Kansas Fact and Fancy:  Trivia questions about Kansas history

Answers to Part Three

41. The Huron cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas recently made national news when Leonard Bearskin proposed to build a bingo hall above the graves. The city and state governments became apoplectic and a rider was attached to a bill in the U.S. Congress to prevent this sacrilege.
     This isn’t the first controversy that has involved the cemetery. In the early & middle part of this century, three sisters enjoyed great notoriety over actions they took that were directly related to the Huron cemetery.
     (A) Who were these sisters? (B) What was the controversy? (C) What national “first” did one of them achieve in 1909? Bonus question: How did the term “Huron” come about? (don’t have to answer this one to win.)

(A) The sisters were Helena, Lyda, and Ida Conley. (B) They made the famous defense of the Huron Cemetery between 1906 and 1913, when sale of the cemetery was proposed in Congress. The sisters erected a small fortified house on the grounds of the cemetery and through their efforts were successful in saving the historic spot. (C) During the October term of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1909, Eliza (Lyda) Burton Conley became the first woman of Indian descent admitted to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. (Bonus) Lyda's own words to the court mention the Huron name in this way: the "Wyandots or Hurons, including the Eries or Erigas, Ahrendahronous, and the Attiwandorouk or 'Neutral Nation' Canada, are one of the three divisions of the Wyandot-Iroquois Family - a distinct, and historically famous group, allied ethnically to the Algonquins, and linguistically...to the Dakotas."
     The term "Huron" was also used derisively the French. It is a reference to the traditional headdress worn by Wendat (or Ouendat) people that reminded the French of the bristly hairs that stood up on the back of a wild boar.
     Wyandot has evolved from our original name of Wendat (or Ouendat) means people of the islands and refers to our origins on the shores of Georgian Bay on Lake Huron.


42. Who was the first woman journalist graduated from KU and when. What was her home county and do you know her parents?

The answer is Lucy Ann Barger who was the first woman journalist graduate of KU June 2, 1911. She was the daughter of Curtis E. and Minerva (Witham) Barger born 12 Nov 1889 in Mitchell County, KS


43. Since the very name of our state derives from an Indian tribe, the Kansa, it seems appropriate to ask for the names of all the Kansas counties that are also named for Indian tribes.
     The bonus question is for the name of the only Kansas county that is named for an individual Indian.
     No extra credit will be earned for adding additional information, such as year of establishment or original county name, but you will impress everyone if you do so.

[Name -- Est. -- Notes]

CHEROKEE -- 1860 --Orig. name: McGee (1860-1866)

CHEYENNE -- 1873

COMANCHE -- 1867

KIOWA -- 1886

MIAMI -- 1855 -- Orig. name: Lykins (1855-1861)

OSAGE -- 1859 - Orig. name: Weller (1859)

OTTAWA -- 1860

PAWNEE -- 1867

POTTAWATOMIE -- 1857 -- Variant spelling of POTAWATOMI

SHAWNEE -- 1855

WICHITA -- 1873

WYANDOTTE -- 1859 -- Variant spelling of WYANDOT

Bonus Question: WABAUNSEE 1855 Potawatomi chieftain

There are also the "lost" counties of Arapahoe, Otoe and Sequoyah. The first two are, of course, names of Indian tribes. Republic Co. (and Republican River) was named for the Republic or Republican Band of the Pawnee. Arapahoe was also named after an Indian tribe, though this county doesn't exist any more -- it's known these days as eastern Colorado. An historical marker along the Republican River notes, "Long before white men settled here the region was the home of the Pawnee Indians. The French traders in the late 1700s named those along the river the Republican Pawnees, in the mistaken belief that their form of government was a republic. From them the Republican River and in turn Republic County and Republic (town) in Kansas took their names."
     According to Steve Harper, in his 83,000 Square Miles, No Lines, No Waiting: Kansas Day Trips (Wichita: Wichita Eagle & Beacon, 1990), Chautaqua is named after Chautauqua Co., New York.
     Sequoyah county was named after the Indian Chief Sequoyah, also spelled SEQUOYA, or SEQUOIA, Cherokee SIKWAYI, also called GEORGE GIST, or GEORGE GUESS (b. c. 1760/1770, Taskigi, North Carolina colony [U.S.]--d. August 1843, near San Fernando, Mex.), creator of the Cherokee writing system.


44. Who were the "BLOODY BENDERS", and in what county did they gain their fame?

The story has many variations, but runs substantially as follows: In an early days, while that region was sparsely settled, this family, consisting of an old man and his wife, and a son and daughter took up their abode at the place referred to, which is about ten miles west of a little village called Galesburg in Neosho county. [The home has been identified as being within Labette county.] There they kept a sort of wayside inn, making a business of keeping travelers over night, and we might add, to see that they never proceeded any further in the direction of their desired destination. When a traveler was beheld approaching, some member of the family would station himself at the roadside in front of the house, and as the unsuspecting individual drew nigh would accost him pleasantly, inquire in a friendly manner where he was going, and if it was anywhere near evening would assure him that it would be impossible for him to reach his destination before nightfall, and propose that he should remain over night with them, while the traveler generally acquiesced to the hospitable proposition. It seemed that the inside of the building had been arrangd with a view to the accomplishment of then ghastly designs. The front room and a small apartment back of it were separated by a thin curtain drawn across somewhat in the manner of the curtains used on folding doors, while in the center of the room was a trap door. When a man whom they had marked as a victim entered the door of that room his doom was sealed. He would be offered a chair sitting so that its back would be toward the curtain, and so near it that, when he sat down, the back of his head would be against it.
     Behind this curtain, in the little apartment above mentioned, was concealed the female fiend, Miss Kate bender, having near at hand two hammers, one large and the other small, and a sharp knife. When the unfortunate victim would become deeply interested in some exciting or amusing conversation with the other members of the family who pretended to be exceedingly jolly and vivacious, the murderess behind the curtain would deal him a blow in the back fo the head with the large hammer that would drop him senseless upon the floor; then, rushing from her hiding place, she would deal him another blow in the temple with the little hammer; where upon the male members would drag him to the trap-door, over which they would hold him while the insatiate monster in woman's form drew the knife across his throat, after which they allowed the bleeding corpse to fall through the aperture into the cellar.
     Sometimes there would be two or three travelers stop at one time at this abode, upon which occasions as many members of the family would take their places behind the curtain, selecting their victims at the critical moment. Again there would occasionally come a man who, when offered the fatal chair, would unconsciously remove it to some of the reposition, rendering it inconvenient to strike him a sure blow from the place of concealment. Under such circumstances the family would always be very mirthful and finally propose a game in which it would become incumbent upon the stranger, in acting a certain part, to fall upon his knees and clasp his hands in the attitude of prayer. The place selected for him to do this would be on the trap door. When in the required position Miss Kate would steal softly frombehind the curtain and strike him dead as he knelt. They always aimedto make death certain, provided they thought the stranger had valuables worth the trouble. Their discovery came about asfollows: A man left his wife somewhere in eastern Kansas to go and make arrangements for settling further west, saying that as soon as matters were adjusted, which would be within a certain stated time, he would return and take her west with him. He went,and the time setfor his return came, but he did not come with it. Becoming alarmed at his prolonged absence, his wife set out to overtake or meet him. She too, stopped to remain over night with the Benders. It didn't seem to be their intention to murder her; at least not in their usual manner of performing the hellish act. While sittin in the room alone she picked up a locket that was lying on a stand. Opening it she was surprised to perceive her own picture in it, and that of her littlegirl opposite. She knew then that the locket had belonged to her husband, having been worn by him as a charm on his watch chain. Her suspicions were aroused, but some one coming in prevented her from escaping, and finally she was taken upstairs to retire, but not to sleep. She was planning an escape from the building. After a time she arose and looked out of the window, and was astonished to see the light ofa lantern swinging in a distant part of the orchard on the premises. She succeeded in stealing softly out of the house without discovery, and drew near the light, which she watched till the parties went away, and then went to the place and found a newly made grave. She hid out on the prairie all night, and when morning came, went to a neighbor's house and told her story.
     The alarm soon spread abroad and people flocked to the house from far and near in great crowds. But the family had disappeared. The horses were found standing hitched to a wagon not far off, and that was the only trace that could be found. A crowd gathered and formed themselves into a mob for the purpose of wreaking vengeance upon the murderers. They set off in a certain direction, and when they came back not a single member of it could be prevailed upon to say whether they had accomplished their purpose or not. Hence the uncertainty. Some claim that they did and were afraid to tell lest it might bring them trouble. Others claim that if they had they would have been too glad to tell, as a large reward had been offered for each and every member of the family that might be brought back dead or alive. Why they should continue so silent upon this matter to even the present day remains a mystery.
     This account was drawn from the Topeka Daily Capital of 1886; for another version, see Cutler's History of the State of Kansas in Kancoll.


45. Where and why is the 'Wind Gas Capital of the World'?

Dexter, Kansas is the self-proclaimed "Wind Gas Capital of the World." Around the turn of the century, in the heyday of wildcatting, they drilled for oil in Dexter. They planned a celebration when the well came in, including a torch lighting. The well came in and...blew the torch out! Repeated with same results. Some time later it was discovered that the 'wind gas' was actually a natural helium and the Navy used to bring Dirigibles from Olathe Naval Air Station and refuel virtually right out of the ground. Still later the helium was used as a coolant in various nuclear projects....or so I've been told on a Saturday afternoon on Main Street.


46. I've heard of some interesting school teachers but none as tantalizing as William Quantrill. Quantrill once taught school in Kansas. In what town did he teach?

Stanton in Miami County, Kansas. Quantrill also taught in Lawrence 1859 -60 , and before this time also in Ohio.


47. With all of this travel talk, I'll stay in the same mode and ask about the Victory Highway, when was it opened and what do we know it as?

US Highway 40 was called the Victory Highway when it opened in 1921, in honor of those who fought the first World War.


48. How, when, and where did Mr. William Cody get the nickname "Buffalo Bill"?

In 1867 the goddard brothers hired William F. Cody to furnish 12 buffalo a day to feed the railroad workers at hays. More can be read on this at kancoll in the biography of Cody by his sister, Last of the Great Scouts.
     But "Buffalo Bill" was not an uncommon name back then -- another subscriber reports, "there was another 'Buffalo Bill,' by the name of Comstock. He and Cody had a contest to determine which of them was the real 'Buffalo Bill.' Cody won by killing sixty-nine bison to Comstocks forty-six.


49. With all of the talk about Brookville, I thought i'd ask if anyone knows either the name of the rooster or his owner who was used by warner pathe for the beginning of their newsreels around 1948.

Earl Kelly of Stafford, Kansas bought "Just Bill" for $100 in 1946. The bird won a contest the next year to become the crowing rooster for Warner-Pathe newsreels. Just Bill beat out several thousand other roosters because he could crow on cue (with the urging of Kelly waving his arms).
     I just kind of liked this story. I am rather young to remember many newsreels, but I do remember seeing the crowing rooster on the Pathe ones.


50. (1) What church is the oldest established church in the State still in use? (2) Who were the first white settlers in Wyndotte County and how did this church memorialize them? (3) Who is the first white settler buried in the cemetery owned by this church?

When the current church building of the White Church Christian Church in Kansas City, Kansas, was dedicated in 1906, a stained glass memorial window was dedicated to M. R. Grinter 1809-1878 and Anna Grinter 1820-1905, the first white settlers in Wyandotte County. Elizabeth Boles is buried in the church cemetery. I think there could be much debate over who the first white settlers of Wyandotte County were. There was a fairly substantial group of inhabitants at the on the west side of the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, where Wyandotte County, and Kansas City, Kansas now stand quite awhile before the Grinters, I believe, and I believe the Choteau family had a trading post there. However, they may well have been the first settlers in the sense that they actually worked the land, etc.


51. Wyandotte County, Kansas is named for the Ouendat or Wyandot tribe of Indians, who were moved west from their original lands in Ohio and Michigan in 1842, and given 148,000 acres west of the Mississippi in exchange.
     1. What is the French nickname for the Wyandots, and why did the French bestow it upon them? (Hint: The cemetery below carries the name).
2. In a Treaty of January 31, 1855, the members of the Wyandot tribe lost all the lands they had received in 1842 (except for a "public burying-ground" now in downtown Kansas City, Kansas), and had their tribe dissolved. What did they receive in exchange?
3. As a result of the 1855 treaty and another in 1867 there are now two groups in the United States calling themselves the Wyandots. What are the full names of each of these Wyandot tribes?
4. What disagreement has existed for over 100 years between these two groups over the burial grounds described above, and what is the nature of the most recent manifestation of that disagreement, arising in 1994-1997?

1. The French called the wyandots, huron, which means "rough" or "boorish". I don't know why they called them that.
2. They received U.S. citizenship.
3. After 1867 a reservation was formed in Oklahoma for what becomes the Wyandotte tribe of Oklahoma. The Wyandots who stayed in Kansas make up the Wyandot nation of Kansas.
4. i don't know what the argument over the burial grounds was before now, but the argument now is over building a casino there. The Oklahoma Wyandottes want the casino for the income. The Kansas Wyandots are appalled that their burial grounds would be desecrated.


52. What Kansas town is named for the Spanish word for cement and why?

Yocimento, near Hays. Yo means "I," of course, and "cimento" could be the verb rather than the noun. There was a cement factory there made from the local cretaceous limestone, referred to as yacimiento.


53. What is the state insect of Kansas?

The honeybee.


54. Something happened in Sedgwick County, Kansas, on May 26, 1917. This happens in other places, too, and at different times (important enough to be recorded on the Internet); but the only other Sedgwick County listing was also on a May 26--May 26, 1973. What was it?

Sedgwick county had tornados both in 1917 and 1973 in May.


55. Since the glass factories in Independence were mentioned not long ago, I'll take my question from there. by 1910 there were 25 glass factories in this southeast Kkansas area. What brought this industry to that location in shortly after 1900?

Availability of natural gas, which is the fuel used for manufacturing window glass in large quantities, plus the silica brick necessary to line the furnaces, plus the availability of glass sand (silica), crushed limestone, salt cake, soda ash and carbon; i.e., the raw materials, and the accessibility of rail transportation. The availability of skilled labor must also have been a factor. Glass workers were some of the very highest paid workers at the time.
     It has been reported that the first glass west of the Mississippi was made at Fort Scott, in 1888-1889, although that plant was only open for less than a year. By 1911 there were about a dozen window glass plants in Kansas, and shortly thereafter it was down to two or three. In the early 1900's the largest plant was the Fredonia Window Glass Company in Fredonia, Kansas. I don't think there are any now, but I'm not sure about that.


56. On August 25, 1855, Kansas Territorial Governor Woodson issued a proclamation creating Arapahoe County within the Kansas Territory. That Kansas County no longer exists, but a constitutional convention was held in one of the towns in Arahapoe County in 1859. What was the name of the town and what was the constitution which was the subject of the convention?

In April, 1859, the first constitutional convention met in Blake and Williams Hall on Blake Street in Denver. (The first constitution was rejected in September 1859, but a provisional territorial government called the Territory of Jefferson was formed.) But it wasn't until August 1, 1876, that then President Grant issued a proclamation declaring Colorado a state.


57. With a full moon AND Hallowe'en just around the corner, I thought y'all might enjoy this trivia question:
     Kansas has its share of ghost stories -- rumors of mysterious lights, phantom trains, restless spirits. Some of these stories began in harrowing circumstances, scenes of illness or murder or abandonment. But this particular one began under much happier circumstances.
     I imagine none of the Kansas folks assembled that fall afternoon years ago suspected anything tragic was about to occur. They were there to see a football game, to see the hometown boys do good and show the visiting team how the game of football was supposed to be played. But Death stood nearby, waiting ...
     It must have been early in the game that it happened -- a young football player, injured on the field -- perhaps those watching at first didn't realize quite what had happened, or how serious it was. But as the player was carried into a nearby building, they must have known something was badly wrong.
     How wrong was learned all too quickly; the young man died in the building he had been carried into -- his life just a brief flame that flickered and faded, despite the best efforts to aid him. His parents were on their way to the game in their car -- what sad news was waiting for them!
     But they never heard it. At the very moment the young man passed away, a car accident claimed their lives as well.
     Since then, the young man is said to wander both the structure in which he died, and the one in which he was injured, searching for his parents. Strange tales are told of seeing ghostly silhouettes and hearing loud noises (which were silenced by telling the ghost firmly to stop). One person noted recently that she wasn't frightened by the ghost as long as she had a radio playing -- and then listed at least seven places in the structure where the young man died, to which she refused to go.
     Please tell us the name by which this ghost is known, and the location of his demise.

The ghost roams the Purple Masque Theater beneath East Stadium at Kansas State University.


58. His father was prominent Republican repeatedly elected to Congress. But his dream was to play soldier: charging ahead, dispatching the enemy, being feted by the nation. In fact he was rejected by West Point because of his grades; then tried KU but left due to lack of interest.
     He fought with the Cuban rebels against the Spanish. Then after coming home, lobbied to get command of the 20th Kansas Regiment, hoping to fight along side Roosevelt in Cuba. Instead he was sent elsewhere. There he almost single-handly won a war.
     Who was he and what war did he end?

Fred, son of Foghorn, Funston; and the war was the Spanish-American War (or Philippine Insurrection).


59. Seven [Kansas City] Chiefs have been elected to the Football Hall of Fame. Can you name one? (Extra bonus points if you pick the first one elected, and even more if you can explain why!)

Lamar Hunt (1972), Bobby Bell (1983), Willie Lanier (1986), 1987-Len Dawson (1987), Junious (Buck) Buchanan (1990), Jan Stenerud (1991), and Mike Webster (1997 -- he played his last year with the Chiefs).
     Lamar Hunt was the first Chief elected to the Hall of Fame, for his role in forming a new league that caused pro football to grow from 12 teams to 26 teams in the 1960s.

Update:  Marcus Allen (2003) is the eighth Kansas City Chief to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Although he spent 11 years with the Raiders and only five with the Chiefs, he was very firm about inducted as a Chief. When a TV sports reporter asked him what color his jersey would be when he went into the Hall of Fame, Allen said directly and without hesitation, "Red."


60. Grasshopper Falls was renamed to what, and for what reason? Further, what is this municipality currently called?

Buffalo Bill's father, a member of the Topeka legislature, travelled to Ohio and recruited some folks to settle in Jefferson county. Years later, Isaac Cody's granddaughter would wed a man named Goodman from there. The original Grasshopper Falls was renamed by the legislature to 'Sautrelle Falls' in its early days. Before long, the original name of 'Grasshopper Falls' was restored because the legislature's renaming did not catch on with local residents. 'Valley Falls' became the town's name after a few more years, and it remains so to this day.
     Another subscriber noted: "According to a newpaper (The Valler Falls Vindicator) printed on December 4, 1975,the Grasshopper plague occured in July and August of 1874, and they ate everything except native grass, castor beans and some trees. After the plague, the citizens were not happy with the name Grasshopper Falls, and asked the State Legislature to change the town name to Valley Falls and the river (Grasspopper) to Delaware River after the Indians. This happened in 1875. It is still Valley Falls. When I lived there the size of the town was about 1,200 people, and may still be about that size."

Return to Part Three     Go to answers to Part Two