Morganville, Kansas and Fèves, France - a tale of two villages

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Morganville, Kansas and Fèves, France - a tale of two villages

In 1947, the village of Morganville, Kansas, population less than 300, wanted to help the people devastated by World War II. The village decided to adopt Fèves, France, a small farming community. It thus became the smallest community in America to ever form a sister-city relationship with a foreign community.

The story of what followed was broadcast across the United States and Europe, mentioned in newspapers across the country and featured in a book. Milton Eisenhower, brother of president Dwight Eisenhower, believed strongly in these people-to-people arrangements and Milton's influence led directly to the president creating Sister Cities International in 1956.

The Fèves home of Mr. Rondel and his daughter.

The citizens of Morganville were not wealthy. They decided to produce a pageant, complete with an original play, to raise funds and educate their neighbors to the need.

Fèves schoolmaster Henri Torlotting was a key person involved in the distribution of the items that began arriving near the end of 1948. So early in the friendship that developed between the villages, plans were set in motion to have Henri and his wife Mathilde visit Morganville.

Over the months and years that followed, Fèves recovered with the help of the materials provided by Morganville, the Marshall Plan and the efforts of the resilient citizens of Fèves. During that time and subsequent years, several citizens of Morganville were able to visit their sister city near Metz. But for reasons that are unclear, neither the Torlottings nor anyone else from Fèves ever visited their small partner village on the Kansas prairie.

Until 65 years after the pageant!

Mr. Gérard Torlotting, nephew of schoolmaster Henri Torlotting, visited Morganville on Sunday, December 29, 2013, accompanied by his wife Solange, son Hervé, daughter-in-law Christine and grandchildren Paul and Emma. A reception was held in the old elementary school gym.

A celebration was also held outside the city hall in Fèves on Saturday, May 31, 2014 when Kansas State University professor Gloria Freeland, her husband Art Vaughan and their daughters Mariya and Katherine visited Morganville's sister city.

And on Thursday, September 10, 2015, 20 citizens of Fèves visited Morganville and Clay Center, Kansas.

Schoolmaster Henri Torlotting, nephew Gérard, age 7, and
Henri's wife Mathilde. Photo probably by Ed Utley in 1949.

This website tells the story of how these two small villages, who did not even know the other existed at the start of 1948 and were separated by an ocean, language, and religion, became friends; how that friendship later faded and then was reborn.

On September 10, 2015, Fèves citizen Roger Wechtler presents Morganville Mayor Brent Rundell with a road sign giving the distance from Morganville to her sister city.

The "Preface" page of this website is the starting point of the story about how the villages came to reconnect. The "Table of Contents" provides a way to skip parts of the story as well as access related information that provides additional background.

As time becomes available, a version of this story will be available in French. This will almost certainly be done on an incremental basis.

In the spring of 2016, the sign presented to Morganville was posted on the east side of Morganville. Mayor Brent Rundell has his hand on the post.

If your curiosity was piqued by the flags across the top of this page, the one at the far left is the flag of the United States and the one at the far right is the flag of France. Next to the American flag is the flag of Kansas. Adjacent to the French standard is the flag of Lorraine, the administrative region of France containing Fèves. In the center, is the coat of arms for the village of Fèves.

If you have any questions, comments or other musings about the Morganville-Fèves story or any related matter, please contact us.

Art Vaughan