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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Nicodemus in Graham County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Main Street Boom and Beyond

Nicodemus National Historic Site

 
 
Main Street Boom and Beyond Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 6, 2017
1. Main Street Boom and Beyond Marker
Inscription.  
"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
Marker detail: Nicodemus 1885 image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Nicodemus 1885
"About the year 1885, the country began to boom. Things looked promising. The colonists were able to raise farm products on their land and Nicodemus herself took on a new life."- Lula Craig
shop. Jake Riley operated another livery stable and G.M. Sayers ran a general store — demonstrating determination, resilience, and commitment to a land they loved.

(marker background image captions)
• 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.
 
Erected by
Marker background image: Nicodemus 1940 image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 6, 2017
3. Marker background image: Nicodemus 1940
"A visitor here in 1918 found only two businesses in existence, one a restaurant with a "two-by-four counter, a box turned upside down for a table, and the rest of the fixtures of the same type… No stores remained in 1950, and three years later the government withdrew its post office there. The black haven on the Solomon had become almost a ghost town."
— Norman Crockett in The Black Towns
National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
 
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. Touch for map. Marker is located beside the sidewalk, directly in front of the Nicodemus National Historic Site Visitor Center. 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 5 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. Francis Hotel (within shouting distance of this marker); Nicodemus (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Nicodemus (about 400 feet away); First Baptist Church (about 700 feet away); Nicodemus Baseball History (approx. 0.2 miles away).
 
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
Main Street Boom and Beyond Marker (<i>wide view; Nicodemus NHS Visitor Center in background</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 6, 2017
4. Main Street Boom and Beyond Marker (wide view; Nicodemus NHS Visitor Center in background)
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.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansIndustry & CommerceSettlements & Settlers
 
Nicodemus Historic District National Historic Landmark plaque (<i>located near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, September 6, 2017
5. Nicodemus Historic District National Historic Landmark plaque (located near marker)
Nicodemus Historic District
and Dugout House

has been designated a

National
Historic Landmark


This site possesses national significance
in commemorating the history of the
United States of America

1976
National Park Service
United States Department of the Interior
 
More. Search the internet for Main Street Boom and Beyond.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 28, 2019. This page originally submitted on March 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 36 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 28, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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