KS History – Group D

blogs about KS history

The History of Haskell University September 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — andyo53 @ 3:38 pm

I am interested in the history of Indigenous People of Kansas  so I chose to expand on the Indian boarding schools  mentioned in lecture.  My resources were the Haskell University websiteThe Organization of American Historians website, The Brown Quarterly Publication and Cultural Survival, a group dedicated to the rights of Indigenous Peoples  across the globe.

Many Lawrencians are familiar with Haskell University located just South of 23rd Street at 155 Indian Avenue, but not many are aware of its unusual and ominous past.  It is now regarded as one of the premier Native American colleges in the country, but upon its creation 125 years ago, it was an agricultural boarding school for Native Americans.  It was originally known as the United States Indian Industrial Training School.   The USIITS opened its doors in 1884 to an enrollment of only a few dozen, but in the coming months grew into a boarding school of several hundred Native American students.  It was initially opened by the government as part of a fulfillment of  treaties which promised compensation for land confiscated from Native Americans in the form of education.

The students of Haskell were stripped of their cultural and spiritual  identities, forced to speak English,  abide a strict uniformed dress code and regimented into military style daily routines.   The use of their native languages was forbidden.  Proponents of Haskell’s methods in the late 1880’s  would have  argued they produced a more civilized,  intelligent populace of Native Americans, but in actuality it was attempted cultural genocide.  Full scale assimilation was the goal of the early years of Haskell, wrapped in a disguise of government aid.  Language bears culture.  Without this native, familiar form of communication the school officials hoped to redirect the priorities, interest and belief of the young men and woman enrolled at Haskell to a more Western, Christian world view.

Within the first winter of operation, Haskell’s graveyard (which is still intact and easily visible today) was filled with nine children.  Before the turn of the century approximately fifty more graves were made due to improper health care,  psychological trauma, poor diet and rampant disease.   The children did however manage to keep many of their languages and cultural practices intact in private, using each other as a “underground” support system during this overwhelmingly traumatic time.  Historians agree that this harrowing time in Native history initiated a sense of unity throughout many tribes that proved to be vital in the 20th century.

Throughout the next century the face of Haskell would change as secondary and college curriculum’s were added.  School policy became less barbaric and more focused to a culturally encouraging environment.  This overhaul is majorly credited to the schools first  Native American superintendent,  Dr. Roe Cloud.   A dormitory is named after Dr. Roe Cloud on campus today.

Haskell University is now celebrating is 125th anniversary with events in recognition of its tremendous growth over the last century.

Haskell Institute's girls dormitory, Lawrence, Kansas

Haskell Institute's girls dormitory, Lawrence, Kansas

Haskell Institute laundry and boiler house, Lawrence, Kansas

Haskell Institute laundry and boiler house, Lawrence, Kansas

Haskell Institute Band, Lawrence, Kansas

Haskell Institute Band, Lawrence, Kansas

-Andy White





pictures from http://www.kansasmemory.org


The 1874 Grasshopper Invasion

Filed under: Uncategorized — mselby13 @ 3:36 pm

By 1874, the agricultural opportunities of the newly-founded state of Kansas had lured many settlers to the region, promising cheap land and abundant crops. The spring’s heavy rains only helped to further that notion, and by the first of July the state was eagerly looking ahead to a healthy harvest. But this particular year, a stark change in weather patterns and an unwelcome guest would soon change these settlers’ outlook.

As the month of July progressed, more and more counties began reporting an incredible invasion of locust, chinch bugs, and cut worms, until finally nearly every corner of the state had been touched. It was described as looking out into a field of summer greenery one day and waking up to a wintery desert the next. The locusts moved field to field like a black storm cloud, devastating any hope for crops in its path. 

This left the young territory in a state of panic. The government would quickly have to act, rationing bread and monetary aid to counties needing it the most – notably the western and northwestern reaches of the state. Eventually the state issued a total of $73,000 in state relief bonds, a staggering number for the time period.

– Michael Selby

information found at http://www.kshs.org/research/topics/agriculture/grassphoppers1874.htm



Filed under: Uncategorized — melon19 @ 3:23 pm

Jayhawking is something that intrigues me quite a bit. I grew up in Kansas and always knew that Jayhawking was a term that came from around the Civil War. However, it was always a subject that we seemed to move over quickly in school. I had never really thought about where the name “Jayhawk” came from. I looked it up and apparently it comes from the jaybird and the hawk. The jay distresses intruders and the hawk kills them. It makes sense in the context of the kind of Jayhawking that Charles Jenison was doing.

Charles Jenison came from New York originally and was a doctor for a while. He quit the trade and decided to start stealing horses instead in and around the Kansas Territory. He was very good at doing this and traded the horses to neighboring states. Not only did he become known as a legendary horse stealer, he also became known as a devout abolitionist. He hung two Missourians who he caught returning slaves to their “masters”. Missourians were obviously outraged. Jenison said what he was doing was “honorable and just”.

Jenison was put in charge of the 7th Kansas Calvary Regiment. They became known as “Jenison’s Jayhawkers.” Becoming lieutenant colonel seemed to justify his prewar behavior. He and his regiment were assigned to the Western Missouri border. This allowed him to continue on with his guerilla-combat like ways. He resigned from his position for a while and started a small business. After Quantril’s raid, he was once again asked to raise a regiment and protect the border.

After the civil war,  Jenison was elected onto the house of representatives and later the senate. He led a very interesting and influential life. However, it was highly debated as to whether or not he was of noble character. In whatever way people may view him though; he is part of a legacy that we still study today. It is a legacy that we even revere through our own school’s mascot, the Jayhawk.

Madeline Johnson






Thomas Ewing Jr.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tfern24 @ 2:03 pm

Thomas Ewing Jr.


Thomas Ewing Jr. was a man with a basis of knowledge in law, which was in the history of his family’s profession.  He had many experiences that made him good at what he did. He fulfilled many positions in his lifetime, with one of them especially contributing to the Civil War and the Border protection between Missouri and Kansas. Thomas Ewing Jr. was a private secretary of President Zachary Taylor before coming to Kansas. Starting out in Ohio first; he then came to Kansas in 1856. Ewing had his own law firm when he came to Kansas which included his brothers. An important part of Ewing’s life was being appointed Kansas’ first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Ewing’s political stance was Democratic).

Ewing became a part of the Kansas realm especially when he was recruited into the 11th Kansas infantry regiment. He then was colonel Ewing, but later in March 1863 he became brigadier general of volunteers. He contributed to a lot of events during the Kansas Missouri border wars and Civil War because his position was to command the District of the Border. General Ewing is known for issuing order No. 11, which ordered the clearing of all inhabitants in counties along the Kansas border.  This was in part to separate the Confederate Guerrillas from causing any more problems. An important moment in Ewing’s life was when he was given the title of Major General, for what he did at Pilot Knob, a former place of conflict and a place of confederate defeat.

At the end of the war, from 1864-1865 Ewing took up many positions in Missouri. First, he was put in the place of commander of the District of St. Louis and next he became commander of the District of Rolla as well. Finally in 1865 he returned to St. Louis as the commander, but was not there very long. Ewing never returned back to Kansas after the war and instead furthered his law practices in the D.C. area and then was a congressman in the House of Representatives.  He later moved to New York and died after a car accident.

Thomas Ewing Jr. had an interesting lifestyle because he resided in many places across the United States, and contributed to the many events. In Kansas history Ewing was especially important because of his discipline on the border. By issuing Order 11, he helped to protect Kansas from Confederate Guerrillas. This is important because it helped prevent more problems and resist further hurt on the Kansas side. Granted some of Ewing’s actions may be seen as causing more harm than good, it was unintentional. After the order of imprisonment on Missouri women, it wreaked havoc on Lawrence, because of the jail accident that put blame on Ewing for his order to put the women there in the first place. These are the instances where Ewing has a prominent appearance in Kansas.

-Tracy Fernandez

Information retrieved for this Biography:

From the Kansas State Historical Society: Thomas Ewing, Jr. Papers, 1856-1908



Robert S. Stevens September 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — emosier4 @ 11:24 pm

Robert S. Stevens was a nationally known man who had numerous careers. He was a very well educated man who came from a farming background and could adapt himself to all sorts of jobs. He spent his life working as a banker, businessman, land speculator, lawyer, railroad promoter, teacher, politician, and even a U.S. Indian commissioner. He was certified as a public teacher and practiced law with the district attorney of Wyoming County. Robert Stevens would work any occupation that was asked of him.

In 1865, Mr. Stevens emigrated to the Kansas Territory and was rewarded by President Buchanan with the position of special U.S. Indian commissioner. Stevens’s task was to arrange for the sale of the Kaskaskia, Peoria, Piankashaw, and Wea tribal land. He was also responsible for the improvement of the Sac and Fox Indian reservations in east-central Kansas. All of the improvements were funded by Robert Stevens and not by the government. He remained in dept for many years following.

By 1869, Stevens was granted permission to supervise the construction of what was to become the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, later known as “The Katy.” With his prior knowledge of the Kansas geography, he was able to construct the first railroad that ran through Indian Territory, present-day Oklahoma, with the help of Levi Parsons. The railroad sprang up many small towns along the line such as Parsons, Kansas which became the M-K-T’s headquarters till the 1950s. He spent 20 years as the manager and vice president of the Katy railroad. This would assure Stevens’ place in Kansas history.

By the 1870s Robert Stevens had finally paid off all of his debts and even became quite wealthy. He was a very intelligent and very eager to find new and exciting occupations. He spent many years serving as a mayor, Kansas senator, and in the House of Representatives. Stevens was even one of the very few men who were spared during Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence in 1863. Robert Stevens was involved in many careers, but he will be mostly remembered for the construction and operation of a transportation empire that opened up the southwest to the rest of the United States. This railway corporation hastened the economic development in Kansas.

Eric Mosier

Kansas State Historical Society Robert S. Stevens Collection


Meet the Robinson’s September 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — janae25 @ 10:07 pm
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           Charles Robinson, Kansas’s first official governor, was born on July 21st, 1818. Robinson was born and raised in Hardwick, Massachusetts. He spent his young educational years studying medicine. In 1846, his passion for medicine led him to an open physician position in California. While out west, he opened a restaurant and edited The Settler’s and Miner’s Tribune, a free-soil newspaper. Robinson lived in California between 1846 and 1851. While there, he was indicted for murder after a land argument occurred, leaving himself wounded and another man killed. Robinson was eventually acquitted, and afterwards, he was elected to the California legislature.


            Charles Robinson moved back home to Massachusetts in 1851 and married Sara Tappan Doolittle Lawrence. The two caught word of the fascination and interest of Kansas, and decided to move there in June of 1854. Robinson helped Free-State settlers find homes in Lawrence while they filled the new territory as an agent of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company. Robinson was elected ‘governor’ under the Topeka Constitution of 1855. This constitution was not admitted, and in May 1856, Robinson was arrested for treason. He spent several months in the Lecompton prison before he was acquitted. Finally, under the Wyandotte Constitution, Kansas was admitted to the Union on January 29th, 1861. Robinson was once again elected as governor. He was the first Kansas governor.


             Although he only served one term, retiring in January of 1863, Robinson kept contributing to Kansas. He served as a regent to the University of Kansas during 1864 to 1874. He was a major contributor to the university’s commencement by donating a considerable amount of property. He also continued to serve and represent Kansas, first by serving for the state House of Representatives and then the Senate during the early 1870s. He did run for governor again, but was beat out by the first Democrat governor of Kansas, George W. Glick. Robinson ended his life by serving as the superintendent of Haskell Institute in Lawrence, KS. He wrote a book describing the territory struggle  in Kansas during the Civil War, called The Kansas Conflict. His last memorable mark while alive was once again serving as a regent to the University of Kansas, which he held until his death on August 17th, 1894.


            Sara T.D. Robinson shared her husband’s interest in Kansas as a free state. She published a book in 1856, Kansas, Its Interior and Exterior Life, about the struggle of making Kansas free. During and following the war, Mrs. Robinson tried her best to correct untrue published accounts of the incidents that occurred in Kansas. One of her main goals was to bring John Brown to ‘hero status,’ thus removing any negative connotations that were previously linked with him. Mrs. Robinson passed away after her husband on November 15th, 1911. Based on her husband’s will, the Robinson’s donated their property and money to the University of Kansas.

 -Janae Beahan

All information from the following sources:  

 “The Private Papers of Charles and Sara T. D. Robinson, 1834-1911.” Kansas Historical Society. 2009.