of both families.
         "They were among the founders of the city," he said.
         Laughead also chose images of places and buildings that are recognizable.
         "I also tried to include photographs of things that are gone," he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Images of America
         The book is published by Arcadia Publishing, a company that specializes in local American history from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. Their catalogue includes series on aviation, postcards, railroads, sports, and campuses. A special series contains side-by-side past and present images. Another series spotlights local legends.
         But the company's keystone series is Images of America. The series began in 1993 and has documented hundreds of American communities. Each volume contains two hundred or more historic images with accompanying text.
         The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will be released on Sept. 10. The book sells for $21.99.
         The book will be available locally at a number of outlets, but the details are not yet available. Proceeds from books sold by the historical society will benefit the society's activities.
         Laughead is planning a book release event for sometime in September.
         "I had fun putting it together," Laughead said, "And at least it got our photos out of people's basements and into proper storage."

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