Archive | Kansas frontier

The Rise and Fall of Nicodemus

In 1878, a newly arrived settler in western Kansas looked over a small rise in the prairie, expecting to see the new, all-black town of Nicodemus rising before her like a beacon of hope. What she saw was a collection of “anthills”—small mounds of sod, some of them with chimneys poking up.  She burst into […]

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The End of Reconstruction and the Arrival of the Exodusters

For African-Americans in the former slave states, the promise of the 15th Amendment quickly proved hollow. As the searing experience of the Civil War receded, white America began to focus on reconciliation. This slow and difficult process required a shared narrative of the heroism—white heroism—that had strengthened the bonds of the Union.  The newly freed […]

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A Community Out of Chaos

Martha Bettis Cooper was a survivor.  In spite of the chaos and destruction around it, the city of Leavenworth prospered during the Civil War, and Martha and her family prospered along with it. By November of 1860, about a year after she and her son Drew arrived, she had bought a house lot worth $120. […]

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