Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dedicating the Sod and Stubble Country Tour, September 16, 2006

The day started out very warm and very blustery, with winds gusting between 25 & 35 mph. That did not deter a large crowd from coming out to celebrate the official opening of the Sod and Stubble Country Self-Guided Tour, honring the places and events made famous in the classic Kansas book Sod and Stubble by Osborne County native John Ise. 2006 marks the 70th anniversary of the first publication of Sod and Stubble, which remains an internationally-revered work into the present day.

First stop on the day was in the rural Baker Cemetery, located three miles east of Osborne, Kansas. Those in attendance learned about the Baker neighborhood and heard stories concerning many of the people who were laid to rest here.

The next stop was north into Bethany Township, where officials from the Seventh-day Academy of Enterprise, Kansas led a dedication of a new historical marker at the former site of the Hill Agricultural Academy. The Hill Agricultural Academy was started here by the Kansas Seventh-day Adventist Conference in 1910, teaching up to 96 students a term until it closed in 1924 and moved to Enterprise. The Conference sponsored the marker and they are to be commended for their desire to preserve their heritage across the state.

A drive a few miles to the east brought everyone ot the major event of the day. At Stop #1 of the Tour, noted state historian Leo Oliva of Stockton, Kansas, cut the ribbon to formally dedicate the tour. Then all enjoyed visiting each of the 20 featured tour markers down gravel and dirt roads.

With the heat and wind it made it very easy to imagine what life was like for those first settlers in the area over 130 years before. At each tour stop a different person was chosen to "dedicate" its marker by tossing a scoop of dirt from the original Ise homestead onto it. All attendees were also given a bag of dirt from the Ise farm as a souvenir of the day.

Stop #12 on the tour is the Rose Valley Cemetery, where many of the people who lie here were either born in the city of Seewis, Switzerland, or are descendants of those who came from there.

All funds used to establish this tour were raised by the non-profit Ise Farm Foundation and came primarily from local businesses and private individuals. A portion of the funding for the tour brochure was provided through a grant from the Kansas Travel and Tourism Division. Be sure to start your vacation with this great attraction!

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