The Backlund Farm

September 26th, 1877

THE BACKLUND FARM – Lasita, Kansas (KS) – TIMELINE

This Teppline is a “work in progress”.

~ The time node for the Backlund Farm is September 26, 1877 which is the date that the grant of the 160 acre homestead of the NE 1/4 of Section 26 in Township 7 South of Range 4 East subject to sale at Concordia, Kansas was granted pursuant to recorded proclamation by Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States.

As Long as the Rivers Flow

“Our land is more valuable than your money. It will last forever. It will not even perish by the flames of fire. As long as the sun shines and the waters flow, this land will be here to give life to men and animals. We cannot sell the lives of men and animals. It was put here for us by the Great Spirit and we cannot sell it because it does not belong to us. You can count your money and burn it within the nod of a buffalo’s head, but only the Great Spirit can count the grains of sand and blades of grass on the plains. As a present to you, we will give you anything we have that you can take with you; but the land, never.”

Crowfoot (Blackfoot)

The Backlund Farm begins with a journey.  The journey began when a young couple and their infant child left Sweden in search for a new land, or at least “new land” in North America.  The journey ended with a walk along the Big Blue Earth River not far from Randolph, Kansas which then became a starting point in the search for La Sita (the site), the specific site of land that would, in time, become the Backlund farm.  And now that starting point, the trail and Randolph, Kansas is now submerged.

And just as the story begins with that walk along the river, the story of the Backlund Farm ends with the damming of the river, with the end of the riverbank, the trail, and the water flowing free.  From 1870 until 1955, for 85 very special years the land of and around the Backlund Farm was borrowed by two or three generations of Backlunds before being “given back” to the earth or “sold forward” to others perhaps more or perhaps less worthy.

For the small family of Backlunds (Back Land, Black Land) the trip was a hope, a quest; a hope for farmland so special that one would never again have to travel or move.  For all who made that first journey up the ‘Big Blue’ the trip that included land beyond the Kansas borders would be their last.  None of the first four would ever again in their lives travel very far beyond the Backlund farm or Lasita.

The Backlund Farm and Lasita essentially grew and died together.  The Backlund property was there first, but whether the first efforts in hollowing ground and home cut sod and a family living on prairie chicken and rabbit occasionally supplemented by a cornmeal and molasses gruel was a “farm” is only historical conjecture.  The garden failed, the crops failed, the locust came and when (in 1877) better improvements and title came and one might think “all is better” diphtheria then came and killed nearly half the family in just two days (in July of 1878).

It can be argued that the Lasita School and community center was the most memorable structure in Lasita.  It was built through the efforts of John Backlund.  If the history of Lasita, Kansas (KS) and the Backlunds and Backlund farm run on almost parallel tracks, it should be noted that the Lasita School was torn down in 1954.

So the history of the Backlund Farm and the history of Lasita, Kansas often overlap and are in many ways one in the same.  It was Alfin Backlund, born on the farm, just as Michael Senn was moving forward with his plans for Lasita that became the principal photographic chronicler of both the farm and the town.  If other “early” photographs of either exist, they apparently have never been published.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1870
____________________________________________________________________________ February:

1870.02.14
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Illinois – Fulton County
Astoria
(area)

THE JOURNEY “HOME”

Johan [John Backlund] (age 32) hears of “free land” in Kansas.  With his wife Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 26 and pregnant with John Backlund Jr.) and his daughter Johanna Carolina Backlund (about age 2) the family takes a train (possibly including the Chicago and Alton Railroad) to Manhattan, Kansas.


Astoria is near the first “L” in “Illinois” on the above map.

The train from Kansas City to Manhattan, Kansas (KS) was the Kansas Pacific Railroad.   Map is here.

____________________________________________________________________________ March:

1870.03.01
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Davis County –
Manhattan –

RANDOLPH KANSAS AND THE BIG BLUE

From Manhattan the family walks up (going north) the trail along the Big Blue River to Randolph, Kansas.  In the “Randolph” map link Randolph KS is near the “16” at the north end of Tuttle Creek Reservoir.  The “pin” indicates the location of Lasita and the Backlund farm.  The Tuttle Creek Dam did not exist in 1870.  It was completed in 1956.

____________________________________________________________________________ March:

1870.03.01 – 1870.08.00
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
Randolph –

RANDOLPH KANSAS STAY

The Backlund family stays (probably with Swedish “friends”) in Randolph until after John Backlund Jr. is born.

____________________________________________________________________________ March:

1870.03.14
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Clay County –
Clay Center –

JOHN BACKLUND CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION

After arriving in Randolf Johan [John Backlund] files a Declaration of Intention to become a United States citizen.  He renounces allegiance to the King of Sweden.  The name on the declaration is misspelled “John Barcklund”.

____________________________________________________________________________ June:

1870.06.06
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County – Randolph –

BIRTH of John Backlund Jr. occurs at home in Randolph, Kansas on June 6th / 1870.

His father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 33) and his mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 26).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1873

____________________________________________________________________________ June:

1873.06.07 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

BIRTH of Wilhelm Backlund occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on June 7th / 1873.

His father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 36) and her mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 29).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1876

____________________________________________________________________________ March:

1876.03.04
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Clay County –
Clay Center –

JOHN BACKLUND DECLARED CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES

On “March forth”, pursuant to his Declaration of Intention to become a United States citizen and an appearance before the District Court on November 8th, 1875 Johan [John Backlund] becomes a U.S. citizen.  He again renounces allegiance to the King of Sweden.  Again, the name on the declaration is misspelled “John Barcklund”.

____________________________________________________________________________ July:

1876.07.05 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
LasitaBacklund Farm

BIRTH of Hulda Bethseda Backlund occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on July 5th / 1876.

Her father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 39) and her mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 32).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1877

____________________________________________________________________________ June:

1877.09.26 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

John Backlund is issued the grant for the 160 acre Backlund Farm.

____________________________________________________________________________ October:

1877.10.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaSenn Homestead

MICHAEL SENN PURCHASES ACREAGE IN RILEY COUNTY KANSAS

In October of 1877 Michael Senn purchases land in Fancy Creek township, this is “the site” (La Sita) for his new store and his new town.

The map below showing Senn family land ownership is circa 1910.  The Backlund Farm is the 160 acre tract designated “John Blacklund”.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1878

____________________________________________________________________________ May:

1878.05.27 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

BIRTH of Alfin Backlund occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on May 27th / 1878.

His father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 41) and her mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 34).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1880

____________________________________________________________________________ Month:

1880.00.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
Lasita

MICHAEL SENN FOUNDS THE TOWN OF LASITA, KANSAS

Michael Senn establishes a town site from land on his homestead and names it La Sita (French for “the site”) about 1880.

The suggestion is that Michael Senn did not actually move to Lasita until 1880 when he established his own homestead of 160 acres in addition to the land he had purchased earlier (in 1877).

——————————————————————————————————————————————————  The (1908) Hemme Backlund Correspondence Institute of America article about Michael Senn is here.

The (1976) Pioneers of the Bluestem Praire article about Michael Senn is here.

1880.00.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaSenn Store

MICHAEL SENN ESTABLISHES THE SENN STORE IN LASITA, KANSAS

The Senn Store is the first building built in Lasita, Kansas.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————  The only pictures of the Senn Store that seem to exist are those taken by Alfin Backlund (see below) that were taken after Frank J. Lund purchased the store and it was renamed as the Frank J. Lund General Merchandise store.

____________________________________________________________________________ September:

1880.09.10 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

BIRTH of Theodore Backlund occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on September 10th / 1880.

His father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 43) and his mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 36).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1881

____________________________________________________________________________ April:

1881.04.00 – 1936.00.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaKansas Central Railroad (KCR)

THE KANSAS CENTRAL RAILROAD BUILDS TRACKS THROUGH THE TOWN OF LASITA, KANSAS

The Kansas Central Railroad was organized from the ashes of the defunct Kansas Central Railway on April 15, 1879.  The tracks are extended from Garrison, Kansas starting August 3, 1880, reaching Clay Center, Kansas on December 25, 1881.  Lasita, Kansas is about halfway between the two points, suggesting that the railroad reached Lasita in April of 1881.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————  More information about the Kansas Central Railroad, including maps is here.

A photograph by Alfin Backlund of the L, K, & W Railroad tracks in Lasita, Kansas next to the Shell Mill is here.

A picture of the Leavenworth, Kansas, & Western Railroad cut through the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas is here.

The L,K & W Railroad ceased operations through Lasita in 1936.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1882

____________________________________________________________________________ January:

1882.01.10 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
LasitaBacklund Farm

BIRTH of Hattie Wilhelmina Backlund occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on January 10th / 1882.

Her father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 44) and her mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 38).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1887

____________________________________________________________________________ August:

1887.08.05 / day

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
LasitaBacklund Farm

BIRTH of Hemme Naratte Backlund occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on August 5th / 1887.

Her father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 50) and her mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 43).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1887

____________________________________________________________________________ August:

1887.08.05 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

BIRTH of Hemme Naratte Backlund occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on August 5th / 1887.

Her father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 50) and her mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 43).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1892

____________________________________________________________________________ Month:

1892.01.01
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS ON THE LASITA SCHOOL

 The building itself was built in 1892, by Johan “John” Backlund with a hired hand or two and help from several others.  One man was killed during the construction of the school, Mr. Flack.  He was blown off a scaffold during a brisk March wind.
John Backlund had progressive ideas about education.  They were quite advanced for his time, and the times, hence the size and stature of this otherwise “rural” school.  Only the bottom floor was ever the “school”.  The top floor was built for use by the community, a “community center” as one might say today.  It was the “Lasita Meeting Hall”, a place for meetings, to hold elections, to have debates about all the areas needs, or wants, or grievances or desires.  Up high one could get a perspective on things, see the town, see across the typically Kansas world.  It helped in making the decisions.

The building was also used as a place to hold Sunday School.  For many years these classes were taught by John Backlund Jr., a “Swedish bachelor farmer”, and son of Johan Backlund, the original founder of Lasita School and the original builder.

The heating of the building was never good.  As you can see in the pictures below the building had no plumbing.  Originally there was no electricity.  The walls were basically without insulation, which was typical of buildings such as this at the time.  But the building did have glass windows and effective shutters.  The Lasita School provided warmth from the wind and effective shade from the Kansas heat of summer.

The fact that the building remained standing until 1954, even though it was discontinued as a school in 1937, when the school board voted to not continue the school, speaks well for the quality of its construction.  The fact is also a testimonial to the fact that Lasita, Kansas was never hit (in these 62 years) by a tornado.

I (Donald Clayton) went inside the abandoned school in June of 1953 with Hemme Backlund, my grandmother (the youngest daughter of Johan “John” Backlund).  I even went upstairs.  I was on a two week trip to visit the Kansas farm with my mother and my two older brothers.  I was five years old at the time, but I remember the trip very well.

The Lasita School was torn down in 1954.  Hemme sold the Backlund Farm in 1955, which was the last year that she lived in Lasita, the town in Kansas nearest that of her birth.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1897

____________________________________________________________________________ Month:

1897.00.00
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

LASITA SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPH CIRCA 1897

This photograph was probably one of the first taken by Alfin Backlund, who courtesy of a timer is seen in his own photograph (tallest person in the back row).  The year is probably 1897, in December obviously, you can see the snow.   The teacher for everyone pictured here is Cora Stump, seen on the far left, back row.  Hemme Backlund is the young girl on the far right.  No coat, but bravely not looking cold.  In the row behind her, to the left is her sister Hattie Backlund.  Emily Erickson is between her and Alfin.

We’ll have more names of the students pictured tomorrow.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1907

____________________________________________________________________________ April:

1907.04.02 – 1907.09.01  (5 months) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
Lasita

RESIDENCY IN LASITA Backlund Farm

Johan [John Backlund] / Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund / Alfin Backlund / Huldah Backlund / Hattie Backlund / Hemme Naratte Backlund.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1909

____________________________________________________________________________ May:

1909.05.13 /  ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

HEMME BACKLUND AND HATTIE BACKLUND LEAVE LASITA

Hemme Naratte Backlund is now 21 years of age.  Her teaching contract at Leonardville School has expired.  She leaves by train with her older sister Hattie Backlund to attend school in California.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1912

____________________________________________________________________________ June:

1912.06.06 – 1912.07.04  (1 month)  ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

HEMME BACKLUND SPENDS A MONTH ON THE FARM AND IN LASITA

Hemme Naratte Backlund is engaged to be married to Guy Dennis Martin in California.  She arrives “home” for the last time on her brother John’s birthday to spend time with her parents before leaving to get married. 

____________________________________________________________________________ 1913

____________________________________________________________________________ December:

1913.12.22 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
LasitaBacklund Farm

DEATH of Hattie Wilhelmina Backlund (age 31) occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on December 22nd / 1913.

She had recently been teaching in Turlock, California, but resigned and came “home” to die.

Her father is Johan [John Backlund] (age 76) and her mother is Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 70).

____________________________________________________________________________ 1917

____________________________________________________________________________ July:

1917.07.28 – 1917.12.00  (4.5 months) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

RESIDENCY IN LASITA Backlund Farm

Johan [John Backlund] / Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund
Hemme Naratte Backlund Martin /

Lloydine Della Martin.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1923

____________________________________________________________________________ September:

1923.09.01 – 1923.10.24  (2 months) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

HEMME BACKLUND MARTIN IN LASITA PURSUANT TO HER FATHER’S DEATH

Hemme (Naratte Backlund Martin) arrives in Lasita three days before her father’s death.  She stays at the farm, helping her mother, for almost two months.  She leaves October 24th for her return to Arizona.

1923.09.04 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
LasitaBacklund Farm

DEATH of Johan [John Backlund] (age 86) occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on September 4th / 1923.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1936

____________________________________________________________________________ Month:

1936.00.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaKansas Central Railroad (KCR)

THE KANSAS CENTRAL RAILROAD ENDS SERVICE THROUGH THE TOWN OF LASITA, KANSAS

The Kansas Central Railroad discontinues service after 55 years.  The tracks are abandoned.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1937

____________________________________________________________________________ Month:

1937.06.01
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaLasita School

CLASSES END AT LASITA SCHOOL

After 45 years of public service as an educational facility the school board voted in 1937 to discontinue further instruction in the building.

____________________________________________________________________________ July:

1937.07.12 / day
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County –
LasitaBacklund Farm

DEATH of Carolina Wilhelmina Eckkel [Hedman] Backlund (age 93) occurs at home on the Backlund Farm near Lasita, Kansas on July 12th / 1937.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1953

____________________________________________________________________________ January:

1953.01.051953.03.10  (2.5 months) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

RESIDENCY IN LASITA Backlund Farm

Hemme Naratte Backlund.

Mailing address:  Route 2 – Green, Kansas

____________________________________________________________________________ July:

1953.07.051954.04.29  (10 months) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

RESIDENCY IN LASITA Backlund Farm

____________________________________________________________________________ 1954

____________________________________________________________________________ August:

1954.08.15 – 1955.07.01  (1.5 years) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaBacklund Farm

HEMME MARTIN OPERATES THE BACKLUND FARM

____________________________________________________________________________ Month:

1954.00.00
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————— [2] 39:096 – North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaLasita School

LASITA SCHOOL TORN DOWN

62 years after being built the Lasita School is torn down.

2013.03.09 – 06:15.

John Backlund consummates Kansas Homestead

September 26th, 1877

On September 26, 1877, President Rutherford B. Hayes (through his agent B. L. Lang) confirmed that John Backlund had satisfied the requirements of the law of May 20, 1862 regarding the homesteading of 160 acres of land in Kansas.

The document is reproduced below:

This is a TRUE COPY of the original document made by Rodney Stokes Co., 858 Third Street, San Diego, California, by Zelna Maeser (agent) on January 27, 1942.

TEXT OF THE DOCUMENT:

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
To all to whom these presents shall come, Greetings:

Homestead Certificate No. 4655
APPLICATION 5836

Whereas There has been deposited in the General Land Office of the United States a Certificate of the Register of the Land Office at Concordia, Kansas, whereby it appears that, pursuant to the Act of Congress approved 20th May, 1862, “To secure Homesteads to actual Settlers on the Public Domain,” and the acts supplemental thereto, the claim of John Backlund has been established and duly consummated, in conformity to law, for the North East quarter of Section twenty-six, in Township seven South, of Range four East, in the District of Lands subject to sale at Concordia, Kansas, containing one hundred and sixty acres according to the Official Plat of the Survey of the said Land, returned to the General Land Office by the Surveyor General:

Now know ye, That there is, therefore, granted by the United States unto the said John Backlund the tract of Land above described: To have and to hold the said tract of Land, with the appurtenances thereof, unto the said John Backlund and to his heirs and assigns forever.

In testimony whereof, I Rutherford B. Hayes, President of the United States of America, have caused these letters to be made Patent, and the Seal of the General Land Office to be hereunto affixed.

Given under my hand, at the City of Washington, the twenty sixth day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-seven, and of the Independence of the United States the one hundred and second –

BY THE PRESIDENT: R.B. Hayes
By B.L. Lang, Secretary.

Recorded, Vol. 10, Page 67      S. W. Clark, Recorder of the General Land Office.

[“John Backlund consummates Kansas Homestead” Post written on May 11, 2011 @ 21:12  ZLT / GMT / Zulu / UTC]