|Last Name||First Name||Maiden Name||Birth Date||Death Date||Age||Source||Remarks||Contact|
|Nichols||Viola||Miller||01-Aug-1875||Feb-1968||Social Security App.||Marian Douglas|
From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
For a time in early Leavenworth County history, it looked as though the community of Kickapoo might outdo Leavenworth in growth and political importance.
Even before the Kansas territory was officially opened, this Salt Creek Valley town had sent a delegation to Washington, established several businesses, started two church missions, and when the time came, found a burial spot for settlers and Indians.
The Kickapoo Cemetery, located on today's County Road 18, received the dead of this small community and eventually grew into a well tended tract of land where 500 people were buried.
The names of such well known pioneer families as the Buchanans, Schweizers, Logans, Rennenslands and Daniels may be found on the headstones, while a grove of pine trees marks other graves where headstones were never placed. The mayors of the early-day Kickapoo community were buried there, as were the sons of one of the state's first territorial governors. A well known citizen, Mrs. William Oliphant, had the distinction of being the oldest Kickapoo resident when she died just a few days short of her 100th birthday. Her marker may also be found at the Kickapoo.
As with the Langley Cemetery, the Kickapoo opened its ground for the first recorded burial to an infant, the daughter of John Baker, a Kickapoo merchant and farmer. He selected a spot atop a hill on his farm and buried his little girl. As time went by others in the community asked whether their loved ones could join his daughter and regular burials began to take place.
Sources close to Leavenworth County history say some of the first burials in the county probably took place at the Kickapoo Cemetery because of the Kickapoo Methodist mission established near there in the 1830s. Several people born in slavery were also buried there.
The cemetery wasn't formally organized until the 1880s, but once the land had passed from Baker, it was never broken by a plow. Instead, its owners left it a burial ground. In most recent years, land gifts from the Baker family and from Kenneth and Ruth Scott have enlarged the cemetery.
During this century, burials became less frequent and the cemetery was allowed to lapse into a state of disrepair -- that was until two county residents took it upon themselves to restore the cemetery. Both had family buried there and it was a matter of respect, so the story is told.
The late Gilbert Rennensland and Woodrow Logan set out in 1959 to improve the grounds and thanks to their efforts and hard work, their dream came true. They were aided in their efforts by Rose Mussett Hill, who still serves as the secretary to the cemetery board.
She spoke of the two men not long ago from her south-central Leavenworth home. She outlined their efforts and emphasized their work made the cemetery the pleasant site it is today.
"They got all this started back in the late 1950s," she said. "They started by writing letters and asking for donations to clean up the cemetery."
A cemetery board was formed in response to an extensive mailing campaign and the first meeting was held March 19, 1959 with 125 people attending. Logan was elected chairman with Rennensland as vice chairman. Two weeks before Memorial Day, they sent out 150 letters to potential donors and gifts of $1,680 were received, according to an article appearing in The Leavenworth Times, May 26, 1972.
Their letter writing continued for many years and they even took their concern a step further by traveling throughout Missouri and Kansas enlisting the support of the descendants of people buried at Kickapoo. A memorial trust fund was started to make improvements and to provide for regular upkeep by a permanent caretaker.
Rennensland took over the job of caretaker not long after that, then Logan accepted the position once he had retired from Fort Leavenworth. It was Logan who watched over the installation of new entrance pillars, a flag pole, cattle guards, 200 tons of rock to improve the cemetery lane and landscaping to restore "the cemetery to its natural beauty."
Article donated by Debra Graden, President
Leavenworth County Genealogical Society, 1998
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