Major General Frederick Funston Home, Museum, and Statue
This museum gives viewers an opportunity to see a typical Midwestern home from the mid 19th century, including the original furniture and household products. It also displays the atypical career of a little-known General who commanded notables such as MacArthur, Patton, and Eisenhower, among others, as they worked their way up the ladder of the U.S. military. The statue, which at just over five feet is life-sized, gives guests an idea of the commanding air Funston could produce despite his small stature. The original artifacts from the home and from Funston's military career tell the story of a young man from Kansas who went on to become a national hero among his contemporaries. This little-known site is a unique opportunity for history lovers to experience an intimate and personalized museum which represents an important era and figure in American history.
Backstory and Context
Major-General Frederick Funston was most well-known for his role in the Spanish-American War in the Philippines, specifically the capture of Emilio Aguinaldo, the leader of the Filipino resistance. He conceived the plan to capture Aguinaldo by sending in five Americans, disguised as prisoners, along with 81 Macabebes who were loyal to the U.S., posing as their guards, to infiltrate Aguinaldo’s camp. Following this capture, which was hailed as “the most important single military event of the year in the Philippines,” Funston, who had previously been a Brigadier-General in the volunteer army, was promoted to Brigadier-General in the regular army.1 This made him the youngest General in the Army at the time.2
Funston added to his accomplishments following the war. As commander of the Presidio in San Francisco, Funston sent his troops into action to contain the fires which broke out as a result of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. His heroic response to the would-be catastrophe earned him the title of “The Man who saved San Francisco” from the national media.3
Funston’s final exploit of note occurred during the conflict concerning the Mexican border, which Funston took part in from 1914-1916. General Funston was sent to Vera Cruz with 5,000 troops to help hold the city, and was named military governor. He also sent Brigadier-General John Pershing to pursue the infamous Pancho Villa following his attack on Columbus, New Mexico.4 Funston died of a heart attack in February of 1919, at the age of 51.
The Frederick Funston Boyhood Home and Visitors’ Center in Iola, Kansas offers history enthusiasts an opportunity to view important artifacts from Funston’s childhood life in the Midwest, as well as his military career. The site also includes the Funston family diary and a life-sized statue of the General.5 After ownership of the home was transferred from the state of Kansas to the Allen County Historical Society, the house was moved from its original rural location to a new site inside city limits, along with its original furniture and household items. The home was restored on this site, and officially opened to the public in 1995.6
1. Denger, Mark J.. Major-General Frederick Funston, U.S.V.. militarymuseum.org. Accessed 2/16/18. http://www.militarymuseum.org/Funston.html.
2. Frederick Funston. kshs.org. December, 2004. Accessed 2/16/18. https://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/frederick-funston/12060.
3. Anderson, Michael. Frederick Funston: The Man Who Saved San Francisco. California Department of Parks and Recreation. Accessed 2/16/18. https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=24212.
4. Denger, Mark J.. Major-General Frederick Funston, U.S.V.. militarymuseum.org. Accessed 2/16/18. http://www.militarymuseum.org/Funston.html.
6. Operating the Home as a Museum. Allen County Historical Society. Accessed 2/22/18. https://allencountyhistory.weebly.com/funston-boyhood-home--visitors-center.html.