World History

Kansas State History – Economy, People, Facts

Kansas has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. The first inhabitants are called Old Indians. They were the ancestors of the Native American tribes that lived in this country when Europeans arrived.

Information about Kansas State:

Capital Topeka
Population 2,937,150 (Source: 2022 U.S. Census)
Major Cities Wichita, Overland Park, Kansas City, Topeka, Olathe, Lawrence
Borders Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) $210,670.5 million (2023 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
Key Industries Agriculture including wheat, soybeans, corn, cattle, sheep, and hogs
Mining and production oil, meat packing, chemical products, and transportation equipment

Flag of Kansas State:

Native Americans

The Native American tribes that lived in Kansas included the Kansa (also known as the Coe) and the Eastern Osage. Comanche and Arapaho to the west. Kiowa and Pawnee in the central part of the state. Many of these tribes hunted water buffalo as their main food source. When Europeans arrived and brought horses, buffalo hunting became much easier and buffalo hunting became an even bigger part of their lives and culture.

Europeans Arrive

The first European to arrive in Kansas was the Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado in 1541. Coronado was looking for gold, but he never found it. Many years later, in 1682, the Frenchman Robert Cavelier de Las Salles arrived and claimed French sovereignty. From the 17th century to his early 19th century, few Europeans visited the area, mainly for the purpose of trading furs with the local population. The country was inhabited primarily by Native American tribes.

Kansas State Symbols

  • Kansas State Nickname: Sunflower State
  • Kansas State Slogan: Kansas, as big as you think, (formerly) Simply Wonderful
  • Kansas State Motto: Ad astra per aspera (To the stars through difficulties)
  • Kansas State flower: Sunflower
  • Kansas State bird: Western Meadowlark
  • Kansas State fish: none
  • Kansas State tree: Cottonwood
  • Kansas State mammal: American buffalo
  • Kansas State foods: Wheat

Louisiana Purchase

In 1803, the United States purchased Kansas from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase. American explorers Lewis and Clark traveled through Kansas in 1804 on their way west. They mapped part of the territory and reported the results to President Thomas Jefferson.

Santa Fe and Oregon Trails

In the mid-19th century, hundreds of thousands of settlers made their way west through Kansas. Two of the most popular hiking trails, the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail, pass through Kansas. To ensure the safety of travelers, the United States built forts along the trail. Over time, cities grew around these fortresses, and many travelers stopped in Kansas and made it their home.

The Geography of Kansas State:

  • Total Size of Kansas: 81,815 sq. miles (source: 2003 Census)
  • Geographical Low Point of Kansas : Verdigris River at 679 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Montgomery (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Geographical High Point of Kansas: Mt. Sunflower at 4,039 feet, located in the county/subdivision of Wallace (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Central Point of Kansas: Located in Barton County approx. 15 miles northeast of Great Bend (source: U.S. Geological Survey)
  • Counties of Kansas: 105 (source: National Association of Counties)
  • Bodies of Water of Kansas: Arkansas River, Kansas (Kaw) River, Smoky Hill River, Republican River, Milford Lake, Tuttle Creek Lake, Waconda Lake, Perry Lake

Bleeding Kansas

In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, creating the Kansas Territory. People in both the North and South of the United States began debating whether slavery was legal in Kansas. A series of violent clashes ensued between abolitionists (pro-slavery) and border rogues (pro-slavery). One anti-slavery leader was John Brown, who later led the attack on Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

Becoming a State

Abolitionists eventually gained the upper hand, and Kansas passed a constitution in 1859 that outlawed slavery. Two years later, on January 29, 1861, Kansas became the 34th state to join the United States.

Civil War

Since Kansas was not a slave state, it was part of the Union during the Civil War. Thousands of Kansas National Guard fought the Union Army. Although there were few battles in Kansas during the war, there were several battles, including the Lawrence Massacre, the Battle of Baxter Springs, and the Battle of Marais de Chigne.

Wild West

The post-Civil War years saw a significant increase in settlements in Kansas. The flat land was perfect for raising livestock. Cowboys, ranches, and cattle villages sprung up all over Kansas. It was the home of the Old West. Shootings were frequent, and famous lawyers like Wyatt Earp of Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok of Abilene were called in to keep the peace.

Famous People of Kansas State:

Gale Sayers Professional football player
Barry Sanders Professional football player
Charlie Parker Songwriter and saxophone player
Buster Keaton Silent film comedian
Dennis Hopper Actor
Melissa Etheridge Singer and songwriter
Amelia Earhart Aviation pioneer
Bob Dole Senator and politician
John Steuart Curry Painter
Gwendolyn Brooks Poet and Pulitzer Prize winner
Annette Bening Actress

Interesting Facts of Kansas State:

Kansas is named after the Kansa Indians. It means “people of the south wind”.

Tornadoes occur so frequently in Kansas that it is nicknamed “Tornado Alley”.

Kansas is the hometown of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy’s home in Liberal, Kansas can still be seen.

The state song of Kansas is “Home on the Range.” Smith County is the center of the 48 states of the continental United States.

President Dwight Eisenhower grew up in Abilene, Kansas.

Kansas was known in the Old West for its rough frontier towns like Dodge City and Wichita. Lawyers like Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok became famous for bringing peace to these cities.

Barton County is named for Clara Barton, a famous Civil War nurse. Kansas produces enough wheat each year to supply every person on the planet with six loaves of bread.

Graham crackers are named after a Kansas preacher named Sylvester Graham.

Timeline Overview:

1541 – Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado visits Kansas in search of gold.
1682 – Frenchman Robert Cavelier de La Salle claims Kansas for France.
1803 – United States purchases Kansas from France as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
1804 – Lewis and Clark pass through Kansas on their way west.
1821 – William Becknell opens the Santa Fe Trail from Missouri through Kansas to New Mexico.
1840s – Settlers begin traveling the Oregon Trail through Kansas toward the West Coast.
1854 – Kansas Territory is established by Congress through the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
1854-59 – A series of violent clashes between supporters and opponents of slavery. It’s called “Bleeding Kansas.”
1859 – Kansas outlaws slavery
1861 – Kansas becomes the 34th state to join the United States.
1930s – Kansas is hit by a massive drought and a series of dust storms known as the “Dust Bowls.”
1954 – The Supreme Court rules that segregation in schools is unconstitutional in the landmark case of Brown v. Topeka Civil Rights Movement Board of Education.