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Beginning of this Period 

Nearly three score years have passed since the close of the Civil War; a period of work, growth, and progress. The earlier years in Kansas were but a time of preparation, and with the end of the war the people were at last free to turn their attention to farming or to other occupations. Hundreds of new settlers poured into the State each year. Little pioneer homes dotted the eastern part of the State more and more thickly and the line of settlement moved rapidly westward.


Indian Troubles on the Frontier 

As the white-topped wagons of the immigrants became more numerous the Indian and the buffalo were pushed farther on. But the red man did not give up his hunting ground without a struggle. The encroachments of the settlers had long been resented. Even before the close of the Civil War, while the soldiers were needed elsewhere, the Indians had begun their depredations on the frontier. In 1865 and 1866 settlements were attacked in Republic and Cloud counties, stock was driven away, much property was destroyed, and a number of people were killed. The few settlers on their scattered claims were poorly armed, and, with no soldiers near to protect them, they were in constant fear of wandering tribes of hostile Indians.

Open War with the Indians 

The next year United States troops were sent to protect the frontier. They drove the Indians back and destroyed one of their villages. This only made the red men eager for revenge, and they began an open war on all settlers, immigrant trains, traders, and travelers. Robberies and murders were committed along the whole frontier, particularly in the Republican, Solomon, and Smoky Hill valleys, and in Marion, Butler and Greenwood counties. Travel over the Santa Fe and other westward trails almost ceased and the line of settlement was pushed eastward many miles. Many tribes engaged in these attacks. They dashed into the State from north or south or west, committed their cruelties, and were gone.

The Broken Treaty 

At one time the Government made a treaty with several tribes by which they were removed to a reservation in the Indian Territory, but were to have the privilege of hunting in Kansas as far north as the Arkansas River, and were also to be provided with arms. They kept their promise of peace only until they could get ready for another attack, and while part of them were being supplied with arms at one of the forts the rest were engaged in a most heartless and bloody raid on the northwestern settlements.

The Indians Subdued 

This led Governor Crawford to organize several companies of Kansas volunteers and to ask for more United States soldiers. Later a regiment of Kansas volunteer cavalry was called for, and on November 4, 1868, Governor Crawford resigned his office to take command of this, the Nineteenth Regiment. After considerable fighting the Indians were finally subdued, and by 1870 the trouble was practically ended. There were a few outbreaks from time to time, but none of them was very serious. During this contest, which had lasted from 1864 to 1869, the lives of more than a thousand Kansas settlers had been lost, a great deal of property had been destroyed, and the westward movement of settlement had been greatly retarded.

The Homestead Law, 1862 

Shortly after the admission of Kansas to the Union, Congress passed a measure that

 A Prairie Stream, Common in the Western Part of the State

had a wonderful effect on the growth of the State. This measure was the Homestead Law, passed in 1862. This law provides that any person who is the head of a family, or who is twenty-one years of age, and who is a citizen of the United States or has declared his intention to become such, may acquire a tract of one hundred and sixty acres of public land on condition of settlement, cultivation, and occupancy as a home for a period of five years, and on payment of certain moderate fees. It also provides that the time that any settler has served in the army or navy may be deducted from the five years. Previous to 1862 settlers bought their claims of the Government. The liberal provisions of the Homestead Law attracted thousands of settlers to Kansas. Many of the newcomers were

A Timbered Stream, Common in the Eastern and Central Parts of the State.

young men who had been in the army.(1) Many of them were foreigners newly arrived in America, while thousands of others came from the eastern or central states. Nearly all of them were poor. Many had scarcely enough to provide for themselves until the harvesting of their first crop. But they were full of hope and ambition, and were willing to undertake the toil and privations of pioneer life for the chance to make real their dreams of a home on the Kansas prairies.

Many Drouths in the Early Years 

The task of turning the bare plains into fertile fields was a heavy one, and the brave people who began it endured many hardships and met many discouragements and disappointments. Severe drouths were of frequent occurrence in the early days, and hot winds often swept across the country. The year 1869 was dry with a partial failure of crops, and in 1874 came a long dry spell, followed in the late summer by a scourge of grasshoppers.

The Grasshopper Invasion, 1874 

At different times there had been invasions of grasshoppers in the country west of the Mississippi River, but none of them was so disastrous as the one of 1S74. The grasshoppers. which were a kind of locust, came into the State from the northwest and moved toward the southeast. The air was filled vsith them. They covered the fields and trees and destroyed everything green as they went. They left ruin and desolation in their pathway. In the western counties, where the settlements were new and the people had no crops laid by to depend upon, the result was much like that of the terrible years of 1859 and 1S60. By the time of the invasion there were more people, more provisions, and more money, and the State was able to do much to help the thousands of its citizens who were left destitute. It became necessary-, however, to accept aid from the East again, and thousands of dollars and many carloads of supplies were distributed to the needy. Ever since has Kansas had to ask for help. In more recent years our State has given generously to sufferers in other states and in other lands.

This visit of the grasshoppers was prolonged into the next year, for they had deposited their eggs in the ground and the next spring large numbers of young grasshoppers hatched. These destroyed the early crops, but for some unaccountable reason they soon rose into the air and flew back toward the northwest whence the swarms of the year before had come. There was still time for late planting, and the crops of 1875 were abundant.

Prosperous Years Follow the Grasshopper Invasion

The coming of the grasshoppers had temporarily discouraged immigration, but prosperous years followed and people were again attracted to Kansas. More of the prairie was turned into farms; new towns sprang up; the country came to be more thickly settled ; railroads, schools, and churches were built; new counties were organized; and the old stories of "The Great American Desert" were gradually forgotten. Kansas was taking her place among the states.

Life of the Early Settlers 

In order that this great result might be accomplished, that the Kansas of to-day might be, a generation of men and women had to conquer these vast prairies that were swept by blizzards, parched by drought, scorched by hot winds, and scourged by grasshoppers. A few of the pioneers gave up and returned to their old homes, but most of them were of the sturdy type and remained, always believing that the day of better things was to come. Though they had little money and few of the comforts and conveniences of life, and though they were often filled with homesickness for the friends and scenes they had left behind, they stayed and worked and hoped. Volumes could be filled with stories of the hardships and sorrows of those brave people; stories of mothers who died from overwork or exposure or lack of care, of children who sickened from want of proper food, of homes swept away by prairie fires, and of homesteads mortgaged and lost.

The Pleasures of Pioneer Life 

But this is only one side. Pioneer life was not all dark. Most of the people were strong and healthy, and the out-door life with plenty of exercise and simple food kept them so. Although there was privation and hard work there was also much pleasure. Ask any old settler whether the people had good times in those days, and you will hear tales of spelling schools and of singing schools, of literary societies at which debating was an important feature, and of the country dance with its old-time music on the fiddle. These affairs were attended by young and old from miles around; a trip of from ten to fifteen or even twenty miles was not unusual. Buggies were scarce, and most of the settlers went on horseback, or in farm wagons that did not always have spring seats. Quilting and husking bees, house-warmings, and camp meetings were other events of the early days. Since there were no telephones and since it was often days from one mail to another, pioneer families counted it a pleasure to "visit around" and exchange the news. Those were the days of real hospitality; the "latch-string hung out at every door," and all were welcome to enter. No house was too small nor no food supply too scanty for the entertainment of friends or wayfarers. Those were the days, too, when the children often waited for "second table" or stood up to eat because there were not enough chairs for all; when the boys wore high-topped boots, the girls wore sunbonnets, and a calico dress was good enough for almost any occasion.

Buffalo Hunting 

In the earlier years the buffalo hunt was one of the pleasures of the pioneers. In the fall parties of men with their teams and hunting outfits would set out for the buffalo range to secure a supply of meat for the winter. They were usually successful in finding not only buffaloes, but antelopes, wild turkeys, and occasionally elk or deer.

Extermination of the Buffalo 

Remarkable stories are told of the great numbers of buffaloes still roaming our western prairies fifty years ago; stories of herds miles in width moving across the country. With the inrushing tide of immigration the buffaloes rapidly disappeared. Within little more than a dozen years after the close of the Civil War there were practically none left. This was not because they were used as food, but because they were killed for their hides. Large numbers were slaughtered and skinned and the bodies left on the plains. The hides were shipped east by carloads, where they were sold to make robes.

 Pile of Buffalo Hides Ready for Shipment.

Selling Buffalo Bones 

In a few years the prairies were thickly strewn with bleaching bones, and these, too, were gathered up and shipped east, where they were ground into fertilizer to be used on worn-out farms. These bones brought from six to ten dollars a ton, and money earned in this way served to tide many a homesteader through the winter. It has often been regretted that the Government did not take measures to restrict the killing of the buffalo, but the danger of extermination was not realized until too late.

The Trappers 

A great deal of trapping was done, especially by the younger men. Often several of them would make up a party, and with guns, traps, and a winter's supply of provisions start for a favorite trapping ground, where they would make a camp along some stream. Sometimes the camp was a tent, but more often it was a dugout in the bank with the front part made of logs. Along the streams they caught chiefly the beaver, the otter, the raccoon, and the wildcat, and on the prairies the big gray wolf and the coyote. The busy days were filled with the work of visiting the traps, caring for the pelts, chasing wild game, and keeping an alert watch for Indians. When spring came and they turned homeward to take up the work on the farms they often carried with them several hundred dollars' worth of furs.

The Exodus, 1878-1880 

The population of Kansas was gradually built up from many sources, but until 1878 there were not many negroes in the State. In that year there began in some of the southern states a movement among the colored people to migrate to western and northern states. So many thousands of them left the Southland that the movement came to be called "The Exodus." It is not strange that the State famed for its fight for freedom should attract many of the ex-slaves, or the "Exodusters," as they were called. During the years 1878-'80 several thousands of negroes arrived in Kansas. A few had teams and some farm implements, some had a scanty supply of household goods, but many had nothing at all and had to be given aid. A very few of them homesteaded land, others found employment as farm hands, and the rest settled in different towns of the State.

The Kansas Boom in the '80's 

The ten years following the grasshopper invasion of 1874 were all good years. The rains fell and crops flourished. It was a period of remarkable growth and prosperity. During these years the railroads were making special efforts to bring settlers into the State, and Kansas was widely advertised. Reports of the opportunities here stimulated immigration, and settlements overspread the western prairies. Great confidence was felt in the future of the State, and people in the East eagerly invested in western land and property. Money was easy to borrow, and the Kansas people borrowed liberally and began speculating in real estate. Kansas was soon "on the boom." Property was bought, not to use, but to sell again at a higher price. Cities and towns laid out additions which were divided into lots and sold for large sums. Expensive improvements were made, and public and business buildings were constructed that were far larger and more costly than the needs of the time demanded. Railway and street-car lines were built where there was not busines^ enough to support them. Hundreds of new towns were mapped out and the lots sold. Many of these towns never existed except on paper, and most of the others were later turned into pastures or cornfields.

Collapse of the Boom, 1887 

Since the new settlers were not familiar with soil and climate conditions in Kansas many of them selected land that was not adapted to agriculture, therefore much of the farming was not profitable. In 1887 came one of the most severe drouths that was ever known in the country. The people lost confidence in Kansas and the boom collapsed. Eastern people wanted their money back, but there was nothing with which to pay them. Money could not be borrowed and mortgages were foreclosed. People who had bought property at high prices, expecting to sell at a profit, found themselves unable to sell at any price. Many who had counted themselves wealthy found their property almost valueless. Banks and business houses failed and hundreds of people were ruined. Thousands left Kansas, some of the western counties being almost abandoned. The year 1887 was followed, however, by several good crop seasons. A great deal of attention was given to the study of farm conditions, and Kansas began to make progress again.

The Opening of Oklahoma 

In 1889 Kansas lost about 50,000 of her population. This came about through the opening of Oklahoma to settlement. The President issued a proclamation setting high noon of April 22 as the time at which the settlers could enter the new country to take claims. The opening of Oklahoma had been anxiously awaited for years, and, as the appointed time drew near, people from all parts of the United States began to assemble along the southern line of Kansas. Arkansas City was the chief gathering place, for it was at this point that the one line of railroad entered Oklahoma. When, at noon, April 22, the cavalrymen who patrolled the borders fired their carbines as a signal that the settlers could move across the line, a great shout went up, and the race for claims began. Hundreds crowded the trains, thousands rode on fleet horses, many rode in buggies and buckboards, others in heavy farm wagons, and some even made the race on foot. In the morning Oklahoma was an uninhabited prairie, at midday it was a surging mass of earnest, excited humanity, in the evening it was a land of many people. Within a few days the breaking plow was turning the sod on many homesteads, while merchants, bankers, and professional men were carrying on their business in tents or in rough board shanties. The rush of settlement to Kansas was remarkable, but the settlement of Oklahoma is the climax in the story of American pioneering. Although Kansas furnished such a large number of the Oklahoma settlers, immigration to our State from the East soon made up the loss.

The Panic of 1893 

In 1893 a financial panic extended over the whole country, accompanied in Kansas by a partial failure of crops. Those were dark days in Kansas, for many of the people were still burdened with heavy mortgages. But this period should be remembered as our last "hard times." Within two or three years conditions had greatly improved. The twenty-five years following that time brought almost uninterrupted prosperity.

Kansas in the Spanish-American War 

In 1898 the long period of peace that the country had enjoyed since the Civil War was broken by the Spanish-American War. The call for soldiers was eagerly responded to in Kansas, and four regiments were raised. Our State had furnished seventeen regiments during the Civil War and two for fighting the Indians, therefore the four for the Spanish-American War were numbered the Twentieth, the Twenty-First, the Twenty-second, and the Twenty-third. The Twenty-third was composed of colored soldiers. The only one of these regiments called upon to do any fighting was the Twentieth, which was ordered to the Philippines. There, under a Kansan, Colonel Fred Funston, the men of this regiment took part in the campaigns that followed, and by their bravery and efficiency brought much credit to themselves and to their State. The Twenty-third was sent to Cuba. The other regiments were trained and kept in readiness, but the early end of the war prevented their active service.

The State Capitol 

The year 1903 is an interesting one, for it marked the completion of our State Capitol. Shortly after the admission of Kansas to the Union the people selected Topeka as the seat of government. As soon as the Civil War was over and they had time to think about public improvements they began to lay plans for building a capitol. Every state has a capitol, or state house as it is often called, in which there are offices for the Governor and other state officers as well as large rooms for the meetings of the Legislature. It is for the state what a courthouse is for a county. It should, of course, be a fine building, of which the people can be proud. But back in the '60's Kansas people were few in number and had little money. They could not afford to build a capital that would be large and handsome enough for the future, nor did they wish to construct a small, cheap building that would have to be set aside later. Instead they planned a fine structure to be built a little at a time as they could afford it.

In 1866 the Legislature provided for the erection of what is now the east wing of our state house. As the State grew in wealth and population, more money was appropriated from time to time for the construction of other wings, the great central portion, and lastly the high dome that reaches nearly three hundred feet into the air. The building was completed in 1903, having been thirty-seven years in the making. It grew as the State grew, costing altogether between three and four millions of dollars. It is fitting that the great State of Kansas should now have one of the finest capitols in the United States.

The Floods 

The people of Kansas had withstood a number of drouths, but beginning in 1903 they were, for the first time, visited by a series of floods. The first one was probably the most destructive. Most of the water came down the Kansas River from the tributaries draining central and western Kansas, where there had been heavy rainfall. Farms and towns along these streams were flooded, property was swept away, and a number of lives were lost. Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City, where portions of the cities were inundated for days, suffered heavy losses. The following year nearly every stream in the State poured a flood of water down its valley, and many people had to flee to the hills for safety. In 1908, for the third time in five years, Kansas was again visited by high water. The loss occasioned by these floods amounted to many millions of dollars, but help poured in to the sufferers from many sources and they straightway began the work of repairing and rebuilding. In a short time all traces of the calamity had disappeared. Stories of floods in Kansas have been handed down from far-off Indian days, but the earliest flood of which there is any account was in 1844. The Indians told the white men about it and advised against building close to the rivers, but no attention was paid to the warning. Since the recent floods, however, a number of people have moved back from the streams. A few of the cities, including Topeka, Lawrence, and Kansas City, have built dikes, bridges have been lengthened to give streams more room, and several railroad grades have been raised above the danger line.

Kansas Today 

While the floods caused much loss and suffering, the State's resources had become so great that the condition of general prosperity was not seriously affected. Each year has added to the prosperity and progress of the State until now Kansas is one of the great states of the Union. We have only to look about us to see how marvelously conditions have changed since pioneer days. Great fields and orchards are spread over what was once the Indians' hunting ground, and cattle have taken the place of the roving herds of buffaloes. Tractor plows now turn the soil where once there was only buffalo grass, thriving towns and cities stand where once the tepee stood and shining rails of steel mark the paths of Indian ponies and emigrant trains.

All these things have been done within a single generation. Thousands of the men and women who came into Kansas in their wagons and drove across the unfenced plains are still among us, but now when they journey over the same country they go in swiftly moving trains or automobiles. Where once they saw only the prairie and a few settlers' cabins they now see roads and bridges, farms and ranches, stores, banks, mills, mines, and factories. They see what they have helped to build, a great state, and they may well be proud of it. By their unconquerable faith and courage and their unremitting toil they have made Kansas what it is today.

Government of Kansas 

As the pioneers look at their State they may feel a pride not only in the acres that have been brought under cultivation and the wealth that has been produced, but also in a government that is one of the most advanced in the Union. Many measures have been passed to promote the welfare of the people. Among the important ones are: the child-labor law, the truancy law, the anti-cigarette law, the law providing for juvenile courts, laws pertaining to public health, the fire-escape law, the "blue sky" law, the primary-election law, and the law governing public utilities. These are only a few, but among the hundreds of measures that have been passed, affecting the character of our government, none stand out more prominently than the two amendments to our Constitution providing for prohibition and for woman suffrage.

Prohibition in Kansas 

Temperance was a live topic in Kansas from the beginning; even in Territorial days laws were passed that tended to regulate, in some degree, the liquor traffic. During the first eighteen years of statehood there was a constant increase in sentiment favorable to prohibition, and, in 1880, during the administration of Governor John P. St. John, the people voted to adopt the following amendment to the Constitution: "The manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors shall be forever prohibited in this State, except for medical, scientific, and mechanical purposes." The law has been strengthened from time to time, and more attention has been given to its enforcement, until to-day Kansas is one of the strictest prohibition states, and the popular sentiment against the use of Liquor is stronger here, perhaps, than anywhere else in the United States. For many years Kansas stood almost alone as a prohibition state, but in recent years the number of prohibition states has increased rapidly, and in 1918 a prohibition amendment to the National Constitution was offered by Congress, and in 1919 it had been ratified by the necessary two-thirds of the states. Kansas was among the number. It is a matter of pride in Kansas that ours was a pioneer state in this great movement.

Woman Suffrage 

Kansas has been one of the most liberal of the states in its laws concerning the rights of women, but it is only in recent years that Kansas women have had full political rights. In 1861 women were given the right to vote in district school elections, and in 1887 in city elections. The question of complete woman suffrage was voted upon and defeated in 1867, and again in 1894, but in 1912 it carried by a large majority. Only six states, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Washington, and California, preceded Kansas in granting to women the right of suffrage. A number of other states have followed Kansas, and now (1919) Congress has offered to the states for ratification a woman suffrage amendment to the National Constitution.

Kansas in the World War 

The period from the opening of the twentieth century to the beginning of the World War was, on the whole, one of peace and prosperity in Kansas. No great destructive force, such as famine or panic, left the people struggling for existence, nor did anything occur to stir their deeper emotions. Their chief interests were in building up their homes and their businesses and in developing their State. But suddenly, in 1914, like the people of the rest of the United States, they began to give more thought to the affairs of other countries, and when on April 6, 1917, the United States entered the war, the people of Kansas were ready to carry their share of the burdens.

The young men of the State began at once to offer their services in the national guard, in the regular army and in the navy. There were more than 18,000 of these volunteers. Within a few weeks Congress passed the Compulsory Service Act, under the provisions of which approximately 42,000 Kansas men were called into service during the war. The National Guard, numbering about 10,000 men, was soon called. Altogether there were fully 70,000 Kansans in the forces of the United States. These men were sent to practically every organization in the army, though the greater portion of them were in the 89th National Army Division, the 10th Regular Army Division, the 35th National Guard Division, and the 117th Ammunition Train of the 42d Division. All of these except the 10th Division, which had not yet completed its training when the armistice was signed, were sent to France, where they took part in important engagements and bore themselves bravely, notably the Rainbow Division in the last battle of the Marne, the 89th at St. Mihiel and the Argonne, and the 35th Division in the Argonne drive. Many of our young men went into special branches of service, such as the Air Service, Railway Engineering, Signal Corps, Quartermasters Corps and Ordnance Coi-ps. The Federal Government established two Officers' Training Camps in Kansas, one at Fort Riley and one at Fort Leavenworth. Many Kansas men attended these camps and received commissions.

Hundreds of Kansas young women rendered skilled and devoted service as nurses, both in the training camps and overseas.

The people of the State took an active part in various kinds of war work and subscribed more than their quota to all appeals for funds and to all bond issues. Altogether, Kansas played its part in the war with its accustomed loyalty and spirit.

The Period Since the Civil War 

In the present chapter we have touched only in a general way upon the State's progress, but growth has been in many directions and each activity has a history of its own. In order that we may better understand the advancement that has been made we will study more fully three of the most important phases of the State's progress and development—industry, transportation, and education.


The years since the Civil War have been eventful ones. The Indian troubles on the frontier lasted from 1864 until 1869. Much property and more than 1000 lives were lost. National troops and a regiment of Kansas soldiers were required to quell the trouble. Governor Crawford resigned his position and took command of the Kansas troops. In 1878-'80 thousands of negroes arrived in Kansas. This movement from the South was called the "Exodus." The grasshopper invasion in 1874 was followed by ten years of prosperity. Then came the boom, which was ended by the drouth in 1887. Eastern moneylenders held thousands of Kansas mortgages, and though several good crop years followed, the State had not yet recovered when the panic in 1893 brought renewed trouble. Good crops followed, and Kansas, soon entered upon a period of prosperity which has continued to the present time. Kansas furnished four regiments for the Spanish-American War in 1898, and made the most of every opportunity to serve in the World War in 1917-'18. The State Capitol, which was begun in 1866, was completed in 1903. The years 1903, 1904, and 1908 were the flood years. Among the many important governmental measures are the prohibition and woman suffrage amendments. During the period since the Civil War Kansas has become a great and prosperous state.


Andreas, History of Kansas, Selected Topics.

Blackmar, Kansas, Selected Topics.

Parrish, The Great Plains.

Wright, Dodge City, the Cowboy Capital.

Crawford, Kansas in the Sixties.

Spring, Kansas, chap. IV.

Prentis, History of Kansas, pp. 168, 172-173, 184, 194, 204, 211,


Historical Collections, Selected Topics.

McCarter, Price of the Prairie. (A novel.)


1. What were the conditions in Kansas at the close of the Civil War? 

2. Give an account of the Indian troubles in Kansas. 

3. How did the Homestead Law affect immigration? 

4. Give an account of the grasshopper invasion and its effect on Kansas. 

5. What progress was made during the next ten years? 

6. What effect did the railroads have on immigration? 

7. When was the "boom"? Describe conditions during the boom. What were some of its causes? What ended it? 

8. What was the effect of this boom on Kansas? What have you learned from talking with persons who lived here in the "boom days"? 

9. Tell something of the "hard times" of the early '90's. 

10. What part did Kansas take in the Spanish-American War? 

11. Give an account of the building of the State Capitol. 

12. Give an account of the floods in Kansas. 

13. Give an account of the opening of Oklahoma. How did it affect Kansas? 

14. Compare Kansas to-day with Kansas as it was fifty years ago. 

15. What part did Kansas take in the World War? 

16. What is the prohibition amendment? The woman suffrage amendment?


1 A census taken in 1885 disclosed the fact that nearly 100,000

Kansans had served in the Union army.


Source: A History of Kansas / Anna E. Arnold. pp.115-141