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


[TOC] [part 9] [part 7] [Cutler's History]


The Pottawatomies, Ottawas and Chippewas have a common or similar language, manners and customs, and, at the beginning of the present century, were bound by compact to support each other peace and war.

The Pottawatomies were divided into two bands--the Northern, of Wisconsin and Michigan (Pottawatomies of the Woods), and the Southern, of Illinois and Indiana (the Prairie Band). Their homes were scattered from Lake Superior to the southern shore of Lake Erie, and to the Illinois River, they having crowded the Miamis from the vicinity of Chicago.

The first treaty between this tribe and the United States was made at Fort Harmar, on the Muskingum River, in Ohio, the Commandant at the fort, Arthur St. Clair, being Commissioner on the part of the United States. This, like the treaty negotiated at Greenville by Gen. Anthony Wayne on the 3d of August, 1795, that negotiated at Fort Wayne by William Henry Harrison in June, 1803, and several that succeeded, was a treaty of peace and settlement of boundaries with the Pottawatomies, in common with the Wyandots, Delawares, Shawnees, Ottawas and other tribes. At the Greenville treaty, the first annuities were paid the Pottawatomies, the amount at that time being $1,000. This treaty was signed "by the chiefs of the Pattawatimas of the River St. Joseph," and of the "Pattawatimas of Huron."

During the war of 1812 with Great Britain, a portion of the tribe allied themselves with that nation, and, under the leadership of Sunawe-wone, chief of the Prairie band, made war upon the Americans, and were engaged in the massacre at Fort Dearborn, Chicago. A treaty was made with this band at Portage des Sioux, on the 18th of July, 1815, William Clark, Ninian Edwards and August Choteau being United States Commissioners. By the terms of this treaty, the tribe again placed themselves under the protection of the United States, were reinstated in their privileges, and solemnly agreed to preserve "perpetual peace and friendship" with that nation. The treaty was signed by Sunawe-wone, and it is said that it was never broken by his band. In the following September, a general treaty with the remainder of this tribe and others was made near Detroit.

By the treaty of August 29, 1821, at Chicago, the Pottawatomies of the St. Joseph River, Michigan, ceded a large portion of their land, reservations being granted to John, James, Abram, Rebecca and Nancy Burnett, "which are children of Kaw-kee-me, sister of Top-ni-be," principal chief of the Pottawatomie nation. Land was also reserved to the Bertrands and the Beaubiens.

On September 26, 1833, a treaty was concluded at Chicago, by which the united Pottawatomies, Ottawas and Chippewas ceded to the United States about five million acres. By this treaty, the Pottawatomies were assigned a tract between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers for a permanent home. Their first location was in the irregular triangle afterward known as the "Platte Purchase," but then a part of the Indian Territory. In 1836, the land thus occupied became a part of Missouri, and those of the Pottawatomies who had removed to the reservation, numbering between one and two thousand, again removed to a tract above the northern line of Missouri, in what is now Southwest Iowa, their village being on the river near the present site of Council Bluffs.

By treaty of February 11, 1837, the United States agreed to convey "to the Pottawatomies of Indiana a tract of country on the Osage River, southwest of the Missouri River, sufficient in extent and adapted to their habits and wants."

The tract selected was in the southwest part of what is now Miami County. The Pottawatomies of the Woods and the Mission Band settled on this tract, made many improvements, and remained nine years, when the United States granted to the tribe the tract bought from the Kanzas Indians. The two bands disposed of their lands on the Osage and in Iowa, for the sum of $850,000, and in 1847 removed to the new reservation. The treaties were made June 7 and 17, and the tract granted is described as "a tract of land containing 576,000 acres, being thirty miles square, and being the eastern part of the lands ceded to the United States by the Kansas tribe of Indians, January 14, 1846, adjoining the Shawnees on the south, and the Delawares and Shawnees on the east, on both sides of the Kansas." This tract comprised a part of the present counties of Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee, Jackson and Shawnee.

In 1850, a band of Michigan Pottawatomies, numbering about six hundred and fifty, joined the tribe at St. Mary's. The two bands occupied the reservation in common from 1847 until November 15, 1861, when a treaty was made with the tribe, by the provisions of which "land was to be allotted in severalty to those members of the tribe who have adopted the customs of the whites, and desire to have separate tracts assigned to them," and a portion of the reserve was to be assigned, in a body, to those who should prefer to hold their land in common. The Mission Band generally were allotted land in severalty. The Prairie Band elected to continue tribal relations.

An accurate census of the tribe was taken, showing the names and ages of those desiring lands in severalty, and of those desiring lands in common, and designating the chiefs and head men of the tribe--each adult to choose his own allotment, and each head of a family choosing for the minor members--chiefs to be assigned one section; head men, one half-section; heads of families, one quarter-section; and each other member of the tribe, eighty acres. These tracts were to be free from taxation until such time as any allottee should have his land conveyed to him by patent, in fee simple, with power of alienation, when such person should cease to be a member of the tribe, take the oath of allegiance and become a citizen of the United States, his land being subject to levy, taxation and sale.

Article 4 provided that those members of the tribe desiring to continue tribal relations and hold lands in common should have an undivided tract, equal to the same quantity for each person, as those received who chose allotments.

Article 5 provided for the sale of the remaider of the lands to the Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western Railroad, at $1.25 per acre, under certain conditions.

Lands were conveyed to John F. Diel, John Summaker, and M. Gerilain, in trust, for school and church purposes, for St. Mary's Catholic Mission, and a reservation of 320 acres, including Baptist Mission buildings to the Baptist Board of Missions.

This treaty was made at the Pottawatomie Agency at Rossville, November 15, 1861, between William W. Ross on the part of the United States, and the chiefs and head men of the tribe. It was signed by Shawque (chief), To-penubbee (chief), We-weh-seh (chief), Shomen (brave), and Joseph N. Bourassa, George L. Young, B. H. Bertrand, M. B. Beaubien, L. H. Ogee, John Tipton and Lewis Vieux.

The Leavenworth, Pawnee & Western Railroad Company (Union Pacific) not buying the Pottawatomie lands, a treaty was concluded in 1867, providing for their sale to the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company.

In 1870, those of the Christian or Mission Band who so desired removed to the Indian Territory, the last payment to the tribe being made in that year. The annuities, which amounted to about $80,000, had been for many years paid at Rossville.

The Prairie Band, which numbered 780 at the time of the treaty, was given 77,357.57 acres in a body, or a tract of about twelve miles square, upon which they still live. It is situated in Jackson County, and a full account of their present condition is found in the sketch of that county.

There are now 440 Pottawatomies in Jackson County, 280 in Wisconsin, 30 in Iowa and 24 in Indian Territory.

Pottawatomie Missions.--The first missionary to the Pottawatomies in the Indian Territory was Rev. Robert Simerwell. Mr. Simerwell was born in Ireland May 1, 1796. Emigrating to America in 1813, he resided at Philadelphia until May, 1824, when he was appointed by the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions teacher at the Carey missionary establishment among the Pottawatomies and Ottawas in Michigan. He was married, March 17, 1825, to Miss Fannie Goodrich, of Lexington, Ky., at the time of her marriage also a teacher at Carey.

After the removal of Rev. Isaac McCoy and Mr. Johnston Lykins to the West, the Carey establishment for a time was under the entire charge of Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell, their duties at that station being laborious in the extreme. Mr. McCoy, in his "History of Baptist Indian Missions," says of these faithful workers; "In those days, Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell, with two or three children of their own, could take the trouble of feeding, clothing, lodging, and teaching thirty-seven Indian children, besides such as were occasionally absent, making the whole number in their charge between forty and fifty."

In November, 1833, Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell removed to the Indian Territory, living at the Shawanoe Mission. Mr. Simerwell immediately recommenced his labors among the Pottawatomies, visiting the portion the tribe that were temporarily living with the Kickapoos prior to their removal farther north. He had a small book printed in their language, and often remained among them several days at a time, teaching them to read.

In 1837, as soon as the first band of Pottawatomies located on their reservation on the Osage River, Mr. and Mrs. Simerwell took up their abode among them. In the following year, Mr. Simerwell returned to Michigan to induce the tribe located there to join those in the West, but his mission was unsuccessful. At the mission on the Osage, comfortable buildings were erected and many improvements made while the Indians occupied that reservation. When they removed to the tract on the Kansas River, the Baptist Mission was established in what is now Mission Township, Shawnee County. In the spring of 1848, a log mission house was built, under the superintendence of Dr. Johnston Lykins, into which Mr. Simerwell immediately gathered the Indian children, and, assisted by his daughter Sarah (now Mrs. Baxter) and Miss Elizabeth McCoy, organized the first Indian school in the county. In 1849, a larger and more commodious building was erected for the use of the mission. Mr. Simerwell continued his labors as missionary until his removal to Williamsport Township in 1854, at which place he died December 11, 1868.

The mission was in operation until 1859. The Superintendents were Mr. Sanford, Mr. Alexander, Rev. John Jackson and Rev. John Jones.

St. Mary's Mission (Catholic).--St. Mary's Mission was originally established on Sugar Creek, Father Christian Hoeken being the founder. Twelve hundred Catholic Indians were connected with the mission. There were two schools, Madam Lucille Matheson having charge of the girls. The mission was transferred to the Kansas Valley in 1847, and first established south of the river. In the spring of 1848, Fathers Verreydt and Gaillaud, with four ladies of the Sacred Heart, started the Mission of St. Mary's on the north bank of the Kansas, Father Gaillaud remaining among the Pottawatomies, and being the first resident priest at the mission. A log church and two log houses were built that year, a labor school established, other missionaries were added to the working force, a little half-French, half-Indian, village, sprang up, and in a few years St. Mary's Mission was the most attractive spot on the banks of the Kansas. The location was on the north bank of the river, in the southeast corner of what is now Pottawatomie County.

The following account of the establishment is quoted from an article that was published in the New York Tribune of June 28, 1854. After mentioning the location and giving the names of the missionaries in charge--viz., Revs. J. D. Duerinek, J. Schultz and M. Guillaud--the writer says:

"Sermons are preached every Sunday, in Indian and English. The manual labor school is under their charge, assisted by eight lay brothers, and is in a flourishing condition. The number of boys admitted from October 1, 1852, till September, 1853, was seventy-seven, and the average number in attendance was fifty-two. The female department is under the charge of the "Ladies of the Sacred Heart"--a community of seven in number, three Ladies and four Sisters, who devote all their time to the school. The number of girls admitted from October 1, 1852, to September, 1853, was ninety-two, and the average attendance during the four quarters was sixty- seven. This missionary establishment enjoys great popularity among the Indians. Its site is said to be the most lovely spot in the Indian country. The mission buildings, with the adjacent trading houses, groups of Indian improvements and extensive corn-fields, all give it the appearance of a town. * *

* * The mission farm is large, and more than one hundred acres are under very profitable cultivation. The stock of horned cattle consists of 250 head, and these afford a considerable part of the support of the mission."

In 1872, two brick buildings were erected at St. Mary's for school purposes, and there is now a fine educational institution at the place.

Father Maurice Guillaud died at St. Mary's Mission August 12, 1877.


The first treaty with the United States to which the Miamis were a party was concluded at Greenville, August 3, 1795. It was a treaty of peace, and also a definite settlement, for the time, of the boundary between the United States and various Northern and Central contracting tribes. It was consummated by "Anthony Wayne, Major General, commanding the army of the United States, and sole Commissioner for the good purposes above mentioned, at Greenville, the headquarters of said army."

Among the tribes represented were the Miamis; their principal chief, Little Turtle. When asked to tell the limits of his country, he answered: "My forefather kindled the first fire at Detroit; from thence he extended his line to the head-waters of the Scioto; from thence to its mouth; from thence to the mouth of the Wabash, and from thence to Chicago, on Lake Michigan. These are the boundaries within which the prints of my ancestors' houses are everywhere to be seen."

At the time the Western or Indian Territory was set apart for the occupancy of the Indian tribes, the Miamis were located on several reservations, which had been assigned to the different bands in the valley of the Wabash, the most important being Massassinawa, the residence of the principal chief. These lands were ceded to the United States November 28, 1840, and the following described tract in the Indian Territory given them for a future home: "A tract bounded on the east by the State of Missouri; on the north by the country of the Weas and Piankeshaws; on the west by the Pottawatomies of Indiana; and on the south by the land assigned to the New York Indians." This tract was estimated to contain five hundred thousand acres.

By virtue of this treaty, the Miamis located in the territory comprised in the southeastern part of the present county of Miami. About eleven hundred settled on Sugar Creek during 1846-47, of whom nearly half returned to Indiana the following year. Sickness so decimated the ranks of those who remained that only about three hundred were left when the band removed to the banks of the Marais des Cygnes.

Their principal village was on the east bank of the river, a little settlement growing up in the neighborhood, composed of mission buildings, one of the Indian Agencies, and a few log houses occupied by pioneer white settlers.

Dr. David Lykens, the first white settler in the county, established a Baptist Mission among the Weas (a band of Miamis) on Wea Creek, about the year 1840. It was a successful and well-conducted school, and was in operation many years.

The Catholics established a branch of the Osage Mission among the Miamis in 1850, the missionaries visiting the tribe once a month. Fathers Truyens and Van Micorio were the first priests. They were afterward visited by Fathers Schact and Favre, of Lawrence, until Father Waltron was located at Paola.

On the 5th day of June, 1854, the Miami Indians ceded to the United States all the land acquired by the treaty of 1840, excepting and reserving therefrom 70,000 acres for their future homes, and also a section of 640 acres for school purposes, "to be selected and assigned to said tribe as hereinafter provided."

The reservation was to be surveyed as Government lands were surveyed; individual selections of 200 acres each were to be made, to include, as far as practicable, the residence and improvements of each person then living on the reservation; the residue of the land to be held as common property to be sold in the same manner as United States land was sold, whenever the chiefs and majority of the tribe desired it; the proceeds to be paid to the tribe after deducting expense of the sale.

By treaty of February 23, 1867, provision was made that all members of the tribe wishing to become citizens of Kansas could do so; those who elected to continue tribal relations to remove to the Indian Territory and become confederated with the Peorias, the united tribe to take the name of Peorias and Miamis. In 1871, the remnant of the tribe, numbering about one hundred and thirty, removed to the Neosho River in the Indian Territory.


The Kaskaskias, according to the treaty made August 13, 1803, at Vincennes, by William Henry Harrison, are "the remains, and rightfully represent all the tribes of the Illinois Indians"--one of the most powerful and numerous Western tribes at the time it was visited by Marquette on his famous voyage of exploration of the Mississippi in 1673, and subsequently one of the most docile and easily civilized tribes that the early Jesuit missionaries visited--so friendly that Marquette speaks of them as his "beloved Illinois." From many unfortunate circumstances--invasions of more savage tribes, etc.--the nation became reduced, in the eighteenth century, to a very small number, the remains of which were consolidated under the name of the Kaskaskia tribe, which, at the treaty of Vincennes, being "unable to occupy the extensive tract of country which, of right, belongs to them, and which was possessed by their ancestors for many generations," ceded to the United States a tract of 8,608,167 acres in the heart of Illinois, reserving for their own use only 350 acres near the town of Kaskaskia, and the privilege of locating another tract of 1,280 within the bounds of the ceded land.

This treaty was signed by Jean Baptiste Ducoigne, as principal chief.

The Peorias were a tribe of the Illinois nation, but lived apart from the consolidated tribes until 1818, when they united with the Kaskaskias, ceded their territory in Illinois to the United States, and were granted 640 acres on Blackwater River, in Missouri, their annuities to be paid at St. Genevieve, Mo.

The Painkeshaws and Weas were Miami tribes. The Weas ceded their lands in Indiana and Ohio in 1818, and the Piankeshaws still earlier, reserving only a tract of two square miles, which also they soon ceded to Government.

The united tribes were removed to the vicinity of St. Genevieve, Mo., in 1818. At the treaty made by the Weas at St. Mary's in 1818, in Ohio, when they ceded their land to Government, a small reservation was made for the tribe, and also a grant of one section each was made to "Christmas Dageny* and Mary Shields, formerly Mary Dageny, children of Me-chin-quam-eshe, sister of Jacco, a chief of the said tribe.

*Christmas Dageny came to Kansas with the tribe, serving as chief until his death in 1848.

On October 27, 1832, the United States ceded "to the combined tribes of Kaskaskias and Peorias, and the bands united with them, 150 sections of land, to include the Peoria village, west of the State of Missouri, on the waters of the Osage river."

The United Kaskaskias and Peorias made a small band of 140.

October 29, 1832, the Piankeshaws and Weas were granted "250 sections of land, bounded on the north by the Shawanoes; east by the western boundary line of Missouri for fifteen miles; and west by the Kaskaskias and Peorias." The band numbered about three hundred and fifty.

The tract assigned them was within the limits of the present county of Miami.

On the 30th of May, 1854, treaties were made with these united bands, by which they ceded all their lands, except 160 acres for each individual, and ten sections to be held as common property.

By treaty of February 23, 1867, they were provided with new homes in the Indian Territory. They then numbered about one hundred and fifty, and were located upon the Quapaw Reserve.

[TOC] [part 9] [part 7] [Cutler's History]