Sleuthing Series — Man of Many Identities (Fred Krebs)

JCCC Archives presents the Sleuthing Series, where every Tuesday, we bring you an image from our past and ask you to help us find out more!

1.  Benjamin Franklin answers questions from elementary students during his visit to a local school, early October 1987.  We know that this is Franklin, because he always took off his hat when he spoke as himself, Fred Krebs.

What We Know

  • Fred Krebs was the oldest son of Virginia Krebs.  Early on, as he was finishing his bachelor’s degree at KU, he did not share his mother’s enthusiasm for the community college.  His interest and experience, however, with interdisiplinary courses lead him to be hired first as a consultant to help with JCCC’s humanities and social science curriculum.  According to his oral history from the 25th anniversary publication Visionary Voices (c1994), he was among the first teaching faculty hired.  By 1999, he was one of five of that first group still remaining at the college.
  • Fred was also one of the first drivers for the basketball team, as well as scorekeeper and statistician.
  • Fred enjoyed a wide variety of experiences from Scouting, Scout Leader, working as a lifeguard, and later public speaking.  He was sought after by a wide variety of groups to speak on a wide variety of subjects.  He was a member of the JCCC Speakers Bureau, with nearly 20 engagements per year.  He was a voracious reader, and there were many stories about the piles of books in his office.
  • He was a member of both the Kansas and Nebraska Humanities Councils, and was an active member of KHC’s Chautauqua and History Alive! programs, beginning in 1985.
  • He researched (for some as much as 18 months) and did “informances” of twelve or more historical figures.  Some were famous, some notorious, and some a little of both.  He became that person in that person’s own time, in the person’s own society and frame of reference.  Some “informances” were 30-45 minutes.  At the end, Fred answered questions as the character.  When he was done, he removed the hat or wig to queue the audience that they were back to the present and Fred Krebs was ready to answer questions.
  • From various sources, here is an accounting of Fred’s characters:  Benjamin Franklin, William Allen White, Christopher Columbus, Kit Carson, “Christy Mathewson, Rutherford B. Hayes, William Mulholland, Joseph Smith Jr., Pierre De Smet (Jesuit missionary), Huey Long, Thomas Edison, Galileo Galilei.  He researched and created the costumes for all.
  • Fred was still part of the faculty at JCCC upon his death, December 28, 2012.

What We Don’t Know

  • Do you know any other of Fred’s personas?
  • Look for clues and name the characters in photos 11-19 below.  Reply with number and name.  Most importantly, note any clues that you saw.
  • Do you have any specific memories of Fred and his work at JCCC?

If You Know More…

Contact  librarians: Anita Gordon Gilmore (, ext. 4369) or John Russell (, ext. 3284).  You may also comment below!

For More Information…

I have consulted:
Charles Bishop: The Community’s College, JCCC, c2002.
Visionary Voices: An Oral History of Johnson County Community College,       JCCC, c1994.
Kansas City Star article by Brian Burnes, “Columbus Chautauqua,” Oct. 10, 1992, pp. E1 and E7.

2.  Earliest picture of Fred, about 1970.
7.  Preparing for an “informance,” October 1987.
8.  Preparing for an “informance,” October 1987.
9.  Visit to a local elementary school.
10.  Visit to a local elementary school.
11.  This one is easy. Who?
12.  Emporia Gazette in hand. Who?
13.  Sword in hand. Who?
14.  Looks like an animated congressman. Who?
15.  Has a New York Yankies hat and baseball in hand. Who?
16.  Has a buckskin coat and hat. Who?
17.  Who could this be?
18.  Telescope in hand. Who?
19.  Who might this be?



One thought on “Sleuthing Series — Man of Many Identities (Fred Krebs)”

  1. Dana—

    Thanks so much for taking the time to provide this information. This is interesting information and well documented, though I do not find that we have a photo of Fred as Chief Charles Bluejacket. I can ask a friend of mine who is one of the curators at Old Shawnee Town, if they have a picture.

    We are fairly sure that he character in buckskins is Kit Carson.

    Thanks, again for this information. I hope to see you next semester at OHEC.

    Anita Gordon-Gilmore
    Librarian, Archives
    913-469-8500 ext. 4369
    LIB 353C
    Murphy’s Law of Scheduling: Sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes everything happens at once.

    From: Dana Elaine Carr
    Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2019 4:20 PM
    To: Anita Gordon-Gilmore
    Subject: Info about Fred Krebs

    I have another persona for Fred. On October 17, 1987, he took the role of Chief Charles Bluejacket at the reenactment of Quantrill’s raid on Shawnee at Old Shawnee Town. That evening, he encouraged the “townspeople” to flee to the cornfields in anticipation of the raid, and then comforted the “survivors” afterwards.

    Here’s the copy (mine) from The Old Shawnee Town Cookbook:

    “Shawnee, Olathe, and Lawrence all survived and prospered, and, on the 125th anniversary of the raid on Shawnee, a re-enactment of th raid, held at Old Shawnee Town, ended a day of tribute to the spirit of the people of Shawnee.

    The anniversary commemoration began mid-morning on Octo, as Chiber 17, 1987, with a ceremony infront of the Shawnee City Hall to unveil a historical marker designed by Charles Goslin and commissioned by the Historical Marker Task Force of the Shawnee Chamber of Commerce. The evening re-enactment involved members of the Shawnee Historical Society, the Westport Posse, the Shawnee Chamber and its Theatre Group, the Shawnee Fire Department and the community.The Town was filled with smoke and red glare, gunshots, and shouts as costumed particicpants in the roles of raiders and victims re-created the attack. Then, Fred Krebs as Chief Charles Bluejacket, comforted those gathered in the square and the Shawnee-Merriam Ministerial Alliance led a candlelight hymn-sing as thte last of the smoke drifted away.”

    This is a bittersweet memory for me, because so many friends from those days, as well Fred and my mother, who was Town Director from 1985 to 1993, have all passed away–and the town itself has been re-imagined as a 1929 farm town instead of the turn-of-the-century pioneer town that it was at that time.

    I don’t know if the picture of Fred in buckskins is that costume or not–it seems possible…

    Hope you are well and looking forward to the holidays. Please say hello to J.R. for me!


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