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Kanza Archive Stories

August 1858 — Preston Plumb

As he traveled horseback through the Kaw Reservation in early July, 1858, Preston Plumb was pleased with what he saw. The publisher of Emporia’s Kansas News and future U.S. senator noted “…evidences of thrift and enterprise… on every hand. Where, one year ago, there were but few settlers, and little or no improvement, there is now a large population, highly cultivated farms, and comfortable dwellings.”

September 1858 — Westport and Montgomery

On the first day of autumn, 1858, the agent for the Kanza tribe, 23-year-old John Montgomery, left his Council Grove home to begin a 450-mile journey east to Saint Louis. Here on October 2 he would pick up $9,780.28 in silver and gold coins, carefully packed in “five specie sacks and two specie boxes,” the term “specie” referring to coinage.

October 1858 — Prairie Fires

In October 1858, prairie fires erupted on and near the Kanza Indian Reservation, a twenty-mile-square chunk of land encompassing Council Grove. E. Goddard, a squatter living illegally on the reservation near present Dunlap, had twenty tons of hay destroyed by fire the first week of October.

November 1858 — We Want a Gun Smith

In November 1858, the two blacksmiths assigned to the Kanza tribe, assistant blacksmith Abraham Park, and head blacksmith Lemuel Park, were fired. No one was named to replace them and, in spite of the requirement of the Kaw Treaty of 1846 that the U.S. government provide the tribe with blacksmiths, the position was not filled for many years to come.

December 1858 — Agency House Construction

Imagine that on Christmas Day, 1858, you were the 23-year-old Kanza Indian agent, John Montgomery. You’re riding in a buggy with your wife, Mary Ellen, and baby daughter, Mary Ellen as well. You’re headed southeast on the Council Grove-Americus Road through the Kanza Reservation, for which you have oversight as an official of the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs

January 1859 — Whether the Liquor Had Best Be Put In

Asahel Beach must have been both dismayed and relieved by what he found when on January 20, 1859, he returned to his recently-established trading post at the Santa Fe Road crossing of Cow Creek 100 miles west of Council Grove. Beach had been away for two months, leaving the trading post, known in the parlance of that time as a “ranche,” in the hands of his 22-year-old son, Abijah, and his companion, John H. Burr of Leavenworth. The older Beach ascertained that the young men were in good health but his property considerably diminished

February 1859 — Four Reservation Villages

Late in the evening of February 2, 1859, Hezekiah Brake and his companion, Mr. Alexandro, rode into Council Grove in a mule-drawn buggy. Here the men spent four days getting their animals ready and laying in a supply of everything needed for their upcoming journey to New Mexico

March 1859 — John Montgomery

On March 31, 1859, John Montgomery wrote his last Quarterly Report, culminating a tempestuous four-year career as U.S. Agent for the Kanza Indian tribe fraught with difficulties

April 1859 — Horse Thieves

The Kanzas had stolen the horses; there was no doubt about it. The thefts happened in Council Grove on the night of April 23, 1859. There were four white men—Joseph Keasting, Price Piles, A. J. Wood, and Peter Windle–passing through town. They lodged here overnight and when they awoke next morning, nine of their horses were missing

May 1859 — Joseph James

“They are original and untamed Indians,” wrote naturalist Lewis H. Morgan, describing his May 1859 encounter with a small group of Kanzas near the small village of Topeka. “They are the original inhabitants of the territory so far as we know, and have given to the rivers and streams their names. Hence we must look to their language for the geographical names of the territory.”

June 1859 — June 17th Incident

Two white men—Parks and Gilkey–lay wounded in the street, one shot through the neck with a bullet, the other hit in the side with an arrow. Holding his recently fired pistols, Seth Hays barricaded himself inside his store. In the meantime, the Kanzas fled the scene, riding rapidly south to Four Mile Creek, where they gathered in council.

July 1859 — New Hays Store Building

The days leading up Tuesday night, July 21, 1859, had been so excessively hot that the organizers of the “grand affair” celebrating the completion of S. M. Hays and Company’s large frame store in Council Grove feared their party would be a failure. But just at twilight, according to Sam Wood’s Cottonwood Falls newspaper, the Kansas Press, “a thunder-storm, at the south, had the effect to cool the air, and just after dark, thirty-eight couple[s] assembled at Hayes’ [sic] new building.

August 1859 — Kaw Trail

In August of 1859 the Kanzas were encamped on their favorite hunting grounds in central Kansas. Twice a year, in the summer and winter, the tribe would journey west from their Council Grove reservation to the plains to engage in a buffalo hunt. “While on the hunt, during the summer months,” wrote Kanza agent Milton Dickey, “they get a good living, and are, to a great extent, comfortable.”

September 1859 — Topeka and the Kanza

In September of 1859 Topeka merchants did a brisk business in a lucrative market niche—sales to Kanza Indians. The business of one merchant in particular, Harvey G. Young, thrived that September by exchanging goods for credit with Kanza customers. With September his best month, altogether Kanza trade, starting June 8 and culminating on October 5, had produced a credit balance for Young of $1,248.90

October 1859 — Greenwood Treaty

On Tuesday evening, October 4, 1859, “the sun sank in a sea of crimson, and the moon appeared with her face painted like a war savage for battle, grew darker, and finally disappeared in an ambush of impenetrable smoke.” The Emporia newspaper editor retired to bed, his peace of mind disturbed “with visions of the distant roar of the fiery monster” while “the wind whistled a mournful requiem to the departed year…

November 1859 — White Reaction to Treaty

“We regard the so-called Kaw treaty an outrage upon the people of Morris County,” proclaimed the Morris County Republican platform in November, 1859. “This treaty is a direct attempt to ROB the settlers of their hard earnings, for the benefit of an Administration of speculators and land swindlers.”

December 1859 — Meacham Child

The missing child was first noted locally in the December 5, 1859, Council Grove newspaper, the Kansas Press. “About three weeks since a little boy belonging to Mr. Meachem strayed or was stolen from his father at Zeandale, K. T.” reported the Press. “Fears are entertained that he was stolen by the Kaw, or Kiowa Indians.”

January 1860 — Wolf Hunting

In late January 1860, the Kanza Indians traded 500 wolf skins to Emporia merchant, A. G. Proctor, in exchange for “groceries, dry goods, etc.” Proctor found most of the tribe in their winter camps approximately thirty miles west of Emporia near present Elmdale in the Cottonwood valley and its tributaries, Middle and Diamond creeks.

February 1860 — Drunkenness Is a Common Vice

“A party of Kaw Indians one day last week succeeded in stealing a keg of whisky from the store at Cottonwood Falls,” reported the Emporia News on February 18, 1860. “They all got drunk, and from the effects two men and one squaw were killed. The citizens are endeavoring to have them removed.”

March 1860 — Dances Were Serious Affairs

On Monday, March 19, 1860, about twenty Kanzas “gave a war dance” in Topeka. The dance was conducted in a circle, with ten or twelve “musicians” seated in the center keeping time and making “a sort of music” by beating upon drums constructed of raw hide while the dancers moved around them in slow procession

April 1860 — Mere Intruders upon Their Soil

One hundred fifty years ago the fledgling town of Emporia, located seven miles south of the southeast corner of the Kaw Reservation, received visits by two groups indigenous to the Flint Hills.

May 1860 — Speaks Volumes for the Future

One hundred fifty years ago Council Grove was a bustling commercial center for the New Mexico trade. From April 24 to June 24 “there passed the Grove” en route to Santa Fe 1,400 wagons, 372 horses, 3,868 mules, 11,705 oxen, and 65 carriages bearing 3,562 tons (7,000,000 lbs.) of freight.

June 1860 — A Wild, Roving People

On Sunday, June 17, 1860, Luke Parsons was returning home from the sandstone “buttes” southwest of Salina, when he decided to visit a nearby camp of Kanza Indians. Although Salina was located about 65 miles west-northwest of their reservation villages near Council Grove, Parsons’ diary recorded the presence of the Kanzas near Salina on six occasions June through December 1860

July 1860 — Paying Tribute to the Sleeper Below

When on the evening of July 16, 1861 Judge J. H. Watson observed several Indian graves on the brow of a hill overlooking the Cottonwood River and Middle Creek in western Chase County, he proceeded to desecrate them.

August 1860 — Roasting with the Drouth

“Yesterday the wind was very high, and the stronger it blew the hotter became the temperature,” reported the August 18, 1860 Emporia News. “It felt exactly as though emanating from a heated oven, and most fortunate was he who could find comfort in any place. At three o’clock the thermometer stood at 110 degrees in the shade!”

September 1860 — What the Numbers Say

Numbers can help us understand the story of Council Grove and the Kanza. In September 1860, the Council Grove Press summarized the federal census conducted earlier that summer, giving us a snapshot of Council Grove and Morris County at that time. Two years later a detailed census conducted on the reservation by officials of the Office of Indian Affairs provided a picture of the Kanza people.

“Amidst a Christian and Civilized People”
“Amidst a Christian and Civilized People” is a monthly series of short essays that relate to specific events that affected the Kanza (or Kaw) Indians who lived in present day Kansas. These essays explore the cultural and natural contexts in which they occurred at Council Grove, Kansas over 150 years ago.

Kaw Nation would like to thank Ron Parks, (author) (Read Ron Parks Bio Here) for his dedication, many hours of research, and for sharing these stories with the Kaw Nation.
All copyrights are reserved.


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