Page of 155The Fish and Game Stamps of Marion County, Kansasby David R. Torre, ARAIntroductionThe non-pictorial stamps issued by Marion County, Kansas, have long held a fascination for advanced collectors and students of ﬁsh and game stamps. Over ﬁfty years ago it was ﬁrst reported that Marion County might have issued the ﬁrst local ﬁsh and game stamps in the United States (Janousek, 1959). Since that time, a relative lack of published information about the stamps and the area where they were used has prevented the stamps from enjoying widespread popularity. The same can be said for many other ﬁsh and game stamps, aside from pictorial waterfowl stamps. The purpose of this article is to tell the story of the Marion County stamp program and to provide descriptions of stamps which were previously unrecorded. It is hoped that this knowledge might enhance the appreciation of longtime collectors for this interesting segment of ﬁsh and game philately and, perhaps, encourage prospective new collectors to take a closer look at these stamps.Information about the stamps was ﬁrst published in The American Revenuer in 1959. In his “State Game Hunting and Fishing Revenue Stamps” column, pioneer ﬁsh and game collector Joseph J. Janousek provided a description of Marion County’s ﬁrst two ﬁshing stamps, which he reported as being issued for 1939-40 and 1940-41 (see Figure 1), as well as ﬁshing and duck stamps issued from the mid 1950s through 1958-59. Janousek stated that no information was available on ﬁshing stamps issued from 1941-1955 or duck stamps issued from 1939-1953. No mention of the stamps was made in [Frank L.] Applegate’s Catalogue of State and Territorial Game and Fishing License Stamps, which was published by the noted state revenue dealer in the early 1960s. FIGURE 1. THE FIRST TWO MARION COUNTY FISHING STAMPS WERE RECORDED BY JOSEPH JANOUSEK IN 1959. THE FIRST STAMP WAS VALID FOR JUST OVER ONE MONTH BEGINNING MAY 26, 1940.Page of 255The early 1970s brought about a relative explosion in published information. In his Kansas State Revenue Catalogue, Charles J. Bellinghausen provided descriptions of four early stamps not recorded by Janousek. These were the 1943 and 1944 duck stamps and the 1944-45 and 1953-54 ﬁshing stamps (see Figure 2). FIGURE 2. IN 1972 CHARLES BELLINGHAUSEN RECORDED FOUR ADDITIONAL EARLY STAMPS IN HIS KANSAS STATE REVENUE CATALOGUE. THE 1943 STAMP IS THE FIRST TRUE “DUCK STAMP” ISSUED IN THE US.Just previous to the catalogue being published, fellow Kansas specialist Hugh L. Smiley informed Bellinghausen that remainders of most of the stamps issued from 1954 through 1970 were still kept in a box at the Marion County courthouse (Smiley, H.L., 1991). With the remainders to study, Bellinghausen was able to provide detailed descriptions and illustrations of the stamps and recorded many signiﬁcant printing varieties including the popular “Dusk” error of 1969 (see Figure 3). In a separate publication, Compound Roulettes of the Marion County Fish and Duck Stamps, Bellinghausen described rouletting variations and combinations which he discovered on many of the remainders. FIGURE 3. BELLINGHAUSEN RECORDED MANY CONSTANT PRINTING VARIETIES INCLUDING THE “DUSK” ERROR OF 1969 WHICH IS FOUND IN POSITION EIGHT ON THE TEN STAMP PANES.Page of 355In 1973 E. L. Vanderford’s Handbook of Fish and Game Stamps was published. This invaluable reference covered the stamps in additional detail and provided descriptions of six early stamps which were previously unrecorded. These were the 1946 and 1947 duck stamps which had been discovered by the legendary stamp dealer Gilson Willets of Flying Horse Stamp Company fame (Vanderford, 1991), as well as the 1950 and 1951 duck stamps and the 1950-51 and 1951-52 ﬁshing stamps which had been reported by revenue specialist Dr. Kenneth Pruess (see Figure 4). Vanderford also provided descriptions of ﬁshing and duck stamps issued in 1971 and 1972. FIGURE 4. E. L. VANDERFORD’S HANDBOOK OF FISH AND GAME STAMPS WAS PUBLISHED IN 1973 AND LISTED SIX EARLY STAMPS NOT RECORDED BY JANOUSEK OR BELLINGHAUSEN. THE 1946 AND 1947 DUCK STAMPS WERE DISCOVERED AND INSCRIBED “KANSAS” BY FAMED STAMP DEALER GILSON WILLETS.Page of 455In 1977 Vanderford’s Checklist of State and Locally Issued Migratory Waterfowl Hunting License Stamps was published and included a description of the 1973 duck stamp (see Figure 5). Already a collector of federal waterfowl stamps for many years, the check list would have a profound effect on my life. It was at this time that I ﬁrst became interested in learning more about (and soon enjoyed collecting) non pictorial waterfowl stamps. I began to check them off. FIGURE 5. 1973 MARION COUNTY DUCK REPORTED BY VANDERFORD IN 1977.In the 1980s, after becoming especially intrigued with the stamps issued by Marion County, Kansas, I began to make pilgrimages there in search of previously unrecorded stamps and new information. It turned out to be a marvelous treasure hunt. With each new discovery I felt more compelled to write this article and share what I had learned. So here we go…I found the town of Marion charming and the people very friendly. The lake was still picturesque and unspoiled. As a result of my avid interest in the stamps and their history I found it all captivating. New friends and other contacts made over the years would occasionally locate a license or two or perhaps a loose stamp. However, on two separate trips amazing new ﬁnds were made.J.E. Mullikin was the ﬁrst Marion County Park and Lake Supervisor. I was introduced to a woman who was the caretaker and housekeeper for the Mulliken family. When relatives cleaned out Mullikin’s house in 1992, they apparently saw no value in the stamps, licenses and records he had saved. Everything was boxed up and brought to the curb for collection. The caretaker had a deep attachment to the family and retrieved some of the items from the boxes to keep as mementos, including Mullikin’s personal hunting and ﬁshing licenses. Mullikin’s licenses were incredible. They bore many previously unrecorded stamps and would soon become a part of ﬁsh and game lore.After meeting with the woman she allowed me to purchase most of the licenses that served as the basis for this article. After the article was originally published in 1993, she contacted me again. She was quite pleased with the ﬁnished product and informed me that she had found another box containing additional licenses and some unused stamps. This second group of items forms the basis for much of the updated portion of this article and for our collaboration I will always be grateful. Is is safe to say that without her vigilance and foresight, many of the early Marion County stamps would never have been recorded and I could not have told their story in such a deﬁnitive way.Page of 555The second remarkable ﬁnd came about after knocking on the door of John Waner, the person who succeeded Mulliken as Park and Lake Supervisor. I shall recount this afternoon in detail later in the article. Along with the stamps from both these ﬁnds I was eventually able to list and describe all of the Marion County waterfowl stamps except for the one from 1952 in the 3rd edition of my Catalog of U.S. Non-Pictorial Waterfowl Stamps (Torre, 1999). Today, a great deal more is known about both the Marion County stamps and the area where they were used. Some of the more important facts concerning the stamps are as follows:1.In 1940, three years after Kansas became the ﬁrst state government to issue a ﬁsh and game stamp with one required to hunt quail in 1937, Marion County became the ﬁrst local government to issue a ﬁsh and game stamp in the U.S. (see Figures 1,19 and 20) with one required for ﬁshing (Marion County Record of Sports Licenses).2.Second only to those issued by the State of Ohio for Pymatuning Lake in 1938, Marion County became the ﬁrst local government to issue a ﬁsh and game stamp in the U.S. (see Figures 1, 19 and 20) with one required for ﬁshing (Marion County Record of Sports Licenses)..3.In 1941 Marion County ﬁrst issued a waterfowl stamp (Marion County Sports License Records), and surviving examples rank second only to Ohio’s 1937 stamp for Pymatuning Lake as the earliest state or local waterfowl stamps on record (see Figure 6). 4.The 1943 duck stamp recorded by Bellinghausen is now known to be the ﬁrst stamp issued by any government in the world to bear that inscription (see Figure 2). It may further surprise collectors to know that since that time only the states of California and Nevada have joined Marion County in issuing true “duck stamps.”5.The Marion County Waterfowl stamps are the longest consecutively issued series of waterfowl stamps by any state or local government in the twentieth century (1941-1973).6.In December of 2014, over forty years after the series was discontinued, the ﬁnal unrecorded Marion County stamp was discovered and recorded for philatelists by Michael Jaffe – the 1952 stamp for duck hunting. FIGURE 6. THE FIRST COUNTY WATERFOWL STAMP WAS ISSUED IN 1941. NOTE THAT “WATER FOWL” IS TYPESET IN TWO WORDS.Page of 655Marion County Park and LakeMarion County is located in central Kansas, with the county seat of Marion being approximately 43 miles northeast of Wichita (see Figure 7). Two famous trails dating back to the early days of westward expansion intersect in Marion County. Thousands of head of cattle were driven north along the Chisholm Trail through the county on their way from Texas to Abilene, while traders and settlers followed the Santa Fe Trail west through the county on their way from St. Louis to Mexico and later New Mexico. The ﬁrst settlement is reported to have been made in Marion County in 1860. During the 1870s the county was located on the edge of the western frontier and attracted a large number of European immigrants, mainly Dutch and German, to its fertile land. Soon after the county became known as a thriving agricultural area (Van Meter, 1972). FIGURE 7. MAP OF MARION COUNTY, KANSASPage of 755In the early 1930s local residents, including many sportsmen, became interested in building a recreational park featuring a lake. A park committee was formed in 1935 whose goal was to produce “a recreational center that cannot be excelled anywhere in the country” (Marion Record, March 30, 1939). The federal government agreed to cover virtually all of the costs, presumably as a ﬂood control project and as a way to put people to work following the great depression. A site was chosen 3 miles southeast of Marion. Plans for the dam were drawn by the Kansas State Fish and Game Commission and approved by the Division of Water Resources of the State Department of Agriculture. Construction began in February of 1936 (see Figure 8). The dam, spillway and stilling basin which created the lake were built by 200-300 “combined colored veteran and junior members” of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp supervised by the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) branch of the federal government (Marion Record, March 30, 1939). FIGURE 8. TOP LEFT: MEMBERS OF THE CCC WITH MARION COUNTY RESIDENTS. TOP RIGHT: CONSTRUCTION ON THE DAM AND SPILLWAY. BOTTOM: THE DAM AND SPILLWAY ARE COMPLETED.The county park committee worked with the Marion County Board of Commissioners, the SCS and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to bring the project to completion in 1939. When ﬁnished, the new recreational center named Marion County Park and Lake featured an 80 acre lake 35 feet deep at the dam, 39 concrete picnic tables, a golf course, a baseball diamond, tennis courts, shufﬂeboard courts, a roller skating rink, croquet grounds and a ﬂy casting course (Marion Record, May 23, 1940).Page of 855Jerry E. Mullikin, a former-peace ofﬁcer who had a lifelong interest in ﬁsh and game conservation, was selected by the board of commissioners as the ﬁrst Park and Lake Supervisor (Marion Record, March 30, 1939), and the park was opened on a limited basis for boating and picnicking before the end of 1939. Fishing was intended to be the primary attraction of the park and during its three years of construction the lake had been stocked with 80,000 ﬁsh (Van Meter, 1972 and Waner, 1992). These included bass, crappie, channel cat, bluegill and striped perch (see Figure 9).
FIGURE 9. PETE SHAMBRON (FOREGROUND WITH CAP) AND OTHERS
STOCKING THE LAKE WITH FISH PRIOR TO OPENING DAY.It was announced that at 5:30 a.m. on May 26, 1940, a starting gun would be ﬁred to signal the ofﬁcial opening of the lake to ﬁshermen (Marion Record, may, 1940). This was a widely anticipated event (see ﬁgure 10), and by early morning on the 26th 10,000 people had jammed the park and 2,000 licensed ﬁshermen from 35 countries and 8 states lined the banks of the lake. To put this in perspective, the population of the town of Marion numbered about 2,000 and the entire county about 20,000 at the time. According to an excerpt from the front page of the local newspaper, the Marion Record, “when the starting bomb exploded promptly at 5:30, hundreds of ﬁshers lining almost all available spots about the lake were poised with hooks baited, ﬂy rods ready or cane poles strung up waiting for the sound and the water’s top was immediately lashed with the plunk of hundreds of lures, minnows, shrimp tails, gobs of melt and squirming angle worms” (Marion Record, may 30, 1940).Page of 955 FIGURE 10. THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE LAKE ON MAY 26, 1940 WAS A WIDELY ANTICIPATED EVENT.Next >