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Nicodemus in Graham County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Nicodemus

 
 
Nicodemus Marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
1. Nicodemus Marker
Inscription. In July, 1877 Negro “exodusters” from Kentucky established a settlement here in the Promised Land of Kansas which they named Nicodemus. Although the colonists lacked sufficient tools, seed and money they managed to survive the first winter, some by selling buffalo bones, others by working for the Kansas Pacific railroad at Ellis, 35 miles away. In 1880 the all-Negro community had a population of more than 400.

Their industry brought approving notices in Kansas newspapers. one story concerned a farmer who with one cow “broke and improved twelve acres of prairie and cultivated eight acres of corn: his wife drives the cow and keeps the flies off.” Another spaded a four-foot hedge row around 160 acres of land. Edward P. McCabe, who joined the colony in 1878, served two terms as state auditor, 1883–1887, the first Negro to hold a major state office.

By 1887, Nicodemus had churches, stores, lodges a school and two newspapers, but its future was blighted when a projected railroad failed to materialize. Nevertheless, these pioneers who built so much with so little hold a proud place in the Kansas story.
 
Erected by State Historical Society and State Highway Commission. (Marker Number 42.)
 
Marker series.
St. Francis Hotel image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
2. St. Francis Hotel
Constructed in 1881 of native stone, it has been expanded and sided after 1900.
This marker is included in the Kansas Historical Society marker series.
 
Location. 39° 23.65′ N, 99° 36.826′ W. Marker is in Nicodemus, Kansas, in Graham County. Marker is on U.S. 24. Touch for map. It’s actually on South Ave, which parallels US 24 in town. The marker is on the east end of town between 1st and 2nd Streets. It faces US 24. Marker is in this post office area: Bogue KS 67625, United States of America.
 
Regarding Nicodemus. Nicodemus National Historical Site includes the entire town. There is a visitor center with information and background in the old Township Hall at the corner of 1st and Main. It’s visible across the lawn from the marker to the southeast.
 
Also see . . .  Nicodemus National Historic Site. (Submitted on September 27, 2007, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana.)
 
Additional comments.
1. Nicodemus Marker
Per the Kansas Historical Society web site, This sign was replaced in 2011-2012. Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted October 13, 2014, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona.

 
Categories. African AmericansMan-Made FeaturesSettlements & Settlers
 
District #1 School image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
3. District #1 School
First Baptist Church image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
4. First Baptist Church
This is the 2nd or 3rd church used by the congregation. Built in 1907 of cut limestone. It was covered in stucco in the 1940's.
Nicodemus Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, September 22, 2014
5. Nicodemus Marker
Nicodemus, established in 1877, was one of several African American settlements in Kansas. The 350 settlers came from Kentucky to escape the problems of the oppression of the “Jim Crow” South. Residents established a newspaper, a bank, hotels, schools, churches, and other businesses. They enjoyed much success despite the hardships and challenges of late 19th century High Plains settlement— wind, drought,swarming insects, and more.
The town grew rapidly through the 1880s and many prospered. But when Nicodemus failed to secure the railroad, growth slowed and the population began to dwindle after World War I.
Edward P. McCabe, who joined the colony in 1878, served two terms as state auditor, 1883-1887, the first African American elected to a statewide office in Kansas.
A symbol of the African American experience in the West, Nicodemus operates today as a unit of the National Park Service.
Township Hall is visible behind the marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 27, 2007
6. Township Hall is visible behind the marker
Nicodemus Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, September 22, 2014
7. Nicodemus Marker
Nicodemus Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, September 22, 2014
8. Nicodemus Marker
Township Hall (1939) image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
9. Township Hall (1939)
Today, the Township Hall is a visitor center for the historical park the seeks to preserve the buildings of Nicodeums.
African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
10. African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church
Built in 1885 of native Limestone. It was stucco covered in the 1940's.
Nicodemus image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, September 22, 2014
11. Nicodemus
A second Marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
12. A second Marker
Nicodemus Established 1877 Cuisine Commerce Geography Art Customs History People Architecture
The National Park Sign right of the historic marker image. Click for full size.
By Christopher Light, July 26, 2007
13. The National Park Sign right of the historic marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 6, 2007, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana. This page has been viewed 2,236 times since then and 66 times this year. Last updated on February 18, 2008, by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 6, 2007, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana.   5. submitted on October 13, 2014, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona.   6. submitted on August 6, 2007, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana.   7, 8. submitted on October 13, 2014, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona.   9, 10. submitted on August 6, 2007, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana.   11. submitted on October 13, 2014, by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona.   12, 13. submitted on August 6, 2007, by Christopher Light of Valparaiso, Indiana. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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