Lincoln County's
Black
Settlers


Because Kansas was a free state whose central and western areas were largely settled after the close of the Civil War, blacks were among the state’s early pioneers. In western Lincoln County a community of black settlers at one time numbered between 60 and 70 people. Not much has been written about this group, which slowly died out or moved on. Some of the surnames of the black settlers are Watts, Poston, Bruster, Stewart and Newell.
These are some gleanings about the black settlers from the early county newspapers. Please note that the language, such as the use of the word "colored," is indicative of the time and therefore has not been changed. The black settlers celebrated Emancipation Day nearly every year and from the newspaper reports it appears that folks from all around the area participated.

Lincoln Banner, Wednesday, 6 August 1884

Colored picnic.
At Buster’s grove.
It was last Monday.
The complexion was streaked.
A.G. Hardesty (white) presided.
E.A. McFarland (white) made a good speech.
Walter Reed (colored), our talented fellow townsman, made an eloquent and able address.
An adjournment for dinner found the usual full baskets of excellent edibles, to which everybody had recourse. No finer dinner was ever spread for any picnic than the one prepared by Mother Buster.
Space forbids more than a mention of the exquisite toilets of some of the colored ladies. They eclipsed their paler sister.
Then came speeches of A.B. Rhodes, A.S. Sutton, Ira C. Buzick, A.G. Hardesty, Reuben Williams and Jas. Smth. All pretty white.
City kids danced with the colored girls.
City girls danced with the colored kids.
Everybody had fun. Of course they did.

Lincoln Republican, July 30, 1891

Emancipation day will be duly celebrated Aug. 4, at Brusters grove. Good speakers will be there, and ample facilities for amusements of all kinds. A good time will be had by all who attend.

Emancipation Day Picnic

Friday, Aug. 4, in Bruster’s Grove, on Bacon Creek.
Emancipation Day will be celebrated Aug. 4, in Bruster’s grove, and in no other place in this vicinity, and the managers promise more than a usually attractive program. There will be a variety of amusements on the grounds and everybody is invited to come and enjoy a day’s outing.
There will be a lifting and striking machine, a target range, a fortune wheel and an open air dance in the grove.
A steam-power merry-go-round, carrying 50 people, will be on the ground, affording the cheapest and most exciting pastime ever put before the people of this and surrounding counties for their patronage.
A choice literary and musical program has been prepared, as follows:
Music
Declaration of Independence read by James Dengate
Song, Colored Choir
(Commencing at 2 o’clock)
Music
Oration, E.A. McFarland
Declamation, F.F. Case
Address, Rev. W.L. Cannon
Song, Colored Choir
Recitation, Miss Myrtle Buzick
Recitation, Miss Mabel Bredes
Address, G.D. Abel

Lincoln Republican, Aug. 6, 1891

The Lincoln orchestra went to Bruster’s grove Tuesday to assist in the celebration … Our colored brethren had a very pleasant day for their celebration, on the 4th, at Bruster’s grove. …
There was a good crowd at the emancipation picnic Tuesday but they were there for fun, and did not care for speaking. Mr. Baker and several other speakers were there, but the dance, swing, ice cream stand etc. were so attractive that it was impossible to secure the attention of a sufficient number of justify the orators in drawing the cork. All present had a good time, however.

Lincoln Republican, July 27, 1893

Emancipation day will be observed at Brusters grove Aug. 4.

Lincoln Republican, Aug. 10, 1893

A considerable number of Lincoln people attended the Emanicipation picnic at Brusters grove and Wolf Creek last Friday. A good time was had at both places, but Wolf Creek caught most of the crowd.

Lincoln Republican, June 17, 1897

Craig Bruster (colored) tells us that no steps have yet been taken, so far as he knows, to celebrate Emancipation Day (Aug. 4) on Bacon Creek. Mr. Bruster also informs us that what is known as the "Bacon Creek settlement" now contains from 25 to 30 colored people. The greatest number of colored people the settlement ever contained was 65 early in the ‘80s.

Lincoln Republican, Sept. 9, 1897

Charles R. Poston will sell a lot of stock, cattle horses and hogs and some farm implements and other goods at public auction at his farm in Battle Creek township on Friday, Sept. 17. He is going away for the winter to run his corn sheller where more corn was raised.

Lincoln Republican, July 10, 1902

Emancipation Day will be celebrated at several points in this county on various dates ranging from Aug. 1-4.

Lincoln Republican, July 24, 1902

Charles R. Poston has taken his threshing machine to Graham County for the fall. If the corn crop comes out all right he will be back here to run his corn sheller next winter.

Lincoln Republican, Nov. 27, 1902

Andrew Alexander, of Cawker City, and Mary E. White, of Sylvan Grove, are to be married at the home of the bride. Both are colored. The ceremony is to be performed by Rev. W.L. Render, also colored.

Obituaries for some of the black settlers appear in the early newspapers. What is unclear is where many of these settlers were buried. Some were presumably buried on their farms, but perhaps there is an old burial ground somewhere that remains undiscovered. It is also possible they were buried over the county line as well. Several are buried in area cemeteries and their graves marked.

Lincoln Beacon, June 3, 1886
Jordan Bruster

Jordan Bruster was born in old Virginia in the year 1797 and in 1812 moved to Kentucky with his master. In 1818 he married Miss Lydia Prather. In 1840 he bought his time of his master, paying $750 for the same. In 1858 he bought his wife and paid $250 for her time. In 1872 himself and wife and children and other friends moved to Lincoln county, Kan., where he took a homestead of 160 acres, upon which he lived until his death. He died of a kidney affection [affliction]. He was sick but two weeks. He was the father of 12 children – three sons and nine daughters. One son and one daughter preceded him to the spirit land. He leaves an aged wife, 10 children, 35 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and many other friends to mourn his loss. He died at the ripe old age of 89 years, 3 months and 10 days. He lived a consistent christian life for 46 years. A very large procession followed him to his last resting place.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County cemetery records, but death register indicates he was buried in Rosette Cemetery.]

Lincoln Beacon, Feb. 20, 1890
Henry Stewart

Henry Stewart (colored), of Hanover township, was found dead in his stable last Sunday evening and is supposed to have died of paralysis. He was living with his grandson, a boy about 17 years of age, and was last seen alive about 3 o’clock p.m. He was found by the grandson when the latter went to the stable to attend to the evening chores. Monday morning the coroner was summoned and a jury empanelled. The above facts were elicited and the jury returned a verdict that deceased came to his death from paralysis. The funeral and interment took place Tuesday.
The deceased was 66 years of age and had lived along with his 17-year-old grandson a number of years, on a homestead. He had been in feeble health for some time and was supported almost wholly by his grandson’s industry. He was highly respected by the entire community.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records.]

Lincoln Republican, Jan. 15, 1891
Brant Bruster

Brant Bruster died in Pottersburg, Monday, Jan. 5. He attended school here and showed himself to be a very bright colored man.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records.]

Lincoln Beacon, Jan. 23, 1896
Maria B. Poston

Maria B. Poston (colored), wife of Charles Poston of Battle Creek township, died Jan. 11, of dropsy, aged 41 years, 6 months and 20 days. The funeral services were held Jan. 12, at the Prairie Grove school house, conducted by the writer, assisted by Rev. J.S. Strange, and were attended by a very large concourse of people. The interment was made in the Prairie Grove cemetery.
Mrs. Poston had lived in Battle Creek for about nine years, and was loved and respected by all who knew her. She leaves a husband and six children, father and one sister. Her father came, but too late to see her.
[Burial not found in Lincoln County records.]

Lincoln Beacon, Sept. 30, 1897
Mary Belle Thompson

Mary Belle Thompson (colored) died at the home of Aunt Nancy Jamison, in Madison township, Sunday, Sept. 19, after a severe and protracted illness borne without a murmur or complaint. She was 77 years of age.
For nearly 50 years she had been in the family of Wm. Mitchell deceased, near Lewiston, Penn., and for 11 years past with Aunt Nancy Jamison.
Truly can those whom she so faithfully served these many years say, "Well done, though good and faithful servant." None were ever more faithful and trusty in the discharge of what they believed to be their duty than Aunt Mollie Thompson, and well did the neighbors who knew her for the last few years testify to the love and esteem they had for her in the kindness and respect shown her in her sickness and at her funeral. Aunt Nancy, Louie Kadatz and some others could not have done more for their nearest relatives. They will have their reward.
Rev. L.W. Fitzwater, their nearest neighbor, preached a very appropriate sermon to a large audience. Those who conducted the singing could not have selected more appropriate songs or rendered them better. And all those who so kindly waited on Aunt Mollie may be assured that it was fully appreciated by Aunts Nancy and Louie who so often said, "What good neighbors we have."
At Aunt Mollie’s request she was laid at rest in the Freedom [Washam] cemetery in the spot in which the remains of Grandmother Mitchell rested for a short time before being re-interred in a distant cemetery a few years ago.
Aunt Mollie was a member of the M.E. church for many years, tho she said to many that she was a Presbyterian.

Lincoln Sentinel, Feb. 14, 1901
Craigg Bruster

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 1901, at his home in Hanover township, Craigg Bruster, a negro upward of 80 years of age. He was alone at the time and probably died of heart disease. He came to this county in 1872 and has resided here ever since. He had raised a family of 12 children, but only one, J.E. Bruster, the youngest, survives. Funeral services were held on Saturday.
[Buried not found in Lincoln County records.]

Lincoln Republican, March 17, 1904
Alexander Newell

Alexander Newell, colored, died at his home in this city Saturday morning [March 12], aged about 93 years. The funeral was held Sunday afternoon, conducted by the G.A.R. Post of this city. He was an old soldier and an old settler here. The remains were interred in the Lincoln Cemetery.

Lincoln Republican, April 13, 1905
Frank [Unknown]

Frank, the colored man who has been an inmate of the county home for a number of years, died Sunday and was buried Monday. [Death is not in Lincoln records; it is possible Frank is buried at the Poor Farm, where there are 10-12 unmarked graves.]

If anyone has more information regarding any of these settlers, please contact Tracee Hamilton.


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Bill and Diana Sowers, Lincoln County Coordinators
Tracee Hamilton, Lincoln County Coordinator


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