Half Mound was a community located six miles northwest of Valley Falls, Jefferson County, Kansas. It was first settled by German and German-speaking Swiss immigrants (via Illinois and Wisconsin) in the 1850's and 1860's and survived until the Kansas Central Railroad, which had been absorbed by the Union Pacific and passed through the community, was abandoned in 1935. The local school, District 46 of Jefferson County, in which the author taught for several years, finally closed after the 1949-1950 school year. The author is in her 86th year and discussed the material that has gone to make up this work over a six-year period with her mother, who died at the age of ninety-six.
The author also relies upon her previously-published genealogies of the REICHART family of Schornsheim, Germany, and the ABBUEHL, HEFTY, and VOGELIS families from German-speaking Switzerland, as well as her history of the Coal Creek Church of Half Mound. Her book attempts to reconstruct the communities and the way of life of its residents, and features a thorough discussion of the Half Mound Country Store, the Half Mound school, the communities' social clubs and various businesses. The latter includes, for those who are only vaguely aware of Kansas' history in the matter, the practice of wine-making. One might note that Valley Falls lies at the edge of the Northeastern section of Kansas once known as "Little Switzerland" for its hills, its inhabitants, and its wines.
The work is lavish for a self-publication, 247 8 1/2 by 11 inch pages, with 181 illustrations, a number in color, and a cover embellished with gold leaf. These features account for its relatively high price of $60.00, which includes shipping and postage, however. The work, consisting of a run of three hundred copies, is sold from the author's home and may be ordered by writing Viola Reichart, 409 Oak Street, Valley Falls KS 66088
University of Kansas