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

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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…
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