What is now known as Prairie Star Farm was first granted by an act of Congress in 1855 to a certain Captain John Lane of the 2nd Tennessee Volunteers in thanks for his service during the War of 1812. He would have been in his early 60s at that point, and never came to the land because the whole purpose of that particular land grant was to reward members of southeastern Indian tribes — Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole, most of whom by then were based in Oklahoma — who had allied themselves with the United States in various conflicts.

Given that De Soto itself was not founded for another two years, it did raise the question as to why someone would be granted land, assumed to be valuable, in the “middle of nowhere.” What emerged from our study was that in 1855 what is now Edgerton road was part of a military road linking Fort Leavenworth with both the Santa Fe and Oregon trails.

Lane sold his land (presumably to an agent, and probably for a pittance). As was common in the era, said agent sold the same land to several different people and most likely skipped out. In 1857 the land became part of the Shawnee reservation, the purpose of which (once again) was to provide Indians with something they would presumably sell to raise cash. The grantee of this land, Tom Big Knife, was killed in a tavern brawl, after which his widow sold the land and moved to Oklahoma. At this point there were perhaps half a dozen “owners” of the same patch of ground.

In 1858 one James L Morgan arrived from Kentucky, apparantly bought the land from one of its many putative owners, and promptly settled it, the first person actually to do so. Once Kansas statehood was assured, the federal government realised it had a problem with numerous multiple claims to ownership of many parcels and resolved to establish clear title to every one of them before statehood added jurisdictional problems to what was already a big mess.

In August, 1860, President Buchanan signed an executive order certifying Morgan as the sole and unique owner. Imagine an era in which government was of a scale that the President himself would attend to such matters more or less personally.

Morgan proceeded to develop a prosperous farm, and a couple of buildings from 1866 remain to this day. He sold this property in the late 1870s because by then he had several contiguous farms elsewhere and had an opportunity to add to his holdings there. The farm continued to prosper and in the early 1890s was bought by the Marshall family, who owned it until 1983.

The Marshalls developped and marketed Harvest Queen wheat, which by 1915 was one of the most popular and productive varieties across the entire southern Midwest. Because it was a very tall wheat (long straw) it fell out of favor in the late 1940s when horses (which needed bedding) were replaced by tractors.

In 2008 we were able to obtain 5 grams of Harvest Queen from the National Germplasm Repository in Idaho, and are presently growing it out in order to obtain enough for field production. The Harvest Queen has come home.

So profitable was Harvest Queen wheat that in 1921 the Marshalls built the Gordon — Van Tine kit house (Model 512)  in which we currently live, and which we are gradually restoring to 1920s condition and appearance.

The greenhouse business here was begun by Cliff and Mary Thomas in 1990; we still have their first hand-lettered ‘plant sale’ sign from Mothers’ Day 1990. We purchased the farm in 2001, and though there remains much to do, we count the work as a privilege and many of our customers as friends.