Nicodemus Historic District, Nicodemus, Graham County, Kansas. Photo Credit: © Library of Congress.

United States – Nicodemus, Kansas

Nicodemus was founded in 1877 as an unincorporated community in Graham County, Kansas, United States. A group of 30 Black settlers from Kentucky established the town of Nicodemus in western Kansas. Two theories explain the choice of the name Nicodemus. One is thought to be named after the Biblical figure Nicodemus, the other thought to be inspired by the legendary account of an African prince taken into slavery who later purchased his freedom.

This settlement was part of a greater movement westward during the latter half of the 19th century encouraging Black people living in the post-Civil War South to seek economic opportunities and a sense of freedom. The area, including Township Hall, African Methodist Episcopal Church, First Baptist Church, St. Francis Hotel, and Nicodemus School District #1 Schoolhouse, is now known as the Nicodemus National Historic Site.


  • Daniel, S. Chu., & Shaw, Bill. 1994. Going home to Nicodemus: the story of an African American frontier town and the pioneers who settled it. Morristown, N.J.: J. Messner. pp. 18. ISBN 978-0671887223.
  • Athearn, G. Robert. 1978. In search of Canaan: Black migration to Kansas, 1879–80. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas. p. 6. ISBN 978-0700601714.
  • National Park Service 1986. Promised land on the Solomon: Black settlement at Nicodemus, Kansas. United States. National Park Service. Rocky Mountain Regional Office.