Nicodemus

Nicodemus, an exoduster settlement on Highway 24, 13 miles east of Hill City, is the last survivor of the dozen all-black communities founded in the state in the years following the Civil War. Settled in 1877, Nicodemus has been the subject of numerous articles, books, and television projects and is a designated National Historic Landmark District. A dugout house two miles east of Nicodemus has also been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Kansas Historical Marker:

"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 Ellis, 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 12 acres of prairie and cultivated 8 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 a 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 railroad failed to materialize. Nevertheless, these pioneers who built so much with so little hold a proud place in the Kansas story."

The first school and first church in Graham County were established at Nicodemus in the winter of 1877 - 78.

The only remaining business is the Nicodemus Historical Society Museum, which operates sporadic hours. Although modern Nicodemus contains only approximately 20 people, it remains the oldest all black community of the western frontier.

Nicodemus is extremely proud of it's connection with "The Buffalo Soldiers" and offers the following information regarding all-black participation in the military..

In 1997, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. A Time Warner Company, produced a film made for television named "The Buffalo Soldiers", and Nicodemus's very own Barry Tompkins both acted in the movie and provided technical assistance in the area of horsemanship.



To: Graham County