IMG_20160418_151953#Thestruggleizforland #Nicodemus On April 18, 1877, a group of seven Kansans, six of whom were black, established the Nicodemus Town Company. African American W.H. Smith and W.R. Hill, an experienced white land speculator, served as the town’s president and treasurer, respectively. Most of the group consisted of former slaves from Kentucky in search of a new livelihood. The goal was to establish the first all-black settlement on the Great Plains. Two theories explain the choice of the name Nicodemus. One claiming the town was named after the biblical figure Nicodemus. The other holds the town was inspired by the legendary account of an African prince taken into slavery who later purchased his freedom.The location of the town, chosen by Hill, was along the northern bank of the Solomon River, an area suitable for developing farming.The town itself was located on a 160-acre plot, of the 19,200 acres of the township, at large.

Smith and Hill made efforts to promote the town and attract new settlers. Publications describing the resources and benefits of moving to the area were mailed to prospective migrants across the South. Early promotional efforts were directed towards attracting people with enough money to develop the town.Residential lots cost $5 while commercial lots were $75.The promoters charged additional fees for establishing the settlers on the land. Efforts succeeded in bringing groups of colonists from Eastern Kansas andKentucky, at one point the population reached about 600 people in 1878.

The early Settlers found life in Nicodemus to be challenging. Some people turned around after seeing the scarcity of resources. Most were very poor farmers who came without money and other provisions. Without proper tools and equipment, such as plows, wagons, and horses, farmers could not efficiently develop the rough land; some resorted to using hand tools to make improvised fields. A lack of timber forced settlers to build homes out of prairie sod. To earn money some people collected and sold Buffalo bones found on the plains; others ventured miles away to work for the railroads.In response to the hardships, townsfolk reached out to other communities, private charities, and even the Osage Native American Tribe.

Haki Kweli Shakur