Peopling the Plains

If you have a serious interest in the history of Kansas, particularly its settlement, here’s a book you’ll probably refer to again and again.

Peopling the Plains: Who Settled Where in Frontier Kansas by James Shortridge breaks the history of Kansas settlement into four time frames, each one shifting the focus to a different part of the state:

  • The northeast, 1865.
  • The southeast, 1885.
  • The central plains, 1885.
  • The west, 1905 and 1925.

The book also delves into the questions of who settled where and why, examining census statistics to find out which townships were populated by New Englanders, Upper Midlanders, Upper Southerners, Lower Southerners, and various groups of foreigners.

Along the way, you’ll learn the answers to questions such as:

  • Who settled in the vicinity of the mines of eastern Kansas?
  • Did any ex-Confederates ever come to the state?
  • What role did the railroads play in peopling the plains?
  • Was the African-American town of Nicodemus part of a settlement pattern, or was it an anomaly?
  • Which groups of people settled the farming areas of the state, and which groups were more interested in ranching?

After illustrating who settled where with an abundance of maps and charts, Shortridge briefly examines the way these varying settlers affected the state in terms of religion, politics, farming practices, and even barbecue restaurants.

A fascinating read for the serious enthusiast, and a great aid to historical research!