Territorial Period in Miami County Kansas
French and Spanish Exploration:
In 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado did explore into Kansas but not into today what is Miami County.
It is not believed any Spanish explorers traversed through Miami County as evidenced by the map below.
Marquette and Joliet, French Jesuit missionary explorers, traveled down the Mississippi River to Arkansas in 1673, thus exploring on the very eastern edge of neighboring Missouri, but did not explore in Kansas, either.
According to the book, Kansas, a Cyclopedia of State History, edited by Frank W. Blackmar, a French Officer, Dutiane, in 1719, was the first white man in the area. Dutiane had been sent by the French governor of Louisiana to explore the land west of the Mississippi River in 1719. He was noted as having named the river flowing through Osage, Franklin, Miami and Linn Counties in Eastern Kansas “Marais des Cygnes” (“Marsh of the Swans”) due to its many swans. Legend has it that Evangeline may have passed through the area on her way to Louisiana after the British forces expelled the French Acadians from Nova Scotia in 1755 and transported them to the French Territory of Louisiana.
When the Miami, Peoria, Wea and Piankeshaw Indians were resettled to Miami County with them came French traders who, according to Reverend Thomas H. Kinsella, were probably the first white residents in the county. Although we do not know definitively if François Chouteau, the famous French fur trader who established the area’s first permanent European-American settlement in 1821, a trading post near the north end of present-day Grand Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri, ever traveled to Miami county, we do know his employees did as evidenced by his Testimony of Louis, a member of the Miami County Miami tribe: ”I employ Louis as a laboring hand he remained with me until his death in 1852 he was a very good man that you could depend on”. Chouteau did travel widely throughout Kansas Territory, trading manufactured goods for animal pelts from the Shawnee, Kickapoo, and other tribes, with whom he had established long-standing good relations. (1)
In 1854, when the area was opened for future statehood given the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders), there was a large influx of settlers. This began the period of “Bleeding Kansas” from 1854 – 1859. See the “Bleeding Kansas” section for more details.
The town plat for Paola was laid out early in 1855. On the 23rd day of August, 1855, the First Territorial Legislature passed an act incorporating the Paola Town company. Members of the Paola Town Company were Baptiste Peoria, Isaac Jacobs, A. M. Coffey, and Reverend David Lykin, teacher and founder of the Wea Baptist Mission in Paola. The Paola Park Square was given to the Town Company by Baptiste Peoria. The Town Company gave the Square to the City with the provision that no building be built upon it.
(1) Source: THE FRENCH PRESENCE IN KANSAS 1673-1854 SIMONE AMARDEIL JOHNSON
The Indians that have lived in Miami County are the Miamis, the Confederated tribes, the Pottawatomies, and the Shawnees.
The Shawnee reservation embraced a strip of land across the northern end of the county, about two and one-fourth miles in width. Some of them continued to live here until 1866, when with the remainder of their tribe they moved to the Indian Territory.
The Pottawatomie reservation, which was partly in Franklin County, embraced in Miami County, Mound and Osawatomie townships and a small portion of Stanton and Valley township, in all about eighty square miles, or 51,000 acres. This tribe was removed to a reservation on the Kansas river in 1847-48 where a portion of them still remain.
The Confederated Tribes were composed of the Weas, Piakeshaws, Peorias and Kaskaskias. They inhabited the northern part of the county, bordering the Shawnee Reservation. Upon their removal here they were but remnants of previously large and powerful tribes. The Weas were at one time a portion of the Miami tribe, their language being almost identical with that of the Miamis. The Confederated Tribes formerly lived in Southern Illinois. In 1818 they removed to Eastern Missouri and settled near St. Genevieve. In 1827 the Weas and Piakeshaws moved to what is now Miami County, the Peorias followed in a year or two, and the Kaskaskias came in 1832. From this time until 1854, these tribes continued to live in undisturbed possession o their reservation, when it became necessary to open the country to settlement, and a treaty was made between them and the Government by which they sold all their lands except for 160 acres for each member of the tribe, ten sections for tribal purposes, and one section for the support of a Mission School. In the formation of this treaty, Col. Manypenny represented the Government and Kio-kun-no-zah, Yellow Beaver, and others as chiefs the Indians; Baptiste Peoria acting as interpreter.
As white settlers came in and filled up the county, the Confederated tribes made preparations to make one more removal. With the consent of the Government, a delegation from the tribes purchased a portion of the lands of the Quapaws and Senecas in the Indian Territory in 1866. The purchase was ratified by treaty in 1868 and most of the Confederated tribes removed to their new homes, on Spring River, that year. Many of those who remained were admitted to citizenship and were prosperous members of the community, while some have since gone to the Indian Territory.
When the treaty of 1854 was made, the Confederated Tribes numbered 260, but they have steadily declined in numbers.
At least two of the members of the Confederated tribes are worthy of brief mention-Win-ris-cah, or Christmas Dagnette, and Baptiste Peoria.
The former was born near Terre Haute, Ind., about the year 1800. He was a nephew of a Wea Chief, and received a liberal education. Besides three or four Indian languages, he could speak English, French, and Spanish, and at the age of sixteen acted as interpreter for the Government. He removed to Kansas with his tribe, which he served for a number of years as chief and died in 1848.
Baptiste Peoria was born also about the year 1800, near Kaskaskia, Ill. He did not receive a school education but by the natural force of his intellect acquired a number of Indian languages, the Shawnee, Delaware and Pottawatomie, besides those of the several Confederated Tribes, and also English and French. He acted for many years in the capacity of interpreter, and for some time as chief, but generally preferred to be on the “outside” as there he could be of much more use to his tribe, which during almost the whole of his long life continued to look up to him as their best advisor. When the tribes removed to the Indian Territory, Baptiste went with them and died there in the year 1874. He was a man of large and enlightened views, and was distinguished for the virtues which spring from a kindly heart and generous spirit. His widow, who was at the time of her marriage to him, the widow of Christmas Dagnette, still resides in Paola, at the ripe age of eighty-two, loved and respected by all who know her.
The Miamis were the first settlers in Miami County. They, as a portion of the Shawnees, were originally from Ohio. They were removed to what is now Indiana, by Gen. Anthony Wayne, in accordance with the treaty of August 3, 1795. In 1840, a treaty was made by which they agreed to remove to new homes in the Indian Territory (now Kansas) and in 1846, eight hundred Miamis located in the southeast part of the present Miami County, on Sugar Creek. In 1847 about 300 more arrived; and in 1848 about 500 of them returned to Indiana, which return was afterwards acquiesced in by act of Congress.
In the same year those Miamis remaining in the county removed their home from Sugar Creek to the Marias des Cygnes in the central-southern portion of the county, locating at what has since been known as Miami village. The removal was caused by sickness, superinduced by change of climate, privation and exposure. In three years from the time of their arrival on Sugar Creek their number was reduced by death from 600 to 300, one-half the deaths occurring on Sugar Creek. Their principal burying ground was then about two miles southeast of the present village of Rockville.
The original Miami reservation consisted of about 500,000 acres of land, and was bounded on the east by Missouri, on the south by the reservation of the New York Indians, on the west by the Pottawatomie reservation, and on the north by that of the Confederated tribes. In 1854, as white settlers began to see homes on the Miami reservation, the Government purchased all but 72,000 acres, Col Manypenny acting for the Government and Now-a-lun-qua (“Big-Legs”) on the part of the Miamis and Jack Hackley as interpreter.
The Miamis remained on this remnant of their reservation until 1871, when having been reduced to about 130 in number, the most of them removed to the Neosho River in the Indian Territory. A few remained and became citizens of the United States, made considerable progress in agriculture, and became useful, upright and respected citizens.
The agents for these tribes have been the following: Col. Ely Moore, Coffey, 1854 to 1855; Col. M. McCaslin, 1855 to 1857; Gen. Seth Clover, 1857 to 1861; Col. G. A. Colton, 1861 to 1869; James Stanley, 1869 to the time the Agency was abolished. Col. McCaslin was removed by President Buchanan for having protested against the invasion of Kansas by Missourians. He was Colonel of the Fifteenth Virginia Infantry during the rebellion.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830
This was the Jackson-era legislation authorizing the president to transfer Eastern Indian tribes to the western territories promised (falsely) “in perpetuity”. The actual relocation culminated in the 1838 “Trail of Tears” forced march, one of the most shameful occurrences in the history of federal domestic policy
CHAP. CXLVIII.–An Act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any
of the states or territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America,
in Congress assembled, That it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United
States to cause so much of any territory belonging to the United States, west of the river
Mississippi, not included in any state or organized territory, and to which the Indian title has
been extinguished, as he may judge necessary, to be divided into a suitable number of
districts, for the reception of such tribes or nations of Indians as may choose to exchange
the lands where they now reside, and remove there; and to cause each of said districts to
be so described by natural or artificial marks, as to be easily distinguished from every other.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to
exchange any or all of such districts, so to be laid off and described, with any tribe or nation
within the limits of any of the states or territories, and with which the United States have
existing treaties, for the whole or any part or portion of the territory claimed and occupied by
such tribe or nation, within the bounds of any one or more of the states or territories, where
the land claimed and occupied by the Indians, is owned by the United States, or the United
States are bound to the state within which it lies to extinguish the Indian claim thereto.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That in the making of any such exchange or exchanges,
it shall and may be lawful for the President solemnly to assure the tribe or nation with which
the exchange is made, that the United States will forever secure and guaranty to them, and
their heirs or successors, the country so exchanged with them; and if they prefer it, that the
United States will cause a patent or grant to be made and executed to them for the same:
Provided always, That such lands shall revert to the United States, if the Indians become
extinct, or abandon the same.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That if, upon any of the lands now occupied by the
Indians, and to be exchanged for, there should be such improvements as add value to the
land claimed by any individual or individuals of such tribes or nations, it shall and may be
lawful for the President to cause such value to be ascertained by appraisement or
otherwise, and to cause such ascertained value to be paid to the person or persons
rightfully claiming such improvements. And upon the payment of such valuation, the
improvements so valued and paid for, shall pass to the United States, and possession shall
not afterwards be permitted to any of the same tribe.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That upon the making of any such exchange as is
contemplated by this act, it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such aid and
assistance to be furnished to the emigrants as may be necessary and proper to enable
them to remove to, and settle in, the country for which they may have exchanged; and also,
to give them such aid and assistance as may be necessary for their support and
subsistence for the first year after their removal.
SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause
such tribe or nation to be protected, at their new residence, against all interruption or
disturbance from any other tribe or nation of Indians, or from any other person or persons
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to have
the same superintendence and care over any tribe or nation in the country to which they
may remove, as contemplated by this act, that he is now authorized to have over them at
their present places of residence.
Trail of Death
During the first half of the 19th century the Potawatomi Indians lost most of their lands in
Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. For the most part the Indians were either tricked
or threatened into giving up their land by the United States government.
In 1830 President Andrew Jackson decided the US government needed to permanently
remove all of the Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River. Jackson urged the
United States Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act. This law allowed Jackson to make
treaties with Native Americans in the East who traded their lands for new territory in the
Great Plains (Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma).
In 1836 President Jackson signed a treaty with two Potawatomi brothers (Memat-way and
Cha-quaw-ka-ko Toisa). It signed away all of the Potawatomi land in Indiana and Illinois
for $8000, minus the repayment of some of the Indian’s debts. The US government also
agreed to provide transportation, food, and shelter for the Potawatomi during their trip to
their new lands in Kansas. No one is sure if these brothers were the actual leaders of the
Potawatomi, but President Jackson accepted their signatures anyway.
In 1838 the US government removed the Potawatomi from Indiana and Illinois. The man in
charge of the removal, General John Tipton, captured several of the leaders of the tribe to
ensure there would be no uprising. He rounded up over 850 Potawatomi Indian people
and marched them west at gunpoint from their Indian homeland, through Illinois, and
finally into Kansas. Many walked the 660 mile distance, which took two months. The US
Government had hired shady businessmen to provide the food, shelter, and water for this
trip, and this decision caused a disaster. With rotten food, poor shelter, and a lack of
water, many Potawatomi soon began to become ill and die. More than 40 died, mostly
children, of typhoid fever and the stress of forced removal. Even their young priest, Rev.
Benjamin Petit, became ill on the trail and died at the Jesuit seminary in St. Louis on
February 10, 1838.
What follows is the story of the Potawatomi Trail of Death told by the men and women who
were a part of this dark chapter of our nations history.
Entries from the journal of George Winter, an artist and friend to the Potawatomi.
He witnessed the removal.
“In 1838, a large emigration of the Pottawattamies took place, under the direction of Genl.
John Tipton and Col. A.C. Pepper, and immediately under the superintendence of Genl.
Marshall, and his subordinates. Much that is sad and touching relates to their removal
It was only by a deceptive (in a moral point of view) and cunning cruel plan, they were
coerced to emigrate … By convening a special Council of the principal Chiefs and Head men,
at the Catholic Mission at the Twin Lakes, near Plymouth, under the pretence of a Council
of Amity, and good will, [Genl. Tipton] secured them as prisoners. A high handed act, for
such it was. For its execution, stern necessity, must be the apology. The policy was as
painful, as it was successful.
This was followed up by the detailing parties to volunteers, who had been previously
enlisted under authority, to bring in from the different villages, men, women and children
into Camp. …
The Camp was now in full organization, but volunteers cam crowding in from all parts of
the State, in anticipation of the Indians resisting, of which at one time, there was a
seeming probability. Very varied was the character of this heterogeneous body of men.
Some were of the highest respectability in the state, and others, in appearance at least,
vagabonds and pillagers of the lowest order, such as humanity would recognize. …
… the whitemen were gathering thick around them, which was but a sad necessity for
their departure. Still they clung to their homes. But the flames of the torch were applied –
their villages and wigwams were annihilated. The principal Chiefs were secured by the
strong arm of authority, and lead or rather driven Captives out of the land at the point of
the bayonet! It was truly a melancholy spectacle, that awoke a deep feeling of sympathy
for their unhappy fate.” (GWMSS 1-15 , 1-12 )
“Ash-kum was an orator of some consideration and distinction; he however was not
continued in such capacity, when I knew him in 1837 …
In his speeches he always went into a circumlucutary historical account of his tribe, and
the various treaties made with the government he was very minute, tedious and
perplexing, although he had perspicuity of thought, and could clearly express himself …
It was therefore in consequence of Ash-kum’s verbosity and tediousness of detail, that
Col. Pepper requested that in his future business with the Pottawattamies, some other
speaker should be appointed by the Indians. Knas-wa-kay was chosen – and Became
their principal orator …
Ash-kum in person stood above the middle heighth, and some fifty years of age –
perhaps some moons more. … He could not speak much English, though he could make
himself amusingly understood. …
Ash-kum was among those old chiefs who retained their prejudices against having
themselves portrayed – or from the secret contempt for being remembered among white
men through the medium of the pencil. Yet he was amused at others whom I painted, and
was ever ready with his spicy joke upon their likenesses.
To me personally he was friendly and ever wore a smile upon his countenance when we
met on the council group in the forest, or at the town of Logansport where he often came
to trade at Ewing & Walker & Cos well known trading establishment.
I do not remember seeing him among the large number of converts to Christianity under
the missionary labors of Father Petit.
He was however free from the vice of drinking. … He was a peaceable man, but opposed
the emigration westward in 1837. …
He however fell into ranks, in the fall of 1838, when the strong arm of the U.S.
Government coerced the Indians through the active and determined cooperation of Genl.
John Tipton with Col. A.C. Pepper & Col Lewis H. Sands. …
Ashkum was strongly attached to his native forests and lakes – and left Indiana with a
deep feeling of regret.” (GWMSS 2-6 , 2-6 )
“After the first days’ march, the Emigration camped upon a small prairie x near a run known
by the unpoetical sobroquet of “Mud Creek” …
About 18 miles from Logansport Muddy Creek crosses the Michigan road. Creek is called
by the sobroquet which it so well deserves – the water as it passes sluggish along has no
small quantity of alluvial matter incorporated with it. On a small prarie near this creek on
 Sept  a thousand Indians of the Pottawattamie tribe encamped after a hard days
travel in sickness – and in tribulation. …
The group of the captive Chiefs was truly a saddening sight, as they lay surrounded by a
vigilant citizen soldiery. Nor did their condition fail to reach even the hearts of many a
settler, who rejoiced mostly, at the x departure of them as a nation. …
On the 9th of [Sept.], the emigration moved some 18 miles towards Logansport, and
camped near Horney’s Mill, in a grove of friendly timber near the vicinity of Eel river. Here
they rested on the sabath.” [GWMSS 1-15 , 2-32 )
“[Sun-go-waw] was among the several Warriors, Chiefs, and Headmen who were made
prisoners at the Catholic Mission at the Twin Lakes. …
Sun-go-waw was one of Father Petit’s converts, and of great usefulness to the Priest in
his godly purposes and work in the Pottawattamie people.
He acted in the capacity of Interpreter to the good father, with marked usefulness and
Sun-go-waw was among the principal men of those who were carried prisoners (in
waggons) at the head of the column of the emigration.
About one week after the departure of the Indians, Sun-go-waw was released, and sent
back to Logansport, with a despatch to Genl. John Tipton, by Genl. Morgan, in command of
the Indians. This commission was a post of honor, which Sun-go-waw greatly
appreciated. I remember the day he appeared at Logansport. He enquired of me as I
stood at Capt. C. Vigus’ Hotel corner, for Genl. Tipton’s residence, which was about a mile
distant from the bridge, eastward, up the Wabash, which he readily found.
Sun-go-waw faithfully performed the duty confided to him. He received an answer from
Genl. Tipton, and on the following day he returned, alone to overtake the emigration, which
he had left several days previously. This was the last time that Sun-go-waw was seen on
the ‘loved Wabash.'” (GWMSS 2-24 )
Father Petit Preaches to the Indians
“It was in the month of [September] 1838, and on a sabbath day, that the Pottawattamie
emigration column rested within the shadow of a large grove, near a clear stream of water,
in close vicinity of the Eel River. This was a halt after the second day’s march to their far off
destination, West of the Mississippi.
It was here that the Rt. Rev. Brute, Bishop of Vincennes, preached to x the converted
Independent of the moral aspect of this group, it was one of beautiful picturesque
effect. The singularly draped red people, in bright and startling combinations of color,
blending in harmony with the forest rees, tinged with the influences of the decaying year,
created a deep impression upon the beholder. …
I sketched this imposing and interesting scene, which embraces perhaps nearly 1000
Indians. I have a Cartoon of this subject – and it has always been a subject near my
heart.” (GWMSS 2-24 , 1-15 )
The Emigration Continues
“The morning following this eventful and impressive day, the emigrating column was
formed, headed by the Captive Chiefs who were conveyed in wagons, guarded by the
strictest surveillance. Soon the whole nation were seen moving down the hill sides, along
the banks of the Eel river, on the x way to their westward home. …
Ah! Well do I remember that scene, as the Indians left a beautiful grove of oaks where
they had encamped a few days previous to their emigration, and descended a gentle
declivity, the summit of which commanded an extensive view of a rich and wide spreading
fertile land – and upon which with many others I stood to view with effect the little band as
they passed by us. …
… they formed with their heavily packed ponies a picturesque scene, which a painter
could but have deemed lovely as they followed the x serpentine windings of a trail on the
lower wild lands. … I gazed with many others whom curiosity had brought to the spot, at
the little emigrating band until they faded before us in the western horizon. The Indian’s is
a mournful memory!
Many melancholy and touching thoughts passed through the mind and these questions
presented themselves, as the indistinct and fast fading forms of the party were lost to the
view. Has the Redman in his entercourse with the White, witnessed the practice of the
immutable principles of justice and probity which a holy religion teaches? Has he been
taught virtue and divine reverence in x example or by precept? … To these startling
inquiries let the page of history respond. Could the poor and degraded aborigine give his
history to the world, it could but speak in emphatic language – the continual series of
oppressions of the White man, from the day he first put foot upon the aboriginal soil; ans
surely would the gilded enblazonary of Freedom’s boasted escutcheon be tarnished in the
sight of Philanthropy and Justice.” (GWMSS 1-15 , 2-32 )
The Mother of We-wis-sa
“It was reported that during the emigration of the Pot-ta-wat-ta-mies in the fall of 1838,
that in consequence of the infirmities of the Mother of We-wis-sa, she became of great
inconvenience to the family in keeping up with the main body of the Indians, and that they
held a council for the purpose of deciding whether they should dispose of the old woman
by the x x tomahawk and there-by relieve themselves of the incumberence of caring for her.
I never heard this confirmed, and therefore never regarded the circumstance of an
authentic character worthy of indorsement.” (GWMSS 1-17 [38b])
Entries from the diary of Jesse C. Douglas, Enrolling Agent under
General Tipton, the United States’ conductor of the forced removal.
Thursday 30th Aug. – Monday 3rd Sept. Twin Lakes, Plymouth Indiana. Gen. John Tipton
captured Menominee’s village, closed Father Petit’s chapel, sent squads of soldiers in all
directions to bring in & enroll Indians. Preparation for journey. Loaded wagons. Put 3
chiefs in jail wagon: Menominee, Black Wolf, & Pepinawa.
x Tuesday 4th Sept. 21 miles, camped at Chippeway (Tippecanoe River & Michigan Road) in
Fulton County. Left at Twin Lakes Chief San-ga-na [Sun-go-waw] & family of 13 because
sick. 20 Indians escaped & took 2 horses. Roads choked with dust. 286 horses, 26
Wednesday, 5th Sept. 9 miles, camped at Mud Creek. Water scarce. 51 persons too sick
to travel, left at Chippeway. A child was born & a child died. Party of 3 indians joined us.
Thursday 6th Sept. – Sunday 9th Sept. 17 miles, Logansport, Ind. 49 of those left at
Chippeway caught up. 4 children died. Mass conducted on Sunday by [Bishop Brute].
Physicians report 300 cases of sickness so medical hospital erected.
… Saturday 15th Sept. 10 mi., camp by filthy stream near Indiana-Illinois state line. Young
Indians allowed to go hunting. 2 small children died along the road.
Sunday 16th Sept. 15 mi., crossed state line at noon, camped at Danville, IL. Left 7
persons in camp, 1 a woman about to give birth. Whole country afflicted with sickness. 4
whites died in town. Father Petit arrived, got chiefs out of jail wagon, baptized dying
Monday 17th – Wednesday 19th Sept. 6 mi., Sandusky’s Point, Illinois. Remained in camp
due to illness. The sick left behind yesterday caught up, had new baby. 3 children & 2
adults died. A child was born. Dr. Jerolaman assisted by Dr. James Buell of Williamsport.
Thursday 20th Sept. 10 mi., Davis’ Point. Most volunteers discharged, 16 retained. Gen.
Tipton left, Wm. Polke is now in charge.
Friday 21st Sept. 12 mi., Sidney, Ill, chief Muk-kose & a child died.
Saturday 22nd Sept. 16 mi., Sidoris’ Grove, Heavy rain, exceedingly cold. A wagoneer
discharged for drunkeness. 2 intoxicated Indians locked up.
Sunday 23rd Sept. 15 mi., Pyatt’s Point on Sangamon river. Father Petit performed service
before journey started. A child died this morning. 29 sick persons left in camp.
Monday 24th – Tuesday 25th Sept. 15 mi. Sangamon Crossing in Illinois. 2 children and 1
adult died. Indian men permitted to go hunting. Sick left in camp yesterday caught up.
Wednesday 26th Sept. 14 mi., Decatur, Ill. The physician is sick. A child died after dark.
Thursday 27th Sept. 14 mi., Long Point, Ill. Indian men procuring so much game that
rations not needed, camp is full of venison.
Friday 28th Sept. 18 mi. Crossed Sangamon River. Polke promised Indians tobacco after
going thru Springfield tomorrow if the present a good appearance. Chief I-o-weh in charge
of celan up. Forage is plentiful. 2 children died during the night.
Saturday 29th Sept. 17 mi., McCoy’s Mills. Indians dressed up to pass thru Springfield, Ill.
Camped at stream with little water.
Sunday 30th Sept. 6 mi., Island Grove. A child died. A dragoon (note: soldier) dismissed
Monday 1st Oct. 17 mi., Jacksonville, Ill. A child fell from wagon and was crushed by
wheels, will probably die. Late at night the camp was complimented by serenade from
Tuesday 2nd Oct. 16 mi. Marched into Jacksonville town square where presents of tobacco
and pipes given to Indians by citizens. Band played & escorted Indians. Camped at Exeter.
Wednesday 3d – Thursday 4th Oct. 9 mi., Naples, Ill. Spent 9 hours fording Illinois River.
Able to wash clothese & make mocasins. 2 children died.
Friday 5th Oct. 12 mi., McKee’s Creek. Subsistence: beef & flour. Had to hunt for water,
found only in stagnant ponds.
Saturday 6th Oct. 18 mi., barren encampment we named Hobson’s Choice. Beef and
potatoes issued to Indians tonight. A child died this evening. Rain, cooler.
Sunday 7th Oct. 12 mi., Mill Creek in Illinois. A child died.
Monday 8th – Wednesday 10th Oct. 7 mi., Quincy, Illinois. Steam ferry across river, entered
Missouri. 3 children died. Permission granted to remain in camp each succeeding Sabbath
for devotional services (note: attended Mass at St. Boniface Catholic Church in Quincy).
Early missionaries working in the Miami County area were Fr. De la Crox and Fr. Hoecken followed by Fr. Paul M. Ponziglione. Father Paul M. Ponziglione, an Italian Priest, move to the area in 1851. Fr. Ponziglione was a “horseback missionary” who rode to various Indian settlements to preach. He eventually set up a chapel for the Indians in the Paola area.
One of the first white men to come to Miami County, in 1844, was Dr. David Lykins, from Vigo County, Indiana. He was a Baptist missionary to the Confederated Tribes. Dr. Lykins started an Indian school one mile east of Paola in 1848 now memorialized as part of the Paola/Kansas. Dr. Lykins ran his Indian school near Paola until the onset of the Civil War. His sympathies were with the South, so he went to Colorado where he died in 1861. Other missionaries, teachers, and traders came to Miami County; all came to aid or live among the Indians.
Peoria Village: Paola itself was the site of Peoria village, small in the number of inhabitants, and Baptiste Peoria’s Trading Post.
The Wea Mission Site
In August of 1833 a site on the eastern edge of Indian Territory was selected for a mission that would offer vocational and Christian instruction for the native Americans. For the missionaries who began their journey to the site, it was to be a life of dedication and suffering.
The Push West
On May 28, 1830, the United States Congress passed the Indian Removal Act and gave birth to the preciples of a Manifest Destiny. The Miami, Wea, Piankeshaw, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Potawatomie and Shawnee tribes were resettled from the Great Lakes region to present-day Miami County, Kansas, and Christian missionaries heeded their calling.
In April 1834, a pair of Pennsylvania ministers, Wells Bushnell and Joseph Kerr, their wives and a
teacher, Miss Henderson, opened a partly completed mission for native Americans near a spring by Wea Creek close to what is not Paola, Kansas. By June of 1834, they had constructed a 24 foot-square wooden meeting house and school, a stable, smokehouse corn crib and spring house.
Tribal Chiefs encouraged their people to attend school and worship, but both were often suspended because of illness or seasonal Indian hunting trips. Finding interpreters to help the missionaries was also a problem.
Within four years, illness and the harsh living conditions had taken two of the Kerr’s children and forced the missionaries to abandon the mission.
The Indian Agency
The mission house was utilized by the Osage Indian Agency in 1838 to serve area tribes in Eastern Kansas. The next year, 479 Indians were given small-pox vaccinations at the agency. In 1844, Dr. Johnston Lykins, brother to David Lykins and a Baptist missionary, was appointed “Physician for the Potawatomie’s” and the agency was moved to near the present town of Lane in Franklin County.
The Southern Baptist Convention in 1844 established a boarding school for area Indian children on the mission site. It was operated by the Rev. David Lykins, his wife, Abigail, and teacher Sara Ann Osgood. As many as 42 children were enrolled at one time. They attended classes from six to seven hours a day, then worked at domestic or other jobs. Forty acres were cultivated and fenced. Illness and deprevation took its toll. Rev. Lykins’ wife, son and teacher Osgood died in the winter of 1852. Lykins carried on the work of the mission with the aid of Elza McCoy and S. B. Simmerwell until the mission closed in 1855.
Territory Opened by Congress
In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act setting the stage for the Free-state/slave-state war that became “bloody Kansas”. As part of that act, the Indian territorial land was opened to settlers, squatters and speculators. That year the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankeshaw and Wea tribes united as a single confederated bribe with Baptiste Peoria as chief.
David Lykins, an adopted tribal member known as “Ma-cha-ko-me-ah, represented the confederated tribe in Washington for treaty negotiations. Lykins was awarded 800 acres that included the mission site which he later sold to Baptiste Peoria.
County Name for Missionary
Lykins, a pro-slavery advocate, was a member of the Council of the Fist Kansas Territorial Legislature at Pawnee in 1855. The legislature named what is now Miami County for the missionary/politician – Lykins County. Paola was incorporated the same year.
First Oil Found
In 1860, Lykins and the editor of the “Lawrence Herald of Freedom” obtained leases on 30,000 acres for oil exploration. Oil was first found in a well in Kansas nearby on the bank of Wea Creek.
Gone in a Flash
The mission, strongly desired by the Indians, received substantial financial and moral support from Baptiste Peoria. Except for a period of eight months, Lykins and others operated the mission from December 1844 through 1860. However, in June of 1861, after the outbreak of the Civil War, Lykins, who was a strong support of slavery, was arrested and, after being released, fled to Colorado where he died three years later.
In 1865, a family of Irish immigrants, the McGraths, bought the Mission site property as a home. Later occupied by the Day family the building burned in 1909 after a lamp exploded. In 1945 the site was sold to Henry H. Carrothers with his heirs deeding it to the City of Paola in 2001 for historic preservation. The mission site is now memorialized as part of the Paola park system.
More Information on Wea Baptist Mission:
While much is already known about this Wea Creek Baptist Mission one mile east of Paola in Miami (then Lykins) County, there is apparently no photo of the most well-known name connected to this historic site: David Lykins. Dr. Lykins and his wife Abigail, were appointed missionaries to the Wea Indians by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1843 and established the Wea Creek Baptist Mission.
Here is a brief historical report of the mission site:
Wea Creek Baptist Indian Mission
A. This mission was established to serve the Indians who were promised a permanent home in Indian Territory by President Thomas Jefferson. The Miami, Wea, Piankeshaw, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Potawatomie, and Shawnee tribes were resettled partly to present day Miami County, Kansas.
B. Between 1821 and 1856, the Presbyterian Church established nine missions in the Missouri-Kansas area. One of these missions was established near Wea Creek. The mission society of the Presbyterian Church contracted to build a log house, one and a half stories tall. The Rev. and Mrs. Wells Bushnell and Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Kerr and teacher Miss Nancy Henderson moved into the partially completed mission building on April 17, 1834. By late June the mission house for school and church services had been built, along with a smoke house, com crib, spring house and other little conveniences.
C. The buildings of the Wea Mission were taken over in 1838 by the Osage (Marais des Cygnes) River sub-agency of the Department of Indian Affairs. During the summer of 1839, small pox vaccinations were given at the agency location to 479 Indians from area tribes. In 1843, the sub-agency was moved to a new location in eastern Kansas and the Wea Mission was again vacated.
D. In March of 1843 the Indian Mission Association of the Southern Baptist Convention appointed Rev. and Mrs. David Lykins as missionaries to the Wea Indians. David Lykins, his wife Abigail Ann Lykins and Miss Sara Ann Osgood established the Wea Baptist Mission. They began as assistants. The school enrolled as many as 42 children at one time, serving the Wea, Piankeshaw, Kaskaskia and Peoria Indians. The mission, strongly desired by the Indians, received substantial financial and moral support from Baptiste Peoria. Except for a period of eight months, they operated the mission from December 1844 through 1860.
E. As a result of being adopted by the Confederated Indian Tribe and because of the Federal treaty signed in 1854, David Lykins was given 800 acres of land by the United States Government. The original patent presented by President James Buchanan included the Wea Mission site. The Miami County Register of Deeds indicates that David Lykins sold or conveyed the Mission Site property to Baptiste Peoria on June 3, 1854.
F. Oil was first found in a well in Kansas about 200 yards from of the Wea Mission site. In 1860, three oil wells were dug in the Paola vicinity. David Lykins joined Dr. G.W. Brown, editor of the Lawrence Herald of Freedom in obtaining leases on some 30,000 acres for exploration. The outbreak of the Civil War broke up the drilling operation. David Lykins was arrested in June of 1861 and upon being released fled to Colorado Territory. He died August 13, 1864, and is buried in Denver, Colorado.
Rev. Dr. David Lykins
A. In March of 1843 the Indian Mission Association of the Southern Baptist Convention appointed Rev. and Mrs. David Lykins as missionaries (first as assistants) to the Wea Indians.
B. Lykins, his wife Abigail Ann Lykins and Miss Sara Ann Osgood established the Wea Baptist Mission. The school enrolled as many as 42 children at one time, serving the Wea, Piankeshaw, Kaskaskia and Peoria Indians.
C. As a result of being adopted by the Confederated Indian Tribe and because of the Federal treaty signed in 1854, David Lykins was given 800 acres of land by the United States Government.
D. I joined Dr. G.W. Brown, editor of the Lawrence Herald of Freedom in obtaining leases on some 30,000 acres for exploration & we found oil close to my mission.
Dr. Woodson D. Hoover
A. My partner, Rev. Dr. David Lykins and I practiced medicine at his old mission site east of Paola. The county was originally named for him (Lykins) before being changed to Miami in 1861.
B. Dr. Coffey, Dr. Lykins, and I ran an ad in the 1857 edition of the Osawatomie Herald advertising our medical business to the area.
C. David Lykins was better known than I, but he was asked to leave the area because of his stand on the slavery issue! I wonder how he liked Colorado.
He supported slavery and was later asked to leave the area after the territory changed its political views to a free-state position. He then left for Colorado. A commemorative stone is located in our local cemetery but he is not buried there.
Miami Village: The Miami village was located ten miles southeast of Paola near the community of Block. In 1847 the Miamis requested the government to advance money out of their annuities for the construction of a manual labor school under the direction of the Catholic Church as they had had contact with the Jesuits in Chicago and on the St. Joseph River in southern Michigan. They also had visited the neighboring Pottawatomie Mission on Sugar Creek and had been “deeply impressed by the great importance of educating [their] people.” The Jesuits constructed a mission among them and administered the sacraments of baptism and marriage to the French persons, half-breeds. The mission only Sunday services and only active for several years.
- Lykins Mission
- Sugar Creek/St. Philippine Duchesne Memorial Park
The Early Churches in Miami County
Every since the first Native Americans set their eyes on the land we now call Kansas, there has been a spiritual presence. They brought with them their individual and community spiritualism that has continued to the present day. In order to fully understand their spiritualism, one has to be raised in their culture and understand their connection with nature.
“Spirituality is not religion to American Natives. Religion is not a Native concept, it is a non-Native word, with implications of things that often end badly, like Holy wars in the name of individuals God’s and so on because they already know the answer. To native people, spirituality is about the Creator, period, ~Walkingfox”
Long after the first Native Americans settled in what is now Miami County, Spanish and French explorers entered her boundaries. It was not uncommon for a Catholic priest to be a Christian religion to Native Americans. As the years past, other members of the Christian faith send missionaries into the region to convert and educate the native population. When Kansas was opened for settlement, towns and communities began to spring-up within the county. The settlers brought with them their religious faiths and a need for community fellowship.
Before churches were organized and built, circuit riders would travel throughout the region. They would hold services at an individual’s home or wherever people would gather in order to meet their spiritual needs. As the population increased, so did the need to build a home for the people of like faith to gather and worship. Churches were built in towns and larger communities across the county to satisfy the religious need of these early settlers.
(Note: A building was used at the Miami Indian Village as a place of worship for several Christian faiths.)
The following is a brief review of the early churches in Miami County before 1900:
The Catholic Church:
The presence of the Catholic Church in Miami County dates back to 1822 when a Jesuit Missionary entered Kansas at the eastern border of the county on his way to the Osage Mission. Between 1822 and 1838, the “blackrobes” made regular visits to the Indians living in the county. In 1838, the Pottawatomie Indians living on Pottawatomie Creek west of present-day Osawatomie, invited Father Hoecken to stay with them. In March 1839, the Pottawatomie moved to a new mission in Linn County along Sugar Creek.
From this humble beginning, the Catholic faith grew to include churches at Louisburg, Osawatomie, Paola, and Wea. The Ursuline Convent Chapel was established in 1902 and served the Convent sisters and students (until the closing of the academy) on a daily basis until the sisters moved to Kentucky. On Sundays, the Chapel was opened to the community as a “parish without boundaries”.
The Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church’s first presence in the county was the establishment of the Wea Presbyterian Mission in February 1834 on the site which later became known as the Wea Baptist Mission. The Mission served the Wea Indians until 1838; when it was closed. The property was purchased by the U.S. Government and became an Indian Agency.
The first church, Spring Ridge Bethel Church, was established in Stanton Township in 1865. Mt. Zion Cumberland began serving the needs of the community of Marysville in 1866. The congregation moved to Hillsdale in 1873 and became the Hillsdale Presbyterian Church. The church in Paola was organized in 1867 and chartered in 1869. The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Miami County (Miami Presbyterian Church) was organized in Middle Creek Township in 1887. The Osawatomie Presbyterian Church was chartered in 1887 and organized in 1889.
The Methodist Church:
The Methodist Church started as a mission for the Pottawatomie Indians in 1837 just east of the present city of Osawatomie. The mission was closed when the Pottawatomie moved to a new reservation northwest of Topeka.
In 1854 Reverend W. H. Goode came to Kansas to select sites for the stationing of ministers. One site was the Marais des Cygne Mission, later to be known as Osawatomie. As the county grew, the Pastor at Osawatomie served a circuit where Methodist met to worship at Mound School House, Fairview, Wade’s Branch, Ten Mile, Tontzville, Walnut Creek, Stockwell, and Stott’s Branch.
As the years past and communities developed, Methodist Churches were established in the county:
- The congregation at Osawatomie first met in 1854 and became an official member of the conference in 1856.
- Paola was originally a part of the Osawatomie Circuit and held its first service in 1858. Paola became a separate congregation in 1860.
- New Lancaster. The United Brethren Church was established in 1859 and the Methodist Church in 1860. In 1881 the Methodist, Brethren and Presbyterians built the Union Church. The United Brethren deeded their interest to the Methodist in 1949. There is no record of when the Presbyterians withdrew from the Union Church.
- Fontana was organized in 1860.
- St. James A.M.E., Paola was organized in 1871.
- Hillsdale had two churches – the South, organized in 1876 and the North. The two churches merged in 1939
- Brown Chapel, A.M.E., Osawatomie was organized in 1880.
- Bucyrus: The Union Chapel was established in 1880 as a place of worship for the use of any sect or denomination. The first Methodist Church building in Bucyrus was built in 1904.
- The date of the organization of the Plum Creek Church is unknown. However, the Church building was erected in the early 1880’s on the present site.
- The Beagle Methodist Church was organized in 1891.
The Baptist Church
The Southern Baptist Church purchased the Indian Agency property from the U.S. Government and established the Wea Baptist Indian Mission east of Paola in 1844. The mission and school was in operation until 1858.
- The First Baptist Church was organized in Paola in 1860 and has been serving the community to the present day.
- The Baptist church at Osawatomie was established in 1862 and disbanded in 1880. In 1882 the church reorganized at Indianapolis as the Pottawatomie Baptist Church. In 1883, the congregation moved from Indianapolis to Osawatomie and named their church the Osawatomie Baptist Church.
- The Second Baptist Church was organized at Paola in 1865. In 1956 the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church at Hillsdale merged with the Second Baptist Church to become Mount Olivet Baptist Church.
- The Antioch Baptist Church was organized in 1870.
- The First Baptist Church of Louisburg first met at the Circle Grove log schoolhouse in 1872. The Congregation moved to Louisburg in 1877.
- The Elm Grove Baptist Church was organized at Chiles in 1879.
- The Second Baptist Church of Osawatomie was organized in 1892 and became the Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1910.
- The Green Valley Baptist Church was organized in Osawatomie Township in 1897.
The Christian Church
- The First Christian Church of Louisburg was organized as the Church of Christ in 1872. The name was changed in 1951.
- The Fontana Christian Church was organized in 1872 and chartered in1879 as the Church of Fontana. This church disbanded in the early1900’s; however, the church was re-opened in 1907.
- The First Christian Church of Paola was chartered in as the Church of Christ in 1881 and final organization was completed in 1884.
- The First Christian Church of Osawatomie was organized in 1892 and held its first service in their new church building in November 1893.
The Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church was organized at Block on 1866.
The Friends Church
The Friends Church located 7 miles SW of Osawatomie was established in 1859.
Churches no Longer in Existence
- Rockville ( Later Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church) was organized in 1862. There is no record of when it closed.
- Bethel Baptist Church – organized 1877; closed 1974.
- Somerset Baptist Church – organized from the old Beaver Creek Church – in 1888; Closed 1935.
- The First Christian Church of Hillsdale was organized in 1882 as the 1st Christian Church of Columbia. It closed in 1926. The building is used as the Marysville Township Hall.
- New Hope Baptist Church, Hillsdale – organized 1890; closed 1956.
- Plymouth Congregation Church, Paola – organized 1871; closed 1921.
- Church of Christ, located 1 mile from Tontzville – organized prior to 1899; closed 1962.
- Hillsdale A.M.E. Church (Columbia) – organized 1886; closed late 1940’s.
- Pleasant Valley Church – organized 1870’s; closed 1947 or 1948.
- Interdenominational Church, Bellview – founded 1891; closed early 1900’s.
- Little Mission Parish was established in the spring of 1866 at the home of Ellen Kubrea McGuirk 3 miles west and 1 mile south of Louisburg. The “Little Mission” served the needs of the community until the Immaculate Conception church was built in Louisburg in 1887.
- McCabe Chapel (Jingo Methodist Church) – organized 1897; closed 1970.
- Somerset Methodist Episcopal Church – organized 1877; closed 1934.
- Wagstaff Presbyterian Church (Cumberland Presbyterian) – organized 1881; closed 1956.
- Zion Evangelical Church, Highland – organized 1880; closed 1966.
- Eden Chapel (Methodist) – No record of when it started; Closed 1956.
In 2011, Bernice Chitwood made a complete survey of the active churches in the county. This up-to-date (as of 2011) list is available for review at the museum.
Primary source: History of Churches, Miami County Kansas, 1976, A Bicentennial Project of the Paola Association of Churches, 1976.
Author’s Note: Over the years I’ve learned there are two things that will get you into trouble “faster than a speeding bullet”: politics and religion. If I made any mistakes or left anything out, my apologies. Corrections or additions will be appreciated.
For more detailed information about the early churches, the History of Churches is available for review at the museum.