Passion for History Evident in Smallpox Research

04282016 Shannon Nolan Emmalee Blog 3By Emmalee Laidacker, Intern

Every semester, students in Dr. Morgan’s Lost Kansas Communities class research a local history topic that interests him or her. Students then write an in-depth essay detailing the results of their semester-long research. For her project, “The End of an Old Enemy: Smallpox in Clay County from 1900-1925,” Shannon Nolan discusses the devastating effect the epidemic had on the small communities in Clay County.

Small towns were especially vulnerable to the spread of disease due to many hospitals and doctors often being poorly-equipped to treat contagious disease. Railroads had the catastrophic ability to transport disease from town to town with ease. Shannon also mentions specific cases of infection among unlucky residents in Clay County. Only two out of three people infected with smallpox survived, but the disease has since been eradicated with the last known case occurring in 1977.

Portor Morgan Clay CountyShannon is a sophomore majoring in secondary education with a focus in social studies. She chose to take the class due to her strong interest in history.

“The syllabus said we got to write our own paper and I thought that was really interesting to be able to do our own research in a field that I’m interested in. I just really like history so I thought it would be a good fit.”

Like all students, Shannon faced a number of challenges during the research process.

“I’m not from Kansas, so I didn’t have any connections to any town or area in Kansas, and so I decided, instead of focusing on a lost community, I wanted to focus on a broader topic that would make more sense to me…”

Prevention From State Board of HealthAfter doing some research, Shannon discovered that there were a high number of smallpox cases in Clay County and decided it was the topic for her. Other obstacles Shannon ran into simply included a lack of information. “There were a few years that I couldn’t find any research from so that was pretty difficult… Also, pinpointing the exact reasons why this disease was stopping.” She visited Clay County museums in order to fill in the gaps in her smallpox story.

Despite this Shannon enjoyed many parts of the research process, including sifting through original documents. “I liked looking through all the old books that we have here at the Chapman Center and seeing the doctor’s notes first-hand; I thought that was really cool.”

Shannon has always had a passion for history which is the reason she decided to incorporate her passion into teaching; it is the best of both worlds. “You get to teach but you get to teach what you love.” she said.

With her degree, Shannon plans on teaching American history abroad and then later in her career, plans on working for a non-profit organization by teaching women’s rights in developing countries.

Straight to Video: Meet our Chapman Center undergraduate researchers

Chapman Center for Rural Studies undergraduate students and researchers Make History come to life!  Check out this video/slide show of who we are, what we do and why; and where we are headed. Click here for the Spring 2016 Video (or you can click on the photo below)!

CCRS Staff Fall 2105

Wondering what new Lost Kansas Communities have been added to our online archive?
Click the photo below to find out!

Wabaunsee Cowboy

You are invited to the Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills exhibit coming to the Flint Hills Discovery Center this fall! You’ll have a chance to tell your town’s story in our “Story Store,” explore hidden histories of people and places of the Flint Hills, and discover more about what has made Kansas and the Flint Hills home to so many for so long.

Screen shot advert from open house video

You’ll also find all the Chapman Center for Rural Studies news online at www.k-state.edu/history/chapman.

Student’s Lost Town Paper Exceeds Expectations

PNP245580 Defending the Fort: Indians attack a U.S. Cavalry post in the 1870s (colour litho) by Schreyvogel, Charles (1861-1912); Private Collection; Peter Newark Military Pictures; American, out of copyright

Defending the Fort: Indians attack a U.S. Cavalry post in the 1870s (colour litho) by Schreyvogel, Charles (1861-1912)

Blog Article by Emmalee Laidacker, Chapman Center for Rural Studies Intern

Last semester, Dr. Morgan’s Lost Kansas Communities class was tasked with writing an 8-10 page essay on a lost town of their choosing. They were expected to carefully and extensively examine its history, often uncovering new information in the process, and are given the full semester to do so. One such student, however, completed this assignment to an incredible extent. Darren Ivey, submitted his paper, “Lonely Sentinel:  Fort Aubrey and the Defense of the Kansas Frontier, 1864-1866”, which thoughtfully illustrates the history of Fort Aubrey along with the men who were stationed there.

Located in Hamilton County and formerly known as Camp Wynkoop, Fort Aubrey was named after explorer and trader Francois Xavier Aubrey. The fort’s life was short-lived, as it was abandoned after a number of troops deserted their post. Unfortunately, very little remains of Fort Aubrey today.

Darren Ivey, K-State student

Darren Ivey, K-State student and author

The study itself is over thirty pages in length, while the bibliography comes to nearly fifteen, making Darren’s submission an impressive forty-five pages in length.  “There was a lot to say”, said Darren, a former firefighter from Hutchinson, Kansas. “I wanted to exercise my research and writing skills”. Darren stated he has always had an interest in history since grade school, but more specifically “…in the American Civil War, mainly the cavalry of both sides, and the West, especially the frontier army and the Indian Wars; Texas Rangers, U.S. marshals, and other lawmen; and gunfighters.”

Ivey said he “perked right up” when Dr. Morgan mentioned the word “fort” in class and selected Fort Aubrey due to the fact it had not been thoroughly researched yet. Because Fort Aubrey existed for such a short time, he mentioned that one challenge was “just having enough there to really talk about, which apparently I did.”

Surprisingly, Darren went the extra mile in another area; he purchased the right to use the painting on the front page of his essay. Because the image he was set on using was copyrighted, he had to obtain permission as well as pay a fee to the copyright holder. “I emailed Bridgeman [Art Library] and asked for a quote. In a series of emails, the account manager and I eventually figured out which fee would be most appropriate for usage on a class project, and inclusion on the Chapman Center’s archives… The whole process only took about two days to complete, and the final fee was not outrageous.” He had already been familiar with the artist’s work and wanted to use the painting because it was one of few that depicted Fort Aubrey.

Darren Ivey has also authored a book, The Texas Rangers: A Registry and History and is currently in the process of writing another, making him no stranger to researching, writing, or studying the past. He plans on submitting his Fort Aubrey essay to a magazine.