Lillis, Kansas: In Puzzle Pieces

10122016-lillis-ksby Mallory Harrell, CCRS Fall Intern 2016

Every semester, K-State students enrolled in Dr. Morgan’s ‘Lost Kansas Communities’ class are given the responsibility and opportunity to create their own piece of historical research. This is the very research fueling a large portion of the Chapman Center for Rural Studies.

Among the students enrolled this semester is Mary O’Connor, and her subject? The lost town of Lillis, Kansas, a community which once flourished in southeastern Marshall County on Irish Creek, established between the years of 1856 and 1860.

O’Connor, a senior majoring in psychology, enrolled in ‘Lost Kansas Communities’ after taking a history of Kansas class over the past summer. Her interest in Kansas history grew as a result of both the class and her personal ties to Kansas. “I’m interested in the Kansas historical aspect because it’s where I’m from, and there are many stories about resilience.”

10122016-lillis-ks-blueprintMiss O’Connor also intends to offer a very personal touch to her project. She explained that her interest in researching Lillis largely stems from her own family history. “I’m mostly interested in it because it was founded by Irish Catholics and my Catholic background roots are from Nebraska. I wanted to find something similar because my family has a very similar story.”

One of the more fascinating aspects of the Lillis project involves a town plat that had been donated to the Chapman Center several years ago. It came in many pieces due to its age.

Mary has committed to piecing together the plat like a puzzle as a part of her project. “It’s cool to see that piece of history and not knowing its story, it’s like a cool mystery to put together because you can tell it has a lot of history behind it.”

Mary is also grateful to be working with another donated collection from Francis Hupp, long-time resident of Lillis.

Linda Hupp Morse offered this collection of letters, newspaper clippings, maps, and stories collected over a lifetime by her mother, Frances Hupp, of Topeka. Mary is excited for the opportunity to interview Francis Hupp about her memories of Lillis.

This emphasizes one of the most fundamental rules in studying history:  information can be found anywhere even if one may not know exactly where and how to begin looking. All it takes is a little passion and enthusiasm!

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