Reading Cards
1. Coming to Kansas


  1. Coming to Kansas
  2. Shunganunga
  3. Lime for Kiln and Quarry
  4. Gardens and Orchards
  5. Letters from Home
  6. Traveling on the River
  7. Native Americans in the Kansas Territory
  8. John Brown and the Ritchies
  9. Becoming a State
  10. Building a Community


John Ritchie lived with his wife and two children in the state of Indiana. He earned a living making saddles and bridles from leather. Many people rode horses or hitched draft animals to wagons and plows so John had lots of customers. With the money he made as a saddler, John bought land. As new settlers came to Indiana, they wanted to buy John's land. He made lots of money selling property.

Indiana was becoming crowded, like states in the East. When the Kansas Territory was opened for white settlement in 1854, the Ritchies saw an opportunity. If they could get to Kansas before other people, they could buy big tracts of land and sell smaller pieces to new settlers.

John Ritchie
Early Topeka

The Ritchies had another important reason for moving to Kansas. The states were arguing over slavery. Millions of African Americans lived in the United States as slaves. Most of these slaves worked on large plantations, or very large farms, in the South. In the northern United States, people lived on small, family farms and in cities. The climate was not suitable for many of the crops raised in the South, but there were lots of streams that provided energy for factories where cothing, tools and hardware were made. There were some slaves in the North, but not as many as in the South.

The entire country was anxious to see if Kansas Territory would become a free state or a slave state. It would depend on the settlers who came to the territory. People like the Ritchies would vote on the kind of laws their new state would have. John and Mary Jane hoped that others would move to Kansas and vote against slavery.

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