From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Geese Once a Familiar Sight In Section Known as Goosetown

How a portion of northwest Leavenworth became known as "Goosetown," and how early day houses were actually moved from Cincinnati to Leavenworth are recounted by William H. Owen a local man who interests himself in historical personages and incidents.

Owen gleaned the following information from the late Senator Vinton Stillings, himself an early day settler and of German descent.

It seems that many Germans came to America in the Civil War period. Cincinnati and St. Louis were settling points for these immigrants. Later, to reach a newer and faster growing country, many of them came to Leavenworth, generally choosing the northwest area of the new city for their homes as well as their churches and schools.

These Germans brought with them some of their old country customs. One was the keeping of a flock of geese by most families. Another was the establishment without much delay of a "Turnverein"--an athletic club in which gymnastics was the principal activity.

The story goes that part of their reason for "moving west" was opposition by many residents of crowded Cincinnati and St. Louis to the ever present flocks of geese kept by the Germans. Leavenworth, more sparsely settled, gave the geese greater range opportunities. Many as older citizen can remember seeing geese being driven through the streets of "Goosetown" to goose corrals such as the ones on 10th Street, between Seneca and Shawnee; the corral on the Otto Hertle property on 11th and another in what is now known as Dacy's pasture.

According to Owen, some of the houses that these early day Germans brought to Leavenworth with them are still standing in Goosetown. When they make the move from Cincinnati, by steamboat down the Ohio and up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, the Germans loaded some houses on flat boats which were towed to Leavenworth along with most of their worldly possessions including the flocks of geese. The houses were moved from a levy just south of where the Stillings pontoon bridge stood, to their present location by oxen and horse teams.

Although Owen does not give a definite location, he says these "Cincinnati houses" are in the neighborhood of 10th and Osage.

Of course many of the second, third, and fourth generations of these early day Germans live in present day Goosetown. But geese are seldom seen, at least at liberty or being driven along the paved streets and sidewalks that have replaced the lanes and open spots of years back. And the German language, so prevalent in homes, schools, and churches of that vicinity 40 or 50 years ago, is seldom heard today.

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