Recalling important connections

Q: If I am digging around in my belly button, can it twist open? -- From a young patron.

A: If you are trying to get out of cleaning your belly button, I am sorry to say no, it cannot unravel and open up.

Your belly button is just a scar left from where your umbilical cord connected you to your mother.

The umbilical cord is what gave your body nutrients and oxygen as you were growing in her belly.

It is just a little reminder of how important your mother is!

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Q: Alton originally was called Bull City. I heard that is because they kept a bull elk there. Is that true? -- From a patron.

A: True, a bull elk is part of the history of Alton, but that is not where the name came from.

According to the Blue Skyways website, supported by the Kansas State Library (, two men -- Gen. Hiram C. Bull and Lyman T. Earl -- "came to a wide valley, at a big bend in the river, with bluffs to the south, and thought this would make a beautiful setting for a town."

Earl lost the chance at a namesake in a coin toss to his partner and, in September 1870, Bull City was founded.

In 1879, a pet elk killed Gen. Bull and two other people, and the townspeople soon began talking about changing the name.

According to the website, "A Mrs. Clark from Alton, Ill., allowed no one would consider coming to a town having such a vulgar name."

In October 1885, Alton was incorporated.

Eric Norris is the director at the Hays Public Library. "Ask Eric" questions can be mailed to 1205 Main, Hays, KS, 67601, submitted through at the "Ask Eric" link or emailed to