Trip to Council Grove
Council Grove, southwest of Topeka along the Sante Fe trail, has a long, proud  history. A stop along the trail, the town was settled early in Kansas history. Coranado came to the area in 1541. Osage Indians negotiated to allow passage across their land Aug. 10, 1825 here in a tree grove. The trunk of historically- famous Council Oak Shrine remains. The site of the Kaw Methodist Mission is now an historical museum. The Last Chance store and trading post still stands--the last supply stop on the Sante Fe Trail. Hays House still serves the best food in town. Seth Hays was the first white settler in the area. He established the inn in 1857. The entire town has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
view of Flint Hills winter snow on hills clouds and snow dusting roadside stone fence
The Flint Hills, Skyline Drive, on the way to Council Grove. The trees stood dark against the land and sky.. A dusting of snow highlighted the contours of the hills Rock fences were constucted in this area in the time before barbed wire.
Farmers and Drovers Bank
covered wagon
Indian sculpture
ice cream parlor tables rabbit tile Craftsmen era tiles
Farmers and Drovers Bank still operates in Council Grove. Built in 1892, it is on the Nat'l Register. This wagon is representative of the many covered wagons that passed along the Sante Fe Trail. This sculpture, recently installed, honors Indians of the Council Grove area. The apothecary shop has a wonderful soda fountain area. This rabbit tile is pieced among the tiles of the counter at the fountain. This row of tiles decorate the counter at the soda fountain.
For a few months in 1863 a small recess in a rock hillside within Council Grove was home to a religious mystic. Born in 1801 in Novara, Italy, he was known locally as Father Francesco. In his travels through Europe and the Americas he used other names, including Mateo Beccalini, and his birthname, Giovanni Marsa the Agostini.

Son of a nobleman, he received a fine education in preparation for the priesthood, but reportedly was forced to leave Italy after falling in love with a young lady.

He left Council Grove with a wagon train owned by Don Eugenio Romero and captained by Dionicio Gonzalez, walking the entire 550 miles to Las Vegas, New Mexico. There, he is said to have performed miracle cures, which attracted crowds. He retreated to a nearby mountain. Initially called the Hermit of El Porvenir, he lived in a cave on what came to be known as Hermit's Peak. The citizens of Las Vegas  soon built for him a small cabin, where he carved religious emblems, which he traded in town for cornmeal.

The Hermit left for southern New Mexico and the Organ Mountains in 1867. He was mysteriously murdered in 1869.

photo of the Hermit Monk
cave entrance
Dottie and Max peek at cave
This little recess in the rock is where the monk Father Francesco lived for a few months while in Council Grove. Dottie and Max inspect this small enclosure, trying to imagine using the small space as a home.
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All photos 2000 by Carol Yoho
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