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Gray County Courthouse in Cimarron, Kansas Gray County Courthouse in Cimarron, Kansas

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Kansas Memory has been created by the Kansas State Historical Society to share its historical collections via the Internet. Read more.

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Curriculum - 7th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1860s to 1870s (Benchmark 3) - Challenges of settlement (Indicator 7) - Lack of natural resources

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Ada McColl gathering buffalo chips near Lakin, Kansas

Ada McColl gathering buffalo chips near Lakin, Kansas
Creator: McColl, Polly
Date: 1893
In this photograph, pioneer Ada McColl of Kearny County collects buffalo chips. In areas of western Kansas where trees were scarce, these chips were a convenient (and plentiful) source of fuel. This is an abridged version of an original photograph including Ada's brother Burt. The photograph was taken by Polly McColl, Ada's mother. For more information on this photograph, see the link to Reflections (Summer 2008) below.


Drouthy Kansas

Drouthy Kansas
Creator: Worrall, Henry
Date: 1878
This painting by Henry Worrall, completed in 1878, challenges the assumption that Kansas was part of the "Great American Desert." Although there had, indeed, been a severe drought during 1860, Worrall believed that Kansas did not deserve this harsh reputation. In the foreground, his painting depicts the bountiful harvests of grain, watermelon, and potatoes, while the background includes rain showers and a rainbow stretching across the horizon. Although Worrall was a very productive artist, "Drouthy Kansas" quickly became his most famous work.


Great Bend, Barton County, Kansas

Great Bend, Barton County, Kansas
Creator: Riddle, J. R.
Date: April, 1879
This stereograph shows a street in Great Bend in Barton County, Kansas. Included in the image are a windmill, houses and outbuildings, and a hardware store in the foreground. The ground is still wet from an April rainstorm.


Mead family dugout in Ford County, Kansas

Mead family dugout in Ford County, Kansas
Date: Between 1890 and 1910
In this undated photograph, the L.A. Mead family stands outside their dugout located near Bloom, Ford County. Dugouts such as this, as well as sod houses, were common dwelling places on the high plains of Kansas due to the lack of wood and other natural resources. This family was fortunate enough to have glass windows, wood siding, and a stovepipe; these amenities would have been considered luxuries by many pioneers out west.


Mead family dugout near Bloom in Ford County, Kansas

Mead family dugout near Bloom in Ford County, Kansas
Date: Between 1870 and 1890
This photograph shows the interior of the L. A. Mead family dugout near Bloom, Ford County, clearly illustrating the cramped living conditions that the family endured during their stay in this residence.


Robert Burgin homestead, Barber County, Kansas

Robert Burgin homestead, Barber County, Kansas
Date: Between 1880 and 1890
This undated photograph depicts the homestead of Robert Burgin and his family, located in Barber County. Their home was constructed out of sod and wood siding.


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