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Wyandotte County, Kansas

Wyandotte County was organized on January 29, 1859, by Auguste and Pierre Chouteau; George Russell; George Veal; Mryon Pratt; Jacques Johnson; Samuel Forsythe; Marshall Garnett; Vincent Lane; Robert Robitaille; William L. McMath; Jucaob Willeborn; Cyrus Gordon; and George B. Wood. The county contains the cities of Bonner Springs, Edwardsville, Kansas City and Lake Quivira (part), and was named for the Wyandot Indians (various spellings).

The Wyandot Indians arrived in the area from Ohio in 1843. They were responsible for the early cultivation of the land, barn building, planting of orchards, and road building. William Walker, a 1/16 blood Wyandot Indian, was head Chief of the nation in Ohio. He came with them to Kansas in the summer of 1843 and became the leading man in the nation. He later served as the provisional governor of Nebraska Territory. The Wyandot Constitutional Convention met on July 5, 1859, remained in session 21 days, and at the close gave Kansas a new constitution. This constitution was approved by the people on October 4, 1859. Road and bridge building were important to the county, including the construction of the Quindaro to Lawrence road in 1857, and several bridges in 1859. In 1906 the U. S. Secretary of the Interior was authorized to sell land that had been reserved for public burial grounds by treaty with the Indians. Lyda and Helena Conley, descendants of the Wyandot tribe took possession of the cemetery, padlocked the gate, built a cabin or fort in the cemetery and vowed death to anyone attempting to take the land. The case reached the United States Supreme Court while the fight continued. One fort was torn down, but another appeared. It is said that the sisters defended the cemetery with shotguns and pronounced curses on those that tried to evict them. In 1913 the United States Congress repealed the statute and the war of seven years ended.

The White Church in Wyandot was supposedly founded in 1832. The first county fair was held in 1863 on the levee in Wyandot. The first school district was organized in 1867 in the city of Wyandot.

Elected and appointed officials from the county include: Governor Frank L. Hagaman (1950-1951) and Robert Bennett (1975-1979); U. S. Senators James B. Pearson (1962-1978) and Harry Darby (1949-1950); Congressmen Orrin Miller (1895-1897), Mason Peters (1897-1899), Joseph Taggart (1911-1917), Edward Little (1917-1924), Ulysses S. Guyer (1924-1925, 1927-1943), Errett Scriver (1943-1959), and Newell George (1959-1961); Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court William R. Smith (1899-1905), Silas Porter (1905-1923) and Judson West (1911-1923).

Willie Whitewater, by Caroline Cain Durkee, is a book written about William Honnell who was an Indian agent to the several Indian tribes in Kansas.

For more information see the Wyandotte County website.The Wyandotte County Museum has reference books, personal papers, archives, diaries, county records and other sources. The Bonner Springs and Kansas City libraries have good collections of city and county materials.

Timeline of events for Wyandotte County:

  • 1804 – Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery camps at Kaw Point
  • 1826 – Shawnee Prophet establishes village near river
  • 1830 – Delaware forced to move from Missouri
  • 1831 – Moses and Annie Grinter begin ferry across Kansas River
  • 1843 – Wyandots forced to move from Ohio
  • 1856 – Quindaro townsite established
  • 1859 – Wyandotte County organizes
  • 1865 – First African American school west of Mississippi opens
  • 1880s – Croatians and Slovenians arrive to work in meatpacking plants
  • 1900s – Mexicans arrive to work in the railroad industry
  • 1925 – Mexican American students fight to attend Argentine High School
  • 1936 – Construction begins on Wyandotte County Lake
  • 1941 – B-25 production begins at Fairfax Field
  • 1944 – Housing built to serve aviation production workers

Entry: Wyandotte County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: September 2018

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.