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  • Rebecca Drew

A Farm in Kansas


Sketch of Residence of William C. Park in Waterville, Kansas

For those of you who read the article about Finding the Roots of Your Heritage, I hope you find something like this illustration. This sketch shows an illustration of one of my ancestor's farms in Waterville, Kansas. This sketch can be found at various libraries in the Midwest, and it has appeared in one of the popular genealogy databases. This farm belonged to William C. Park, who set up a grain threshing business with his friend, Frank Wilson. Based on this illustration, the farm probably kept him just as busy. According to local history, many fruit trees were imported. I wish I knew what kinds of fruit! Also, spruce trees were planted along with other ornamental trees. Notice the smaller plantings on the right side, near the horses. Were those grapevines, possibly? Grapes were indeed grown in Kansas during the late 1800's, and some people ventured into winemaking. Some of Mr. Park's ancestors were Swiss-German coopers, and there is circumstantial evidence they made wine barrels. Was there a thread of viticulture running through the family? If so, then perhaps that thread continues to today's grapevines, including the Midwestern-made Brianna grape. We'll talk more about that in future articles!


I also wonder if there are any remnants of these plantings existing today. After piecing together old township maps from the early 1900's, I think I found the right location on Google Earth, and there is no evidence of the house, farm, and schoolhouse. However, that endless horizon looks identical to the illustration. There are open fields now, and clumps of weeds may be hiding some descendants of Mr. Park's plantings. Perhaps you can make a similar discovery with your heritage, if you just keep digging like you would in a garden!

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