Nicodemus

In July, 1877, Negro "exodusters" from Kentucky Established a settlement here in the Promised Land of Kansas which they named Nicodemus. Although the colonists lacked sufficient tools, seed, and money, they managed to survive the first winter, some by selling buffalo bones, others by working for the Kansas Pacific railroad at Elllis, 35 miles away. In 1880 the all-Negro community had a population of more than 400.

Their industry brought approving notices in Kansas newspapers. One story concerned a farmer who with one cow "broke and improved twelve acres of prairie and cultivated eight acres of corn.; his wife drives the cow and keeps the flies off." Another spaded a four-foot hedge row around 160 acres of land. Edward P. McCabe, who joined the colony in 1878, served two terms as state auditor, 1883-1887, the first Negro to hold a major state office.

By 1887 Nicodemus had churches, stores, lodges, a school and two newspapers, but its future was blighted when a projected railroad failed to materialize. Nevertheless, these pioneers who built so much with so little hold a proud place in the Kansas story.

Erected by the Kansas Historical Society and State Highway Commission

For more information about Nicodemus see:

Schwendemann, Glen "Nicodemus: Negro Haven on the Solomon" Kansas Historical Quarterly 34(1968):10-31

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August 17, 2000 / Bob Walter / Wichita, Kansas / history@kslib.info

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