Kansas man brings history to life
By RANDY GONZALES
Nolan Sump was a history buff even as a kid. But what he really enjoyed was living history.
Now as an adult, Sump is a living history interpreter. He was at the 41st annual Oktoberfest Friday, portraying Johannes Wilhelm Rauschenberg, a composite character of a German immigrant farmer.
"I decided if I was going to get involved in history, (it would be) in a situation where I was a character from the past," Sump said.
In addition to his German farmer character, Sump has two others, Nehemiah Green, the fourth governor of Kansas, and another composite figure of a Dust Bowl farmer from the 1930s.
Sump, who grew up in Green, got started as a living history interpreter by participating in Clay County's living history festival.
From there, he researched a German immigrant farmer character, and has been playing the part of the fictional Rauschenberg for 14 years.
On Friday, he was regaling a small audience of the life and times of Rauschenberg, circa 1880. Sump's character was born in the Duchy of Brunswick in 1853, during the height of Prussian autocratic rule in Germany.
"I enjoy researching," Sump said. "For example, my German immigrant farmer, (I chose him) because I wanted him to be a lot like my great-great-grandfather, Henry Sump.
"I wanted to get a better idea of what it would be like to live in the Duchy of Brunswick from this person's point of view, and settling in the same area as Henry would have settled."
Sump, 38, lives in Blue Springs and is a gifted student teacher for the Hiawatha school district. His job limits performing at other schools, but he does various events, such as for historical societies.
"I enjoy performing before a receptive audience of people that really appreciate what it would have been like to be an immigrant farmer," Sump said. "I also enjoy being able to take a part of our state's history, and really bring that to life, that people don't think about anymore. I really want people to appreciate the fact of where we came from, because our history is important. People have to remember where we came from, and all the adversity we had to go through."
During his presentation Friday, Sump was dressed in authentic period garb, and even had a German accent he used, plus he sported a handlebar mustache.
"I've had a couple people tell me they like my accent, which is very nice," Sump said. "I've had little kids come up and say, 'I love that mustache.' "