quindaro and western university historic district

1856-1862 and 1881-1948
Vicinity of North 27th Street and Sewell Avenue
Kansas City Kansas Historic District: March 1, 1984; addition approved January 6, 2005
Register of Historic Kansas Places (archaeological site only): February 23, 2002
National Register of Historic Places (archaeological site only): May 22, 2002
The town of Quindaro was one of a number of Kansas territorial river ports founded in the
mid-1850s following passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which established Kansas and
Nebraska Territories and opened those territories for settlement. The site of Quindaro is located
in the West One-half of Section 29, Township 10 South, Range 25 East of the Sixth Principal
Meridian, and the East One-half of Section 30, Township 10 South, Range 25 East of the Sixth
Principal Meridian, in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas. The site is located on the bluffs of
the right bank of the Missouri River, on the present day northern edge of the city of Kansas City,
Kansas, just west of the point at which the river is crossed by Interstate 635 Highway. The
location is approximately five miles upstream from the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri
Rivers and two miles south of the city of Parkville, Missouri. The principal boundaries of the site
are North 31st Street on the west, Sewell Avenue on the south, Interstate 635 Highway on the
east, and the Missouri Pacific Railroad right-of-way on the north. (A more detailed legal
description of the specific properties in question may be found in Appendix II.)
The commercial district of the Quindaro townsite was located along Kanzas Avenue, the
principal north-south street extending south from the wharf up the bluff slope. This corresponds
to the juncture of Sections 29 and 30, as well as to the present North 27th Street in Kansas City,
Kansas. Two principal commercial streets, Levee and Main, bisected Kanzas Avenue along a
west-northwesterly to east-southeasterly axis, running parallel to the right bank of the Missouri
River as it was then located. Streets numbered First to Tenth extended east-west, perpendicular
to Kanzas Avenue and south of Main Street on the original plat. Lettered north-south streets (A-Y)
extended from Tenth Street north to Main, with Kanzas Avenue in place of Q Street. It should be
noted that when the plat of Quindaro was laid out on the ground, an apparent error of one rod in
the east-west direction was made. Consequently all known remains within the townsite are
located approximately 16.5 feet to the east of where by legal description they might be expected
to be found.
The area in question was originally part of the Delaware Reserve, established by treaty in
1829 for the relocation of the Delaware Indians then living in south central Missouri and on a small
reserve in Ohio. The Reserve included all of the present Wyandotte County north of the Kansas
River, while the area south of the river was part of the Shawnee Reserve (established 1825). The
principal Delaware settlements were in what is now western Wyandotte County and southern
Leavenworth County, while the eastern portion of the Reserve, including the Quindaro area,
remained largely uninhabited.
When the Wyandot Indians were forced to remove from Ohio to Kansas in July of 1843,
they hoped to purchase and settle on a portion of the Shawnee Reserve near the town of
Westport, Missouri. Such a purchase had already been provided for in treaties drafted in 1839
and 1842, but once arrived, the Wyandots found the Shawnee unwilling to go through with the
agreement. A few of the more well-to-do Wyandots were able to rent houses in Westport, but
most were forced to camp out on the narrow strip of U.S. government land that lay between the
Missouri state line and the Kansas River, west of the Town of Kansas (Kansas City, Missouri), in
the area now known as the West Bottoms.
The area of the encampment was at the time a swampy lowland. This, coupled with the
general hardships suffered by the Wyandots, soon took its toll through disease and exposure. By
the end of the year over 60 Wyandots had died, nearly a tenth of their total number. As the area
around the encampment was not suitable, the Wyandots began a cemetery across the Kansas
River on the land of the Delaware Reserve. The location chosen was on the crest of a hill about
one-half mile due west of the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, overlooking the
broad sweep of the Missouri River valley. This was the cemetery now known as the Huron Indian
By October, the Wyandots had begun negotiations with the Delaware for the purchase of
a portion of their Reserve, and had established a ferry across the Kansas River in the location of
the present Lewis and Clark Viaduct to facilitate relocation. On December 14, 1843, the
Wyandots signed an agreement with the Delaware to purchase the eastern end of the Delaware
Reserve, a total of 36 sections of land, for $46,080 drawn from tribal funds, with three additional
sections given by the Delaware as a mark of respect and in remembrance of when the Wyandots
had given the Delaware a home in Ohio some 80 years before. A small settlement then grew up
between the riverfront and the cemetery, which within a few years became known as the town of
Wyandott, or Wyandott City. This town would eventually become the present Kansas City,
As a group, the Wyandots were heavily assimilated, with many individuals who were not
only literate but well educated for the time, including experienced businessmen and at least two
attorneys who had been members of the Ohio Bar. Racially they were mixed (including one
family, the Wrights, who were partly of African descent), with not a single pure-blood Wyandot
remaining and many who were no more than ¼ or 1/8 Indian. As members of the Wyandot
Nation, however, they were subject to a variety of legal restrictions, not the least of which was that
the government regarded all property on Indian reserves (including the Wyandott Purchase) to be
held by the tribe in common, regardless of whatever arrangements or divisions the Indians might
have made among themselves. Thus the town of Wyandott had no legal existence (and no post
office – the Wyandots were forced to cross the ferry to retrieve their mail and newspapers from
the Town of Kansas two and one-half miles away), even though a plat for the town had been
adopted by the Wyandot Tribal Council as early as 1848.
In 1850, the Wyandots began to press the government on the questions of citizenship and
the individual ownership of tribal lands.2 Following passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854,
which opened what had been exclusively Indian territory to white settlement, the Wyandots
redoubled their efforts. Finally, on January 31, 1855, the Wyandot Tribal Council signed an
historic treaty dissolving their tribal status, allowing all competent Wyandots who wished to
become U.S. citizens, and ceding the lands of the Wyandott Purchase to the U.S. government, to
be surveyed, subdivided into allotments, and the allotments reconveyed by patent in fee simple to
the individual members of the tribe. Ownership of the Quindaro area under the subsequent
Wyandott Allotments was divided among 13 individuals and families: Matthew Brown, Amelia
Charloe, John B. Curleyhead, Esquire and Eliza Greyeyes, Abelard and Nancy Brown Guthrie,
Christopher Hicks (called Little Chief), John and Jane Lewis, Ethan A. Long, George Peacock,
George and Mary Spybuck, John Spybuck, Ebenezer O. and Rabecca Zane, and James C. Zane.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act had repealed the Missouri Compromise which had limited the
spread of slavery in the territories west of Missouri, instead allowing the question of slavery in the
new territories to be settled by "popular sovereignty." This immediately made control of Kansas
Huron was the old French name for the Wyandots, but was almost never used by the tribe
American Indians were considered to be the citizens of separate but dependent nations, and as
a group did not become citizens of the United States until 1924.
Territory the goal of competing pro- and anti-slavery forces. Given the proximity of Missouri, that
control was initially in the hands of pro-slavery partisans following several largely fraudulent
elections for territorial officials, as armed Missourians poured across the border to cast their
ballots. In the first election for a territorial legislature on March 30, 1855, there were more than
twice as many votes cast as there were qualified electors, with the result being overwhelmingly
pro-slavery. (In Lawrence, nearly 1,000 pro-slavery Missourians, backed by two cannon loaded
with musket balls, seized control of the polls.)
The newly elected territorial legislature met in Pawnee (near the present Junction City)
just long enough to deny seats to several Free State men who had managed to get elected, then
moved the temporary capital to the Shawnee Indian Manual Labor School near the border with
Missouri, and once there, proceeded to pass the infamous “bogus laws.” Under these first
territorial statutes, the Missouri State Statutes were largely adopted verbatim, but when it came to
slavery, Missouri was felt to be too lenient and the statutes were revised accordingly: a sworn
oath to uphold the Federal Fugitive Slave Law could be required for voting, speaking against
slavery could result in a fine, publishing an anti-slavery newspaper or pamphlet was punishable by
imprisonment, and stealing a slave or helping a slave to escape was a hanging offense, with the
territorial governor denied the authority to pardon any of the offenses so listed.
At the same time, a broadly organized effort sent ever-increasing numbers of Free State
settlers to the territory. The first and best known of these “emigrant aid societies” was the New
England Emigrant Aid Company, organized by Eli Thayer of Massachusetts in February 1854,
even while the Kansas-Nebraska Act was still being debated. Faced with pro-slavery control of
the territorial government and a hostile stance on the part of President Pierce’s administration, the
Free State advocates established an alternate territorial legislature in Topeka. The steadily
escalating conflict between the two sides culminated in 1856 in the armed violence of "Bleeding
In September of that year (the exact date is uncertain), the Quindaro Town Company was
formed by an alliance of Wyandots and several individuals from the Free State town of Lawrence
with ties to the New England Emigrant Aid Company. The initial contact came when Abelard
Guthrie, an adopted Wyandot, was approached by Dr. Charles Robinson and Samuel N. Simpson
of Lawrence with a business proposition. Their intent was to develop a profitable and safe port of
entry into Kansas for Free State settlers, as the established river ports such as Atchison and
Leavenworth were largely in pro-slavery hands, and in the summer of 1856 the pro-slavery
partisans had attempted to organize a boycott of Free State travel on the Missouri River. The
earliest recorded mention of the proposed development was on November 1, 1856, when the
town company was officially organized and an agreement drawn up calling for the distribution of
shares and providing for the sale of the remaining lots. By November 21, Dr. Charles Robinson
was able to write to investor Joseph Lyman from Lawrence, "we have secured 693 acres of land
in the Wyandotte Reserve bordering the Missouri River for our new town...".3
The new town was named in honor of Nancy Brown Guthrie (1820-1886), wife of Abelard
Guthrie, whose Wyandot name was Seh Quindaro. Her name, which the Quindaro Chindowan
claimed (mistakenly) was popular and common among Wyandot women, was actually a traditional
Wyandot clan name meaning "Bundle of Sticks," but the town's backers interpreted it to mean
"Strength through Union" - not really a great leap, as most Wyandot names were referential rather
than literal.
Nancy Brown Guthrie's husband, Abelard G. Guthrie (1814-1873), was named vicepresident of the new town company and was one of its principal promoters. Guthrie was a white
man who had been appointed registrar of the U.S. Land Office in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, on the
Wyandots’ Grand Reserve, at the time of the Wyandots' removal to Kansas in 1843. He had
This is one of the earliest known examples of this spelling of the name that for most of the 19th
Century had been spelled Wyandott.
followed the 23-year-old Nancy to Kansas, married her over her father's strong objections, and
subsequently been adopted into the Wyandot tribe. Highly intelligent - the Wyandots called him
Tah-keh-yoh-shrah-tseh, the Man With Two Brains – he was also opinionated and argumentative;
John W. Greyeyes in a December 1853 letter to Senator David Rice Atchison of Missouri referred
to him as a “contentious being.” (At one point, Guthrie’s father-in-law, Adam Brown Jr., was so
provoked that he took a shot at him during an argument and the Wyandot Tribal Council had to
intervene, with Brown going to the Huron Reserve in Canada for several months to cool off.)
Guthrie was a Benton Democrat in politics, an early promoter of territorial status for
Kansas but opposed to the spread of slavery into the new territories. In October 1852, the
Wyandots had elected Guthrie delegate to Congress, pursuing territorial status as part of their
quest for citizenship and property rights. Thomas Hart Benton’s rival, the pro-slavery Missouri
Senator David Rice Atchison, then had the Army at Fort Leavenworth threaten Guthrie with arrest
for “revolution.” In a rerun of the election subsequently held at the fort, Guthrie easily defeated the
candidate backed by Atchison and the Army. Guthrie’s subsequent activities in Washington, while
short of any concrete results and sometimes contrary to the interests of the Indians he was
supposedly representing, are nevertheless credited by some as giving strong impetus to the
development of the Kansas-Nebraska Act a year and one-half later. His involvement with
Quindaro might therefore be seen as the logical extension of his earlier activities.
Dr. Charles Robinson (1818-1894), the founder of the Free State town of Lawrence, was
named company treasurer and agent. He had come to Kansas in June of 1854 as the leader of
the first large party of settlers sponsored by the New England Emigrant Aid Company, and was
generally considered to be the leader of the Free State party in the territory. He was one of the
organizers of the Free State legislature in Topeka, and following the drafting of the Topeka
Constitution he was elected governor of the proposed state (should statehood actually be
approved under that constitution). As a result of his activities, he was one of a number of
prominent Free State men who had been indicted for treason (and in his case, usurpation of
office) by a pro-slavery grand jury in the Spring of 1856. When he approached Guthrie in
September, he had just been released on bond after a four-month imprisonment at the territorial
capital of Lecompton. He would eventually be acquitted after a two-day jury trial, and would later
be elected first governor of the State of Kansas under the Wyandott Constitution.
It was Robinson's connections in the East that provided much of the initial financial
backing for the Quindaro venture. (A number of these investors, such as Hiram Hill of
Williamsburg, Massachusetts, would erect buildings in Quindaro without having actually seen the
town.) At that point, Robinson had severed his ties to the New England Emigrant Aid Company.
He had offered the town to the Company soon after its initial organization, but the offer was
rejected. Consequently, the Quindaro project was actually competing with the Company’s efforts
to establish a Free State river port of its own.
Samuel N. Simpson, also of Lawrence, was named company secretary and director of
investments – a position that would soon have unfortunate consequences. Like Robinson,
Simpson had been part of the first group of Company-sponsored emigrants that had founded
Lawrence, and had helped lay out the town that was to become the center of Free State activity in
the territory. In later years he would become involved in a variety of real estate endeavors in
Kansas City, Kansas, including development of the Riverview subdivision in 1879 and the Central
Avenue corridor in the mid 1880s. For many years, a flat-iron shaped, multi-story commercial
building that he built and owned, called the Simpson Block, was a local landmark at 8 th and
Central, before being demolished in the 1960s.
The president of the Quindaro Town Company was a Wyandot named Joel Walker (18131857). Like other members of his prominent family, he was considered to be pro-slavery in his
sympathies, and was in fact one of just a handful of slave owners among the Wyandots; his estate
at the time of his death listed two, a man named Squire and a woman named Miney. His elder
brother William Walker Jr. was also a slave owner, and in 1848 had joined with the Wyandots’
Southern Methodist missionary in forcing a split in the Wyandots’ Methodist Episcopal Church
over the slavery question (with a majority of the church members choosing to remain with the
Ohio Conference rather than going to the new South church with the rest of the Indian Mission
Conference). As a result, the Wyandots had two Methodist churches, although by the mid 1850s
the controversy over slavery had largely cooled within the tribe.
Joel Walker’s inclusion in the Quindaro venture would seem to indicate that despite his
position on slavery, broad-based Wyandot unity and support were considered to be important
factors in the town's hoped-for success. Apparently such business alliances between the two
otherwise bitterly opposed factions were not uncommon in territorial Kansas. This was particularly
the case once the Free State forces began to gain the upper hand in 1857 and '58, but the
Quindaro partnership may be one of the earliest examples. Walker was also one of seven
partners in the Wyandott City Company, formed in December, 1856, to replat and develop the
town of Wyandott. He was thus intimately involved in the efforts of two rival enterprises.
It is often stated that if Quindaro was a Free State town, then Wyandott must have been
pro-slavery, but at best this is an over-simplification of a complex situation in which politics and
entrepreneurship were mixed together, and at worst a falsehood designed to promote the fortunes
of Quindaro. Just as the president of the Quindaro Town Company was pro-slavery, so a number
of the individuals involved in the development efforts of the Wyandott City Company were strong
Free State supporters, including Gaius Jenkins, Dr. Joseph P. Root, and the Eldridge brothers. At
one point early in 1857, the New England Emigrant Aid Company had even proposed to acquire a
controlling interest in Wyandott in direct competition with Quindaro, before turning their attention
to Atchison. However, in the “anything goes” business climate of the mid-Nineteenth Century,
rivalry between competing towns was often played out in the pages of their local newspapers with
no pretense of objectivity. Thus published commentary from their respective papers doesn’t
necessarily reflect the reality of the often closely linked relationships between the people and
institutions of the two neighboring communities.
The first plat of the Quindaro townsite was laid out in December, 1856, by Owen A.
Bassett, with a detailed survey prepared by P. H. Woodard. It covered an area from A Street (the
present North 42nd Street) east to Y Street (North 17th Street) and from Tenth Street (Parkview
Avenue) north to the Missouri River. Bassett’s plat included Quindaro Park, making it the first
park in what is now Wyandotte County and one of the oldest in the state. The Missouri River was
then somewhat to the west of its present position, exposing a long rock ledge which formed a
natural levee for steamboat landings (where the Missouri Pacific Railroad right-of-way is today),
and this was apparently a major factor in choosing the town's location. It may in fact have been
the only physical advantage of the location, as the remainder of the original townsite was steep,
rocky and heavily wooded.
Despite the roughness of the terrain, the town was laid out by Bassett on a grid, with the
longer dimension of the blocks running north and south. The principal north-south street in the
town was Kanzas Avenue (the present North 27th Street), while as noted the other north-south
streets were lettered from west to east, A through Y, with Kanzas taking the place of the letter Q.
Beginning at the river, the east-west streets were numbered, from First to Tenth. Two additional
streets, Levee and Main, ran diagonally across the top of the plat from the northwest to the
southeast, adjacent to and paralleling the river.
The plat was thus a trapezoid in shape, with the east-west streets gradually increasing in
length as one moved south: First Street in the northwest corner of the plat was the shortest, Fifth
Street extended no further east than its intersection with Kanzas Avenue a short block south of
Main, and only Seventh Street, Eighth Street (the present Sewell Avenue), Ninth Street (Sloan
Avenue), and Tenth Street (Parkview Avenue) continued through the full width of the plat (on
paper, at least) from A Street on the west to Y Street on the east.
Woodard’s survey of the plat of Quindaro was filed with the Leavenworth County Register
of Deeds in Delaware City on February 15, 1857, but by then the sale of lots and the construction
of buildings were already well under way. (Woodard’s plat differed from Bassett’s original layout
in the orientation of the lots fronting on Levee and Main, where the lots were changed to meet the
diagonal streets at a right angle rather than running north-south, thus making the lots more easily
buildable.) The business center of the new town was at the intersection of Kanzas and Main, and
stretched both east and west along Main and Levee as well as south up the steeply inclined
Kanzas for a block and one-half, nearly to Sixth Street. Attempts to cut Kanzas through the bluff
to the top of the hill were never finished, and the end of the cut may still be seen just north of the
present north end of 27th Street. The flanking north-south streets, P and R, both apparently
continued through but were primarily residential in nature. R Street (the present North 26th
Street) still provided access from the hilltop to the river as recently as the 1930s. Other
development occurred in the valley of Quindaro Creek that led back in a southwesterly direction
from the riverfront, along stretches of M, N, and O Streets. There was some development east of
R Street as well, but much of the platted area of the town was never developed for anything but
On January 1, 1857, ground was broken for the first building in Quindaro, an 8’ by 10’
structure to be used as a temporary office for the town company. This was soon followed by
construction of Colby and Parker's Quindaro House hotel at 1-3-5 Kanzas Avenue (Feature 1).4
Later accounts claimed that it was of stone, but the Chindowan described it as a 40’ by 70’, fivestory, wood-frame structure with accommodations for up to 250 guests, and the archaeological
evidence would seem to bear this out. (Other accounts say the building was of four stories, so the
Chindowan may have been counting a basement level.) As with most hotels of the period, the
first floor was occupied by commercial enterprises such as Johnson and Veale, Merchants. The
hotel opened for business on April 1, 1857.
Behind the Quindaro House to the west, facing Fifth Street, was a small brick structure
that may have been the office of the town company (Feature 76). Across the street to the east at
2 Kanzas Avenue was the more modest Wyandott House hotel, originally owned and operated by
Ebenezer O. Zane (Feature 6). The 32-year-old Zane was a member of a large and prominent
Wyandot Indian family (and a second cousin of famed Western writer Zane Grey). Like the
Guthries he was one of the original owners of the townsite, and he subsequently served as an
alderman on Quindaro's first town council.
Abutting the Wyandott House on the south, at 4 Kanzas Avenue, was one of the largest
commercial buildings in town, erected by Jacob Henry (Feature 3N). The structure was three
stories in height, with stone side walls, a brick and cast iron front, and a metal roof. The footings
indicate that there was a row of interior columns as well, which may also have been of iron. The
first floor was a mercantile store, and offices occupied the second, while a public meeting hall was
on the third. A smaller, adjoining store building at 6 Kanzas Avenue was built by Otis Webb,
proprietor of the steam ferry that ran between Quindaro and Parkville (Feature 3S). It may have
housed a grocery.
South of the Quindaro House, across Fifth Street at 7 Kanzas Avenue, was the J. B.
Upson Building (Feature 62). This housed the office of the Quindaro Chindowan (spelled with
hyphens, Chin-do-wan, on the second page masthead), the weekly newspaper initially edited by
John M. Walden. The first issue was published on May 13, 1857. For the first three months of
the paper's existence a woman, Mrs. Clarina I.H. Nichols (1810-1885), served as associate editor
and reporter before resigning over editorial differences. An abolitionist, pioneering feminist and
Lots were numbered consecutively in odd or even numbers, so that lot numbers and address
numbers were one and the same. This has greatly simplified the subsequent location and
identification of building remains. Feature numbers are those numbers assigned to remains found
in the course of the archaeological investigation of the Quindaro site.
friend of Susan B. Anthony, Mrs. Nichols had come to Kansas with two of her sons in 1854 and
settled in Lawrence. (The sons fought alongside John Brown at the Battle of Black Jack in June
1856, and one was wounded there.) She would later gain fame for her role in the drafting of the
Kansas state constitution in 1859, and subsequently left a written account of her days in Quindaro.
The Ranzchoff Building, one of the largest mercantile stores in the town, adjoined the
Chindowan office on the south, at 9-11 Kanzas (Feature 7). Additional development lay further
south on Kanzas Avenue, halfway up the hill. On the west side of the street, at 21 Kanzas, was a
frame building erected for Hiram Hill that initially was leased for a boarding house but later housed
the business of M. W. Bottum (Feature 11). Another large residential structure (which may also
have housed a business) stood at 39 Kanzas (Features 9, 58 and 59). Across the street was a
substantial row of commercial buildings at 34, 36, 38 and 40 Kanzas Avenue (Features 8, 53, 54
and 63). A drugstore operated by H. P. Downs occupied 34, while 38 housed a variety store and
the office of Dr. J. B. Welborn, yet another prominent figure in the early history of Wyandotte
At 17 R Street, on the crest of the hill to the east of the row of commercial buildings on
Kanzas, there was a sizeable residence (Feature 5). The house was subsequently rebuilt and
expanded in the late 1870s or early 1880s, and was photographed at about that time, perched
above a cultivated hillside. It remained standing and occupied as recently as 50 years ago.
Given its somewhat isolated location, construction of roads out of Quindaro began almost
immediately. Beginning at the south end of Kanzas Avenue, one led southeast the three miles to
Wyandott and eventually became the present Quindaro Boulevard. A second (the present
Leavenworth Road) headed west along the high ground forming the ridge between the Kansas
and Missouri River watersheds, and then split, with one branch leading north to Leavenworth while
the other led across the Delaware Reserve to Lawrence. The stage road to Lawrence was
completed by mid-May, 1857, with "Robinson, Walker and Co.'s Daily Passenger and Express
Line" charging $3.00 for the dusty, six-hour trip between the two towns. (In this instance, the
Robinson in question was Alfred Robinson, who had established a large livery stable in Quindaro,
put in a line of Concord coaches, and would become a long-time resident of the area.)
A third road led south from Quindaro to cross the Kansas River near the present 38th
Street and Kaw Drive, and served to link the town to the roads crossing the Shawnee Reserve,
including the Santa Fe and Oregon trails. Initially, Quindaro entered into negotiations with the
Wyandott City Company for the establishment of a joint ferry across the river. After the
negotiations failed, Quindaro established its own ferry on March 30, 1857. The Wyandott City
Company then graded the Southern Road to link Wyandott to Shawneetown, and established its
own free ferry a mile and one-half downstream from Quindaro's. Wyandott's ferry was replaced
by the Southern Bridge in 1858 (the first bridge across the Kansas River), and within six months of
the bridge's completion, Quindaro's competing ferry was out of business.
W. J. McCown opened the first store in Quindaro at 172 Main Street on March 4, 1857. A
large capacity, steam powered saw and lathe mill began operation in April, 1857. It was initially
owned by Otis Webb and A. J. Rowell, and was located at 33 Levee Street, near where the
present North 18th Street ends at the Missouri River. They had purchased the machinery from
the New England Emigrant Aid Company, which had it sitting idle in Kansas City. With five saws
and one lathe, the Quindaro Steam Saw Mill Co. was the largest mill in the territory, and with
lumber no longer having to be brought in from Missouri, construction in Quindaro began to
accelerate. A Quindaro post office (originally located in Johnson and Veale’s store on the ground
floor of the Quindaro House) opened on June 12, 1857, with hotel owner Charles S. Parker as
Otis Webb also owned a steam ferry that connected Quindaro to Parkville, Missouri, just
two miles upstream. The OTIS WEBB, a 100' side-wheeler of 100 tons burden and 26" draft, had
been built in Wellsville, Ohio, for Webb, Dr. Charles Robinson, Fielding Johnson and George W.
Veale in the summer of 1857. It has generally been held that the ferry first went into service in
February, 1858 - the Webb Ferry was chartered on February 6 by the Kansas Territorial
Legislature, with Webb, Robinson and Charles H. Chapin listed as owners – but a piece in the
Chindowan on January 23, 1858, reported that The OTIS WEBB was continuing to make regular
trips without interruption due to the mildness of the winter. This would seem to indicate that the
ferry service was already well established at that point. The boat made one trip daily to Parkville,
with more frequent trips to a Missouri landing a mile and one-half closer to Quindaro. Given that a
steamboat was not inexpensive to operate, The OTIS WEBB also supplemented its ferry runs with
occasional trips downstream to Wyandott or up the Missouri River to Leavenworth.
An even better known steamboat which ran out of Quindaro was The LIGHTFOOT of
Quindaro. Built in Pittsburgh for Thaddeus Hyatt of New York, the LIGHTFOOT was a 100' sternwheeler of 75 tons burden and only 13" draft, and was intended to run up the Kansas River.
Arriving in Kansas City from Cincinnati on April 2, 1857, it soon began its first trip up the Kaw from
Wyandott to Lawrence. The first issue of the Chindowan reported that the LIGHTFOOT, on what
would have been its fourth trip up the river, was hung up on a sandbar near Eureka Ferry, and the
boat was eventually put into less difficult service on the Missouri. (During periods of high water,
the Kansas River was navigable as far up stream as Manhattan, and occasionally Salina, but the
railroads subsequently persuaded the state legislature to declare it an unnavigable stream so that
they could bridge the river at lower cost.) Early in 1859, Hyatt sold the LIGHTFOOT to the
Hannibal and St. Joseph Railway, to run between St. Joseph and Atchison as an adjunct of the
railroad (there being no bridge across the river).
Aside from lumber, the most common building material in Quindaro was native limestone,
quarried from several different locations on the bluffs above the business district. One such
quarry was operated by Frederick Klaus, who maintained a stoneyard at his residence at 13 O
Street (Feature 68). A brick kiln was established by Jacob Henry on three acres of land on the
riverfront east of Y (17th) Street in November of 1857, lessening the need for shipping brick in.
(The first brick house had already been built by Henry Steiner & Co. on P Street in August.)
Several carpenters also advertised their services in the Chindowan, including John S. McCorkle,
S. H. Marchant, and Mrs. Nichols’ eldest son, C. Howard Carpenter. The latter was later listed
with a partner, S. F. Otis, as "Architects and Builders."
Quindaro initially had two church buildings, located on the hilltop to the south of the
riverfront. The Rev. Sylvester Dana Storrs' stone Congregational Church was completed on the
southwest corner of Kanzas and Eighth (27th and Sewell) in September 1857, and dedicated on
January 27, 1858. Construction of the brick Methodist Episcopal Church was completed in
October, 1857, on the east side of O Street between Eighth and Ninth. It was dedicated on April
25, 1858, with the Rev. Ephraim Nute of Lawrence as pastor. As the dates would indicate, both
buildings were in use for some time prior to their official dedications. Beginning in the fall of 1857,
the Quindaro Temperance Society held regular meetings at the Congregational church, while the
Methodist church conducted services through an interpreter for Wyandots on alternate Sundays.
The congregation of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church was organized by the Rev. Octavius
Perinchief in August 1857, but never had a building of its own, instead holding services in the
Congregational Church, and the congregation apparently disbanded after a year. The town's
better-known Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Eben Blachly, had arrived in Quindaro with his wife
Jane in April of 1857. He subsequently began holding services in the neighboring town of
Wyandott, a mission that eventually led to the founding of the First Presbyterian Church in that
Social activities in Quindaro extended beyond politics, religion and temperance meetings.
For example, on January 28, 1858, a "German Ball" was held in Otis Webb's hall at 6 Kanzas
Avenue. There were also both a Quindaro Literary Association and a Quindaro Library
Association. By December, 1857, the Library Association had already accumulated a library of
200 volumes, while the Literary Association had begun to sponsor a regular lecture series,
meeting at "Uncle Tom's Cabin" at 62 P Street. The Literary Association also published an
occasional journal, The Cradle of Progress, edited by Mrs. Nichols.
Quindaro initially had two or three saloons or “groggeries,” but they were closed by the
town's Vigilance Committee on the morning of June 17th, 1857, in response to a petition by the
women of the town. Abolition, women's rights, and temperance were all "progressive" issues in
the mid-Nineteenth Century, so it is not surprising to find them joined in Quindaro. At this time the
temperance movement apparently concerned itself only with hard liquor, however, not beer, and
consequently Quindaro boasted a small brewery. Built and operated by Henry Steiner and Jacob
Zehntner, the Quindaro Brewery was located at 45 N Street in the valley near the west side of
Quindaro Creek. The brewery operation was apparently in several out-buildings, while the stone
and brick main building had living quarters on the second floor and a tap room below, with a
vaulted beer cellar dug back into the hillside behind (Features 32, 33 and 34). As reported in an
oft-reprinted account by Albert D. Richardson, the tap room may have been the site of one of the
Vigilance Committee's raids, where the whiskey and brandy casks were duly smashed (while the
owner’s half-naked wife screamed curses in German), but the beer barrels left unharmed.
The first school in Quindaro (for white children only) was organized at a public meeting
chaired by Dr. Charles Robinson on April 14, 1857, and supported by public subscription, although
its pre-Civil War location has not been determined. When it came to self-government, however,
Quindaro was a bit shaky (although not from lack of trying). After a week's study by a special
committee, an initial attempt to organize a town government was rejected at a town meeting held
on July 7, 1857, on the grounds that it was premature, and in any case the Vigilance Committee
was deemed sufficient for the time being if a Registrar of Deeds and a Wharfinger to manage the
levee could be elected.
Some six months later, on January 21, 1858, the voters of Quindaro adopted a City
Charter and submitted it to the territorial legislature in hope of incorporation. This was followed by
the organization of an unincorporated town government, with Alfred Gray elected as Quindaro's
first Mayor. On February 9, 1858, the third Kansas Territorial Legislature, with Free State men
now in the majority, approved Quindaro's incorporation. A second municipal election was then
held on March 22, with Alfred Gray and the Free State slate again the winners.
On February 20, the text of Mayor Gray's first inaugural address (prior to incorporation)
was published in the Chindowan. In it he urged the Common Council in their capacity as school
commissioners to establish a school for black children, thereby indicating that there were already
sufficient numbers present for that to be a matter of concern. He also asked the council to take
measures for the construction of a city hall and to encourage the organization of a fire company,
but expressed his opposition to the expenditure of public funds for street improvements.
A month and a half later, the Common Council's Committee on Finance issued a report
on the Quindaro school fund after one year. The school for white children had been built at a cost
of $2000, with a teacher employed at $700, while in apparent response to Mayor Gray's proposal,
a school for black children had been established at a cost of $500, with a teacher at $300. The
disparities may have been as much a reflection of the actual numbers of children served as of the
racial prejudices of Quindaro's citizens, but it should be remembered that at the time, such
prejudices were common even among those who believed that slavery was morally indefensible.
On May 18, 1858, the voters of Quindaro in what would have been considered a radical act
approved Negro suffrage in municipal elections, but at the same time voted to continue to operate
separate school systems.
One person who did not support racial segregation in the schools was Mrs. Nichols. Her
daughter Birsha Carpenter operated a private school in Quindaro which served both white and
black children, but a May 2, 1859, letter from Mrs. Nichols to her friend Susan Wattles indicated
that this was not a widely popular position to take:
“My daughter has recommenced her school with 13 white and col’d and 3 or 4
more promised. She has an offer of a School in Lawrence at $100. No question she
could have 30 to 40 scholars here at $ 499 per qtr. if she would exclude col’d children, but
we have concluded, tho’ it looks like starving for our principles, that we will wait till we
have starved before we abandon them.”
At the time that the City Charter was first approved, the Chindowan published a report on
the town's growth after one year. The population was 800 (and may have reached 1200 before
decline set in), with nearly 100 private houses built together with the two churches and a school.
The businesses noted included the two hotels, a hardware store (Shepherd & Henry at 179 Main
Street), three dry goods stores, four groceries, one clothing store (N. Ranzchoff & Co.), two drug
stores, two meat markets, two blacksmiths, one wagon shop, six boot and shoe shops, and Alfred
Robinson’s livery stable. There were also four doctors, three lawyers, two surveyors, and the
several carpenters and builders noted earlier. Town lots were selling for $150 to $1500.
Quindaro’s rapid growth had already sparked an optimistic attempt to extend the platted
area of the town further to the south. This development in the so-called “out side lands” was not a
project of the Quindaro Town Company, but rather involved a new partnership of Robinson,
Guthrie, Otis Webb and Joseph Lyman. Initially laid out in June, 1857, by Parkville surveyor
Charles B. Ellis, the proposed Addition to Quindaro would add two rows of twenty blocks each to
the original plat, from E Street (the present North 38th Street) on the west to Y Street on the east,
and from Tenth Street (Parkview Avenue) on the north down to Twelfth Street (Brown Avenue) on
the south, which also corresponded to the location of the road that ran west to Lawrence and
Leavenworth. (The area west of E Street was part of the Wyandott Allottment of John B. and
Sarah Cornstalk, which the four partners were apparently unable to acquire.)
The Addition to Quindaro soon became the source of the first rift between Quindaro’s
development partners. Ellis had barely completed his initial layout proposal when Samuel N.
Simpson began collecting money from investors (including Alfred Gray) for the acquisition of lots
and blocks within the new development. Perhaps they thought that he was acting in his position
of director of investments for the town company, but he had no such sanction, much of the land
had yet to be acquired by the four partners from its previous owners, and Simpson soon left
Quindaro for the East, apparently taking the investors’ money with him. Robinson was cautiously
optimistic that Simpson would eventually make everything right, but Guthrie stated that he did not
expect Simpson to return to Quindaro and that the town company might be out $30,000 or more.
Simpson’s own brother, H. M. Simpson, was as pessimistic as Guthrie, and put the potential loss
at $40,000 to $50,000.
As it happened, Simpson did return to Quindaro from Boston in September, 1857, after an
absence of over two months. Most of the investors were able to get deeds to the properties that
Simpson had supposedly acquired for them, although the underlying property acquisition still had
not been completed and the plat had yet to be filed. Finally, on June 16, 1858, Dr. Charles
Robinson, acting on behalf of himself and his three partners, filed the plat of the Addition to
Quindaro with the Leavenworth County Register of Deeds. Although not the intent of any of those
involved, this extension of the platted area of the town southward to the Leavenworth Road
unknowingly presaged an eventual shift in the center of the community.
Shortly before Simpson’s return, Joel Walker suddenly died on September 8, 1857, at the
age of 44 while visiting Leavenworth, leaving his estate in the hands of his wife Mary Ann and his
nephew Isaiah Walker. Abelard Guthrie subsequently replaced Walker as president of the
Quindaro Town Company, and would continue in that position until the company's demise, but
Walker’s unexpected death complicated the transfer of titles and making of deeds, adding to the
town company’s problems.
Despite those problems, for almost two years the town boomed, attracting national
attention. There is absolutely no evidence, however, that Abraham Lincoln visited Quindaro on
his 1859 trip to Kansas. Nor was William Tecumseh Sherman an attorney in Quindaro; that law
partnership with his brother-in-law Thomas Ewing Jr. was actually in Leavenworth. It has also
generally been held that John Brown was never in the town. To the confusion of some, Mary
Chesley Killiam, who with her husband George F. Killiam acquired the Quindaro House in March
1859, would later write that he had been among their guests prior to his final return to the East
and martyrdom. However, the hotel she was referring to was not the Quindaro House, but rather
the Eastern House in Lawrence (built 1855), which the Killiams had owned prior to moving to
As the only Free State river port, from its very beginning Quindaro was also rumored to be
involved in Underground Railroad operations in Kansas. Reportedly, slaves escaping from Platte
County, Missouri, would often come through Parkville, where there were sympathetic helpers
among the pro-slavery majority.5 They were then brought across the river in small boats or by
secret runs of the Parkville-Quindaro ferry. They also had the more hazardous options of trying to
swim the river or cross on the winter ice. The escapees hid during the day outside the developed
portion of Quindaro, in shallow caves in the wooded bluffs or in the barns of farmers like Elisha
Sortor, and were then conducted by night on various routes leading to Nebraska and freedom.
Such activities were of course denied by the editor of the Quindaro Chindowan - aiding an
escaped slave violated the federal Fugitive Slave Law, and under the Kansas Territorial Statutes
remained a capital offense until the repeal of the so-called "bogus laws" in 1859 - but at one point
the paper stated that if slaves really were running away from Parkville to Quindaro, it was not
because they were being enticed to do so. Rather it was the fault of the people of Parkville
themselves, by their repeatedly proclaiming that Quindaro was a haven for the fugitives.6 In the
wake of the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which declared that African-Americans could
not be citizens and had few if any rights under the Constitution, slave catchers from Missouri
roamed the area, and even camped in Quindaro Park, in one documented instance kidnapping a
young black woman from a public road on the edge of town and taking her back to Missouri.
The full truth of the matter has only gradually come to light. On January 24, 1858 - barely
a year into Quindaro's existence - Samuel Tappan of Lawrence wrote a surprisingly unguarded
letter to the Rev. Thomas Wentworth Higginson in Massachusetts concerning the state of
Underground Railroad operations in Kansas:7
"I am happy to inform you that a certain Rail Road has been and is in full blast.
Several persons have taken full advantage of it to visit their friends. Our funds in these
hard times have nearly run out, and we need some help, for the present is attended with
considerable expense. If you know of any one desirous in helping the cause, just mention
Col. George S. Park, the founder of Parkville and the publisher of its newspaper, the Industrial
Luminary, was openly anti-slavery, which did not endear him to his neighbors. At one point in
1855 the newspaper office was attacked and the press dumped into the Missouri River. Col. Park
also had business interests in Quindaro, including a warehouse on the levee (Feature 79).
One such strong denial, on August 1, 1857, may have been the cause of Mrs. Nichols’
resignation as associate editor on that date, as she was never shy regarding her convictions.
Writer, lecturer, Unitarian minister, and ardent abolitionist, the “tough, swart-minded Higginson,”
as Stephen Vincent Benet described him, had been in Lawrence in the summer of ’56 and would
later be an unapologetic backer of John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry – and Emily Dickinson’s
literary mentor.
our case to him, and ask him to communicate with Walter Oakley at Topeka, James
Blood or myself at Lawrence, or Sam C. Smith at Quindaro."8
Another contemporary reference to Underground Railroad activities in Quindaro, albeit an
oblique one, can be found in one paragraph of a June 3, 1860, letter from Mrs. Nichols to her
friend Susan Wattles:
“Birsha is pretty well though still obliged to guard against the common enemy –
ague. Her school gets on well; only (illegible) yet money is so hard to be got for bread
even. There are some blessed events I would so like to rejoice your heart by narrating,
but prudence prevents – Suffice it to say humanity can have railroads without grants from
Years later, Mrs. Nichols recounted that "Uncle Tom's Cabin," the house on P Street
where the Quindaro Literary Association met, was also a center of Underground Railroad activities
- or "emancipation without proclamation" as she half jokingly referred to it. “Uncle Tom's boys
could tell of some exciting escapes from Quindaro to the interior, by day and by night." In the same
account she described an instance in late October 1861, in which she personally helped Fielding
Johnson with a slave's escape, by hiding the woman from slave catchers in her dry cistern. Just
four months later, in February 1862, Benjamin F. Mudge wrote to his brother of sheltering four
escapees, part of a group of eight that had crossed the river on the ice, and discouraging their
pursuers with a shotgun borrowed from Rev. Storrs. He stated that their master lived almost
within sight across the river, and had offered $50 a head for the slaves’ recovery.
Both of these later incidents occurred after the start of the Civil War, but at a point when
slavery was still legal in the state of Missouri. The Confiscation Act of August 1861, under which
slaves could be taken as enemy property, applied only to those who actively supported the
Confederacy. Similarly, the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, applied only to those
states that had seceded. Slavery was not actually abolished in Missouri until January 11, 1865.
But with Kansas' admission to the Union as a free state and the coming of the war, escape
attempts out of Missouri by way of Parkville and Quindaro naturally increased, and according to
Clara Gowing, a teacher at the Delaware Baptist Mission, this reportedly led angry Missourians to
retaliate by sinking the steam ferry in September of 1861.9
On January 29, 1859, the fourth Kansas Territorial Legislature created Wyandott County
out of portions of Leavenworth and Johnson Counties - it was the smallest county in Kansas
Territory, and remains the smallest county in the state - and passed an act providing for the
incorporation of the towns of Wyandott and Quindaro as cities of the third class. (Quindaro's
previous incorporation had apparently been held to be invalid due to a faulty legal description.) In
the county and city elections subsequently held together on February 22, Alfred Gray was again
elected mayor. (It is often stated that Gray was the only mayor that Quindaro ever had, but he
was replaced in the 1860 county and city elections by Charles Chadwick.)
The newly incorporated area of Quindaro included not only the area of the town's two
original plats, but was extended a mile further south to the present Parallel Parkway, taking in the
two-acre allotment of the Wyandot Indians' Methodist Episcopal Church at the northeast corner of
the present 38th Street and Parallel Parkway. The church itself had been burned by a drunken
mob in April, 1856, leaving a small cemetery that had since become Quindaro's municipal
cemetery. The reason for such expansive city limits isn't known, but it is worth noting that both
Alfred Gray and Abelard Guthrie had homes in this unplatted portion of Quindaro.
Samuel C. Smith represented Quindaro in the Free State legislature in Topeka, and would later
become Governor Robinson’s private secretary.
This was not The OTIS WEBB. A new ferry operation had been chartered in February 1860, by
George Veale, Abelard Guthrie, Fielding Johnson, and Julius G. Fisk.
Despite reincorporation, Quindaro was beginning a decline almost as rapid as its growth.
The rough topography was proving to be a major barrier to continued development, a nation-wide
business depression following the Panic of 1857 dried up investment capital (and caused a
general shortage of hard currency), a drought that began in June, 1859, and lasted almost 18
months caused great hardship for many, and the triumph of Free State forces in Kansas ended
much of Quindaro's basic reason for existence. The situation, not only in Quindaro but in Kansas
as a whole, became so serious that the territory began to lose population and a national relief
effort was organized. By February 3, 1861, the Rev. Sylvester Dana Storrs could report that over
$1,000,000 in provisions and clothing had been received in Atchison for the relief of victims of the
depression and drought, but such efforts did little to help Quindaro’s economic status.
On November 24, 1858, a meeting had been held in Mayor Gray’s office to discuss
Quindaro’s prospects, and a Quindaro Board of Trade was subsequently established to promote
“the trade, commerce and general prosperity of Quindaro.” Nevertheless, the following year saw
a number of major properties begin to change hands. In March 1859, the Quindaro Brewery was
sold by George Bodenburg to Charles Morasch, and that same month saw the purchase of the
Quindaro House by George and Mary Killiam. The Chindowan led an up-and-down existence. It
initially ceased publication in June of 1858 with the resignation of John M. Walden, then was
revived by the new Quindaro Board of Trade in December with A. S. Corey as editor. The
Chindowan staggered on until November, 1859, when the name of the paper was changed by its
new owner, John Francis, to the Kansas Tribune. (Francis had been given ownership of the press
and type if he would continue weekly publication.) As if to confirm the town's decline, on
November 1, 1859, Wyandott County voters chose Wyandott over Quindaro as the new county
seat. By January 1, 1860, Julius G. Fisk was able to buy the Wyandott House from Ebenezer O.
Zane for just $152. Fisk also acquired the adjacent Henry Building, as well as the Quindaro
Steam Saw Mill Co., making him a major stakeholder in the town.
Quindaro's position by 1860, four years after its founding, was reflected in the Eighth U.S.
Census. The census showed that Kansas Territory already had a population of 107,206, of which
625 were listed as "Free Colored" and just two (both women) were slaves. Wyandott County now
had a population of 2,609. The population of Quindaro Township, including the city of Quindaro,
had declined to 689 of which 30 were Free Colored, while the population of the adjacent Wyandott
Township, including the city of Wyandott, had grown to 1,920 with 18 Free Colored. (Wyandot
Indians of the Citizen Class in both communities were included in the "White" category, with the
majority residing in or near Wyandott.) Across the line in Missouri, the population of the City of
Kansas (Kansas City) was 4,418, including 25 Free Colored and 166 slaves (just 4% of the
population) - still appreciably smaller than its rivals St. Joseph or Leavenworth - while the
population of Westport had declined from a high of nearly 2,000 to 1,195, including four Free
Colored and 134 slaves (11% of the population).
Compounding Quindaro's difficulties, Guthrie and Robinson had quarreled, each accusing
the other of shoddy business practices. In 1858, Guthrie had a bill in Chancery prepared, filing
suit against his partners in the Quindaro venture, claiming that the town company's funds had
been mishandled. The suit dragged on for over two years, with testimony indicating considerable
confusion over just who was responsible for what in the town company’s operation. The situation
grew even worse when (according to an account by William E. Connelley) Samuel N. Simpson
was horsewhipped by Guthrie for reportedly "seducing and ruining" Guthrie's "deaf, dumb and
feeble-minded" sister-in-law, Margaret Brown. Guthrie apparently claimed that Simpson had
fathered Margaret Brown’s child; Robinson stated that no one else believed it. Yet another blow
came on December 3, 1860, when the Quindaro sawmill burned. Several thousand board feet of
lumber were destroyed, along with all the tools and machinery, and the loss to the owners was
Guthrie's suit against Robinson and Simpson was finally resolved by a three-judge
arbitration panel in the defendants' favor on January 1, 1861, with Judge O. B. Gunn protesting
Guthrie's uncooperative attitude. In response, Guthrie published a 16-page pamphlet entitled “To
The Public,” accusing Dr. Charles Robinson of abusing his position as Treasurer and Agent of the
Quindaro Town Company toward fraudulent and financially disastrous ends. In his diatribe he
accused Judge Gunn of collusion with Robinson, referred to Simpson only as “Snots,” and
denounced Robinson, “…as a liar, a swindler and a perjurer, and I have reason to suspect that these
are not the blackest of his crimes.”
Despite the suit, Guthrie and Robinson had continued to work together to bring a railroad
to Quindaro, believing that that would be the town’s salvation. They pinned their hopes on the
Parkville & Grand River Railroad, a line promoted by Col. Park that would link Parkville to the
Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad at Cameron, Missouri. Bonds were floated, right of way acquired,
and an engineer (who resided in Quindaro) hired to lay out the line. Robinson spent considerable
time in Washington, trying to get government assistance for the project. Despite their efforts, it is
uncertain if construction ever actually began, and with the coming of the Civil War the project, and
the hopes that it engendered, faded away.
Having invested everything in the Quindaro venture, Abelard Guthrie reportedly went
bankrupt. He pleaded with various investors such as Hiram Hill for monies they still owed, only to
be told that with the panic they were unable to pay. He and his family continued to live in
Quindaro, however, in their house near the present 30th and Kimball surrounded by a sizeable
farm. He began pursuing his wife's claim to his mother-in-law's 200 acre Shawnee Allotment in
the hope of recouping his fortunes, often to the point of obsession, and reportedly even attempted
to switch his tribal membership from Wyandot to Shawnee. This and other dealings led to his
estrangement from many in the tribe, particularly those Wyandots who had elected to become
citizens under the Treaty of 1855.10
Once the Civil War began in April 1861, much of Quindaro's remaining population began
to disappear. Before the month was out, Quindaro businessman George W. Veale had received
a colonel's commission in the Kansas State Militia from Governor Robinson and raised a company
of volunteers. Eventually, much of the town's male population (most of them relatively young)
enlisted in the Union army. Those who were married often moved their families to the greater
safety of Wyandott or else returned them to the East. The Kansas Tribune, successor to the
Chindowan, ceased publication in June of 1861 and was moved by its owners to Olathe, Kansas,
where it was renamed the Olathe Mirror. Even the town's pride and joy, an eight pounder cannon
nicknamed "Lazarus" that had been used to announce arrivals at the levee, was given up to the
war effort when it was donated to Col. William Weer of the 10th Kansas Volunteer Infantry
Regiment on July 20.11 By December 21, 1861, Elizabeth May Dickinson was recording in her
journal, “Quindaro is a very desolate place, scarce anybody here.”
With the main part of the town largely deserted, on January 20, 1862, the recentlyorganized 9th Kansas Volunteers under Col. Alson C. Davis was ordered to winter quarters in
Quindaro to protect the town from bushwhackers and border raiders. Initially the 700 troops in
Davis’ cavalry regiment were welcomed in the shrunken community, and many attended services
at the Congregational Church. But (as recounted by Vincent J. Lane) as time passed the largely
idle troops quartered their horses in vacant buildings, pulled down houses for firewood, and
generally devastated the community. This brought expressions of outrage from the people of
Wyandott and those like Benjamin F. Mudge who still lived in the Quindaro area. (Mudge
suspected Col. Davis of being pro-slavery in his sympathies; the good colonel eventually fled
Contrary to at least one published account, Guthrie was not part Shawnee, and the allotment
claim was that of his mother-in-law Theresa Saunders Brown, the Shawnee wife of Adam Brown
Jr., rather than his mother.
Originally acquired in Nebraska by Owen A. Bassett, the cannon’s nickname referred to its habit
of disappearing, then ”rising from the dead,” whenever the Army or territorial authorities came
Kansas for Missouri with a "Committee of Safety" from Wyandott hot on his heels.) The troops
were finally removed from the town on March 12, but only after the state legislature had repealed
Quindaro's incorporation on March 6, 1862. The legislature named Quindaro Township
successor to the town company, and instructed it to wrap up the company’s affairs.
Even with the outbreak of the war, the Wyandot Indians' involvement with the Quindaro
area had not yet ended. Among the Wyandots, the Treaty of 1855 had led to a split between the
heavily assimilated majority who became U.S. citizens and a sizeable minority who still wished to
adhere to traditional ways and retain their tribal identity. In the latter 1850s, a number of the
traditionalists had moved to Indian Territory, settling on the Seneca Reserve there. Most of these
"Emigrating Party" or "Indian Party" Wyandots were nevertheless pro-Union in their sympathies,
and were forced by Confederate threats to return to Wyandott County in the summer of 1862.
On December 22, 1862, a group of the traditionalist refugees met at Abelard Guthrie's
house in Quindaro and organized their own Wyandot tribal council, with the highly respected
Tauromee as Principal Chief. Guthrie was voted power-of-attorney, and for the next eight years
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs was bombarded with a constant stream of letters from
Quindaro, some on behalf of the Indian Party council, some pursuing Guthrie's own political and
financial interests, but most mixing the two together.
Throughout the war years and immediately following the war, the Quindaro area's black
population grew as escaped slaves and freedmen, many from Platte County, Missouri, settled the
partially abandoned townsite. According to the 1860 census, at that time three African-American
families already owned property in Quindaro, along K Street on the high ground to the west of
Quindaro Creek. By the time the Kansas state census was conducted in 1865, the AfricanAmerican population of Quindaro Township had grown from 30 to 429, including three families –
those of Joseph Taylor, Jackson Harris, and W. Pope – that had also resided in the township in
1860. These families farmed their own land, or else worked for white farmers still in the Quindaro
area such as the Sortors.
Among the original settlers who remained behind in Quindaro was the Rev. Eben Blachly.
As early as 1862, he and his wife Jane began offering schooling to the children of escaped slaves.
On February 23, 1865 (several months before the end of the war), Rev. Blachly's school was
formally organized as Freedman's University, papers of incorporation filed, and a board of
trustees named, including Rev. Blachly, W. M. Bottum, R. M. Gray, Fielding Johnson, Byron Judd,
R. Morgan, R. W. Oliver, John G. Reaser and William A. Sterritt. The school was placed under
the governance of the Kansas Synod of the Presbyterian Church in January 1867. The following
month, the state legislature relinquished to Freedman's University all the state's interest in taxes
on the lots of the Quindaro townsite.
According to oral tradition, the school may have originally been located in Steiner and
Zehntner's Quindaro Brewery building, although by 1870 it apparently occupied at least part of the
former commercial property at 34-36-38-40 Kanzas Avenue, including the Downs Drugstore
building and its annex. (The stories regarding the brewery location may have gotten started
simply because the building was one of the few from Quindaro’s original development that
remained standing well into the 20th Century.) In addition to the state's support, Rev. Blachly and
other property owners in the area donated a substantial amount of land to the school and
purchased additional tracts at tax sales beginning in the late 1860s, until the property
encompassed much of the heart of the original town.
Within the boundaries of the land acquired for the school, sited halfway up the bluff on the
west side of the valley of Quindaro Creek, was a cemetery serving the growing African-American
community that was forming in the area. The first burials were presumably in the mid to late
1860s; unlike other features of the Quindaro area, neither the cemetery nor the road leading up to
it were indicated on the highly detailed 1870 map of the county, and the oldest stones still legible
in the 1960s had dates from the early 1870s. The cemetery has apparently never had a separate
legal existence, but remains part of what was once the Freedman’s University property, extending
in an irregular fashion across several blocks in the original town plat. (The cemetery was given a
legal boundary description as part of Browning-Ferris Industries’ sanitary landfill project in the
early 1980s, but only in order to define a previously undefined area that the landfill was not to
intrude on.) Still in use and still maintained, this may be the oldest African-American cemetery in
the state of Kansas. It should not be confused (although it often is) with the older Quindaro
Cemetery at 38th Street and Parallel Parkway, which served as Quindaro's municipal cemetery
and which reportedly also had a section set aside for black burials.
Contrary to some reports, the transition from the white frontier town to the black refugee
settlement was gradual rather than discontinuous or abrupt, and was never total. While the
former business section of Quindaro near the riverfront was largely abandoned, many individuals
and institutions associated with Quindaro remained, as the center of activity in the diminished
town shifted south to the area of Kanzas Avenue's intersection with the Leavenworth Road. In
addition to Rev. Blachly and his wife, those who remained in the area included the Guthries, Alfred
Robinson, Elisha Sortor, Dr. J. B. Welborn, and Charles Morasch.
Alfred Gray continued to live and farm in the area until 1873, when he moved to Topeka
following his election as the first Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture, a position he would
hold until his death on January 23, 1880. (His property adjoined Abelard Guthrie’s on the east,
straddling the southward extension of Kanzas Avenue/27th Street.) Rasselas M. Gray had
followed his brother to Quindaro in 1858, and lived there until his death in 1911, in his home at the
southeast corner of Kanzas and Eleventh (the present 27th and Farrow), just a few blocks north of
his brother. R. M. Gray’s son, Dr. George M. Gray, would later gain local prominence as a
physician, banker, civic leader, and one-time mayor of Kansas City, Kansas.
Another resident, and a chronicler in her journal of this period of transition, was a young
school teacher from Heath, Massachusetts, named Elizabeth May Dickinson (1836-1931). A
cousin of poet Emily Dickinson, "Libbie" May Dickinson arrived in Quindaro with her mother
Eunice Wells Dickinson, three younger sisters, and older brother William in April 1859. For the
next several years she taught school in both Quindaro and Wyandott, and watched as the town
slowly declined. (William W. Dickinson was elected Quindaro City Clerk in 1860, and
subsequently served a term in the 1862 state legislature.)
Despite her comments of the previous December, in April, 1862, Miss Dickinson was
teaching 24 pupils in a school held in the Quindaro Congregational Church, and that Fourth of July
attended a Quindaro area picnic with about 500 persons present. In March 1863, she began
another school term in Quindaro. (There is nothing in her journal to indicate that her students at
this point may have been black rather than white.) In the fall of 1864, she took a job teaching
school in Atchison, but her home and family remained in Quindaro.12
Benjamin Franklin Mudge (1817-1879) - attorney, scientist and educator - came to
Quindaro two years after Elizabeth May Dickinson, in the summer of 1861, also intending to teach
school, and resided there throughout the war. During this period he held the office of
superintendent of education for Wyandott County, and organized the Wyandott County
Agricultural Society, which sponsored the first County Fair in October 1863.
He finally left
Quindaro to move to Manhattan, Kansas, in December 1865, where he took up an appointment
as professor of natural history at the new Kansas State Agricultural College, as well as state
geologist. Even during the war years, the population of the Quindaro area remained high enough
that a year after the picnic that Elizabeth May Dickinson recorded, another Fourth of July
celebration held in Quindaro Park in 1863 was duly reported in a Wyandott newspaper.
One of 21 founders of the Wyandotte County Historical Society in 1889, in 1895 she became
the first public librarian in Kansas City, Kansas. She died February 5, 1931, at the age of 94.
On July 31, 1866, the Quindaro and Parkville Ferry Company was chartered by Alfred
Gray, Alfred Robinson, David Pearson, Francis A. Kessler Sr., and Francis A. Kessler Jr. to
reestablish the ferry service between the two towns, although it is not known how long it remained
in operation. (The Kesslers lived near M and Tenth Streets, but also owned property north of First
Street, in the northwest corner of the town adjacent to the river.) One factor working against the
successful revival of the ferry service at this time, as well as hindering any revival of Quindaro’s
commercial area, was the construction in 1866 of the Missouri River Railroad (Missouri Pacific) on
a raised embankment along the north side of Levee Street, cutting the townsite off from easy
access to the river. The railroad that Quindaro’s promoters had sought so eagerly had finally
arrived, but too late to help the town.
The Quindaro Post Office never closed, but was moved to the corner of Kanzas and
Twelfth (27th and Brown), where it continued to serve the area for many years. Following the
establishment of a county-wide system of public schools in 1867, both of the Quindaro schools
(still segregated) received new stone buildings in 1868. The school for white children, District 4,
was erected by R. M. Gray at the northeast corner of P and Eleventh (28th and Farrow) on six lots
purchased the previous October from Alfred and Julia Robinson. The site still serves as part of
the property of the present Quindaro Elementary School. The school for black children, District
17, was built next to the Quindaro Congregational Church at Kanzas and Eighth (27th and
Sewell), and for many years operated with an all African-American school board.
The first pastor of the Congregational Church, the Rev. Sylvester Dana Storrs, left
Quindaro with his wife in June 1862, following the withdrawal of the Union troops, but the church
continued with an active congregation (and presumably a new pastor). The Congregational
Church moved to a new location on Leavenworth Road in 1869, and the stone building was
eventually acquired by Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church. The Quindaro Methodist Episcopal Church
also remained active and in the area, by 1900 being located at the northeast corner of 27th and
Russell, less than four blocks south of its first location.
It should be noted that Heisler and McGee's very large and detailed 1870 map of
Wyandotte County (as it was now spelled) included a Quindaro business directory along with
those of White Church, Pomeroy, and other small towns. Several of the businesses listed,
including those of Alfred Gray, E. D. Brown and Thomas McIntyre, were agricultural in nature, but
others were more substantial. W. J. Heaffaker had a dry goods and grocery store which also
served as the Quindaro post office, with Heaffaker as postmaster. Cyrus Taylor was a wagon
maker, and D. R. Emmons & Co. operated a second dry goods and grocery store, Dallas
Emmons being an in-law of the Zane family. The map also indicated a chair factory near the
northwest corner of M and Eighth Streets (31st and Sewell), the boundaries of both school districts
together with the District 4 schoolhouse, the Methodist and Congregational churches, Freedman's
University in its Kanzas Avenue location, the Quindaro Cemetery at the present 38th Street and
Parallel Parkway, and the homes of Rev. Blachly, Alfred Gray, R. M. Gray, Abelard Guthrie,
Francis A. Kessler, Charles Morasch and Elisha Sorter (sic), among others. The AfricanAmerican cemetery above Quindaro Creek, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church and other elements of
the post-war African-American settlement were not indicated, except for the property southwest of
Eighth and P Streets now owned by J. Endicott.
Outside of the area of the original town, Dr. Welborn, R. M. Gray and Elisha Sortor all owned
property fronting on the Missouri River northwest of Quindaro, with Col. George S. Park owning a
tract directly opposite Parkville, possibly acquired either as a ferry landing or as the site for a bridge
crossing for the defunct Parkville & Grand River Railroad. Mrs. Clarina I.H. Nichols still resided in
Wyandotte County at this point, although her home was now located southwest of the present
18th Street and Parallel Parkway, on a small farm she had acquired in 1862, rather than in
Quindaro. (Part of her property was east of 18th, within the Wyandotte city limits, and to her
distress was therefore subject to city taxes.) Her eldest son C. Howard Carpenter and his wife
lived just to the south of Mrs. Nichols’ property, at the present northwest corner of 18 th Street and
Wood Avenue.
Abelard Guthrie's long involvement with Quindaro finally came to an end in the early
1870s. In 1867, the government had concluded a treaty (witnessed and partly drafted by Guthrie)
allowing the Indian Party Wyandots to purchase 20,000 acres from the Seneca in Indian Territory
and resume tribal status. The treaty recognized Tauromee’s Indian Party council as the only legal
Wyandot tribal council, and initially barred any Citizen Class Wyandots or their descendents from
tribal membership.
The treaty wasn’t ratified until 1868, and its implementation was delayed for several more
years while many of the less assimilated Wyandots suffered considerable hardship. The
traditionalist chief, Tauromee, died in Wyandotte in January 1870. His youthful successor, John
Kayrahoo, was widely regarded as Guthrie's puppet, while Guthrie himself was suspected of being
part of a "ring" of Indian agents and railroad men enriching themselves at the Indians' expense. In
1871, a petition denouncing Guthrie and Kayrahoo was signed by a large number of both Citizen
Class and Indian Party Wyandots in both Kansas and Indian Territory, but by the summer of that
year the Kayrahoo council had moved from Quindaro to the new Wyandot Reserve in Indian
Territory and tribal reorganization was finally begun. (Kayrahoo and his fellow council members
were voted out of office a year later.)
Abelard Guthrie died in Washington, D.C., on January 13, 1873, at the age of 58, while
still vainly pursuing his wife's claim to a Shawnee Allotment. Two years later, the widowed Nancy
Brown Guthrie requested permission to move with her family to the Huron or Anderdon Reserve in
Canada. The request was denied, the Canadian Wyandots saying that, having taken U.S.
citizenship under the treaty of 1855, she and her children were no longer Wyandots.
On January 6, 1872, a school for teachers called the Colored Normal School of Quindaro
was established by the Kansas State Legislature to function as part of Freedman's University, and
$2000 was appropriated for its operation. At the time, the university had an enrollment of eightythree and Charles Langston was president of the school, assisted by two teachers, Eben and
Jane Blachly. Freedman's Board of Trustees now consisted of Rev. Blachly, President, Jesse
Cooper, Fielding Johnson, Dr. Charles Robinson, Byron Judd, and E. F. Heisler, Secretary.
The following year, in addition to the death of Guthrie, two major blows were struck
against the townsite's revitalization. In the spring a second appropriation of $1100 was made by
the state legislature for the Normal School, but in the fall state funding was abruptly withdrawn due
to widespread agricultural losses brought on by drought, a three-year plague of grasshoppers, and
another devastating financial panic in the national economy. At the same time, at the request of
area property owners (including Elisha Sortor) the Wyandotte County Commissioners vacated
much of Quindaro's original two plats, with the exceptions of Quindaro Park, the Freedman’s
University property, and a handful of streets. A few property owners protested the action through
their attorney, Charles S. Glick, but to no avail. And with the death of Rev. Blachly on July 21,
1877, Freedman's University itself was in danger of closing.
In 1879, the school's trustees took out a mortgage on part of the property in an attempt to
keep it open. That same year, the Kansas Fever Exodus brought a large influx of AfricanAmerican families into Wyandotte County and renewed interest in Freedman's University, but by
1880 the trustees were considering selling the school's assets to Park College in Parkville,
Missouri. Finally, largely through the efforts of Corrvine Patterson, in 1881 the school was taken
over by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, chartered as a vocational/college preparatory
institute, and renamed Western University.13
A major figure in the 19th Century African-American community, Patterson at various times held
the elective offices of town marshal, deputy sheriff, and member of the school board in Kansas
City, Kansas.
In 1891, the existing university building on Kanzas Avenue was replaced by a new
structure named Ward Hall near the northeast corner of O and Eighth (29th and Sewell), where
the former Primrose Villa now stands, but enrollments remained painfully low. In 1895, the
Kansas A.M.E. Conference had raised only $460.53 for the school, and with only a dozen
students, tuition did not add appreciably to this small operating budget. The following year a
young A.M.E. minister named William Tecumseh Vernon took over the presidency of the stillstruggling school. Vernon was born in Lebanon, Missouri, on July 11, 1875. He had attended two
historic African-American schools, Lincoln Institute in Jefferson City and Wilberforce College in
Ohio, and was just 21 years of age when he was sent to Western.
Despite his youth, Reverend Vernon proved to be an adroit politician. He worked hard for
the election of Republican Governor William E. Stanley in 1898, and with the assistance of state
representative William Bailey of Kansas City, Kansas, succeeded in getting state funding restored
the following year. Formation of a State Industrial Department at Western was authorized by the
legislature and a total of $10,000 was appropriated, $5,000 for a new building and $5,000 for
operating expenses. Property at the northwest corner of Kanzas and Eighth (27th and Sewell)
was conveyed to the state, and Stanley Hall constructed to house the newly formed department.
Western University and the State Industrial Department each had its own board of trustees, the
former appointed by the church and the latter by the state. The president of Western was also
superintendent of the department, responsible to both boards. While it may have initially made
sense, this dual system was to be a source of increasing friction in later years.
In 1901 an annex was built to the north of Stanley Hall, and in the following year two stock
barns were constructed. A power plant and reservoir were added in 1904, and in 1905 work was
begun on the girls' trades building. Within another two years, a boys' trades building was
constructed; and by the close of the decade a four story girls' dormitory named after Bishop
Abraham Grant had also been built at the north end of Kanzas Avenue. There was also a major
addition to the east side of Ward Hall called Park Hall, which more than doubled the size of
original school building. During this period enrollments at the school grew by a commensurate
amount - from twelve in 1895 to over 200 in 1906.
The curriculum at Western University reflected Reverend Vernon's educational philosophy
of training the "head, heart, and hand for the home." Although the State Industrial Department
was an important feature in the development of the school during this period, the course offerings
were diversified and included a strong emphasis on theology, the classics, and music. Western
provided teacher training and college preparatory classes in addition to basic instruction in such
vocations as printing, drafting, carpentry, tailoring, and business. Agriculture was also stressed,
and a portion of the food consumed by faculty and students was raised on campus.
National recruiting efforts were the life blood of the school. Western University attracted
students from throughout the United States, and a majority of those who attended were boarders.
One of Western's strongest promotional assets was its music department. The department was
begun in 1902 by R. G. Jackson, who was a recent graduate of the music department at the
University of Kansas. In 1907, Professor Jackson founded the Jackson Jubilee Singers - a
musical troupe similar to the Fisk Jubilee Singers of Fisk University. Such noteworthy musicians
as Etta Moten and Eva Jessye at one time performed with the Jackson group. The group traveled
across the country, giving concerts and publicizing Western University.
Reverend (later Bishop) Vernon, the guiding force behind Western's growth and
consolidation, gained a national reputation for his accomplishments at the school. He traveled
extensively, lecturing and conferring with other black educators. In 1906, President Roosevelt
appointed him Registrar of the U. S. Treasury, which at that time was the highest position in
government to be attained by an African-American. Upon receipt of the appointment, Reverend
Vernon took a leave of absence from Western. In 1910, he was reappointed to the Treasury post
by President Taft, at which time he stepped down from the presidency of Western and was
replaced by Dr. H. T. Kealing.
The famous statue of John Brown was erected on the campus of Western University in
1911. The statue was the first monument in the United States to be raised to the controversial
figure. In view of the political climate of the time, it was a project that was both courageous and
defiant: "Jim Crow" laws were being passed in many states, violence against African-Americans
was on the rise, following a racial incident Sumner High School had been established in Kansas
City, Kansas, in 1905 as the only segregated black high school in the state, and in 1910 the
people of Kansas City, Kansas, had elected an avowed segregationist, James E. "Cap" Porter, as
The effort to build the monument had begun in 1909. The major sponsor of the drive was
Bishop Abraham Grant of the A.M.E. Church, who was assisted by Dr. S. H. Thompson and
attorney I. F. Bradley, both prominent figures in the African-American community in Kansas City,
Kansas. A sum of $2,000 was raised in what was labeled "the washer-woman's contribution," but
the money also came from packinghouse workers, teachers, and businessmen. Over the next
two years, people of all races and from many different parts of the country donated money toward
the establishment of the memorial.
When the funding goal had been reached, an Italian sculptor was commissioned to carve
the life-sized marble replica. The artist rendered the bearded figure of John Brown erect on a tall
granite base, clothed in a great coat with a facsimile of the Emancipation Proclamation rolled up in
his right hand. The inscription on the base of the monument reads, "Erected to the memory of
John Brown by a grateful people."
The statue was placed in front of Ward Hall and unveiled at commencement exercises for
the class of 1911 on June 8 of that year. Bishop Grant was not present to view the completion of
this project, as he had died the previous winter. The master of ceremonies was Jefferson P. King,
a teacher at the new Sumner High School (later to be principal of Northeast Junior High School
and president of Western University). Three thousand people gathered on the grounds in front of
the statue. A significant portion of those in the crowd were white, and the dedication ceremony
was regarded as a strong gesture of unity. Among the dignitaries present was the aging John P.
St. John, who had been governor of Kansas at the time of the Exodus. He had become nationally
known for his efforts to find practical and just solutions for the problems of the Exodusters and, in
his time, was nearly as controversial as John Brown had been.
As Western grew and prospered in the early years of the 20th century, the areas south of
Eighth Street and east of Kanzas Avenue that adjoined the campus began to take on the
character of established, urban residential neighborhoods. Replatting of the area had begun as
early as November, 1904, with the small Booker Subdivision just north of Quindaro Park, platted
by W. A. and Cora M. Morse. This was followed by Mayer Park in 1906, in the area between
Ninth (Sloan) and Eleventh (Farrow) west of Kanzas Avenue, including the Quindaro School
property. This area had formerly been part of Abelard Guthrie's property, and was now owned by
a Kansas City, Missouri businessman named John Mayer.
Closer to Western University, the land adjoining the south side of Eighth Street just west
of the District 17 school was never platted, and may in fact have at one time been part of
Western's property. It was eventually developed with four or five houses tied to the university,
including the rather modest home of Bishop Vernon and the much more substantial residence of
Dr. Kealing. The property south of this tract down to Ninth (Sloan) was platted as Western
University Heights, although the date of that plat is now lost.
The remainder of the property between Eighth and Ninth Streets west of Western
University Heights, along L, M, N, and O Streets, was platted into three subdivisions beginning
with Vernon Place in 1910, followed by Endicott Place in 1911 and Simms Place in 1923. What
was noteworthy about these particular plats was that in all particulars, from lot arrangement to
street names, they conformed to the long-vacated plat of Quindaro. The latter two plats, Endicott
Place and Simms Place, were Statutory Plats, filed by the County Clerk in order to legally record
the division and ownership of already subdivided properties. The presumption would seem to be
that the owners had continued to buy and sell property in the area according to the original
Quindaro plat, even though it was no longer legally in force. (Another example of this would seem
to be several outparcels within the larger Western University property, which also corresponded to
lots in the Quindaro plat.) The 1870 map of Wyandotte County had indicated the owner of this
tract as J. Endicott, and among the owners of property within the Endicott Place plat was "Aunt"
Mahala Endicott, who had played a vital role in saving Freedman's University from dissolution
following Rev. Blachly's death. Simms Place included the property of the newest Allen Chapel
A.M.E. Church.
The most impressive new subdivision plat in the area lay east of North 27th Street, north
of Sewell Avenue, and south of the large tract east of 27th owned by Western University. This
was the 40-acre subdivision of Riverside Park. It was laid out in a manner similar to the
contemporary, upper-class Kansas City, Kansas, subdivisions of Parkwood and Westheight
Manor, with streets angled to conform to the topography and several small parklets where streets
intersected, but unfortunately no designer’s name is present on the one surviving copy of the plat.
The plat of Riverside Park was filed in June 1910 on behalf of The Kansas City University by
university president J. E. Peterson and secretary T. H. Knight. Kansas City University was the
Methodist Protestant school at North 33rd Street and Parallel Avenue, and it seems probable that
the university received this property (among others) as part of the original 1895 bequest from
Samuel F. Mather that led to the establishment of the school. Very little of Riverside Park’s
ambitious layout was ever actually developed, with the houses for the most part being confined to
the southern and western portions of the plat, and some of these, such as the Brown-Blachly
house, were in place long before the subdivision. It seems probable that such a development was
overly optimistic, given the economic realities and racist attitudes of the period.
Adjoining Riverside Park on the east and extending east as far as North 18th Street was
the Riverside Cemetery. It is not known what relationship the proposed cemetery may have had
to the proposed subdivision, and if the two were concurrent or if the cemetery came after it
became obvious that there would be no later phases to Riverside Park. Presumably this
remained a cemetery on paper only, with no actual burials ever carried out. Certainly there was
no mention of an existing cemetery when the area was graded out for the construction of I-635
highway in the 1960s.
A strong indication of Western University's prominence by the early 1920s was the
involvement of several leading local real estate firms in the development of the area. The most
notable of these was Merriam, Ellis and Benton, for nearly 100 years a leader in real estate,
investment and insurance in Kansas City, Kansas. The Merriam, Ellis and Benton Investment Co.
platted the new subdivision of College Hill in June 1922, consisting of four blocks on the east side
of North 27th Street south of Riverside Park, and one on the west side of North 27th just south of
Western University Heights. (It was at about this time, as the Kansas City, Kansas, city limits
neared the area, that the street names were gradually changed to their modern equivalents.
Eighth Street in particular went through several changes, from Eighth Street to South Avenue to
Grant Avenue, before becoming the present Sewell Avenue.)
Western University continued to prosper through the 1920s, but like many small schools it
was severely hurt by the Great Depression. Jefferson P. King had become president of Western
and superintendent of the State Industrial Department in 1927. He was considered by some to be
primarily a political appointee, and charges were made that his administration was marked by
graft and corruption. With the onset of the Depression, there began to be sentiment in the state
legislature for closing the department and merging it with the Kansas Vocational School in
Topeka. Following the sudden death of Dr. King in an automobile accident in January 1931, an
audit had to be carried out by the state prior to turning the State Industrial Department over to a
new superintendent. The audit confirmed much about the mismanagement of the school's
accounts, and gave further impetus to those who wished to end the state's support.
Faced with opposition in the state legislature and the financial devastation of the
Depression, Western's problems were compounded when the A.M.E. Church withdrew its support
from the school in 1933, following a dispute with the state over the naming of a new
superintendent for the State Industrial Department. Hoping to strengthen the department's
operation, the state board of trustees with the backing of the reform-minded new Governor, Alfred
M. Landon, insisted on appointing former Bishop Vernon to the post. The A.M.E. Church, which
had previously defrocked the Bishop on questionable charges of theft in what reportedly was
largely a political dispute, was equally insistent that the superintendency and the presidency of
Western University should continue to be held by a single individual named by the church.
Vernon, with the state's backing, appointed a strong faculty and succeeded in getting the
school's academic accreditation restored before stepping down again in 1936. But without the
church's active support, enrollments and contributions declined, and the establishment of the
draft, followed by World War II, was the final blow. The high school class of 1943 had only six
graduates (all women), and on June 30, the State Industrial Department was formally closed and
the property conveyed back to the A.M.E. Church. In 1944, after almost 80 years of service to the
African-American community, the school founded by the Rev. Eben Blachly was forced to close its
doors for good. (William Tecumseh Vernon died July 25, 1944, at the age of 69, and was buried
in an unmarked grave in Woodlawn Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas.) Legal dissolution of
Western University came in 1948, once it was apparent that no post-war revival was at hand.
Fifty years later, Western University Association, a holding entity of the A.M.E. Church, still retains
title to much of Rev. Blachly's property.
Following Western's demise, the segregated Douglass Hospital occupied the remodeled
Grant Hall in 1945. Douglass had been established in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1898, when
hospital care was generally closed to African-Americans, and its nursing school had been
affiliated with Western since 1915. One by one, the buildings on the Western campus were
demolished, to be replaced in the 1960s by institutions that were affiliated with Douglass:
Primrose Villa elderly housing where Ward Hall and Park Hall had stood, and Bryant-ButlerKitchen nursing home on the site of Stanley Hall and the State Industrial Department. A new
controversy arose at this time, as Douglass was one of the few hospitals (if not the only hospital)
in Kansas City, Kansas, where abortions were performed. As a consequence, a number of
persons gave up their families’ long affiliation with the A.M.E. Church, creating a new rift between
the Church and the neighborhood. But Douglass Hospital itself was closed in 1978, an ironic
victim of integration. Grant Hall, the last remaining Western building on top of the hill, was
subsequently demolished in the summer of 1980. All that remained of the school founded by Rev.
Blachly were the John Brown statue and a few misplaced corner stones.
As Western University declined, so did the surrounding area. In the 1930s, parts of the
ruins at Fifth and Kanzas were still visible, a number of residential structures from the original
development of Quindaro were still being lived in (including the Quindaro Brewery building), the
residential neighborhood east and south of Western was still thriving, and children from Vernon
Elementary School sometimes ventured on picnics and field trips down R Street to the riverfront.
Twenty years later, with Western closed, the area had become a somewhat isolated backwater as
Kansas City, Kansas, expanded to the west. The buildings of Western became derelict and as
noted, were eventually demolished to make way for newer structures. The ruins disappeared
under silt and underbrush, and their extent and location was forgotten. Of the original residences,
only the Brown/Blachly house remained intact. The others were abandoned to scavengers and
the elements, and R Street north of the Brown/Blachly house gradually became impassible.14
The Brown/Blachly house at 3464 North 26th Street (originally 83 R Street) is the only known
standing structure remaining from Quindaro, although altered past the point of being able to meet
National Register criteria. It was the home of merchant and Delaware Indian Agent Fielding
Johnson, and later (1868-1877) of the Rev. Eben Blachly.
In the late 1960s, I-635 highway cut a wide swath through the area. The southeast corner
of Quindaro Park was taken for the project, and the Kansas State Highway Department acquired
a large number of properties between North 18th Street and North 27th Street, from Vernon
Avenue on the south to the Missouri Pacific Railroad on the north. One of the properties acquired
through condemnation was the former Freedman’s University property owned by the A.M.E.
Church lying east of the centerline of North 27th Street (I-635 Tract No. 910, District Court Case
No. 32875-B). Part of this acquisition would become I-635 right-of-way, and much of the rest
would be used for the deposit of the large amount of fill generated by a major cut through the river
bluffs. According to residents, a two-story, stone house still stood near what had been Sixth and
T Streets, only to disappear with the highway construction. No historic studies or attempts at
salvage archaeology were made by the state, as Quindaro's significance had largely been
forgotten and somehow everyone "knew" that the now vanished Quindaro ruins had been
confined to the valley of Quindaro Creek, a half mile to the west.
Once the project was completed, the highway department conveyed all of the excess (non
right-of-way) property it had acquired in the Quindaro area, including the former A.M.E. Church
property, to the City of Kansas City, Kansas, to be used for park purposes. In part this was to
replace those portions of Quindaro Park and City Park that had been taken for highway
construction, although the amount of land conveyed was several times greater than the amount
taken. The City of Kansas City, Kansas, thus became the owner of much of the original Quindaro
townsite east of Kanzas Avenue and north of the Brown/Blachly house.
The highway only served to isolate the area still further, setting the stage for the approval
of Browning-Ferris' proposed sanitary landfill in 1983. In 1981, as part of a quiet title suit filed
preparatory to the proposed landfill, an extensive survey of the A.M.E. Church property and
certain adjoining properties was undertaken by Murray L. Rhodes, Registered Land Surveyor.
The survey documents included drawings showing the original ownership under the Wyandott
Allotments, as well as the relationship of the current property boundaries to the original plat of
Quindaro. In the portion of the survey report giving survey descriptions of the various properties,
the Western University Lands owned by the Church were labeled Tract #1, and the property to the
east of North 27th Street was listed as an exception or outparcel, while the survey drawings
included a notation referencing the condemnation court case cited above.
On December 10, 1982, Browning-Ferris Industries and the A.M.E. Church jointly filed a
petition for change of zone, soon amended to a petition for special use permit, for a sanitary
landfill on property being leased by the Church to Browning-Ferris. The lease agreement and
petition noted several tracts and outparcels not included in the agreement, including the property
east of 27th Street. Other outparcels included several properties west of 27th not owned by the
Church, as well as three properties owned by the Church but occupied by other uses. Despite
these exceptions, the proposed special use permit would cover most of the developed portions of
the original Quindaro townsite west of Kanzas Avenue and north of Eighth Street. The special use
permit was subsequently approved on a two to one vote of the soon-to-be-replaced Board of City
Commissioners, with Mayor John E. Reardon voting against the approval. Thirteen conditions, (a)
through (m), largely drafted by City staff, were made precedent to the approval. Condition (e)
required an archaeological survey of the property meeting the guidelines of the Kansas State
Historical Society, salvage archaeology where necessary, and the protection and maintenance of
the historic African-American cemetery on the bluff above Quindaro Creek.
Following the approval of the special use permit, on March 31, 1983, a lease agreement
was signed between Browning-Ferris and the City for the entirety of the City-owned property east
of North 27th Street, to be used as part of the proposed landfill. (No special use permit was
required, as the property would remain City-owned.) The former A.M.E. Church property was
included, as up to this point, none of the parties involved – the A.M.E. Church, Browning-Ferris
Industries, the City, Mr. Rhodes, and various real estate appraisers – had ever questioned the
City’s title. Nor was the issue raised in the course of the litigation that was soon initiated by the
opponents of the landfill, many of them members of African-American families that had been
resident in the Quindaro area for over 100 years.
On April 12, 1983, Zetta Means and Jesse F. Hope III filed a petition for local historic
district designation for much of the Quindaro area. The area applied for included all of the
Western University Lands, including the property east of North 27th Street, the various outparcels
listed in the Rhodes survey, the Brown/Blachly house, and the school, houses and church
standing in a row along the south side of Sewell Avenue between 27th and 29th Streets. (These
last, all 20th century structures, had historic connections to Western University.) The application
omitted the remainder of the City-owned property, as it was assumed that it had been too
disturbed by the construction of I-635 to retain any historic value. After various delays and
multiple public hearings over the course of a year, the Quindaro and Western University Historic
District was approved by the new City Council on March 1, 1984, for all the area the petitioners
had applied for except for those portions of the area for which the special use permit had already
been approved. As the former Church-owned property east of North 27th Street had not been
included in the special use permit, it was included in the approval even though it had already been
leased to Browning-Ferris.
By 1984, the litigation over the special use permit had largely ended, and archaeological
work began on the site. The work was carried out by the firm of Environmental Systems Analysis,
Inc., with Larry J. Schmits as project director and chief archaeologist. As work proceeded, it
became increasingly obvious that the remains being uncovered were more substantial and
covered a larger area than anyone had expected. This in turn generated further opposition to the
proposed landfill. On September 18, 1987, the Kansas State Historical Society received an
application for state acquisition of the Quindaro townsite. As the petition was required to be
signed by at least 1000 qualified electors, and only 940 of the 1,461 signatures met that
qualification, 60 additional signatures had to be obtained. The additional signatures were
submitted and verified, effective November 20, 1987. The staff of the Kansas State Historical
Society then prepared a report on the proposed acquisition which was submitted to the Kansas
Historic Sites Board of Review on October 14, 1988. The report was generally positive, and the
Board of Review was favorable, but the project ultimately died because of questions of cost rather
than historic significance.
At approximately the same time, Browning-Ferris’ special use permit and lease
agreement with the City were cancelled, on the grounds that no work on the actual landfill or the
proposed access bridge across I-635 had commenced although five years had passed since the
initial approvals. At this point, the archaeological work on the site abruptly ended. The
archaeologist subsequently did much of the work cataloging artifacts from the site at his own
expense, and published an extensive article concerning the site in The Missouri Archaeologist, but
the work on the site remained unfinished and no final report was ever prepared.
In 1994, Larry J. Schmits returned to the site when he was hired by the Kansas City,
Kansas Board of Public Utilities to do an archaeological survey in connection with a new pipeline
being constructed between the B.P.U.’s facilities in the Nearman area to the west and the Fairfax
district to the east. The remains of two warehouse buildings that had originally faced Levee
Street, belonging to Col. George S. Park (78 Levee Street, Feature 79) and Frederick Klaus (77
Levee Street, Feature 80), were discovered and partially excavated in an area where it had
previously been thought that earlier pipeline construction would have wiped out all traces of
Quindaro’s warehouse district.
Once sufficient archaeological work had been done to
demonstrate the significance of the remains, the B.P.U. was persuaded to alter the alignment of
the proposed pipeline so as to not damage or destroy the site. The site was then backfilled and
archaeological operations ended.
Many of the earlier excavations had been left open to the elements when Browning-Ferris
suddenly cancelled Mr. Schmits’ contract, and the deterioration of the site became a matter of
increasing concern. In the fall of 1993, the City received a $120,000 ISTEA transportation
enhancement grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation, for the emergency
stabilization of the exposed archaeological remains on the City-owned portion of the site and the
development of a long range plan for the Quindaro area. An agreement between the City and the
A.M.E. Church was signed on October 21, 1993, allowing the City to improve and use an access
road across Church property to the principal archaeological site, with the understanding that no
stabilization work would be done on the Church-owned property west of the centerline of North
27th Street (Kanzas Avenue). A final project agreement was executed on August 23, 1994,
followed on September 1 by an agreement between the City and Mr. Schmits as project
consultant. Archaeological field work took place primarily in the summer and fall of 1995, with a
small amount of masonry work in the spring of 1996. Backfilling of the excavations was
recommended by both Mr. Schmits and the Kansas State Historical Society, but was not done due
to lack of funds.
Planning efforts were carried on simultaneously with the archaeological work, with several
public meetings in 1995 and 1996 which attracted a variety of participants. At meetings on March
29 and May 29, 1996, questions were reportedly raised concerning land ownership, and the
A.M.E. Church’s long range plans for the development of a neighborhood center and archives
building were made public. This was the first indication that there might be some question about
the City’s title to the former Church property lying east of North 27th Street. Subsequent
investigation revealed that the Wyandotte County property records showed the property in
question to be still owned by the Church, even though the same records indicated that two whollysurrounded outparcels within the larger tract were now owned by the City. (Mr. Rhodes stated
that he believed that the larger property reverted to Church ownership when the State did not use
all of it in the construction process, although a comparison of topographic maps shows that fill
was deposited on nearly half of the property.) The county records also showed property lying on
the east side of I-635 to be still owned by the State Highway Department rather than the City. If
the county records were correct, the City’s 1983 lease agreement with Browning-Ferris Industries
(which included both of the disputed properties) would have never been valid, and virtually all of
the archaeological remains of significance that have been discovered to date would be on
property owned and controlled by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, with the exceptions of
Feature 5 and the eastern portions of Features 8, 53 and 54.
Although some questions persist, in April 2003, the Unified Government Legal
Department produced the original condemnation records, showing that the former Church
property east of 27th Street was acquired by the State for $17,200.00, and that it was a taking of
title in fee simple for right-of-way purposes rather than an easement or a temporary taking, nor
was the taking limited to highway purposes. The same applied to the two outparcels surrounded
by the former church property, which were acquired for $600.00 (Tract 916) and $750.00 (Tract
917) respectively. In contrast, the condemnation of a portion of the Bruner property lying north of
the property in question (Tract 912) was noted as a temporary easement acquisition rather than a
taking of title. The records also included an agreement between the Kansas Department of
Transportation and the City, dated June 1, 1987, showing the conveyance of the disputed property
east of I-635 to the City, with the stipulation that should the City ever dispose of the property,
KDOT would have to be reimbursed for the original acquisition cost. This information was
transmitted to Wyandotte County Base Mapping, which stated that the property records would be
updated accordingly (to date, they have not).
Over the years there were several attempts made by interested parties to prepare a
nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Quindaro area. None of these
attempts proved successful, as they lacked strong historical documentation and tended to ignore
the details of the archaeological work that had been done. In 1999, the City of Kansas City,
Kansas received a grant through the Historic Preservation Office of the Kansas State Historical
Society to prepare a new application. Prepared by consultant Cydney Millstein and City staff
member Larry Hancks, the application was submitted to the State on September 20, 2000. There
then began an internal debate at the Historical Society as to the adequacy of the archaeological
information included, and whether or not the application should focus on the original town as
requested by the Historic Preservation Office, or should be expanded to include the later AfricanAmerican history of the area.
It was eventually decided that the application should remain focused on the
archaeological remains of the original town, in part because at this point in time there are actually
more extant physical remains of the town than there are of the subsequent Western University
development. Based on the Millstein/Hancks application, a modified application was prepared by
the archaeological staff of the State Historical Society for submission to the Kansas Historic Sites
Board of Review. This revised application was limited strictly to the 1984-88 archaeological site,
with a boundary drawn to include just two property owners, the A.M.E. Church and the City. In the
process, the boundary line was drawn in such a way as to exclude not only the Collins and Bruner
properties, but also the historic African-American cemetery on the bluff, and in avoiding the Bruner
property managed to go through the middle of the warehouse sites excavated in 1994. Despite
these limitations, the Quindaro Archaeological Site was approved for listing on the Register of
Historic Kansas Places by the Board of Review on February 23, 2002, and was subsequently
listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 22, 2002.
At the request of neighborhood residents intent on fighting the proposed Browning-Ferris
landfill, the Quindaro and Western University Historic District was approved by the Kansas City,
Kansas City Council on March 1, 1984. That approval was for all of the historic district applied for
by the petitioners, except for those portions for which a special use permit for a landfill had
already been granted to Browning-Ferris Industries. Thus, of the above noted sites and
structures, the following have been included in the historic district as approved: the portion of the
Quindaro townsite east of the centerline of North 27th Street (Kanzas Avenue) that was previously
owned by Freedman's University and the A.M.E. Church, and is now the property of the City of
Kansas City, Kansas; the site of Western University and the State Industrial Department, including
the John Brown statue; the Brown/Blachly house; the school, houses and church along the south
side of Sewell Avenue between 27th and 29th Streets; and Quindaro Park. In addition, although
not part of the district, the Quindaro African-American Cemetery was given a surveyed boundary
and was supposed to remain undisturbed by the landfill operation.
It should be noted that the local historic district designation of the A.M.E. Church property
west of North 27th Street that was included in Browning-Ferris’ special use permit was never
actually denied. Instead it was put on indefinite hold, and with the landfill permit voided could
presumably be brought back before the Unified Government Board of Commissioners for
reconsideration, although the length of time that has elapsed (to say nothing of the change in the
form of municipal government) would probably raise questions of due process, requiring
renotification and a full round of public hearings.
A. Within the property designated as Western University Lands:
Quindaro Townsite
Much of the developed portion of Quindaro lay within the area that was to be filled by the
proposed Browning-Ferris landfill, along either side of the North 27th Street right-of-way on the
bluff slope leading down to where Quindaro Creek crosses under the Missouri Pacific railroad
tracks. Ruins were still visible in the early 1950s in the area at the foot of the hill, but they had
largely disappeared by the late 1960s and their extent and location were forgotten. The
archaeological survey of the site required as part of the approval of the landfill disclosed more
extensive remains than had previously been known to exist, particularly along Kanzas
Avenue/27th Street, which functioned as Quindaro's main business street. The remains in this
area include those identified as the Quindaro House, the Wyandott House, and the offices of the
Quindaro Chindowan, as well as several of the town’s larger mercantile buildings. The majority of
the already excavated sites of significance in this area are mentioned in the narrative portion of
the text.
The other substantially built-up area would appear to have been along Main and Levee
Streets paralleling the Missouri River, where commercial buildings were mixed with several large
warehouses. This area has been heavily disturbed over the years, first by the construction of the
Missouri River (Missouri Pacific) Railroad and later by the pipelines feeding into the Fairfax
Industrial District, to the point where it was assumed that nothing of archaeological significance
remained. However, investigations tied to the construction of a new Board of Public Utilities
pipeline in 1994 disclosed the remains of several large commercial structures east of Kanzas
Avenue, including the warehouse built by George Park of Parkville (Feature 79). It must therefore
be assumed that there may still be as-yet-unexcavated remains of significance, not only in this
area but elsewhere in the townsite as well.
At the present time the property is split largely between two owners, with the A.M.E.
Church retaining title to the area west of the centerline of North 27th Street, while the property
east of the centerline now belongs to the City of Kansas City, Kansas.
Quindaro African-American Cemetery
circa 1865 et seq.
Sited halfway up the bluff on the west side of the valley of Quindaro Creek, this was the
cemetery of the African-American community that began forming in the area during the Civil War.
The first burials were presumably in the mid to late 1860s; unlike other features of the Quindaro
area, neither the cemetery nor the road leading up to it were indicated on the 1870 map of
Wyandotte County, and the oldest stones still legible in the 1960s had dates from the early 1870s.
The cemetery has apparently never had a separate legal existence, but remains part of what was
once the Freedman's University property, now owned by the A.M.E. Church. The cemetery was
given a legal boundary description as part of the landfill project, but only in order to define a
previously undefined area which the landfill was not to intrude on. Still in use and still maintained,
this may be the oldest African-American cemetery in the State of Kansas. It should not be
confused (although it often is) with the Quindaro Cemetery at North 38th Street and Parallel
Pumphouse or waterworks (Feature 22)
circa 1857/circa 1885/circa 1904
This has been claimed by some to be the remains of the first public waterworks in
Kansas. A large spring half way up the Quindaro Creek valley on the east side of the creek
emptied into a reservoir created by a low dam. Reportedly the water was then conveyed through
tiles paralleling the channel of the creek to cisterns or buildings along the way, including the
Quindaro House. Remains of the old reservoir may still be seen, although presumably this is the
1904 reconstruction referred to in the narrative. A brick structure was built over the adjoining
cistern in about 1885, and an engine installed to pump water up the hill to Western University.
(Photos of the still-intact pumphouse are extant.) This remained the school's principal source of
water until a connection to the municipal water system was made about 1910.
Quindaro Brewery (Feature 34)
(originally 45 N Street)
Henry Steiner, builder
The exact site of the first building housing Rev. Blachly's school remains to be
determined. The ruin in the valley now identified as Steiner and Zehntner's Quindaro Brewery
may have housed the school, but the 1870 Wyandotte County map locates the school in the group
of commercial buildings on the east side of Kanzas Avenue, a block and one-half north of Rev.
Blachly's house. The brewery building was remodeled as a residence in the early 1900s and was
still occupied in the 1930s. A substantial portion of the building's front wall remained standing until
quite recently. (Photos of the still-intact building are extant, as are photos of the remains dating
back to the early 1980s.) A vaulted beer cellar, common to small breweries of the period and
extending back into the hillside behind the main building, was apparently constructed following
purchase of the property by George Bodenburg in 1858. It has continued over the years to fuel
speculation about tunnels, in a too-literal misunderstanding of what the Underground Railroad
actually was.
Western University and the John Brown Statue
North 27th Street and Sewell Avenue (originally Kanzas Avenue and Eighth Street)
Various architects
The principal buildings of Western University stood along the north side of Sewell Avenue
and the west side of North 27th Street, with Stanley Hall and the State Industrial Department at the
intersection of the two streets. All of the buildings of Western University have been demolished,
the last being Grant Hall (later Douglass Hospital) in 1980. (Photos of much of the still-intact
campus are extant and many have been published, although clear pictures of Ward Hall and the
adjoining Park Hall are lacking.) The only remaining physical artifacts are a few cornerstones and
the John Brown statue.
In 1958, Ward Hall and Park Hall, the oldest of Western's buildings, were torn down to
make way for Primrose Villa, an elderly housing project with ties to the A.M.E. Church. (This
property is now an outparcel, in private hands as the result of a tax sale.) As the statue of John
Brown in front of Park Hall stood in the way of the new construction, it was proposed to move it to
the north end of the new building, where it would have no longer been visible to the public. This
generated a great deal of opposition, and consequently the statue was instead placed closer to
the street, between Primrose Villa and Sewell Avenue. Unfortunately, the move was apparently
botched, resulting in serious damage to the statue, with the nose and one coat tail broken off.
(Reportedly the head was broken off in its entirety, but that seems unlikely, as no such damage is
now visible.)
The statue was again moved in the spring of 1978, to the northwest corner of 27th and
Sewell, where it became the focus of a memorial plaza dedicated to the memory of Western
University and the town of Quindaro. (This property, occupied by the former Bryant-Butler-Kitchen
nursing home, is also now an outparcel, in private hands as the result of a tax sale.) Architects for
the new memorial were Buchanan Architects and Associates, and the work was initiated and
funded through the historic preservation component of the Kansas City, Kansas Community
Development Program. The mover was required to post a bond of $75,000, a measure of the
value that the community still placed on one of its most famous memorials.
B. Within the corporate limits of Quindaro:
Brown/Blachly Residence
3464 North 26th Street (originally 83 R Street)
Builder unknown
Circa 1850
By oral tradition, this house was built by a member of the Brown family, Michigan
Wyandot relatives of Nancy Brown Guthrie. If so, it may be the oldest remaining standing
structure in Wyandotte County, and one of the oldest in the State of Kansas. The house is a
severe, two-story rectangle with a centered entry and a low pitched, hipped roof. The stone walls
are 18 to 24 inches thick, and the floor joists consist of rough-hewn logs, lending credibility to the
belief that construction predates that of the town of Quindaro, or at least the start-up of the
Quindaro Steam Saw Mill Co. in April 1857. In the years of Quindaro's development it was the
home of Fielding Johnson, a merchant and businessman who also served as Delaware Indian
Agent from June 1861 to April 1864. (According to Clarina I. H. Nichols, Johnson was also
involved in Underground Railroad activities.) Following his dismissal as Indian Agent, Johnson
moved from Quindaro to Topeka in 1866. The Rev. Eben Blachly subsequently purchased the
house and surrounding property from Johnson's son-in-law and business partner, George W.
Veale, for $1,200 in 1868, and it was there that he died in an upstairs bedroom in 1877. The
house has been added to, and the walls stuccoed over, but the original structure remains
substantially intact. Unfortunately, the alterations are sufficient to keep the building from being
listed on either the State or National Registers without extensive restoration work first taking
Quindaro Cemetery
North 38th Street and Parallel Parkway
1852 et seq.
This property was given to the Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church by
Lucy B. Armstrong in 1849 or 1850 to serve as the site of a new mission church. The Wyandot
mission was begun at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, in 1816 by a free-born black man named John
Stewart, and was the first Methodist mission to the Indians in North America. This was the church
organization that the Wyandots brought with them from Ohio to Kansas in 1843. When the
Methodist church split nationally over the issue of slavery in 1845, the Indian Mission Conference
in what is now Kansas and Oklahoma was assigned to the new Methodist Episcopal Church
South. Despite this, a majority of the Wyandot congregation continued in their allegiance to the
parent church. Following a split in the Wyandot congregation in 1847, the pro-southern minority
took over the Wyandots’ brick church (built with monies from the sale of the Ohio mission), while
the majority were forced to meet in a tree grove and private homes until the construction of a new
log church on this site.
The first burial in the cemetery adjoining the new church was that of Eliza S. Witten, wife
of the northern Methodist missionary, the Rev. James Witten, following her death from cholera on
January 3, 1852. The second known burial was that of Sally Frost, born Catherine "Caty" Sage,
who died on January 21, 1853, at the age of 66. Kidnapped as a child and subsequently adopted
by the Wyandots, she was the widow of Tarhe, Between-the-Logs, and Frost, and had been one
of the first converts at the Wyandot Methodist Mission in Ohio.
With the Treaty of 1855, two acres were set aside in the Wyandott Allotments for the
church and cemetery (Allotment No. 283). Both of the Wyandot churches were burned by a
drunken mob on the night of April 8, 1856, in the general turmoil that swept Kansas over the
slavery issue (an event which may have helped contribute to Quindaro's founding by suggesting
that Wyandott was less than safe for Free State supporters). The northern Methodist church was
not rebuilt on this site, but the two acres subsequently became the municipal cemetery for
Quindaro, and after Quindaro's demise became the township cemetery. The Rev. Eben Blachly is
buried here, along with other notable citizens of both Quindaro and Wyandott such as Lucy B.
Armstrong (missionary’s daughter, adopted Wyandot, and abolitionist) and Vincent J. Lane
(newspaperman, one-time Quindaro postmaster, and first Wyandott County Register of Deeds).
There was also a section of the cemetery set aside for African-American residents of the area.
In January 1872, the Quindaro Cemetery Association filed a plat for a five-acre addition to
the north and east sides of the existing cemetery. At the time, the Association also asserted a
claim to the original two acres, a claim that was not fully resolved until 1926. When the Huron
Indian Cemetery was threatened with sale and removal in the early 1900s, it was proposed that
the graves be moved to this location, but the records suggest that only two graves were actually
moved, those of Joel Walker’s brother Matthew R. Walker and his wife Lydia on March 9, 1906.
Quindaro Park
North 32nd Street to North 34th Street and Sewell Avenue to Parkview Avenue (originally L Street
to I Street and Eighth Street to Tenth Street)
This park was part of the original plat of Quindaro, and there is indication in contemporary
accounts that it was actually used on occasion for park purposes. It also seems to have been
used as a camping spot by slave catchers from Missouri, looking for runaways in the Quindaro
area. When Quindaro's incorporation was revoked in 1862, it became the property of Quindaro
Township. At the same time, J. J. Squires, a Kansas City, Missouri, banker with various land
holdings in Wyandotte County, managed to acquire quit claim deeds to the property from Guthrie,
Robinson, Simpson and their wives, and the heirs of Joel Walker, and attempted to claim the
property as his. The Township brought a suit of ejectment against Squires in district court,
claiming that the town company gave up any right to the property when it was dedicated for park
purposes on the original plat. Squires had the case transferred to federal court and won, but the
Township’s title was upheld on appeal.
The area was annexed by Kansas City, Kansas, on December 1, 1923, and the park was
deeded over to the City by the Township on February 8, 1924. In the late 1960s, the southeast
corner of the park was taken for the construction of I-635, setting in motion the chain of events
leading to the City’s ownership of a substantial portion of the original townsite. Quindaro Park
remains the oldest public park in Wyandotte County, and one of the oldest in the state.
Elisha and Effie A. Sortor Residence II
3415 Delavan Avenue
Builder unknown
Circa 1871
This large house was built in the early 1870s near the northwest corner of I and Twelfth
Streets (the present North 34th Street and Brown Avenue), on property owned by Elisha Sortor.
Sortor had come to Kansas in 1855 from Albany, New York, in one of the parties sponsored by
the New England Emigrant Aid Company, and subsequently settled in Quindaro. The first Sortor
house, with its strong associations with Underground Railroad activities in Quindaro, stood on the
same side of I Street approximately three blocks to the north of the present house, across from
the southwest corner of Quindaro Park, and was apparently demolished in the late 1950s or early
By 1870, the Sortor family had substantial holdings in the Quindaro area, both west and
south of Quindaro Park. The property in question originally included all of Block 8 in the Addition
to Quindaro. Following platting, the 1.79-acre property had been conveyed to Christian Metz, Jr.
by Dr. Charles Robinson on June 30, 1858, and twelve years later was sold to Effie A. Sortor, wife
of Elisha Sortor, by Abram and Lucy A. Metz on December 15, 1870. (The conveyance of title to
Mrs. Sortor was a way around 19th century inheritance laws, which would have otherwise deprived
Mrs. Sortor of any claim to the property on the death of her husband; only the children were
considered to be heirs.) Stylistically, the new house the Sortors subsequently built belongs to the
mid Nineteenth Century. Although it has been altered and added to over the years, it is basically a
two-story brick house with an L-shaped footprint and gable roof, similar to other houses
constructed in this area in the 1850s and 1860s. The house’s probable date of construction is
supported by the fact that it does not appear on the 1870 map of Wyandotte County, as does the
first Sortor house.
Elisha Sortor died in his home on December 13, 1898, at the age of 72. The house
remained in the Sortor family until 1944, when the property was sold to Neal and Lela A. Van
Dorn. It was presumably the Van Dorns that carried out the more significant additions to the
house. For a time, the house was threatened by a project to improve I-635 Highway, but this
threat has apparently been removed. The property was nominated for Historic Landmark
designation by the present owner, Ruth Walker, in 2004, and was approved as an addition to the
Quindaro and Western University Historic District by the Unified Government Board of
Commissioners on January 6, 2005.
Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church
3421 North 29th Street
Architect/builder unknown
Allen Chapel is the oldest African-American congregation in the Quindaro area. It was
founded in 1869, with the Rev. Skylar Washington of Wyandott as pastor. The original church
was of logs and stood on the northeast corner of J and Eighth Streets, near the present 33rd and
Sewell. The church was eventually able to acquire the stone building that had housed the
Quindaro Congregational Church at Kanzas and Eighth (27th and Sewell). A tornado destroyed
that structure, and the congregation began meeting in the adjacent stone schoolhouse of District
17. A new frame church was built on the Congregational Church site in 1893, followed by a larger
building on the same site in 1910. Disaster then struck in the form of a fire in 1911 or 1912.
Both Sortor family descendents and descendents of the original African-American settlers in the
Quindaro area state that Elisha Sortor provided assistance to escaping slaves.
The present church building, built two blocks to the west in 1914, is thus the sixth to
house the congregation. The building is rectangular, one story, stucco on wood frame with a
stone foundation, oriented east-west with the door at the west end. The gable roof is supported
by a modified scissors truss which allows for a coved ceiling on the interior of the sanctuary, but
which has caused certain structural problems in recent years. As a result, a system of steel
channels and tie rods was approved by the Kansas City, Kansas Landmarks Commission in
December 2004 to prevent further deflection of the side walls. It should be noted that many
members of the present church can trace their descent to the former slaves who originally settled
the area and founded Allen Chapel in the 1860s
Bishop William Tecumseh Vernon Residence
2715 Sewell Avenue
Architect/builder unknown
1918 (demolished 2001)
W. B. Kennedy Residence
2725 Sewell Avenue
Architect/builder unknown
Dr. High Tower Kealing Residence
2805 Sewell Avenue
Architect/builder unknown
1916 (demolished 1995)
Bob Ransom Residence
2821 Sewell Avenue
Architect/builder unknown
These four residences, all built in the early years of this century (the dates are those of
their hookups to the municipal water system), originally housed faculty and students of Western
University, and faced the campus to the north across Sewell Avenue. The home of Bishop
Vernon, a one-story bungalow, was surprisingly modest given the range of his accomplishments.
It was recently demolished following damage in a fire. The largest, and architecturally the most
distinguished, was that of Bishop Vernon's successor at Western, Dr. Kealing, with its bell-cast
gable and extensive veranda. Following Dr. Kealing's death, the house passed to his daughter
and son-in-law, who at one point hoped to convert it into a museum. Unfortunately, the vacant
Kealing residence became seriously deteriorated, to the point where its demolition was ordered by
the City's Chief Building Inspector in 1994. The other two structures would appear to be basically
sound but in need of maintenance, with few, if any, alterations.
Vernon Elementary School (Vernon Multi-Purpose Center)
2700 Sewell Avenue (3436 North 27th Street)
Joseph W. Radotinsky, Architect
Register of Historic Kansas Places: August 21, 2004
This property at the southwest corner of Kanzas Avenue and Eighth Street (27th and
Sewell) was originally the site of the Quindaro Congregational Church, constructed in 1857. The
Colored School of Quindaro, with its own school district (No. 17) and an African-American school
board, was subsequently built adjoining the church in 1868. As noted above, the Congregational
Church gave up its building in 1869, and the church was subsequently acquired as the second
home of Allen Chapel A.M.E. The original stone school building was replaced by a four-room
brick structure sometime after the turn of the century, later renamed in honor of Bishop Vernon.
At some point following construction of the present Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church in 1914, the
former church property was added to that of the school. The school lay outside the city limits of
Kansas City, Kansas, and eventually became part of the Washington Rural School District.
The present building was built by the W.P.A. in 1936, still as a segregated school for
African-American students. Designed by one of the most noted local architects of the period,
Joseph W. Radotinsky, it has strong similarities to other modern schools that he was beginning to
design at this same time for both the Kansas City, Kansas, and Shawnee Mission school districts,
including Sumner High School. Although relatively small, the one-story brick building has large
areas of glass and features an interesting piece of Art Deco bas-relief sculpture over the main
entry. Following the annexations of 1965-1966 and the consolidation of the Washington District
with Kansas City, Kansas Unified School District 500, use of the school was discontinued and its
pupils transferred to Quindaro Elementary School two blocks to the south (which is itself
descended from the all-white Quindaro School of 1868). The building now houses the Vernon
Multi-Purpose Center, a private nonprofit neighborhood center.
(Note that the long-held address of the property, 2700 Sewell Avenue, is an inappropriate
address under the city’s current system of assigning street addresses. 2700 would properly have
been the address of Stanley Hall on the north side of Sewell, while Vernon School should probably
have been addressed off of North 27th Street, as that is the direction the main entrance faces.
Vernon Multi-Purpose Center now uses the more appropriate address of 3436 North 27th Street.)
and Orrin McKinley Murray, Sr.
In recent years, it has become a commonplace to state that Happy Hollow was the name
given by the African-American refugees arriving in the Quindaro area to the valley of Quindaro
Creek, and that the name subsequently was attached to the refugee settlement that grew up
there. There is some evidence, however, that this belief is mistaken, the result of an oral tradition
being misinterpreted by a later generation.
The grandfather of the late Orrin M. Murray, Sr. brought his family out of slavery in Platte
County, Missouri, to settle in Quindaro in 1863. Mr. Murray was born in the Quindaro area in
1900. He was a member of Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, attended both the District 17 school and
Western University, and as a boy was present at the dedication of the John Brown Memorial. He
became a teacher and subsequently taught at Western in the years before its closing. In later
years he was active in the Western University Memory Club (the alumni association), serving as
the group's historian. He collected extensive materials concerning Quindaro and Western
University, produced several publications regarding the history of the area, and served as a
special consultant to the City when the study The Afro-American Community in Kansas City,
Kansas was produced with Community Development funding in 1982.
According to Mr. Murray, Happy Hollow was not the valley of Quindaro Creek, but was
rather the next valley to the west, on what was then the farm of Elisha Sortor and is now the
location of Bell Crossing Drive. He stated that the valley received its name from slaves escaping
out of Missouri, as they knew that once they reached the Sortor property they were at least
temporarily safe from recapture.
From a strictly logistical standpoint this explanation of the name makes sense, as
escaping slaves prior to the Civil War would not have been likely to show up in the valley of
Quindaro Creek, as that was in the heart of the developed and inhabited area of the town. At the
time, the Missouri River was well to the west of its present location; anyone crossing the river near
the mouth of Quindaro Creek would have ended up on the public levee, while escapees who
crossed in the vicinity of Parkville and then headed south across the bottom lands toward
Quindaro would have almost certainly ended up on the Sortor farm.
That there was a real danger from slave catchers is evident from a variety of sources.
The story of the kidnapping of area resident Jesse Hope's great-grandfather's sister on the Happy
Hollow road (another indication that Happy Hollow was probably on the Sortor property, not in the
middle of the developed part of Quindaro) comes from family history. Written accounts include
the Mudge letter and Clarina I. H. Nichols’ account, both of which refer to the activities of slave
catchers in the area. Mrs. Nichols noted that the slave catchers even camped out in Quindaro
Park. Contemporary newspaper accounts also include references to the activities of slave
catchers, particularly in the period between the Dred Scott Decision and the start of the Civil War,
when it was virtually “open season” on free blacks in the border states and territories.
In one such instance in 1860, a free black man named C. W. Jones was kidnapped from
where he was employed on a farm in western Wyandott County. Taken to Missouri, he was
imprisoned in Liberty but was subsequently released as unsalable due to the lightness of his skin
color. He made his way to Quindaro, where Alfred Gray was engaged as his attorney. Gray then
had two Wyandott County men who had aided his kidnappers brought to trial. (Their attorney was
Alson C. Davis of Wyandott; hence Benjamin F. Mudge’s later distrust of Col. Davis’ sympathies.)
Jones was falsely accused by Davis of counterfeiting, briefly jailed, then freed when Gray tricked
the original kidnappers into testifying. Recognized by Jones, the slave catchers fled back to
Missouri to avoid prosecution.
Property owned by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, lying west of North 27 th Street
and north of Sewell Avenue.
Parcel No.:
2850 Sewell Avenue
Western University Lands
African Methodist Episcopal Church
C/o Rev. Lewis Branch
1111 North 8th Street
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Legal Description:
A tract of land in the East One-half of Section 30, Township 10 South, Range 25
East of the Sixth Principal Meridian, in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas,
described as follows: BEGINNING at the Northeast corner of the Northeast Quarter of
the Southeast Quarter of said Section;
Thence West a distance of 25.0 feet to a point on the West right-of-way line of North 27th
Thence North along said West right-of-way line a distance of 66.0 feet;
Thence West a distance of 225.0 feet;
Thence South a distance of 500.0 feet to a point on the North right-of-way line of Sewell
Thence West along said North right-of-way line a distance of 50.0 feet;
Thence North a distance of 755.0 feet;
Thence West a distance of 600.0 feet;
Thence South a distance of 321.0 feet to a point on the North line of the Southeast
Quarter of Section 30-10-25;
Thence East along said North line a distance of 302.23 feet;
Thence South a distance of 434.0 feet to a point on the North right-of-way line of Sewell
Thence West along said North right-of-way line a distance of 721.83 feet to a point on the
West line of the East One-half of the Southeast Quarter of Section 30-10-25;
Thence North along said West line a distance of 434.0 feet;
Thence North along the West line of the East One-half of the Northeast Quarter of
Section 30-10-25 a distance of 2335.54 feet to a point on the North right-of-way line of the
Missouri Pacific Railroad;
Thence in a Southeasterly direction along said North right-of-way line to a point 1756.8
feet North and 120.0 feet East of the Northwest corner of the Southwest Quarter of
Section 29-10-25;
Thence South a distance of 150.8 feet;
Thence West a distance of 120.0 feet to a point on the East line of the Northeast Quarter
of Section 30-10-25;
Thence South along said East line a distance of 1606.0 feet to the point of beginning of
the tract described herein.
Subject to the right-of-way of the Missouri Pacific Railroad; subject to all existing
easements, right-of-ways and restrictions of record; and except the following described
tracts, to wit:
1. Beginning at a point 425.0 feet South and 293.0 feet East of the Northwest corner of
the Northeast Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 30-10-25; thence West 130.0
feet; thence North 100.0 feet; thence East 130.0 feet; thence South 100.0 feet to the point
of beginning.
Note: This property corresponds to specific lots in the original plat of Quindaro, and has
apparently always been in private hands. For some reason, it was not identified as an
outparcel in the 1981 Rhodes survey, and was included in the special use permit.
2. Beginning at a point 425.0 feet South and 362.0 feet East of the Northwest corner of
the Northeast Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 30-10-25; thence North 100.0
feet; thence East 130.0 feet; thence South 100.0 feet; thence West 130.0 feet to the point
of beginning.
Note: This property corresponds to specific lots in the original plat of Quindaro, and has
apparently always been in private hands.
3. Beginning at a point 492.0 feet East and 325.0 feet South of the Northwest corner of
the Northeast Quarter of the Southeast Quarter of Section 30-10-25; thence North 150.0
feet; thence East 165.0 feet; thence South 225.0 feet; thence West 165.0 feet; thence
North 75.0 feet to the point of beginning.
Note: This property corresponds to specific lots in the original plat of Quindaro, and has
apparently always been in private hands.
4. Beginning at a point 3223.0 feet North and 988.0 feet West of the Southeast corner of
the Southeast Quarter of Section 30-10-25; thence South 348.5 feet; thence West 125.0
feet; thence North 348.5 feet; thence East 125.0 feet to the point of beginning.
Note: This property corresponds to specific lots in the plat of Quindaro, and has
apparently always been in private hands. It is more fully described at III. below.
Properties owned by the City of Kansas City, Kansas, lying east of North 27 th Street and
north of Vernon Avenue.
Parcel Nos.:
910002, 910003, 910301, 124800, 124801, 124803, 123805, 124806,
124814, 124816, 124826
The City of Kansas City, Kansas
Municipal Office Building
701 North 7th Street Trafficway
Kansas City, Kansas 66101
Legal Descriptions:
Lots 1, 2, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28, Block 1, RIVERSIDE
PARK, a subdivision of land in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Lots 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 30, Block 2, RIVERSIDE PARK, a
subdivision of land in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Note: Although acquired by the Kansas State Highway Department for the
construction of I-635 Highway, subsequently conveyed to the City for park
purposes, and leased by the City to Browning-Ferris Industries in 1983, County
property records now show Lots 26 through 30 to be owned by Vernon MultiPurpose Center.
Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29, Block 5, RIVERSIDE PARK, a subdivision in Kansas
City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34 Block 6, RIVERSIDE PARK, a
subdivision of land in Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 25, 26 and 27, Block 7, RIVERSIDE PARK, a subdivision of land in Kansas
City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Lots 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, Block 8, RIVERSIDE PARK, a subdivision of land in Kansas
City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Lots 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23,
24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44,
45, 46, 47, 48 and 49, Block 9, RIVERSIDE PARK, a subdivision of land in
Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Lots 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32,
Block 10, RIVERSIDE PARK, a subdivision of land in Kansas City, Wyandotte
County, Kansas.
A tract of land in the Northwest Quarter of Section 29, Township 10 South, Range
25 East of the Sixth Principal Meridian, in Kansas City, Wyandotte County,
Kansas, described as follows: BEGINNING at a point on the West line 3296 feet
North of the Southwest corner of said Section; thence North along said West line
a distance of 950.0 feet; thence East a distance of 120.0 feet; thence South 84
degrees East a distance of 110.0 feet; thence South a distance of 90.0 feet;
thence South 74 degrees East a distance of 850.0 feet; thence South 35 degrees
30 minutes East a distance of 170.0 feet; thence South 57 degrees East a
distance of 100.0 feet; thence South 75 degrees East a distance of 510.0 feet to
a point on the West right-of-way line of I-635 Highway; thence in a Southwesterly
direction along said West right-of-way line a distance of 295.43 feet to its point of
intersection with the North line of RIVERSIDE PARK, a subdivision of land in
Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas; thence West along said North line a
distance of 1685.0 feet to the point of beginning of the tract described herein.
Note: This property was originally part of the Western University Lands, was
acquired through condemnation by the Kansas State Highway Department for the
construction of I-635 Highway, and was subsequently conveyed to the City for
park purposes. Although leased by the City to Browning-Ferris Industries in 1983,
County property records still show this tract as being owned by the African
Methodist Episcopal Church.
A tract of land in the Northwest Quarter of Section 29, Township 10 South, Range
25 East of the Sixth Principal Meridian, in Kansas City, Wyandotte County,
Kansas, described as follows: BEGINNING at a point 3417.7 feet North and 80.0
feet East of the Southwest corner of said Section; thence North 150.2 feet;
thence East 290.0 feet; thence South 150.2 feet; thence West 290.0 feet to the
point of beginning of the tract described herein.
Note: This property corresponds to specific lots in the original plat of Quindaro,
and had apparently always been in private hands prior to its acquisition by the
Kansas State Highway Department. The house on this property was originally
addressed as 17 R Street in Quindaro, and is identified as Feature 5 in the
archaeological survey of the Quindaro site. It remained standing and occupied as
recently as the 1950s. The property also contains portions of Features 8, 53 and
54. The City-owned tract is a wholly-surrounded outparcel within the tract
described at II. 9. above.
A tract of land in the Northwest Quarter of Section 29, Township 10 South, Range
25 East of the Sixth Principal Meridian, in Kansas City, Wyandotte County,
Kansas, described as follows: BEGINNING at a point 825.0 feet East and 361.0
feet South of the Northwest corner of the Southwest Quarter of the Northwest
Quarter of said Section; thence South 150.0 feet; thence East 165.0 feet; thence
North 110.0 feet; thence in a Northwesterly direction to the point of beginning of
the tract described herein.
Note: This property corresponds to specific lots in the original plat of Quindaro,
and had apparently always been in private hands prior to its acquisition by the
Kansas State Highway Department. The City-owned tract is a wholly-surrounded
outparcel within the tract described at II. 9. above.
Property owned by Melvin and Helen Collins, lying wholly within the tract designated
Western University Lands and there described as an outparcel.
Parcel No.:
2850A Sewell Avenue
Melvin L. and Helen D. Collins
3313 North 49th Drive
Kansas City, Kansas 66104
Legal Description: A tract of land in the Northeast Quarter of Section 30, Township 10
South, Range 25 East of the Sixth Principal Meridian, in Kansas City, Wyandotte County,
Kansas, described as follows: BEGINNING at a point 3223.0 feet North and 988.0 feet
West of the Southeast corner of the Southeast Quarter of said Section; thence South a
distance of 348.5 feet; thence West a distance of 125.0 feet; thence North a distance of
348.5 feet; thence East a distance of 125.0 feet to the point of beginning of the tract
herein described.
Note: This property corresponds to specific lots in the original plat of Quindaro, and has
apparently always been in private hands. The property was leased by the owners to
Browning-Ferris Industries and was included within the proposed landfill. It includes the
building remains identified as Feature 27 in the archaeological survey of the Quindaro
Property owned by John and Ann Bruner, lying north of the City-owned properties and
south of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the Missouri River.
Parcel No.:
2300A North Avenue
John O. and Ann A. Bruner
2844 North 80th Street
Kansas City, Kansas 66109
Legal Description: A tract of land in the Northwest Quarter of Section 29, Township 10
South, Range 25 East of the Sixth Principal Meridian, in Kansas City, Wyandotte County,
Kansas, described as follows: BEGINNING at a point 290.0 feet North and 120.0 feet
East of the Southwest corner of the Northwest Quarter of the Northwest Quarter of said
Section; thence South 84 degrees East a distance of 110.0 feet; thence South a distance
of 90.0 feet; thence South 74 degrees East a distance of 850.0 feet; thence South 35
degrees 30 minutes East a distance of 170.0 feet; thence South 57 degrees East a
distance of 100.0 feet; thence South 75 degrees East a distance of 510.0 feet to a point
on the West right-of-way line of I-635 Highway; thence North along said West right-of-way
line a distance of 312.8 feet more or less to the right bank of the Missouri River; thence
Northwesterly along said right bank of the Missouri River and the meanders thereof a
distance of 1580 feet more or less, to a point which is North 41 degrees 44 minutes 15
seconds East of Point “A”, said Point “A” being on the North right-of-way line of the
Missouri Pacific Railroad, 120.0 feet East and 440.8 feet North of the Southwest corner of
the Northwest Quarter of the Northwest Quarter of Said Section 29; thence South 41
degrees 44 minutes 15 seconds West, normal to the right bank of the Missouri River, a
distance of 347.5 feet more or less to said Point ”A”; thence South a distance of 150.8
feet to the point of beginning of the tract herein described. Subject to the right-of-way of
the Missouri Pacific Railroad and to all easements, right-of-ways and restrictions of
Note: The history of this long, irregularly shaped tract is unknown, but it was apparently
never part of the Western University Lands, nor was it part of the proposed BrowningFerris Industries landfill. It consists largely of a steep, heavily wooded bluff face south of
the Missouri Pacific Railroad right-of-way and a narrow strip of river bank on the north.
Although its development potential would appear to be limited, in 1982 a change of zone
to CP-O Planned Office District was approved, along with a special use permit for an
outdoor advertising sign adjacent to I-635 Highway. Despite the apparent subterfuge
involved in the zoning change, following State Highway Department approval the zoning
change was published and the sign erected in 1986. To date, no other development has
occurred. The property was not included in the archaeological investigation of the
Quindaro townsite, although the western end of the tract, near Features 79 and 80, would
seem to have some archaeological potential.
Abstract of Title for 3415 Delavan Avenue (Sortor Residence II), prepared by The Guarantee
Abstract Co., Inc., Kansas City, Kansas, in the possession of the present owner.
Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church. Souvenir Program of the 97th Anniversary. Kansas City, Kansas:
self published, 1966.
Archives, Wyandotte County Historical Society & Museum, Bonner Springs, Kansas.
Brill, Tom. "A General Survey of the Negro Community of Kansas City, Kansas, for the Years
1890, and 1900" (and) "The Educational Policies of Western University." Unpublished thesis, no
place, 1971.
Collins, Steve, Ph.D. "In the Eye of the Border Storm: The Quindaro Regional Underground
Railroad Stations." Unpublished manuscript, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Kansas
City, Kansas, 1999. A thorough examination of information regarding the Underground Railroad
in Quindaro, this includes the Tappan-Higginson letter, as well as extensive material on the
activities of slave catchers in the area.
Connelley, William E. Huron Place: The Burial Ground of the Wyandot Nation, in Wyandotte
County, Kansas. Kansas City: City of Kansas City, Kansas, 1991. An annotated transcript of
Connelley’s 1896 survey and notes.
__________. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. 5 vols. Chicago (and) New York:
Lewis Publishing Company, 1918.
__________. The Provisional Government of Nebraska and the Journals of William Walker.
Lincoln, Nebraska: Nebraska State Historical society, 1899.
Division of Publications, National Park Service. Underground Railroad. Foreword by Robert
Stanton, Director, National Park Service. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, no
date (1998).
Eickhoff, Diane. Revolutionary Heart: The Life of Clarina Nichols and the Pioneering Crusade for
Women’s Rights. Kansas City Kansas: Quindaro Press, no date (2006).
Eickhoff, Diane. “The Forgotten Feminist.” The Kansas City Star, November 9, 1999: E1 and
E10. An article on Clarina Irene Howard Nichols.
Eklund, Mark. "Quindaro Area Was Haven for Slaves." Heritage: The Magazine of Wyandotte
County History, February, 1976.
Farley, Alan W. "Annals of Quindaro: A Kansas Ghost Town." The Kansas Historical Quarterly,
Vol. XXII, No. 4 (Winter, 1956): 305-320.
Greenbaum, Susan. The Afro-American Community in Kansas City, Kansas: a history. Kansas
City, Kansas: City of Kansas City, Kansas, 1982.
Harrington, Grant W. Historic Spots or Mile-Stones in the progress of Wyandotte County, Kansas.
Merriam, Kansas: The Mission Press, 1935.
Heisler and McGee. "Map of Wyandotte County, Kansas, Compiled from Official Records &
Surveys, and Published by Heisler & McGee, Wyandotte, Kansas, 1870." Chicago: Ed. Mendel,
Hill, Hiram: Letters and Correspondence, Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka, Kansas. This
material is available on-line at www.territorialkansasonline.org, a joint venture of the Kansas State
Historical Society and the University of Kansas.
Kansas State Historical Society. Quindaro Townsite Acquisition Study. No place (Topeka,
Kansas): Kansas State Historical Society, 1988. Prepared by the staff of the Kansas State
Historical Society for the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review.
Lastelic, Joseph A. "Fate Unkind to 'Kanzas' Schoolteacher." The Kansas City Times, January
30, 1976.
__________. "Life in 'Kanzas' Alien to Young Woman." The Kansas City Star, January 29, 1976.
This was the first of two articles containing extensive excerpts from the diary of Elizabeth May
Lees, William B. Interim Report: An Intensive Archaeological Inventory of Browning-Ferris
Industries' Proposed Wyandotte Landfill Project, Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas City, Kansas:
Environmental Systems Analysis, 1984.
Letters received by the Office of Indian Affairs, 1824-81. Wyandot Agency, 1843-1863; 18701872. Microfilm, Rolls 950, 951, 952. Washington, D.C.: The National Archives, 1959.
McKay, Joyce and Larry J. Schmits. The Euro-American and Afro-American Communities of
Quindaro: Phase III Archaeological and Historical Evaluation of Browning-Ferris Industries'
Wyandotte County, Kansas Landfill. Kansas City, Kansas: Environmental Systems Analysis,
Mudge, Melville R. "Benjamin Franklin Mudge: A Letter from Quindaro." Kansas History, Vol. 13,
No. 4, Winter 1990-1991: 218-222.
Murray, Orrin McKinley, Sr. The Rise and Fall of Western University. Kansas City, Kansas: self
published, 1960.
Obituary, Elisha Sorter (sic), The Press, December 16, 1898: no page given.
Obituary, Elisha Sortor, The Wyandotte Herald, December 22, 1898: no page given.
Quindaro Chin-do-wan, May 13, 1857 to June 12, 1858.
Reid, Sandra. "Quindaro City, Kansas Territory." Unpublished thesis, University of MissouriKansas City, 1969.
Reynolds, John D. Report of Initial Archeological Inspection of a Proposed Sanitary Landfill Site in
Sections 29 and 30, T10S, R25E, Kansas City, Kansas. No place (Topeka, Kansas): Archeology
Department, Kansas State Historical Society, 1984. Submitted to: Browning-Ferris Industries,
Kansas City, Kansas.
Rhodes, Murray L. “Report of Survey, Exhibits, Survey & Deed Descriptions and Certificates of
Survey Prepared for Quiet Title Action in District Court Case #78C-4010 in Kansas City,
Wyandotte County, Kansas.” Kansas City, Kansas: Murray L. Rhodes, Registered Land
Surveyor, 1981. Detailed survey of Western University Lands and certain adjoining properties,
done as part of a quiet title suit in preparation for the proposed Browning-Ferris landfill.
Schmits, Larry J. Artifact Catalog: Quindaro Site (14WY314) 1987-1988 Phase IV Excavations.
Shawnee Mission, Kansas: Environmental Systems Analysis, Inc., 1989.
__________. "Quindaro: Kansas Territorial Free-State Port on the Missouri River." The Missouri
Archaeologist, Vol. 49, December 1988 (i.e. 1991): 89-145.
Smith, Thaddeus T. "Western University, a Ghost College in Kansas." Unpublished M. A. thesis,
Pittsburg State College, 1966.
Sortor family records in the archives of the Wyandotte County Historical Society & Museum,
including a photographic negative of the first Sortor residence; the Patent of Title for Wyandott
Allotment No. 117, James M. Long, dated June 1, 1859; a Warrantee (sic) Deed from Moses B.
Newman and Harriet A. Newman to Elisha Sortor for the North 75’ of Block No. Seven in the
Addition to the City of Quindaro; and real estate tax receipts to Elisha Sortor for various years
from 1874 through 1896, and to F(red) Sortor for various years from 1900 through 1910, the
family name being spelled both Sortor and Sorter on the receipts.
Wilder, D. W. The Annals of Kansas: New Edition. 1541-1885. Topeka, Kansas: T. Dwight
Thacher, Kansas Publishing House, 1886. The portions of this book covering the Kansas
territorial period are available on-line at www.territorialkansasonline.org, a joint venture of the
Kansas State Historical Society and the University of Kansas.
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