African American Kansas Student Papers

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The eleven essays included in this collection were painstakingly researched by students in African American Kansas, a Chapman Center for Rural Studies Course offered in 2008 and 2009. The lives and experiences of early black settlers in north-central Kansas appear concretely and vividly through these studies. Focused mainly on Riley, Geary, and Wabaunsee Counties, a few essays also include sites and persons in Hodgeman and Shawnee Counties. With the exception of the profile of early black female rancher Dicey Nichols by James Rivers, all of these projects were undertaken by undergraduates at Kansas State University. Student commitment to hours of fieldwork in cemeteries, abandoned pastures, tiny towns, depopulated landscapes, archives, museums, and courthouses has resulted in a historical rescue. Without this effort, the lives of African American settlers in this area of pre-1900 Kansas would remain obscure.

Dr. M.J. Morgan
Chapman Center for Rural Studies
Department of History
May, 2010


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Now showing 1 - 11 of 11
  • ItemOpen Access
    Rural African American Families, Thriving And Perseverant: Wabaunsee Township, Wabaunsee County, Kansas—1865-1925
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:39:01Z) Rivers, James Jr.
    James C. Rivers traces the life of an early African American female homesteader, Dicy Nichols. Buying a modest farm in 1867, Dicy Nichols lived there and raised a family until selling her land in 1883 to the Hart-Enlow Ranch. She stayed on the land as a tenant. The author provides photographs of the original site of her land in northern Wabaunsee County, as well as evidence drawn from land records and local recollections.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Landscape of Faith: Black Churches in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, 1881-1981 and The Black Baptist Church in Eskridge, Kansas, 1887-1963
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:36:32Z) Bush, Rebecca
    Rebecca Bush uses information gleaned from a year-long research project on locations and roles of early African American churches in Wabaunsee County. Although no church building yet stands, she has confirmed the sites of at least eight Baptist and AME churches through fieldwork, interviews, and early maps. She provides a case study of the Eskridge black Baptist Church prior to 1950. Included is a map with church sites identified and marked.
  • ItemOpen Access
    African American Familial Relationships: An Undiscovered History of African American Women in Kansas Beginning in 1930
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:36:12Z) Davis, Rymonda
    Rymonda Davis studies the historic familial roles in African American families. Based on a series of interviews with elderly black residents primarily in Riley County, she shows that the role of female authority figures – grandmothers -- was conceived differently than modern interpretations of black female leadership imply. The author explores the concept of what it meant to be "strong." Using stories and oral history, she profiles black families in the 1930s, as remembered by living respondents.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Health Care for African Americans in the Riley and Geary Counties of Rural East Kansas, 1880s-1930s: A study of the racial hardships and personal triumphs of black Kansans in professional medicine and traditional folk healing
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:35:52Z) Henson, Margaret
    Margaret Henson investigates the kinds of medical care available to rural and early town-dwelling African American settlers. Using archival documents and interviews with elderly black residents from Riley and Geary Counties, she describes practices of folk healing, faith healing, black midwifery, and shared home remedies in wide practice in impoverished areas and black neighborhoods. She includes research into early hospitals in Manhattan and their admittance policies.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Junction City, Manhattan and Topeka, Kansas School Districts 1930-1960: Patterns of Segregation
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:35:30Z) Wells, Loni
    Loni Wells analyzes the effect of the historic 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Examining three cities affected by the ruling – Topeka, Manhattan, and Junction City – she shows that each place had a different reaction. She ties these responses to the historic differences in their African American populations and neighborhoods. Only Junction City had integrated elementary schools and a citywide distribution of black families, whereas Topeka and Manhattan had rigidly-defined and segregated neighborhoods. Newspaper reporting in all three places reflects these differing histories.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Hardships Endured: The Morton City Settlement 1879-1880
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:27:18Z) Brown, Theodore
    Theodore Brown traces the origins of the little-studied Hodgeman County Exoduster settlement. Using archival material from Jetmore Museum and his own family history, he documents the stone masonry skills brought to western Kansas by former slaves in the 1880s. He includes photographs of the few remaining stone structures built by African-American settlers in the harsh, arid environment of the plains.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Junction City, Kansas in the 1930s
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:27:00Z) Mobley, Rebecca
    Rebecca Mobley describes African American life in Junction City, Geary County, in the 1930s. She examines the effect of the Great Depression on the black community, including descriptions of their residential areas, schools, livelihood, and churches. Her findings suggest discriminatory practices within an integrated school system but also, acceptance of the African Americans who settled very early in this area. The hard times of the 1930s created a shared experience for many Junction City residents.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Look at the United States 101st Colored Infantry and the Free Life of John Sullivan
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:26:34Z) Cunningham, Phil
    Phil Cunningham provides a bio-sketch of former African American Union soldier John Sullivan, who farmed in southern Wabaunsee County in the 1880s. A member of the 101st Tennessee Colored Infantry, formed in western Tennessee to support the Union cause, Sullivan and fellow veterans endured the violence of Reconstruction. Sullivan, the son of a slave and a plantation owner, migrated to Kansas and became a successful homesteader and community member. A group of Tennessee black Union soldiers is buried in Eskridge Cemetery. The author includes interviews with descendents and an analysis and photos of Sullivan's headstone insignia.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Ethel Mae Morgan: An African-American Biography Wabaunsee County, Kansas 1898-1989
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:26:12Z) Reimers, Lorraine
    Lorraine Reimers examines the life of Ethel Morgan, an African American quilter and oral historian from Wabaunsee County. Throughout her long life, in which she raised a large family and clothed them all by hand, Ethel Morgan strove to preserve the stories of African American settlers. She was known and loved for her beautiful quilts, exceptional home canning, devotion to the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church, and her local history knowledge. The author includes photographs of Ethel Morgan and her quilts.
  • ItemOpen Access
    District School #3: Alma, KS (1893-1925): A Case Study of Integrated Schooling
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T19:25:48Z) Schendt, Jamie
    Jamie Schendt writes a history of Bean School (District #3 one room school) in Wabaunsee County. Serving an integrated landscape of both white and African American farmers, Bean School was attended by Washington Owen, first black graduate of KSU. The author shows that Bean school played many roles in the community, including a shared Bible Study forum sometimes led by African American farmers. Early photographs of the school and plat maps are included.
  • ItemOpen Access
    African American Cultural History Relative to Blues Music and Its Origins in Paxico, KS, 1890-1930
    (Kansas State University. Dept. of History. Chapman Center for Rural Studies, 2010-05-19T14:46:45Z) Saenger, Allana
    Allana Saenger finds connections between the modern day Paxico Blues Festival and the African American population of early Wabaunsee County. She describes the tradition of church singing in black congregations with vivid a capella hymns and homemade tambourines. Interviews with blues festival organizer Marlene McKeithen highlight the family connections to this early black settlement and establish that many Kansas City blues musicians come from families in the Paxico-Newbury area.