Nicodemus National Historic Site, located in Nicodemus, Kansas, United States, preserves, protects and interprets the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the American Civil War. The town of Nicodemus is symbolic of the pioneer spirit of African Americans who dared to leave the only region they had been familiar with to seek personal freedom and the opportunity to develop their talents and capabilities. The site was named for a legendary African-American slave who purchased his freedom.
Nicodemus was founded in 1877, led by Rev. W.H. Smigh, a black minister, and W.R. Hill, a white land developer, and five other black men who formed the Nicodemus Town Company and began visiting churches in Kentucky to encourage people to move to Kansas. Kansas was a free state, part of the Underground Railroad and home to abolitionist John Brown. Handbills and flyers distributed by the company called Nicodemus a place for "African Americans to establish a black self-government."By the mid 1880s Nicodemus was a small, bustling town. There were two newspapers, three general stores and at least three churches. The town had a number of small hotels, an ice cream parlor, bank, livery and a number of homes. The population was an estimated 700 at the town's heyday.