Topeka was founded in 1854 at the site of Papan's Ferry where a branch
of the Oregon Trail crossed the Kansas river as early as 1842.
Anti-slavery leaders framed the Topeka Constitution, 1855, in the first
attempt to organize a state government. The next year their legislature
was dispersed by U.S. dragoons under orders from President Franklin
Pierce. (So Pierce was omitted when Topeka named its streets after the
Presidents.) In the late 1850's negroes bound north on the "underground
railroad" were hidden here by John Brown. Topeka became the capital in
1861 when Kansas was admitted to the Union and the slavery conflict
flamed into Rebellion.
After the war, in 1868, the Santa Fe railroad, promoted by C. K.
Holliday, a city founder, first started building from Topeka. This was
the birthplace, in 1860, of Vice President Charles Curtis; part Kaw
Indian, the only "native American" to reach so high an office.