Monday, July 11, 2011

Bazaar Schoolhouse

The Bazaar Schoolhouse sits off of Highway 177, just to the west of the town of Bazaar in Chase County Kansas. The highway is part of the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway. Although the building is large for a one room schoolhouse, its interior design still reflects one common room where boys and girls of all ages were taught. I do not at this time have any information about the school. I hope to come back and supplement the article at a later date.

Bazaar Schoolhouse, July 4 2013
It is almost two years later and I am driving down Highway 177 from Cottonwood Falls to Cassoday. The date is July 4, 2013, and, as you can see, the time is near sunset, which in Kansas at this time of year is 8:30 p.m.. The old schoolhouse at Bazaar stands silently by the roadside as the sun sets.

William G. Cutler's 1883 History of the State of Kansas, Chase County, Bazaar Township, contains a biographical sketch of the prominent farmers, stock men, doctors, general merchants, and dairymen of Bazaar. Samuel Baker of Massachusetts, for example, was a staunch Abolitionist. He came to Kansas in 1854, fought in the Civil War, and returned in 1866, at which time claimed 160 acres of land situated on the South Fork of the Cottonwood River, under the Homestead Act.

Chase County

Bazaar, Kansas is located in Chase County. You can think of Chase County as a time capsule. Its population in the US Census of 2010 was 2,790, which is slightly more than the 1870 population of 1,975. The county lies to the north of Butler County and west of Lyon county where Emporia is located. The turnpike I-35 crosses the southeast corner of the county, but if you want to enjoy the true flavor of Chase then you need to travel Highway 177 north from Cassoday or Highway 50 west from Emporia.

The county was named for Salmon P. Chase, former senator and govenor of Ohio, then Secretary of the Treasury for Abraham Lincoln. If you read the 2005 book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, then you will remember that Chase was a staunch Abolitionist who had presidential designs of his own. Chase, as a radical member of the Republican Party, coined the slogan of the Free Soil Party, "Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men". Chase was a bit of a thorn in Lincoln's side, often threatening to resign if he didn't get his way. Lincoln surprised Chase by accepting his resignation as Secretary of the Treasury. And when Chief Justice Taney of the Supreme Court died, Lincoln nominated Chase as his replacement.

North of Strong City and Highway 50 is the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Highway 177 intersects with Strong City here. Going south along Highway 177, you pass through Strong City and nearby Cottonwood Falls before coming to Bazaar and its schoolhouse. Bazaar remains an unincorporated city in Chase County.

Highway 177 is part of the Kansas Scenic ByWays, a 47 mile stretch of highway from Council Groves to Cassoday through the Flint Hills. The road from Cottonwood Falls to Bazaar parallels the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad and the South Branch of the Cottonwood River. In the heyday of the Texas cattle drives to Abilene this was one of the many routes that cattle drovers herded their cattle. In 1867, Bazaar received its own spur of the Santa Fe. The addition of stockyards and the tall grass prairies made Bazaar, by the end of the century, the largest cattle-shipping point on the Santa Fe. Chasing Cattle Thieves in the Flint Hills, 1899, by Jim Hoy.

Bazaar and the surrounding Flint Hills remain famous as a feeding ground for beef cattle.  Each summer a million head of cattle are fattened on the Bluestem Tallgrass of the Kansas Flint Hills.

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