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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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The Story of Kansas City, Kansas

"The Conversion"

Up to 1817 the Wyandots had been wild and uncivilized.  They wore clothes of flaming colors.  The women rode on shaggy ponies over the countryside just as the men did, and cared little for household arts.  The men hunted and fished and let their rich farm lands go uncultivated.

At this same time there lived in southern Ohio a colored man, John Stewart.  In his youth Stewart had lived a sinful life.  Then he was converted to Christianity and joined the Methodist Church.  After his conversion he went about preaching the gospel and urging others to lead a better life.

One night John Stewart had a vision, or dream.  Far to the north, he said, there appeared to him an Indian tribe in need of his help.  Early the next morning he set out to seek these people.

After days of travel, Stewart reached an Indian village.  The people received him kindly and accepted his teachings.  Something told him that they were not the people of his vision.  He resumed his search and at last arrived at the Wyandot village.

A few of the Indians knew a little of the Catholic faith, handed down to them by their ancestors who had been converted by French missionaries.  Most of them were pagans.  With the help of English-speaking Wyandots, John Stewart preached the gospel.  So sincere was he in his teaching and so eager were the Indians to learn that two hundred joined the church.

In 1819 the Methodists sent a missionary to the Wyandots.  This was the first mission ever established by that church.  For almost twenty-five years the missionaries came, bringing with them their wives and children.

Within the space of twelve years the improvement in the tribe was notable.  The men learned farming methods and built new homes.  They erected a church and a school.  The wives of the missionaries taught the Indian women to sew, cook and keep house.  Dr. Charles Elliott, the first missionary, conducted religious services and taught the school which he established.  He was the first person to put the Wyandot language into written form.  The Wyandots learned quickly in school and practiced their religion with great devotion.

ADOPTED MEMBERS

The Wyandots had warred with other Indians for so long that they had lost many members.  Their numbers became greatly reduced.  To replace their losses the Wyandots adopted white people into the tribe.  Sometimes a Wyandot married a white person who then became a member.  The Indians stole white children and raised them with their own families.  The children were well related, for no matter how cruel Indians were to their enemies, they were kind to their own and to their adopted children.

Many of the seven hundred Wyandots in Ohio were white or nearly white; there no full-blooded members among them.  A number of these adopted members and their descendants became leaders in the tribe.

Prominant Wyandots

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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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