1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 10 Part 3

Rev. J. Owen Dorsey found that the soul of a Kansas went at death to that spirit village nearest him at the time. These spirit villages changed location with the Kansas migrations. The last ones begin at Council Grove. Then there are spirit villages along the Kansas River at the sites of the old towns where they had dwelt on that stream. And on the Missouri their old village-sites from Independence Creek to the mouth of the Osage are now spirit villages to which the souls of the Kansa go to live after death.

The orthography of the word Kansa, or Kansas, has passed through many modifications. This has not been caused by any change in the word itself for the word is very little different in sound from what it was in prehistoric times. The Siouans generally pronounced the word as indicated by our manner of writing it - Kansa, or Ka-sa. The Kansas tribe so spoke it. The American has changed the a in the first syllable from the Italian to the short a. The Indian form of pronunciation was sometimes distorted by the early traders, especially the French traders. They made the a to have the sound of au or aw as in haul or in awl. From this corruption came the Kau in the later spellings. The word has been also variously written, and the early explorers were apt to begin with a C rather than with a K. Indeed, it was sometimes commenced with Qu. So, it is found as Kansa, Kansas, Kantha, Kances, Kansies, Kanzas, Konza, Kausa, Kausas, Kauza, Kauzas, Causa, Cansas, Cances, Canceys, and in perhaps a hundred other forms. The form Kau, or Kaw, was an abbreviation of the name, originating with the French traders and spreading abroad to all having dealings with the tribe. Pike wrote the name Kans. This was not intended by him for an abbreviation, and it is the belief of this author that an examination of his original manuscript would reveal the fact that he actually wrote it Kaus. The mistake was made by the printer.

In pronouncing his own name - that is, the name of his own tribe - the Kansas Indian did not distinctly sound the n in the first syllable. As in many others of his words, and even in words in many tribes of different linguistic families, the n was not a separate sound, but rather a nasalized prolonged termination of the syllable. This form of terminating a syllable is common to many Indian languages. This nasalized termination is the merest approximation of the n sound. It is often written (and printed in the works of scholars) as in a coefficient term in mathematics - as Kan-sa. And the Kansas Indian usually pronounced the word Ka-za, or Kau-za, with the modification above noted. In many of the old books it is printed Kau-zau, following closely the native form of pronunciation. But, as said, there is the approximation to the n sound, and it is fortunate that the sound was retained and strengthened to an equality with the other sounds in the word. Kansas, as now accepted, written, and spoken, is one of the most beautiful Indian words adapted to use in the English tongue. As a name for a state it is unequaled.

The earliest map locating the Kansas Indians is that of Marquette, in 1673. Marquette did not visit the Missouri River country, but made his maps from information drawn from Indians, or perhaps adventurers who had wandered far from the feeble settlements. This map shows the Kansas tribe west of the Missouri, very nearly where it was then in fact located. All the early maps of the interior of North America are necessarily erroneous. Their locations of physical features and Indian tribes are invariably wrong. But their approximations are valuable.3

On previous pages of this work will be found much concerning the early location and history of the Kansas Indians. For that reason it is not deemed necessary here to write an exhaustive review of the tribe in its earliest connection with white men. In the time of Coronado the Kansas probably lived near the mouth of the Kansas River. There may have been villages of the tribe below and above the Kansas, and even on the east side of the Missouri in that vicinity. There is a very ancient village site on the farm of William Malott, a mile or perhaps a little more, northeast of White Church in Wyandotte County. George U. S. Hovey made a collection of several hundred arrowheads, and other weapons and implements from that site. The village was evidently a large one, and occupied for a long period. It was most probably an old Kansas town.

On July 2, 1804, Lewis and Clark made the following entry:

Opposite our camp is a valley, in which was situated an old village of the Kansas, between two high points of land, on the bank of the river. About a mile in the rear of the village was a small fort, built by the French on an elevation. There are now no traces of the village, but the situation of the fort may be recognized by some remains of chimneys, and the general outlines of the fortification, as well as by the fine spring which supplied it with water. The party who were stationed here were probably cut off by the Indians, as there are no accounts of them.

In an article on the "Kansa or Kaw Indians," Volume X, Kansas Historical Collections, George P. Morehouse quotes Bougainville on French Forts, who said in 1757:

Kansas. - In ascending this stream [the Missouri River] we meet the village of the Kansas. We have there a garrison with a commandant, appointed, as in the case with Pimiteoui and Fort Chartres by New Orleans. This post produces one hundred bundles of furs.

This old village found abandoned by Lewis and Clark had no doubt grown up around the French fort. And this French post was certainly the first settlement and trading-station ever set up in what is now Kansas by the white people. It was established after the visit by Bourgmont, in 1724, and was in a flourishing condition in 1757.

It has already been noted that the Kansas Indians could not have been Escanjaques. At the period when the Spaniards came in contact with the Escanjaques on the Arkansas, the Kansas were evidently living in towns along the Missouri, principally above the mouth of the Kansas River. They did not then own or claim much of the valley of the Kansas - perhaps they did not claim west of what is now Wyandotte County. Their country joined, on the south, that of the Osages, always a much more numerous people than the Kansa.

The Pawnees were the hereditary enemies of the Kansas. There is every reason to believe that the Pawnee country extended to within fifteen to twenty miles of the Missouri above the mouth of the Kansas. Also, that in what is now Doniphan County, Kansas, the Pawnee country reached the Missouri, extending along the west bank of the stream well into Nebraska. The Kansas were never able to break through this Pawnee wedge driven into the Siouan territory, and when the Pawnee pressure on the west was lessened, the Kansas abandoned their northward migration and ascended the Kansas River. Their greatest height on this stream was the mouth of the Big Blue. There is no creditable evidence that they ever had a village westward beyond the Blue. They hunted the buffalo far to the west of that point, but fear of the Pawnees made them bear to the south, throwing them to the Arkansas beyond the present Hutchinson. They were not unmolested even there, for the Pawnees claimed all that country and hunted over it.

The following is taken from Vial's Journal of his trip from Santa Fe to St. Louis. While the Kansas Indians he was captured by were hunting on the Upper Arkansas, they were out of their own country and in that claimed by the Pawnees - in possession of the Pawnees.

[From Photograph Owned by William E. Connelley]

June 29, 1792. We left in the morning at daybreak along the said river, which flowed northeast. We found some buffaloes which the Indians had killed, and we believed that they were of the tribe of the Guachaches, who were hunting through that region. We went to find them, since I know they are well inclined to the government of the Province of Louisiana. We found them about four in the afternoon in their hunting camp on the said shore of the Napeste River. As they approached us on the opposite side with river between us, we fired some shots into the air, to get them to see us. They immediately set out and came to stop us on the other side. Those who first met us grasped us cordially by the hand. I asked them of what tribe they were, and they told me they were Cances. They immediately took possession of our horses, and of all our possessions and cut the clothes which. we wore with their knives, thus leaving us totally naked. They were of a mind to kill us, whereupon some of them cried out to those who were about to do it, not to kill us with guns or arrows because of the great risk that would be run of killing one another as they had surrounded us; but that if they killed us it should be by hatchet blows or by spears. One highly esteemed among them took up our defense, begging all of them to leave us alive. Thereupon another highly respected one came and taking me by the hand made me mount his own horse with him. Then another one came up behind and hurled a spear at me, but the one who had me on his horse restrained him by laying hold of him, leaving me alone on the horse. A crowd of them even coming to kill me from behind, his brother mounted behind me. Then one of them, who had been a servant in the village of San Luis de Ylinneses and who talked excellent French, came up to me, and recognized me. He began to cry out: "Do not kill him. We shall ascertain whence he is coming, for I know him." Taking the reins of my horse, he took me to his tent and said to me: "Friend, now your Grace must hurry if you wish to save your life, for among us it is the custom and law that after having eaten no one is killed." After having eaten hastily as he charged me, they left me quiet, and the chiefs having assembled after a moment came to me and asked me whence I was coming. I told them I was coming to open a road from Santa Fe to Los Ylinneses, having been sent by the Great Chief, their Spanish Father, and that I had letters for the Spanish Chief at Los Ylinnese. Thereupon they left me in quiet until the following day. My two companions did not fail to run the same danger as myself. but they have also been saved by other Indians who were well inclined. On the following day they joined me, both naked. But the one called Vicente Villanueva had his horse cut and a dagger thrust in the abdomen which would have proved fatal had he not shrunk away when the blow was delivered. An Indian, who wished to save him received all the force of the blow on his arm and was quite badly wounded. They kept us naked among them in the said camp until the fifteenth of August.

The Kansas town erected at the mouth of the Big Blue was established after Bourgmont's visit to the tribes at the mouth of Independence Creek. The exact date can not now be fixed. It was probably about 1780. Lewis and Clark found their abandoned villages on the Missouri and their towns were then on the Kansas. One town was twenty leagues up this river, and the other twice that distance. The entry runs to this effect: "This river (the Kansas) receives its name from a nation which dwells at this time on its banks, and has two villages one about twenty leagues, and the other forty leagues up." The location of the first village is not now certainly known, but it must have been near the present site of Topeka. There was a Kansas town immediately west of the present North Topeka at different periods after the expedition of Lewis and Clark. The upper village was at the mouth of the Big Blue. It was in Pottawatomie County between the Blue and the Kansas rivers, on a neck of land formed by the parallel courses of the two streams, and about two miles east of Manhattan. This became the sole residence of the Kansa before 1806, for in that year Captains Lewis and Clark, Doctor Sibley and Mr. Dunbar, made an exploration to discover the conditions of the Western Indians. The lower village had been abandoned and the inference is that the inhabitants had moved to the town at the mouth of the Blue. The entry on this subject is "Eighty-leagues up the Kansas River, on the north side." And the report says they all lived in this one village. They furnished the traders with the skins of deer, beaver, black bear, otter (a few), and raccoon (a few). Also buffalo robes and buffalo tallow. This fur product brought the tribe about five thousand dollars annually in goods sent up from St. Louis. The general remarks on the Kansas made at that time by the explorers Lewis, Clark and others are of interest.

The limits of the country they claim is not known. The country in which they reside, and from thence to the Missouri, is a delightful one, and generally well watered and covered with excellent timber: they hunt on the upper part of Kanzas and Arkansas rivers: Their trade may be expected to increase with proper management. At present they are a dissolute, lawless banditti; frequently plunder their traders, and commit depredations on persons ascending and descending the Missouri river: population rather increasing. These people, as well as the Great and Little Osages, are stationary, at their villages, from about the 15th of March to the 15th of May, and again from the 15th of August to the 15th of October: the balance of the year is appropriated to hunting. They cultivate corn, &c.

The town at the mouth of the Blue was partly depopulated about 1827. In that year an Agency for the Kansas Indians was established on Allotment No. 23, to Kansas half-breeds, on the north bank of the Kansas River, in what is now Jefferson County. At least, it was intended to build the Agency on that Allotment. It was in fact so near the east line of the tract that some of the buildings were on section 33, township 11, range 19, and on section 4, township 12, range 19, most of them on section 4, as was determined when the state was surveyed. This town was south of the station of Williamstown, on the Union Pacific Railway. There was a blacksmith and a farmer appointed for the Indians of the Agency, and these lived there. The farmer was Col. Daniel Morgan Boone, son of the great pioneer. Napoleon Boone, son of Col. D. M. Boone, was born there August 22, 1828, supposed to have been the first white child born in what was to become Kansas. The chief, Plume Blanche, White Plume, or Wampawara, was at the head of the village. Frederick Chouteau was the Indian trader. He had his trading-house on the south side of the river, on Horseshoe Lake, now Lakeview. It was at this Agency that Captain Bonneville crossed the Kansas River on his journey to the Rocky Mountains (1832). Marston G. Clark was U. S. Sub-Indian Agent there. The Captain spent the night with Chief White Plume, whom he found living in a substantial stone home, which had been erected for him by the Government. It is scarcely probable that all the Kansas Indians were gathered about this Agency. No doubt there were other villages up the Kansas River at that time. Some of the annuity payments provided for in the treaty when the great cession was concluded were made at this agency. The first was made at a trading-house near the mouth of the Kansas River, in what is now Wyandotte County. White Plume discovered in some way that his residence was over the line on the Delaware lands. While there would never have been any objection to this mistake or oversight of the white men who located the Agency buildings, White Plume was too proud to live on the land of another tribe. He abandoned his house and moved up the Kansas River. His house stood northwest of the Agency. and north of where the railroad station of Williamstown was located. Long before he moved his house had become uninhabitable, most of the woodwork having been torn out and used for fuel. It was alive with vermin.4

3 The editors of Volume X, Kansas Historical Collections, made a compilation of the old maps showing the locations of the Kansas Indians. The work was carefully done, and it was printed as a footnote on pages 344, 345 of that work. It is set out below:

"The earliest map pointing out the location of the Kansa nation was that of Marquette, 1673, and described locations as found by that intrepid missionary explorer and his companion, Joliet. On it the Kansa were placed west of the Osages and Southwest of the Panis. Marquette did not visit them, nor any tribe west of the Mississippi, but had information from well-informed Indians who stood by while he made the map. At this time the Kansa were probably on the Missouri river in about the location where visited Bourgmont fifty years later.

"Parkman's map No. 5, in Harvard College Library. 'La Manitoumie, 1672-73,' shows the Kanissi south of the Missouri river and between the Missouri and Paniassa. (Winsor's Narrative History of America, vol. 4, p. 221.)

"Joliet's map 1674, shows the Kansa southeast of the Osages and Pani. (Thwaites' Jesuit Relations, vol. 59, p. 86.)

"Franquelin's map of Louisiana, 1679-1682, shows the Cansa on the Emissourittes river above the mouth of the Kansa river. (Margry, vol. 3; Thwaites' Jesuit Relations, vol. 63, p. 1.)

"Thevenot's map of Louisiana, 1681, locates the Kemissi south of the Missouri and northwest of the Autre Chaha (Osage) and toward the Panissi.

"De 'Lisle's map of Louisiana, 1718, shows the Grande Rivere des Cansez and a village far out on that stream at the mouth of the second large tributary from the northwest, near the country of the Padoucas. It also shows a village of Les Cansez on the Missouri river, south side, near the mouth of a creek (Independence). (In French's Louisiana, part 2.)

"D'Anville's map of Louisiana, 1732, locates the Kanza village at the mouth of Petite river des Kansez. This was the Grand village at the mouth of Independence creek. This map also shows the River des Padoucas et Kansez and a village of the Paniouassas on a northern branch. (Photo map.)

"Bellin's map of Louisiana, 1744, marks the Pays des Cansei (country of the Kansa) extending from the Missouri river almost to the mountains, being quite a part of the present states of Missouri. Kansas and southern Nebraska. The Canses village is placed at the mouth of the second large tributary of the Kansas river from its junction with the Missouri. It shows also the Petite river des Canses (the Little River of the Kansa). (Shea's Charlevoix History of New France, vol. 6, p. 11.)

"Sieur le Rouge's map, 1746, shows River des Canses correctly, and the Canses villages on the Kansas river, quite a way from its mouth.

"Vangundy's map of North America, 1798, gives Les Canses on their river, and gives the Pays des Canses as extensive as that of other great Indian nations, or from the mountains to the Missouri river, over most of the present state of Kansas. (Winsor's Miss. Basin, p. 205.)

"Le Page Du Pratz's map of Louisiana, 1757, with course of the Mississippi and tributaries, shows the river of the Cansez with the location of a Cansez village up that stream about sixty or seventy miles. It also shows the Grand village Cansez on the Missouri river quite a distance above the mouth of the Cansez river. This shows that they were again living on both streams, with permanent villages, as shown by De 'Lisle's map of 1718. (Photo map.)

"Dunn's map, 1774, Source of Mississippi river, shows Kanzes at mouth of a tributary to the Missouri river. This was doubtless the old Grand village at the mouth of Independence creek. This copy of Dunn's map does not show the whole course of the Kansas river, omitting a village at the mouth of the Blue and would indicate that as late as 1774 they were still occupying the above-described Grand village. (Winsor's Westward Movement, page 214.)

"Carver's map of North America, 1778, shows Kansez on the south side of the Missouri, northwest of the Osages. This is about the last map showing them lingering by the Missouri river. After this they seem to have entirely established themselves on their own old river, the Kansas. (Winsor's Westward Movement, page 104.)

"French map of date prior to 1800, used by Lewis and Clark, 1804, marks the junction of Kances river, upon which the Kansa nation lived at that time. (Map No. 1, Thwaites' Lewis and Clark.)

"Spanish map about 1800, used by Lewis and Clark, Map No. 2, shows Kansez river with a village of Kansez Indians on its north bank east of the junction with the Blue.

"Pike's map, 1806, gives Kanses on the river of that name. (Coues' edition.)

"Long's map of the West, 1819, shows Konzas village at the mouth of Blue Earth river, near the bank of the Konzas river. It also shows the site of the Old Konzas village on the Missouri river at the mouth of Independence creek, which had been abandoned by the nation many years before."

4 The following notes, from Vol. IX, pp. 194-196, Kansas Historical Collections, are of interest here.

"Regarding the situation of the first Kaw agency, Daniel Boone, a son of Daniel Morgan Boone, government farmer of the Kaws, says in a letter to Mr. W. W. Cone, dated Westport, Mo., August 11, 1879: 'Fred Chouteau's brother established his trading-post across the river from my father's residence the same fall we moved to the agency, in the year 1827. The land reserved for the half-breeds belonged to the Kaws. The agency was nearly on the line inside of the Delaware land, and we lived half-mile east of this line, on the river.'

"Survey 23, the property of Joseph James, was the most easterly of the Kaw half-breed lands. The first Delaware land on the Kansas river east of this survey is section 4, township 12, range 19 east; hence the site of the old agency. August 16,1879, Mr. Cone and Judge Adams, piloted by Thos. R. Bayne, owner of survey No. 23, visited the site of the agency. In the Topeka Weekly Capital of August 27, Mr. Cone says: 'We noticed on the east of the dividing line, over on the Delaware land, the remains of about a dozen chimneys, although Mr. Bayne says there were at least twenty when he came there, in 1854.'

"John C. McCoy, in a letter to Mr. Cone, dated August, 1879, says: 'I first entered the territory August 15, 1830. . . . At the point described in your sketch, on the north bank of the Kansas river, seven or eight miles above Lawrence, was situated the Kansas agency. I recollect the following persons and families living there at that date, viz.: Marston G. Clark, United States sub-Indian agent, no family; Daniel M. Boone, Indian farmer, and family; Clement Lessert, interpreter, family, half-breeds; Gabriel Phillibert, government blacksmith, and family (whites); Joe Jim, Gonvil, and perhaps other half-breed families. . . . In your sketch published in the Capital you speak of the stone house or chimney, about two miles northwest of the Kansas agency. That was a stone building built by the government for White Plume, head chief of the Kanzans, in 1827 or 1828. There was also a large field fenced and broken in the prairie adjoining toward the east or southeast. We passed up by it in 1830, and found the gallant old chieftain sitting in state, rigged out in a profusion of feathers, paint, wampum, brass armlets, etc., at the door of a lodge he had erected a hundred yards or so to the northwest of his stone mansion, and in honor of our expected arrival the stars and stripes were gracefully floating in the breeze on a tall pole over him. He was large. fine-looking, and inclined to corpulency, and received my father with the grace and dignity of a real live potentate, and graciously signified his willingness to accept of any amount of bacon and other presents we might be disposed to tender him. In answer to an inquiry as to the reasons that induced him to abandon his princely mansion, his laconic explanation was simply "too much fleas." A hasty examination I made of the house justified the wisdom of his removal. It was not only alive with fleas, but the floors, doors and windows had disappeared and even the casings had been pretty well used up for kindling-wood.'

"Mr. Cone gives the following description of White Plume's stone house in his Capital article of August 27, 1879: 'Mr. Bayne showed us a pile of stone as all that was left of that well-known landmark for old settlers, the "stone chimney." It was located fifty yards north of the present depot at Williamstown, or Rural, as it is now called. Mr. Bayne, in a letter dated August 12, says: The old stone chimney, or stone house to which you refer, stood on the southwest quarter of section 29, range 19, when I came here, in 1854. It was standing intact, except the roof and floors, which had been burnt. It was about 18x34, and two stories high. There was a well near it walled up with cut stone, and a very excellent job.'"

John T. Irving's account of his visit to this village throws light on the character of the Indians, especially White Plume.

"We emerged from the wood, and I found myself again near the bank of the Kansas river. Before me was a large house, with a courtyard in front. I sprang with joy through the unhung gate, and ran to the door. It was open; I shouted: my voice echoed through the rooms; but there was no answer. I walked in; the doors of the inner chambers were swinging from their hinges and long grass was growing through the crevices of the floor. While I stood gazing around an owl flitted by, and dashed out of an unglazed window; again I shouted; but there was no answer; the place was desolate and deserted. I afterwards learned that this house had been built for the residence of the chief of the Kanza tribe, but that the ground upon which it was situated having been discovered to be within a tract granted to some other tribe, the chief had deserted it, and it had been allowed to fall to ruin. My guide waited patiently until l finished my examination, and then again we pressed forward. . . . We kept on until near daylight, when we emerged from a thick forest and came suddenly upon a small hamlet. The barking of several dogs, which came flying out to meet us, convinced me that this time I was not mistaken. A light was shining through the crevices of a log cabin; I knocked at the door with a violence that might have awakened one of the seven sleepers. 'Who dare - and vot de devil you vant?' screamed a little cracked voice from within. It sounded like music to me. I stated my troubles. The door was opened; a head garnished with a red nightcap was thrust out, after a little parley, I was admitted into the bedroom of a man, his Indian squaw and a host of children. As however, it was the only room in the house, it was also the kitchen. I had gone so long without food that, notwithstanding what I had eaten, the gnawings of hunger were excessive, and I had no sooner mentioned my wants, than a fire was kindled, and in ten minutes a meal (don't exactly know whether to call it breakfast, dinner or supper) of hot cakes, venison, honey and coffee was placed before me and disappeared with the rapidity of lightning. The squaw, having seen me fairly started, returned to her couch. From the owner of the cabin I learned that I was now at the Kanza agency, and that he was the blacksmith of the place. About sunrise I was awakened from a sound sleep, upon a bearskin, by a violent knocking at the door. It was my Indian guide. He threw out broad hints respecting the service he had rendered me and the presents he deserved. That I could not deny: but I had nothing to give. I soon found out, however, that his wants were moderate, and that a small present of powder would satisfy him; so I filled his horn, and he left the cabin apparently well pleased. In a short time I left the house, and met the Kanza agent, General Clark, a tall, thin, soldier-like man, arrayed in an Indian hunting-shirt and an old fox-skin cap. He received me cordially, and I remained with him all day, during which time he talked upon metaphysics, discussed politics, and fed me upon sweet potatoes."

1918 Kansas and Kansans Previous Section Next Section

A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.

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