Front Page » Table of Contents » Archive: History: December 2010


Nepaholla Dreams (Part Three of Four Parts)

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. - So we have completed two regional visits, dabbling a bit in the mysteries of story and geography. What are we to make of this? What, indeed, is the point?

A full explication will not be forthcoming here. I will only position a few signposts, five to be exact, that help me, and perhaps you, engage the challenge posed by the somewhat immodest title of this article -- "Reclaiming the Sacred in the Kansas Landscape." Each of these warrants a full essay in itself, a task deferred for now.

The signposts:

1. Acknowledge the losses.
2. The sacred is located in relationship.
3. Language matters.
4. Place matters.
5. It's not over, it's just beginning.

WICHITA, Kan. - If Kansans want to understand their own local politics a bit better they might want to read Joan Waugh's biography: U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth. Waugh sets out to try and explain why so many Americans today believe Grant was a corrupt politician who drank his way to victory during the Civil War with callous disregard for his troops by sending them to their slaughter. She adeptly explains that this version of Grant was constructed by southern historians who did not think too highly of the common farmer who bested the elegant and aristocratic Virginian, Robert E. Lee.

Surprisingly we learn that Grant was a very gentle man, whose father made him attend West Point and whose skills in horsemanship had few equals but many admirers. Grant understood precisely why war was being waged. The South tied itself to an evil institution. To hold onto slavery meant maintaining power in Washington, D.C.


Rep. Garcia, Joe Ewers (IAM),
Miriam Pawel, Sandy Nathan
WICHITA, Kan. - On October 25, author Miriam Pawel gave a talk at Wichita's Watermark Books on her new book The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope, and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement.

The book is not a biography of Cesar Chavez or a history of the United Farmworkers. Rather it is a collective biography of eight people who jointed the farm workers movement and played important roles in the movement.

They include Eliseo Medina who was recently elected Secretary-Treasurer of the SEIU, making him the highest ranking Mexican-American in the US labor movement. Another of the eight was actually at the reading: Sandy Nathan, who worked on the legal team for the UFW.

Uneasy Burials on McDowell Creek

MCDOWELL CREEK, Kan. - Learning history is like reading a detective story--pretty soon you can't put it down. But history offers no final chapter where everything is explained. With history, the surprises just keep coming.

For example, I learned about one contentious burial here in my own community at the end of the nineteenth century that at first seemed a simple case of racism. In 1869, the Estes family migrated from North Carolina to McDowell Creek, where they helped to found the Briggs community.

They brought an African-American household servant and her daughter with them. The daughter grew up, married a soldier from the fort, and moved to New York, but the mother -- Delilah Estes, or "Lila," as she was known -- stayed with the family until her death in the 1890s. Joe Estes wanted Lila buried in the Briggs Cemetery, but the township board refused.

A fellow North Carolinian named Maxwell Ramsour -- who had provided the land for the cemetery in the first place -- contacted Joe and offered to bury Delilah on his own land. Ramsour's property adjoined the cemetery, and he dug a grave just outside the cemetery fence. That's where Delilah Estes was laid to rest. This solution did not soothe Joe's anger, however, and he immediately changed his own burial plans. "If Briggs Cemetery is too good for a Christian woman like Lila, then it's too good for me," he is reputed to have said. Indeed, when his own time came, he was buried in Fairview Cemetery, not Briggs Cemetery.

We have more! This page only lists entries in a particular month. We encourage you to look back through our archives in this same category.

The previous archive is History: November 2010. The next archive is History: January 2011.

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This is an archive page containing all of the stories posted to Kansas Free Press in one particular topic in a particular month. These stories were published in the History: December 2010 section.

The previous archive is History: November 2010. The next archive is History: January 2011.

The most current posts can always be found on our Front Page.

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