Let Ness be Ness

Noah Van Buren Ness was a Civil War corporal with a statue of his own and a town and county named after him.

Suddenly, along comes trouble to inform the good people of Ness City in Ness County Kansas, that the man spelled his name Kness until 1862.

"Noah was Jewish and when he married his wife, Eliza Jane -- who was Christian -- he promised to convert to Christianity," [descendant Peter] Grace said. "He dropped the K so it wouldn't be the Jewish spelling."

A Civil War buff from Georgia recently walked into the Ness County Historical Museum wanting to know if the city and county were going to change their spelling. After all, the buff pointed out, Cpl. Ness was born and raised a Kness.

The man's name was Ness when the town and county were founded but "original" is more "historically accurate" to a lot of knuckleheads in this field. The problem is bigger than a mere K.

"He asked what it would take to change the name of Ness County and I said not a chance," said Mary Hall, the newly elected president of the historical society. But Hall said it did cause people to do some talking.