Brian Stucky has identified trails that were used by the pioneers in this area.
In his presentation to the Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association members and friends Sept. 23 at Faith Mennonite Church, he shared his learnings. He has discovered that within eight miles of Goessel, there are more trails than about any place in the United States.
Stucky, an art teacher with interest in local history, started looking at maps developed in 1860 by land surveyors showing townships, rivers, streams, trails, some with written notations.
As he explored, Stucky noticed subtle signs that indicated trails, such as swales, hedge row dip, different kinds of grasses. He noted where the Cherokee Trail joins the Santa Fe Trail two miles south of Galva. He has followed the Kaw Indian Trail from around Council Grove to southeast of Lyons that crosses north of Eden Mennonite Church in rural Moundridge.
His diagrams showed where local immigrants probably traveled from McPherson to Newton on the Fort Zarah to El Dorado Trail that crossed the front yard of the Cole House in Moundridge. Through his dowsing expertise, Stucky has followed trails from Peabody to Gnadenau (near Hillsboro), from Peabody to Alexanderwohl Immigrant House, from Halstead to Hopefield Church (location of the Swiss Mennonite Immigrant House), as well as Hutchinson to Hoffnungsau.
One other trail was a military trail. No train went to Wichita in those early days but went to Fort Harker, today Kanopolis. So supplies traveled by wagon from Fort Harker, across roads four miles west of Moundridge, and through Halstead on a trail that joined the west bank of Little Arkansas.
The Fort Zarah trail from Great Bend to El Dorado actually goes over the Moundridge Cole House property. This is probably the trail that was used before the railroad (1886) or Moundridge (1887) or Highway 81 as people traveled to Newton. Stucky is developing a Web site — — and gathering information for a new book, a way for people to rediscover these trails through his directions.
SMCHA President LaVern Stucky welcomed 174 interested people who enjoyed a Swiss ethnic dinner catered by The Bread Basket in Newton. The program included a skit by Maynard Krehbiel and Vic Goering (a German translation of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s On First” baseball comedy routine), a duet by Janet Ediger and Jim Yoder from Faith Church, and Evelyn Lehman’s story of Beth Goering’s mother’s wedding dress that also was worn by Beth and her two daughters.
To join the organization and receive updates of events through the Schweitzer Salt newsletter, send $15 membership fee to treasurer H. Keith Goering, 1828 Arrowhead Road, Moundridge KS 67107.