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.

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Semester Wrap-Up at the Chapman Center

On April 17, Alumni Fellow Judge Patricia Seitz and her husband, attorney Alan Greer, visited Chapman Center’s African-American Kansas class. Judge Seitz shared her experiences at K-State and law school that shaped her career as a U.S. District Court Judge in Florida. She talked about the process of judicial decisions, legal precedents, and the role of the Appellate Court. But she also took the time to meet each student in the class. It was an honor to have her with us!

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Judge Patricia Seitz and husband, Attorney Alan Greer, visited the Chapman Center for Rural Studies to speak to Dr. Morgan’s History 533 African-American Kansas class about issues such as the justice system and the role of the Appellate Court.

Blake Hall-Latchman speaks with Judge Patricia Seitz after her presentation.

Earlier, on April 10, students took their last field trip to the southern boundary of Manhattan. Standing on the flood-control levee, they viewed the fields and timber fringe along Wildcat Creek, the area historically known as “the Bottoms.” Here lived quite a number of resourceful African-American families, making a living from the river and the rich floodplain. The Bottoms disappeared after the 1951 flood.

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The last field trip for History 533: African-American Kansas class in the Spring of 2014.

Using plat maps that clearly show the location of the small farmsteads in the Bottoms, students traced the route that school children walked to the Douglass School — crossing muddy fields, two rail lines and several busy streets.