Little Bits of History

January 29

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 29, 2017

1861: Kansas is admitted to the US as the 34th state. The region has been inhabited for millennia by several different native tribes. The name Kansas comes from the tribe living there when Europeans arrived, the Kansa. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was the first non-native to explore the region for Spain in 1541. Most of the land came into the possession of the United States when purchased from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The southwest portion of what would become the state was still part of Spain, Mexico, and the Republic of Texas. At the end of the Mexican-American War, this territory was ceded to the US and became part of the Missouri Territory. The Santa Fe Trail bisected the state and was a major route across the Midwest from 1821 to 1880.

The first permanent settlement of Americans was built in 1827 at Fort Leavenworth. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 established two new territories – Nebraska and Kansas which included parts of present day Colorado, including Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. The dates of settlement coincided with the build up to the US Civil War and the state was a hotbed of dispute between free and slave states. Missouri and Arkansas sent in settlers to help sway votes to a slave state. Waves of abolitionists from as far away as Massachusetts arrived in order to keep the area free. As the forces collided, the region became known as Bleeding Kansas.

On this day, as the new state entered the union, it did so as a free state and most of the violence there had subsided, at least until brought back by the fighting of the War. After the war, many veterans (black and white and north and south) came to Kansas to farm. Many freed blacks set up whole communities away from the old South and they were known as Exodusters. The Chisholm Trail opened and the area became part of the Wild West with colorful characters free to range across what was mostly wide open spaces.

The state covers 87,278 square miles and is the 15th largest state in the union. It has a population of approximately 3 million, ranking it as 34th largest. The capital is Topeka but Wichita is the largest city with Kansas City having the largest metropolitan reach. Kansas has several large corporate industries employing several thousand Kansans. They are eighth in oil production in the US and that has declined with time. However, natural gas and wind farms supply other energy sources. Kansas is known for its volatile weather, including many tornadoes and The Wizard of Oz is probably one of the most famous movies set in Kansas – at least in part.

Kansas had better stop raising corn and begin raising hell. – Mary Elizabeth Lease

It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy. – Groucho Marx

As a young girl, I saw commitment in my grandmother, who helped Grandpa homestead our farm on the Kansas prairie. Somehow they outlasted the Dust Bowl, the Depression, and the tornadoes that terrorize the Great Plains. – Sheri L. Dew

Nothing is eternally stable, and even Kansas isn’t really in Kansas anymore. The earth is in a constant state of flux. – Simon Winchester

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