Nicodemus, Kansas -- Negro Exoduster settlement
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Finding it...
Hwy. US-24 about 13 miles East of Hill City, Kansas

Angela Bates-Tompkins reinacts

See also:
Library of Congress info
Nicodemus Nati'l Park site

This Site, KS Photo Tour

A Town's Survival
   —Topeka Capital-Journal      7.16.2006

The town of Nicodemus was a planned community devoted to Black settlement in the years after the U.S. Civil War. Founded in 1877 by a White town planner and a Black preacher, Nicodemus was settled primarily by freed slaves from Kentucky. The harsh living conditions and climate were overcome for a time, and the settlement grew to include two newspapers, three general stores, at least three churches, a number of small hotels, one school, literary society, ice cream parlor, a bank, a livery, numerous homes and more.

When the railroad failed to come to Nicodemus the town's population began to dwindle. Current residency in the town is less than 40 individuals. However, the town has been designated a National Historic Site. A community center, built in 1938, hosts a National Park Service ranger, nice historic displays covering Nicodemus and historic Negroes who helped settle the West, and a gift shop. School children come to Nicodemus to learn about the role of Black settlers of the West.

Every year in July Emancipation Day is celebrated and descendants of original town settlers come home. The town is filled with people who are proud of their heritage. Events include a parade, food and celebration of heritage and family.

Personal perspective...
Proud people keep Nicodemus on the map--including Angela Bates-Tompkins, who constitutes a one woman campaign to nurture heritage and pride in this small community. A busload of school children had stopped when we arrived. Pamphlets, a Walking Tour Map & Guide, and video presentations about the town are available at the Nicodemus Community Center.

Angela Bates-Tompkins, activist
Nicodemus Community Center Nicodemus school building
African AME Church
Highway marker detailing history of Nicodemusone of many abandoned buildings of the town of Nicodemus

Need a free Kansas Visitor's Guide? Sign up online or call call 1-800-2KANSAS (1-800-252-6727)

Read "Descendants Keep Alive Legacy of 1877 Black Settlement in Kansas" by Mitch Smithaug, NYTimes, Aug. 6, 2015

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All photos © 2002 by Carol Yoho
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