Kansas Day Celebration includes Historic tools from Cloud County

photo of dedication ceremony participants

left to right: Representative Elaine Bowers, Auctioneer Greg Askren, Dr. John & Bonnie Ferguson and Senator Mark Taddiken.

Topeka - The state of Kansas celebrated its 150th birthday with many activities throughout the state including many held in the Topeka and the Capitol during the week of January 24th. On Friday, Governor Brownback unveiled the newest US postal Kansas stamp - the 1st state in the nation with its own forever stamp and then signed a proclamation declaring January 29, 2011 as the Sesquicentennial of Kansas Statehood. He said from the steps of the Statehouse - “Each generation of Kansans and the successive waves of immigrants who moved here have maintained the rugged courage to meet every challenge and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles with humanity and optimism.” At a 1:00 ceremony, tools used to build the Capitol owned by Nels Ferguson, a Swedish immigrant, were revealed for the first time to the public in Topeka. Bonnie and Doc Ferguson, the Grandson of Nels, unveiled an exhibit on the 1st floor rotunda at the Capitol of stone masonry tools which were used to help construct the Kansas Capitol building in the 1870s. The plaque inside the display reads:
Capitol Stonemason Tools: These tools were used between 1879 and 1882 by Swedish immigrant Nels Ferguson when he helped construct the Kansas capitol. Ferguson also helped build the Topeka State Hospital. Ferguson came to the US in 1869 and worked in several states before settling in Topeka in 1879. His fiancĂ©, Bentga, arrived from Sweden in September of that year and they married five days later. Nels and Bengta bought land in Jewell County and moved there in 1882 to farm. Nels used his skills to build a stone farmhouse for his growing family. Ferguson was proud of his work on the statehouse, passing down his story and these tools through generations of his family. The tools most recently were owned by Nels’ grandson, Dr. John R. Ferguson of Clyde, Kansas. In 2010, Kansas State Senator Mark Taddiken and State Representative Elaine Bowers acquired the tools from Dr. Ferguson and donated them to the Kansas Historical Society.
These tools, which hung in the Ferguson’s Clyde Kansas home for decades include a plumb bob, wooden level, float and a pry bar and were authenticated by the staff at the Kansas Historical Society. A Senate Resolution and House Certificate were given to the entire Ferguson Family to recognize and commend the family for preserving Nels Ferguson's masonry tool collection and to recognize the historic impact of the Ferguson family's preservation of a significant part of Kansas history. The tools will permanently remain in the collections of the Society's Kansas Museum of History and be displayed in the Kansas State Capitol for visitors of all ages to enjoy.