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Kansas History Timeline
Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in Kansas
Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in Kansas history.
Around 12000BCE the first humans inhabit the area now known as Kansas. On and about 1000BCE the native peoples of Kansas depend upon bison hunting and the cultivation of corn, squash, and beans. As the population grows, they construct villages and trade with tribes from other regions, particularly the Pueblo in the Southwest. By the time Europeans arrive, the tribes living in the area include the Pawnee, Kansa, Wichita, and Apache. Kansas, situated on the American Great Plains, became the 34th state on January 29, 1861. Its path to statehood was long and bloody: After the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened the two territories to settlement and allowed the new settlers to determine whether the states would be admitted to the union as "free" or "slave," North and South competed to send the most settlers into the region.
16th Century Kansas History Timeline
1541 - The Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, marched north from Mexico in search of the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola.
1542 - Father Juan de Padilla, a priest who had accompanied Coronado, returned to Kansas. He hoped to bring Christianity to the Indians. He was killed, however, by those he tried to help. Father Padilla is said to have been the first Christian martyr in America.
17th Century Kansas History Timeline
1600's - Kansa and Osage Indians arrive in Kansas.
1650 - Taos Indians irrigate lands along Beaver creek in Scott County.
18th Century Kansas History Timeline
1724 - French trader/explorer Étienne Veniard de Bourgmont, led an expedition into what are now Atchison and Doniphan counties to establish trade relations with the Indians of the Platte River region.
1739 - Pierre and Paul Mallet lead a party of French traders through Kansas.
1744 - French build Fort Cavagnial near present site of Fort Leavenworth; closed 1764
1762 - France lost the territory of Kansas to Spain.
1790's - Fur-trading Chouteau family begins trading with Kansa Indians
19th Century Kansas History Timeline
1803 - The United States concluded a "deal" when it signed an agreement to purchase the entire Lousiana Territory from France on Apr 30, 1803. This transaction ended the trading era for Kansas and brought forth the exploration of a new American settlement.
1804-1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition.
1811 - George C. Sibley, government trader, works among Osage Indians
1821 - William Becknell, a Missouri trader, was the first to follow the route that later became known as the Santa Fe Trail.
1822 - William Becknell used wagons instead of pack mules or horses to take trade goods over the Santa Fe Trail. Because Becknell found a good mode of transportation and a passable wagon route, he is credited as the Father of the Santa Fe Trail.
1827 - May 8 - Fort Leavenworth, first known as Cantonment Leavenworth, was established by Col. Henry Leavenworth on the Missouri River's right bank of Salt Creek as an army post to protect the western frontier and travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.
1831 - Isaac McCoy was instrumental in founding the Shawnee Baptist Mission opened by Johnston Lykins in July. It was located a few miles south and west of the Kansas River mouth in that is now Johnson County.
1833 - Jotham Meeker came to the Shawnee Baptist Mission, bringing with him the first printing press to be set up on Kansas soil.
1834 - Bent's Fort (Fort William), a fur trade post on the upper Arkansas, was established. A Bent, St. Vrain and Company party (with wagons) eastbound from Santa Fe, NM in the late summer traveled by way of Taos and Raton Pass to Fort William; then they came down the Arkansas to the Santa Fe Trail; thus, opening the Bent's Fort branch of the Santa Fe Trail.
1835 - The Kansa, or Kaw were a small tribe; only 1,606 of them would be counted when a census was made in 1835.
1839 - The Shawnee Methodist Mission was relocated in 1839 on a 2,240-acre grant some two miles southwest of Westport, Missouri (also now smothered by Kansas City), in what became Kansas's Johnson County. Here was established a large diversified farming enterprise, including a twelve-acre apple orchard, the first on Kansas soil.
1841 - First emigrant wagon train for the Pacific. The Bidwell-Bartleson party's journey west was from Independence, Missouri, via "Sublette's Trace" (or, the now developing Oregon-California trail).
1843 - First settlement at present site of Kansas City, Kansas
1844 - The first free school was established by the Wyandot Indians.
1847 - A reservation 20 miles square was established in April of 1847 in what is now Morris County near Council Grove. The Kaw Indians were relocated from their reservation near Topeka and moved on to the land embraced within the limits of the reservation. They remained on the Kaw reservation until 1873.
1849-1850 - The Kaw Mission at Council Grove was built by the Methodist Episcopal Church South with government funding to serve as a school to educate the Kaw Indians after they were relocated from their reservation near Topeka in 1847. Thomas S. Huffaker contracted to teach the school. He acted in the capacity of the teacher until 1854 when the school was closed. The Kaw Mission later became a first school for the settlers' children.
1850 - Fort Atkinson was established by Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Vose Sumner, 1st U. S. Dragoons on 8 Aug 1850. It was located about two miles west of the present Dodge City, on the left side of the Arkansas River near the site of old Fort Mann. Intended to control the Indians and protect the Santa Fe Trail. This small army post was made entirely of sod buildings.
1852 - Flour milling got its start in Kansas by Mattitins Splitlog in Kansas City.
1859-1860 - During the winter W. H. Russell, of the firm of Russell, Majors and Waddell, completed plans for the two thousand mile Pony Express between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California.
1867-1872 - More than three million head of Texas longhorn cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail to the Union Pacific (later the Kansas Pacific) Railroad shipping center at Abilene.
1867-1868 - A great famine in Sweden combined with the discontent bred by repressive government made the American advertisement of land and freedom particularly attractive to Swedes. The third largest foreign-born group in nineteenth-century Kansas came from Sweden. The primary colony from Sweden was at Lindsborg in McPherson County. The settlement at (New) Scandia in Republic County was promoted by the Scandinavian Agricultural Society of Chicago. Swedish influence was also in Osage County and the Blue River parts of Riley and Pottawatomie counties.
Brookville Hotel in Brookville, Kansas was built. It is famous for it's family style chicken dinners.
1870-1871 - After the Civil War, many families came from Clermont County, Ohio and settled on the high prairie in what is now known as Ohio Township in the northwest part of Morris County. On their way, they laid over at Topeka where they met others from Clermont County, Ohio.
1873 - The Kaw Indians were removed from their reservation in Morris County to Oklahoma Territory, thus opening this land for white settlement.
1873-1874 - German Mennonite immigration to Kansas and South Dakota from Russia. Southeast McPherson and adjoining Marion (Hillsboro), Harvey (Halstead-where they built a flour mill by the Little Arkansas River, North Newton), and Reno (Buhler-one of the oldest Mennonite Brethren churches in Kansas) counties became the home of German-Russian Mennonites.
1874-1875 - Mennonites from Russia introduced Turkey Red wheat to Kansas.
Mid 1870's - Small western towns such as Catherine, Munjor, Pfeifer, Schoenchen and Liebenthal were founded in the middle 1870's by Volga Germans, German catholics who emigrated from Russia.
1876 - State legislature abolishes color distinction from Kansas law.
1878-1879 - A colony of several hundred (Susquehanna) River Brethren from Pennsylvania arrived in the old-time corrupt cowtown of Abilene, Dickinson County, Kansas to organize homes and fields on virgin land purchased from the Kansas Pacific Railroad.
1879 - The prominent issue of the Kansas legislature was prohibition.
1880 - An amendment to the Kansas Constitution approved by Kansas voters prohibited the manufacture, sale, or gift of all forms of intoxicating liquor. Kansas became the first state in the United States to pass this controversial amendment.
1881 - Bethany College of Lindsborg was founded by Swedish immigrants.
1881 -1882 - Most of the trail herds headed for Dodge City, another shipping point on the Santa Fe Railroad line.
1882 - Dodge City was the "Cowboy Capital" of the West.
1884-1885 - The era of the great cattle drives ended when the Kansas Legislature, alarmed by the increase of the cattle disease called "Texas Fever" brought into the state by the Texas tick, passed legislation forbidding the importation of Texas cattle between March 1 and December 1, the season for the long drives.
1885 - Last Texas cattle drive to Dodge City.
1886 - Kansas Wesleyan University was built in Salina, Kansas.
1888 - Almost a dozen salt plants were in operation at Hutchinson.
1889 - Mentholatum was invented by Albert Alexander Hyde of Wichita.
1892 - The notorious Dalton Gang rode into Coffeyville, Montgomery County, Kansas on October 5, 1892 and attempted to rob two banks, the Condon Bank and the First National Bank. They took about $25,000 in 12 minutes. A shootout followed which claimed the lives of eight men: the outlaws, Grat and Bob Dalton, Dick Broadwell and Bill Powers; and four Coffeyville residents, Charles T. Connelly, Coffeyville city marshal (killed by Grat Dalton in "Death Alley"), Lucius M. Baldwin, George B. Cubine and Charles Brown. Three other townsmen were wounded.
1894 - Many companies organized to develop oil and gas fields in Kansas.
1895 - Wichita State University in Wichita was founded as Fairmount College.
1896 - West Mineral in Cherokee County was founded in 1896 as a mining town.
1898 - Kansas enlists four regiments for service in the Spanish-American War.
20th Century Kansas History Timeline
1900 - The last ethnic group to enter Kansas in large numbers was Spanish-speaking Mexicans, brought to the state as laborers for various Railroad companies. Numbering only 71 in 1900, their totals reached 13,570 in 1920 and 19,042 in 1930. Their primary population concentrations were in Railroad centers.
Early 1900's - Lilla Day Monroe was the president of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association.
1906 - The Federal Penitentiary in Leavenworth was completed.
1907-1908 - The yellow brick road leads to Dorothy's House in Liberal, Kansas. It was buit in 1907-1908 and given to the Seward County Historical Society.
1912 - Kansas woman suffrage amendment ratified
1913 - KS oil production was 24,083 barrels. Of 2,174 holes drilled, only 483 were dry.
1916 - Kansas National Guard sent to the Mexican border.
1920's - The business men of Wichita went to work attracting the aircraft industry.
1920 - The O'Henry candy bar was invented by Tom Henry of Arkansas City. The candy bar was originally called "Tom Henry" but was changed later when Mr. Henry sold the rights to his candy bar to a candy factory.
1921 - Amelia Earhart made her first solo flight.
1923 - Amelia Earhart, a native of Atchison, became the first woman to be granted a pilot's license by the National Aeronautic Association.
1924 - The handkerchief-dress craze hit Kansas. At Atchison over 250 dozen red and blue bandanas were sold to women who made dresses of them.
1929 - Mrs. T.T. Solander was the first woman to become a Kansas State Senator.
1930 - Clyde Tombaugh was a Burdette astronomer. He discovered the planet Pluto.
1930s - The previously uncultivated land (thousands of acres), planted to supply warring nations of Europe during World War I, was allowed to lay fallow during the recession of the 1920s, and became part of the "dust bowl" of the 1930s.
1931 - Record KS wheat crop of 240 million bushels.
1938 - The first Rural Electric Association (REA) line in Kansas was put up in Brown county.
1939 - World War II creates demand for food and prices for Kansas farm products begin to rise.
1943 - A German prisoner of war (POW) camp was built in Concordia during World War II in July 1943.
1942-1943 - A German prisoner of War (POW) camp was built in Peabody during World War II. These German POW's built Peabody Park.
1950 - Over 30,000 producing oil wells in KS.
1951 - Disastrous flood hits all of Kansas; most severe in Kansas, Neosho, and Marais des Cygnes River valleys
1950s - Virgil Cofer of Ransom, Ness County, Kansas invented the first riding lawn mower, called the Virginia Wonder Mower.
1952-1953 - Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes first Kansan to be elected as President of the United States.
1955 - Tornado at Udall caused 83 deaths on May 25, 1955
1956 - The 236 mile Kansas Turnpike is completed from Kansas City to Wichita.
1959 - Murder of four members of Clutter family near Holcomb shocks state
1960 - The Coleman Company was the largest user of sheet steel between the Mississippi and the Rockies.
1963 - Big Brutus was built at a plant near Hallowell, Cherokee County, Kansas in 1963. West Mineral, Cherokee County, Kansas home of Big Brutus. Costs and the fact that the EPA declared that the strip mine coal had too much sulphur and therefore stopped its use. Big Brutus was retired in 1974 and became a museum.
1966 - Topeka, Kansas was hit by a F5 tornado on June, 18, 1966, killing 17 and 550 people were injured
1969 - President Dwight D. Eisenhower died.
1970 - Anti-war protests disturb several college campuses; student union fire at Kansas University linked to these activities
1971 - Leon, Little Walnut Township, Butler County, Kansas Following on the heels of really mild weather for this time of year, one of the worst snow storms in the history of this area hit suddenly Sunday morning at about nine o'clock on February 21, 1971.
1975 - A 38-foot cross was erected to mark the site where Spanish explorer Francisco Basques de Coronado crossed the Arkansas River in search of fabled cities of gold in 1541.
1976 - Bob Dole was a Kansas leader who ran for Vice President of the United States.
1978 - Nancy Landon Kassebaum was the first Kansas woman to be elected to the US Senate for a full term.
1985 - Wolf Creek nuclear power plant finally begins commercial operation
1994 - Stand-off ended in Waco, TX between Branch Davidion and F.B.I in April.
1995 - Bombing of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19.
1999 - F4 tornado hits Haysville then Wichita in Sedgwick County causing five deaths and many injuries on May 3, 1999.
21st Century Kansas History Timeline
2000 - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration discovers one of the country's largest LSD labs inside a converted military missile silo in Wamego, Kansas.
2002 - Maiden flight of Airborne Laser, designed to destroy missles during early stage launch, took off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita
2003 - Tornadoes killed seven people
2005 - BTK (bind, torture, kill - serial killer, Dennis Rader, arrested
2007 - Greensburg, Kansas is almost completely destroyed by a 1.7m wide EF-5 tornado.
2011 - US soldier, Bradley Manning, involved in Wikileaks scandal, moved to Fort Leavenworth military prison