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Nicodemus descendants re-enacting arrival





ELLIS -- Descendants of all-black Nicodemus will re-enact the arrival of freed slaves in Kansas 135 years ago.

The re-enactment will be at 11 a.m. Saturday near the Ellis Union Pacific Railroad depot, according to Nicodemus historian Angela Bates.

As many as 30 people dressed in clothing of the day will be on hand for the re-enactment. So, too, will be politicians of the era, the census taker and county attorney.

It's the second half of a 135-year anniversary of the settling of Nicodemus.

On Sept. 8, 33 descendants and friends of Nicodemus arrived by bus in Sadieville, Ky., for the re-enactment of the boarding of the train "headed for the promised land of Kansas."

Ellis was the jumping-off point when they arrived.

The actual departure was Sept. 5, 1877, Bates said, with the descendants on hand in Sadieville 135 years and three days after the departure.

After a series of skits in Ellis, the descendants will head north following -- as closely as possible -- what was the two-day wagon-ride and walk north to Nicodemus.

The route is north of Ellis to a spot known as Happy Hollow, several miles north of town.

That's where travelers spent the first night in Kansas, Bates said.

The availability of roads will force them to venture back on the Ellis blacktop, until they can head back west to a county road leading into Damar. An unnamed mound southwest of Damar was the second stopping place.

The trip will continue, back on the highway, until the group reaches Nicodemus.

The route is significant because a recent study commissioned by the National Park Service is suggesting either a historic or scenic byway for the route traveled by the freed slaves.

Once the travelers arrive in Nicodemus, there will be a free meal of ham and beans and corn bread, followed by a game of horseshoes.

A tree is being planted and a time capsule buried for opening on a future date.