Fr. Butler's "State of Kansas and Irish Immigration," page 21, continued:

     Then there were no human habitations but such as were formed of undressed heavy logs; now many of the log cabins have disappeared, and handsome "farm-houses," freshly painted, are dotted here and there over the beautiful country. Nearly all the farmers who purchased these lands when I first arrived in Kansas have since succeeded in paying off all the money due upon them, and are now owners of the fertile fields. These lands belonged to the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company, and many times every day the shrill whistle of the great steam monster, and the rumbling noise of the railway cars, are heard over the prairies, and thousands of human beings are swept past the farm-houses, east and west. People feel less lonely in their prairie homes when steam engines and their trains pass near them four or six times every day. Often, too, the white canvas-covered wagons of eager immigrants pass by to lands father south or west.
     Numerous towns have sprung up along the line of railroad, some of which are already large, containing four or five thousand inhabitants. Others are very small, possessing few houses, except the station, the post-office, and a blacksmith's shop. But, however small such places are, they receive the high title of city or town from their populations, who always speak with the greatest confidence of the great future of power and prosperity in store for their new town.
     Farmers always find a ready market for their produce at these places. The number of stations between Leavenworth city, one end of the Kansas Pacific Road, and


Sheridan, on the borders of Colorado, is thirty-nine. The distance between these two places--at opposite ends of Kansas--is somewhat above four hundred miles, so that on an average there is a station at every ten miles of the railroad.
     Immense tracts of railroad lands are for sale along this whole line. During the year 1869 the National Land Company sold over one million dollars' worth of the lands of the Kansas Pacific Railway and were instrumental in settling over 18,000 people upon the lands.      At Topeka, the capital city of the State, there were sold in 1870, by private land firms, 276,750 acres, for the sum of 1,436,644 dollars. This is exclusive of large sales by private parties on their own account. In the three cities, Humboldt, Junction, and Topeka, the aggregate land sales in the year 1870 amounted to two million acres.
     In fact, calculating the sales made in the other cities of the State there were 6,250 square miles of land sold in one year in Kansas, and most of that was purchased by actual settlers.
     While on the subject of railroads it may be well to state that there are a great many railroads in the State of Kansas. There are at present four railroads running into Leavenworth. and in a few months hence there will be two more. In the entire State of Kansas there are now 1,393 miles of railroad, over which a large amount of freight and great numbers of passengers go daily.
     The Kansas Pacific Railroad goes through the centre of the lands owned by the Jesuit Fathers at St. Mary's Mission, where also there is a railroad station. Around "the Mission" there is splendid land for sale. When I first paid a visit to this celebrated place, and rode out over the rolling prairies, I was struck by the beautiful pastoral appearance of the surrounding country. For miles away nothing is to be seen but green fields, that seem like great waves of verdure, belted in by a shining river, along whose banks tall trees stand in a close line,


grim sentinels of the ancient floods. After I had gazed for some time upon the beautiful scene, I was almost inclined to believe myself back once again to one of the Wicklow mountains, and looking down upon the plains of Kildare. There is a settlement of fifty Irish families living on these lands. They purchased their farms from the civilized Indians, within the last three or four years, at a very low figure; some being bought as cheap as two and three dollars per acre. The last occasion on which I was there (last July), I was told by a "land speculator" that a few days before he had purchased a farm of 160 acres from an "Indian squaw" for four hundred dollars and sold it next day for nine hundred dollars. In fact the Indians have no great idea of the value of land, and many of them, even in the midst of civilization, are tempted to resume "the blanket," leave farming to the white men, and wander away to the hunting-grounds of their wilder brothers.
     Besides "the Mission" a town has sprung up within the last few years which has now a population of about eight hundred people.
     The largest stores are the property of Irishmen, and are well patronized by the Irish farmers. There is a railroad station just in the very centre of the little town, and travellers going west here get the first sight of the Indian, many of whom are always lounging around the depot.
     I have been describing "settlements" of very recent date: I must now endeavour to give you an idea of some established by our countrymen in Kansas in earlier days--that is, between the years 1851 and 1867. It must be stated, to the credit of our exiled brothers, that many good Irishmen turned their attention to farming as soon as Kansas was "opened out" for settlers.
     In fact, in proportion to the number of farmers at present occupying lands in Kansas it must said that the Irish are very well represented. And thank God! they are not ashamed of the old land of their birth, but


proud of it; and wherever they may be living, and amongst whatever race of people, they boast of the beauty and the fertility of Mother Ireland. There are two Irish settlements in opposite points of the state of Kansas--one north, the other south--each bearing the proud name "Saint Patrick's Settlement." One of these is situated about fourteen miles from Leavenworth, in a beautiful region of country, where land is as rich as can be found in the world. There are nearly one hundred families of Irish farmers living within a circuit of five miles; and in the centre, upon the summit of a high hill, a Catholic church of white stone stands, bearing aloft the emblem of salvation. A neat school-house appears at a little distance, in which the Irish-Americans receive instructions from a genuine Irish school-master. Farther north is another Irish settlement named in honour of "the Mary of Erin," and called "St. Brigid's Settlement." There is one also in the northern part of the State, exclusively Irish, which is called "St. Joseph's Settlement," and in which an Irish priest resides.
     About eight miles north-west of the city of Leavenworth is a settlement of about sixty families, fifty of whom are Irish, and the remainder French. As I have the spiritual care of this fine settlement, together with my office as one of the pastors of the Cathedral of Leavenworth, I will introduce the people of this district again to the notice of the reader in another part of this statement.
     In those old settlements the farmers are very comfortable and happy. All their lands have been paid for, all their debts settled, and the state of their farms so improved that they have now "an old country look" about them.
     The old "zigzag fences" have been removed from many farms and board ones substituted, within which "Osage-orange" hedges are now growing up, which give a cheerful appearance to the face of the country.


Good substantial farm-houses now stand where the log cabins have been, and, close by, extensive orchards and gardens flourish in the summer. Every farmer is desirous of possessing an orchard; and the soil of Kansas being excellent for fruit, the supply of apples and peaches is most abundant. The wives of our Irish farmers out here are industrious and provident, and in whatever farm-house the stranger enters, to share in the mid-day meal, he is sure to find preserved and pickled fruits upon the hospitable board.
     The cultivation of the vine has lately attracted the attention of some of our farmers in Leavenworth County, and already the supply in our city market is super-abundant. From the room in the Bishop's residence in which I am seated at this moment, I can look out upon one of the most beautiful and flourishing vineyards to be seen in any country in the world. It covers the side of a high hill about one mile from here; at the summit is the handsome residence of the owner. I believe the vineyard is more than thirty acres in extent, and it is now bearing immense quantities of grapes of various kinds. The price of grapes in the market of our city to-day is five cents per pound.
     This young State of Kansas has had the honour of becoming the greatest fruit-growing State of the Union--not, however, as to quantity, but quality. At the great national exhibition of fruits held in Philadelphia in 1869, the Great Gold Medal was awarded to Kansas over all other States.
     There is one subject of the greatest importance to persons intending to immigrate--that is, the climate and it salubrity.
     I can positively assert that a great part of the State of Kansas is one of the most healthful countries in the world. All my fellow priests of this vicariate assert the same, and undoubtedly they are competent judges in this matter. Here, in Leavenworth where there are more than four thousand Catholics, the Catholic clergy


of the parish united do not have, on an average, more than four "sick calls" in a month. In the country parish, which I also attend, I have not had more than three "sick calls" in a whole year. We never have dangerous contagious diseases similar to the typhus fever so prevalent in Ireland. The air of Kansas is peculiarly light and free from the dampness which is the parent of many diseases in the Emerald Isle.
     Many persons whose system is threatened by the dreadful consumption are recommended by physicians to remove to Kansas, and great numbers find much relieved after a short sojourn.
     The winter season begins to exhibit its severity toward the end of the month of December. During a portion of that season the cold is not very great, but I must say that generally biting frost is severe for seven or eight weeks. When the thermometer goes down to zero it is good for the traveller in Kansas to muffle up his throat, and protect his ears, and wear warm over-shoes.
     When the snow lies heavy upon the ground, then the air around the cities is filled with the sounds of the sleigh-bells; and hundreds of happy citizens skim past on their way to parties of pleasure, and farmers in ruder sleighs come into market.
     The summer season generally begins to show itself early in June, and gradually increases the burning heat until it reaches its greatest intensity about the middle of July.
     Sometimes, in the month of May, a thunder storm will suddenly burst forth, lightning flash vividly, and torrents of rain deluge the streets. In twenty minutes, perhaps, all this will cease, the skies look bright, and nature appear refreshed. In fact, I believe as much rain falls in a few hours in Kansas as in Ireland in a month. Everything is done "pretty considerably smart" in America, even the falling of the rain. Oftentimes the heat of midsummer is very severe in Kansas, I have seen the thermometer, in the month of July, as high as 105


degrees in the shade, and then it is well for all citzens to be "n the shade" too. This intense heat passes away at night, and generally we can obtain a refreshing sleep. This fact of having cool nights in Kansas, in midsummer, gives us a great advantage over most other States of the Union. After three hot days a change generally comes, which continues a day or two, and so on through the midsummer. The intensely hot days all pass away after about eight weeks, and the beautiful season called "Indian Summer" sets in to cheer all hearts.
     I will not attempt to describe the season of "Indian Summer," but I will merely ask my readers to bring before their imagination the loveliest of summer days in Ireland, when they drove down to "The Strawberry Beds," or roamed along the scented hawthorn hedges, or sat at "the cross roads" beside their native village.
     The imagination may thus form some idea of the beauty of "Indian Summer" in the state of Kansas.
     To sum up briefly on this subject, I state positively that the cold of winter and the heat of summer are much greater than in Ireland, but intense cold or heat lasts only for a brief period--never longer than eight or nine weeks.
     The other two seasons are similar to those in Ireland.
     There is one thing which every Irish Catholic about to emigrate will be anxious to inqire about, before deciding upon the State or Territory in which to settle. They desire to know what opportunities they will have for practising our holy religion--how far distant Catholic churches are from the place they propose to occupy. I am happy to be able to state that Kansas has many advantages in this respect not possessed by many older States.
     In no portion of the United States are the prospects of the Catholic Church more cheering than in Kansas; in none have so many altars been erected to Almighty God in a brief period.


     It is a pleasant task to trace the history of the Catholic Church in Kansas up to the present time, and mark the growth of the little "mustard seed" upon the prairies.
     The Jesuit missionaries amongst the Kickapoo, Pottawattomie, and Osage Indians were the first Catholic Soldiers of the Cross who subjected the wild aborigines of Kansas to the sweet yoke of Jesus Christ. As I stated before, this good work commenced towards the end of the year 1847. In the year 1851 the Holy See determined to appoint a Vicar-Apostolic for Kansas and the region lying east of the Rocky Mountains; and the chosen one was Rev. J. B. Miege, then a Jesuit missionary in Missouri. No better appointment has ever been made by the Holy See than that of the Right Rev. J. B. Miege; and, undoubtedly, the Catholics of Kansas have good reason to be pround of that apostolic man. He has been a mighty instrument, through the grace of God, in giving an impetus to our holy religion here, for his zeal and fervour have urged forward other missionaries to imitate his grand example. The history of his life for the last twenty years in Kansas would form an interesting book.
     His journeys over the plains, his trials and sufferings out amidst the mountains, his wanderings amongst the Indians, his hundreds of escapes from dangers "by flood and field"--all would be most interesting to hear of.
     In the year 1854, a few months after the first inhabitants raised their huts beside Fort Leavenworth, Bishop Miege halted with his little covered wagon, in the beautiful plain beside the Mission, where the city of Leavenworth now stands. There were not then one dozen houses in that place. With the wonderful foresight which has characterized his actions since the day of his consecration, he seemed to see that Leavenworth was destined to be the leading city of Kansas. Accordingly, he resolved to fix the seat of his see in Leaven-


worth city. He purchased a few "lots" in a small wood on the northern boundary of the proposed city, and there built a "frame dwelling-house," and a little church capable of containing three or four dozen people.
     On the memorable Sunday when, for the first time, a Catholic church was opened for Divine service, the Right Rev. Bishop celebrated the Holy Sacrifice in presence of a Chatholic congregation of about one dozen people. But soon the little church was found too small for the daily-increasing congregation which came into the young city of Leavenworth. A large church was erected, which in another year failed to accommodate the people. Again another "frame church" arose, or rather a large addition was made to the last one.
     The city, meanwhile, went on rapidly increasing in population, and in ten years from the date of its first settlement the Catholics, from being only a dozen souls, were counted by the thousands.

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This page was created on March 25, 2000,
Feast of the Annunciation.