Sunday, March 17, 2013

Mappy Monday - Garrison, Kansas? - Gard Line

Woman of the times as
shown in the
University of Colorado
Yearbook, 1920
When I was researching my great-aunt, Rena Alice Travis (1893-1972), I had the pleasure of coming across a little gem that I had never heard of before.  In order to understand my "flabberghast-ation," you will first need to know a little about Rena's independence.  Though unusual for her time and era, Rena never married.  She had been engaged as a young woman, but her fiancé drowned in a boating accident.  Having lost the love of her life, she resolved never to marry, which meant, of course, that she needed to find a way to support herself. 
Now, Rena had been born in Reilly, Kansas, which is in Nemaha County—in the northeast quadrant of the state.  Nemaha County is north of and contiguous to Pottawatomie County, where Rena appears in the 1905 Kansas State Census records at the age of 11, residing with her parents in Green Township.  So, as far as I knew, Rena had left her home in Green Township and moved, at some point in time, to Los Angeles, California, where she worked as a bookkeeper for many years.

So, you can imagine how surprised I was when a Google search turned up a Rena Alice Travis at the University of Colorado for summer courses in the academic year 1920-21.  This seemed too amazing for me, and I thought it just had to be someone with the same name.  After all, Pottawatomie County, Kansas, is immediately adjacent to Riley County, where Kansas State University is located.  Why would Rena leave her family and go all the way to Colorado to school when she could live much closer to home by attending classes at at K-State (or, Kansas State Agricultural College, as it was known at the time)?

So, I dug further, and when I reached p. 367 of the University of Colorado Catalogue, 1920-21—lo and behold!—there it was: Rena Alice Travis of Garrison, Kansas.  But where on earth is Garrison, Kansas?  I’ve lived in Kansas all my life and am very familiar with Riley and Pottawatomie Counties (at least, I thought I was); but I had never heard of the town of Garrison.  So, maybe by some statistical improbability there were two Rena Alice Travises in Kansas in 1920, and the other one--from some other, far away county--had gone to CU for the summer.  It could happen, right?

So, I made an Internet search for Garrison, Kansas, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a map of Pottawatomie County, Kansas, showing Garrison as the westernmost town in the county.  A bit more digging turned up this description: "Garrison, a village of Pottawatomie county, is located in Green township. . . . [emphasis mine]."  Well, now we were down to a statistical impossibility.  This was my Rena--and no other! 

Hooray for the great little website, Lost Kansas Communities! They really made my day.


Blackmar, Frank, ed. “Garrison.”  Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History. Blue Skyways Library.  May 2002.  Web.  17 Mar. 2013.  < >

Gent, Frank.  Lost Kansas Communities.  Chapman Center for Rural Studies.  Kansas State University.  2011.  Web. 17 Mar. 2013.  <>
University of Colorado Catalogue, Summer 1920-21, p. 367.  Google Books.  n.d.  Web.  17 Mar.

© Eileen Cunningham, 2013


  1. Hi! I enjoyed reading your post and was very interested to find that the Gard surname is one that you are researching. I wonder if we share some ancestors? Ruth Huntington Gard (daughter of Phoebe Ruth Huntington and Gershom Gard) and her husband Peter Perrine Lee are my 5x g-grandparents. They travelled from New Jersey to Ohio in 1790. Their son, Rodney Jefferson Lee, who eventually moved to Kentucky, is my 4x g-grandfather. Are any of these names familiar to you?

    1. Hello!
      Yes, we are related. We have a common ancestor in Jeremiah Gard (b. 1717), whom I call the "big grand-daddy of us all." Gershom Gard, who married Phoebe Huntington, was the brother of my ancestor, John Gard, Sr. I'll do a little more digging to see if Gershom and John moved westward together. It's great to meet you. I'm going to join your blog!


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