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Folklore: Nicodemus, Kansas

Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 09 - 06:14 PM
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Subject: ADD: Nicodemus
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 06:14 PM

Nicodemus was the first of a dozen Black towns established in Kansas in 1877 and following years.
Many Blacks fled the south in 1877 following the failure of Reconstruction to protect them.

An announcement from the Nicodemus Town Company, July 2nd, 1877, offered lands in Graham County, government lands in the "Great Solomon Valley of Western Kansas." On the south fork of the Solomon River, the broadside mentioned "numerous springs of living water, "an abundance of fine Magnesian stone," the possibility of finding plenty of coal. The "country is rather rolling, and looks most pleasing to the human eye."
Maps, etc., from the General Manager, W. R. Hill.
"The name of our post-office will be Nicodemus, and Mr. Z. T. Fletcher will be our "Nasby""
The offering was signed by Rev. S. P. Roundtree, Sec'y.
Appended was a variation on the song "Wake Nicodemus," Henry Clay Work (original lyrics in the DT).

Here is the variant-

NICODEMUS

Nicodemus was a slave of African birth,
And was bought for a bag of gold;
He was reckoned a part of the salt of the earth,
But he died years ago, very old.

Nicodemus was a prophet, at least he was as wise,
For he told of the battles to come;
How we trembled with fear, when he rolled up his eyes,
And we heeded the shake of his thumb.

Good time coming, good time coming,
Long, long time on the way;
Run and tell Elija to hurry up Pomp,
To meet us under the cottonwood tree,
At the first break of day.

The town's heyday lasted only ten years; in 1888 the railroad bypassed the town. The farms, however, persisted since the land was of good quality. The town exists today as a National Historic Site, with a few heritage buildings and a very small population.
During the exodus from the south, blacks in Kansas increased from c. 17,000 to c. 45,000. They were called "Exodusters."

www.kansasmemory.org


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