History of Johnson County, Kansas

The History of Johnson county as here set forth is not an attempt at metaphysical disquisition, nor a profusion of legendary lore; neither is it an effort to analyze the unknown motives of man or to seek the hidden causes for certain human events. The constant object before the writer has to present the story of Johnson county as told by the men and women whose faith, courage, foresight and industry have made the county what it is today. The story of the adventures, struggles and achievements of tin pioneers form an indispensable and most interesting part of this work. They possess the value of authenticity, and are the plain, unvarnished tales of those who bore the burden of the days of trying endeavor and who endured almost incredible hardships. Confronted by drouths, pests, plagues and repeated failures, and rent by political dissention of the border war period, these brave pioneers never lost faith in the future greatness of Johnson county, and many of this noble band of self-sacrificing men and women still live to exult in its beauty and progress, and to prophesy that the astounding development of today is but the fore runner of still greater things to come.

The data for this work has been gathered with painstaking exactness and it is hoped that its accuracy is commensurate with the efforts that have been put forth to make it so, and that it may be a valuable work of reference for present and future generations.

The editor desires to acknowledge the cordial and valuable assistance accorded him by the many citizens of the county in compiling this work. Grateful acknowledgment is hereby made to the many contributors whose articles embellish these pages, and the cooperation of the press of the county has been a help deeply appreciated and deserves due recognition. I wish to express my sincere thanks to the good people of Johnson county, one and all.

 

Table of Contents

CHAPTER I PRIMITIVE PERIOD 17
CHAPTER II INDIAN MISSIONS 25
CHAPTER III THE SANTA FE TRAIL 54
CHAPTER IV DESCRIPTIVE AND POLITICAL 71
CHAPTER V EARLY EVENTS AND INSTITUTIONS 81
CHAPTER VI OLATHE 102
CHAPTER VII SPRING HILL 121
CHAPTER VIII GARDNER 139
CHAPTER IX EDGERTON 149
CHAPTER X OVERLAND PARK 152
CHAPTER XI DE SOTO 155
CHAPTER XII OTHER TOWNS AND VILLAGES 159
CHAPTER XVIII CIVIL WAR AND BORDER WAR 185
CHAPTER XIV PUBLIC SCHOOLS 210
CHAPTER XV RAILROADS 212
CHAPTER XVI THE GRANGE 219
CHAPTER XVII WHAT THE FIRST WOMAN SAW HERE 222

 

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The earliest known inhabitants of that section comprising Johnson county were the Kansa Indians. When the first white men visited the region now comprising the State of Kansas they found it inhabited by four tribes of Indians. The Kansa or Kaw, from which Kansas derives its name, occupied the northeast and central parts of the State; the Osage, located south of the Kansa; the Pawnee, whose country lay west and north of the Kansa; and the Padouca or Comanche, whose hunting grounds were in the western part of the State. It seems that the Kansa Indians occupied the greater portion of the State.

Probably the first white man to acquire a knowledge of the Kansa Indians was Juan de Onate, who met them on his expedition in 1601. Although Marquette's map of 1673 showed the location of the Kansa Indians, the French did not actually come in contact with the tribe until 1750, when, according to Stoddard, the French explorers and traders ascended the Missouri "to the mouth of the Kansas river, where they met with a welcome reception from the Indians." These early Frenchmen gave the tribe the name of Kah or Kaw, which, according to the story of an old Osage warrior, was a term of derision, meaning coward, and was given to the Kansa by the Osages because they refused to join in a war against the Cherokees. Another Frenchman, Bourgmont, who visited the tribe in 1724, called them "Canzes," and reported that they had two villages on the Missouri, one about forty miles above the Kansas and the other farther up the river. These villages were also mentioned by Lewis and Clark nearly a century later. Referring to the Kansas river, the journal kept by the Lewis and Clark expedition under date of June 28, 1804, says: "This river receives its name from a nation which dwells at this time on its banks and has two villages, one about twenty leagues and the other about forty leagues up; those Indians are not very numerous at this time, reduced by war with their neighbors. They formerly lived on the south bank of the Missouri, 24 leagues above this river in an open and beautiful plain, and were very numerous at the time the French first settled in Illinois." Between the years 1825-30 the Kansa and Osage tribes withdrew from: a large part of their lands, which were turned over to the United States.