Take Shelter

Prosser Family - Root Cellar

Cleveland Township

Outside Flint Hills - Barton County

This arched cave is built underneath a long wood frame building. The building above it was used alternatively as a smokehouse and a washhouse all the way until the early 1980's. The cave beneath is quite large and built of large post rock like cut sandstone. It measures approximatley 24'(L)x12'(W)x7'(H).

Luetta Haynes, Liberal, KS:

I remember saying so many times, I NEVER SAW A TORNADO, OR BAD CLOUDS ALL OF THE YEARS OF MY CHILDHOOD, CAUSE WE WERE ALWAYS IN THE CELLAR. I also remember making a thousand trips up and down those stairs, as that is where all the canning was stored, from saurkraut to fried down meat in the big crock jars, storing potatoes, onions, and everything else we could can or get from the garden, and sometimes Mom's home brew, and home made wine.

Wilma Stroud, Olathe:

After opening the creaky door, clearing the stair steps of salamanders, spiders and webs, crickets, etc…….the main use for the old cellar was to store the ‘home brew’. I remember having to go down there, way in the back where it was dingy and scary and clean up the glass from the exploded beer bottles. Always lots of spiders and smelled moldy.
When the weather was threatening, that was our ‘go to cave’ for safety. There were always candles and holy water to use while we prayed the rosary.
Lots of home canned fruit, vegetables, 5 gallon crocks of fermenting sauerkraut, pickles with grape leaves covering the top layer, with filled jars of different foods on the top for weights so the juice would cover the produce while it cured. And about the fried down meat? I hated to go dig that stuff out of the crock! About the hams and bacon? We certainly ate unhealthy back then; lots of fruits and vegetables but all the FRIED stuff!

Elaine Trantham, Sharon, KS:

The old place is owned by Brian Hoffman (maybe part of Tony and Carol's estate). It will be easy to find his phone number. He lives on the Hoffman place one half mile south of where Tony and Carol lived.

Yes, I have many memories of the cellar besides a place for the home brew and mom's canned meat, fruit, and vegetables. It was the best cellar in the neighborhood and Carol and the kids would come over during the bad storms. I was always especially glad to see them come over because then we didn't have to pray the rosary in the cellar. Don't remember whether the Oeser's came over, you may want to check with Randy to see if he remembers the old cellar. The kerosene lamps made it warm and glowy but I never did ever want to go to the west wall, it was too scary even when there was no storm. Mom always had holy water in a jar to sprinkle at the storm. Wow, we don't have that kind of fun anymore, do we? Do we all remember the 12 gallon crocks of hams and bacon covered with brine and allowed to cure? And then we had to boil the bacon to get some of the salt/brine out BEFORE we would fry it? And we were always warned NOT to slide down the doors as we were sure to fall in on the steps?

Charlotte Schartz, Manhattan, KS: Salamanders….mud puppies….always at the bottom of the steps. …eek…… I had a partially eroded dirt floor when we first got there....but thinking that Mrs. Redetzke would pay for running water, Dad leveled the front part of the floor (nearest the door) with cement.
After electricity was added, we’d even clean the eggs down there before bringing them up to take them to Hoisington to sell to Uncle Joe.
I seem to remember lots of old tires way back in the back….and it was always so dark back there because the west window was totally blocked and closed…kind of winterized. So pretty uninviting, to say the least.
We even started keeping halfway decent chairs down there for use during storms…and yes, having the Hoffmans come for storm shelter gave it a bit of something to look forward to. I don’t remember the Oesers coming very often. And the amount of light from the kerosene lamps was amazing.
I remember that the south door of the two doors was more rickety? Or was it just left shut out of lazieness on my part???? And the top of the outside of the cave, east of the wash house was a flat place to play or sit (whenever we could get away with sitting…)