William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


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The exact line of the march of Coronado can never be known. he probably crossed the southern boundary of the state somewhere between the twenty-second and twenty-fourth meridians, and marched in a northeasterly direction to the banks of the Missouri, in latitude 40 degree north.

Gen. J. H. Simpson, Colonel of Engineers, U. S. A., has given, in connection with the expedition, a map showing its probable route. In Wilder's "Annals of Kansas", page 5, it is stated thus: "The route of Coronado was through that part of Kansas now embraced in the counties of Barbour, Kingman, Reno, Harvey, McPherson, Marion, Dickinson, Davis, Riley, Pottawatomie and Nemaha". If the large "Teucarea" was the Missouri, as Gen. Simpson believes, Coronado must have visited Brown or Doniphan county to arrive at 40 degrees north. The rout laid down is essentially the same as on the map referred to.

Maj. Henry Inman, whose personal knowledge of the whole country between Missouri and Sante Fe, is unquestioned, marks out the route, and gives plausible, and in some instances unanswerable, reasons for his location of the line of march. His theory is essentially the following: The province of Quivera extended from the thirty-ninth to the forty-first degree of north latitude and from the ninety fifth to the ninety seventh degree of longitude. Coronado's route from Pecos was in a northeasterly direction to latitude 37 degrees, longitude 103 degrees from which point he turned nearly due east, marching south of the Arkansas to its junction with the little Arkansas, where he crossed between Huthcinson and Wichita; thence marched nearly north, crossing the Kansas, near Abilene; thence North of the Kansas, striking the Missouri in the vicinity of Atchison. Maj. Inman gives the following reasons for the belief that the return of Coronado's party was by the following route:

Following the Missouri south to the mouth of the Kansas; thence westerly along its northern bank to the North fork of the Smokey Hill, where he crossed the Kansas, and thence turned directly south to the Arkansas river.

The Spanish cavaliers of this expedition are the first white men known to viewed the plains of Kansas. As no gold or other precious metals were discovered, no cities found to conquer, and a vast and arid desert separated the country from Mexico, it does not appear that any proprietary claim to the region was established by the Spanish Government by virtue of its discovery by Coronado, although more that half a million dollars had been spent on the expedition.[9] For more than a century thereafter it was not visited by the white race, and the discovery was forgotten, save by students of Spanish history, who remarked it as a marvelous though unsuccessful episode in the progress of Spanish conquest in America.

[9] "Three score thousand pesos of gold" according to the narrative


In 1609, James I granted to the colony of Virginia "all those lands, countries and territories, situate, lying and being in that part of America, called Virginia, from Point Comfort (37 degree north latitude) to the northward 200 miles, and to the southward 200 miles, and up into the land throughout, from sea to sea". Had the grantees availed themselves by discovery and occupation of the domain thus granted, Kansas would have been part of the old domain of Virginia.It does not appear that the English Government or the colony of Virginia had any definite knowledge of the region west of the Mississippi, so indefinitely described in the grant, until over sixty years after, when the French by exploration, occupation and treaty with the Indians formally established themselves in possession of the upper lakes, through the whole valley of the Mississippi, to the Gulf of Mexico, and claimed all the countries drained by the Missouri westward to the Pacific.


In 1670, Father Jacques Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary, then at a station on Lake Superior, heard from a young Illinois Indian, his teacher in that language, of the "prodigious nations" that lived on the banks of the great river, six or seven days journey below the mouth of the Illinois.

The French missionaries had occasionally encountered the warlike Sioux, and had often heard from the Algonquin tribes of the power and strength of the great western nation, and the reports of the Illinois strengthened the desire of Marquette to establish a mission among the Illinois; to explore the mysterious Mississippi, and to carry the Gospel even to the dreaded tribes that lived beyond its western banks.

Various circumstances delayed the accomplishment of his desires, and it was not until three years later that the Governor of Canada had completed the arrangements requisite for the exploration of the great river. That the French Government had more worldly ends in view than the conversion of the peaceful Illinois or the fierce Dahcotah, and that the explorations were expected to bear in mind the material interests of Canada, is apparent from the account[10] which is given by Father Dablon of their final appointment. He says "In 1673, the Compte de Frontenac, our Governor, and M. Talon, then our Intendant, knowing the importance of this discovery, either to seek a passage from here to the China Sea, by the river which empties into the California or Red Sea, or to verify what was afterward said of the two kingdoms of Theguaro (Tiguex) and Quivera, which borders on Canada, and where gold mines are, it is said, abundant; These gentlemen, I say, both at the same time selected for the enterprise the Sieur Jollyet, who they deemed competent for so great a design, wishing to see Father Marquette accompany him". It is evident from the above quotation that it was believed that if the explorers did not succeed in reaching the California Sea, into which it was generally supposed that the Mississippi emptied that they might al least penetrate the to the southwest and discover the gold mines in what are now New Mexico.

[10] "Narrative of Father Marquette" (Shea's "Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley)".

The voyage of Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet was commenced May 17, 1673. With five companions, they embarked in two canoes at the Straights Michilimackinac, and by way of Green Bay, the Fox River and the Wisconsin River, reached the Mississippi, which they explored as far south as the mouth of the Arkansas.

A manuscript map, showing the discoveries made, is still preserved at St. Mary's College, Montreal, of which a fac simile is published in this volume. Thus, the earliest map of the Mississippi region, shows the Missouri for a hundred miles from its mouth, while the region of Kansas is designated as the home of various Indian tribes, under names having sufficient similarity to the more modern ones, to establish their identity with tribes not yet extinct. Panna and Paniassa (Pawnee), Ouemissourit (Missouri), Ouchage (Osage), Tontanta (Teton), Pewaria (Peoria), Kansa and Maha. The Mississippi is designated "Le riviere da la Conception" and the Missouri river is given the Algonquin name Pekitanoui, meaning muddy river.

Joliet and Marquette made the return voyage up the Mississippi to the Illinois; thence to lake Michigan and the St. Francis Mission at Green Bay, where Father Marquette remained. In the spring of 1674, Joliet, with his own journal and map of the region drawn by himself, set out, accompanied by an Indian boy, to carry the accounts of their great discoveries to the Governor of Canada. When near the end of his Journey, in shooting the Lachiene Rapids, his canoe was overturned, by which accident his companion was drowned, and his records and maps lost. He wrote another account and drew a new map from memory, which were forwarded to France by Frontenac, then Governor of Canada, as were the copies of Marquette's journal and map, a few months after. The French court paid but little attention to the discovery -- the journals were not published until years after -- and then by a private individual (Thevenot), who obtained a copy, and published it so late as 1681. The advantages subsequently gained by France in the acquisition of the Territory of Louisiana, in spite of her apathy, she owes entirely to the enterprise, courage and fortitude of Robert Cavalier de la Salle.

Mississippi River Map

In 1674, La Salle met Joliet, then on his way to Quebec, at Fort Frontenac, and then read his journal, examined his map, and received from him full information as to the discovery of the great river. He was at that time in the enjoyment of a patent of nobility, and a monopoly of the fur trade of the lakes, and too much engrossed in business undertakings to give the matter continued or serious thought. A few years later, when complete disaster had overwhelmed his business undertakings, his mind turned to the narrative of Joliet with renewed interest, and he saw in that distant and unknown region a prospect for retrieving his losses. I dawned on him that the "great river", discovered by De Soto in 1541 was the great "river" of Marquette re-discovered in 1673 and that he determined on completing its exploration to the sea, thereby opening water navigation by a new route, connecting Canada by the great lakes and the Mississippi, with the Gulf of Mexico. To secure to himself the business advantages which would accrue from success in this proposed undertaking, he went to France in the summer of 1677, and obtained an enlargement of his trade monopoly to the extreme limits of the territory as he might by discovery add to the domain of France, with other favorable grants, and returned accompanied by Tonty, a party of mechanics, and others whom he had interested in the voyage. It is not within the scope of this history to detail his labors and disappointments before his efforts were crowned with success. After three unsuccessful attempts, and as many returns to Canada, on February 6, 1682, he embarked on the Illinois River, in three barges, with his Lieutenants, Tonty and Dantray, and Father Zenobias Membre as chaplain of the expedition. They entered the Mississippi, to which La Salle gave the name Colbert. On March3, passed the mouth of the Arkansas, the limits of Marquette's explorations, where they set up a cross; passed Natchez, where they erected a cross; entered the delta of the Mississippi April 6, and reached the gulf of Mexico of Mexico April 9, 1682. There and then for the first time, by right of discovery and occupancy, La Salle formally took possession of Louisiana in the name of a Christian and civilized government. Father Membre's narrative is as follows: "At last, after navigation of about forty leagues, we arrived on the 6th of April, at a point where the river divides into three channels. The Sieur de la Salle divided his party the next day into three bands, to go and explore them. He took the western; the Sieur Dantray the southern; the Sieur Tonty, who I accompanied, the middle one. These three channels are beautiful and deep. The water is brackish; after advancing two leagues it became perfectly salt, and advancing on we discovered the open sea, so that on the ninth of April, with all possible solemnity, we performed the ceremony of planting the cross and raising the arms of France. After we had chanted the hymn of the Church -- Vexilla Regis and the Te Deum -- the Sieur de la Salle, in the name of His Majesty, took possession of that river; of all the rivers that emptied into it, and of all the country watered by them. An authentic act was drawn up, signed by all of us there and amid a volley from all our muskets, a leaden plate, inscribed with the arms of France, and the names of those who had just made the discovery was deposited in the earth". Thus, on the 9th of April, 1682, Kansas, a part of Louisiana, came under the dominion of a civilized and Christian government; the cross being planted first, and the symbol of earthly dominion following.

The first permanent settlement was made in Louisiana, after the discovery of La Salle became known in France. The Jesuit priests established missions at various points on the Mississippi, and traders began to know the region. On February 27, 1699, Iberville, a Canadian, with Sauvolle and Bienville, first entered the Mississippi from the sea with a party of Canadian soldiers and colonists. In the following May a colony was planted on the Bay of Biloxi, within the limits of the present sate of Mississippi. Sauvolle became the first Governor of the colony of Louisiana. He died soon after his appointment, and was succeeded by Bienville. During the administration of the latter, (in the spring of 1708), the Canadian French living among the Illinois Indians at the missionary station of Kaskaskia incited the nation to war against the tribes of the Missouri. M. D'Eraque, with a party of men, was sent to the Missouri to pacify the tribes and bring about peace, which he succeeded in accomplishing.

On the 14th of September, 1712, Louis XIV, by letters patent, granted to Anthony Crozat, a wealthy French merchant, the "Territory of Louisiana" with exclusive privilege of commerce for a term of ten years, and the perpetual property of all mines and minerals he should discover in the country, reserving the fifth part of all the bullion of silver and gold and one tenth part of the produce of all other mines, on the condition that such mines and minerals should revert to the crown of France whenever the working of them was discontinued for three years together. The bounds of Louisiana, as granted M. Crozat, are described in these words: Bounded by New Mexico (on the west) and by the lands of the English of Carolina (on the east), including all the establishments, ports, havens, rivers and principally the port and haven of the Isle of Dauhpine, heretofore called Massacre; the river of St. Louis, heretofore called Mississippi, from the edge of the sea as far as the Illinois, together with the river of St. Phillip, heretofore called the Ouabache (Wabash) with all the countries, territories, lakes within the land, and the rivers which fall directly or indirectly into that part of the river of St. Louis".

In August 1717, M. Crozat retroceded this grant and privilege to the crown, and on the 23rd of the same month letters patent were granted in Paris by the Council of the Regency (Louis XV being still in his minority) investing "The Company of the West" with all the privileges previously granted to M. Crozat, to continue for a period of twenty-five years, and in addition stipulating that the mines opened or discovered should belong to the company incommutably, no rents or proceeds being required; the rights to sell land being also granted, at whatever the company should fix, and, in addition, the grant provided that if, at the expiration of twenty-five years, the King should not see proper to continue the privilege of the Company of exclusive commerce, all the islands, mines and mining grounds which the Company of the West should have inhabited, worked, improved or disposed of on rent, should remain to it in simple fee, on the sole condition that the company should sell such lands only to the subjects of France.

The Company of the West, or Mississippi Company, was under the management of John Law, the great financial speculator of his time, who, during the period of his success, induced in France a blind, unquestioning, unreasoning belief in the value of the Louisiana grant. In 1718, the year after the company was instituted, they formed an establishment in the country of the Illinois, at Fort Chartres, holding out extravagant inducements to French emigrants, and making them donations of all the lands they should cultivate or improve. Minors and mechanics were particularly encouraged to emigrate, and among the number of adventurers who flocked to the Louisiana was Philip Francis Renault, who came as agent for a French mining company. Under the patronage of the Mississippi Company, he was appointed Director General of the mines of Louisiana and in 1719 arrived in Illinois country with 200 miners and skillful assayers, who were soon dispatched in different directions to explore the country on both sides of the Mississippi. During the year, M. De la Motte and others were engaged in searching for mines in the vicinity of the Missouri and Osage rivers. On the Maramec, valuable silver ore was found and lead on the St.Francis. It was during this period of excitement and stimulated exploration that the second visit of Europeans to the Kansas region was made.

map of Louisiana

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