The area that we know as Kansas City, Kansas has been known to Europeans for hundreds of years. French explorers came to the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers (the Kawsmouth) in the 1600s and 1700s. Lewis and Clark landed at Kawsmouth in 1804. The Delaware and Shawnees had moved to this area (and were still in the process of moving) by 1829.
Then, in July of 1843, came the Wyandots from Upper Sandusky, Ohio. They brought with them their religion, their own laws and constitution, and their business entrepreneurship.
You may have seen the word "Wyandotte" spelled different ways. On this web page, I will be using information from Vincent J. Lane (newspaper editor, Board of Education member, and founder of the Wyandotte County Historical Society and Museum) as printed in the Wyandotte Herald, 4 January 1872:
The Wyandots did not live permanently in lodges or tepees. They built log cabins and larger homes, such as the Mathias Splitlog home at 251 Orchard. Today that home is being restored to its original condition (see picture at left). They constructed and opened the first "public" school (July 1, 1844 - built specifically as a schoolhouse - one-room) in what would become the state of Kansas (1); one of the first documented schools, it was a forerunner of the Territorial Schools.(2)
Slavery was against Wyandot Tribal Law. Most of the Wyandots felt it was not a Native American issue. It was an issue that would divide a portion of them and create the Methodist Episcopal Church North (antislavery - including John and Lucy Armstrong among its members) and the Methodist Episcopal Church South (proslavery). The Trinity United Methodist Church (located at 5010 Parallel in KCKs in 2005) is a descendant of the North church. (It is important, however, to keep in mind that not all Wyandots were Methodist. There were Catholics, Quakers, those who worshipped their Native American religion, etc. It is also important to remember that even though a person was proslavery that did not necessarily mean they believed in secession.) The Wyandot families of Brown and Gutherie were heavily involved in the creation of the Town of Quindaro (an antislavery port).
Many of the Wyandots wanted to live on the eastern end of what was to become Indian Territory, near commerce and trade; and they wanted to see a Territory develop. A meeting was held on 12 Oct 1852 at which the Wyandots elected Abelard Guthrie (adopted Wyandot and husband of Nancy Quindaro Brown) as a delegate to Congress. However, the men in Congress would not listen to Gutherie's request, but said: "There's no state or territory out there. How could a delegate possibly be elected to come to Congress?" 1853 - July 26 - a convention held at the Wyandot Council House organized the Provisional Government of Nebraska Territory (which included the area that is now the state of Kansas), and elected William Walker Jr. as Provisional Governor, George I. Clark as Territorial Secretary, and R. C. Miller, Isaac Mundy and Matthew R. Walker as members of the Council. Resolutions supported Thomas Hart Benton's dream of a transcontinental railroad. October 11 - election of the Provisional Government delegate to Congress. The Rev. Thomas Johnson defeats Abelard Guthrie, with the combined backing of Atchison , the Army, the Kansas Mission District, and Commissioner of Indian Affairs Manypenny. Despite his feelings on slavery, William Walker Jr. supports Guthrie, a Benton Democrat. In December, the Rev. Thomas Johnson goes to Washington but Congress refuses to seat him and he is relegated to the galleries. He is nevertheless consulted on the boundary between Kansas and Nebraska. (3) The building in which the Convention was held was a little one-story, frame building, built and used for a school house and a Council House. It stood on what is now the center of Nebraska avenue and Fourth street. (4) In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act provided for a territory called Kansas and another territory to be called Nebraska.
The Wyandots truly began what we know as Kansas City, Kansas today. I doubt there is any other city that has had its roots so deeply influenced by an Indian Nation as did our city.
The official web site of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas with information on History of the Wyandot - Wyandot Sacred Sites - Wyandot Treaties - Wyandot Lifestyle - Language and Literature - Our Wyandot Ancestors - Missions to the Wyandot - Mis. - Genealogy - Upcoming Events - Logo Products
American and Wyandot Links at the KCKs Public Schools Website
(Includes Treaties and Information on Wyandots such as Armstrong, Walker, Brown, etc.)
Delaware Indians in Kansas - Alan W. Farley, 1955
Indian Graves and Cemeteries in Kansas
Kansas American Native Genealogy
National Archive and Records Administration
Wyandotte County, Kansas GenWeb
Page first created 16 June 2005 / Page Last Updated: 16-Jun-2005
visitors to this site since 16 June 2005
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History and Growth of Wyandotte County Educational System, Lewis D. Wiard, County Supt. of School Offices, 19 Sept 1963
History of the State of Kansas, William G. Cutler, 1883, published by Andreas (Chicago, IL)
History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its People, Perl W. Morgan, 1911
The Wyandot Indians, 1843-1976, Robert Emmett Smith, Jr., Oklahoma State University, Ph.D., 1973, p. 71, 74 & 75
The Genesis of a State's Metropolis, Frank H. Betton, 15 January 1901 (Address to the 25th Annual Meeting of the Kansas State Historical Society)
The Wyandott Herald, 6 July 1876, Vol 5, No 28
Wyandotte Tribal Minutes, on file at the KS State Historical Society in Topeka, KS, copy provided by Mr. Larry Hancks
Historic Spots of Mile-Stones in Wyandotte County, Grant Harrington, 1935
Kansas Preservation, Kansas Historic Schools, by Brenda Spencer of Preservation Planning and Design, Kansas State Historical Society, November-December, Vol 26, No. 6
Mr. Larry Hancks
The Provisional Government, William Walker Journal, p. 32, edited by William Connelly