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Nicodemus Welcomes Its Family Back Home

  • Jared Soares


    A lone tree in Nicodemus, a small Kansas town settled by formerly enslaved African Americans at the end of the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. Each summer, the town hosts a weekend-long “family reunion” for descendants, whose ties to the community remain strong, even if they live one or many states away.

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  • Jared Soares

    Proud to Be Here

    Pearlina Moore of Hill City, Kansas, inside Town Hall July 30, 2016, the third day of Nicodemus’ 138th Homecoming celebration.

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  • Jared Soares

    Miles of Milo

    Many of the original settlers were farmers, and six families still farm in the area, growing grain sorghum, or milo, among other crops.

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  • Jared Soares

    You Can Go Home Again

    Veryl Switzer of Manhattan, Kan., inside Town Hall on the third day of the 2016 reunion. Raised in town, he played two seasons for the Green Bay Packers after a stint in the Canadian Football League. Switzer owns and operates an 800-acre farm in Nicodemus and surrounding Graham County.

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  • Jared Soares

    Hay, Stranger!

    The view from Kansas Highway 24 entering Nicodemus last July.

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  • Jared Soares

    School’s Out

    Built in 1918, the District No. 1 School in Nicodemus closed in the early 1960s  due to dropping enrollments. Children living in the community today attend school in Bogue, Kan.

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  • Robert Deutschman

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  • Jared Soares

    Meet and Greet

    Descendants and other reunion attendees chat after a reenactment performance last July at Town Hall. The number of permanent residents in town has dwindled to about 30, but swells into the hundreds during annual homecoming celebrations.

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  • Jared Soares

    Bright Blooms

    The wild sunflower, Kansas’s state flower, can be seen throughout the Great Plains.

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  • Jared Soares

    Food Worth Coming Home For

    Vanessa Adams of Detroit on the steps of Ernestine's Bar-B-Q during the 2016 reunion’s second day. Adams is the daughter of Ernestine Van Duvall, who founded the restaurant in 1975.

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  • Jared Soares

    Not Forgotten

    The town cemetery has about 177 interments, some dating back to the late 1800s. Nicodemus was established in 1877 and, within a decade, had grown into a thriving frontier town with a bank, four general stores and two barber shops, among other businesses.

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  • Jared Soares

    Opening Day

    Residents and relatives of descendants gather at the Nicodemus Historical Society on the first day of the 2016 homecoming.

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  • Jared Soares

    Prairie Peace

    The Nicodemus Cemetery, July 2016.

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  • Jared Soares

    Caring Two Ways

    Raymond A. Groves IV and Raymond A. Groves III, both of Denver, have been attending the homecoming for years. Before last July’s celebration, the elder Groves presided over the Sunday service at First Missionary Baptist Church, and the younger tended to the grounds.

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  • Jared Soares

    Family Bond

    Earlice Switzer-Rupp of Houston, and Norma Switzer of Topeka, Kan. on the second day of the 2016 Homecoming.

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  • Jared Soares

    Early Bird

    Alfred Matthews IV of Denver, before the start of the reunion.

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  • Jared Soares

    A Welcome Connection

    Kathy Padgett of Lexington, Ky., after a service at First Missionary Baptist Church. While researching her ancestry, Padgett found a Nicodemus connection and decided to travel to Kansas to learn more about the town and its traditions.

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  • Jared Soares

    Summer Gathering

    Hay bales in Graham County, home to about 2,500 people.

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  • Jared Soares

    Long Time No See

    Louis Switzer of Houston, center, gets a hug from Aaron Roberson of Sacramento, Calif., right, on the 2016 reunion’s second day.

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  • Jared Soares

    On Their Way

    Bertha Carter, a Nicodemus resident, and friends prepare to join the reunion parade.

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  • Jared Soares

    Promising Future

    Faydra Knox of Topeka, Kan., inside Town Hall.

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  • Jared Soares

    Happy Together

    Two celebrants laugh it up at last year’s celebration.

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  • Jared Soares

    Where the Heart Is

    Nicodemus resident JohnElla Holmes holds her granddaughter Lauryn Horne at Town Hall. Holmes moved back to town in 2015 to contribute to efforts to preserve the town's history.

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  • Jared Soares

    Ties That Bind

    Two attendees embrace before the service at First Missionary Baptist Church on Sunday, July 31, 2016.

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