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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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The Story of Kansas City, Kansas

"Trails West"

If we omit Alaska and Hawaii, we can say that a spot in north-central Kansas is the center of the United States.  East and west, north and south, run the roads through our state to all parts of the county.

This was true in the years after the Wyandots settled here.  William Becknell, nicknamed the "Father of the Santa Fe Trail," discovered on one of his trips a shorter route to the Southwest.  Congress ordered that stone and earth markers be set up for hundreds of miles along the road to Santa Fe so that travelers could find their way over the great desert spaces.  Kansas became a highway for the wagon trains, which frequently were outfitted at the Chouteau trading posts.

California Gold RushThe Wyandots found they were living on a crossroads of America.  Over 800 men, women and children, with their household goods, passed along the river banks in 1843.  Most of them were on the way to California to make new homes and to help the people there to overthrow their Spanish rulers.  When gold was discovered in California, the number of people passing through increased by thousands. 

Mormons made the journey across plains and mountains into Utah.  Some of the emigrants stopped at the mouth of the Kansas River to break the long trip.  One Sunday at least half of the congregation at the Wyandot church was made up of travelers who had spent the night in Missouri.

The Wyandots were affected by the fever for gold.  A group of them formed a mining company and joined a wagon train heading west.  One of the men, Charles Garrett, took sick along the way with what was called mountain fever.  His son, Russell, dropped out of the party and stayed behind to care for him.  Mr. Garrett was ill for a long time.  When he recovered, his son brought him by boat to the city of New Orleans, up the Mississippi to St. Louis, and then home.  What became of the rest of the party we are not told, but it is safe to guess that Gold Nugetsthe men returned without gold in their pockets.

The trail to California had several names, depending on where the branches of the trail led.  It was known as the Rocky Mountain Trail, the Great Salt Lake Trail, the California Trail, and the Oregon Trail.  Later, the one name, Oregon Trail, was applied to all.

Disappointed at not having found riches in the West, many of the gold seekers returned.  They thought of the vast Indian Territory beyond the state of Missouri and soon were asking the government to open it for white settlement.

The Wyandot village had grown slowly.  It had only three public buildings -- a church, a school and a store.  The Indians doubted if ever they would receive all the money due them from the government.  Leaders of the tribe thought white settlers might be of help to the town.

New Laws

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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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