This century old dairy farm home of two generations of the Ensor (pronounced En-zer) family presents a view of their home and the life they led. You will enjoy an hour plus tour of the 1890s memory packed two story house and even older peg barn full of special Ensor archives. Other buildings and farm implements can be seen.
Among the fascinating achievements of Marshall H. Ensor, [1899-1970] to whom this site is dedicated, is his lifelong interest in teaching others. His own education centered on knowledge of tools and their use in creating useful or necessary items of life. His father, passed on to him an introduction of construction tools and methods while making improvements to the family farm house and making new out buildings as soon as Marshall showed an interest.
While he was a good school student in all classes, his progress in the Industrial Arts classes rose above the others. Woodworking abilities stood out among other abilities. He even won a national competition among high school wood shop students at age 15. He became a paid (13 cents / hour) student instructor in 1915.
At about that time, Marshall became interested in the growing hobby of Wireless communications. He built Crystal receiving sets and soon added a sending set called a Spark Gap transmitter. He read the books about early wireless, becoming known as Radio. He studied the Morse Code used in radio and had contacts of nearly 20 miles with his 1916 wireless outfit.
Marshall become an instructor of Industrial Arts at the Olathe, Kansas High School at age 18 upon his graduation. That job lasted 46 years until his retirement in 1965. His thousands of students benefited from the many courses that enabled them to find work just out of school that were hard to find without such training.
Perhaps the most relevant accomplishment during a life filled with them, was to take place beginning in 1929. By that date Marshall Ensor had trained himself well in the construction of radio transmitters of the latest designs. When he saw a request printed in the amateur radio magazine, QST, asking for experienced operators to use their own equipment to send teaching information on the Morse Code and technical information necessary to become licensed radio amateur operators. Along with a few others he replied that he would do just that beginning December of 1929 with60 nightly 1 hour lessons on a frequency just at the top of the popular broadcast segment of household radios. Every evening during the months of December and January His call letters, W9BSP, came on the air followed by articulate teaching of unseen students across America.
The Olathe, Kansas postal service soon found out that a certain address just near the south edge of the city had a noticeable increase in mail from all over, often addressed simply W9BSP Olathe, Kansas. Hundreds of listening students mailed their thanks to W9BSP for helping them learn the requirements for a Federal Radio License. The number of people taking his lessons in the 1930’s surpassed other operators efforts and went on yearly until the beginning of World War 2, when the U.S. Government discouraged all radio amateur work so that clear frequencies could be monitored for enemy use.
The American Radio Relay League nominated Marshall H. Ensor for the 1940 ‘Wm. S. Paley Award‘. The award was also given to 3 other radio amateurs who performed a particular service of their own desire and for the welfare of our Country. The awards began in 1935. Mr. Ensor received the last Paley Award at a huge ceremony in New York, City at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Ballroom with many dignitaries attending. His sister, Loretta, too was flown there since she, also a licensed radio operator, helped on occasion to fill in for Marshall so that no evening was omitted in the annual lessons. Loretta was W9UA. Licensed at age 16.
Fame smiled on Loretta also. Loretta admired her older brother and even earned her radio license in 1923. Using the early years battery operated equipment made by Marshall, she became not only the first Kansas woman operator, but was distinguished to be the first American woman whose voice spanned the Pacific in a contact with an operator in New Zealand.
You will be welcomed by Ensor tour guides when you arrive for a visit. You may feel what it was like to be an early pioneer of Johnson County, Kansas and to build a dairy farm from bare materials and hard work. You may feel the excitement of being a young Ensor child helping out on the farm and growing to love the life, the animals and learning skills from your parents that last a lifetime.
The treasures of their lives are everywhere to be seen and appreciated. Whether you see the farm implements and tools, the handcrafts of the women who had strong aptitudes in artistic accomplishments, or the early woodworking projects and radio wizardry of Marshall H. Ensor.