Sign marking "The Pollywog's" 

path through the property

Grave of Alice Balty Roach – Van Winkle Cemetery (Pleasant Ridge) Lowemont, KS.

The land where the Yellow House Farm sits today is rich with history.  It was originally occupied by the Kansa Indians, then in the late 1700's the Delaware Indians were transplanted here by the U.S. Government.  Their farms and cabins were scattered along an old Indian trail that led west.  This trail, called the "old Salt Lake Trail," was also used by trappers, soldiers and explorers, and ran through where the Yellow House Farm is today.  

After Fort Leavenworth was established in 1827 this trail became an established military road connecting Fort Leavenworth with Fort Riley.  Between 1820 and 1864, the lands around this trail were used by wagon trains as a staging area and a launching point for the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.   A connector trail to the Oregon Trail passes only a few yards to the Northeast of the property and one for the Santa Fe Trail passes to the West. 


Between 1854 and 1861, during the "Bleeding Kansas" era, travelers were being attacked by Pro-Slavery border ruffians on the roads to the South.  This caused the number of travelers through this area to swell because the military road was protected by troops from Fort Leavenworth.  In 1861, the Missouri River Crossing for the Santa Fe and Oregon Trail moved from Independence, Missouri to Fort Leavenworth due to the Civil War.  Forty-nine miles of this Military Road became the new Santa Fe Trail until the end of the war in 1864.  During this period, the Fort Leavenworth-Fort Riley Military Road became a main artery for commerce which led to the creation of many new towns in Eastern Kansas. 

In 1854, the Indian lands were sold by the U.S. Government to settlers and squatters under the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and the Preemption Act of 1841.  The Delaware Indians, along with their neighbors the Kickapoo Indians, were moved to Oklahoma and other locations.    This was the first time the land came under private ownership.   A man named Henry Thomas Roach, Jr. of Missouri purchased 160 acres of this land, which would soon become the "Lowemont" area.  Later, Mr. Roach's lands grew to 640 acres.   The Military Road still ran through this property. 

On a very cold Saturday morning on December 3rd, 1859, President Abraham Lincoln passed through the property, using this Military Road, on a trip from Atchison, Kansas to Leavenworth, Kansas to deliver a speech.   His carriage is now in the Frontier Museum at Ft. Leavenworth. 

Many famous men from history have crossed this property, some of the notables are General Custer, Kit Carson, General Phil Sheridan, General Harney, General Miles and Buffalo Bill Cody, whose father owned a farm just southeast of the Yellow House Farm.  In the 1890s, troops from Fort Leavenworth would conduct Calvary training exercises in the area. 

The 1878 county property map shows that the Yellow House Farm property was part of an 80 acre parcel owned by Henry. T. Roach.  Which was only one of the many parcels of land owned by him at that time.   The property had rich black soil and Mr. Roach cultivated apple orchards.  By this time, the old Military Road had been replaced by the railroad and had completely disappeared from the map.  The new road to Lowemont from the 8 Mile House followed the Northwest fork which once was the connector trail for the Oregon Trail.  The Southwest fork from the 8 Mile House went to Easton, which still exists and is now called the Easton Road.

On March 14, 1887, the Leavenworth Northern and Southern Railroad purchased some of Henry’s land to establish a railroad line which almost paralleled the Kansas Central and Union Railroad.  The Leavenworth Northern and Southern Railroad later sold the land to the Santa Fe Railroad.  The Yellow House Farm Property was part of that land.  That same year, the Lowemont Town Company was formed and 40 acres of land was purchased from Henry Roach to start the town of Lowemont. 

The infamous Atchison-Topeka-Santa Fe (ATSF) narrow-gauge steam locomotive called the "Pollywog" ran through the property from 1887 to 1961.   The train was dubbed “The Pollywog” because of the rapid back and forth movement it made as it negotiated the random switch-backs that plagued this route.   The train primarily hauled freight, but provided the caboose for passengers.   These poor passengers, riding at the tail of the train, had the sensation that they were riding on the tail of a pollywog.

The Pollywog line ran from Holliday, Kansas to Atchison, Kansas.  Along the route, it serviced Choteau, Wilder, Bonner Springs, Jaggard, Stone, Harvey, East Fairmount, Lansing, Carr Mine, Wadsworth (Soldier's Home), South Leavenworth, Leavenworth, Miocene, Makenny, Lowemont, Thornburg, Potter, Mount Pleasant, Curley, Hawthorne, Parnel, Greenview.  In Holliday, one could make the connection to Argentine, KS and the Union Station in Kansas City which served as a hub for most of the country.  The "Leavenworth Weekly Times" announced on July 20, 1911, a new schedule for the Pollywog that would give shoppers from Potter and Lowemont the best hours of the day for trading in Leavenworth.  The morning train would depart Atchison at 6:00 AM, arrive at Potter at 7:00 AM, Lowemont at 7:30 AM and Leavenworth at 8:25.  Then at 2:45 PM it would return to Lowemont at 3:35 PM, Potter at 4:00 PM and finally back to Atchison at 5:00 PM.   The Pollywog took almost 2 1/2 hours to get from Atchison to Leavenworth where nowadays it takes only 30 minutes by car.

Henry T. Roach (the first owner of the property) married Mary Maget, who had only one surviving son, John H. Roach.  John H. Roach married Sophia Knapp and they had three sons: Henry T. III; Albert N.; and John M.  The eldest, Henry T. III. married Alice Balty and was given a farm in Nortonville, Missouri.  Albert & John inherited Henry's lands in the Lowemont area.   

In 1913, Albert (Grandson of Henry T. Roach) and Ruth Mage Roach built their home where Dr. Roy Braum now lives.  Their sons, Elmer and Melvin Roach also settled in the Lowemont area.   Melvin was killed in WWII.

A 1945 county property map shows that the 80 acre parcel where the Yellow House Farm is located had been handed down to Albert & Ruth Roach, but the small "right of way"  that is now the Yellow House Farm was owned by L.& R.C.  for the operation of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (AT&SF) Railroad ("The Pollywog").   After the AT&SF Railway Company closed the "Pollywog" line in 1961, John M. Roach purchased the property back. 

In 1980, Dr. Roy Braum, Lowemont's Veterinarian, purchased Albert and Ruth's house.  In 1998, John and Melanie Lambert purchased the house where Elmer and Helen Roach lived.   Both are current neighbors of the Yellow House Farm.

When the new highway 73 (Amelia Earhart Highway) opened in the summer of 1991, Elmer M. Roach (Wife: Helen M. Roach) decided to have his property surveyed and platted.    At this point, the nine acre pizza-slice parcel designated as "Tract F" was established in the most northeast corner of Section 10.  This parcel became what is now know as the Yellow House Farm.    Shortly after the properties where platted, a wealthy local land developer, Walt Wagner and his son, Ronald, purchased much of what was the Roach Farmstead and sold it off in parcels. 

During the 1991 survey, several markers were discovered on the northeast corner of the property.  Noted in this survey was an excerpt that stated, "Found  4"x 6" Limestone with 4" cuts also 1/2" rebar on the centerline N. Side of Stone COR 2,3,10,&11-8-21. Including 3 ties (disks) marked."  This Survey marker on the northeast corner of the property was set between 1854 and 1876 when Kansas was first surveyed to mark the corners where four major land sections intersect.  These sections are 10 & 11 on the Southside of the marker and 2 & 3 on the Northside of the marker.  All in Range 21 and in Township 08 of Leavenworth County.   This small limestone marker still exists on the Yellow House Farm today.


On 15 September 1995, Ronald G. Wagner and Lynne M. Wagner, husband and wife, sold the property (Tract F) to Matthew D. Howard, a single person, and Candis L. Shields, a single person, for "one dollar and other goods and valuable considerations."

In 1996, Mr. Howard built a beautiful 4-bedroom wood framed house with a wraparound porch.   In 1999 he added a two story, three car detached garage and in 2010 a barn was built on the property.    The Howards lived in this house from 1996 to 2015, when they sold the house and property to Mark and Jeanne Martinez.  It was then, on August 14th, 2015, the Yellow House Farm was established. 

Mark had just retired after serving 30 years in the U.S. Army as an Engineer Officer.  He was a veteran of three wars and multiple campaigns.   Through his career, the Army transient lifestyle required Mark and Jeanne to move their family every two to three years, so upon his retirement, they settled in Lowemont, on this property, where they could set roots and created a home where their daughters (Christy, Carmen & Jennifer) and their families could come and enjoy each other's company. 

From 2016 to 2018, the Martinezes made significant upgrades to the property by adding a hay barn, raised garden beds, an irrigation system, a pond dock and a chicken coup.   Two seepage wells were also added, both with hand pumps and one with a 28'-high iconic windmill. To this day, many artifacts and historic landmarks can be found on the property.  The "Pollywog's" abandoned railroad bed can be seen following the existing fence line.  The limestone property marker still sits almost forgotten in the Northeast corner of the property.  Wagon ruts from the Oregon Trail can still be seen in the pasture northeast of the farm.  The original Military Road that crossed the property has disappeared, but metal detector searches have yielded old wagon and railroad parts.  Musket balls, arrowheads and an old cache of coins have been found during excavation of gardens and new buildings.   What other treasures may be hidden on the property only peaks one's imagination.


The Ghost of John T. Lykins: November 12, 1870, John T. Lykins, a 25 yrs old employee of Henry T. Roach, was ambushed and murdered by Joe Raddick for his wages as he crossed the old bridge just northwest of the 8 Mile House, in the area of the Yellow House Farm.  Joe Raddick was caught and sentenced to hang, but his sentence was later commuted to life in prison where he died. Sometimes, on a clear night, when the trees cast shadows from the moon, you can see glimpses of John Lykins' ghost standing in the shadow.  Also, sometimes, when the early morning dew coats the outside of your windows and doors, you can make out his eerie handprints on the glass where he leered in sometime during the night.   Don't worry, he's just waiting for someone to bring his money back.

The Train Whistle:The Pollywog ran through this property for almost 75 years.As it approached the Lowemont Depot it would sound its whistle as it rounded the bend located on the Yellow House Farm property.For some reason, even though this train has not run in over a half century, on a windy day, you can still hear the whistle.

The Ghost of Alice Roach:August 9, 1917, Alice Balty Roach, a young mother of three small children, lost control of her horse and buggy as she left Lowemont.  As the horse ran out of control towards the ravine just north of the 8 Mile House, Alice successfully saved her small children by tossing them out of the buggy one by one.  Finally, the buggy hit an obstruction and Alice was thrown out and sustained serious injuries. She died at the Leavenworth hospital a day later.  The children were unharmed. Alice was married to Henry T. III, son of John H. Roach and grandson of H.T. Roach. It is said, that she still wanders the road near the Yellow House farm calling for her children.  Don't worry, just tell her that her children are all safe, and she will continue on her way.

Factoids about the property:

Even though Lebanon, Kansas is the Geographic Center of the United States, the Yellow House Farm is very close to being able to make this claim. If you drive 665 miles straight north from the Yellow House Farm you will hit Canada, if you drive 665 miles straight south you will hit the Gulf of Mexico. From the Yellow House Farm straight East, the Atlantic Ocean is 1,000 miles and straight West, the Pacific Ocean is 1,500 miles.

If you dig a hole straight through the earth under the Yellow House Farm, you will end up in the Indian Ocean, between Australia and South Africa, within swimming distance of Heard and McDonald Islands.

There is a Yellow House Farm in Middletown, Connecticut; Barrington, New Hampshire; Alpharetta, Georgia; West Woodburn, England; and Lipari, Italy. None as pretty as the one in Lowemont, Kansas.

In 1908, 100 train car loads of apples where shipped from the Lowemont train depot.

Lowemont got electricity in 1946.The effort to get electricity started earlier but was delayed due to WWII.

Coldest temperature officially recorded for Lowemont was negative 27 degrees in 1989. Though early journal accounts from 1856 say the temperature in the area dropped to negative 40 degrees. Hottest temperature recorded was 110 degrees in 1954.

Coldest temperature recorded on the property since the creation of the Yellow House Farm was negative 18 degrees with a wind chill of negative 30 degrees recorded on February 16, 2021 and hottest temperature was 112.8 degrees recorded on August 25, 2023. The highest wind recorded on the property was 54.06 MPH recorded on June 11, 2021.   The season's earliest measurable snowfall recorded was on October 15, 2018 with 1/2-inch of Snow and 29-Degrees.  The latest measurable snowfall recorded was on April 20, 2021 with 4 1/2-inches of Snow. 

Other notable weather events: July 19, 1908, a hail storm destroyed much of the crops around Lowemont. Easter Morning, April 4, 1920, the snow fall was higher than the fences. April 2, 1926, was the worst blizzard on record, several Leavenworth residents and Ft. Leavenworth guards died in this storm. From 1932 to 1934, drought and dust storms ravaged the Lowemont area destroying much of its apple orchards.

Lightning Strikes: The oak tree next to the barn-yard fence-line, closest to the pond, still bears the scar of a lightning strike that occurred in 2009. The house was struck by lightning in 2013, frying many of the house's electrical components.

The Fort Leavenworth-Fort Riley Road crossed Stranger Creek in two places. The reason for this was because this creek flooded regularly. From the 8 Mile House, a traveler could turn southeast towards where Easton is today and cross at Dawson’s ford (also called Dawson’s Creek Crossing).Or two, continue north to where Lowemont is today and then turn west on what is now Millwood Road and cross the Creek 3 miles north of Dawson’s ford. The more northern route was less likely to flood and was used extensively until the establishment of Easton in 1855.Both routes connected in Jefferson County. Many historians are only familiar with the crossing at Dawson’s ford.


Handprints from John T. Lykins' Ghost

Survey Marker

Santa Fe and Oregon Trails crossing the Missouri River at Fort Leavenworth

Lowemont Train Depot

Lincoln's Carriage