Eudora, Kansas

The community of Eudora in Douglas County was founded in 1857 by the Deutsche or Neuer Ansiedlungsverein (German or New Settlement Society) from Chicago on recently subdivided Shawnee Indian reservation lands held by chief Pascal Fish and his family since the early 1840s. Fish, who had already outlined the townsite, sold it to the settlement society and requested that the new town would be named after his daughter Eudora. The town was part of the progressive German immigration and settlement of the county in the 1850s and 60s and developed from a relatively small rural community of about 600 residents and 50 percent German ancestry around the turn of the twentieth century to a solid mid-sized city of about 6,300 today. Over time, many new residents have moved in from within and beyond the state, which resulted in increased demographic dynamics and heterogeneity characterized by 16 percent German ancestry and only a small fraction being descendant from pioneer families.

Eudora, Kansas in the American Midwest

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Several monuments, sites, and landmarks reflect the history and heritage of the city and its residents, such as the Fish Memorial or the Pilla House and Park. The former honors the city's namesake and alleged founding figure, the latter commemorate German immigration, community progress, and local history. The historic plaque behind the Fish Memorial as well as the former "Turnhalle" (Turner Hall - now a private residence) illustrate the hidden German heritage of the town. Eudora's name and material landscape thus express distinctive commemorative patterns and historic developments within the community and beyond.

Historic & Commemorative Sites of Eudora, Kansas
This map shows the historic and commemorative site in Eudora, Kansas

Cartography: Stephan Fuchs; Data Source: United States Geological Survey – Earth Explorer

In sum, Eudora’s Native-American eponyms and German founders provide an ambiguous base of historical and local identity in the context of progressive communal change. Pascal and Eudora Fish predominate the material representation and historical discourse of the city's past, while German heritage and ancestry have formed a hidden but latent element of local history. You can learn more about Eudora and his history with the following video and literature.

Presentation - German Identity and Heritage of Eudora and beyond Eudora Area Historical Society, September 7th, 2014

Further Reading

Fuchs, S. (2013): German(ic) Toponyms in the American Midwest. A Study of Place, Identity, and Heritage. Erlangen: Fränkische Geographische Gesellschaft.

Fuchs, S. (2015): Germany in the Midwest. Deutsche im Amerikanischen Mittelwesten. Geographische Rundschau 67 (3), pp. 29-35.

Fuchs, S. (2015): History and Heritage of two Midwestern Towns: A Toponymic-Material Approach. Journal of Historical Geography 48, 11-25

Higgins, C. (2013): Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw. The History of Eudora, Kansas. Online publication.

Klinke, S. (2002): Eudora, Kansas: The Transformation of a German Frontier Settlement into a Midwestern Town. M.A. thesis, University of Kansas.

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