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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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The Story of Kansas City, Kansas

"The Chouteau Brothers"

You remember that it was the early Frenchman who traveled up and down the rivers and streams, setting traps for fur-bearing animals and trading with the Indians.  The most famous of these early traders were the Chouteaus.  The first Chouteaus founded the city of St. Louis.  Others of the family established trading posts in Kansas and Missouri in the early 1800's.

The first trading post in the vicinity of Kansas City was called "Four Houses."  It stood on the present site of Bonner Springs.  In 1820 two Chouteau brothers built four log houses and arranged them on the four sides of a square as a protection against the Indians.  Later an Indian b the name of Henry Tiblow started a ferry at "Four Houses" and the name was changed to Tiblow.  Tiblow became a part of Bonner Springs when that city was founded.  "Four Houses" was the first white settlement in Kansas, although not a permanent one.  [Annotation:  In the late 1700's, the Chouteau Brothers -- August, Pierre, Francis and Cyprian -- emigrated from France to settle in the Mississippi Valley. The Chouteaus had received permission from Napoleon to trade with the Indians of the Louisiana Territory. Their first trading post was established near St. Joseph, Missouri. The brothers were pioneers in the trading business. For 50 years they explored the country and built their trading posts along the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. The Four Houses Trading Post, built in 1820, was located near present-day Bonner Springs and served as the principal trade center for all of the Kansas Territory. First among European emigrants in Wyandotte County, the Chouteaus built trading houses in 1828 and 1829 among the Shawnee and Delaware Indians in this area. The Chouteau Trading Post, located northeast of the village of Turner, was said to be the most important area trading post in the 1840's.]

When the rappers at "Four Houses" had completed their work, fur-bearing animals in our section of Kansas had been almost exterminated.  Because beaver hats and coats were fashionable in the cities at that time, the beavers were first to disappear.  One trader alone, on a trip to St. Louis with a fleet of keel boats, carried a cargo of furs of many kinds, worth a quarter of a million dollars.  He had loaded his boats with twenty tons, or about forty or fifty thousand skins.

Across the Kansas River to the west of is the city of Turner.  Years ago just this side of Turner the Chouteaus had another trading post.  It was at this post that Colonel Fremont twice outfitted his expeditions.  The first time was in 1842 when he was starting on his journey through Kansas.  Several years later he stopped to buy supplies for a trip over the Santa Fe Trail.

Moses Grinter

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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