Friday, May 5, 2017

Fort Scott

Fort Scott has a lot of beautiful old homes.
We really liked La Hacienda, in the downtown area!
Fort Scott was a lot of fun! We arrived in the evening, had a nice meal at La Hacienda, a local Mexican restaurant (fitting, since it was Cinco de Mayo), and checked into our hotel. Or tried to check into our hotel, at
any rate. The desk clerk was not very skilled with figuring out online reservations, and then she gave us the wrong room. All of this meant that bedtime was shifted from an already-late 9:30 back to nearly 11 p.m.!

Finally, we did get things figured out, and had a good night's sleep. We arose bright and early the next morning to begin exploring the town.

We began by grabbing some breakfast burritos at Sonic, then drove along the main historic streets to explore the town a bit. It has many beautifully maintained Victorian houses, some of which have even been transformed into restaurants or B&Bs.

The kids did great while waiting for Dad to get the room
straightened out.
One thing that piqued our curiosity was the Real School of Hard Knocks. We didn't know what it was, but apparently it's an old school building that has been converted into a concert venue, AirSoft range, and four-wheeler track.

Next, we stopped by the Farmer's Market, where we got some miniature pies for breakfast. After looking at all of the stalls, we headed over to the historic site of Fort Scott. The buildings and grounds there have been lovingly restored to how they looked in the 19th Century. The kids were excited to explore them, especially because at the end of our adventure, they were sworn in as Junior Park Rangers. While we were there, we learned a lot about the town's role in westward expansion, Bleeding Kansas, and the Civil War.

I hadn't known this before, but Fort Scott was originally supposed to be part of the Permanent Indian Frontier, which was designed to insulate native peoples and white settlers from each other. As with so many promises made by the U.S. government to native peoples, however, this one melted away under white settlers' pressure to continue westward expansion.

We all got a lot of exercise touring the fort.
We couldn't resist stopping in at Books and Grannies, a delightful used book shop, before leaving town. It was a perfect way to end our fun visit to this historic community.

The fort was very educational... and FUN!
We loved Books and Grannies! Granny Roxine is so sweet,
and she has a great selection of books.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


 Doniphan used to be an important town in the early days of Kansas, with a population of around 1,000 in 1857. This, incidentally, was the same year that the avid abolitionist James H. Lane was made the president of the town company. The town was so important, in fact, that Abraham Lincoln visited it in 1859. It had a long history even before that, however, with Europeans living in the area as early as 1724.

To get to Doniphan, we drove along some of the most treacherous dirt roads we've ever braved. At least once, we pondered turning back, faced by huge ruts and mud puddles. In the end, though, we persevered. After all, this was our final stop in Doniphan County!

These days, Doniphan is a sleepy little village. We were grateful for this nice marker, put up by a proud private citizen, which marked the spot. Otherwise, there would be no way to tell where the town site was. We did see a quaint old stone cabin, but other than that, there were no lasting marks of the days when this was one of the chief settlements in the state.

If you want to learn more about Doniphan, take a look at this research paper written about the community by a K-State student.


Palermo was hard to find! We drove up and down dirt roads for half an hour trying to locate it. Finally, we settled on the intersection of Sheridan and Monument, near Wathena. The town used to be an important place in the days before the railroads, but there's not much there now except for some homes (including one that seems to be an old schoolhouse or town hall!) and bluffs with lovely views of the Missouri River.


Atchison is a bustling town with lots to see and do. Coming into town, we saw a lot of lower-income housing and industrial areas, such as factories and machine shops. The city features many older homes and buildings -- some beautifully well-preserved, and others less so. Much of the construction is of brick, and many of the streets are also brick-paved. This used to be a big, important railroad town back in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These days, it still has a lot of railroad influence.

We got out in Atchison to stretch our legs before proceeding northeast into Doniphan County. The kids and I enjoyed exploring a downtown shopping area while Magen snoozed in the minivan. This town contains a lot of good memories for me -- we spent our anniversary here the year before our oldest son was born. I've included a picture from that trip, just for nostalgia's sake.

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Purcell is a small neighborhood surrounding St. Mary's Catholic Church. The town was founded around 1886, and the church was erected around 1898. While there, we took a ride on this playground device, which we dubbed the St.-Mary's-Go-Round.


Leona is a small town with some friendly folks, an old co-op, a small park, and some defunct businesses. There's not much more to see these days.

The town was named after the first child born here: Leona Schock, daughter of the president of the town's organizing company. Somewhat amusingly (though it was probably not humorous at the time), the town's schoolhouse was stolen sometime between the spring rains and the beginning of the fall term in 1867.


Severance is a small town with a long and interesting history. The welcome sign says it was established in 1877, which was the year of its incorporation. However, the townsite was laid out in 1869, and settlers had been living in the area since at least 1854.

Severance was the site of several conflicts. For example, the railroad depot (built in 1874) was a violation of an agreement with Joel Ryan of Ryan's Station and resulted in a lawsuit. A more tragically violent example is that C. C. Clonch, the owner of the first cabin in the area, fatally shot two other settlers (Swintz and Waggoner) in 1855. He killed them with a single blast from his shotgun as they attacked him.

Other interesting events in the town's history include an 1896 baseball game between Civil War veterans and their young daughters. (The daughters won.)

These days, this is a little farm town where we saw lots of hills, as well as kids playing at the park. The houses and buildings seemed pretty old. Many were in good repair, and others were less so. The folks here are friendly, and one nice lady talked to us for quite a while. She said they used to have a couple of churches and a school, but they no longer do.