The poetry of Comanche County, Kansas, can be found, for the most part, as funerary poems published with obituaries, which were especially common in the early years of the 20th century, as you will see if you browse the hundreds of obituaries published on this site. Many of these funerary poems were written by friends or family members upon the death of a loved one during a time period when many local people were familiar with the work of the "New England Poets", and when the reading of poetry was a highlight of family evening entertainment as well as the primary activity of local social "literary clubs".
Poetry and Poets of Comanche County, Kansas
Orange Scott Cummins, who is pictured at right courtesy of his great grandson Frank Cummins, is the most famous poet who ever lived in Barber and Comanche counties, Kansas.
The book also includes two poems which mention the Nescatunga River, though it appears he was referring to the once common misconception that the Medicine Lodge Peace Council took place near the Nescatunga River in Barber County, Kansas. Those poems are: A Requiem and The Council. Another of his poems, which refer to one of his dwelling places in the Oklahoma Territory, is My Dugout Home.
Nellie Mabel (Ferrin) Ely wrote and published many of her own poems, some of which appeared with the obituaries of her family members, including her sister, Maude Mae (Ferrin) Watkins. Nellie was also an accomplished pianist and soloist. She was an artist, working with pastels in her early years, and became very prolific with oils in her later years.
Jerry Ferrin, webmaster of this site, has written two poems about his paternal grandparents in Comanche County, Kansas. They are:
Walking in the Heartland
A poem in memory of Nellie May (Barnett) Ferrin.
Poppy & the Zoo
A poem in memory of Ernest Leroy Ferrin and some land called The Zoo he owned located just north of Wilmore. It was inspired by an interview with Wendel Ferrin, 13 April 1989, prior to a archealogical excavation at The Zoo, about Indian skulls, arrowheads and artifacts found in the area, and about two men associated with the land, Ira Schultz and "Doll-Slam-It" Baldwin.
Ira Leighton Metzker, who gave his life in service as gunner and radio operator on a B-24 Liberator bomber, was a poet. An article published in a Comanche County newspaper when his plane was reported missing said: "Sgt. Metzker was born on the Biddle Ranch southeast of Coldwater on December 19, 1917, and was graduated from the Wilmore high school in May, 1935. He was an excellent student and even as a youth displayed considerable talent as a writer of poetic verse. He moved with his parents to Arkansas in 1939 and after a few months there they moved to Anthony, Kans., where they continue to make their home... Leighton was one of this county's keen-minded young men and his friends were many. While living in Anthony one of his poems won recognition and was published in the Anthony Book of Poems which was displayed at the San Francisco World's Fair."
Ursula Miller, who was a corresponent for The Western Star for 50 years, had one of her own poems published with her obituary. Another of her poems, You Are Not There, was published with the obituary of her husband, Sylvanus Enos Miller.
Also see the following off-site pages, which will open in a new browser window:
If you have information on other poets from Comanche County, or any of their poems, which you'd like to contribute for use on this site, please send them to Jerry Ferrin.
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