RS#01: Evidence (Group 1)
Robert Burgin homestead, Barber County, Kansas
o Robert Burgin homestead, Barber County, Kansas. Between 1880-1890. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS. Kansas Memory. Web. 28 June 2010.
o Text: 13 people in the photograph, 5 are young children, small wood house with buffalo chips piled outside the house, houses and a mule team hooked to the wagon is present in the photograph.
o Context: Settlement of the Great Plains is an ongoing process from 1880-1890 when the photograph was estimated to be taken. These people could have settled by purchasing railroad lands or by the Homestead Act.
o Subtext: There is no known photographer of this photograph. The photograph could have been created for the family for personal use, or the photograph could have been created for a government agency, or other business use. The reason this photograph was taken was to document life on the Burgin homestead. The style of this photograph is a positive. The people in the photograph seem to be displaying their home, horse, children, mule team, farm equipment, buffalo chips, and clothing proudly.
o The source can be used by students to show that reality matched expectations for settlers. Students could use this photograph to show a homestead in its beginnings. However, students could also interpret this photograph negatively because there are no crops to be seen, therefore the soil and/or weather could possibly be a hardship for the settlers.
Ada McColl gathering buffalo chips
o McColl, Ada. Ada McColl gathering buffalo chips. 1893. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: "Independence on the Plains, Gathering Chips" is the caption that is hand written on the photograph. In the photograph is a young woman dressed in work clothes posing with a wheel barrel of chips.
o Context: Settlers had a lack of wood on many places on the prairie. Settlers had to get creative in order to have fuel to burn for warmth and cooking. The photograph was taken in 1893 and it appears the way the woman is dressed to be during the fall season.
o Subtext: The photograph is a self-portrait. The photographer most likely used photography has a hobby while living on a homestead. The source was created for the photographer, Ada McColl. The source was produced to document her life in Kansas. It appears the photograph was taken to document the lifestyle of settlers in Kansas. The style of the photography is neutral; however the handwritten caption leads the viewer to have a positive outlook on the chore. By using the word, independence, the photographer leads the audience to have a positive feeling about the chore she is performing.
o The source could be used to determine that reality did or did not match expectations for settlers to Kansas. The photograph shows life was difficult on the plains with lack of wood; however the tone of the photograph is positive due to the caption.
o Burrton Telephone. Prairie Fire. March 22, 1879. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The information provided by the source is that a fire took place in March 1879 on a Kansas prairie town. Farmers lost their machinery, livestock, barns, feed, and children. The article also comments that the farmers are now left without "the machinery, grain, or hedges" that took 6 or 7 years to build. The article comments that adversity makes the man.
o Context: By 1879 when this fire took place many settlers had been in Kansas for 10-15 years. Many farmers had been able to establish a nice homestead.
o Subtext: The author of the article is unknown but the article was published in "Burrton Telephone" and the editor was A.C. Bowman. The article was created for the subscribers of Burrton Telephone. The reason the article was written was to inform members of the community of the impact of the fire. The article has a sympathetic tone to the members of the community that suffered losses from the fire. The author implies the settlers will be able to rise from the ashes of the fire and rebuild.
o The source shows that life on the Kansas plains was not as positive as settlers might have been led to believe. (In fact, it contradicts the "abundant water" advertisement on the railroad poster.) However, students can interpret the tone as very positive and the newspaper article ends on a positive note.
RS#02: Evidence (Group 2)
A.W. Johnson and Isabella Johnson to Robert S. Wickizer
o Johnson, A.W. A.W. Johnson and Isabella Johnson to Robert S. Wickizer. March 24, 1875. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The information provided by the letter is that this homestead has had its problems, but it was successful. One problem faced by the homestead was the grasshoppers. The settlers on this farm had to cut their wheat crop early so that they were able to save some of the crop. The settlers are living on their third farm in Kansas. They were able to sell the first two. The letter mentioned that many of their neighbors had received aid from the East but they did not receive any because they are doing better than other farmers. The letter encourages the reader to move to Kansas because land is still cheap and it should be a good time to buy because people are still afraid of the grasshoppers.
o Context: In 1874 grasshoppers invaded the Great Plains destroying crops, shrubbery, grasses, trees and other plants.
o Subtext: The authors of the source are A.W. and Isabella Johnson. They were a family of settlers that made a successful settlement in Kansas. They were able to sell two farms and re-settle in what they believed was a great area.
o The source describes the problems this family had with grasshoppers, but it encourages the reader to move to Kansas.
RS#03: Evidence (Group 3)
Home Life in Early Days
o Valentine, Martha. Home Life in Early Days. February 23, 1908. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The article reminiscences the experiences the author had when settling in Kansas in 1860. She describes how her family kept alive eating corn, small game, and wild vegetables. She describes the suffering in her neighborhood and the aid they sometimes received from Easterners. The author discusses grasshoppers and snakes involvement in her household.
o Context: The article is written in 1908 when Kansas was an established place. The nation was facing a large amount of immigrants entering the country and moving west.
o Subtext: The author is Martha Valentine, a club member; however the source does not state what club of which she was a member. Mrs. Valentine appears to have been an important community member. The source was written for subscribers of the Topeka Capital and reminiscences about what life was like in the early settlement time period of Kansas. The author was proud of everything her family accomplished while settling in Kansas, but she was horrified by some of her experiences.
o The source can be used to compare the early settlement of Kansas with the expectations raised once the railroad companies became involved. Students can conclude that there was a difference in settlement before the railroad companies were involved in selling land.
RS#04: Evidence (Group 4)
Mead family dugout, Ford County, Kansas
o Mead family dugout, Ford County, Kansas. Between 1875-1889. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The photograph shows the Mead family in front of their dugout home. The home has glass windows, a stovepipe, and the family is dressed in nice clean clothes. The baby in the picture is dressed a beautiful white dress with bonnet.
o Context: The photograph was taken during the settlement period of Kansas. The family is living in a dugout house made with a sod roof. While this type of housing was common, the house depicted was not typical, because it had luxuries like wood siding, a stovepipe and glass windows.
o Subtext: The author of the photograph is unknown. The photograph was most likely taken to document the life of this family. It was probably a family photograph due to the lack of known photographer. The people in the photograph are proudly displaying their best clothes and luxuries.
o The photograph can be used to show discrepancies between what life was really like for the settlers and what they may have expected because of advertisements. Even though the family had many luxuries, they still lacked the sort of life that the settlers might have hoped for.
Interior view of dugout near Bloom, Ford County, Kansas
o Interior view of dugout near Bloom, Ford County, Kansas. .Between 1870-1890. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: This photograph shows the interior of the Mead family home. The photograph depicts crowded living conditions, very little storage, but the furniture and other belongings inside appear to be fairly expensive items.
o Context: The photograph was taken during the settlement time period of Kansas. The family is living in a typical type of housing as many other settlers; however, the possessions of the family appear to be quite luxurious for a prairie family.
o Subtext: The author of the photography is unknown. The photograph was most likely taken to document the life of the family. There are no people in the photograph, leading the style of the photograph to be proud of the belongings the family has acquired. It is possible that many of the belongings were shipped to them once they established their homestead from their former home.
o The photograph shows the "luxuries" that some families were able to acquire. By looking at the series of documents the students should be able to interpret the document to show a family that was well off on the Kansas prairie.
Anderson Sod House, Logan County, Kansas
o Anderson Sod House, Logan County, Kansas. Between 1885-1890. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The photograph shows four men sitting on the roof of a sod house and two women and one man in front of the sod house. Three of the four men have musical instruments and the fourth has a gun. The people appear to be immigrants of southeastern European origin. The sod house has one glass window and one wooden door. The rest of the house is made from all sod.
o Context: Many settlers coming to Kansas were not Americans, but European immigrants looking to make a new life. The immigrants would have been middle class or upper middle class in their former homeland in order to have enough money to settle in the Midwest.
o Subtext: The author of the photograph is unknown. The audience of the photograph was most likely family members. The reason the photograph was taken was to document family life. The photograph has a humorous approach. The four men sitting on top of the house have musical instruments and a gun.
o The photograph can be used to show that immigrants did come to Kansas and that their expectations might have been higher than the reality of life on the plains. The photograph shows the lack of natural resources in Kansas, since there is no wood, water, crops, or livestock in the photograph.
Abraham Eitzen farm, Marion County, Kansas
o Abraham Eitzen farm, Marion County, Kansas. 1904. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The photograph shows a picture of a farmhouse, windmill, barn, several outbuildings, livestock, team of horses pulling a sled, and several people. There is snow on the ground. The farm appears to be well established by 1904.
o Context: By 1904, most of the Homesteaders and railroad lands had been purchased and settled on. There was still a large amount of public land available, but settlement had slowed down. At this time in Kansas you have families that have been in Kansas for 50 years and families are still slowly arriving.
o Subtext: The author of the photograph is unknown. The audience of the photograph may be the family, readers in a newspaper back east, or it could have been possibly used in advertising. The photograph was taken to document the life on Eitzen farm; however, the photograph makes life too good. The tone of the photograph is very positive. There is pretty snow on the ground, there are people dressed in nice clothes getting ready for a ride in a horse drawn sleigh.
o The photograph can be used to argue that reality matched expectations for the settlers. Advertisements were used to create expectations in the 1870's and this photography was 35 years later, but a student could argue that the dreams of the settlers came true for some people. Students could also argue that settlers expected to have farms like this in six or seven years, not 35 years.
RS#05: Evidence (Group 5)
Susan Dimond Journal
o Dimond, Susan B. Susan Dimond journal. January 3, 1875 and January 12, 1875. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The two journal entries describe the harsh winter temperatures and snow. She includes details about how the harsh weather impacts her ability to teach her students at the school. She discusses a good dinner she and her husband had to celebrate their anniversary but notes the dinner is not much for eastern standards. The journal mentions a lack of fuel and that her family is surviving but must find a way to grow crops in the spring. If the family does not grow good crops in the spring she says they will move farther west. She also advises others to no settle in Kansas.
o Context: The spring and summer of 1874 in Kansas brought an invasion of grasshoppers to the area. The family is suffering for lack of supplies for the cattle and food sources for themselves due to the attack. The winter of 1875 was harsh for settlers as well. Many settlers are leaving Kansas due to the hardships and moving west to California or back east to their original home.
o Subtext: The author of the journal is Susan Dimond, a school teacher and settler in Kansas. The journal is written to an unidentified friend and one entry mentions mailing the book to the friend so she can read it once the book is filled. The reason for writing the journal is to document the life she has in Kansas, inform her friend about life in Kansas and persuade her friend to stay where she is living. The author is upset with the hardships of living in Kansas and uses her journal as a forum to vent her frustrations. In one entry the author makes it clear that if the spring is not better she and her family are going to go west to make a successful life.
o The source can be used to argue that reality was much harsher than settlers would expect. The family is suffering from the grasshoppers and from the harsh winter weather. This journal represents the many families that abandoned their homesteads in search of a life out west or a life back east.
RS#06: Evidence (Group 6)
Grasshopper Relief proclamation
o Osborn, Thomas Andrew. Grasshopper Proclamation. 1874. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: Osborn discusses the destruction by the grasshopper plague of 1874 and he calls a special session of the state legislature to meet on September 15, 1874 to create a plan of action to help the citizens of Kansas.
o Context: The spring and summer of 1874 in Kansas brought a grasshopper plague. The government of Kansas was still fairly new due to gaining statehood in 1861. Indian raids are also taking place during the same time period leading up to the proclamation. The governor called the state legislative body to create a plan of action to help the people deal with the destruction in his state.
o Subtext: The author of the proclamation is Governor Thomas Osborn. Osborn was governor of Kansas from 1873-1877. He was well liked by the citizens of Kansas because he was young, well-spoken and exuded confidence. The audience is the Kansas Legislature and the readers of the newspaper. The reason for the proclamation to be printed in the newspaper is to allow the constituents to see that the governor is trying to help them. The style of the proclamation is demanding to the legislators and sympathetic to the constituents.
o The source can be used to show that politicians in Kansas were trying to help the citizens. The source also shows a discrepancy between the ideals of living in Kansas held by settlers before they relocated and the realities of the grasshopper plague of 1874.
Mr. G. Hopper, Kansas
o Vance, F.T. Mr. G. Hopper, Kansas. 1875. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: the cartoon has a caption naming the grasshopper in the cartoon Mr. G. Hopper and it has a statement declaring the cartoon has been given to the Library of Congress in 1875. The cartoon shows the landscape devoid of any vegetation. The grasshopper is hurt and bandaged and he is carrying a suitcase.
o Context: The grasshopper plague of 1874 left the landscape of many Kansas areas devoid of vegetation and prompted some settlers to move west or move back home.
o Subtext: The author of the cartoon is F.T. Vance who is a part of Vance, Parsloe and Company. The cartoon was drawn for the citizens of Kansas to entertain and bring humor to the harsh realities of their lives during the mid-1870s. The style of the cartoon is humorous.
o The source highlights the challenges settlers faced which they probably did not expect and can be used to show that humor was used to cope with the difficult conditions.
Grangers versus hoppers
o Worall, Henry. Grangers versus Hoppers-Kansas 1874 '75. Kansas Historical Society Topeka, Kansas. Kansas Memory. Web. 29 June 2010.
o Text: The caption "Grangers versus Hoppers-Kansas 1874 '75". The term Grangers represents the farmers. The cartoon presents the hoppers as taking over the farms, killing people, taking photographs, eating produce, and scaring women and children. The people's faces are fearful, while the hoppers faces are serious, demanding and excited.
o Context: The grasshopper plague of 1874 left the farmers fearful of grasshoppers and what other natural forces could do to their livelihood.
o Subtext: The author of the cartoon is Henry Worrall. Worrall was an artist, and musician who emigrated from England, lived in Ohio as a child and took up residence with his family in Topeka, Kansas in 1868. He drew this cartoon for citizens of Kansas, and possibly other Midwestern citizens. The cartoon was produced to illustrate the devastation of the grasshoppers and the fear farmers have of the grasshoppers. The style of the cartoon is serious and fearful. The cartoon portrays the feelings of many Kansas people towards the grasshopper.
o The source is a contrast to the previous political cartoon, but can still be used to highlight the contrast between the expectations of settlers and the reality of life in Kansas. The students can use this cartoon to show that most Kansas people were very worried about the grasshopper and its impact of their life.
RS#08: Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Poster for Lands in Southwest Kansas
o Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad poster for lands in southwest Kansas. 1870s. Kansas Historical Society, Topeka, KS. Kansas Memory. Web. 28 June 2010.
o Text: The text describes the land for sale in southwest Kansas as good soil for wheat, corn and fruit. It also uses some German text, hinting that the land is being sold to immigrants of German descent as well as White Americans.
o Context: The date of the poster is 1870's - after the Pacific Railroad Acts. The railroad is trying to sell lands that it acquired from. Also, the Homestead Act began to provide free or cheap land to settlers.
o Subtext: The author of the poster is the Atchinson, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company. The audience for this poster is settlers in the eastern region of the United States as well as newly immigrated Germans. The reason the poster was created was to sell plots of land to Kansas settlers. The style of this poster is very positive. The poster uses the phrase "The Best Stock Country in the World" to describe the land in Kansas. This phrase is an example of the style of the poster.
o This is the motivational source for the History Lab. Students will use this source as an example of the expectations settlers to Kansas had about what life would be like if they relocated. They can then use the other documents provided in the lab to decide whether these expectations matched the reality that they found in Kansas.