Main Street Kansas: Tiny homes coming to Nicodemus

Main Street Kansas

Off of Highway 24 sits a little Kansas town.

“Nicodemus means everything to me,” resident JohnElla Holmes said.

And one with rich history.

“It was founded in 1877,” she said. “My great-great-great grandparents were one of the first families to come.”

Nicodemus was founded by African-American ex-slaves moving west.

“The slaves came from mainly Kentucky and Tennessee,” Nicodemus contractor Steven Jones said. “They got on a train and came to Ellis and walked to Nicodemus.”

At one time, over 900 people called Nicodemus home.

They built their own churches, schools and homes.

But when the depression hit in the 30’s, and the promised railroad never appeared, the town couldn’t survive.

“Ugh, that was a start of a real demise,” Holmes said. “A lot of businesses moved away, and then we just survived from there.”

Today, Nicodemus is home to 42 people and is the oldest and only existing black settlement west of the Mississippi River.

And it’s that history and pride, Holmes said she wants to share with others through a project they call Tiny Homes.

“We applied for a grant for Dane Hansen Foundation,” she said. “And they provided us with $120,000 to start.”

Three tiny homes and a single-wide trailer are now in process with 11 families on the waiting list.

Jones said each home is 500 square feet but will be unique in its own way.

Holmes said these homes will be ready within a month, and she hopes to build more.

“I hope our town’s history never goes away and that somebody will be portraying me,” she said.

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