Lakin Township is where my great-great-great-grandfather John Bender farmed in the late 1800’s. I know from his obituary that he arrived in Lakin Township in 1876. He and his wife Matilda brought with them 4 sons and a daughter. After arriving in the area they had 2 more boys and another girl.
On my research trip to Kansas in October 2010, I had the chance to visit the Harvey County Historical Society in Newton, Kansas. One of the many great finds that afternoon was the Harvey County Historical Plat Maps 1882. My ancestor John Bender was listed in the index.
Here is an overview map Harvey County, Kansas. I have added a blue star to section 25 in Lakin Township. This is the area where John Bender resided as listed in the index.
I then looked at the Plat Map for Lakin Township and looked in section 25.
This was so exciting! I had located where the family lived in the county. Now my goal was to translate this plat map to a current map. First, I found a historical map of Harvey County at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection. The map I found was perfect. It laid out the sections, towns, and railroad lines in the county. I added the image as an overlay to Google Earth. After lining up the historical image with all of the landmarks, I was able to identify where the 80 acres is today – 9169 Hertzler Road South, Sedgwick, Kansas.
Here is the crazy part – My Mom and I drove right past this house!! We were heading north from the cemetery where the Benders are buried to the town of Halstead. This is the street we traveled to get there. We drove by without even knowing it!
I have gone a step further and checked the Bureau of Land Management Records website. Sure enough, I have found a Timber Culture Patent for John Bender for 80 acres. I was not too sure what a Timber Culture Patent is so it was time to research that. According to Wikipedia, it was a follow-up to the Homestead Act that allowed homesteaders to gain 160 acres of land as long as a quarter of the land was planted with trees.
Here is a closeup of the property I have identified. You notice that the area in the southwest corner is covered in trees. When using the street view on Google maps, you can see the house in the trees. This is the same area marked with a house on the Plat Map from 1882. I believe that my 3rd great-grandfather planted those trees as part of his patent requirements.
What an adventure! I cannot wait to do this same exercise for the land that Charles Bradley and his family lived on in the same county!