Lost Kansas Communities


Lost Kansas Communities


Welcome to the main online research collection in the Chapman Center for Rural Studies! This large, and growing collection of undergraduate projects undertaken in the Chapman Center is updated with new work each semester. With support from an NEH Digital Humanities Grant in 2009, this digital archive has grown in size and importance as an online resource for anyone interested in the stories of lost communities and their significance in the broader sweep of US history. This digital archive is a National Humanities Alliance recognized high impact NEH project, www.nehforall.org and was chosen in 2017 as an example of the ways in which the National Endowment for the Humanities serves as a catalyst for the exploration and preservation of our nation’s past.

In these place-based projects, undergraduate student authors explore and document one of thousands of Kansas’ small towns, villages and named crossroads that existed at one time. Most are gone now, although some retain real connections and community spirit. Chapman Center students began contributing their town studies to this digital archive in 2009.

These documented histories include every Kansas region and post-Euro-settlement decade, from 1840 through to the current day. All include archival and contemporary images to evoke the distinctive character of a community. It is the words of student authors, however, that bring a town to life:
“The people of Delia helped each other in good times and in bad which has kept the town together and formed them into the community they have become. Their old Czech culture influenced by the Anglo culture has transformed the community into what it is today: a small town which has not lost its pride or identity.” - Richard Kirmer

Collection Items

Orion, Gove County
This study of the slowly-vanishing town of Orion explores the western Kansas environment and the founding of a community in 1886. Wheat farmers claimed large farms in this area. Named for a schoolteacher, Orion had a vital life through World War II,…

Springdale, Leavenworth County
The author describes the life of an early Irish Catholic settlement in eastern Kansas. Originally a Quaker community, Irish immigration "exploded" there just after the Civil War, eventually stamping the town with a particular religious culture. After…

Ladore, Neosho County
In southern Neosho County, the "wild west" community of Ladore flourished between 1869 and 1901, when its post office closed. Early events including gambling and lynchings stamped the town with a legendary character. The author writes an engaging…

Dispatch, Smith and Jewell Counties
Located on the border of both Smith and Jewell Counties, tiny Dispatch was founded by the Dutch Reformed Church. When the church split along doctrinal lines, two cemeteries evolved for two different church populations. The main church was founded in…

White Rock Township and White Rock City, Republic County
The White Rock Valley in Republic County saw Indian violence from both the Cheyenne and the Pawnee. This essay traces the founding of the town of White Rock City and its decline during the railroad years. The vital early years of the town are…

Berea, Franklin County
"A Flash in the Pan with a Lasting Legacy" by Laine Raitinger A history of the early settlement of Berea Kansas in Franklin County, Kansas.

Leonardville and Riley, Riley County
Two towns located five miles apart make for instant rivals. Located in Riley County, the towns of Leonardville and Riley competed to establish a post office and attract the attention of a railroad. Leonardville won the first battle and boomed while…

Old Wabaunsee, Wabaunsee County
James C. Rivers traces the life of an early African American female homesteader, Dicy Nichols. Buying a modest farm in 1867, Dicy Nichols lived there and raised a family until selling her land in 1883 to the Hart-Enlow Ranch. She stayed on the land…

Early Paxico, Wabaunsee County
Allana Saenger finds connections between the modern day Paxico Blues Festival and the African American population of early Wabaunsee County. She describes the tradition of church singing in black congregations with vivid a capella hymns and homemade…

Bean School, Wabaunsee County
Jamie Schendt writes a history of Bean School (District #3 one room school) in Wabaunsee County. Serving an integrated landscape of both white and African American farmers, Bean School was attended by Washington Owen, first black graduate of KSU. The…
View all 189 items

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