Category: Kansas Reading Library
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Significance of Kansas History 

Kansas is a comparatively new State. Nearly all of its history has been made within little more than a century, and most of it within the sixty years of its period of settlement. Few states, however, have had a more eventful history. From its beginning Kansas has been a place of action. The pages of its history are filled with wars and battles, with stirring adventure, and with deeds of courage and daring. Nearly every part of the State has its places of historic interest, and the names of men and women who should be honored for good and brave deeds would make a long list. The people of Kansas are proud of the history of their State and desire to preserve it. To that end they have taken steps to save a number of the old landmarks, they have built many monuments, and have gathered and kept many records of the past.



Pawnee Rock 

One of the early landmarks was Pawnee Rock on the old Santa Fe Trail, in what is now Barton County. This giant rock standing on the level plain was a noted spot, for the Trail ran near its base, and while it provided a place of rest and safety for many a weary traveler, it also afforded a retreat from which the Indians could dash down upon the traders. In later years much of the rock was torn away for building purposes and this historic old landmark was rapidly disappearing. ' The Woman's Kansas Day Club resolved to save this historic spot, and secured a deed for the Rock and five acres of ground surrounding it. On Kansas Day, 1909, the women presented this deed to the State. The transfer was made with the condition that the State spend $3000 for improvements. This was done and the preservation of Pawnee Rock is now assured.

(View of Pawnee Rock)

The Pike Memorial 

The exact site of the Pawnee Indian village visited by Lieutenant Pike in 1806 was not known with certainty for many years, but was finally found to be in Republic County. It was located through the discovery of rows of circular ridges supposed to have been the embankments of the Indian lodges.(1) An iron fence now encloses about six acres of the ground, on which the rings are still plainly visible, and a granite shaft stands where the Stars and Stripes first floated over Kansas. The monument bears the inscription: "Erected by the State of Kansas, 1901, to mark the site of the Pawnee Republic where Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike caused the Spanish flag to be lowered and the flag of the United States to be raised, September 29, 1806."

Marking of the Santa Fe Trail 

The Santa Fe Trail, which was associated with most of the early history of Kansas, was known throughout the country, but with the settlement of the State the old highway was growing dim; the ruts were filling in, grass was covering the broad track, and with the passing of those who knew it in the old days the true route was in danger of being forgotten. To prevent this, the Daughters of the American Revolution began, in the opening years of the present century, to agitate the question of marking the line of the Trail through the State. In 1905 the Legislature appropriated $1000 "for procuring suitable monuments for this purpose." 

Kansas Day of 1906 was designated " Trail Day" in the public schools, and the children were invited to contribute a penny each toward the fund. They gave $584.40. Eighty-nine markers were purchased. Various local organizations added nine more, making a total of ninety-eight markers. They were placed along the Trail from the eastern to the western end of the State. They bear the inscription, "Santa Fe Trail 1822-1872. Marked by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the State of Kansas, 1906." A few of the markers bear special inscriptions in addition to this. The one at Council Grove has on the other side, "On this spot, August 10, 1825, the treaty was made with the Osage Indians for the right of way of the Santa Fe Trail."

Pawnee Capitol 

The old stone building erected at Pawnee for the capitol of Kansas still stands on the Fort Riley Reservation. In 1907 a subscription fund was raised and the money used to repair and restore the old building so that it will stand for many years as a relic of our early history.

(Old Pawnee Capitol on the Fort Riley Military Reservation)

John Brown's Battle Field

The site of John Brown's battle field at Osawatomie was purchased by the Woman's Relief Corps of Kansas and presented to the State in 1909.

Statues in the Hall of Fame 

Each State is permitted to place two statues in the Hall of Fame in the National Capitol at Washington. In 1905 one of the Kansas places was filled with a statue of John J. Ingalls, who was a Senator from this State from 1873 to 1891. In 1913 the other place was filled with a statue of George W. Click, who was Governor of Kansas from 1883 to 1885.

Other Monuments 

A number of monuments have been erected in various parts of the State in commemoration of noted persons or events. The John Brown monument at Osawatomie was dedicated on August 30, 1877. It bears two inscriptions: "In commemoration of those who, on the 30th of August, 1856, gave up their lives at the battle of Osawatomie in defense of freedom," and, "This inscription is also in commemoration of the heroism of Captain John Brown, who commanded at the battle of Osawatomie, August 30, 1856; who died and conquered American slavery on the scaffold at Charlestown, Virginia, December 2, 1859."

A splendid monument has been erected in Linn County to mark the graves of the victims of the Marais des Cygnes massacre.

At Lawrence there is a monument bearing this inscription: "Dedicated to the memory of the one hundred and fifty citizens who, defenseless, fell victims to the inhuman ferocity of border guerrillas, led by the infamous Quantrill in his raid upon Lawrence, August 21, 1863. Erected May 30, 1895."

'A monument has been raised near Junction City in honor of the expedition of Coronado. There are several other monuments in the State commemorating the Spanish explorations of 1541-1542. Monuments have been dedicated to the memory of settlers killed in the Indian raids on the frontier, and to men who were killed by Indians while engaged in construction work on the Union Pacific Railroad.

Memorial Hall 

These are only a few; many tablets, monuments, and markers have been erected in Kansas, but by far the greatest number of them are monuments in honor of the soldiers of the Civil War. Many of these are very handsome, and they have cost, in the aggregate, thousands of dollars; but this recognition seemed insufficient, and it had long been hoped that a handsome and serviceable building might be erected as a fitting and worthy recognition by the whole State of the honor due the soldiers and sailors of the Civil War. The fulfillment of this ambition finally became possible when the United States paid to Kansas an old Civil War debt amounting to nearly a half-million dollars. The money was used for the construction of Memorial Hall. This beautiful structure, built of white marble, stands near the grounds of the State Capitol at Topeka. Part of Memorial Hall is used as headquarters for the Kansas Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, and the rest by the State Historical Society.

The State Historical Society 

The State Historical Society was organized in 1875. From that time until the present the Society has gathered and kept books, writings, narratives, maps, relics and other matter relating to the history of Kansas. In these collections may be found information concerning the explorations, the Indians, the overland travel, the settlements, and the condition and progress of the State in its various departments. Volumes of clippings, files of newspapers, and thousands of books, provide a very complete record of all phases of the State's history. One of the interesting features is the collection of relics, among which are: an old Spanish sword supposed to have belonged to one of Coronado's soldiers; the pistol of the Jay-hawker, James Montgomery; two cannon used in the border troubles; and the cap, saddle, and sword of John Brown. There are many Indian pipes, ornaments, implements, arrowheads, and a war bonnet. The historical collections, which have increased from year to year, are very interesting and should be seen by every citizen of Kansas. The Historical Society had rooms in the State Capitol until the completion of Memorial Hall, when it was moved into the new building. Thus Memorial Hall stands as a tribute not only to the soldiers but to the entire history of Kansas.


In late years Kansas has taken many steps to preserve its history. Some of its most prominent memorials are: Pawnee Rock; Pike Memorial; Santa Fe Trail markers; Pawnee Capitol; John Brown's battlefield; monuments to commemorate the battle of Osawatomie, the Marais des Cygnes massacre, and the Quantrill raid. Many other monuments and tablets have been erected in different parts of the State to commemorate important events. Memorial Hall, completed in 1914, was built in honor of the soldiers and sailors who served in the Civil War. This building provided fitting quarters for the Kansas Department of the Grand Army of the Republic, and for the State Historical Society which has a large and valuable collection of original historical material.


Blackmar, Kansas, Selected Topics.

Inman, The Old Santa Fe Trail.

Historical Collections, vol. xi, p. 253; vol. x, pp. 15, 50, 472.


1. How long since Kansas became a state?

2. What places of historic interest are there in the State?

3. What places of historic interest are there in your locality? Have they been marked in any way?

4. What have you learned from the old settlers about the history of your locality?

5. Locate Pawnee Rock. Give its early history. Its recent history.

6. Give an account of Pike's visit to the Pawnee Indians. Where was the Indian village? How has this event been commemorated?

7. Give an account of the marking of the Santa Fe Trail.

8. Locate the old Pawnee Capitol and give its history.

9. Name as many other memorials as you can and give the event which each commemorates.

10. What is Memorial Hall? Why was it erected? For what is it to be used?

11. Explain the work and purpose of the State Historical Society.



1. The place was discovered in 1875 by Mrs. Elizabeth A. Johnson,

who later purchased the land and presented it to the State.

Source: A History of Kansas / Anna E. Arnold. pp.207-216

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