|All photos of the Amish Cemetery are courtesy of Wayne Keller, used with his permission|
Dodge City, Kansas has a rich and infamous history. Many, many people are well aware of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and other famous lawmen and outlaws. Kansas is also well known for its wheat and beef. Kansas fed beef? Some of the best! Dodge City is now home to two major beef packing plants and southwest Kansas is also home to wind farms. When people think of Kansas- their thoughts immediately go to Dorothy, Wizard of Oz and tornadoes.
What people don't know about is the history of the Amish settlement.
I didn't even know about it.
On Monday, I posted about my hometown and my goal to get back to the Plains (you can read it here) and I mentioned a Facebook group for those of us who grew up in Dodge City. I don't post often nor do I comment a lot but I do lurk the threads and I always leave with a bit of nostalgia. One gentleman, Wayne (as listed above in the photo credit) posted photos of an Amish cemetery. I NEVER knew it existed. Granted, I left when I was a few years out of high school and really, I couldn't wait to "Get Out of Dodge!". I wanted to escape. I've always loved the history of the area but I never did as much sightseeing as I now wish I had. Of course, I am in Phoenix and still haven't been to the Grand Canyon, Tombstone... sigh. What a shame. THAT has to change! *bucket list!*.
I digressed a tad.
Back to the Amish Cemetery. When the photos were posted, I was just blown away.
The cemetery holds the remains of a large number of children who passed from diseases nearly eradicated such as measles. Can you IMAGINE the heartbreak they must have felt? The Borntragers buried four infants- practically annually. My heart breaks for them. Not only does the cemetery hold the remains of life long since passed- but the story of a wonderful people who moved to Southwest Kansas with a dream of building a settlement only to find the land harsh, the weather brutal and dreams completely destroyed.
The land agent never told them about how hard the land was (still is).
The Amish have always been known for being hard working, kind, and being people of strong faith. They shunned modern conveniences and prefer to live sustainable lives and live off their land.
I have ALWAYS held them in such high regard. Both the Amish and the Mennonites.
The settlement lasted from 1909 to 1929. A mere 20 years. The height of the Dust Bowl (Kansas was hit terribly hard. I HIGHLY recommend watching Ken Burns: The Dust Bowl It's a must own.) and the hard times forced the Amish to abandon the settlement and move on.
The cemetery fell into disarray and vandalism. Local residents felt it was a shame that it had become overgrown with weeds and the headstones needing repair. They started raising money to replace the headstones. It was also learned that the cemetery is still owned by the extinct Amish Church of Ford County.
Then, the Amish from Iowa came. They came to fix up the cemetery of their relatives' final resting places.
I have goosebumps writing that.
I am not a religious person but ... whether it's God, The Universe, whatever... sometimes, something just works in mysterious ways and there are just not any answers except to really, really appreciate the beauty of it all.
Hutchinson News has an awesome article about the repair with photos that you should definitely read here. The journalist did a great job.
The story is still giving me goosebumps.
There are multiple, active Amish communities in Kansas to this day but the one in Dodge City is long gone.
What do you think of when you hear "Dodge City"?
Have you ever learned of a little known bit of trivia about your hometown that blew you away?
Once again, I gratefully thank Mr. Keller for allowing me to use his photos for this blog post. It did something to my soul when I learned about the cemetery, the settlement and