JOHN McDERMID produced this selection.

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL.


PART 1: Title to the Soil | Spanish Explorations and Discoveries (1527-1538) | Coronado (1540-1541)
PART 2: The Line of Coronado's March through Kansas | French Explorations and Discoveries | Marquette and Joliet (1673)
PART 3: Du Tissenet, the First French Explorer (1719) | Western Fur Trade and Traders | Early American Explorers (1804 - 1807)
PART 4: Pike's Expedition -- 1806-07, Part 1
PART 5: Pike's Expedition -- 1806-07, Part 2
PART 6: Long's Expedition | The Great American Desert | The Early Highways
PART 7: Early Santa Fe Trade
PART 8: The Santa Fe Road, Part 1
PART 9: The Santa Fe Road, Part 2


Nations acquire the right of eminent domain: (1) by priority of discovery; (2) by conquest; (3) by purchase; (4) by treaty; (5) by successful revolution; (6) by long-continued and uncontested possession or occupancy. Citizens derive their individual right or title from the General Government or from prior owners: (1) by purchase; (2) by grant or gift; (3) by inheritance; (4) by right of occupancy, confirmed by successful defense against trespass or invasion.

It can be said of the soil of Kansas what can be said of none other on the surface of the globe:

It is in possession of its rightful owners by virtue of every franchise known to civilized nations; by right of discovery; by right of conquest; by virtue of treaty; by right of purchase; by virtue of successful revolution; by right of occupancy; by right of brave and unconquerable defense against invasion. Thus it is emblematic of all the high and manly virtues involved in the acquisition so complete a title. The peaceful and unquestioned possession of today has been won through the extreme sacrifices demanded by courage, fortitude, patriotism and religious conviction. The story of the dangers braved, the privations endured, the sacrifices made, the sufferings borne, which, out of great tribulation have wrought such happy issues for the people of later times, constitutes the history of Kansas.


In June, 1527, the Spanish expedition of Pamphilo de Narvaez, in which Cabeza de Vaca held the office of Treasurer, left the Guadelquiver for the West Indies. Being appointed governor of Florida, Narvaez with his fleet of four ships, well officered and supplied, left Havana in the spring of 1528, to explore his new dominion. Driven by a storm, the ships anchored near the outlet of the "Bay of the Cross," now Tampa Bay. On the day before Easter, 1528, the governor landed, and in the name of Spain took possession of Florida. With three hundred men he thoroughly explored the country, always seeking for gold and silver. The search was continued through the summer, but proved fruitless, and after encountering many perils, and nearly perishing with hunger, the disappointed adventurers abandoned all hope of realizing their golden visions, and only desired to safely escape from the unhealthy and hated country. On returning to the sea, no trace could be found of their ships, and with their arms and such tools as were left, they constructed five small boats, in which all who had survived the hardships of the summer embarked, and proceeded westwardly along the coast, in hopes to reach a Mexican port.

On the 13th of October, 1528, Cabeza de Vaca, who commanded one of the boats, discovered one of the outlets of the Mississippi, which he described as a "very great river, bringing down such a flood of water, that even at the distance of a league from the stream the water is sweet." Several futile attempts to enter the river were made: the rising north wind, and the force of the current baffling all their efforts. In the early part of November, the boats of Cabeza de Vaca, Alonzo de Castillo and Andres Dorantes were wrecked off an island on the coast, near the mouth of the Mississippi. The three commanders, and those of the crew not drowned, were taken prisoners by the Indians. Of the other boats no information was ever gained.

The Spaniards remained in captivity, enduring from the natives the most cruel treatment. until all except the commanders, and a Barbary Moor, named Estevanico (Stephen) finally succumbed to the united influence of the climate, hardship and despair.

Cabeza de Vaca alone remained courageous. He studied the languages of the various tribes with whom he came in contact, learned their customs, gained their confidence, and finally acquired so great an influence over them, that, at the end of six years, inspiring his companions with his own indomitable courage, he dared plan an escape that involved the traversing of a continent through countries inhabited by strange and often hostile Indians.

In September, 1534, was commenced this pioneer journey of the Europeans, led by the brave Cabeza - "the great forerunner among the pathfinders across the continent." From the Gulf, the party fled "toward the mountains" (probably of Northern Alabama), thence westwardly across "this great river coming from the North;" still west to the plains of Texas; northwardly, to the sources of the Canadian River;[1] by Indian trails to the valley of the Rio del Norte; thence west and still toward the West, until after twenty months their wanderings ended, May, 1536, at the village of San Miguel in Sonora, near the Pacific. They arrived worn, half-starved, and nearly naked, but bearing to the greedy ears of their countrymen marvelous tales of splendid and populous cities, rich in gold and precious stones, of which they had heard from the Indians, whose country they had traversed.

[1] Hon. James W. Savage of Nebraska, says in his lectures read before the State Historical Society, April, 1880, that the route extended "through parts of Kansas and Colorado".

CORONADO (1540-1541).

As early as 1530, wild stories were told in New Spain of the magnificence of Cibola -- the fair province, with is seven gorgeous cities, that lay to the north forty days' journey through the desert, and an expedition was undertaken for the discovery and appropriation of the coveted prize. The terrors of the desert and the mountain daunted the courage of the first adventurers, and they penetrated not far beyond the limits of Spanish occupancy.

On the arrival in Mexico of Cabeza de Vaca and his three companions the interest in these mysterious cities, which had only smoldered, revived afresh. The strangers told their story to Francisco de Coronado, governor of New Galicia, and he with the consent and approval of the Viceroy, Mendoza, determined to send without delay a party of Franciscan friars under the guidance of Cabeza's black companion, Estevanico, to ascertain and report to him the truth in regard to the country of which such wonders were related.

On the return of the party, their superior and spokesman, Marcos de Niza, reported the death of their guide the Moor, at the hands of the Indians, in consequence of his insolent and overbearing conduct. but assured Coronado that in regard to the splendor of Cibola and the riches of the country, the half had not been told.

An expedition was immediately fitted out by the Viceroy, to subjugate and secure to Spain this treasure of the New World. Coronado was appointed commander, and so great was the excitement that in a few days many young cavaliers of the proudest families of New Spain had enlisted under his banner ready to brave any peril, and share any danger, to reach the glittering mirage that lured them on from across the desert. The rendezvous was appointed at Compostella, the capital of New Galicia, the northern Province of Mexico. On Easter morning, 1540, the army, numbering 300 Spaniards and 800 natives, celebrated mass, in company with the Viceroy, and the following day Coronado began the march that was to lead him over the plains and through the valleys of Kansas.

On arriving at Culiacan, the extreme outpost of Spanish colonization, the army halted for supplies and rest. Coronado, with a small party of cavaliers, and a few monks, started in advance of the main command, reached Chichilticale,[2] "where the desert begins; entered its confines on Saint John's Day eve, and marched in a general northeasterly direction fifteen days, when they arrived within eight leagues (about twenty-seven miles) of Cibola, on the banks of a river which they called Vermejo[3]. The following day the Spaniards arrived at Cibola,[4] and their disgust and indignation was proportioned to their former extravagant hopes. They learned that the province of Cibola did indeed contain seven villages, but at the sight of the first, the chronicler states "the army broke forth with maledictions on Friar Marcos de Niza," adding, like a christian - God grant that he may feel none of them." He further says: Cibola is built on a rock; this village is so small, that, in truth, there were many farms in new Spain that make a better appearance."

[2] According to Gen. J. H. Simpson, the site of Casa Grande on the Gila River. (Smithsonian Report for 1869.)
[3] The Little Colorado
[4] The Zuni of New Mexico

Poor as the village was, it contained food and shelter, which the jaded troops eagerly appropriated; subsisting on the hoarded stores of the Indians, while parties were sent out in different directions to find and plunder the other cities" of Cibola, and the adjacent provinces. and to explore the great river (Colorado), of which they had heard. (After a journey of twenty days the Colorado was found, and its wonderful canon is graphically described, and the circumstance of gathering white crystals of salt that hung around a cascade, is noted.)

An expedition, commanded by Hernando de Alvarado, was sent by Coronado to the Province of Cicuye,[5] seventy leagues[6] to the east of Cibola, which the Spaniards had heard contained cattle whose skins were "covered with a frizzled hair which resembled wool," and where dwelt a peaceful and wealthy people. After five days' journey from Cibola, Alvarado reached Acuco, a village "built on a rock." Three days from Acuco (Acoma), he reached Tiguex (on the Rio Grande), at which village his reception was so cordial and hospitable that he sent back a messenger to, Coronado. suggesting that be make the place his winter quarters. He then continued his journey east, and in five days arrived at Cicuye, which he described as strongly fortified and containing houses of four stories.

[5] Cicuye is believed by Gen. Simpson to be the ancient Pecos, on the river of the same name in New Mexico, a little south of Santa Fe.
[6] The Spanish league equals 3.42 American miles

In accordance with the suggestion of Avarado, Coronado established his camp at Tiguex for the winter (1540-41). The army arrived in December, and repaid the hospitality of the simple and kindly natives by acts of the most wanton and extreme cruelty, culminating in the total destruction of the villages of Tiguex.

When Alvarado returned to the army, from his visit to Cicuye, he brought with him the first report of the "great kingdom of Qulvera." From an Indian that he met while on his expedition, he heard of this mythical country. Becoming thoroughly convinced of the truth and reliability of the story, Avarado took him to Tiguex that he might relate to Coronado also, the wonderful tale of his home in Quivera, with its river seven miles wide, in which fish as large as horses were found; its immense canoes: its trees hung with golden bells, and its dishes of solid gold. Half believing and half distrusting, Coronado decided to be guided by the Indian to Quivera, and on the 5th day of May, 1541, as soon as the Rio Grande was free of ice, the army commenced its march to the new land of promise far over the plains to the north east.

One the 5th of May, 1541, the Spanish camp on the Rio Grande was broken up, and the army passing through Cicuye and crossing the Pecos River entered the "mighty plains and sandy heaths" of New Mexico and Kansas "smooth and wearisome and bare of wood" then as now.

From the valley of the Pecos, still marching to the southeast the Spaniards plodded on -- the foot soldiers grimly counting their steps to mark the daily progress, until, after 700 miles were passed, they arrived on the banks of a great river which they called "Saint Peter and Saint Paul", which could have bee no other than the Arkansas. On their march, they crossed the path of the Querechos -- the Indians of the plains -- who knew no wealth but the trophies of the chase, and who migrated with the wild herds they hunted. Prairie dogs peered at the strange people from their countless homes, and beasts, "fierce of countenance and form of body", in their wild rage and anger, terrified both horses and riders. They quailed, "with many tears, weaknesses, and vows", before the terror of the storm of wind and hail, which tore apart their tents, destroyed their equipages and caused their horses to even break their reins, some "even blown down the banks of the ravine"; they wondered at the strange animals -- "beastes[7] as big as horses, which, because they have horns and fine woole, they are called sheep", and turned disgusted from the uncooked meals and rude customs of the savages of the plains.

When the army arrived on the banks of the Arkansas, it was found that the store of provisions was likely to fail, and that nothing could be obtained except the meat of buffalo. Against the entreaties and protestations of his soldiers, Coronado determined to pursue his farther investigations northward, with thirty of his bravest and best mounted men and six foot soldiers, while the main army, commanded by one of his Captains, should immediately return to their old camp on the Rio Grande.

[7] Rocky Mountain sheep

Taking additional guides from the native Indians, Coronado continued his march over the Kansas prairies in search of Quivera, which place was reached, according to the narrative, in forty eight days. When the hated Spaniards could no longer be tempted by the tales of treasure "farther on", the Indian who lured them from the valley of the Pecos, and who had been their chief guide so far, confessed the truth. That the inhabitants of Cicuye and Tiguex might dwell in their homes in peace and safety, the intruders had been led on this long march through where it was hoped and believed that they would die of starvation. The guide accomplished this objective, but at the sacrifice of his life.

When Coronado reached the end of his journey, he wrote the following description of the region to the viceroy of Mexico Don Antonio de Mendoza: "The province of Quivera is 950 leagues (3,230 miles) from Mexico. The place where I have reached is the 40 degree of latitude. The earth is the very best possible for all the kinds of productions of Spain, for while it is very strong and black, it is well watered by brooks, springs and rivers. I found prunes like those of Spain, some of which were black, also some excellent grapes and mulberries".

Jaramillo, one of the chroniclers of the expedition who accompanied Coronado to Quivera, says of the country: "It is not a country of mountains; there are only some hills, some plains and some streams of very fine water. It satisfied me completely. I presume that it is very fertile and favorable for the cultivation of all kinds of fruit". He also mentions that after crossing the large river to which they gave the name of "Saint Peter and Saint Paul", and traveling several days north, they came to the province of Quivera, where they learned that there was a still larger river farther on, to which they gave the name of "Teucarea".[8]

[8] General Simpson believes it to be the Missouri.

In regard to the deceptions practiced upon him by the Indians, Coronado writes to Mendoza as follows: "I sojourned twenty-five days in the province of Quivera, as much to thoroughly explore the country as to see if I could not find some further occasion to serve your Majesty, for the guides whom I brought with me have spoken of provinces situated still further on. That which I have been able to learn is, that in this country one can find neither gold nor any other metal. They spoke to me of small villages, whose inhabitants, for the most part, do not cultivate the soil. They have huts of hides and of willows, and change their places of abode with the vaches (buffaloes). The tale they told me then (that Quivera was a city of extraordinary buildings and full of gold) was false. In inducing me to part with all of my army to come to this country, the Indians thought that the country being desert and without water, they would conduct us into places where our horses and ourselves would die of hunger; that is what the guide confessed. They told us they had acted by the advice of the natives of these countries".

In August, 1541, after remaining in the province of Quivera twenty-five days, Coronado gave up his last hope of finding treasure, and after rearing on the banks of a "great tributary of the Mississippi", a cross with the inscription: "Thus far came Francisco de Coronado, General of the Expedition", turned his steps again to the south and west.

[TOC] [part 2] [part 1] [Cutler's History]