French Kansas? — Student Report

Kathryn Jones, a junior pursuing a double major in literature and history, copies down an insciption in French on a child’s gravestone. On April 9, Katy and Dr. Morgan inventoried four remote cemeteries in northern Clay County, searching for evidence of French (primarily Nova Scotian) settlement near the Nebraska border.  They discovered five French family names and French language inscriptions in tiny Riverdale Cemetery south of the Republican River and Clifton.

Riverdale is a long-vanished community. Searching out these lost traces of towns and people is a prime initiative in Chapman Center. Katy has a French minor and is excited to be able to use her understanding of French in her Lost Communities project. “I told my parents I’m doing research that really matters,” she says. “I’m finding things no one else has ever thought important.”

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