I was born and grew up in Kansas; I have lived in Nebraska since 1989. The two states are VERY similar in geography and climate. My mother was born in Kansas and has roots there back to the homesteading days. My father grew up in Kansas and considered himself a “Kansas boy”. Many of your ancestors would have migrated through Kansas and Nebraska on either the Santa Fe Trail or the Oregon trail and probably a few of them called Kansas or Nebraska their final destination and went no further.

Kansas was first settled by white pioneers in 1812 but saw an influx of settlers in the 1850s with the Kansas Nebraska act of 1854. The land in the eastern third of each state was rich farmland and groves of hardwoods. The annual rainfall was bountiful for many crops and fruit trees. As settlers moved further west they found grasslands that would support wheat and corn and when “winter wheat” seeds arrived from the steppes of Russia the wheat farmers had found just the right crop. Soon both states were producing food for the nation in abundance.

The western third of both states is the most arid and farming settlers had success initially due to higher than usual amounts of rainfall; today this area supports large cattle ranches. The Kansas town Abilene, at the end of the Chisholm Trail, was a railhead destination for cattle from Texas in the late 1800s. Wichita and Dodge City were at the end of other cattle trails. The “West” as popularized by TV and movies begins in the western third of these two states and moves west to other familiar western towns.

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