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Arthur Capper was born in Anderson County, Kansas, on 14th July, 1865. He became a journalist and worked for the Topeka Daily Capital. Later he became the publisher of Capper's Weekly, Capper's Farmer and the Household Magazine.
Capper, a member of the Republican Party, served as Governor of Kansas (1915-1919) before being elected to the Senate. Over the next 30 years Capper served on the Committee on Claims and Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. Arthur Capper died on 19th December, 1951.
Arthur Capper - History
ARTHUR CAPPER. (By Cecil Howes.) It took Kansas half a century to decide that there might be a native worthy of being trusted with administering the highest office in the gift of the people of the state. Every two years the people would elect a governor, but not until 1914 did it elect a native son. A history of the states shows this to be a rather remarkable record.
Arthur Capper was the first son of Kansas to be its governor, and he was also the first son to be even a candidate. He has been a candidate three times, the first in 1912, when he was defeated by twenty-nine votes, and he was elected in 1914 and 1916. His defeat was of real value to the state, for it brought about a simplification of the election laws so that the possibilities of errors, so apparent in the election of 1912, were made almost impossible in the future.
Arthur Capper was born at Garnett, Anderson County, July 14, 1865. Mr. Capper's parents were among the first settlers of Anderson County. His father was really one of the founders of Garnett and for forty years was engaged in merchandising and farming.
It was in this Christian home where Arthur Capper was taught the lessons of honesty, morality, industry, temperance and self-reliance. His parents were faithful members of the Quaker Church, and in the family circle the language of that religious organization was used in the daily conversation. Early influences and teachings count for much in the lives of men, for Arthur Capper's publications and the countless articles he has written in behalf of all religious movements and right living, bear testimony to his character as a useful and worthy citizen.
These parents were poor in everything but common sense, and they started the lad into a path of industry and thrift that has led him to become the largest publisher in the middle west, and one of the wealthiest men in Kansas. He studied in the Garnett common schools, and was graduated from the Garnett High School. But even before this he had entered upon his career as a printer. One Christmas he was given a toy printing outfit, and with it he was able to print cards and small handbills for merchants and professional men and before he was out of school had made and saved a considerable sum.
At fourteen years Arthur Capper began his real career as a publisher when he became the "devil" in the office of the Garnett Journal. His first job was to ink the rollers of the old Washington hand press, and the foreman secured a cracker box from a nearby grocery for the lad to stand on while doing the job. One dollar a week was the munificent salary paid him at the start, and, after serving his apprenticeship and becoming a real printer, Arthur Capper was collecting $8 a week.
Following in the footsteps of all the journeymen printers it came time for him to follow the traditions of the craft and work around a bit. A printer, when he completes his apprenticeship, is expected to start away from home with just enough money to get him to the next town, and then he must make his living during a trip through the big printing establishments, learning the ins and outs of the trade. Arthur Capper started on his journey. But as a printer he never got any farther than Topeka.
He came into the office of the Capital one Monday afternoon and asked the foreman for the "extra job." The foreman said he had a flock of extra jobs, as the printers had just been paid off and were on a "high Lonesome" that would make getting out the paper uncertain, if not impossible. The Capital was set by hand in those days, and it took a big crew of men to set the local and telegraph news, and also all the ads. Capper showed up at the appointed hour and set more type than any printer on the job had set for months, and he brought in cleaner proofs than the foreman had seen in many moons.
The printers came straggling back from their weekly debauch but one of them lost his job and Arthur Capper had it. He became a regular man right from the start, and never lost a day. Thirty years after, men who had worked with him, possibly the very man who lost his job when Arthur Capper came on, walked into Mr. Capper's office and asked for workand got it.
The young Kansan had one trait heretofore rare in the printing trade. He never drank liquors. Payday was the same old day to him, and besides that the instructions of his old Quaker father and mother had taught him to put a little of his wages aside for days when work was not so plentiful.
Within a few months the "front office" began taking notice of the new printer, and the late Maj. J. K. Hudson became interested in him and lent every encouragement. He advanced rapidly in pay, and was drawing better than $25 a week when he thought to do a little reporting when the late Judge John Martin delivered his famous prohibition speech from the steps of the courthouse. In this speech Judge Martin told the liquor element that the prohibitory law was the law and that it would be enforced. There was no reporter handy so the young printer wrote the story of the speech and turned it in. It pleased the editorial rooms so much that the printer was offered a job as a reporter at $10 a week. What is more, he took it to learn the other end of the publishing business. He never returned to the case.
As a reporter Arthur Capper gained the reputation of being the most industrious man in town. He turned in more copy than anyone else and while there was nothing sensational, seldom a real feature, it was all good reading about things every one was interested in and wanted to read. He was sent to the Legislature in 1889.
Then the Capital decided to send a man to Washington as a correspondent, and Arthur Capper was picked for that job. He sent in the most complete stories of the doings of the Kansas Congressmen, and the result of his work was an offer of a job on the New York Tribune, and about the first day he landed there the city editor sent the young Jayhawker out to write the story of a yacht race. Like Victor Murdock, who went to Chicago and invented a new style of baseball reporting that made the story more interesting than the game itself, Arthur Capper made yacht racing more interesting to the readers of the Tribune than it was to the real spectators. He did a lot of other good work in New York, but the prairies kept calling and he returned to Kansas. In 1893 he began business for himself as the owner of the North Topeka Mail. Later he purchased the Topeka Breeze from Tom McNeal and made the Mail and Breeze now his chief farm paper.
While he was still a reporter Arthur Capper, like nearly all "reporters" got the editor bug and wanted his own little country paper. He went to Hugoton to buy the Hermes at the solicitation of the late Col. Sam N. Wood. The Stevens county-seat war was on, and it was a real war. Bad men were numerous. The barkeeper and the faro dealer were the two busiest men in town. Colonel Wood showed the young man the sights of the town, discounted the wind, the bullets and the bad men, and pointed out that the most favorable place in the whole world for a young man to make his fortune was right at Hugoton. But the young reporter couldn't see it that way and was up before daylight to catch the stage for Lakin, and he never returned to that country until he became a candidate for governor.
From the publication of the weekly Mail and Breeze it was but natural for an active newspaper man to drift into the daily publishing business, and when the Bank of Topeka found itself the owner of the Topeka Capital it picked the likeliest newspaper man in town to run it. Whatever the purchase price, only $2,000 in real money changed hands the day the deal was made. That was all Arthur Capper had. He was given all the time he wanted to pay the balance.
It was a long and hard pull to get the Capital out of the fire. But Arthur Capper kept at it until he had made that paper one of the most profitable newspaper enterprises in the state. Along with the Capital he built up the Mail and Breeze until it became the biggest farm paper in Kansas. From time to time there has been added the Missouri Valley Farmer, Capper's Weekly, Nebraska Farm Journal, Missouri Ruralist, the Household and the Oklahoma Farmer.
The management of the business and editorial affairs of all these papers could be successfully handled by one man only if he were trained in practically every department of the publication business. That is where Arthur Capper showed himself to be a smart man when he quit work at $25 a week in the composing room to take a reporter's job at $10 a week. Besides the newspapers there is the big job printing establishment and also the big engraving plant, all operated under the direct supervision of Mr. Capper.
After getting his business well organized the young man decided to see for himself just how he had the business in hand. So he went into politics, leaving the men he had trained to actually manage his papers, printing plant and engraving company. The big properties continued to run just as smoothly and just as profitably as when Mr. Capper was in active charge all the time, which indicates a wonderful genius for organization and the picking of men who can be depended upon.
Five years ago he built the big new building for all his properties. It is a five story building and was thought to be large enough to handle the business for years. It is already overcrowded.
In politics Arthur Capper has always been a republican. But he has been on the side of progress at every turn, and all but bolted the party several times to make it swing from standpatism to progressivism and the cause of advancement. He stood by the progressive wing of the party even in defeat and when it cost him hundreds of votes of the stand-pat element of the party. He has always supported business in the administration of state, county and city affairs and when he became governor it was upon the express promise to do for the state as he had done for his own business, as far as he was able. Two years in office showed him the folly of a real business administration in state affairs with the system of government that permitted changes of officers every two or four years and divided responsibility where derelict officials could blame others for their failure to perform their sworn duties. At the opening of his second term Governor Capper announced a program of progressive measures intended to make government simpler, more effective and less expensive to the taxpayers. The budget system of state appropriations, the consolidation of boards and commissions with more direct responsibility, the city-manager plan and a change of county governments to remove numerous useless and expensive offices, were included in his program.
Governor Capper has been interested in almost everything that makes Kansas a better place to live in. He fought for the pensions for mothers and the child hygiene department and when he found there was a joker in the mother's pension law set about to remove this and make the law a real benefit to the women and children of the state. He has been an active member or an officer in the various peace movements and was a vice president for Kansas for the National Welfare League. He has always been a booster for good roads and for prohibition in the state and nation. He helped put through the workingmen's compensation law amendments, and fought for a minimum wage and shorter hours for the women workers of the state. In fact, there has been nothing that makes for better government, better homes, better society that he has not taken an active interest in. He is also an ardent lodge man, belonging to several secret orders and is one of the governors of Mooseheart, the Moose home in Illinois.
In 1892 Mr. Capper married Miss Florence Crawford, daughter of the late Samuel J. Crawford, the third governor of Kansas. For many years they lived in an old frame home at the corner of Topeka Avenue and Eleventh Street. This was recently torn down, and an elegant and comfortable home was built on the grounds.
Transcribed from volume 4, pages 1973-1974 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918 originally transcribed by Tyler Whipkey, student at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March, 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
Sociology in My Neighborhood: DC Ward SixArthur Capper continued his family's traditions. Capper was the first President of the Topeka branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and on the national board of the NAACP for over 30 years (Leon Graves) .
Interestingly, Arthur Capper remained influential in the public housing project long after his death. Arthur Capper public housing created one of the nation's first food cooperatives in a public housing project. The MLK Co-op Food Store opened in 1970 at the Arthur Capper Community Recreation Center (5th and K SE), after functioning as a food-buying club for 18 months. The main organizer of the food co-op was Beatrice Gray. The store was managed by Raymond Sadler. The Board of Directors was chaired by Marie Nolan, with the following other members: Annie B. Jewell (vice-chairman), Addie May Harper (treasurer), Parline Cole (assistant treasurer), Sandra Hester (secretary), Barbara Wilson (assistant secretary), and Nathaniel Graham. They hoped to make the MLK co-op Food Store a model for all NCHA projects. The Urban Law Institute provided legal assistance. Giant, Safeway, Greenbelt cooperatives, and some churches provided management and financial capital. The MLK Co-op Food Store was run by Arthur Capper Consumer Federation, Inc. Arthur Capper influenced Ward 6 in a wide variety of ways.
(1) This was an all black unit with white officers (like Samuel Crawford) founded in 1863, after Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation allowed black military service. Many blacks served in Kansas, the Carolinas, and elsewhere "illegally" well before that. The term "colored" was the official term in the 1860s.
(2) The USDA voiced concerns about the consolidation of farming cooperatives: "Just 200,000 farmers now do essentially what 7 million did 50 years ago: feed and clothe our nation and much of the rest of the world. Cooperatives have also consolidated during those years. In 1950, USDA reported that 10,035 farmer marketing and farm supply cooperatives had $8.7 billion in sales. By 2000, the number of farmer cooperatives had fallen to 3,346 while total net business volume jumped to nearly $100 billion" (p. 20).
Sources: Homer Edward Socolofsky. 1962. Arthur Capper: Publisher, Politician, and Philanthropist. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press Announcement of talk by Leon Graves on Arthur Capper James H. Shideler. 1963. Book Review of Arthur Capper: Publisher, Politician, and Philanthropist, Agricultural History 37(1): 49 US Senate. 1919. "Incorporation of cooperative associations in the District of Columbia," Washington, DC: The Government Printing Office USDA, "Agricultural Cooperatives in the 21st Century" "Food Co-op at Capper Housing," DC Gazette, Feb. 1970, p. 3.
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With Congress considering whether to extend HOPE VI, some housing advocates fear that the program hasn’t helped the residents it was intended to. According to HUD figures, 43,135 public-housing residents have been relocated from projects slated for HOPE VI development. Only 7,335—or just over 17 percent—have returned to the refurbished housing. No one is really sure what’s happened to the others.
Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg residents are now discovering that displacement is as indispensable a component of HOPE VI as shiny new town homes and ribbon-cutting ceremonies with federal bigwigs. Families will have to start leaving Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg next spring, and demolition will probably start next fall.
“You have the option to come back,” says Debra Frazier, a five-year resident of Carrollsburg and one of the project’s loudest critics. “It is possible to return. Nowhere does it say you have a guaranteed right.”
On June 15, a group of residents from Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg gathered at Van Ness Elementary School for a meeting with DCHA authorities on the new development. Meetings like this one are a staple of the HOPE VI program, for the simple reason that moving an entire community from its moorings is more of a PR operation than a logistical one. Breakfast and lunch are free for all comers.
DCHA officials had prepared well for the event. Architects working with the housing authority explained the attractive new buildings that would replace the drab-looking current development. They referenced various artistic renderings of the apartments, town homes, and recreational spaces that they hoped to build on the site where the public-housing complex now stands.
Clearly impressed with their undertaking, the architects went so far as to outline options for porch and window design. In a break-out discussion group, DCHA relocation coordinator Janice Burgess was asked about federal restrictions on public-housing residents who have past felony convictions and the vague rule that only residents in “good standing” would be allowed to return. “We don’t want those type of people to come back anyway,” she replied, and proceeded to steer the discussion toward less controversial subjects—traffic flow and building facades.
Burgess & Co. were following the HOPE VI script, which advocates giving public housing a face-lift above all else. The ideological vehicle for the program’s aesthetic makeovers is “New Urbanism,” which encourages the construction of mixed-use communities, the combination of apartments and homes with retail stores and office space, and residency by people from a range of income groups and ethnic backgrounds. New Urbanism also emphasizes the blending of new construction with the architecture of the surrounding area.
As an ideal, New Urbanism beats whatever set of beliefs formerly inspired—or doomed—public housing. In 1992, Congress’ National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing urged the federal government to take immediate action to improve the 6 percent of public housing identified as “severely distressed,” which amounted to about 86,000 units—many of them found in high-rise structures that were packed with poor families.
From the commission’s recommendations, Congress created the HOPE VI program, originally called the Urban Revitalization Demonstration. During the 10 years of its existence, the program has allowed HUD to administer $4.5 billion in HOPE VI funds to local housing authorities with plans to completely or partly demolish the troubled units and replace them with revitalized developments.
HOPE VI seemed to promise a break from federally supported warehousing of the poor, as well as from the blight and crime that has long clustered around public housing. But even some of the plan’s architects wonder whether the program hasn’t become a taxpayer-supported shot in the arm for gentrification.
Lawrence Vale, for one, has seen this sort of policy before. Vale served as a consultant to the commission that led to the creation of HOPE VI. Although he was initially hopeful about the outcome of the commission’s report, he worries now about the impact the program will have on very low-income communities.
“I have very mixed feelings,” says Vale, head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I understand the impulse of HOPE VI, and I understand the impact of those before-and-after photos of the desolate tower structures, which are replaced with picket fences and happy people. But I also am aware of a long tradition….[Officials constructing] public housing, even when it was built the first time, often tore down the residences of the very poor and often replaced [them] with residences they couldn’t afford. And I’m afraid we’re doing too much of that again.”
In the late ’30s, the federal government responded to the hardship of the Great Depression by launching a massive public-housing building campaign. But a federal law at the time required that for each new public-housing unit that was built, a substandard one had to be destroyed, says Vale, author of From the Puritans to the Projects: Public Housing and Public Neighbors.
The result was that cities demolished acres of so-called slum areas to make way for the new housing—much of it two- and three-story-walk-up apartment buildings. But when it was built, many of the people who had been living in the run-down structures couldn’t afford the new housing. Others were barred from living there because it was reserved for white families, says Vale. They scrambled to find new homes, often congregating again in impoverished areas.
Following World War II, the federal government again set its sights on improving downtrodden areas. Congress passed the Housing Act of 1949, which encouraged slum clearance and the construction of public housing. Poor residents living in shabby housing were again told to pack up and move out, and few of them returned to the new public housing, if it was ever constructed.
By the late ’50s, the federal government had shifted to “urban renewal” programs, clearing out massive impoverished areas to redevelop in an attempt to attract more affluent residents to the areas. The poor residents had little hope of returning. Many were instead moved to the latest thing in public housing—soaring, high-density, high-rise structures that could hold hundreds of poor families. They would become the eyesores of today—prompting the creation of the commission Vale assisted.
“I think it’s that there is a cycle that’s gone on in terms of moving one group of people out to build a nicer-looking building,” says Vale. “People believed public housing was this great step up into modernity and now itself has become the slum to be rebuilt. And when the new structure is built it’s seen as too good for poor people. My question is, Why do we believe that?”
Public housing expert Todd Espinosa is equally baffled. Espinosa worries that many of today’s HOPE VI projects resemble urban-renewal programs of the past. Many of the projects are taking place in areas already slated for development, says Espinosa, formerly an attorney with the Oakland, Calif.-based National Housing Law Project who helped research False HOPE: A Critical Assessment of the HOPE VI Public Housing Redevelopment Program, released in June. Espinosa fears that HOPE VI may be a mechanism to clear out run-down areas to make way for the planned construction. Several HOPE VI projects in Chicago as well as one in Birmingham, Ala., are occurring in areas already noted for development and gentrification. Another, in Danville, Va., coincides with the construction of a 60-acre golf course nearby. The redevelopment plans rarely have room for all of the low-income families that moved out.
“It seems really unfair to exclude them from their homes after their homes have gone through multi-billion-dollar revitalizations,” says Espinosa. “They lived there through the bad times. They should be able to live there through the good times, too.”
At Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg, District officials claim they’re stretching the charitable potential of the HOPE VI program. In replacing the decaying housing units, the DCHA is exceeding HOPE VI’s minimum standards by doing “one-for-one” replacement. That is, a new unit of public housing will take the place of every unit that is demolished.
The DCHA’s one-for-one claim is accurate but nonetheless deceptive, because not all public housing will be created equal. Instead, HOPE VI at Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg will be public housing for those who can afford it.
In the current development, there are 707 total units, of which 297 are reserved for senior citizens. Through HOPE VI, 300 units will be built for seniors close to where they are now, and all of the seniors currently on site are guaranteed a spot without even having to move during construction. But only a fraction of the 580 public-housing units in the new development are targeted for the people now living in the 410 walk-ups and town houses on the demolition list. Most of the new units will be reserved for households that earn 30 percent to 80 percent of the metro area’s $91,500 median income. These are working poor and middle-class families who make more than roughly $27,000 a year and as much as about $73,000.
So who loses out? A majority of the project’s current residents—people who depend almost entirely on public assistance for their income—are lucky to take in $10,000 annually. For them, there will be only 140 units available, 270 fewer than currently. (Officials promise to start building 127 low-tier units nearby in two to three years.)
Paul Rowe, the housing authority’s HOPE VI project director for Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg, says public housing isn’t intended to serve only the poorest of the poor, even though that’s what’s happened over the decades. Working-class families that are eligible for subsidized shelter have been scared away from the pits that many housing projects have become. “We serve the population we’re supposed to serve,” says Rowe.
Whatever that means. The statutory language that authorizes the HOPE VI program set a vague goal of “improving the living environment for public housing residents of severely distressed public housing projects through the demolition, rehabilitation, reconfiguration, or replacement of obsolete public housing projects.” Although thousands of families have been moved from these dilapidated structures, only a fraction of them have actually returned to revitalized developments.
And when HOPE VI first began operating, in 1993, the federal government mandated the one-for-one scheme that the DCHA is voluntarily adhering to at Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg. But housing officials and developers around the country were having trouble replacing all of the lost public-housing units while still creating mixed-income homes. Construction of new housing fell behind. In 1998, Congress eliminated the requirement for HOPE VI projects, hoping to jump-start building efforts.
The plan worked: Housing authority officials let out a collective sigh of relief and began razing developments ready for new construction. The result wasn’t a good one for poor renters.
In 1999, the DCHA, along with its community and development partners, completed its first HOPE VI project, the Ellen Wilson Dwellings, which was renamed the Townhomes on Capitol Hill—located only blocks from where Stephen Davis lives. A mix of town houses and apartments—all tastefully designed to fit in with the surrounding Capitol Hill neighborhood—replaced the dilapidated high-rise and row-house structures that had made up the old development (see “Dream City,” 4/16/99).
Completion of the project marked a highly publicized victory for the District’s public-housing agency, whose colossal dysfunction had landed it in a federal receivership in 1995. The selected fix-it guy was receiver David Gilmore, whose goal was to revolutionize public housing in the District by reforming not only the agency but also the housing stock and the population that lived there.
At Ellen Wilson, that approach translated into displacement. Less than a third of the 134 units were reserved for the lowest-income families that make up the majority of public-housing residents. In the end, only 11 of the 129 families that had lived at the project in the first place returned to the revitalized structure.
That’s not a comforting precedent for Davis. Competition for the 140 low-income units in the renovated development will be fierce—a dynamic that pleases housing officials. The high demand and low capacity will enable the DCHA to cherry-pick its ideal residents and pull off the sort of social engineering implicit in HOPE VI. In choosing the new crop of residents, housing officials will be able to act almost like the admissions office of a prestigious university. Although they say original residents are given priority to return to new developments, many of the new HOPE VI projects include a stringent screening process. Rent-payment history, credit and criminal background checks, and home visits are all part of the gantlet. Some revitalized developments also require a security deposit that can be as much as two or three months’ rent—a hefty sum for renters already on a tight budget.
The screening requirements and paucity of low-income dwellings have turned many residents of Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg into sneering critics of the HOPE VI conversion. At the Van Ness Elementary meeting, for example, Frazier proclaimed to her neighbors: “We have no guaranteed right to return—we’re entitled to that. And they tell us there will be a one-to-one replacement, but not at income levels we can deal with,” she continued. “Even if it’s $20,000 a year—do any of you plan on making $20,000 this year?” Frazier asked the audience.
Rowe hopes 40 percent of the families that leave return, a far greater proportion than at Ellen Wilson. “A lot of people won’t return because they won’t want to return,” he says. “They become settled where they are. They’re probably in a better situation than they were before.”
Housing officials have had plenty of practice responding to complaints from residents such as Davis and Frazier. Accordingly, they have some pat answers for the commonly aired gripes about low-income housing units.
DCHA official Rowe, for instance, acknowledges that the background screening and rental-history checks will weed out some current Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg tenants. However, he prefers not to term the procedures “restrictions” on securing a place in the new development. Rather, he says, “I’d call them opportunities.”
HOPE VI, he says, provides intensive job-training programs and other social services that will help even those excluded from the complex get their lives in order. Residents who can’t find room in the new Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg will learn how to repair their credit or earn a healthy wage. That doesn’t mean they get in, now or ever it means they get specialized attention that may pay future dividends. “It’s an incremental process. For some, it’s shorter-term than others some, longer-term than others.”
The feds, meanwhile, respond to displacement complaints with little more than a shrug. Michael Liu, assistant secretary for HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing, which oversees HOPE VI, says officials there have heard anecdotal stories and unofficial results but they have no solid records about where displaced residents settle.
The most comprehensive analysis of displacement patterns to date comes from the Urban Institute, a D.C.-based think tank that examined the limited data available on the phenomenon. Its study found that about 49 percent of displaced residents moved to other public housing. Thirty-one percent signed up to receive Section 8 vouchers under a HUD program that subsidizes rent for eligible tenants at privately owned dwellings. The remaining 20 percent were no longer receiving HUD assistance. Housing officials like to presume that those residents had progressed beyond the need for housing assistance. However, the report also noted that there is “another serious concern on the ‘people side’ of the program that we do not have the data to examine here: namely, that in some developments, the local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) operating HOPE VI have, in effect, ‘lost’ many original residents in the process of displacement and relocation.”
Liu says HUD has contracted with the Urban Institute and consulting firm Abt Associates to conduct a more comprehensive study of displaced residents. He says that he and other officials at HUD, like residents and their advocates, are anxious to see the results. HUD, however, doesn’t have an official deadline for the report.
In the meantime, the housing crunch in the D.C. area and nationwide pushes more and more families to the brink of homelessness. Sheila Crowley, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says that across the country, there are few places for low-income renters to go. HUD research shows that the number of units available to families making less than 50 percent of the area median income—the same people who make up the majority of the public-housing population, says Crowley—dropped by 1.3 million between 1991 and 1999.
Poor families struggle to find space in subsidized buildings, many of which are already filled to capacity, or add their names to lengthy waiting lists. In D.C., about 15,000 families have signed up on the waiting list for public housing. And there are 22,000 on the list awaiting Section 8 vouchers. Loss of housing stock and massive displacement caused by HOPE VI only aggravate the situation, says Crowley.
The District’s experience with HOPE VI illustrates the chaos that the federal housing program can wreak. The city has a total of six HOPE VI projects in various phases of development or planning. Only three other housing authorities have received more in HOPE VI funds than the DCHA, according to a HUD report submitted to Congress in June.
The upshot is that several public-housing projects are being demolished at about the same time, making transition relatively permanent. Last year, for example, Sheila Green moved with her daughter to Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg from East Capitol Dwellings when East Capitol started its own HOPE VI transformation. Now she’s going to have to move again before she can return to East Capitol. “When it’s time to leave, I’m hoping we’ll hear there’s someplace else to go.”
Dwyer and Liu say that they expect many of the displaced residents to take advantage of the federal Section 8 vouchers. They say that program allows residents the freedom to move where they choose, ideally to mixed-income areas, and therefore further advance the dispersion of poverty. “It was the intent of the program and the intent of Congress that as public housing became transformed, that it all not be put back in the same spot,” says Liu. “I think there has been a movement toward not pigeonholing people. [We’re no longer saying,] ‘Well, once in public housing, always in public housing.’ We want to give a chance [for residents] to move to other areas or toward self-sufficiency.”
That’s a noble goal, but it loses steam in the Washington area’s cutthroat housing market. Some 1,300 people who received vouchers in the past year put them to use, but there are still 500 vouchers that have yet to be used—most likely because the market is saturated. Rowe acknowledges that finding places in the Washington area to use vouchers is difficult and that space is tight in existing public housing, but “Someone is not going to be put out in the street, let me put it that way.”
Until officials can show that all displaced residents find themselves in better living conditions, whether they return to the revitalized project or not, then HOPE VI has failed, says Crowley. “At the end of the day, everybody who was there to begin with should have their housing circumstances improved,” says Crowley. “If they’re not, then you have not succeeded.”
Crowley says she can’t help her cynicism when it comes to HOPE VI. “It’s not really about what residents need. It’s about what the developer wants, what the city wants, what the government wants. They go through the motions of resident involvement and people think, Maybe—maybe—this is real. And then they get screwed again.”
The debate over HOPE VI might not amount to much if the arguments didn’t come at a critical point in the tenure of the program. With the current authorization set to end, advocates on all sides of the issue see this as the perfect time to implement necessary reforms—or to give up on the program altogether.
Liu is one of the first to admit that HOPE VI could use some fine-tuning. He says he is troubled by the pace of “tens of thousands” of projects that have lagged well behind schedule. He blames the delays on poor planning. Housing authorities are required to supply evidence that other agencies or groups will supplement the HUD money with additional funds, but Liu says that some struggle to actually acquire the funds after a HOPE VI proposal is approved.
In their FISCAL YEAR2003 budget proposal, HUD officials indicated to Congress that they will be submitting a detailed proposal to reauthorize HOPE VI, says Liu, who adds that he hopes to see some changes to the program.
He’s not the only one. The U.S. Senate committee that approves the HUD budget recommended continuing the HOPE VI program for another year, with $574 million in additional funds. However, in the appropriations bill, the committee urged department officials to use the year to scrutinize current HOPE VI projects, submit a report on the public-housing units still in need of revitalization or demolition, and think hard about what a reauthorized program should look like. “The Committee is taking this action because of concerns over the future and mandate of the HOPE VI program,” reads the bill.
And in March, Rep. Marge Roukema (R.-N.J.) introduced legislation that would extend HOPE VI for two years but encourages department officials to alter the criteria for awarding grants. Winning applicants should be able to complete their plans “expeditiously,” minimize displacement of current residents, and create more public-housing units, according to the comprehensive housing legislation. Both bills have to get the once-over from the full Senate and House of Representatives.
While members of Congress hash out their proposals, housing advocates urge them to scale back the demolition-heavy element of the program and encourage local housing authorities to consider rehabilitation of existing buildings whenever possible. Espinosa urges a return to one-for-one replacement ideals—or at the very least, a greater effort to ensure that demolished public-housing units are replaced by others that are open to very low-income residents.
Espinosa says HOPE VI is changing public housing so fast that no one really knows what it’s doing. “If Congress is going to reauthorize the program, then they should do it on a short-term basis that requires reporting before continuing,” he reasons. “I think there’s a real argument for looking at the program and saying, ‘Do we need it anymore?’ We addressed the 6 percent of housing [identified as ‘severely distressed’]. If we’re going to continue, we need to rethink what its purpose is.”
As housing-policy wonks debate urban-planning philosophies and income qualifications, the residents of Arthur
Capper/Carrollsburg project have a unified message for the administrators of public housing: Play it straight with the tenants.
Residents say they’ve never had a real say in what’s happening at Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg. Davis said he learned about HOPE VI by chance, after seeing some people crossing the street to a meeting.
It was a false bill of goods from the beginning, says 12-year resident Mary Robbins. “They lied to us,” she says. “They told us they were going to renovate…#not tear it down!” The public-input sessions are a sham, she adds. “They were telling us about our new community and what we would like in it, knowing full well it wouldn’t be our community: We won’t be here.”
Davis, who is on one of the project’s resident subcommittees at Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg, suggests that the DCHA confuses public comment with fait accompli. Two weeks ago, for example, he received a letter announcing the subject of the next subcommittee meeting: a blueprint for social services that had already been submitted for HUD approval six weeks before.
In their June report to Congress, HUD officials agreed that a failure to work well with others—namely, public-housing residents—is not unheard-of among housing authorities. “Baseline assessments of early HOPE VI revitalization projects revealed that a number of housing authorities actually discouraged resident involvement, while others only peripherally engaged residents in the development process,” reads the report.
Rowe insists that DCHA authorities have provided ample notice of everything that has been going on—through door-to-door canvassing and mailings. The social-services plan, he says, was based on resident focus groups, and in the interest of meeting the project timeline, it was passed along to HUD. It can still be altered, he says.
But Davis hasn’t given up. He and his group of concerned residents meet weekly. They want to ensure that everyone will be able to return, or at least have a safe place to live. “We’ll chain ourselves to buildings, sit on politicians’ doorsteps, whatever it takes,” says Davis.
Residents are experimenting with other forms of resistance as well. This summer, Frazier et al. got some 300 signatures on a petition against using a credit check as part of the readmission process. They have yet to show it to the DCHA. Frazier says they haven’t been given an opportunity to do so publicly, because the agenda at the public forums is so strictly controlled.
Rowe says the critics of HOPE VI in the neighborhood represent just a handful of voices. “There is a large segment of the population that is indifferent to what’s going on,” he says. Might that be because people believe that decisions have already been made for them? “That’s probably part of it,” but “there are people who actually work and have lives and really could care less.” CP
Sarah Godfrey contributed to this report.
Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photographs by Darrow Montgomery.
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Arthur Capper - History
Arthur Capper was an American politician from Kansas. He was the 20th Governor of Kansas from 1915 to 1919 and a United States Senator from 1919 to 1949.
Time in Office: January 11, 1915 - January 13, 1919
Born: July 14, 1865, Garnett, Kansas.
Died: December 19, 1951, Topeka, Kansas.
Republican publisher from Topeka.
Capper owned several newspapers and two radio stations. His best known newspaper was "Capper's weekly". "Capper's" continues today as a bimonthly glossy magazine that focuses on rural living.
He was also the son-in-law of former governor Samuel J. Crawford
Before his time as governor, he served as President of the Board of Regents of Kansas State Agricultural College (now known as Kansas State University) from 1910 to 1913. While in the United States Senate, he at times served as chairman of the Committee of Expenditures of the Department of Agriculture and the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. He also at times served as chairman of the Committee on Claims and the Committee on the District of Columbia. He co-sponsored the Capper-Volstead Act.
Arthur Capper - History
During the 1930s, Great Plains residents expressed an overwhelming sentiment for isolationism, including the variations of non-interventionism and neutrality. Like most Americans who felt betrayed by the European powers at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, which ended the Great War, many also agreed with Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota that the United States had been led to war in 1917 by the bankers, financiers, and munitions manufacturers solely for economic gain at the expense of thousands of American lives. Nye called the Great War "incorporated murder," and many men and women in the Great Plains agreed.
In 1938, When Germany annexed Austria and seized the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia, the people of the Great Plains expressed sympathy for the oppressed Europeans but nothing more. A year later, when Germany invaded Poland, Great Plains residents wanted to stay out of a new European war. The people of the Great Plains generally supported the Neutrality Act of 1936 which prohibited loans and credits to warring nations, except for ordinary commercial business. A year later, Congress amended the Neutrality Act, in part, to authorize the president to list certain goods that could be traded to belligerents on a cash-and-carry basis. The Neutrality Act of 1937 was hardly impartial because it favored Great Britain which had a large navy capable of protecting its merchant ships transporting goods from American ports. Even so, the people of the Great Plains hoped the act would keep the nation out of war.
In general, Great Plains leaders and their constituents voiced isolationist sentiments. Senator Lynn J. Frazier from North Dakota, like many Great Plains men and women, believed that only trouble could come from entangling alliances, collective security agreements, and international organizations, such as the League of Nations. Frazier also contended that military appropriations and preparedness could only lead to an international arms race that made war inevitable. Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas advocated his own brand of isolationism, but in contrast to Nye and Frazier, he considered himself an internationalist who opposed war. Capper supported trade agreements with Latin America but not Europe and Asia. His isolationism sprang from George Washington's admonition to avoid entangling alliances and Thomas Jefferson's embargo prior to the War of 1812. He opposed strengthening the army and navy because a military build up would lead to war. Capper argued that the United States needed the army and navy only for the defense of American shores. Capper did not believe that a new European war would endanger American security, as long as the nation remained truly neutral. Many Great Plains people agreed.
During the 1930s as Europe sped rapidly toward war, many representatives and senators from the Great Plains states adamantly spoke in favor of isolationism and, after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, non-interventionism and neutrality. Few people of the Great Plains gave much attention to Japanese expansion and militarism. Instead, their congressional representatives constantly made the case that isolationism, however, defined, meant staying out of European wars. A foreign policy based on isolationism, non-interventionism, or neutrality would protect the nation.
The following documents from the Congressional Record provide an overview of their isolationist sentiments and the support of their constituents. The examples focus on the congressional representatives from the central and northern Great Plains states which were the most isolationist in the region.
In March 1939, Representative Carl T. Curtis from Nebraska warned that Europe would soon be engaged in another major war. He argued that while Plains men and women and other Americans might be sympathetic to Great Britain and France which confronted a grave threat from Germany, the United States could not police the world. He also blamed the Roosevelt Administration for using the European crisis to deflect attention at home from more relevant problems such as low agricultural prices, unemployment, and economic recovery from the Great Depression.
A month later, Kansas Senator Arthur Capper presented the Senate with a number of letters from constituents urging him to do everything possible to keep the nation out of war. These letters are significant because they indicate strong feelings of isolationism among the people of the central Great Plains.
In April 1939, Representative Francis H. Case of South Dakota also presented a resolution from the American Legion urging Congress to avoid entangling alliances and pursue a foreign policy based on non-interventionism in the disputes of others.
After receiving nearly 1,000 petitions, some with multiple signatures urging neutrality and the avoidance of war, Senator Capper took the Senate floor on May 9, 1939, and made an impassioned speech for peace.
In June 1939, Representative William Lemke of North Dakota spoke against a resolution to revise the Neutrality Act because the proposed change would give the president too much power that he could use to lead the nation into war.
On July 18, 1939, little more than a month before Germany invaded Poland, North Dakota's Senator Nye provided the Christian Science Monitor with an article entitled "Can the United States Be Neutral? Yes If It Minds Its Own Business." Nye had his column added to the Congressional Record.
On September 30, 1939, only weeks after Germany invaded Poland, Representative Edward R. Burke of Nebraska delivered an address over the Columbia Broadcasting System which he had entered into the Congressional Record. Burke believed that the arms embargo of the Neutrality Act was unneutral. He advocated the sale of munitions on a cash-and-carry basis to any nation that could pay. American shipping and financing that could lead to war would not be involved, but all warring nations would be treated equally.
In mid-October 1939, Senators Edward Burke of Nebraska, William J. Bulow of South Dakota, and Burton K. Wheeler of Montana addressed the danger of repealing the arms embargo of the Neutrality Act and the danger of entering a new European war. In that discussion Senator Wheeler made the riveting remark that the American people "do not want to see the bodies of their boys hung on the Siegfried Line." The people of the Great Plains agreed.
At that time, Senator Lynn Frazier of North Dakota also opposed repealing the arms embargo of the Neutrality Act. He believed such action would enable the munitions manufacturers to commit the United States to war, just as they had in 1917.
On May 17, 1940, Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas made an impassioned speech over the National Broadcasting System which he had entered into the Congressional Record. Capper contended that the efforts of President Roosevelt to increase military preparedness and industrial production and to strengthen the national defense ultimately would lead to the entry of the United States into the European war. Intervention and war, he believed, would conclude with the end of democracy and the establishment of a dictatorship in America.
After the fall of France in June 1940 and Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union, the people of the Great Plains saw the danger of American entry into the war greater than ever before, and they used their congressional delegations to support neutrality, even isolationism, if such action would keep the peace. In November 1940, the Wichita Council of Churches urged Senator Capper to support their desire for the federal government to prohibit the sale of scrap iron, aviation fuel, and other war materiel to any nation that might go to war with the United States. Significantly, the Council noted Japan as a danger to the security of the United States.
As early as January 1941, some Great Plains residents saw war inevitable because President Roosevelt ignored their pleas for peace and to remain out of the European conflict. Representative J. Chandler Gurney of South Dakota entered editorials in the Congressional Record from the Yankton Press and Dakotan of January 6 and 7 in which the editor accused the president of making a "personal declaration of war" against Germany.
By early 1941, Congress debated the merits of the president's proposed Lend-Lease bill, which gave the president the authority to provide military aid to any country with payment in some form after hostilities ended. Many Great Plains men and women considered the Lend-Lease bill no less than another ruse by the Roosevelt Administration to commit the nation to war on behalf of Great Britain.
Representative Harry B. Coffee of Nebraska also opposed the Lend-Lease bill because it would give the president unprecedented power to commit the nation to war. In a January 13, 1941, editorial in the Omaha World Herald, he gave his reason for opposing the bill.
Representative Clifford Hope of Kansas opposed the Lend-Lease bill. Although he favored aid to Great Britain short of war, he believed the bill would enable the president to become a dictator and commit the nation to war.
In March 1941, Senator Frazier of North Dakota entered the following editorial that he had contributed to the Bismarck Tribune into the Congressional Record. Frazier vociferously opposed the Lend-Lease bill. Senator Nye supported Frazier's opinion but with more moderate language. Even so, he argued that the bill would eventually lead the United States to support the most aggressive and imperialistic country in history—Great Britain.
In May 1941, Senator Gerald Nye gave a radio address in which he attacked President Roosevelt's foreign policy and told his listeners that, "If we get into this war it will not be because the President tried to keep us out." A portion of his address follows.
By late summer 1941, many Great Plains residents feared that President Roosevelt would commit the nation to war more than they feared Germany. Japan still did not seem a major threat to them. Carl T. Curtis delivered the following address over the Columbia Broadcasting System on August 8, a portion of which follows. Curtis urged his listeners not to follow the war crowd primarily found in the Roosevelt Administration.
The December 7, 1941 attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war on the United States by German and Italy four days later destroyed all sentiments of isolationism, non-interventionism, and neutrality. The nation had been attacked. The people of the Great Plains had wanted peace, almost at any price, they now wanted revenge. Senator Arthur Capper expressed this sentiment in a rallying call for unity and commitment. He did so in a radio address entitled "A United Nation," which he delivered over the National Broadcasting System on December 29. A portion of that address follows.
In order to aid additional research on the isolationist, non-interventionist, and neutrality views expressed by congressional representatives and the people of the Great Plains, the following list of entries in the Congressional Record will provide easy access to the issues. The central and northern Great Plains states are emphasized to provide an example that will help researchers pursue the issues in greater depth for all of the Great Plains States. These citations for relevant reading are intended to be suggestive not comprehensive.
Gentrification: The New Manifest Destiny
A walk around Southeast DC’s Capitol Riverfront on any given day features a picturesque view of the progressive America that Martin Luther King Jr. only ever dreamed.
Down K Street, a group of neighborhood kids &mdash black, white and Asian &mdash race between the 3rd Place apartment houses to play hide-and-go-seek. On Tingey Street, young black professionals gossip about job opportunities under happy hour umbrellas. Just off Water Street, mixed-race families picnic on the Yards Park green while same-sex couples debate real-estate prices on the nearby boardwalk.
On first glance one might conclude that the Capitol Riverfront is a pristine melting pot of black, white, Asian and Hispanic &mdash a successful example of DC efforts to redevelop the area into a mixed-income community.
“Some call it gentrification. I call it finally waking up,” said Rodger Gairy, the black manager of Agua 301, as he motioned to a party of more than 50 Chinese people dining in the restaurant’s outdoor seating area. Such business, he said, would have never been possible when the streets were lined with stripper bars and dead warehouse clubs.
But undressed, the evolution of this utopia reveals a pattern of heathenish American history: exploit, dilute, repeat.
Far from DC’s urban landscape, tribal leaders often refer to the indigenous experience as being an invisible minority in the eyes of the government &mdash that is until the government finds something it can take.
Competition over land and resources is an inherent tale as old as humanity itself. When the United States decided it needed to expand west to accommodate the growing population of its 13 colonies, the term “Manifest Destiny” was coined in 19th century newspapers that advertised “Indian Land For Sale.”
Individual treaties and broad legislation, such as the Indian Removal Act, sealed the indentured fate of the country’s indigenous inhabitants. Entire societies were forcibly removed from their flourishing homelands. Their cultures were interrupted and identities stripped as they were coerced to assimilate into a world beyond their means.
The Apache are the latest targets of exploitation, after Senator John McCain sold 807 acres of the tribe’s ceremonial and burial land to a foreign-owned copper mining company. McCain attached the government protected conservation land, known as Oak Flat, to the must-pass December 2014 defense bill and inflated his campaign contributions in the process.
Today, this thinking continues as historic black communities are uprooted and displaced in the name of city beautification.
While the Housing Act of 1954 intended to revive “unsafe and unhealthful” neighborhoods, in DC it focused mainly on disbanding the black community in the Southwest. Thriving families were forced to relinquish their homes and businesses and relocate to low-income housing at the Navy Yard.
Nearly 50 years later, their history was relived.
The Arthur Capper and Carrollsburg housing units were demolished as a part of DC Housing Authority’s Hope VI program, which transformed the Navy Yard to the flourishing and colorful Capitol Riverfront that stands today. In the ruins lay another community torn apart, another culture destroyed, to make way for the new world.
Like the country’s original inhabitants, residents of the former Arthur Capper and Carollsburg community live with their bodies in the present and their hearts in the past. The loss of the community is so relevant to those who were displaced that residents have created a website in homage to the former community. The website features memorials to dead loved ones and remembrances of the community. Some use it to stay connected by posting life updates and planning community day reunions.
“It was historic in itself, but rundown,” said Gairy, who worked in the neighborhood before its transition and has watched it transform. While he felt the neighborhood has lost its character and history, he also conceived that the previous community was too willing to settle for living in depressed conditions.
A similar mindset plagues tribal people who live on reservations. For them, community is more important than condition.
“Shinnecock is about community participation. It’s what sets us apart,” said Terrell Terry, a Tribal Trustee of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in New York.
The tribe’s 1200-acre reservation is all that’s left after 400-years of encroachment by Southampton Town. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 60 percent of Shinnecock citizens live below the national poverty line compared to only 11 percent in the neighboring Southampton Village.
But history dictates that communities that are powerlessly committed as wards of the state have no say in their ultimate fate. According to the 2007 documentary “Chocolate City,” which chronicled the Arthur Gables community at the time of its displacement, one resident said the fine print in the relocation documents said that residents would have to meet 60 percent of DC’s medium income to be eligible for the new low-income housing. However, most residents were working poor and barely met 10 percent.
Although Gairy is impressed with the neighborhood changes, he is disappointed at the city’s tactic of moving the community out to rebuild.
Of the original 707 low-income housing units, only 515 have been replaced in the midst of more than 5,000 mixed-income residential units planned on the Capitol Riverfront. DC Housing Authority blames the recession, but Gairy thinks that it’s all a part of a larger ploy to keep the neighborhood demographics in check.
In 2000, the neighborhood was 54 percent black and 40 percent white. Today, the neighborhood is 55 percent white and 37 percent black. In addition to medium income requirements, strict housing policies that mandate background checks have made it nearly impossible for former residents to reclaim their homes.
Meanwhile, those who are familiar with the former community are left to reconcile its ghosts. For tribal people, this is usually the final stage in the process, otherwise known as forced assimilation. For Gairy, his sentiment reflects the same:
SUBSCRIBE NOW KSNT Breaking News Alerts
TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Capper Foundation, 3500 SW 10th Ave., hosted a “double” celebration on Tuesday. In 2020, Senator Arthur Capper would have celebrated his 155 th birthday and the Capper Foundation is celebrating their 100 th Anniversary.
Capper Foundation CEO, Jim Leiker, said “Arthur Capper had birthday parties for 42 years on July 14th. They were huge events, sometimes 20,000 plus people would show up.”
Arthur Capper was born in Garnett, Kansas on July 14, 1865, Capper rose to fame as a journalist, publisher and founder of several local media outlets. Capper was Kansas Governor (1915-1919) and U.S. Senator (1919-1949).
In 1908 Arthur Capper began holding annual birthday celebrations on or near July 14 th . This tradition continued for 42 years. The day included a free carnival, pony rides, games, free ice cream and refreshments for all. As many as 20,000 people attended these events. Capper Foundation has continued this tradition throughout the years to bring people together, to help create a more inclusive world, to build awareness and support of our programs and services.
Arthur Capper’s lasting legacy is Capper Foundation, founded 100 years ago on Christmas Day 1920, when he vowed to “do more for the children.” Today, the Capper services extend across the lifespan, helping infants, children, teens and adults living with disabilities enjoy access, independence and opportunities to advance their hopes and dreams.
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Arthur CAPPER, Congress, KS (1865-1951)
CAPPER Arthur , a Senator from Kansas born in Garnett, Anderson County, Kans., July 14, 1865 attended the common schools learned the art of printing and subsequently became a newspaper reporter owner and publisher of the Topeka Daily Capital, Capper's Weekly, Capper's Farmer, the Household Magazine, and other publications owner of two radio stations president of the board of regents, Kansas Agricultural College 1910-1913 founded The Capper Foundation, Topeka, Kans., in 1920 unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Kansas in 1912 Governor of Kansas 1915-1919 elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 1918 reelected in 1924, 1930, 1936, and again in 1942 and served from March 4, 1919, to January 3, 1949 was not a candidate for renomination in 1948 chairman, Committee on Expenditures in the Department of Agriculture (Sixty-sixth Congress), Committee on Claims (Sixty-seventh and Sixty-eighth Congresses), Committee on District of Columbia (Sixty-ninth through Seventy-second Congresses), Committee on Agriculture and Forestry (Eightieth Congress) returned to Topeka, Kans., and continued publishing business died in Topeka, Kans., December 19, 1951 interment in Topeka Cemetery.