Reading Cards
5. Letters from Home


  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


The Ritchies left many friends and family members in their hometown when they came to the Kansas Territory. It was a long and difficult trip between Topeka and Franklin, Indiana. There would not be many opportunities to visit. Virtually the only way people kept in touch with one another was by writing letters.

Topeka's first postmaster was Fry Giles, who was one of Topeka's founders. There was no post office, however. Instead, Mr. Giles used a room of someone's house until a small wooden buidling was raised.

The first mail to Topeka was delivered on May 1, 1855, weeks after the Ritchies arrived. Mail was a rare treat. There was no mailman; instead, a man who hauled freight on a wagon between Topeka and Lawrence would take letters and packages along with him.

Kansans were anxious for news but newspapers printed in the East took two weeks or even a month to arrive.

By autumn of 1855, Topeka had a regular weekly mail service. Horsedrawn coaches traveled from Kansas City to Fort Riley carrying the mail with them. They crossed the Kansas River at Topeka and stopped at Topeka's new post office. The Ritchies could get letters from their family in Indiana. Mr. Giles could read of events in his hometown in New Hampshire. All the other people who had made Topeka their home no longer felt cut off from the rest of the country.

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