Nicodemus in Graham County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
Main Street Boom and Beyond
Nicodemus National Historic Site
"Nicodemus was growing into a busy little town. New houses were being built by people coming in. Different enterprises began to originate. Conditions began to improve."— Nettie Craig Teacher 1886
Main Street Nicodemus grew out of hard work and determination into a viable business district through the hands of former slaves. Zach T Fletcher became one of the town's most successful merchants after opening the first black business in 1878. A bank, law offices, two newspapers, a hotel, post office, several stores, and cafes lined these streets.
Abuzz with the prospect of securing a stop on one of the railroad lines to the expanding West, more than 25 new structures came in 1886. By the fall of 1888, Nicodemus residents knew a railroad would never come.
When the railroad bypassed Nicodemus, most merchants moved. Travel was deflected from Nicodemus to nearby Bogue. Despite this setback a few black merchants persevered — Zach and Thomas Fletcher, Nicodemus' perennial capitalists, still operated the Saint Francis Hotel, the livery stable, and a farm implement business. Jenny Fletcher, Zach's wife, ran a millinery
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• Julia Lee's Café, 1920s
The café seated more than 30 patrons. The J.B. Crowley Grocery and General Merchandise operated here until the early 1900s.
• Blow In Café, 1949
Fredonia and Ray De Priest owned the Café in the 1950s. A team of mules moved this building from Nicodemus township.
• St. Francis Hotel, 1881
Owned by Zach T. Fletcher included a livery stable and coral. The Switzer family has live here since the 1930s.
• The First Baptist Church, 1907
The first church established in Nicodemus. The original 1880 building is within the 1907. The congregation still meets in the adjacent building.
• S.G. Wilson General Store, 1880
Built of locally cut stone, the store was purchased and operated by G.M. Sayers starting in 1896.
• S. W. Green General Store, 1880
Became the Masonic Hall in 1893.
• Post Office
Closed in 1953.
• Priscilla Arts Club,1940s
Previously this structure was the Cracker Box School moved here from Nicodemus Township.
• Nicodemus Township Hall, 1939
A depression era project, is the community's center for social activities.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the National Historic Landmarks series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1885.
Location. 39° 23.592′ N, 99° 36.876′ W. Marker is in Nicodemus, Kansas, in Graham County. Marker is at the intersection of Washington Avenue and 2nd Street, on the left when traveling east on Washington Avenue. Marker is located beside the sidewalk, directly in front of the Nicodemus National Historic Site Visitor Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 304 Washington Avenue, Bogue KS 67625, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Together We Gather (a few steps from this marker); St. Francis Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Mail From Back Home (within shouting distance of this marker); Nicodemus (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Leaning On The Land (about 500 feet away); We've Come This Far By Faith (about 600 feet away); First Baptist Church (about 700 feet away); Nicodemus Baseball History (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nicodemus.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Nicodemus National Historic Site
Also see . . . Nicodemus National Historic Site (National Park Service). Founded by newly freed slaves in 1877, Nicodemus was a refuge from the Reconstruction-era South, a reflection of a mass black migration from the South to the Midwest after the Civil War. An all-black outpost on the frontier, this “unsettled” land offered a chance for black farmers and their families to start anew. (Submitted on March 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on March 28, 2019. It was originally submitted on March 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 95 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.