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Riches and Rags, Entrepreneur Stories

Kittie Hays of the Santa Fe Road

Council Grove, Kansas Territory, was an exciting place in the mid-1800s. And Kittie Hays Houghton, adopted daughter of lifelong bachelor, trader, and frontiersman Seth Millington Hays, was at the center of it all as a child underfoot in the busy trading post. Aunt Sally, a free woman, cared for the little girl as if she were her own while working alongside Seth in the trading post business on the Santa Fe Road. Constantly underfoot, Kittie collected stories of the men, oxen and mules who moved the heavy freight to and from Santa Fe, the Kaw tribe's last years before being removed to Oklahoma Territory, and the Westport entrepreneurs who partnered with Seth including James Hamilton and Colonel A.G. Boone.Later, she would be sent to boarding schools near Westport, lose her adoptive family and discover at the age of eighteen that all the wealth intended as her inheritance was gone.   Boone.

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The Fashion Revolution of Nelly Don 

The fifth daughter in a large Irish Catholic family, Nell Quinlan of Parsons, Kansas, discovered a talent for converting dowdy hand-me-downs into pretty frocks. To her sewing skills she added a talent for business and a wise first marriage to create the Nelly Don fashion brand which revolutionized women’s ready to wear clothing. 

Of course, that’s only part of Nell’s story. She became a mother under mysterious circumstances, was kidnapped, held for ransom and then rescued by Johnny Lazio, the organized mob boss of Kansas City. Nell's second husband was the controversial mayor, attorney, presidential candidate and retired U.S. Senator next door, Mr. James A. Reed.

Other programs include:

From the Kanza Prairie to the White House 

(Permelia Hubbard Curtis), paternal grandmother of the little Indian boy who would become Vice President of the United States. Charles Curtis was raised by his grandmothers. One grandmother could trace her lineage to the 1532 landing of the Good Ship Elizabeth on the shores of New England. The other traced her lineage to Chief White Hair (Pawhuska) of the Osage people and Chief White Plume of the Kanza people.  Both grandmothers pushed Indian Charlie to leave behind his early success as a jockey to get an education. Which life would he choose? 


Sewing Gold Threads over Blue Stars 

Postmistress Lorene "Myrt" Weeks knew the intimate details of her small community during World War II as four classmates from Bushong High School enlisted and trained together in preparation for their mission at Normandy Beach. With only 125 residents, what becomes of this small community with the highest D-Day casualties per capita in the nation? Myrt reflects on the long year of waiting for notifications. This is the story of the homefront - familes, sweethearts and blue stars sewn over with gold threads.

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About the Presenter: 

Historical performer Kitty Hamilton presents her characters in the Chautauqua style. Her other projects include writing and self-publishing including two books on the life of Charles Curtis. She has also written an original script based on the homefront during our country’s most recent conflict in Iraq. She is a mother, grandmother, Realtor and formerly self-employed entrepreneur living on what was once Kanza tribal lands near Council Grove. Her degree is in Economics, cum laude, from Emporia State University.

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Accuracy and Entertainment
Very Reasonable Fees
Negotiated on a contract-by-contract basis


Contact information: 

Kitty Hamilton 
3229 Road K
Allen, KS 66833
(620) 528-3465
cell (785)422-8501


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