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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

"Quindaro, The Lost City"

Quindaro School and History Links

Quindaro Ruins

The Lightfoot (steamer) of Quindaro

The Quindaro Brewery (pictured in 1932)

Quindaro, Kansas   (including virtual tour)

In your history books you have read about cities of the Old World that lay buried for hundreds of years.  Then scientists dug into the earth which covered these lost cities and found the streets and buildings that had been hidden for centuries. 

You live today near a lost city.  We cannot say that it is buried, but its walls have crumbled and trees and brush have overgrown the spot where it once stood.  This city is not so old as those you read about in history.  It would have celebrated its hundredth birthday only in 1959.

We have been watching the town of Wyandotte grow.  But while the people here were running the sawmill, erecting buildings, and grading streets, the same kind of activity was going on five or six miles up the Missouri River.  This was at the city of Quindaro.  It may seem strange for two new towns to have been built so close together, but at the time there was a good reason.

In the 1850's there were nine or ten towns scattered along the Missouri River in Kansas and Missouri.  About fifty steamboats were plowing up and down the river, carrying passengers and goods to these settlements.  The towns were all pro-slavery.  So were the boat captains that handled the river trade.  Free state people on their way to settle in Kansas were not permitted to land.

Dr. Charles Robinson of Lawrence and Abelard Guthrie of the WYandots wanted to locate a good landing place and a town site for anti-slavery people.  A few miles up the river from the Kaw's mouth they found a suitable spot.  Rocks protected a landing place that would not be affected by wind or sand.

Abelard and Nancy Quindaro Brown Guthrie were opposed to slavery.  They helped slaves to escape from their southern masters and to live in freedom in the North.  Quindaro owned part of the land the men had selected, and she induced other Wyandots to sell.  The new city was called Quindaro in honor of Mrs. Guthrie.  The Indian name was "Se Quindaro," which means "Daughter of the Sun."  Another meaning of Quindaro was "In union there is strength."  The name seemed a good choice for the town.

Most of you know Quindaro Boulevard which runs east and west across the north section of the city.  It turns north on 27th Street and meets Brown Avenue, which is known as the Leavenworth Road or Highway 5.  Now the town of Quindaro began at Brown Avenue and extended as far north as the Missouri River.  Its east boundary was Eighteenth Street and the west limit was Forty-second Street, which was never cut through.

[Annotation:  Map of Quindaro - Map of N 27th St At Brown Ave, Kansas City, KS 66104.]

If you drive straight north on Twenty-Seventh Street, you will pass Quindaro and  Vernon Schools, old Western University, and Douglass Hospital.  You will be on the main road that once led to the levee on the river.

The road to the north now is overgrown with shrubs and trees.  You would have to use your imagination to picture a street running through a thriving city down to the river, but such was the case.

Guthrie and Robinson formed a town company.  They laid out east and west streets that were numbered and north and south streets with letters for names.  Streets called Main and Levee ran crosswise, parallel with the river.  A piece of land was reserved for a park.  You will find it not far from 27th and Farrow.  It is the oldest park in Kansas City and possibly in the state.

The town builders lost no time.  By February, 1857, a four-story stone hotel with 45 rooms was ready for guests.  This was Quindaro House, the first hotel in Wyandotte County and the second largest in the territory of Kansas.  Three or four other buildings were ready by spring.

Dr. Robinson went back East to advertise the new town.  Soon people with money to invest were pouring into Quindaro, and the cost of a single lot rose to a $1,000 or more.  The hotel was filled with doctors, lawyers, and other business and professional men.  Guests had to sleep on the floors of Quindaro House until another hotel, the Wyandotte House, was built.  Warehouses and business buildings filled the streets near the levee.  Two churches and a schoolhouse were built.  The sawmill could scarcely get lumber ready fast enough for the new buildings.

Quindaro citizens were soon riding over a good road to Lawrence, another free-state city.  They traveled in a stage that made the trip in six hours every day.  A lunch was included in the price of the trip.  Before long other roads and ferries were planned.  A fine new boat, the Otis Webb, carried passengers from Quindaro to Parkville and Leavenworth.  The first steamboat ever constructed expressly for use in Kansas was the "Lightfoot of Quindaro."  It was planned for travel on the Kansas River, but its first trip to Lawrence was unsuccessful.  Wind and shallow water caused it to be delayed for days.  After that the Lightfoot made excursions on the Kaw only when the river was high.

Quindaro had a newspaper called the Chin-do-wan, which means "leader."  Quindaro Guthrie's picture was at the top of the page and below it was a map of Kansas and all the country beyond.  In the center of the map was Quindaro with lines leading into it from all parts of the territory.  You have heard the expression, "All roads lead to Rome."  The map was Quindaro's way of showing that all roads led to Quindaro.  The paper had much to say about the progress of the city.

Not everybody thought that Quindaro was wonderful.  Strangers said it was a rough site for a town, with dense woods, great ledges and ravines.  When they found the towns-people so friendly and proud of their town, these doubting strangers often bought a lot and built a home there.

The women were sure to like Quindaro.  In most of the new cities in the West there was a great deal of liquor sold.  Wives disapproved of husbands spending money on drink when their families were in need of food and clothing.  Quindaro was a temperance town, and the company deeded land with the understanding that no liquor was to be sold.

The Constitutional Convention

Return to Index for "The Story of Kansas City, Kansas" by Nellie McGuinn

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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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