Paola History

The Miami County Historical Museum presents a series of photographs from 1880 through 1940 – Most photos are from around the Historical Paola Town Square, showing many buildings that are still in use today, filled with vibrant business from Restaurants, Art Galleries, Antique Stores, Banks, and many more.

Paola Kansas HistoryDavid Lykins, a Baptist missionary, who built a log mission on the banks of Wea Creek. The county was settled by Indians who had emigrated here from Illinois in 1832. They had been living in the Northwest Territory, now Illinois and Indiana, but as the white man Peorias and Kaskaskias were granted 150 sections of land in Miami County by the Federal government under the jurisdiction or the Osage River Agency.

Under the Treaty of 1854, the Peoria, Wea, Piankishaw, (sic) and Kaskaskia tribes united to become the Confederated Peoria tribe. These tribal members were remnants of the mighty Illinois Nation. Illinois means “ tribe of superior men.” Today, their descendants are Peoria Tribe of Oklahoma.

The land for the town (403 ½ acres) was in the head right of Baptiste Peoria. The name Paola, evolved from the Indian pronunciation of the word Peoria, in honor of Baptiste Peoria. The Paola Town Company was formed in 1855. Paola City was incorporated in 1859. Streets were laid out at a angle and east and west streets were named after various tribes having reservations in this part of the territory.

The town was built around a square given to Paola by the town Council headed by Baptiste Peoria. The gift carried a proviso that no building would ever be built on it. Baptiste made the square a playground for his people, and many horse races were held there.

Baptiste Peoria lived in a log house just outside of Paola, now 314 North Pearl Street, where he ran a store and hauling service. The Indians got their water from Mitchler Spring which has never gone dry at this location, now on the grounds on Penwell Gabel funeral home. A cupola from the demolished Brescia Hall at the Ursuline Convent, is now over the spring.

An Indian burial ground was located at 402 North Pearl Street and extended back the distance of the full lot. David L. Peery requested permission from the City Council in 1910 to move the graves from this location to Oak Grove Cemetery. These graves are now in the Oak Grove Addition in the Paola Cemetery, and were a part of the tombstone preservation project started in the fall of 1992.

Baptiste Peoria married a Miami Indian named Mau me wah. The couple had several children, four of whom survived and lived in Paola. Several buried in Paola Cemetery.

After the death of Mau me wah, Baptiste married Mary Ann Isaacs Dagenett, whose ancestors were French and American Indian. She came to be known as Mother Batees and was highly reguarded by the community and was influential in the selection of Paola as the county seat. After Batiste moved his people to the Oklahoma Territory, Mary Ann remained in Miami County and became a U.S. citizen. Mary Ann Isaacs Dagenett Peoria is buried in the Indian Cemetery south of Louisburg. Baptiste was the chief of the Peorias for 30 years and died in the Indian Territory, Oklahoma on September 13, 1873, at the age of 87.

Early symbolism tended to pattern life and the motifs were generally harsh and severe. By the latter 19th century attitudes had changed and the art work was more focused on a life in the hereafter. These stones show willows, meaning earthly sorrow and the doves are symbolic of the soul and purity.

Paola Cemetery is located at the intersection of Miami and West Street. To find Lot 397, enter Paola Cemetery at the Otttawa street entrance off of West Street. It is the second lot on the north side of the drive in the first lot row of the section marked Oak Grove Addition.