Ellis County Historical Society Museum and Stone Church - Hays, Kansas
The Ellis County Historical Society Museum was forced to close due to water and mold on August 1, 2019. The offices, photo collections and archive materials were moved to 1111 East 30th. Appointments can be made at (785) 628-2624 to tour the Volga German House, Fire Museum and portions of the main building.
The Ellis County Historical Society Museum in Hays, Kansas is very nicely done. The displays are attractive and professional looking, with descriptions which tell about the items on exhibit, their context and how they relate to other items.
I was blown away by the work of Ellis County's renaissance man, Justis Bissing Jr., who was a Volga German immigrant who came to Hays in the latter half of the 19th Century. He was primarily an architect and entrepreneur, but he was also an fabulous cabinet maker. The piece which impressed me the most was a 6' tall "Apostle" clock with incredible detail. Using only a foot powered jigsaw, he spent years working on the clock which is constructed from seven woods and has four tubular chimes, two brass clock works, and eleven electric lamps that light up when the clock chimed. I wish it was running!
Several historic buildings have been moved to the museum grounds. They include the Stone Church, the Younker Harness Shop. a replica Volga German Haus, and the Hays Fire Department Museum (which was not open during our visit). The historical society also provides walking tour brochures which allow visitors to explore the streets of historic downtown Hays on their own.
copyright 2014-2021 by Keith Stokes