2014-05-06

Recent work: early Kansas and Native American peoples

I've been bogged down in Kansas history, trying to read the detailed account of Territorial Kansas from William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas: Containing a full account of its growth from an uninhabited territory toa wealthy and important state; of its early settlements; its rapid increase in population and the marvelous development of its great natural resources. Also, a supplementary history and description of its Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages, their advantages, industries, manufactures and commerce: to which are added biographical sketches and portraits of prominent men and early settlers.[1] The book was published in 1883 in two volumes, with a total of 1616 pages. The first 306 pages contain the history; the remaining 1300 pages (Volume 2) describe the counties and larger towns.

His discussion of the period between territorial status in 1854 and joining the Union in 1861 is as bloated as his title. Filled with full transcripts of letters between the governor and legislature, of party platforms, of newspaper editorials, its minutiae threaten to overwhelm a clean description of those times. Granted, "Bleeding Kansas" was brought through many twists and turns before the state was fully formed. Two legislatures, two governors, two constitutions—not in sequence, but in parallel. Just as the Territory was formed from two electorates in pitched battle between pro-slavery and free-state camps—including an electorate that crossed over from Missouri only to vote in the elections of legislators favorable to slavery.

Some day I will bring a more readable summary of Cutler to this space. But I'm wading through the muck from whence Kansas emerged.

Native Americans of the Great Plains


I've finished reading large amounts of background material about the Native American people who inhabited Kansas before and as the Territory was being formed.

Several biographies of the Osborne county and Tipton settlers refer to encounters with the native Americans who still lived in the area. For example, the “Henry Streit and Anna Marie Schmitt” sketch[2] refers to their “large 2 story limestone block house used by early settlers as a protective fort against Indian raids.”[3] The “Frank Ohnsat” sketch includes his memories: “As did many of the earlier settlers, Frank remembered the Indian raids in Western Kansas. Now and then, some rowdy cowboys rode in from the West and, for the fun of it, scared the settlers by telling them the Indians were coming. Many times when Frank's father was working away from the home, his mother and three children sat in fear in the tall prairie grass away from the sod house until Robert returned from work.”[4] The “John Beck and Anna Hollerich” sketch refers to their “many hardships of pioneer day living, the fear of Indian attack was always something to keep in mind. One time Grandmother Beck told of one of these attacks and they took refuge in a rock house West of town, the old Geo. Streit home.”[5] The “Matheis Eck and Eva Schauf” sketch quotes Eva with her memory, “I sometimes saw Indians crossing the prairie, but never any hostile ones and they were always in small groups.”[6]

Such biographical sketches were often handed down through the families to be finally captured as a set of recollections for the local newspapers. Most of the sketches were originally published in the 1950s and 1960s, and then collected in bound volumes in the 1970s and later. The anecdotes lack the specifics we need to understand the character of any interactions between the Tipton community and the native Americans that remained in the area. So I have turned to the verbal history of the native Americans themselves and to later anthropological research to understand with whom the Tipton residents came in contact.

Footnotes

1. Cutler, William G., History of the State of Kansas: Containing a full account of its growth from an uninhabited territory toa wealthy and important state; of its early settlements; its rapid increase in population and the marvelous development of its great natural resources. Also, a supplementary history and description of its Counties, Cities, Towns and Villages, their advantages, industries, manufactures and commerce: to which are added biographical sketches and portraits of prominent men and early settlers. (A.T. Andreas, Chicago, 1883).

2. Early Day Couples of Tipton Kansas (EDC), Boberg, Helen (Mrs. A.J.); Arnoldy, Mrs. Edmund; Lingg, Warren J., ed. Compiled and printed by the Cawker City Ledger; 1975, Cawker City KS, p. 2. Call number 978.123/T1 D3c FHL US/CAN Book (available only at main LDS library). Contains reprints of articles published in the Cawker City Ledger.

3. Lingg, p. 5. Henry Streit (1850-1931) and Anna Marie Schmitt (1848-1913) arrived in Tipton in 1877 with their son John and several friends and family.

4. Lingg, p. 16. Frank Ohnsat (1873-1961) and Apollonia Streit (1883-1947) were second-generation Americans. Frank reached Tipton in 1877 or 1878 with his parents, and Apollonia was born in the Tipton area. Perhaps his memories refer to the Cheyenne Raid of 1878 in Decatur county.

5. Lingg, p. 24. John Beck (1864-1941) and Anna Hollerich (1885-after 1975) arrived in Mitchell county in 1878 and 1905, respectively.

6. Lingg, p. 33. Matheis Eck (1847-1938) and Eva Schauf (1860-1940) separately arrived in the Tipton area in 1878.

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