Once upon a time, when Lone Chimney’s Executive Director, Ken Spurgeon, was working on his graduate thesis (in history) he read in a collection of Civil War letters that a settler in Kansas was instructed to put a sheet over their chimney if they claimed no allegiance or a non-combatant position in the free state vs. pro-slavery fight. The author of the letter stated that, to leave one’s chimney bare, or as she put it “lone,” was to state who you were and what you stood for. During Kansas’ troubled territorial years, it was not uncommon to see in both Kansas and Missouri nothing left standing of a homestead but a stone chimney as everything else had been burnt to the ground. Both sides of the territorial fight suffered their share of lone chimneys from 1854 to 1861. Sadly, there were to be many more in both Kansas and Missouri in the years to come.
Lone Chimney Films was founded in 2003 by Ken Spurgeon and Jonathon Goering. The company completed its first documentary, Touched by Fire: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861, in the spring of 2005. In 2006, LCF was granted 501 (c) (3) status as a not-for-profit organization and began pre-production work on its second documentary, Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre. That film was completed in late 2007 and both films have aired over twenty times on PBS regional stations across Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Nebraska. Both films have also been used in over 200 classrooms.
Lone Chimney’s third documentary, The Road to Valhalla, details the story of the Kansas-Missouri border war (1861-1865) and the legacy of the war and its effects after the war especially in Kansas. This film won the Best Documentary Award at the National Cowboy Museum (the Wrangler) in Oklahoma City, OK. LCF’s latest project is the story of the authorship, preservation and legacy of the song Home on the Range and the location where this “unofficial anthem” to the west was written, in Smith County, Kansas.
The primary goal of Lone Chimney Films is bring the stories of Kansas and the Midwest to students and the public through a visual medium. Lone Chimney Films is a 501c3 not-for-profit education and arts company that produces historical documentaries. These films have screened in over 15 states and appeared on public television countless times from 2005 to present.
Our mission includes:
A Commitment to Historical Accuracy. Seeking academic scholars in the field to serve on our board and advise us in the writing and production of our films. This also includes study guides and teacher aids that are available when the film is released. To date, hundreds of Kansas teachers use our films, Touched by Fire: Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre and most recently, The Road to Valhalla, as part of their classroom instruction. The Road to Valhalla was the recipient of the 2015 Western Heritage Award (Wrangler) at the National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.
A Commitment to the Community. In addition to film, our employees and volunteers speak to schools, civic organizations and events related to the history of the region. Three members of our board are educators.
A Commitment to the Future. LCF recently completed its fourth documentary film. Home on the Range, tells both the story of the song and the preservation of folk music communicated through non-written means throughout time. Potential future projects include The Chisholm Trail, telling the story of the path, economically and historically, that helped build Kansas and the cattle industry.
Ken Spurgeon (Executive Director)
Ken has spent over 20 years teaching at the Middle, High School and College levels. He served for six years as the Director of Instruction for Cowley College, Arkansas City, Kansas. He currently is a History and Government teacher at Northfield School of the Liberal Arts and at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. Ken was the Writer, Producer of the Lone Chimney Films documentary Touched by Fire: Bleeding Kansas, 1854-1861 and served as the Writer, Director for Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre and The Road to Valhalla, and most recently Home on the Range. He was the co-founder and has served as the Executive Director since 2004 of Lone Chimney Films, Inc. Ken authored the book, “A Kansas Soldier at War: The Civil War Letters of Christian and Elise Dubach Isely,” by the History Press, March, 2013.
Ken has also served as the basketball and cross country coach for Northfield for the past ten seasons. He is a distance runner competing regularly in 5 and 10ks when he has time. He is married to Amy and has four children, Lauren (Brandon), Becca, Sarah (Hunter) and Jonathan.
SHAWN W. BELL (BOARD PRESIDENT)
Shawn is a native of Independence, Kansas. He has a background in commercial art and has spent most of his vocational life in customer service, marketing, and sales. He loves reading and researching the history of the Civil War, the Great Plains, and the Indian Wars, and he has been a Civil War re-enactor since 1994. Shawn has been a volunteer and actor in local theater, film and at Fort Larned National Historic Site. He appeared in the first three LCF documentaries and served as a Producer for Bloody Dawn, Road to Valhalla, and Home on the Range. Shawn was a Producer as well Production Designer for Home on the Range, overseeing the historic integrity of the production.
TOM LEAHY (BOARD VICE PRESIDENT)
Tom served as an Elementary teacher in the Conway Springs school district for 14 years and a Middle School teacher specializing in Social Studies for 5 years. He reenacted for several years with the 9th Texas, a Confederate unit based in the Topeka and Wichita area. He has performed on stage as Abraham Lincoln in various historical performances for several years. Tom portrayed William Quantrill in the documentary, Bloody Dawn: The Lawrence Massacre and Dr. Brewster Higley in Home on the Range. Tom is an avid runner and recently placed 7th nationally in the 50-54 age group in Houston, Texas. He has been married to his wife Cara for 26 years and has two children, Carl and Brenna.
KAREN RONEY (SECRETARY)
Karen has a degree from Kansas State University in Family Life & Human Development, and has been married to Rex for over 30 years. They have five grown children and two grandchildren. Karen homeschooled for 15 years, serving on several homeschool cooperative boards, before re-entering the workforce. She currently is the Administrative Assistant at Terradyne Country Club. A long-time friend of Ken and Amy Spurgeon, she and Rex have provided dozens of chocolate chip cookies for their film crews, participated in fund-raisers, attending showings, and even loaned a son to play a small part in Touched by Fire.
AMY SPURGEON (TREASURER)
Amy has over twenty years of accounting experience in a wide range of industries. She earned a Master’s Degree in Accounting from Wichita State University and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). She is currently the accounting supervisor for Foulston Siefkin, LLP. She has been an important part of Lone Chimney Films since its inception. Her roles for LCF include treasurer, set builder, food/craft services, horse waterer and actress. Amy enjoys history, quilting, and being involved with her church, but most importantly spending time with her husband, kids and grandkids.
MARY ELLEN CONLEE
Mary is the owner of the Conlee Consulting Group, Inc. (CCG), has been providing lobbying services in Kansas for more than 25 years. Ms. Conlee is recognized as having expertise in health care, managed care, health insurance, Medicaid funding, mental health policy and service delivery as well as community not-for-profit partnering with the state. Earlier in her career, she taught high school history, government and economics. She holds a BA in Economics from Bates College and Master in Arts Teaching from Smith College.
For over 50 years, Orin has been active in radio and television, as an announcer, producer, and engineer. He produced the first syndicated radio show of Bluegrass Music and co-produced the International Bluegrass Music Awards show for its first 10 years. As a musician, Orin has been performing in Bluegrass and Cowboy bands since the mid-1960's. He is a graduate of Wichita State University and is a member of the Kansas Music Hall of Fame, the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame, the Kansas Bluegrass Hall of Fame, and the Old-Time Country Music Hall of Fame.
Greg A. HEPHNER
Greg is a native of Wichita, KS and the President/Owner of Hephner TV & Electronics. He graduated from Mid America Nazarene University in 1986 with a BA in Managing & Marketing, and completed his MBA, also from MNU, in 2017. Greg is an avid history buff who enjoys reading, travel, National Parks, and collecting historical autographs. He serves on the boards of Mid America Nazarene University, the Church of the Nazarene Kansas District, Jesus Film Harvest Partners, and his local church. Greg has been married to his wife, Peggy, since 1986 and they have two sons, Michael and Sean. Greg joined the Lone Chimney Board in 2015.
Abby is originally from Dallas, Texas. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. In addition to earning teaching certificates in the areas of Early Childhood, Elementary, and Reading Education, she recently completed her certification as an Interpretive Guide through the NAI (National Park Ranger training.) She has served as an education consultant for an award-winning children's TV program and the Kansas Department of Education. Her love of history led her to a career as a museum educator at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum where she worked for seven years. She has taught a wide variety of ages and subjects and currently teaches online English classes to students in China. Abby was thrilled to join the Lone Chimney Board last year, bringing along her passion for making history come alive through storytelling.