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Glenn Stockwell Collection

Manuscript Collection No. 81

See Glenn Stockwell's digitized correspondence at: http://www.kansasmemory.org/item/305572


Glenn Stockwell, a leading opponent of construction of Tuttle Creek dam, assembled a collection of papers relating to that controversy and to general issues of conservation and flood control. Included in the collection are four boxes of correspondence, speeches, reports, and other items dating from 1944 to 1958. The bulk of the material is from 1951 and 1952. The collection was donated to the Kansas State Historical Society in 1964 by Stockwell’s daughter, Mrs. Gretchen Dreith. There are no restrictions on its use.


Glenn Dale Stockwell, Sr., (1901-1964) was a life-long resident of the Blue River Valley. His family farm in the vicinity of Randolph and Leonardville was homesteaded in 1847 by his wife’s German grandparents and was near the area to be flooded by Tuttle Creek Dam. Stockwell graduated from Kansas State College (now Kansas State University) with a degree in agricultural economics and prided himself on his knowledge of good farming methods. His father, Albert Lee Stockwell, was also a farmer and had received the first farm loan from the Federal Land Bank in Wichita.

Scope and Content

Initial studies, proposals, and Congressional authorization for Tuttle Creek Dam date from the 1930s, and, in 1944, it was included in the Pick-Sloan Plan for dams throughout the Missouri River basin. Opposition to the dam developed in the early 1940s. By 1948 the Blue Valley Study Association had organized to urge that smaller dams be built upstream instead of the big dam at Tuttle Creek. When unusually heavy rains caused major floods in Kansas in July 1951, advocates of Tuttle Creek Dam pushed for its immediate funding and construction. Opponents of the dam also intensified their efforts. They too sought better flood protection, but they argued that a dam like Tuttle Creek would have done little to lessen the 1951 flooding which they felt was caused by rains below the dam site.

In July 1951, Glenn Stockwell became president of the Blue Valley Study Association and began to coordinate opposition to the dam. Several new organizations were formed, including the Blue River Watershed Association and the Kansas Watershed Association. Through late 1951 and early 1952, residents along the Blue River and their growing number of allies concentrated on publicizing the problems with the plans and actions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and putting forth alternative plans for flood control. Newspaper and magazine coverage was supplemented by radio broadcasts, slides and a film. When the Corps moved into the valley before money for the dam was appropriated, opponents were able to stop funding for the following year. By January 1952 sufficient concern had surfaced for President Harry S. Truman to appoint the Missouri Valley Survey Commission to review flood control projects throughout the region. Nonetheless, in July 1952, supporters of the dam were able to get funding through Congress when opponents were absent, and construction on the dam began.

Glenn Stockwell and his co-workers continued to publicize their story while experimenting with other tactics. They investigated the possibility of a lawsuit against the federal government and hired Payne Ratner, Sr., to prepare a brief. They campaigned against U.S. Representative Albert Cole whom they felt had betrayed them on the issue of the dam and elected a Democrat, Howard Miller, as their representative. Given the traditional Republican allegiance of the district and the widespread support for Eisenhower, this upset drew considerable attention. They also urged that an evaluation of the various proposals for the Blue River be made by an impartial engineering firm, and, in the fall of 1952, they persuaded Kansas Governor Edward Arn to sponsor such a study. However, despite negative reports on plans for the Tuttle Creek Dam from both the Missouri Basin Survey Commission and from the governor’s study, construction continued. Residents of the Blue Valley continued their opposition, electing Republican William Avery to Congress in 1954 on an anti-dam platform. Once the dam was underway, they fought attempts to de-emphasize its use for flood control in favor of water use projects. Gradually, however, interest shifted from local issues to more general water policy measures such as watershed protection legislation.

In addition to being concerned over the loss of rich farm land and the destruction of stable communities, Stockwell and his co-workers viewed the proposed dam as the focal point of a national debate over water policy. Some evidence justifies their position. The collection contains frequent references to Congressional hearings on the issue and to national magazine coverage. In addition, during these years the federal government was embarking on a number of dam-building projects in the Midwest. Opponents of Tuttle Creek believed that unless it was stopped dams would be built throughout the Missouri basin.

For them several issues were at stake. There was the familiar argument about the growth of big government at the expense of local autonomy. Stockwell and his allies phrased their position in terms of the value of private property and grass-roots democracy and the danger of socialism, paternalism, and dictatorship. Another issue involved the relative effectiveness of different types of flood control. Tuttle Creek opponents repeatedly offered evidence that small dams designed to “stop the water where it falls” were more effective than big dams. They also argued that since big dams only gave an illusion of protection from flooding, building on flood plains should be restricted. Related to these arguments were jurisdictional conflicts. The Soil Conservation Service of the U.S. Agriculture Department provided for the small upstream dams which Stockwell and his friends preferred, while the Army Corps of Engineers was responsible for flooding on major waterways. There were complaints of lack of coordination and national discussions about the removal of dam-building responsibility from the Corps of Engineers. In addition, there was an urban-rural dimension to the struggle, with Stockwell arguing that the real impetus behind Tuttle Creek Dam was not flood control as claimed but the desire of Kansas City, Lawrence, and Topeka industrialists for water to use for navigation and the reduction of water pollution. At still another level, Stockwell and some of the others were simply conservationists, committed to the principle that land should be enriched rather than exploited. Stockwell described his “philosophy of farming” and expressed his desire to teach people to love and respect the land. For examples, see his letters of October 9 and October 17, 1951.

Stockwell’s personal role in opposing Tuttle Creek was significant. As president of the Blue Valley Study Association and the Blue Rivers Watershed Association, he wrote letters, gave speeches and testified regularly at hearings in Washington, D.C. In addition he served as the governor’s appointee in groups such as the Governor’s Exploratory Conference on Flood Control in 1952 and the National Rivers and Waters Congress in 1953. The importance of the Stockwell collection, however, lies beyond his own activities and papers to include the variety of materials which he assembled about the Tuttle Creek controversy and about water policy. There are few references in the collection to Stockwell’s family, farm, or personal affairs.

An important segment of the Stockwell collection contains correspondence from 1944 to 1957. The earliest item is a 1944 letter from the Corps of Engineers outlining the history and current status of the Tuttle Creek project. Other early items relate to the activities of the Blue Valley Study Association under the leadership of J. A. Hawkinson. The bulk of the correspondence, however, dates from the time Stockwell became president of the group in July 1951. This correspondence is quite varied. There are letters which Stockwell and his allies sent out seeking aid in their struggle and some responses that were negative or non-committal. There are letters from those who supported and praised their efforts. Many of these came from out-of-state and were written by persons fighting their own battles with the Corps of Engineers. Organizations in neighboring states exchanged information with Stockwell and sought to coordinate projects. Isolated individuals who happened to hear of his activities wrote seeking advice—which he freely gave. State and national units of the Congress of Industrial Organizations wrote attempting to aid Blue Valley residents and to forge a farm-labor coalition.

In addition to the letters which Stockwell himself sent and received, his collection includes numerous carbon copies of letters sent by his co-workers. Thus it is a major source for the papers of such individuals as Elmer Peterson, Oklahoma City, editor of the Daily Oklahoman; William Voigt, Chicago, executive director of the Izaak Walton League, a national conservation group; Arthur Carhart, Denver, a freelance conservation author; Dwight Payton, Overbrook, Kansas, editor of the Overbrook Citizen and president of the Kansas Water Association; Edith Monfort, Reading, Kansas, secretary of the Kansas Water Association; and Irving Hill, Lawrence, Kansas, president of the Lawrence Paper Company and member of the National Association of Manufacturers conservation committee.

Because the Tuttle Creek controversy was a prominent issue in Kansas politics, especially in 1952, the Stockwell collection is rich in materials by and about Kansas politicians such as United States senators Andrew Schoeppel and Frank Carlson; United States representatives Clifford Hope, Albert Cole, Howard Miller, and William Avery; and Governor Edward Arn. There is also correspondence with various Congressional leaders and with members of the Eisenhower administration.

Along with the dated correspondence, there are two and a half boxes of miscellaneous materials collected by Stockwell. Folders in box #2, labeled “Undated Correspondence” and “Fragments” include drafts of letters, speeches, and reports. There are also several significant items not duplicated elsewhere in the collection. There is correspondence about Miller’s election and about the trip of Blue Valley women to Denver to tell Eisenhower their story. In addition there are copies of speeches, radio and film scripts, the announcement of a farm-labor meeting at Randolph, and the legal brief prepared by Payne Ratner.

Boxes #2, #3, and #4 contain “Speeches, Statements, Reports, and Remarks.” These are divided into dated items for 1944-1958, and undated items. These materials are by a wide variety of authors including dam opponents, Congressmen, and representatives of the Soil Conservation Service and the Corps of Engineers. Along with formal speeches, there are statements made at hearings, press releases, abstracts and reviews of books and articles, editorials, and sermons. In a separate folder are the papers from a national conference on “Resources for the Future” which Stockwell attended in Washington in 1953.

“Miscellaneous” folders in box #4 contain the same types of materials along with some 1948 minutes of the Blue Valley Study Association, scattered financial records, drafts of watershed legislation, and a variety of newsletters. Also present are petitions opposing the dam; the report of Wolman, Howson, and Vealch, the engineers whom Governor Arn appointed to evaluate dam proposals; and two reports on the Blue River Valley drawn up by Stockwell. These latter items are 41 and 104 pages and have a number of charts. Other folders labeled “Kansas Watershed Association” and “Watershed Associations and other Organizations” contain newsletters, minutes, lists of officers, and related materials.

A number of other manuscript collections housed in the department contain materials related to those in the Stockwell Collection. These include the papers of Howard Miller (ms. collection #47), Clifford Hope (ms. collection #50), William Avery (ms. collection #137), Albert Cole (ms. collection #676), and Andrew Schoeppel. There is also relevant information in the papers of Gov. Edward Arn in the State Archives. Background information is provided in “The Great Flood of 1951 and the Tuttle Creek Controversy” by Homer Socolofsky in Kansas: The First Hundred Years, edited by John D. Bright (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1956) vol. II, 494-502.

Marilyn Dell Brady
Lela Barnes Intern
June 1982

Contents List

Box 1
Correspondence, 1944 – 1953

Box 2
Correspondence, 1954 – 1957
Correspondence, undated
Fragments of correspondence
Speeches, statements, reports, and remarks, 1944 – 1952

Box 3
Speeches, statements, reports, and remarks, 1953 – 1958
Speeches, statements, reports, and remarks, undated

Box 4
Speeches, statements, reports, and remarks, undated
Kansas Watershed Association
Watershed associations and other organizations

A Partial List of Individuals and Groups
Represented in the Stockwell Collection
In addition to those receiving subject cards


Beilman, August—Manager, Missouri Botanical Gardens
Edwards, William P.—Bigelow resident
Esping, Quinton—Randolph resident
Hainricks, H. H.—Kansas Power and Light
Jawkinson, J. A.—President, Blue Valley Study Association in the 1940’s
Isely, Bliss—Wichita author
Kollmorgen, Walter—Professor, University of Kansas Geography Department
McDonald, L. D.—Engineer, formerly employed by the Corps of Engineers
Pfetze, F. W.—Secretary, Blue Valley Study Association
Pick, Gen. Lewis—Army Corps of Engineers
Robinson, Jim—Topeka Daily Capital
Stratton, Cliff—Topeka Daily Capital
Wegner, Ray—Kansas Soil Conservation and Flood Control Association


American Watershed Council
Conference on Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C., 1953
Congress of Industrial Organizations
Conservation Federation of Missouri
Delaware River Association
Friends of the Land
Kansas-Nebraska Watershed Council
Kansas Soil Conservation and Flood Control Association
Kansas State Chamber of Commerce
Kansas State College, Flood Forum, 1951
Mississippi Valley Association
Missouri Arkansas Basin Flood Control Association
National Association of Manufacturers, Conservation Committee
National Farmer’s Union
National Watershed Congress
Rivers and Harbors Congress, Washington, D.C., 1954
Soloman Watershed Association
Topeka Industrial Union Council

Governmental Groups

Kansas. Governor’s Exploratory Conference on Flood Control, 1951 - 1952
Kansas. Water Resources Committee
U. S. Agricultural Department Soil Conservation Service
U. S. Army. Corps of Engineers
U. S. Missouri Basin Interagency Committee
U. S. Missouri Basin Survey Commission, 1952 – 1953

Index Terms

Subject Headings

Arn, Edward
Blue River – Dams – Tuttle Creek
Blue River Valley Study Association
Blue Rivers Watershed Association
Carhart, Arthur
Carlson, Frank
Cole, Albert
Dams – Tuttle Creek
Flood Dams & Reservoirs
Hill, Irving
Hope, Clifford
Kansas Watershed Association
McCain, James
Miller, Howard
Monfort, Edith
Payton, Dwight
Peterson, Elmer
Ratner, Payne
Schoeppel, Andrew
Tuttle Creek Dam
U. S. Army. Corps of Engineers
Voigt, William