Stylized Sunflower

BEERSHEBA

Stylized Sunflower
 
In 1882 the first Jewish agricultural colony in Kansas was established when some 60 recently arrived Jewish immigrants from Russia, sponsored by the Hebrew Union Agricultural Society, settled northeast of here along Pawnee Creek. Named for the ancient city of Beersheba, the colony stretched over several sections of land, each family homesteading 150 acres. Dugouts and sod houses were constructed for homes, a synagogue, and school. Cow chips were used for fuel. Wells were dug and the native prairie was plowed and planted. Within the first few months, a wedding took place, a baby was born, and the first death occurred.
 
Farming proved to be unprofitable and severe winters produced hardships. To supplement their meager incomes, colonists sold their equipment and livestock, took jobs with the railroad, mortgaged their land, and established businesses in nearby Ravanna and Eminence. As the two towns died out in the 1890s after a bitter county seat battle lost by both towns, the colonists sold or abandoned their homesteads. A decade after the colony was established, none of the colonists remained and the land reverted to prairie.
Erected by Kansas Historical Society and Department of Transportation
 
Finney County  
Rest Area at junction of K156 & K23
Finney County
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December 29, 2001 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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