Adams Peak Cemetery: Adventure in History

Lost Kansas Communities Students and Gravestones

Blog by Mallory Harrell, CCRS Fall 2016 Intern

In September, Dr. MJ Morgan, her Lost Kansas Communities class, and other interested visitors participated in a field trip to the Adams Peak cemetery located in western Pottawatomie County. The cemetery had once been a part of the town of the same name, now long gone. Dr. Morgan’s purpose of the trip was to give students opportunity to learn about the process of deciphering and drawing information from head stones which are often rich sources of historical research.

Adams Peak lies within the Shannon Township of Pottawatomie County. It was named for the small hill that was reportedly located near the site of the community’s post office. This cemetery and the names etched upon the stones are all that remain of the town.  The gravestones yield what may seem like a Adams Peak Gravestonemodicum of information which can be absolutely vital in forming a cohesive part of the history of any town.

Using the gravestone inscriptions, students were able to construct a simple history of the toll disease took within Adams Peak town. Student research later confirmed epidemics of scarlet fever, diphtheria, and small pox in the area. This was especially supported by the tragic abundance of small children’s graves within the cemetery. In particular, one family had appeared to have lost four children to disease in a very short period. Many of these stones were very difficult to read due to their age, which resulted in many students adopting whatever position necessary to read them.

in the grass at Adams PeakFor example, the grave being examined in the photo at right, is one of the oldest in the cemetery. This student found it necessary to lie flat on his stomach to read it.

Dr. Morgan commented that this field trip marked a record for her as the 75th rural Kansas site visited and also being an opportunity to allow students from five different Chapman Center Courses to explore visible evidence of the past. According to Dr. Morgan: “This was Mark Chapman’s original vision for our Center. He wanted K-State students to learn by going out into the hidden places of Kansas, even if it meant – as with Adam’s Peak – encountering these sad stories of human struggle and loss.”

It’s no secret that history can be full of tragedy, but it’s clear that no tragedy can shake the human spirit that is constantly at work within human society throughout the ages. By learning about the sad events of yesteryear we become wiser in our endeavors for the future. It is the duty of any historical researcher to preserve those lessons taught by the past and to make sure that we continue to search for them wherever they may be.


Welcome Fall 2016 Interns!

Meet the Chapman Center for Rural Studies’ three new interns: Brandon, Bo, and Mallory.

They have joined the Center while we usher in the “Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills” exhibit. Each have helped prepare thematic and town displays, clean artifacts, and keep the coffee flowing!

Brandon Williams, CCRS 2016 Fall InternBrandon Williams

I am a sophomore history major; I plan on finishing my undergraduate degree by 2021 before pursuing a PhD. I hope to one day be a historian who emphasizes research on small rural towns.

I am currently working on an inventory of a collection of articles donated to the Washington County Historical Society in tandem with the Lueb Camera Collection. In addition to this, I am going to be creating a second inventory on a collection of glass plate negative photographs taken of the small town of Clifton, Kansas, held in the town’s museum. I was born in Springfield, Missouri, but spent much of my life growing up in Kansas City, Kansas. I am a member of a large, blended family. My step-mother is a Kansas State University alumni and was a pivotal part to my coming to K-State for college.

Outside of my family, I am passionate about being outdoors, as I hunt, fish, and trek hiking trails. When not outdoors I enjoy writing, pottery, and spending time with my friends.


Bo Lin, CCRS Fall 2016 InternLin Bo

I’m currently a senior from Guangzhou, an hour west of Hong Kong, China. I want to pursue graduate school in Europe and expand my perspectives on correlation between the past, current, and the future. I would like to be in the field of Medieval Studies in the future education.

I am working on a project that relates to a monastery in Scipio, a vanishing town in Anderson County, Kansas. I am focusing on a mission that this monastery was sent out to Texas in 1881. I’m excited to be researching religious history and contributing to the Chapman Center.

I like playing chess when I am free because it is literally a game about history. I also like debating with people and discussing current events. After all, we all live in history.


Mallory Harrell, CCRS 2016 Fall InternMallory Harrell

I am a senior majoring in history and am planning to graduate May 2017. My current plans following graduation include furthering my experience working in the fields of either public or archival history. I also plan on pursuing a graduate program in either museum studies or library science.

My internship project primarily involves the production of a history and inventory for a series of primary source documents pertaining to the Clay Center Library Club. This project will be in collaboration with both the Chapman Center for Rural Studies as well as the Clay Center Historical Society, as the documents I will be examining are recent additions to their collections. I’m especially thrilled to be conducting research on a subject that has never before been explored and one that relates to my love of literature. I am also generally excited for the opportunities that the Chapman Center may make possible through the experiences I’ll have here throughout the semester.

I’m from a small town near Kansas City called Tonganoxie. I’m a lover of history and all things literary.  I have my history-teacher mother and speech-teacher father to thank respectively for each of these. I also share a love of discussing theater, animation, film, and several other visual mediums with my sister Lauren. In my spare time, I can often be found exercising, watching history documentaries or reading classical literature.

Chapman Center Intern and 2016 Graduate, Anthony Porter, Leaves Written Legacy

Anthony Porter Spring 2016 webby Dr. MJ Morgan, Research Director, Chapman Center for Rural Studies

Chapman Center for Rural Studies intern, Anthony Porter, a 2016 K-State graduate, Bachelor of Arts (BA) in history, left a written legacy of his time with us. Anthony’s study of the vanished community of Magic, Riley County, Kansas, appears in the May issue of Kansas Kin, published by the Riley County Genealogical Society (RCGS). “Magic: The Ultimate Vanishing Act” was an invited piece and marks the start of a fruitful collaboration between Chapman Center and RCGS.

Magic, Kansas, Schoolhouse

Magic, Kansas, Schoolhouse

We hope to offer more student work for inclusion in Kansas Kin as undergraduate researchers tackle the long-disappeared communities, villages, and trading centers of a lost Kansas landscape. Like many of our researchers, Anthony used both documentary and oral history sources, conducting interviews with Magic community descendants.

Through leads and contacts often suggested by RCGS, students learn to piece together the fascinating and sometimes quirky history of rural Kansas. Readers can also enjoy Anthony’s study of Magic in our Lost Communities Archive, at (Click the link, scroll down below the featured photograph, and click the printer icon on the black top bar above the pdf-copy of Anthony’s Magic paper. You can now print off and read Anthony’s paper at your leisure.) 

Coming Soon: make sure to catch Anthon’s digital museum exhibit on the Quivira Society, an early 20th century amateur archaeology club in Wabaunsee County appearing later this summer in our Kansas History and Life Collection.

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

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!

Changing Seasons

Please join us in welcoming the new and returning interns, as well as new staff to the Chapman Center this fall! In addition to the new interns this fall, we a new Digital Humanities Graduate Teaching Assistant, Kelly Dyer. Our new staff and interns will be bringing new life to our Lost Communities Archive and our K-State webpage, as well as increasing our presence on social media! You can check out the new changes to the archive here. We’re excited to introduce you to our new and returning interns who will be working in the Chapman Center this fall!

Senior, Haley Claxton (Left)

Pictured here (left) with her sister, Courtney, in front of the Claxton Fruitcake company in Claxton, GA, Haley is a senior History major and English minor. Finding out that there was a town that shared her family name was the highlight of her summer whirlwind tour of the South with her family! (Though it was named only after being told that the original name, “Hendricks,” was already taken, and there is much dispute about who “Claxton” may have been, it was still exciting for her to find a personal link to history.) When not spending time traveling this summer, she studied for the Law School Admissions Test. Haley hopes for a future law career that includes following in the footsteps of Indiana Jones (but in a business suit) to ensure historical artifacts can be acquired by museums so they can be more easily shared with the public. Along with reading and studying immense piles of books on presidential assassinations and public memory of historical events, Haley spends time as a member of the KSU Mock Trial Team, Arts and Sciences Ambassadors, and Mortar Board Senior Honorary.Haley can’t wait to get started on a new and exciting internship with the Chapman Center!

Returning Intern Jessica Hermesch, junior in Public Relations.

Jessica Hermesch is a junior in public relations with a minor in history and is returning for a second semester as a Chapman Center Intern. This fall, Hermesch is researching the Underground Railroad through Nemaha County, Kansas. She is also researching the life and military involvement of George Adams Sr., a WWI veteran with multiple descendents who have been involved in both K-State and the US military. Jessica is a member of the K-State chapter of PRSSA, and the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications Ambassadors. She also works as a Tutor Coordinator in K-State’s Writing Center. After graduation, Jessica hopes to work in the public relations field, preferable in event planning.

Michael Spachek is a junior majoring in history. He grew up interested in history specifically the first hundred years of the MichaelUnited States centered on the Revolutionary and Civil War eras and World War II. Michael’s interest in the Civil War took off in high school when he visited Gettysburg and Fords Theater in Washington D.C. Michael is in his first semester as a history major since switching from wildlife biology after taking a course on African American Kansas and being accepted as an intern at the Chapman Center. His research uses his experience with maps, topography, and historic map interpretation. After graduating Michael hopes to go to graduate school for public history and work at a historic site educating the public as well as maintaining and researching public history.

BlakeBlake Latchman, from Chicago, IL, will graduate this May with a BA in History. Blake is currently seeking full time employment after graduation, but with no concrete plans, he is excited to find out where he will land. Blake intends to study urban planning in graduate school, and hopes to become a city planner. Blake has a passion for food, travel, design, and fashion. This photograph with his pal FDR was taken in Washington DC this past summer over the 4th of July weekend.

Join us in welcoming our interns and new staff! You can continue to follow our work here and on Facebook and Twitter!

Old Mills in Kansas

On April 6, Research Director M.J. Morgan gave a Kansas Speaker’s Bureau talk (Kansas Humanities Council) on the culture of early settlers and food production to a historical museum in Fredonia, Wilson County. Wilson County is threaded with the streams and creeks of three major river watersheds: the Neosho, the Verdigris, and the Fall Rivers. In 1880, the area had over 12 working grist and merchant mills, built predominantly by settlers from Indiana and New York.

One left standing on the Fall River below Fredonia is still beautiful, despite age and wear.

The Old Fredonia Mill, Present Day.

The Old Fredonia Mill, Present Day.

Though old, the Fredonia mill is still functioning today.

The Fredonia Mill once served a thriving community.










The Old Iron Club is vitalized through volunteer efforts of community members who celebrate the diverse heritage of their southeastern county. Leanne Githens, Secretary-Treasurer of The Old Iron Club, explains,

Quotation“In the fall, the Iron Club holds the Wilson County Old Iron Days for 4 days and we are host to around 2,000 school children from southeast Kansas. The children visit about 30 exhibits and working demonstrations of rural ways of the past, both farming and domestic arts. We love doing it and teaching children, and our response is very positive. As an organization, we are committed to finding ways to preserve the knowledge of the past and how things work.”

For more information about the Wilson County Old Iron Days, go to their website:

Advertising the Old Iron Club in Fredonia, Kansas.

Advertising the Old Iron Club in Fredonia, Kansas.

Chapman Center is proud to have contributed to this striking effort to preserve the history of Kansas!