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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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The Story of Kansas City, Kansas

"Prominent Wyandots"


One leading family was the Armstrongs.  The first Armstrong was a pretty little curly-headed boy named Robert.  Robert had been taken one Sunday afternoon by a friend of his parents to visit an Indian village. 

There he grew up as an Indian, learning to hunt and fish with the other boys.  He forgot the English language.  When he became a man, he left to search for his own people.  They had moved away or were dead, for he never found them.  He learned English again, and acted as interpreter for the tribe when he returned to it a few years later.

Robert Armstrong helped John Stewart to preach to the Indians by translating Stewart's sermons into the Wyandot language.  As he listened to Stewart and formed the words to say to his adopted people, Armstrong said that "those words spoken for others fell into his own hear."  He was converted and became a leader in religion and education among the Wyandots.

Robert married Sallie Zane, a girl who was Indian and white.  Their son Silas was a successful businessman and a chief of the tribe.  John, another son, was a lawyer and teacher, who married Lucy Bigelow, the daughter of a white missionary.  Lucy Armstrong became the most influential woman in the tribe.  A street in the downtown section of Kansas bears the name of the Armstrong family.  [Annotation:  Armstrong School]


Map of Walker and Minnesota - Walker Avenue, a few blocks north of Minnesota, is named for another leading Wyandot family.  In the late 1700's a young white boy, William Walker, was plowing with his uncle on a farm in Virginia.  A roving band of Delawares killed the uncle and carried the boy and his aunt away as prisoners.  They were taken to separate villages and William never saw his aunt again.

In the Delaware village William lived as an Indian boy.  One day he was taken on a visit to the Wyandots.  A white man who had been adopted into this tribe as a boy recognized William.  Their families had been neighbors in Virginia.  He persuaded the Delawares to let the boy live with him.

William married the daughter of a well-to-do white man who had married a Wyandot woman.  She taught him to read and write both English and French.  Their children grew up to be prominent members among the Wyandots who founded our city.

[Annotation:  Mathew Walker / Joel Walker]


You have heard of Zane Grey or have read his thrilling stories about the West.  He was not a Wyandot, but one member of his family was.  This was Isaac Zane who had been adopted by the Indians as a young boy.  Isaac's descendants still live in Kansas and Oklahoma. 

The Zane family came to America from England with William Penn.  A street in the city of Philadelphia still bears the name Zane.  Two brothers of Isaac founded the cities of Wheeling, West Virginia, and Zanesville, Ohio.

The story of brave Elizabeth Zane has been told many times.  As a young girl, Elizabeth helped her brother, Colonel Zane, defend the settlers at Fort Henry from Indian attack.  When the men ran out of ammunition, Elizabeth slipped through the stockade gate, ran across an open space to a shed, and grabbed a keg of gunpowder stored there.  Before the Indians realized what she was doing, Elizabeth had carried the powder to the men in the fort. The settlers were saved from the Indians.

Isaac Zane was a cousin of Elizabeth.  He was stolen by Indians from his father's farm on the Potomac River and adopted by the Wyandots.  His great-granddaughters, the Conley sisters, were brave women also.

They showed their courage when the government planned to move the bodies of Indians from Huron Cemetery.  The Conleys built a little fort in the cemetery to keep people from disturbing the graves of their dead.  There will be more about the Conley sisters in the story of Huron Cemetery.


Not all the adopted members of the Wyandots were white.  Some were from other Indian tribes.  One of the Wyandot men bore the unusual name of Matthew Mudeater.  A story in his family says that the first Mudeater was truly what the name implies.

Wyandots came one day upon a Cherokee village that had been destroyed.  The people had been killed or taken prisoner because the place was deserted.  Suddenly the Indians saw a small boy almost hidden in the soft clay and appeared to be eating it.

The Wyandots took him to their village, cleaned him up, and fed him.  He was adopted, fittingly enough, into the Turtle Clan and given the name Mudeater.

The Removal

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

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

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