Settling in to the community
By MIKE CORN
NICODEMUS -- With a cup of coffee in one hand and a hatchet in another, Victor Williams was on a quest.
He was out for his morning walk and cleaning up the historic all-black community in preparation of then-upcoming Pioneer Days.
"I guess you could say I kind of care the way the town looks," he said, right after reaching down and lopping off yet another errant weed.
While he currently serves as the maintenance man for an apartment complex in Nicodemus, he's also an ordained minister.
No surprise then that he was the natural selection to play the Rev. Simon Roundtree during a series of re-enactments on the settling of Nicodemus by freed slaves from Kentucky.
His booming voice, in Ellis and in Nicodemus, brought of message of faith to those who joined in the re-enactment, or watched from the sidelines.
"I'm a descendant," he said of Nicodemus. "My father attended that school."
He pointed down the block to a white clapboard school house.
While he's an ordained minister, he's not the pastor at the community's only church. He was ordained as a Methodist while the Nicodemus church is Baptist.
But he helps spread the gospel in the church, as well as every day as he speaks to people.
He's also a strong advocate of the community, participating in re-enactments and working with local historian Angela Bates.
"Our numbers are very small," Williams said of the community and the church. "But we see 25 folks on Sunday morning on a regular basis. We're small, but I've always felt we should grow."
To do that, the community must lead the way, he said, and that includes keeping the town neat.
"We don't have to look at us as a raggedy town that is about to fall in," Williams said.
He's enjoying his life in Nicodemus, even after living the sometimes roving life of a Methodist minister in much larger communities.
He was a former Great Bend resident, where he graduated from high school, before going into the military.
Along the way, he spent time in St. Louis, Kansas City, Des Moines and Wichita.
With the move to Nicodemus, Williams said, it gave him the opportunity to "come back to a place where there can be peace of mind."
And he likes that.