The Kansas leg from Kansas City MO to Tipton KS

This post is a stub entry, which is constantly being added to with raw research data about the availability of train travel and the existing roads in the period 1865 (the immigration of John M Kohn) through 1877 (the resettling of the Robert Ohnsat family) and 1883 (the resettling of the Anton Deneke family). This posting records what information I find. If you have further information or know of websites that may provide something, please leave a comment.

I guess that the trip to Tipton and Osborne county could have been made most easily by train, at least from about 1870 on. However, the traveler by train might have limits on how many possessions they could bring. If a family was moving their household belongings, perhaps the more efficient means would be by wagon.

  • I know nothing of how John M. Kohn came to Kansas. His first home in the U.S. was likely La Crosse WI.
  • According to family anecdote, the Robert Ohnsat family came to Kansas from Pittsburgh PA via Conestoga wagon.
  • I know nothing of how the Anton Deneke came to Kansas. Their first home in the U.S. was Cincinnati OH.

Trails and Rails

Santa Fe Trail Research documents a lot of information about the forts established to protect wagon trains, stage coaches, and other travel across Missouri and Kansas. The site also has an index of articles found in the periodical Wagon Tracks, including a number of references to the forts Riley, Leavenworth, Ellsworth, Haysrailroads, stage coaches, Salina KS, Saline county MO, and the Solomon River, wagon trains, and many other topics. A fort existed near Leavenworth KS from about 1827, as reported on the site. Detail there about Fort Ellsworth says, "In June 1864, "Fort Ellsworth, Kansas" was established at the site of the Page Ranche. The fort was one of several that served to protect the area of Central Kansas and the Santa Fe Trail." So far, I have not found a map of the pioneer trails on the site, and its greatest lack is illustrative material in general.

The Legends of America site has detail about the Smoky Hill Trail, which connected travelers from Fort Leavenworth to Denver. Following this trail, the Butterfield Overland Dispatch could travel from Atchison to Denver in about 3.5 months (for example, from 4 June to 23 September in 1865). The stage line was active only from 1865 through 1870, after which train travel obviated its need.

The Legends of Kansas site documents a list of railroad service to the state. However, no maps show clearly  which railway came close to Osborne and Tipton.

The Thompson Family History site records a history that states "On Oct. 18, 1916 the Salina Northern Train arrived in Tipton. It ran between Osborne and Salina." from a history compiled by Adeline Arnoldy. The Tipton municipal site has the same historical record.

According to Solomon Valley Heritage, the first rail to reach the area was to Downs in 1879 and then to Osborne, its terminus. Tipton received service much later from a line that came from Salina. The site also provides a bit of detail about other travel in the period 1865-1880. A detailed early-history of Solomon Valley towns brings new information about the location where my great-grandparents married. Heretofore I had thought they were married at the hotel of Waconda Springs. But now I realize a town named Waconda was begun about two miles south of Cawker City, and it did not survive for many years beyond 1875.


Another blog entry holds information about the route the Ohnsat family took through Missouri to Jackson County and Kansas City. In 1877, Kansas City MO was a booming town for about 50,000 citizens who knew it as the Town of Kansas, its incorporated name from 1853. (The city would be renamed in 1889 to Kansas City.)
The bridge across the Missouri River built in 1867 by the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad indicates the growing importance of the city over others in the area, especially St. Joseph MO and Leavenworth KS to the north. The bridge allowed the first rail service to crossing into Kansas and connected Chicago to Texas by a direct link.
Topic: wagon and foot bridges at Kansas City available in 1877


The exact route of travel for the resettling family is easy to dispute, since the state was still developing its infrastructure in the last quarter of the 19th Century. As a starting point, I assume the path was relatively a straight line from Kansas City to Salina. This route parallels the modern-day U.S. 40 and Interstate 70. From Salina, the family could have traveled west to Ellsworth and then north or northerly through Lincoln, Mitchell, and Osborne counties. An alternate path from Salina could take them north through Ottawa, Cloud, and Mitchell counties.

Wyandotte County

A plat map of Wyandotte County from 1887 is available. Although many roads exist by then, their alignment to the meridians at one-mile intervals leads me to believe that their quality was low and purpose was farmland access. The most likely throughfare followed the north bank of the Kansas River westward through Muncy, Edwardsville, and Bonner Springs. The road from Bonner Springs is uncertain.

The county population grew five-fold from 10,015 in 1870 to 54,407 in 1890.

Leavenworth County

A plat map of Leavenworth County from 1878 is available. Again, most roads are aligned to the meridian grid, and a clear throughfare is not clear. But a section of road between Le Mare and Stranger that bends in parallel to the railway may indicate its importance as a throughfare from Bonner Springs in Wyandotte County. I would presume the due-west road from Stranger was the continuation of the throughfare.


A fellow researcher cited the importance of Tonganoxie, which in the 1878 map is a stop on the Leavenworth Branch of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. However, roadway use as a throughfare is less clear.


Topic: Could the family have chosen to go north first to Leavenworth from Kansas City? Where would that path lead them in a westerly journey?

Douglas County

Plat maps only from 1873 are available.


Shawnee County

Plat maps only from 1873 and 1898 are available.


Wabaunsee County

Plat maps from 1885 are available.


Geary County

Plat maps only from 1909 are available.

Junction City

Dickinson County

Plat maps only from 1901 are available.


Saline County

Plat maps available for 1884 and 1903. Because of a difference of only three years, I present the 1884 maps here.


Ellsworth County

Plat maps only from 1901 are available.


Ohio National Road Association lists some Ohio historical societies.

Lincoln County

Plat maps only from 1901 are available.

Osborne County

Plat maps only from 1900 and 1917 are available.

Mitchell County

Plat maps from 1884 and 1902 are available.

Cloud County

Plat maps from 1885 are available.
Ottawa County

Plat maps [supply dates] are available.


  1. Wanda from Virginia wrote that "Wabaunsee County , which is about 100 miles West of KC, on Interstate 70 now. I don't believe it was on the path of any heavily traveled thorofare in the old days, except of course the Sante Fe Trail cuts thru a very Southern point. The main thorofare from Kansas City would have been on the North side of the Kansas River I believe thru Wamego, which is about 15 mile from our Capital City of Alma, (A steady 700 population )."

  2. CHIVIS wrote on an Ancestry.com board:

    "Although emigrants are portrayed in films traveling in large Conestoga Wagons, these wagons were generally used by merchants, who also traveled in wagon trains on occasion. The preferred method of transportation for emigrant families was the lightweight Prairie Schooner. The Prairie Schooner required fewer draft animals and reduced the expense of travel. The Prairie Wagons were actually manufactured in Pittsburg, PA in the 1820's.

    "As you stated the National Road did end in Vandalia, and several other trails forked off of the road. This site: Historic American Roads, Trails, & Migration Routes might get you closer to the name of the route or possible routes your ancestors took. It is at:

    "You should be able to locate the Way-stations for that time period in Directories. Also maps often times had a list of businesses.

    "You might want to send the Kansas Historical Society an email asking if such records exist and where you might be able to obtain them. They should know or at least lead you in the right direction."