As we prepare to celebrate the 4th of July, did you know there is a Kansas connection to Mt. Rushmore. It’s true. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum spent some time in the Sunflower State.
He was born on March 25, 1867, in a territory that would become Idaho. At a young age his Danish-born parents moved the family to Nebraska. Borglum attended Saint Mary’s College in Topeka.
Borglum’s interest in painting and sculptures forced him to leave Kansas and study abroad in Europe.
Borglum would return to America and marry Mary Montgomery Williams, on May 20, 1909. They had three children, Lincoln, Mary Ellis, and Borglum Vhay.
His other public works include Stone Mountain in Georgia, the statue of Gen. Philip Sheridan in Washington, D.C., and a bust of Abraham Lincoln, currently kept in the United States Capitol crypt.
Borglum was an active member of the Freemasons, and would also become “deeply involved in Klan politics,” attending Klan rallies and serving on Klan committees. Although an article in the Smithsonian Magazine denied that there is proof that he officially joined the KKK.
Borglum began work on Mt. Rushmore in 1927.
After his death in 1941, his son finished another season at Rushmore but left before completion.
Borglum is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.