Updated: Lost Kansas Communities Archive

KIC Image 0003Have you checked out the updated Lost Kansas Communities archive at lostkscommunities.omeka.net?

We’ve added several Lost Town profiles this summer including:

and more!

You’ll meet the people who cast their hearts into the Kansas wind, plowed the soil, worked the cattle, taught, served, doctored, and represented their fellow prairie pioneers.

They lived and worked in sod houses, lean tos, limestone, and clapboard homes and wove the traditions of their homelands into what is now Kansas.

We invite you into the stories of people and place as researched and written by undergraduate students of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies.

We do Biography!

Orchid Ramsey Jordan

Orchid Ramsey Jordan

You’ll find biography among Kansas place histories in Chapman Center for Rural Studies online archives.

With the Chapman Center for Rural Studies’ growing collection of lost community histories of Kansas (currently 147 and climbing), our undergraduate work is best known for recovering a sense of place.  Tiny faded towns – from Doniphan County in the northeast to Hamilton County in the southwest – spring to life again as students research and write about them.

Most of these places have no written history aside from a church history or a small entry in a county history.  Yet Kansas is more than its lost communities and more than its current thriving ones!

Kansas has been built and sustained through the energy of a truly remarkable population, and here at Chapman Center, we also celebrate the lives of our people.  Below are listed interesting bio-essays and the links to find them in our collections.  These studies prove that there are no “just plain Kansans.”  While their lives have not been illuminated until Chapman Center undergraduate students wrote about them, these are truly extraordinary, ordinary Kansans.

Morgan Snyder BaseballQuilter & Historian, Wabaunsee County
Ethel Mae Morgan: An African-American Biography Wabaunsee County, Kansas 1898-1989, by Lorraine Reimers http://goo.gl/TVNC1J

Small-town Clay County girl and Missouri State Representative
Generations of Achievement: The Family and Early Life ofOrchid Ramsey Jordan in Clay Center, Kansas, 1910–1928, by Haley Claxton http://othercollections.omeka.net/items/show/34

1930s Professional baseball player, Clay County
Morgan Snyder
 (1909-1990): Clay Center’s Contribution to Professional Baseball by Garrett Clerisse http://othercollections.omeka.net/items/show/31

George Earl Adams SrBrown County farm boy & WWI soldier: a legacy of military service
George Earl Adams, Sr.: The Beginning of a Legacy, by Jessica Hermesch http://othercollections.omeka.net/items/show/33

Journalist and author of Small World, Long Gone, Chautauqua County
Avis D. Carlson (1897-1987): Not Simply an “Obscure Housewife” by Erin Strathe http://othercollections.omeka.net/items/show/24

Union Army & Tennessee Colored Infantry veteran, successful Wabaunsee County farmer
A Look at the United States 101st Colored Infantry and the Free Life of John Sullivan  http://goo.gl/49N8l9

Chapman Center Summer Interns, Graduate Research Assistant, & Their Projects

Summer 2015 Busy with Research, Digitization, and Exhibit Development
Summer 2015: Chapman Center for Rural Studies interns, Graduate Research Assistant, and Executive Director

Summer 2015: Chapman Center for Rural Studies interns, Graduate Research Assistant, and Executive Director

The Chapman Center for Rural Studies welcomes three new interns (Alex Good, Trey Heitschmidt, and Patrick Moran) and one returning intern (Michael Spachek) for a summer of diving into history!

The Chapman Center continues to partner with organizations across town and around the state. K-State senior, Michael Spachek, is learning to digitize the Wabaunsee County Historical Society & Museum’s extensive collection of original glass plate negatives of settlers and places in the Flint Hills. Chapman Center Board of Directors member, Greg Hoots, author and archivist, has partnered with the Center to help launch the transfer of images from glass to digital memory.

Alex Good, also a senior, is working to capture photos, slides, and documents illustrating the rich history of the Historic Rogler Ranch. The ranch began with a long walk from Iowa to Kansas in 1859 and today is home to Pioneer Bluffs prairie heritage education center.

Maud (Tarr) Sauble, Champion Buckaroo, 1919   Photo courtesy of Pioneer Bluffs Foundation

Maud (Tarr) Sauble, Champion Buckaroo, 1919 Photo courtesy of Pioneer Bluffs Foundation

Trey Heitschmidt, junior in History, is helping to research the Lost Towns of the Flint Hills for a Chapman Center and Flint Hills Discovery Center joint exhibit opening September 2016. The exhibit will offer visitors the opportunity to add their stories to the Lost Town studies featured.

Son of a career Army officer, Patrick Moran, is a transfer student who is working on behalf of the Chapman Center with the City of Manhattan and Fort Riley Cavalry Museum to honor Riley County veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States. The auditorium, dedicated September 1955, adjoins the Manhattan City Hall offices and City Commission Room. Patrick’s work includes researching soldiers not currently remembered in the Peace Memorial.

Graduate Research Assistant for Digital Humanities, Katie Goerl, works directly with the interns and Chapman Center faculty to move our research, archives, and collaboration into the age of digital communication.


Thank You to Our Local Historical Societies

History 200 student researchers exploring the Broughton, Kansas, town site (Spring 2015)

History 200 student researchers exploring the Broughton, Kansas, town site (Spring 2015)

As we look towards a busy and exciting fall semester, more field trips are going up on the calendar — and most of them are to our affiliate research partners. Our students visit and work in five historical societies most consistently:  Clay County Museum and Historical Society in Clay Center; Geary County Historical Society in Junction City; Wabaunsee County Museum and Historical Society in Alma; Rock Creek Valley Museum and Historical Society in Westmoreland; and our own Riley County Historical Society here in Manhattan.

At these welcoming venues, curators and museum volunteers answer questions ranging from, “How can I find out who owns the land at the corner of Sycamore Creek Road and Cedar Bluff Road?” to  “How does this thing work?” or, “When was that schoolhouse built?”  Volunteers put students in touch with local people and land owners; they provide telephone numbers, help them read old maps, and suggest sources to try. The work our students undertake, recovering obscure histories for (often) overgrown and abandoned acreage, really does depend so much on just talking to knowledgeable residents.


Nola Wilkerson, Curator, Rock Creek Valley Historical Society, speaks with MJ Morgan, Chapman Center Research & Curriculum Director, and History 200 student researcher (Spring 2015)

This month we are thanking two historical societies in particular for their assistance last year. Rock Creek Valley Historical Society in Westmoreland is one of our oldest research partners, going back to 2008 when Chapman Center was founded. Curator Nola Wilkerson, shown in this spring 2015 photograph, has been a wonderful help, as have board members over the years. This historical society was organized in 1976; its first site as a museum was in an old stone Evangelical Lutheran church. By 2001, the museum had grown, moving to land donated by Farmer’s State Bank in Westmoreland. Today it includes a modern and spacious museum building, an annex filled with old printing equipment from the Westmoreland newspapers, and an original 1850s log cabin moved in from Nemaha County.  Students can go into the cabin; they marvel at the tiny space where a large family endured harsh nineteenth-century winters.

Chapman Center students have worked in this historical society on many projects:  rural crime, lost towns, African-American settlement, artifact histories (such as those on cider presses and box telephones); and they have analyzed the early history of German settlers whose cabins dotted the prairies around Rock Creek. The field trip to Rock Creek Valley Historical Society is one students love, as they are permitted to look through old volumes of the Westmoreland newspapers (wearing white gloves, of course)!  They also have access to wonderful illustrated atlases, scrapbooks, and photographs.  This museum graciously opens especially for student researchers, a benefit we truly appreciate. Thank you to Nola Wilkerson, board members, and volunteers in Westmoreland!

This summer we will be posting to our digital archives a collection of outstanding work on African-American history in north-central Kansas.  Our research interns worked long hours between September and May on five very challenging projects. One of those in particular, Blake Hall-Latchman’s project on the Manhattan Bottoms, depended greatly on the assistance provided by Riley County Historical Society. Archivist Linda Glasgow often worked with Blake as he searched out the elusive history of this transient African-American neighborhood along Wildcat Creek and the Kansas River just south of Manhattan.  Linda provided maps, collections of newspaper clippings, and most important, the Manhattan City Ordinances, which Blake used extensively in his project.

Linda Glasgow, Archivist for the Riley County Historical Society, assists Chapman Center intern, Blake Hall-Latchman, with his research (Spring 2015)

Linda Glasgow, Archivist for the Riley County Historical Society, assists Chapman Center intern, Blake Hall-Latchman, with his research (Spring 2015)

Thank you to Linda, and also, to Cheryl Collins, director, for the hours of help and ideas they have provided. A local study like Blake’s depends on a “then and now” comparative approach, because the geography of Manhattan Township has changed so much between the 1880s and today. Blake studied at least six different maps of Manhattan and the township to determine the exact location of The Bottoms relative to the city.

Whether it is on class field trips or for year-long individual projects, our students benefit so much from the research venues opened to them at county historical societies.  They profit most of all from working with highly-trained and astute local people who are interested in their work and in them. In the end, it is always about people. A hundred year old map reveals some interesting things… but it is the people we talk to who give us the stories we preserve and remember.

Check out the student-researchers’ work on the recently-updated Lost Kansas Communities online archive!

Do you remember Bodaville, in northern Riley County, Kansas?

bodaville sign and skyDo you remember Bodaville, in northern Riley County, Kansas?

All that’s left of this little town on the prairie are two signs at a quiet crossroads.

Lost Communities researcher, Kevin McKeon, is hunting for Bodaville‘s history. He is especially eager to find descendants of the original Boda family, homesteaders in Riley County from Germany and Sweden.

bodaville tombstone crop and clean

Rural Kansas is filled with these mysteries…such as this small group of stones found along the back fence in a cemetery not far from Bodaville.

bodaville limestone sign curving gravel road in background

Their Memory Lives

Leo Chapman, the father of Mark Chapman, contributor to the Chapman Center, passed away peacefully on April 10th in Clay Center, Kansas.

Irene and Leo Chapman

Irene and Leo Chapman

Leo was born June 4, 1919 to Chris and O’Tillie (Dietrich) Chapman. He attended Hannibal Grade School and graduated from Clay Center High School. He attended Kansas State University for 2 years where he earned a letter in wrestling.

He married Irene Elizabeth McCully on October 19, 1940. They were married for 72 years.

Leo was an entrepreneur. He was a farmer, cattleman, developer, general contractor, real estate and stock broker, appraiser of farmland and property, antique dealer, and held many auctions.

While in his 70’s and 80’s, he competed in Senior Olympics, even taking 3rd place in the shot put at the National Senior Olympic Meet.

Leo was a member of the United Methodist Church and served as a member of the Trustees Committee. He was one of the originators of the Good Friday Men’s Breakfast. He served on the boards of: Broughton School District, Broughton Telephone, Broughton Watershed, Clay Center Coop, and Clay Center Utilities Committee. He was a member of the Lion’s Club and the Chamber of Commerce.

His hobbies were many. Refurbishing old upright pianos and pump organs, collecting & selling R S Prussia china, Vaseline glass and quilts. He also was a craftsman of fine wood furniture, giving many pieces to his children and grandchildren.

He went big game hunting in Colorado for years and was an avid hand fisherman.

He is preceded in death by his wife, Irene, son, Mark Allan, and baby daughter, Rena Lee.

Survivors include daughter-in-law Cheryl Mellenthin, Cat Spring, TX, son, Christopher (Edee Medley) Chapman of Richland, WA, daughter Julie (Dennis) Rice of Winfield, KS. Sister, Beulah (Chapman) Avery, Raytown, MO.

Grandchildren Amy (Frank) Burns, Lexi (Todd) Giblin, Carter Chapman, Jesse (Jeri) Chapman, and Carl (Louise) Chapman. And 5 great grandchildren.