Community Builders: A Founding Father
The travelling exhibit The Way We Worked by the Smithsonian is about showcasing how Americans have worked through the years. The exhibit shows what changes have occurred in the workforce in America from the mid-19th century and the late 20th century. Just like America, Goodland’s workforce and community have changed as well. The county was founded in 1886 and prospered because of individuals who believed in the town. George L. Calvert was one such individual who helped organize the town of Goodland from the ground up.
George L. Calvert was born on October 26, 1863 to Israel Calvert and Maria Kackley on the Calvert Plantation around Winchester in Frederick County Virginia. His grandfather was a staunch supporter of the Country’s independence from England and his father was known as a man of great enterprise who built the first Macdam road across the Allegheny Mountains.
Calvert received his education in Frederick County Virginia and stayed on the plantation until twenty-one when he moved to Oberlin Kansas in 1885. In 1886 he transferred his homestead to Sherman County by paying $1.25 an acre and acquiring title without the process of residence. His homestead was four miles northwest of present day Goodland.
Prior to Goodland being named the County Seat in 1887 Calvert was already an influential member helping establish the town of Goodland. He assumed many responsibilities regarding public life in the community including being a successful attorney
and was very knowledgeable regarding real estate and land law. In the early years of settling in Sherman County he studied law and helped located settlers, made timber ventures and gathered knowledge of land title law. In 1892 he was appointed the local emigration agent for the Rock Island Railway and due to this job and his own initiative he is credited with bringing more permanent settlers to Sherman County than any other. In November 1889 he was admitted to the bar and opened a law office in Goodland that same year.Calvert helped organize the town of Goodland, attended county, state, and congressional democratic conventions, and served as the assistant sergeant at arms during the Baltimore National Convention of 1912. In 1902 he served as police judge and justice of the peace and from 1904-1908 served as probate judge. Also in 1904 he was elected as the county attorney and in 1908 as Goodland’s attorney. He was an active member in the Mason’s, Elks and other organizations.
He loved Western Kansas so much that he would advertise in Midwest and Eastern newspapers to entice people to move to Goodland. Calvert also had businesses in Omaha Nebraska and Limon and Denver Colorado. He was a big supporter of the agricultural side of Sherman County and would always have farmers from around the area display their best crops in his windows. This helped make his business the spot where people would gather after the work day to talk about the problems facing them and the good things that were yet to come.
In 1892 Calvert married Etta Allen and together they had four children; Bessie, Opal Virginia, Leonard B. and Allen G. During Calvert’s life he strove to make Goodland a great place to live. He was one of our town’s founding fathers and never let the conditions get him down. He was appointed to several top ranking positions and was always helping settlers new to the county. Calvert was constantly advertising Goodland and Sherman County to keep it one of the top counties in the state of Kansas.
Look for more articles in this series of Community Builders and tell us about an individual you knew that helped build our community on our Facebook page.
Tell us your own work story and mark December 15th on your calendar to see how Americans have worked over the decades at “The Way We Worked” Smithsonian exhibit. “The Way We Worked” Kansas tour is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program. Support for “The Way We Worked” Kansas tour has been provided by the Ross and Marianna Beach Foundation, the Western Kansas Community Foundation, and Jostens. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress. To find out more information visit the High Plains Museum and find us online (highplainsmuseum.org).