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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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The following information was taken from In Commemoration of the Dunbar Elementary School, compiled by the Dunbar P.T.A., 1971, pg. 81-82

You may find a copy of this book at the KCKs Public Library, 625 Minnesota Avenue, KCKs, (913 551-3280 - Georgia Slaughter, Kansas Room Librarian.

I, personally, have seen the term "Rattlebone Hollow" referred to in numerous publications.  However, this is the first time I have come across any specific information, especially on the exact area.  I am sincerely grateful to the participants in this compilation on Rattlebone Hollow.  As time has gone by, we have lost a lot of historical information for one reason or another.  The people who participated in writing this book have helped to secure that history for us all.  Thank you for your efforts. 

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"When the bonds for Dunbar School were being prepared for the Northeast residents, the proposal called for a school in the "Heart of Rattlebone Hollow" the boundaries of which were Fourth Street on the east, Seventh on the west, Haskell to the south, and the Bluffs and tracks on the north.  (The area we call Fairfax Industrial was used for gardens and hog pens.)  Although the exact origin of the name is not known, the title "Rattlebone Hollow" for the northernmost part of the Northeast section holds as much mystery as the fiction counterpart, 'Sleepy Hollow'.

In early days, the packinghouses piled undesirable cuts of meat such as livers, neckbones, pig tails, ears, snoots, hearts, chitterlings, etc. on large wagons to be distributed or dumped.  Packinghouse workers were eligible to get any of this meat they wanted, and every Tuesday and Thursday these wagons came to the Northeast area to allow the housewives to take their choice of this meat.  At the sound of the clatter of the wide steel wagon wheels on the clay roads, and the rattling of the bones, the housewives came with pans to get the meat.  This is the first version of the name, Rattlebone, for there were many packinghouse workers in this area.

Another version is that the week-end gambling held in a grocery store on the southwest corner of Fifth and Haskell was interrupted quite often by two mounted policeman, George Savage on a black horse with a blaze face, and Thomas Shay and his black horse with the star face, both big men with derby hats, curled mustaches, and a large stick.  The signal of the look-out at the sound of the horse's hooves on the flint brick pavement was "Rattle dem bones" which meant run.

One other version was the Negroes who came in 1879 did not have much music except for some men who picked banjo or guitar and ladies and children with tambourines.  Some men played bones, which were ribs scrapped from the carcasses of beef and well cured.  They carried these bones with them and at church services and singing, they rattled the bones to the music.  More expert bone rattlers lived in the area, thus the name "Rattlebone".

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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