He arrived in Wichita in the spring of 1899. And until 1978 he held court at Riverside Park. So where is the “Boy With The Boot?”
Let’s step back in time. Mayor Finlay Ross was upset by a $400 per year increase to his paycheck. In protest, he used the $400 to purchase a fountain, “Boy with Boot” for Riverside Park.
For 70 years it stood in front of the Park Villa pavilion. That was until 1969, when vandals destroyed it. The city bought a new, bronze copy of the statue in 1978.
The statue is one of many around the country. Best known as the “Boy with the Leaking Boot,” is a four foot tall statue showing a young boy, with a bare foot, holding up his boot and looking at it. The origins of the statue are obscure. In some versions the boy is supposed to be a young newspaper seller who drowned, or an American army drummer-boy who carried water to help his fallen comrades, or a young fire-fighter using his boot after an incident, or possibly none of these.
While the exact origin of the “Boy with the Boot” is uncertain. It is believed the first statues appeared in the U.S. around 1895, and came from Germany. The story goes that Mr. Henry Braun, of Cincinnati, Ohio brought the molds with him. It was often said that Henry was an “uncle” of Eva Braun.
So where is the “Boy with the Boot?”
In my research I discovered he was restored and moved to the third floor of the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum. However, at some point he was moved into Heritage Park which is on the backside of the museum. He may no longer be a fountain for water, but he is a fountain of history. (Huh, yeah, see what I did there?)