Illustrated Teppline for Lasita, Kansas

January 1st, 1880

Time Node:  Default date of January 1, 1880 – Founding of Lasita, Kansas

Illustrated Teppline for Lasita, Kansas:

The following information about Lasita, Kansas and the pictures of Lasita, Kansas are presented in the form of a Teppline.  The dates represent the dates, or approximate dates, that photographs were taken, that events occurred or that articles or information were published.

Most of the materials herein are from the “Hemme Backlund Martin Collection“.   She was my grandmother on my mother’s side (Lloydine Martin Clayton).   Alfin Backlund was Hemme’s older brother.

Hemme’s father was Johan “John” Backlund.  He came to the Bluestem Prairie in 1870 and homesteaded a 160 acre farm, the Backlund Farm, located approximately one mile north (and slightly west) of where Lasita, Kansas would be founded ten years later, in 1880.  Lasita was founded in 1880 by Michael Senn.

This presentation does not represent an effort to present all that is known about Lasita, Kansas, nor all the facts.  It is more of a personal presentation of the town and how the Backlund family participated in the growth of the community and shared life with the others that lived there or considered Lasita, Kansas as their modest “hometown”.  Lasita was never large.  The community hardly exists today.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1870

1870.00.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
(Lasita) – Backlund Farm


—————————————————————————————————————————————————–  Information regarding the birth members of the Johan Backlund family is here.

The 1877 Patent (Deed) for the Backlund Farm is here.

A Teppline for the Backlund Farm is here.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1877

1877.10.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
(Lasita)Senn Homestead


In October of 1877 Michael Senn purchased land in Fancy Creek township near the present site of Lasita.

The map below showing Senn family land ownership is circa 1910.

Note:  The historical question is how many acres did Michael Senn purchase, and from whom.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————  Info

____________________________________________________________________________ 1878

1878.05.27 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
(Lasita)Backlund Farm


——————————————————————————————————————————————————  Information regarding the birth members of the Alfin Backlund family is here.

A Teppline for Alfin Backlund is here.

A Teppline for Maude Lee Cline Backlund (Alfin’s wife) is here.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1880

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


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


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.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1881

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


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.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1892

1892.00.00 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaLasita School


——————————————————————————————————————————————————  Extensive information, photographs and documents regarding the Lasita School are here.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1897

1897.10.01 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
LasitaLeavenworth, Kansas & Western Railroad (L,K,& W)


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

A Map of the Leavenworth, Kansas, & Western Railroad through Lasita, Kansas is here.

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

____________________________________________________________________________ 1908

Lasita, Kansas – Photographs of Buildings

The following photographs of Lasita, Kansas were taken by Alfin Backlund.  He used a “big box camera” for his photography.

1908.08.10 ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————       [2] 39:096  North America – United States of America – Kansas – Riley County
Lasita – 

The date of this postcard is August 10, 1908.  The photographer is Alfin Backlund.  The card was actually mailed in Bala, Kansas and sent to Green, Kansas.  Text is by “H”, which means by Hemme Backlund who had just turned 21 when this postal was sent.

Looking at the view of Lasita one can see the Lasita School (built by Hemme’s father – Johan “John” Backlund) on the left.  The home of John J. Lund is a house of two stories.  The grain elevator is slightly hidden behind John J. Lund’s General Merchandise store.  He purchased the store from Michael Senn after he retired.  Hemme still calls it “Senn’s Store” despite the clearly lettered new name on the front.  Ed Johnson’s house is to the right of the “Senn’s Store”.

The telephone poles for the Farmer’s Cooperative Telephone Exchange can be seen in the distance.  The roads are dirt, which is better than asphalt for the horses and buggies that most everyone used.

Photographer – Alfin Backlund.  From the Hemme Backlund Martin Collection.  Copyright waived by Donald Clayton (photograph owner) pursuant to Qala Bist Blue.   Note:  Alfin Backlund had a large box camera that he used for his photography.  He carried it on the train between Kansas City, Kansas (where he lived and worked) and Lasita when he visited the Backlund Farm.

Yes, it is August; so it must be time for the annual Chautauqua (in Clay Center).  In the “early” days of photography people developed their own photographs at home.  A popular product was the “penny postcard” photographic paper that you see here.  One side (the front) was the photograph one took, on the back side was the required writing expected by the Postal Service.

On August 19, 1908 Hemme sent a poorer copy of Alfin’s Postcard of Lasita to her older brother John Backlund.  She identifies the fact that Ed Johnson is the “village mechanic”.  She will be going (with her sister Hattie) to Kansas City, Kansas to visit her brother Alfin and his wife Maude on August 24th, returning August 27th.  This trip will be the first time in her life that Hemme has been out of the State of Kansas (even though it is only to the Missouri side of Kansas City).

Lasita, Kansas – Lasita School, Lund House, Shell Elevator and Frank J. Lund Store

In this photograph of Lasita, Kansas, probably taken in August of 1908, by Alfin Backlund, the clouds are overhead and the foreground mud suggests that it has been raining.  There is a piece of two-wheeled horse-drawn farm equipment between the photographer and the grain elevator in the background.  The horse is stationary, but hitched and ready to go.

This photograph is special in that the writing on the two sides of the grain elevator can be seen.  I did a blow-up with a resolution too high to be uploaded to the web by the pathetic Quest Communications “High-Speed” service available (but I guess 5.4 million pixels really is a lot).

Anyway, On the “side” of the building that you can see, it says, “Shell Mill & Grain Co.“.  To the left below that it says, “Cash for Grain.”  To the right it says, “Coal for Sale.”  Just below the lower roof are the words, “Use Shells Hi Patent Flour.”  To the left of those words, on the “back” of the building (meaning on the side away from the railroad tracks) the words are, “Flour  Feed  Coal“.  There is no mention of corn, but I believe that the “feed” mentioned was a silage based on corn and not just the smaller sacks of cracked corn chicken feed that of course almost every granary would sell.

Another remarkable feature of this photograph is how clearly one can see the very tall lightning rod on the top of the Lasita School.  It’s cloudy and it’s rainy, so that fact only makes sense.  Since Lasita really didn’t have a fire department, fire prevention was a priority.  It should be noted that the Shell Mill has not engaged in this important precaution.

Shell Mill & Grain Co. – Lasita, Kansas – showing the location of the railroad “through town”.

Another fine photograph by Alfin Backlund.  It seems to have been snowing.  It is probably December of 1908.  Alfin could have been staying warm by a fire, but he was out with his “big box camera” capturing this view of Lasita, Kansas just for you.

This picture shows “the other side of things” in Lasita.  Everything is reversed.  You can see the narrow gauge tracks through town and the Shell Mill & Grain Company siding.   Also there is a windmill near the tracks that we have not seen before, it is probably the source for the community water, no electric pumps back then.   At “the mill” you can see the distinctive metal stack reflective of coal heaters.  The brick chimneys at the Lund house suggests that they were more fond of wood.  At the school house you can see nothing, and the reason for that is that it was always cold.  The windows were good for light, but the insulation was very thin.  You needed a coat inside (in winter).  In another picture a little later I will show you.

____________________________________________________________________________ 1910

Lasita School and Community Center Building – Lasita, Kansas

This photograph by Alfin was probably taken near the end of his life and in the declining years of the community and school.  Since Alfin died at Christmas in the influenza of 1918, this photograph was probably taken in 1914, perhaps a few years later.  Things obviously are reaching a state of disrepair.  The “old” photograph is faded, as the school too is fading.

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 structure out front was for more basic needs.  It was used during recesses a lot.  It was useful in the evenings if meetings went on too long.  “Pashaw” on plumbing.  It’s like cars, and the telephone and electricity – “who needs them”.  The building is evidence that you can have both education and community without the modern frills.  But by 1914 the world was changing.   There was a war.  Men were enlisting.  Life in Lasita, Kansas would never be the same; and then came the influenza.

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.  The heating was not so good.  In this picture you can see the single (small) chimney.  Maybe it is a reflection of the fact that people either had coats or didn’t need them.  He was born and young in northern Sweden, Kansas (it could be said) was always warm.

The school got old, languished, in 1937 the school board voted to not continue the school, it was boarded up and closed, but for a long time it survived.  I went inside the structure in June of 1953; I even went upstairs.  I touched this part of Hemme’s history.  In 1954 the building was torn down.

The Lasita School in 1897, when it was new

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.

[“Lasita, Kansas – Buildings” Post written on April 29, 2011 @ 04:27  ZLT / GMT / Zulu / UTC]