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Homesteading in Finney County


Founded in 1886 by Russian Jews, Leeser was named for Rabbi Isaac Leeser who was the editor of a popular Jewish magazine "Occident". Leeser was very close, if not in distance, to its counterparts in Touro. Many colonists of both towns had relatives living in the other town. The colonies were 10 to 12 miles apart in 2 separate counties. Leeser was the smaller of the two, and its fortunes were riding on the coattails of Touro.

After dealing with a blizzard in 1886, a tornado that caused some damage in 1887, and a drought that started in 1888, the colonists' attempts at agriculture failed. Along with Touro's failed backing of Chantilly in the county seat war, these things combined dampened the enthusiasm of the colonists. By 1890, Leeser was no longer existent except for a few empty and crumbling sod buildings.

Jewish Colonies in Kansas set up by Agricultural Aid Societies
Beersheba (Hodgeman) | Gilead (Comanche) | Hebron (Barber) | Lasker (Ford) | Leeser (Finney) | Montefiore (Pratt) | Touro (Kearny)


Douglas, Donald M. "Forgotten Zions: Jewish Agricultural Colonies in Kansas in the 1880's." Kansas History 16 (Summer 1993): 108-119.

Harris, Lloyd David. "Sod Jerusalems: Jewish Agricultural Communities in Frontier Kansas". Masters Thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1984.

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