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Bonnie & Clyde in Hugoton, KS: New Medicine Findings Inspire KUMC Exhibit, Open to the Public through May

April 11, 2019

Topeka, Kan. – History has been found in Hugoton, and Kansans interested in checking it out for themselves can see it in person at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City.

The exhibit, titled “Medicine Unearthed: How a Bootlegger’s Tunnel helped Preserve a Chapter of Kansas Medical History,” is open at the Clendening History of Medicine Museum at KUMC through May 1. The entire exhibit came about from a phone call about a year ago between Museum Curator Jamie Rees and Executive Director of Stevens County Economic Development Jan Leonard.

Leonard called to tell Rees about his discovery: a tunnel filled with antique bottles under the old Bundy Hotel in Hugoton – now a Farm Bureau Agency. Leonard gave him the name of the physician who originally built and owned the hotel. After researching, Rees found that there was a wealth of information about the physician.

“This is rare,” Rees said. “Usually, there is an artifact and little-to-no information.”

 

Photos of the findings in the collapsed tunnel

 

The exhibit tells about the physician, Dr. William Elwood Bundy. It explains his life and practice, and then tells the story of uncovering the medicine bottles in the tunnel and the museum’s attempt to identify their contents.

“I wouldn’t normally test unlabeled vials but will in this case because of all the information we’ve got,” Rees told the Wichita Eagle. “They were fairly famous in Hugoton for treating skin cancer… I think it’s fairly unique for Kansas medical history.”

Rees told the Eagle that eight vials are currently scheduled to be tested in Kansas City.

 

Photos of the exhibit

Local consensus claims that Bonnie and Clyde lived in Hugoton under the pseudonyms Jewel and Blackie Underwood. Clyde reportedly worked in a farmer’s field and Bonnie ran a café on Main Street called Jewel’s Café, where it is believed the couple ran a bootlegging operation. Clyde often gambled in the basement of the Bundy Hotel, where the collapsed tunnel was discovered in April of last year.

Once the exhibit is finished on May 1, Leonard says he hopes to create a tourist attraction with the artifacts.

For anyone hoping to see the exhibit, more information is available here: http://www.kumc.edu/school-of-medicine/history-and-philosophy-of-medicine/clendening-museum.html

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