Dorothy Dey Historic Collection

Dorothy Ruth Dey - Wellington's Greatest Historian

When Dorothy Ruth Dey passed away on June 11th, 1999, the Wellington Daily News' headline read "Wellington's Greatest Historian Dies".

Dey earned that distinction by publishing well-researched, in-depth local history articles in the Wellington Daily News. But long before Dey began writing for the Wellington Daily News, she taught Latin for 40 years to Junior and Senior High students in Wellington and later Salina.  She didn’t just teach her students how to conjugate Latin verbs and read and write Latin, she also taught them Greek and Roman history and mythology.

It appears that Dey’s interest in history began at an early age.  Dey was born in Wellington, Kansas on July 21st, 1907 to Dewitt C. and Nona (Hart) Dey. The Dey’s built their home in the 400 block of North Olive Street on land purchased in 1886 by Dey’s grandfather, Joseph Smith Dey, who was an attorney and early Wellington settler. Dey grew up in that home learning the history of Wellington and her grandfather’s involvement in that early day history. She resided in the family home until she entered the nursing home a few months before she died.

Dey, known as “Dot” to her fellow high school students, graduated from Wellington High School in May 1925.

Her many activities included: 

Girl Reserve 1, 2, 3, 4; Girl Reserve Cabinet 4; Winter Conference 4; Chorus 1, 2, 3; The Adoration 3; Glee Club 2; Operetta 2; Junior Jollies 3; G. A. A. 3 [Girl’s Athletic Association]; Booster Club 2, 3, Debate 4; National Honor Society and Senior Honor Roll. 

The quote beneath her senior photograph says, “One who never gives up, enthusiastic and conscientious.”

Dey graduated from Park College in Parkville, Missouri.

Before Dey retired from teaching, she wrote a “New Unit in Fourth Grade Geography and Historical Calendar for Wellington, Kansas.”  

In 1941, she co-authored a 1941 Historic Pageant for Wellington to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Wellington’s founding. The pageant was a three-day event held in the Wellington Memorial Auditorium, and newspaper articles at the time stated that more than 600 local school children participated. 

According to 90-plus-year-old Martha (Blunck) McCurry, Amarillo, Texas, who was a teen-ager when she portrayed a Gay Nineties dancer in the pageant, it was quite an event.

You can read a copy of Dey’s script with notations in her own handwriting here, and see a copy of the 1941 Wellington Historic Pageant program here.

Following her retirement from teaching, Dey began writing for the Wellington Daily News, and her local history articles were widely read.

 In 1971, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Wellington, Dey authored a 100-page historical insert for the Centennial edition of the Wellington Daily News, and then clipped the articles to create an 1871–1971 Wellington Centennial Scrapbook for the Wellington Public Library.  Click here to access the scrapbook.

Dorothy was a member of the Prentis Club, Kappa Kappa Iota, Daughters of the American Revolution, Sumner County Historical Society, and Alpha Beta Gamma.

Her interests included reading, writing, knitting, travel, genealogy, history, art, foreign, antiques, her Santa Claus collection and promoting the Chisholm Trail Museum.

Dorothy also volunteered at the Chisholm Trail Museum in Wellington. Much of Dorothy's historic research and her writing is still being used by the Chisholm Trail Museum, the Wellington Public Library, and the Sumner County Historical and Genealogical Society.

Dey died on June 11, 1999, in Bakersfield, California at the age of 91, and is buried in Prairie Lawn Cemetery in Wellington. Her Memorial number is #61171127.


View All Items in the Dorothy Dey Historic Collection Collection

Dey, Dorothy
1941 Historic Pageant Script about the founding and settlement of Sumner County and particularly of Wellington, Kansas. This script was Dorothy Ruth…
Dey, Dorothy
This manuscript is Dorothy Dey's New Unit in Fourth Grade Geography and includes the Historical Timeline and dates for events for the founding and…
Dey, Dorothy
Program for the 1941 Historic Pageant that was about the founding and settlement of Sumner County and Wellington, Kansas. A copy of this…
Wellington Daily News
Wellington, Kansas
The 1871-1971 Centennial Scrapbook includes typewritten articles written by Dorothy Dey, Sumner County and Wellington Historian, on many aspects

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