Kansas: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

Within Kansas, slightly northwest of Lebanon, is the geographical center of the forty-eight contiguous states.

Council Grove Historic District

Location: Council Grove, Morris County

Relevant issues: Western expansion

Statement of significance: With its water, abundant grass, and timber, Council Grove was a natural stopping place on the Santa Fe Trail. It is named for the occasion of an 1825 treaty negotiation between the federal government and the Osage Indians which guaranteed the Santa Fe caravans safe passage through Osage territory.

El Cuartelejo

Location: Scott City, Scott County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This pueblo ruin is attributed to a group of Picuria Indians who left the Southwest because of friction with the Spanish. El Cuartelejo is a state park.

Fort Larned

Location: Larned, Pawnee County

Relevant issues: Western expansion

Statement of significance: One of the best-preserved mid-nineteenth century western military posts, this was among the more important forts along the Santa Fe Trail in the 1860’s and early 1870’s.

Fort Leavenworth

Location: Leavenworth, Leavenworth County

Relevant issues: Military history, western expansion

Statement of significance: Established in 1827 to protect caravans on the Santa Fe Trail, the fort played a major role in several wars and became the temporary capital of the new territory of Kansas in 1854.

Haskell Institute

Location: Lawrence, Douglas County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, education

Statement of significance: Founded in 1884, this was one of the first large off-reservation boarding schools for Indian students established by the federal government. It served students from the southern Plains and upper Midwest; in 1965, it became Haskell Indian Junior College.

Hollenberg (Cottonwood) Pony Express Station

Location: Hanover, Washington County

Relevant issues: Business and industry, western expansion

Statement of significance: The only surviving unmoved and unaltered Pony Express station, this was the most westerly such station in Kansas throughout the duration of that service (1860-1861). It also served as a relay station for the Overland Mail.

Lecompton Constitution Hall

Location: Lecompton, Douglas County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 precipitated a bloody struggle for dominance by proslavery and antislavery factions in Kansas, as well as a fierce constitutional debate. The Lecompton Constitution of 1856, a proslavery document drafted in Lecompton, the territorial capital of Kansas and also the headquarters of proslavery elements in the territory, was supported by President James Buchanan but rejected by Congress and served to inflame the growing sectional dispute which was shortly to burst into Civil War. This simple white frame building is the only remaining structure associated with the drafting of Kansas’s first constitution.

Marais des Cygnes Massacre Site

Location: Trading Post, Linn County

Relevant issues: Disasters and tragedies, political history

Statement of significance: On May 19, 1858, a band of thirty proslavery sympathizers crossed into Kansas from Missouri, captured eleven men in the vicinity of Trading Post, and shot them in a nearby ravine known today as the site of the Marais des Cygnes Massacre. The murderous episode touched off a national outcry which lent its force to the defeat of the proslavery Lecompton Constitution; John Brown and his men constructed a fortification near the massacre site.

Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Site

Location: Medicine Lodge, Barber County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, political history

Statement of significance: Here, near the confluence of Medicine Lodge and Elm Creeks, members of a Peace Commission created by Congress met with about five thousand Kiowa, Comanche, Plains Apache, Arapaho, and Southern Cheyenne Indians in October, 1867. Under the terms of the Medicine Lodge Treaty, the first to include provisions aimed at “civilizing” the Indian, Plains Indians were to give up nomadic ways and relinquish claims to ancestral lands, in return for federal economic and educational help.

Nation House

Location: Medicine Lodge, Barber County

Relevant issues: Social reform

Statement of significance: From 1889 to 1902, this was the residence of Carry Nation (1846-1911), the temperance leader who became the foremost symbol of a reinvigorated prohibition movement at the turn of the twentieth century.

Nicodemus Historic District

Location: Nicodemus, Graham County

Relevant issues: African American history

Statement of significance: Established on homestead land and named after a legendary slave, the town of Nicodemus was officially founded on September 17, 1877. It is the only remaining town of those established by blacks of the “Exoduster” movement, which was organized mainly through the efforts of Benjamin “Pap” Singleton, who was responsible for founding eleven colonies in Kansas between 1873 and 1880.

Shawnee Mission

Location: Fairway, Johnson County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, education, political history

Statement of significance: From 1839 to 1862, Indian children of many nearby tribes were taught English, manual arts, and agriculture at the school established in 1830 by the Reverend Thomas Johnson. Also, the first territorial governor of Kansas had his executive offices here in 1854, and the first territorial legislature met here in 1855.

Spring Hill Ranch

Location: Strong City, Chase County

Relevant issues: Business and industry

Statement of significance: The Spring Hill Ranch represents the transition from the open range to the enclosed holdings of the large cattle companies in the 1880’s. The enclosure and consolidation of ranches during the late nineteenth century were accompanied by the improvement of range cattle through purebred breeding programs and, in the Flint Hills region of Kansas, a distinctive practice of fattening southwestern cattle on bluestem pastures during the summer before shipping them to market in the fall. The enclosed ranches helped transform the expanding cattle industry from a primitive frontier activity into a modern industry. The ranch headquarters and intact ranch lands illustrate an important chapter in the history of the southern plains of the United States.

Tobias-Thompson Complex

Location: Geneseo, Rice County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: The complex is composed of a cluster of eight village sites along the Little Arkansas River, all of which relate to the Little River Focus of the Great Bend Aspect dating from 1500 to 1700. These sites have been related to a historic culture, the Wichita Tribe, and may have been among the villages visited by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in Quivira in 1542.

Warkentin Farm

Location: Halstead, Harvey County

Relevant issues: European settlement, science and technology

Statement of significance: Bernard Warkentin (1847-1908) was a significant figure in the history of American immigration for promoting German-Russian Mennonite settlement in the Central Great Plains region of the United States, and in the history of agriculture for introducing and improving Central European wheat varieties that revolutionized American grain production. Warkentin owned this property from 1874 until his death; the house he built in 1884 still stands, along with other farm buildings and some plots used in his wheat hybridization experiments.

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