Mexican Village comes alive in new website
In order to help preserve the memory of the historic “Mexican Village” of Dodge City, its people and its stories, the Diocese of Dodge City has initiated the Mexican Village Historic Preservation Project.
The project is a collaborative effort of Tim Wenzl, archivist for the Diocese of Dodge City, and Dave Myers, editor of the Southwest Kansas Register. Both will conduct video interviews and tape oral histories of former residents of the village. “This project is about documenting life in a community that existed for almost 50 years,” stated Wenzl. “The village was condemned and razed over 50 years ago, yet former residents are still around with very fond memories of living there. We are taking this opportunity to preserve their stories. These interviews will provide insight into the lives and struggles of the first immigrants from Mexico to come to Dodge City.”
As a side project, Register editor David Myers has designed a Mexican Village website, www.mexicanvillage.weebly.com, which contains history, photos, articles, video, and personal testimonies from the people who lived there, their family and friends. The site also contains a blog through which people from all over the country who lived in the village or who are descendents of those who lived there, can communicate with one another.
“The Village had housing for families, a Catholic church, a school, a grocery store, and a pool hall,” Wenzl added. “You won’t find the Mexican Village listed in any book about the ghost towns of Kansas, but you will find its history documented on this new website.”
The site will also include footage taken during the video interviews, including footage from an interview with former mayor, Louis Sanchez, Part I of which has already been placed on the website.
Both ideas – for the video library and the website – came about when the Wenzl and Myers attended the recent Mexican Village reunion held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Dodge City.
“From the photos and the stories people shared, I could see that this had been a very vibrant community,” Myers said. “It truly was a village. I loved the idea that when a couple got married, the entire village celebrated.”
The village encompassed a plot of land south of the railroad tracks in the eastern part of Dodge City. It was owned by the Santa Fe Railway and housed its workers and their families. It was formed around 1910 and was condemned in 1955.
Myers said that he hopes to turn over control of the website to a bilingual descendent of a former resident of the village.
“I enjoy working on the site and will continue to manage it for as long as necessary,” he said. “At the same time, it would be nice to find someone much more emotionally invested in the village, someone for whom the village is more than just text and photos. Also, it could be a great learning experience for a young person.”