HAVILAND — The Haviland Heritage Foundation and the Southwest Kansas Antique Engine and Thresher Association announced the merger of the two groups on Saturday, Aug. 22, with an ice cream social and program at the Konkel House in Haviland.

HHF President Jean Jones and SWKAET Association president Andy Kimble signed a merger agreement to make it official.

"This merger will unite the two groups to carry on the history of Haviland, and provide the community and the county a beautiful place to gather and hold events," Jones said.

Information was shared about future plans for the 8.5-acre former Konkel property owned by the SWKAET association. Local resident Darry Clark provided entertainment, and ice cream was enjoyed by more than 50 people in attendance.

Plans for the future include renovating the 114-year-old farmhouse on the property, a monumental task that will bring back the beauty that has deteriorated over the last 11 decades. The foundation took donations to kick off the fundraising campaign, which is slated to be almost $300,000. The Konkel Family moved into the house in 1935, raising 10 children there and breeding and selling Spotted Polish China pigs that were known around the Midwest for their quality. Descendants of the Konkel family shared stories of their parents growing up in the house.

The merged organization also plans to revamp the Southwest Kansas Antique Engine and Thresher Show, with hopes to bring it back in August 2021. The 55th annual SWKAET Show was held in August 2019 and it was announced by the group that it was the last show due to dwindling membership. Now the two groups hope to bring that event back, as well as add other events in conjunction with the show.

Merging the two groups will benefit both parties. The Haviland Heritage Foundation will acquire the Konkel Family home to restore and use as a museum displaying the history of Haviland. The SWKAET Association is now in a place to receive tax-deductible donations under the HHF’s nonprofit status.

The Haviland Heritage Foundation started in 2002 with five members — Dolores Williams, Rodney Hannan, Shirley Dowell, Lucymae Meireis and Sheryl White — as part of White’s doctoral project. Their mission is to embrace the past and build the future, which fits well into their plan to restore the Konkel home to display Haviland’s history for generations to come.

The Southwest Kansas Antique Engine and Thresher Association started in 1965 with a group of local farmers who wanted to display various farming methods and engines.