Kuiper sits inside the cabin near a wood stove. He is beaming.

Home, Home on the Range

Kuiper sits outside the cabin.

Unfortunately I don’t remember his joke, but here’s a shot of Kuiper looking pleased with himself in the cabin where the song Home on the Range originated. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was one of our stops on our summer roadtrip. Here’s also a pic of the outside of the cabin, with Kuiper for scale!

Dr. Brewster M. Higley VI was an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) who moved to Kansas in 1871 under the first Homestead Act. The Act, which was signed in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln, granted 160 acres of public land in exchange for 5 years of living on it. Any 21-year-old head of household was eligible (including single, widowed, and divorced women, African Americans, and immigrants.) All in all, more than 270 million acres were claimed (over 10% of the United States.) 65% of the land was claimed between 1901 and 1930.

Having made plans to build a tiny cabin to live in, Dr. Higley was so enamored with his new land that he wrote a poem called “My Western Home.” He then stuck the poem in a book and promptly forgot about it. A couple of years later, his friend Trube Reese was rifling around in Higley’s library while waiting for a patient to be treated. The poem fell out of the book. Upon reading the poem, Mr. Reese declared that he ought to publish it.

Published it was, in the Smith County Pioneer newspaper in 1873. Higley’s friend Dan Kelly set the poem to music, and the rest is more or less history. In 1947, the song was adopted as the official State Song of Kansas, and the cabin was opened to the public (it needed some TLC as it had been in use as a chicken shelter for several years.)

The cabin is on private land, but it is open to the public thanks to Pete and Ellen Rust, who moved to the farm in 1936 and obtained ownership in 1950. Thanks to them, there is “no admission charge because it is believed historical sites should be enjoyed by all regardless of financial means.” They declined a number of offers to buy the cabin because they believed strongly that it should stay on site. There is a memorial nature trail in their honor next to the cabin.  If you’re ever in the area, it’s definitely worth a stop!

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BbIzCVQgC04/

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