Reading Cards
4. Gardens and Orchards


  1. Coming to Kansas
  2. Shunganunga
  3. Lime for Kiln and Quarry
  4. Gardens and Orchards
  5. Letters from Home
  6. Traveling on the River
  7. Native Americans in the Kansas Territory
  8. John Brown and the Ritchies
  9. Becoming a State
  10. Building a Community


The Ritchie family had enjoyed a comfortable life in Indiana. There were good roads, schools, churches, businesses, and lots of jobs where people could earn money.

Store shelves were stocked with all the items families needed: needles and thread, bolts of cloth, brushes and combs, lamp oil and soap. There was even commercially canned food like oysters and cherries.

Gardens and orchards provided fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce was dried or stored in cellars for the long winters. John and Mary Jane never worried about having enough food for their family.

When the Ritchies arrived in Kansas in 1855, they found one crude shack where molasses, cornmeal and meat were sold. It would take weeks and months to build stores and fill them with goods. It would take months and years to raise gardens and fruit trees.

The Ritchies had brought supplies with them, but it was impossible to bring all the food they would need. John had to go all the way to Missouri just to buy apples and potatoes for the family to eat during the winter. It was a long journey by wagon over very rough roads. To keep his precious cargo from freezing on the trip, John packed the fruits and vegetables in straw.

Later on, Missourians would bring wagon loads of produce to Topeka. Prices were very high and it might take a day's wages to buy a bushel of apples.

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