Archive for Friday, April 13, 2007

Archeologists to study dugouts built by Nicodemus pioneers

April 13, 2007


— Archeologists this summer plan to study dugouts built by this town's early settlers 130 years ago.

And they need help.

The Kansas Archaeology Training Program field school is looking for people to help excavate the dugouts, earthen homes constructed and used by the settlers while better homes could be built. Researchers say the state of the homes, and what was left in them, could give scientists a better view of the settlers' lifestyle and settlement patterns.

Washburn University anthropology professor Margaret Wood is presenting information on last year's Nicodemus dig in Colby on Saturday and will also discuss the upcoming study.

Signing up for the dig will require registering with the Kansas Anthropological Association and a fee of $20 for members and $80 for nonmembers by May 4. After that date, the cost goes up an additional $10.

The dig will take place at the Nicodemus District No. 1 schoolhouse site from June 2-17.

Nicodemus, the last remaining western town founded by black settlers after the Civil War, is a prize for anthropologists. Founded in late 1877 by people recruited in Kentucky, the town is a National Historic Landmark District.

"Nicodemus is quite a unique site," said Virginia Wulfkuhle, public archaeologist for the Kansas State Historical Society. "There aren't many of them on the Plains, free black settlements, that are surviving yet today."

Besides the fieldwork, the program will also include classes on archaeology, Kansas cemeteries and grave markers, historic preservation and ancient Kansas history.

More information on signing up for the dig is at


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