In 2007, Cindy Mattox joined John Mattox and his family for a pilgrimage to Fairview where Christian and Elise established a farm in 1872. Elise describes this district in Sunbonnet Days as: "a beautifully rolling prairie district in western Brown County, Kansas, known as Fairview, because of its commanding situation atop the divide which parts the waters flowing south into the Kansas River and those flowing north into Nebraska. Except for fringes of timber skirting the water courses, it was boundless grassland".

We were very sad to find the property abandoned and the house that Christian built in ruins due to a recent fire.

Here are two photographs that are probably taken from the same location: in 2007 on the left; and on the right, the photo of the place published in Sunbonnet Days. The date of the earlier photo is not currently known - but is estimated to have been between 1900 and 1910. It is apparent that substantial remodeling (if not a complete rebuilding) took place after 1910.

Here is a 2007 image of what is believed to be the well that Christian dug 130 years earlier. Elise tells of this in Sunbonnet Days: First with a spade and shovel and pick Christian dug away in the dry ground, until he had gone so deep that he had to have the assistance of a man with a bucket and windlass to hoist the clay and stone. Christian encountered strata after strata of solid rock, which had to be broken by crowbar, sledge, and blasting powder. Day after day he toiled in the dry shaft without a sign of water, but finally, at a depth of thirty-two feet, under a ledge of limestone, he struck his crowbar into a spring out of which gushed a stream of water as big around as his wrist. It speedily filled the well to a depth of two feet with soft, sweet water. Christian and his helper walled up the shaft to prevent cave-ins. They set a pumpstock and from that day we had water at the door...
The well at the house produced softer water, and not only supplied us with water but answered as a refrigerator as well. In warm weather we put cream, butter, and other perishables in a bucket, which we suspended in the well at the end of a rope.

John suggests (in 2011) that an archeological investigation of this well might be appropriate.

Here is a preliminary comment on this state of affairs by John Isely Mattox (last updated 1/6/11).

It is interesting to reflect on the abundance that Fairview offered the pioneers of Christian and Elise's generation, and contemplate how we now live, and how we will need to live in the future if humans are to remain on Earth.

The availability of fossil fuels, and the industrialization of the economy have had a dramatic impact, rendering the infrastructure that the pioneers hewed from the wilderness obsolete - as indicated by the these photos.

However, the burning of fossil fuels is rapidly increasing the carbon dioxide content of our atmosphere, and industrialization has had multiple negative environmental consequences. Clearly we cannot continue to live the wasteful lifestyle that began to flourish in America at about the same time that Christian and Elise sold their Fairview land in 1907 and moved to Wichita.

I wish there was more remnants of the culture of the Native Americans in Brown County, and the subsequent European Pioneers to guide us as we seek a sustainable future. But our prospects aren't bad if we are clear about our goals and are willing to exert ourselves; e.g., see the work of the Land Institute on the possibilities for using perenniel polycultures on the Kansas Pairie (instead of annual monocultures).

Click here to return to the Home Page of the Isely Information Project.