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Students to retrace early settlers' steps

3/19/2014

Special to The Hays Daily News

Special to The Hays Daily News

NICODEMUS -- With the help of an $8,000 grant, the Nicodemus Historical Society will give nearly 100 area students the chance to retrace the settlers' trip from Ellis to Nicodemus.

The day-long trip for students from WaKeeney, Hill City, Palco and Ellis will be April 4.

The students will get an educational journal and meet in Ellis before undertaking the 35-mile trek via the Ellis Trail.

Promoters of Nicodemus will meet the students at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum. The re-enactors will be dressed in clothing from the time when the group of settlers started arriving in Ellis in 1877.

The Ellis Trail is the route to Nicodemus taken by the town's first settlers after arriving from Kentucky.

Buses transporting the students will follow the trail along county roads to places where the wagons and settlers rested and crossed the Saline River, as well as geographical sites and features identified with a compass.

The caravan of buses will stop and see the site of the William and Mary Walz original homestead, where it is noted in their family history, "The road also led to Nicodemus and many blacks went by barefoot." Leroy Walz will provide family history and stories at his homestead a couple of miles away and students will have a rest stop and snack.

Students will get the chance to walk the last half-mile into Nicodemus to visit the Historical Society's museum and the community's five historic buildings.

Lunch will be provided and children will have the opportunity to meet town residents and hear guitar and banjo music from the period provided by Nicodemus descendants Eric Nevins and J.F. Stover. Barrie Tompkins of the Nicodemus Blacksmith Co. will provide an educational presentation with his horses and covered wagon, sharing stories and the history and use of wagons as a mode of transportation.

The day will end with students getting their journals stamped and receive certificates of participation for traveling to Nicodemus on the Ellis Trail.

For additional information call Angela Bates at (785) 421-3311 or Phyllis Howard, at (785) 839-4322.