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


[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]


In the fall of 1820, two Presbyterian Missions were established among the Osages by the United Foreign Missionary Society--Union Station, on the Neosho River; and Harmony Station, on the Marais des Cygnes,* about six miles above its junction with the Osage.

*The northern fork of the Osage was called Marais des Cygnes until its junction with the Little Osage, the two forks uniting to form the Osage, or Great Osage.

Rev. Messrs. Chapman and Vinall were sent to the Arkansas in 1819, as agents for the society, and had proceeded up the river 400 miles, when Mr. Vinall was attacked with disease consequent to his great fatigue and exposure, and died during the summer. Mr Chapman continued his journey to the Osage villages on the Verdigris and Neosho, was very kindly received by the Indians, and obtained from the chiefs cessions of tracts of land on which the missions were established.

Union Station was situated on the west bank of the Neosho, about twenty-five miles north of its entrance into the Arkansas, and about the same distance from the principal Osage village. The tract embraced a prairie of about four miles square, with the Neosho on north and east, and lofty hills on the south and west. The buildings were erected on an eminence about a mile from the river, the estimated value of the missionary property, according to the first annual report of October 30, 1821, being $20,000, including buildings, stock, produce, tools, books and furniture. Revs. Messrs Chapman and Vaill, Dr. Palmer and Mr. Redfield were stationed at Union.

Harmony Station was situated on the margin of the Marais des Cygnes River, six miles above its junction with the Osage, about fifteen miles east from the western line of the State of Missouri, and the same distance from the village of the Great Osages, on the Osage River. The buildings of the establishment were erected on the margin of the Marais des Cygnes, "a spacious and handsome green in front, and in the rear a vast prairie covered with grass." The mill site belonging to the mission, and the United States trading house, were a mile below, on opposite sides of the river. In the course of the year, ten comfortable log houses were erected, the Indian school being kept in one of them. In the mission journal, date Friday, December 28, 1821, was the following entry: "Saw White Hair again to-day. He says that the meddling traders who are among them will be a great hindrance to our success in obtaining their children, as they are scattering the people. It appears evident that there are some traders among them that contrive every plan and adopt every kind of artifice and intrigue to lead or drive the Indians away from the trading houses established by Government in order to gain the trade themselves. White Hair says he thinks we shall obtain some children; but until these things can be regulated by Government, we cannot expect very great success."

In 1822, a saw-mill and grist-mill were erected, and the school contained sixteen Osage children, who were reported as making commendable progress.

By the provisions of the treaty of June, 1825, there were reserved from the territory ceded by the Osages "two sections of land, to include the Harmony missionary establishment, and the mill on the Marais des Cygnes; and one section, to include the missionary establishment above the Lick on the west side of Grand (Neosho) River, to be disposed of as the President of the United States shall direct, for the benefit of said missions, and to establish them at the principal villages of the Great and Little Osage nations, within the limits of the country reserved to them by this treaty, and to be kept up at said villages so long as said missions shall be usefully employed in teaching, civilizing and improving the said Indians."

Rev. Mr. Pixley, Dr. Belcher, Mr. and Mrs. Jones and Miss Comstock were among the earliest members of the Harmony establishment. These stations were designed to operate upon a large scale; the system of boarding schools was introduced, many missionaries and teachers were connected with them, and they labored zealously for the good of the children under their charge. Circumstances were not favorable, however, to the enterprise, and the missions were discontinued after a few discouraging years of toil and failure.

The Catholic Osage Mission.--In 1820, Rt. Rev. De Bourg, Bishop of New Orleans, appointed Rev. Charles La Croix missionary among the Osages residing in Missouri, the northern portion of his diocese. After a few years of labor, Father La Croix died, and was succeeded, in June 1824, by Rev. Charles Van Quickenborn, who established among the tribe a manual labor school at the town of Florissant, St. Louis Co., Mo. He also visited the portion of the tribe who were gathered at the Presbyterian establishment at Harmony, and, being allowed by the resident missionaries a room for a chapel, baptized several of the Osage children there, making the little mission in the wilderness an establishment worthy of its name. In 1827, he visited the Osages on the Neosho, and the following year his labors were ended by death. For the next twenty years, the Osages were under the spiritual care of the fathers connected with St. Mary's Mission among the Pottawatomies. At the expiration of that time, the Osages requested the Rt. Rev. Peter R. Kendrick, Bishop of St. Louis, for the establishment of a Catholic school in their country, and he appointed Rev. Father John Schoenmakers, Superior of the Osage Mission, who immediately set out for the field of his future labors, accompanied by Father J. B. Bax and three lay brothers. They arrived at Neosho April 29, 1847, and in two weeks had the two log buildings which constituted the mission in readiness to "gather in the children" and commence the "Osage Manual Labor School." In the fall of the same year, October 5, their labors were supplemented by those of the Sisters of Loretto, of Kentucky, six of whom, under charge of Mother Concordia Henning, arrived in October and opened a school for girls.

The establishment prospered and increased; new buildings were erected in 1849 and 1850; auxiliary stations were founded in the various Osage villages; the working force at the Mother Station was strengthened from time to time; and under the energetic and able management of Rev. Father Shoenmakers and his co-workers, the influence of the Osage Mission was felt as a power for good among the tribes of the Neosho and the Verdigris. And this influence was not confined to the Osages alone. From the Mother House in the Neosho Valley the fathers went forth to visit the Miamis, the Peorias, the Quapas and the Cherokees, and soon had scholars from among those tribes to educate and care for at their school.

During the war of the rebellion, the mission was nearly deserted, the loyalty of the fathers making them conspicuous objects of hatred to the marauding guerrilla bands that infested Southeastern Kansas.

After the treaty of 1865 with the Osages, work revived at the mission. After the Indians were settled in their new homes, they were again visited by their old friend, Father Schoenmakers, and the work of instruction was recommenced. A large church was built at the new mission station; also a school for the Sisters of Loretto; and the success and improvement of the tribe after their removal is to be attributed to the continued efforts of the missionaries in their behalf. In 1870, the schools at the old Osage Mission were chartered under the names and titles of "St Francis Institute" and "St. Ann's Academy." They are still under the management of Father Schoenmakers and the Sisters of Loreto, who have been in charge since 1847.


On the map of Marquette, the Pawnees, under the name of Paneassa, are located in two places--northwest of the Kansa and Ouchage nations, in the region now Kansas or Nebraska, and among the Southern tribes on the Arkansas River--both of which positions they occupied until a comparatively recent date.

Du Tissenet visited the Northern Pawnees in 1719, and then found them inhabiting two villages, each containing about one hundred and thirty lodges and two hundred and fifty warriors. One of these villages is generally supposed to have been that of the Republican Pawnees, on the Republican Fork of the Kansas.

M. De Bourgmont does not mention the Pawnees in the account of his expedition to the Padoucas, which is certainly strange, if, at that time, the village was located as far south as Du Tissenet's calculations would place it. It is quite possible that the rebellion and secession, which resulted in the establishment of the Pawnee Republic, did not take place until later than the time of Bourgmont's expedition, and that the "two villages" of Du Tissenet were the old villages on the La Platte.

The Pawnees were a warlike and powerful nation, claiming, from the time the country first became known to the French fur traders until 1820, the whole region watered by the La Platte, from the Rocky Mountains to its mouth, and also the country drained by the forks of the Kansas. Their principal villages were the Grand Pawnee, on the La Platte; the Loup Pawnee, on the Loup Branch of the La Platte; and the "Village of the Pawnee Republic," on the Republican Fork of the Kansas. Lieut. Wilkinson (of Lieut. Pike's exploring expedition), in a report to his father, Gen. Wilkinson, Commander-in-Chief of the United States army, makes the following statement in regard to the Pawnee Republic: "You must know that the village is composed of the followers of a dissatisfied war-chief of the Grand Pawnees, who migrated thither some few years since with his family, and usurped the power of the Republican warrior. To such a pitch does this party spirit prevail that you easily perceive the hostility which exists between the adherents of the two chiefs."

Messrs. Pike and Wilkinson held a grand council with the chiefs of the Pawnee nation on the 29th of September, 1806. The council was held at the Pawnee Republic village (near the present site of Scandia, in Republic County), and was attended by 400 warriors. When the parties assembled for their council, Lieut. Pike found that the Pawnees had unfurled a Spanish flag at the door of the chief--one which had lately been presented to the nation by the Government, through the hands of Lieut. Malgares.* To the request of Lieut. Pike that the flag should be delivered to him and one of the United States hoisted in its place, they at first made no response; but, upon his repeating his demand, with the emphatic declaration that they must choose between the Americans and Spaniards, and that it was "impossible for the nation to have two fathers," they decided to put themselves, for the time, at least, under American protection. An old man accordingly rose, went to the door, took down the Spanish flag and laid it at the feet of Lieut. Pike, and in its stead elevated the stars and stripes.

*See Early Explorations (General History).

The following description of the reception of Lieut. Pike and party at the village of the Pawnee Republic in 1806, is from the journal of the Lieutenant, dated Thursday, September 25, of that year:

"We marched at a good hour, and in about eight miles struck a very large road along which the Spanish troops had returned, and on which we could yet discover the grass beaten down in the direction they had taken.

When we arrived within about three miles of the village, we were requested to remain as the ceremony of receiving the Osage into the towns was to be performed there. There was a small circular spot, clear of grass, before which the Osage sat down. We were a small distance in advance of the Indians. The Pawnees then advanced within a mile of us, and halted, divided into two troops, and came on each flank at full charge, making all the gestures, and performing the maneuvers of a real war charge. They then encircled us around, and the chief advanced in the center, and gave us his hand. His name was Characterick. He was accompanied by his two sons, and a chief by the name of Iskatappe. The Osage were still seated; but the Belle Olisean then rose and came forward with a pipe, and presented it to the chief, who took a whiff or two from it. We then proceeded on; the chief, Lieut. Wilkinson and myself in front; my sergeant on a white horse, next with the colors; then our horses and baggage, escorted by our men, with the Pawnees on each side, running races, etc. When we arrived on the hill above the town, we were again halted, and the Osage seated themselves in a row, when each Pawnee, who intended so to do, presented a horse and gave a pipe to smoke to the Osage to whom he had made the present. In this manner were eight horses given."

According to the authority of Mr. Gallatin, the language of the Pawnees is totally unlike that of any other Western tribe. Their form of government was similar to that of the Kanzas and Osages--a hereditary chieftainship, the power of the chief being confined to advice and counsel, except when made absolute by the power of personal qualities. Their houses were circular in form, but differed from those of the Dacotah tribes in having at the entrance a long passage about fifteen feet in length and six in width, walled like the house, and having within little apartments of wicker work built against one side of the wall, which served as sleeping rooms for the members of the family, something after the fashion of the sleeping apartments of the ancient Hurons. They were great lovers of horses, owning many fine ones, which they only used for the chase, always marching to war on foot. They were also extremely fond of gaming, and played several games of chance peculiar to themselves.

The Pawnee nation formerly numbered about twenty-five thousand, and, in the early years of the present century, was waging successful war with the Kiowas of the Black Hills, and the Camanches of the Arkansas and Rio del Norte. The Otoes, Omahas, Missouris and Puncahs yielded to their superior skill and strength and became dependent tribes. They were a terror to the Rocky Mountain trappers at the North, and the Santa Fe traders at the South; and the Kanzas and Osages ventured warily into the hunting-grounds of their warlike neighbors.

The great trail of the Grand Pawnees and Loup Pawnees led from their villages on the Platte to their war and hunting-grounds to the southward. Through the winter they remained in their villages, but as summer approached, men, women and children took up their march for the great buffalo plains, and led a roving, wandering life, in search of game, until the cold drove them back again to their winter lodges.

A few years subsequent to the visit of Lieut. Pike, the village of the Pawnee Republic was removed to the La Platte, four miles above that of the Grand Pawnee, on the north side of the Wolf Fork. It contained, in 1820, only forty lodges, being inferior in every respect to the other villages. The whole tribe, at this time, according to Maj. O"Fallon's report, numbered about ten thousand, in three villages, on the branches of the La Platte. In 1831, the tribe was reduced to such a terrible condition by the ravages of small pox that their agent, John Dougherty, in his report for that year, says: "Their misery defies all description. I am fully persuaded that one-half the whole number will be carried off by this frightful distemper. They told me that not one under thirty years of age escaped, it having been that length of time since it visited them before. They were dying so fast, and taken down at once in such large numbers, that they had ceased to bury their dead, whose bodies were to be seen in every direction--lying in the river, lodged on the sand-bars, in the weeds around the villages, and in their old corn cashes." From the Pawnees the disease spread to the Omahas, Otoes, Missouris and Puncahs, but its progress was checked among the latter tribes by vaccination before its ravages were so terrible. From this visitation the nation never recovered. Treaties of peace had been made between the Pawnees and the United States in 1818 and 1825, and on the 9th of October, 1833, a treaty was made at the village of the Grand Pawnees, by terms of which the tribes ceded to the United States all their land south of the Platte, and agreed to locate north of that river and west of the Missouri. After their removal, they were assisted by Government, and for a time seemed to prosper, but the depredations of the Sioux soon drove them again south of the Platte, some returning to their old villages and some taking refuge with the tribes that once lived under their own protection--the Otoes and Omahas. Deprived of the assistance of the Government from having violated the terms of the treaty of 1832; driven from the homes provided, by the fierce and revengeful Sioux; the old hunting-grounds to the south infested by their old enemies, the Cheyennes and Arapahoes, and disease thinning their bands day by day--no wonder they were soon "dependent altogether upon hunting, stealing and begging from the emigrant."

In 1856, their number had dwindled to about five thousand, and in 1873, to twenty-five hundred, who were settled on a reservation on the Loup Fork of the La Platte, where they had 1000 acres under cultivation.

They are now removed to the Wichita Reserve, Indian Territory, one band numbering about three hundred, and the other about two thousand.

Early writers mention the Padoucas as a powerful tribe, claiming a large tract of country now included in Texas, New Mexico and Colorado, and dwelling in large villages near the head-waters of the Red and Arkansas Rivers. They are said to have been among the hostile Indians that DeSoto encountered in his exploring expedition through Texas in 1541. Whether the Indians thus referred to were really the Padoucas who dwelt at the head-waters of the Kansas River one hundred and fifty years later, is a matter of doubt, not now important or possible to determine.

The first definite and reliable information in regard to the tribe or nation is gained from the report of M. Du Tissenet, who visited their village, fifteen days march west of the Pawnees, in September, 1719. This was the extreme western limit of his exploration. He speaks of the Padoucas as "a brave and warlike tribe."

In the early part of the eighteenth century, the "Padouca nation" was divided into several tribes, claiming the country from the head-waters of the Northern Fork of the Kansas south nearly to the Spaniards of New Mexico. On the map of Charlevoix, the Kansas River is called the Padouca River, and on that of Du Pratz (on which the region afterward embracing the Kansas Territory was evidently drawn from the description of M. De Bourgmont), the Padouca villages are located at the sources of both forks of the Kansas River, and also on the Arkansas. The Padoucas belonged to no one of the great Indian families. They were of an "unknown race and language," with habits in many respects dissimilar from any other nation. Their villages, instead of being heterogeneously thrown together--a confused mass of lodges--were laid out regularly with streets, which formed squares, as in a modern city. The houses were neatly built, and the Indians, in intelligence and habits of living, ranked higher than the more eastern tribes, with whom they were almost continually at war. Of their history after the visits of the French during the first quarter of the eighteenth century, little is known. Whether the tribes toward the east united with the Pawnees for their destruction, or whether disease did its fatal work among them, is only matter of conjecture. As a nation, they long ago disappeared, and the roving bands of Kiowas and Kaskaias, whose language bears no similarity to the Dahcotah, and who, from their haunts in the Black Hills, long came down to hunt in the region where the Padoucas formerly lived, are supposed to be the last remnants of the great nation of the Padoucas.

In 1724, M. De Bourgmont, then Commandant at Fort Orleans, on the Missouri River, made an expedition to the country inhabited by this nation, of which he gave a full and detailed account in his journal, together with many of the peculiarities of this now nearly extinct race.

Du Pratz, in his "History of Louisiana," published in 1757, gives the following account of the customs of this ancient tribe, which he states is taken from the journal of M. De Bourgmont:

"The nation of the Padoucas is very numerous; extends almost two hundred leagues, and they have villages quite close to the Spaniards of New Mexico. They are acquainted with silver, and made the French understand they worked at the mines. The inhabitants of the village at a distance from the Spaniards, have knives made of fire-stone (pierre de feu), of which they also make hatchets, the largest to fell middling and little trees with; the less flay and cut up the beasts they kill.

They are almost without any European goods among them, and have but a faint knowledge of them. They knew nothing of the fire-arms before the arrival of M. de Bourgmont, and were much frightened at them; on hearing the report they quaked and bowed their heads.

They generally go to war on horseback, and cover their horses with dressed leather, hanging down quite around, which secures them from darts. Whey they are in want of horses, they train up great dogs to carry their baggage.

The Padoucas, who live at a distance from the Spaniards, cultivate no grain, and live only on hunting. But they are not to be considered as a wandering nation, though employed in hunting winter and summer, seeing they have large villages, consisting of a great number of cabins which contain very numerous families. These are their permanent abodes, from which a hundred hunters set out at a time with their horses, their bows and a good stock of arrows. They go thus two or three days' journey from home, where they find herds of buffaloes, the least of which consists of a hundred head. They load their horses with their baggage, tents and children, conducted by a man on horseback. When they come at the hunting spot, they encamp near a brook where there is always wood; the horses they tie by one of their fore-feet with a string to a stake or bush.

Next morning they each mount a horse and proceed to the first herd, with the wind to their back, to the end the buffalo may scent them and take to flight, which they never fail to do, because they have a very quick scent. Then the hunters pursue them close, at an easy gallop, and in a crescent, or half ring, till they hang out the tongue through fatigue, and can do no more than just walk. The hunters then dismount, point a dart at the extremity of the shoulder and kill each of them one cow, sometimes more; for they never kill the males. They then flay them, take out the entrails and cut the carcass in two; the head, feet and entrails they leave to the wolves and other carniverous animals. The skin they lay on the horse, and on that the flesh, which they carry home. Two days after, they go out again, and then they bring home the meat stripped from the bones; the women and young people dress it in the Indian fashion, while the men return for some days longer to hunt in the same manner. They carry home their dry provisions, and let their horses rest for three or four days, at the end of which those who remained in the village set out with the others to hunt in the same manner, which has made ignorant travelers affirm this people was a wandering nation.

If they sow little or no maize, they as little plant any citriels, never any tobacco; which last the Spaniards bring them in rolls, along with the horses they truck with them for buffalo mantles.

All we have hitherto remarked is peculiar to this people, besides the other usages they have in common with the natives of Louisiana."

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