HAVILAND — The Konkel Place, a well-known hog-farm on the edge of Haviland that has been part of the annual Southwest Kansas Antique Engine and Thresher Show for more than 30 years, was originally a place where champion spotted Poland China hogs were raised and good family values established.
For Wayne Konkel, 86, of Pratt, the large, two-story, multibedroom, 120-year-old home on the west edge of the property was where many happy memories were made.
"My favorite memories are sitting around the dinner table," Konkel said. "It was a bigger table back then, all 12 of us could sit around it. We always ate together as a family, and we had some lively conversations."
Konkel was the second to last of 10 children born to Dale and Gertrude Konkel in Kiowa County.
"The house was always very special to us, and we helped take good care of it because my dad bought it from the Bible college and gave it as a gift to my mother, because she already had 10 children to raise," Konkel said. "We loved the house."
On Saturday, August 24, many Konkel descendants were in town for the final SWKS Antique Engine and Thresher Show, billed as a farewell to the 55-year-running festival that has celebrated old-fashioned farming methods, visiting in the shade and listening to old engines putt and purr. The Konkel house, which stands empty for the rest of the year, was open Saturday to tours, and it was something of a grand-central station for grandchildren, great-grandchildren, even great-great grandchildren of the original Konkel family.
"Me and my sister, Marthena, are the only ones left of the kids that grew up here," Wayne Konkel said. "But we have nieces, nephews and their kids and grandkids out here enjoying what is part of their history and heritage."
According to Konkel, family members, descendants of Margaret, Faye, Maybelle, Johnny, Marcheta, JoAnn, Ed, Frank, Wayne and Marthena came from near and far, including Wichita, Kansas City, California and Nebraska this weekend. With the engine club halting their annual shows, it was uncertain if the Konkel house would ever again be open to the public for a look into what once was and how things used to be.
"We had a bathtub upstairs with a water closet," Konkel said. "For us, that was really something. We had a stock tank up there that was filled by the windmill. It was all good until it froze in the winter. Then we had washtubs in the kitchen to bath in where it was warmer."
Another surprise is the 943 dolls that line the walls of one of the girls' bedrooms, also upstairs.
"They've been counted," Konkel said. "They belong to Ed's daughter, my niece Trella. There's all kinds in there."
For a house that held 10 growing boys and girls, the Konkel house is in pretty good shape. Some family members are hoping to work out a plan that will open it in the future as a museum. Until then, it continues to be a storage place of antique furnishings and a place which elicits good memories for many who pass through its doors.