Home » Kansas » St. Francis

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

St. Francis


Basic Information

Type of Place
Independent City or Town
Metro Area
Politics c. 1860?
Don’t Know
Unions, Organized Labor?
Don’t Know

Sundown Town Status

Sundown Town in the Past?
Was there an ordinance?
Don't Know
Perhaps, Some Oral Evidence
Year of Greatest Interest
Still Sundown?

Census Information

The available census data from 1860 to the present
Total White Black Asian Native Hispanic Other BHshld
1950 1892 2
1960 1594 0
1990 1495 0
2000 1497 3

Method of Exclusion

  • Unknown

Main Ethnic Group(s)

  • Unknown

Group(s) Excluded

  • Black


Email 1/2008 wheaties4@sbcglobal.net

I had once been told that Saint Francis was a sundown town. My husband and I moved to Saint Francis 13 years ago (1994) not knowing anything about the town’s history. A couple of weeks after we moved into our house we invited the older couple next door to dinner. During the course of the conversation my husband asked if there were any minorities in town. The woman replied, “Oh, we don’t allow niggers in town. We have an ordinance against them.”

My husband and I were stunned by her use of the N word and by the idea that a town would pass such a law. I asked if that ordinance was still in effect. “Oh, yes,” she replied, nodding emphatically. Both she and her husband had grown up in Saint Francis.

Testimony of a witness:
“I saw the sign on the eastern side of St. Francis, KS (Cheyenne County) on US 36. It was probably about 12×15 feet and I do not remember seeing any sponser’s name on it. I can remember that it looked as if it had been there some time. I wonder who took it down and if it might be in someone’s barn somewhere. I remember it because it shocked me to see something like that.
At that time I am sure there weren’t any black people living in St Francis. I can remember seeing a black guy in the back seat of a car there. He was on the floor in the backseat and quickly peeked up when we passed the car he was riding in. I remember the look of terror in his eyes when he saw that I noticed him. I always have wondered where he was going and why he was there in that dusty little town.
I have a lot of relatives who still live in ‘Saint’. I was probably around 13 at the time which would have put the date at 1955. I believe that most of my older relatives (my mom’s side of the family)living in that area were racists since I can recall some of the comments that they made. Those comments were common at that time and these people were somewhat uneducated farm people so it is understandable (to me anyway)…”

His post: “I saw a large sign along US 36 in western Kansas in 1950’s that said “Nigger, don’t let the sun set on you here.” and had a picture of a black man. It frightened me.”