Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ghost Town - America City, Kansas

America City, Kansas School House

America City Church

My family took a trip to north Pottawatomie County on Saturday. Actually, we ventured into the very edge of Nemaha County, which is only four miles north of where my father grew up in Havensville, Kansas. We visited the location of a ghost town, America City, Kansas, located on Parallel Road that divides Pottawatomie and Nemaha County.

Kansas Highway 63 is a nice, two-lane blacktop road that starts in St. Marys, Kansas at Highway 24, and continues north to the Nebraska state line. It passes through some of the prettiest farm land in North Central Kansas as well as through and past many little towns that are historically significant to my family.

My father went with us to the location of America City, Kansas; the “Us” being my dear husband, my brother Ray, and me. After an early breakfast at Froggies in St. Marys, we drove to K-Road and 1st (Parallel Road) and surveyed the area.

It was hard to imagine that there were 800 residents in the booming town at the turn of the 20th century. By 1974, the only buildings remaining were the Methodist Church and the school. The Methodist Church was moved from its original location next to the highway to the current site a little north, next to the old school. In 1974, a family made their home in the school and the abandoned church was used as a garage. Now the school house is abandoned and in disrepair; the steeple is gone and lay on the ground next to the church, which is in equally sad shape. An outhouse standing behind the schoolhouse, leans precariously to one side and is in danger of falling down.

My dad’s uncle lived in America City and reared 7 children. We found the old cave that would have been behind the house. The house and foundation are gone as well as any evidence of the General Store they owned. The slight rise in the land was windswept and empty, except for the cave that at one time provided cool storage for food and a place of shelter during the sometimes fierce Kansas storms.

We found America City Cemetery a little further north and west of K-63. It is located on a gentle rolling hill away from the highway. Meadowlarks sang their lonely songs on that windy afternoon as my brother and I traipsed through the ancient markers. I photographed several headstones of relatives who died many, many years ago. Relatives, who came to the America City area as homesteaders, reared their families and then passed from earthly existence. The cemetery is the last visible remnant of many Kansas ghost towns. No one is going to leave.

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