Brief History Time Line
Council Grove, Kansas

Trail Trails
Volume 6 -- July 14, 1997 -- No. 2

Why was this area a Rendezvous?
     This area was a natural camping ground because of the grove of hardwood trees, good water with a gravel bottom river crossing and blue stem grass for their livestock, and it was on the Santa Fe Trail. Early day travelers called this place "An Oasis in the Wilderness".

Why was the Santa Fe Trail Where it was?
     Because Indian trails were already established, which made it sensible to go where others already knew there was water.

     William Becknell left Franklin, Missouri in September with goods to sell or trade and got to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he sold them at a huge profit. He arrived back in Franklin in January 1822.

Becknell took the first wagon train to Santa Fe, New Mexico establishing the Santa Fe Trail trade route.

     George Sibley, representing the U.S. government, signed the first treaty with the Osage Indians establishing right of safe passage on the Santa Fe Trail.

     Kit Carson scratched "Council Grove" on a buffalo hide and attached it to a tree in the grove where the council was held.

     Big John, part of the Sibley group, found a good spring one mile east of Council Grove, which was called Gravel Creek. It was renamed Big John and Fremont later camped there.

     200 persons, 100 wagons, $200,000. of merchandise passed through Council Grove along the Santa Fe Trail.

     The U.S. Government blacksmith Mitchell came to Council Grove to serve the military, including Gen. Kearny's Army of the West.

     Seth Hays settled here with a license to trade with the Indians, building a log cabin trading post He brought Aunt Sally, a slave. From 1825 until 1847 (when Hays started handling the mail) mail had been left in the hole at the base of the Post office Oak.

     60 wagons with 71 raw recruits and 425 beef cattle left Council Grove for Santa Fe.

     By this time there were 6 houses and 3 or 4 shops. The Choteau brothers had trading establishments here.

     The U.S. Government granted a 4 year contract for the only mail station between Westport and San Francisco to Waldo and Hall. The station was in a building where Farmers & Drovers Bank is now located.

     The Kaw Mission was started in September by the Kansas Methodist Mission and finished.

     The Kaw Mission was started in September by the Kansas Methodist Mission and finished by the next spring.

     Company B First Dragoons was sent to Council Grove to punish the Kaws for stealing horses and to catch Pawnees who had attacked the mail station.

     Territorial Governor Reeder came in October considering locating the new capitol here, but legally could not because it was Indian Territory.

     Council Grove Town Company was formed.

     Sam Wood moved to Council Grove from Cottonwood Falls, publishing the first newspaper in Morris County, The Kansas Press, September 12. Copies, on microfilm, are at the Council Grove Library.

     The Stone Store, (on the corner of Main & Neosho) was built by Malcolm Conn, one of the best known merchants of the early days.

     Council Grove Town Company was incorporated when the territorial governor granted a charter; Kaw land had been cut from 20 miles square to 9 x 13 miles so Council Grove was then outside the diminished reservation.

     The town of Council Grove was incorporated.

     There are 4 Kansas trees listed by the American Forestry Association in Washington, DC Three are in Council Grove: the Council Oak, Post Office Oak, Custer Elm.

     Twenty Seven living trees have been identified by Kansas State University Forestry Dept. as part of the original grove of trees.

     Council Grove is designated Tree City USA

     Materials giving more information about the history of this area is made available at the Council Grove Public Library.

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