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The Sac and Fox of the Mississippi

The history of the Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi is the same as that of the Missouri portion of the tribes, except that they had never wandered so far from the ancestral home. They lived nearer the Mississippi River, and the other band lived on the Missouri River—or the Osage, a branch of the Missouri, and from these circumstances came the names of the two bands. One band was the Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi, and the other the Sacs and Foxes of the Missouri.

The Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi owned and held about three-fourths of the State of Iowa up to the year 1842. On the 11th day of October of that year they ceded that magnificent domain to the United States. They were to be given another reservation “upon the Missouri River, or some of the waters.” They were given a tract of land thirty-four miles long by about twenty miles wide on the Marais des Cygnes west of the present town of Ottawa, Kansas. They did not arrive in Kansas until 1846. By January 1, of that year all the Sacs and one-fifth of the Foxes were on the Wakarusa. They were permitted to stop there by the Shawnees until the remainder of the Foxes could be present, when the reservation was to be selected. The missing Foxes were visiting the Pottawatomie. In the Spring those assembled on the Wakarusa selected the reservation, not wishing to wait longer. Those on the Wakarusa numbered something less than one thousand. They finally took up their residence about the point where Lyndon was later founded.

October 1, 1859, these Indians made a treaty by which all their lands lying west of the range-line of range sixteen, about three hundred thousand acres, were to be sold for their benefit. This left them about one hundred and fifty-three thousand acres. A strip of these trust lands six miles wide lay in Franklin County, Kansas, and was soon the prey of “speculators,” as they were called. One of these was John P. Usher, Secretary of the Interior in the Cabinet of President Lincoln, and who long lived at Lawrence, Kansas. These Indians were soon made the victims of a fraud. One Robert S. Stevens was in various very questionable schemes in Kansas in the early days. By some devious connection with the Indian Department he was employed to build for these Indians one hundred and fifty little stone houses on the lands remaining to them. They did not want these houses, and protested against the waste of their money for any such purpose. But their protests were unheeded at Washington. The grafters had the ear of the Government, as usual, and the Indians were robbed. This same Stevens worked the identical scheme on the Kansas Indians, on the Council Grove reservation. All these Indians, as soon as the little stone houses were completed, sold the doors, windows, and floors for whiskey, and stabled their ponies in the dilapidated ruins. They would not live in such houses.

The divestment of these Indians of the residue of their lands ran the usual course of fraud. The allotment plan was brought into play, and the cunningly devised chicanery wound their devious ways. They were given seven hundred and fifty square miles of land, supposed to be worthless, in what is now Oklahoma. In 1867 they began to migrate to that tract, and in a period of five years they were mostly living on it.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, did some missionary work among the Sacs and Foxes before the Civil War. In 1860 the Methodist Episcopal Church appointed Rev. Richard P. Duvall missionary to this tribe. He began his labors at the tribal agency at once. April, 1863, he opened the mission school. This was in two large buildings distant about a mile from the agency. In 1862-63 some of the tribe sent their children to Baker University, at Baldwin. No great progress was ever made in the work of Christianizing the Sacs and Foxes:

The Ottawa

The Ottawa were found on the Georgian Bay by Champlain in 1615. They seem to have been a people who traded much with other tribes. They had developed a commerce in tobacco, medicinal herbs and roots, rugs, mats, furs and skins, cornmeal, and an oil made of the seeds of the sunflower. They were in close alliance with the Hurons, or Wyandot, from the first. And the Wyandot raised tobacco for the Indian trade.

The history of the Ottawa runs much like that of the other tribes found along the Great Lakes. They claim that they owned the country through which flowed the Ottawa River, in Canada. They were pushed westward. They lived in 1635 on Manitoulin Island. They were at war with the Iroquois, and fled from these fierce children of the League. With the Wyandot, they found themselves about Detroit, where their chief and greatest warrior, Pontiac, formed a confederacy and made war on the English. The war was not successful because of the peculiar disposition of the Indians. The Ottawa were always a factor in the wars waged by the Indians against the advancing settlers.

Rev. Jotham Meeker

Rev. Jotham Meeker

On the 26th day of September, 1833, the Ottawa ceded their lands on the west shore of Lake Michigan for a reservation in the country which was to become Kansas. This treaty was made by only a portion of the tribe, which was, and is to this day, widely scattered. The Ottawa of Blanchard’s Fork were to have thirty-four thousand acres, and those of Roche de Boeuf were to have forty thousand acres. This land was laid off in a single tract, which contained seventy-two thousand acres. It was on the Marais des Cygnes River, and the city of Ottawa, Kansas, is located about the center of the reservation. The Ottawa settled on their new land in 1837 (a few arrived in 1836), and there were arrivals for some years later.

The Baptists founded a mission among these Ottawa. Rev. Jotham Meeker had labored among those of the tribe in Michigan. In 1837 he was at the Shawnee Baptist Mission. When Rev. John G. Pratt came to the Shawnee mission, Mr. Meeker went on to the Ottawa, arriving in June, 1837. Buildings were erected on what is now the northwest quarter of section twenty-eight (28), township sixteen (16), range twenty (20). They stood on the south side of Ottawa Creek directly east of the present town of Ottawa. All the buildings put up there must have been of temporary character, for they had entirely disappeared before 1866. The old cemetery is still preserved. Meeker died at the mission January 11, 1854. Mrs. Meeker died March 15, 1856. Both are buried in the old cemetery.


John T. Jones, Known as “Ottawa” Jones

The church which they founded was presided over by John T. Jones, known as “Ottawa” Jones, a half-blood Ottawa, who had been educated at Hamilton, New York. The printing press which had been installed at the Shawnee Baptist Mission was moved to the Ottawa mission, where many books for use among different tribes were printed. This was the first printing press brought to the country which became Kansas. G. W. Brown bought it of Mr. Meeker, and used it in the office of the Herald of Freedom, at Lawrence. S. S. Prouty bought it from Brown, and used it to print Freedom’s Champion, at Prairie City. It was then taken to Lecompton and used in the office of Solomon Weaver. From Lecompton it was taken to Cottonwood Falls, and from thence to Cowley County, finally going into the Indian Territory. The type used at the mission was scattered over the prairie by the Indian children. The press was a Seth Adams press. There were twenty stars on it, indicating that it was made in 1817, when the Union contained twenty states.The Ottawa left Kansas in 1870, going to the Indian Territory. On June 24, 1862, they had made a treaty disposing of their lands. The land-shark stood by to despoil the Indian. There is not a more miserable story in all land transactions than that of the Ottawa reserve.

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