Poetry of Kansas

1825-"Council Oak"-1925

SANTA FE TRAIL
 
In tracing back the profiles of time,
    Checking up the points and curves,
We sometimes are amazed
    At the accomplishments of man,
We are standing on the threshold
    Where our fathers bravely stood
Where the treaty was read and signed
    Beneath old Council Oak.
 
At Council Grove by treaty,
    One hundred years ago,
The red man deeded to Uncle Sam
    A right-o'-way to Mexico,
To hold as long as grass will grow
    And fire will burn on earth below,
And rain from Heaven make the water flow
    In the scenic river Neosho.
 
The Indian, by nativity,
    Was sole owner of this land.
By treaty is the legal right
    Upon which the white man stands.
The Red Man roamed the forests,
    The valley, plain and hills
A thousand years or more
    Before any other race of man,
 
On the northern lake and rivers,
    He glided the waters oer,
Down the Ohio and Mississippi
    In a birch bark canoe.
O'er the plains of Kansas
    Chased the elk and buffalo,
These are scenes of youth
    One hundred years ago.
 
The West begins where the East begins
    Where the tempest flings its spray,
Then extends on beyond
    Where the waters meet;
The river Fall and Verdigris
    At "Independence" and "Neodesha""
Then on through the greasewood
    Lit by autumn's fleeting rays.
 
They were men-our dear old fathers
    "Hope," their guide, from sun to sun;
Hearts of oak that never faltered
    While marching through an unknown land;
Depending solely upon their trusty rifle
    As they cautiously blazed the way,
A yoke of oxen to a lynch-pin wagon
    Slow, but sure, for a Right-o'-Way.
 
Sometimes the road was rough and wind
    But they wended on their way
O'er a wild, unbroken trail
    Now the great American plains
The sun and moon, stars at twilight
    Their guide, morning, noon and night
Santa Fe their destination,
    Council Grove their heart's desire.
 
Brave they were, our pioneer fathers
    Who first blazed the way
Through the dim aisles of the forest
    As they crossed the trackless plains.
Their religion, race or color
    To Old Glory was no bar.
"We are Columbia's chosen children
    In the beams of those golden stars."
There Patriotism, Name and Honor
    No clique or klan shall ever mar.
 
The inmost conscience of our fathers
    Caused them to first break away
From the bleak New England woodland
    To cross the wild, the then desert plain.
They saw the rainbow proudly arching,
    Spanning the earth from sea to sea.
With faith in God and all His creation,
    They set out at once for Santa Fe.
 
The long, long trail is ended,
    Our dreams have all come true.
The iron horse is steaming
    To the land devoid of snow,
Where, the golden orange swings
    And the flowers sweetly bloom
From the Atlantic to the Pacific,
    To away down in Mexico.
 
Yes, the long, long trail is ended,
    With all our states we're blended
In a historical and Christian
    And social business way.
As a symbol to our sonnet,
    "Put on your old gray bonnet,"
Place a Kansas gay feather on it,
    As we bedeck with sunflowers
Our queen
    At Council Grove today.

The Plains Poems in Kansas
J. P. Dunn
(Independence: --. 19??)
Pages 6-7

 
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April 17, 2005 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org