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Homesteading in Republic County

Freedom Township: The Polish Colony

"The last of the early group settlements to be made in Republic County was that of the Polish, late in the year of 1870. These Poles, with the exception of one of their number, bought their land, for homesteads were no longer available.

The first group to come included:
Frank Uschler, wife and at least one son, Frank.
John Rost and family including two or three sons.
Michael Levondofsky and family.
John Shymanski and family.
John Kerstine and family,-five sons.
Lawrence Levondofski (son of Michael).
Wenzel Jehilik.
Casper Jehilik.
Frank Jehilik.

The three Jehiliks, who were brothers, were not Polish but Bohemian. They came with the group and settled with them, however.

These people, who came from St. Joe, [St. Joseph,] Missouri, settled in the northwest part of Freedom Township. Some of the older men drove out with teams but the younger ones came on the train.

The Rost, Shymanski and Uschler families came from the same part of Poland but the other families came from different places. They had met and formed their group in St. Joe where they worked in the rolling mills and packing houses. They had read of the land in Kansas in the papers.

The group was joined by other Poles in the course of a few years until it numbered twenty-five families. . . .

Some new members came directly from the old country. If a man here was in need of a [farmhand] he would write back to some of his family and friends, at his old home. These men who came would work as hands until they could pay or start to pay for a farm and so the settlement grew.

The part of Poland from which these people came was at that time under the government of Germany. The Poles were not [well-treated] and many of them came to the United States. Here they worked for a time in the mills and factories of the eastern cities and then went to farms farther west. Those who came to Republic County had, with a few exceptions, worked for a time in St. Joe, Missouri, where they read in the papers of the land to be had in Kansas. . . .

The group lived close together, in dugouts for a time. The men farmed in the summer but continued to go to St. Joe, Missouri, in the winter to work in the factories, leaving their families to tend the farms. . . .

Although but two of the early group are now living, the identity of the community is retained. It is still Polish. . . ."*

Republic County - Polish settlement


*Ida Lucretia Smith, “A History of the National Group Settlements in Republic County, Kansas” (M. S. thesis, Fort Hays Kansas State College, 1933), 63-65.

Smith, Ida Lucretia. “A History of the National Group Settlements in Republic County,
Kansas.” M. S. thesis., Fort Hays Kansas State College, 1933.


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