by Jerry Wallace

It was my pleasure to know and work with Mary Ann Wortman for over a decade.  She was one of the first local historians I met after my arrival in Kansas.  I will always remember her warm welcome.  She became a friend and colleague in history, always most encouraging and willing to help in anyway she could.  


Mary Ann’s electronic transcriptions of old newspapers made possible my historical projects on the founding and development of Cowley County.  Her hours of labor in transcribing saved me hours of labor in research.  For me, and many others, these transcripts have become an essential research tool.  Besides transcripts, Mary Ann and her husband, R. Kay Wortman, compiled two Cowley County history volumes dealing with the county’s early settler and its Native Americans inhabitants.  These books, too, are an important research source, especially so that on the Indians which has a wide audience.  Moreover, they make an interesting read as well. 


All those having an interest in Cowley County history owe Mary Ann and Kay Wortman a great debt of gratitude.  Also, William Bottorff is to be thanked for the active support and encouragement he gave to Mary Ann in her work after her husband’s death and, most of all, for providing a venue for her transcripts of old newspapers on his website.


Below is an updated biographical sketch of Mary Ann that I prepared after learning of her death.  It is follow by letter from her containing further interesting biographical details.  In this letter, Mary Ann’s vibrant personality shines through.  Finally, I have appended a biosketch of the Wortmans from The History of Cowley County, Kansas, which provides more information on Kay Wortman and his family.


All of us who knew Mary Ann have lost a true friend and colleague--but she will live on through her work.


Jerry L. Wallace

Oxford, Kansas

December 2012


MARY ANN WORTMAN, 1928 – 2011:




Jerry L. Wallace


Mary Ann (Tubbs) Wortman was born in St. Anthony's Hospital, Hays, Ellis County, Kansas, on February 5, 1928.  When 10 years old, she moved with her parents, Mary Jane O'Loughlin and B. A. Tubbs, Sr., to Arkansas City, where her father became the owner of Tubbs Motor Co.  At first he handled Chevrolets only; he later became the local dealer for Oldsmobile and Cadillac automobiles.  Mary Ann had five brothers:  John, Joseph, B. A., Junior, and Thomas.


The first O'Loughlin in Hays, Kansas, Mary Ann's grandfather, was the son of a gentleman who came with two of his brothers directly from Ireland. He died at Hays when he was about 100 years of age.  Mary Ann's aunt, Kathryn Ellen O'Loughlin, became in November of 1932 the first woman elected to the U. S. House of Representatives from Kansas.  Kathryn later married Dan McCarthy, and both set up a law office in Hays, Kansas.  Kathryn was greatly admired by her niece, Mary Ann, who visited her often.


Mary Ann attended the Catholic grade school in Arkansas City from the fourth to eighth year.  She then attended for a year St. John's Academy and High School in Wichita (later known as Sacred Heart).  She then returned to Arkansas City and attended the Senior High School there, graduating in 1946. 

From there, she went to St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, located near Terre Haute, Indiana, graduating in 1950.  After a Holy Year Pilgrimage to Rome and other countries, she entered a nine-month specialized course for College Graduates at Chicago, Illinois, conducted by Kathryn Gibbs Secretarial School.  She then worked in Wichita for General Motors Acceptance Corporation and the Coleman Company for a short time.  She returned to Arkansas City, where she worked as the Stenographer-Clerk to the Chief Clerk of the Superintendent of the Oklahoma Division of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company.  From the manner in which she spoke of this position, it was clear that she was proud to have held it.


Mary Ann and R. Kay Wortman were married on February 7, 1953, establishing their home in Arkansas City.  They had one child, Kevin Bruce Wortman, born in 1956.  At that point, Mary Ann quit her job.  When her son was older, she went back to work for United Agency, Incorporated, and later for Gilliland's Printing Company from which she retired in 1991. 


Her husband, Kay Wortman, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on August 18, 1926, the son of Harold and Grace Wortman.  He grew up in Winfield, Kansas, where he attended the public schools, graduating in 1944.  He then went to Southwestern College before going to Kansas State University.  In 1949, he took a job at Maurer-Neuer Meat Packing in Arkansas City.  He saw the company change into Rodeo Meats, which was a part of the John Morrell Packing Co. system, and he was one of the last to leave before the Ark City Packing Co purchased the company. 


Kay had long been interested in Cowley County history.  He was a member of the Arkansas Historical Society, serving for a time as its president.  In retirement, with his interest in documenting the history of the county, he became much involved with the Cowley County Heritage Book Committee and contributed meaningfully to its publication in 1990 of The History of Cowley County, Kansas.  His interest in local history, particularly in collecting and making it available for historical researchers, continued up to the time of his death on March 26, 1997, at the age of 70.


After she retired, Mary Ann joined with her husband in a second career:  historical research in the microfilm copies of the early Kansas newspapers.  This effort led to the Wortmans’ publication in 1996 of The History of Cowley County, Volume 1:  The Settlers.  In 1999, after Kay’s death, Mary Ann joined with William W. Bottorff to produce The History of Cowley County, Vol. II:  The Indians


In connection with their research, Mary Ann and her husband decided that the extant newspapers, 1868-1886, documenting the founding and establishment of Cowley County, should be converted to electronic form and made available in this convenient format to all those interested in the county’s history.  Mary Ann undertook this difficult and time-consuming project of transcribing that was to run over many years.  The product of her labor are now available at William Bottorff's website and used by researchers from around the world.


Mary Ann—and indirectly through her, her husband, Kay—has been recognized for her significant contribution in compiling and documenting the history of Cowley County.  In January of 2005, she became the first recipient of the Cowley County Historical Society’s History Award.  Then, in June of that same year, the CornerBank honored her with its Community Cornerstone Award. 


Mary Ann died at the age of 83 on September 2, 2011, and is buried in Highland Cemetery in Winfield, Kansas.  Her son, Kevin, and two grandchildren, Kevilin Colleen and Daniel Renee Wortman, survive her.


Her friends and associates will always remember Mary Ann Wortman for her enthusiasm and dedication to Cowley County history and her eagerness to assist those involved in its study.


She was truly Clio’s friend.


o o o O o o o






The following letter was sent to Jerry Wallace in November of 2004 while he was preparing the biographical sketch above. 


Dear Jerry,


I had to look at several old telephone books to figure out that the last name for Rodeo Meats, so to speak, was Ark City Packing and then I had to look at the Feist book for Wichita to learn that St. John's turned into Sacred Heart. Makes me realize I am older than the dickens to see that so many familiar names have changed with time.


My Aunt Kathryn and my mother constantly had their heads put together to steer me into the Wichita school I attended and the college that I went to. I thought I would get away from their machinations as to my future when I got out of Katie Gibbs, but unfortunately I cannot ever remember dates and never did get a book into which I could put in important dates.


I applied for work with an outfit that later turned into the C. I. A.  [Mary Ann is referring to the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.)]  At the time I was super good with writing Spanish and very proficient with the typewriter. I had my first lesson on a typewriter in high school and flat fell in love with the durned machine. My instructor soon learned to not stand over my shoulder and watch as I immediately went "bananas" when he did so. Anyway, to make a very long story short, I had to get the date on which my mother was born and also the date on which my father was born to complete the application. Next thing I knew I got a phone call from my mother as to why I wanted this information and with great reluctance told her what I proposed to do. Next thing I knew my mother got in touch with Aunt Kathryn and I was told "COME HOME." That ended my plan to go to South America and work for what later became known as the company. I was told that I had a future with them and then some. Aunt Kathryn called friends and was informed that it was too dangerous, etc., and I therefore went home.


Dad fixed me up with a job with a friend at G. M. A. C. [General Motors Acceptance Corp.] in Wichita and that friend kept an eagle eye on me. I finally managed to get away and started working with the Coleman Company. Neither company wanted me to do secretarial work, which irked me considerably. Then I got walking pneumonia, went home, worked at the garage (where I met Kay) and then started work for Santa Fe. Now that sort of information does not belong in any kind of a bio.


I loved Aunt Kathryn dearly in spite of everything. When I was about six years of age I had to dance on top of a table for Governor Huxman and others in the most godawful outfit while my brother B. A. Jr. played the piano. Later I helped at times when she entertained political friends. I spent part of my summer with her for a number of years. One summer she was involved in W. P. A. work (if memory serves me correctly) and my younger brother, Tom, and I traveled with her in northwestern Kansas. Each town seemed like the last. There was always an elderly man on a rocking chair on the porch of a big old house. Next door there was a garden. The lady of the house was invariably huge. Kathryn, Tom, and I would accompany her to the garden and pick whatever vegetables she had there. I remember that my first experience was with beets. Then it was a matter of going into the nearby school or church kitchen and cooking things in big pots and eventually putting things into mason jars. Aunt Kathryn pitched right in there with the rest of us and determined when the beets, for instance, were properly packed. At one stage we went into a drug store with barrels and barrels of cheese, pickles, etc., and old men gathered around a table playing checkers. I was utterly fascinated. Well! As the saying goes, I made a big mistake. She asked us if we wanted a Coke and I responded favorably to the suggestion. I had never had a Coke in my life! This coke was made with the real stuff (cocaine, I believe) and did I ever get violently sick. I did not touch Coke again for many years. Uncle Dan wanted a partner so I learned how to play chess and cribbage from him. He was a wonderful, quiet, laid-back man.


My favorite story about Aunt Kathryn was told by her. At one time she had to have maids to assist in cleaning, etc., and one day she criticized this one gal by telling her that she needed to use more elbow grease. Next thing she knew the girl told her that she had looked and looked and could not locate the elbow grease.


As I recall, when help was needed, they were the "Roosians." Hays had a settlement of Germans who originally came from Russia and for some reason they were referred to as the "Roosians of Ellis County." Many of my earliest friends had German names and I loved all of them dearly. Again, this sort of nonsense does not belong in a bio on anyone, but it was the influence of my Aunt Kathryn and my Roosian friends that made a big impact on me. When I get excited I still end up waving my hands frantically. This started when I was a child as I watched my baby sitter talking to her friends, etc., and they all waved their hands and all spoke German.


Have no idea why you wanted this information, but I am always willing to talk about my past. I forgot to give credit to Dr. Bottorff for pushing me after Kay died and assisting me 100% with the Indian Book and getting the early papers and files I have made on his computer so that anyone interested could see what early Cowley ====without his help and also sending me to Joan Cales for help with the Index. That took forever and ever to do and of course getting all the stuff set just right was another project. Kay insisted on 12 point Times Roman and I kept to his formula so that people with bad eyesight could read it.


Enough! Hope this helps you to understand what makes me tick. I am still a "dootiful secretary" who tries to please the boss.


Mary Ann



The following is taken from the COWLEY COUNTY HERITAGE BOOK, p. 329


Richard Kay and Mary Ann(Tubbs) Wortman


The Wortman family emigrated from Canada in 1796 to Van Wert County, Ohio. James Wortman was killed in the Civil War, leaving three children: Melvin Leroy Wortman, born on the day Fort Sumpter was fired on; Clara Ann, who married Sam G. Bishop; and Alice Jane, who married George Campbell.


Widow Wortman married widower Reuben B. Wood (who had ten children). They had two children - Carey R. and Wayland W.


The Wood-Wortman family moved to Winfield in 1884 to be near his sons: Cliff Wood (an early pioneer), and B.F. Wood(Bliss and Wood Flour Mill). Reuben Wood died in 1885


Melvin L. Waortman graduated from Beaumont Medical College (now St. Louis University) in 1888 and entered into practice with Dr. Park in Winfield.


On September 4, 1888, he married Lola Silliman (daughter of Amy Silliman and sister of Hiram Silliman). Their son, Harold Silliman Wortman, was born July 8, 1897.


In 1896 M.L. Wortman started a bookstore (at location of the Cunningham Music Store) that he sold January 9, 1900, to S.J. Neer and Juia B. King, to take his ill wife to Phoenix, Arizona, where she died March 31, 1900.


Dr Wortman served twice as President of the Board of Education, Chairman of the Chautauqua assembly and a director of the Winfield College of Music.


M.L. Wortman married Mary Hamilton (daughter of I.T. Hamilton and Jennie Hewett Hamilton) May 23, 1903. They had three children: Marie (1904); Russell (1905); and Donald (1910).


In 1915 the Wortmans bought D. McAllister's grocery store. Wortman Cash Grocery operated until 1926.


Mary Wortman died February 28, 1935; and Melvin Wortman died on the following day, March 1, 1935.


Harold Wortman enlisted in the Winfield Rifles of the Kansas National Guard when it mobilized in 1916 to capture Poncho Villa in Mexico. He enlisted April 2, 1917 in the United States Army and served in France during World War I.


Harold Wortman married Grace L. McKay - daughter of Wilbur M. McKay and Linnie Greenwalt - February 12, 1922. Harold retired from the post office as a carrier. Grace retired from Sonner Burner Co. as Secretary-Treasurer.


Their son, Richard Kay Wortman, was born August 18, 1926, and graduated from Winfield high School in 1944. He attended Southwestern and Kansas State College. In 1949 he started work at Maurer-Neuer Meat Packers in Arkansas City.


On February 7, 1953, he married Mary Ann Tubbs daughter of B.A. Tubbs and Mary Jane O'Loughlin. She was born February 5, 1928, in Hays, Kansas. She graduated from Arkansas City High School in 1946 and from St. Mary-of-the Woods College in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1950.


Their son, Kevin B. Wortman, born December 28, 1956.. and graduated from Arkansas City Senior High School in 1975. He joined the United States Navy in February 1975. He became a plankowner on the USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and in 1990 Chief Storekeeper Wortman is stationed on this ship, homeported at Norfolk, Virginia. He married Linda L. LaPrade June 6, 1980. They have two daughters: Kevilin Colleen, born October 15, 1981, in Dallas, Texas; and Danielle Renee', born January 9, 1984, in the family Blazer at the Summerville, South Carolina fire station.


In 1982 Maurer-Neuer (Rodeo) closed. On April 1, 1983, Richard Kay Wortman opened Wortman Liquor Store. Mary Ann is a secretary at Gilliland Printing Inc.


On August 18, 1987, Grace L. Wortman died. Submitted by Richard Kay WortmanScanned out of the Cowley County Heritage book, Page 329.