Historic People of Kansas

Pioneers in Kansas

“Pioneers in Kansas,” mural by J. Ward Lockwood, a Kansas native, hangs in the U.S. Federal Building in Wichita, Kansas. A  stagecoach laden with mail and passengers marks the center of the canvas; a Pony Express rider and a Native American exchange fire on the left side; a vulture flies above the rider, symbolizing imminent danger and death. A pioneer couple stands on the right; a black steam engine emerges behind the couple, symbolizing continued western expansion.


You can never really escape. It goes with you, wherever you go. Somehow, the prairie dust gets in your blood, and it flows through your veins until it becomes a part of you. The vast stretches of empty fields, the flat horizons of treeless plains. The simplicity of the people—good, earnest people. The way they talk and the way they live. The lack of occurrence, lack of attention, lack of everything. All that—it’s etched into your soul and it colors the way you see everything and it becomes a part of you.

― P.S. Baber, Cassie Draws the Universe


James B. Abbott

James B. Abbott

James B. Abbott (1818-1879) – Kansas pioneer, Free-State partisan and soldier.

Franklin George Adams (1824-1899) – Free-State advocate, teacher, attorney and publisher.

Edward “Eddie” J. Adams (1887-1921) – A Kansas bootlegger, car thief, and murderer, Adams was eventually captured and sentenced to life imprisonment. He escaped custody twice and was killed in a shootout with police in Wichita, Kansas on November 22, 1921.

Henry J. Adams (1816-1870) – Lawyer, Free-State advocate, politician, and soldier.

Henry J. Allen (1868-1950) – Publisher, governor, and U.S. Senator.

John Alexander Anderson (1834-1892) – Minister, congressman, and president of the Kansas State Agricultural College, at Manhattan, Kansas.

Bloody Bill Anderson

Bloody Bill Anderson

William “Bloody Bill” Anderson (1839-1864) – One of the most daring, brutal, and bloodthirsty of those guerrilla captains who harassed Kansas during the early years of the Civil War.

Charlie Angell, Sr. (1881-1927) – Inventor of several agricultural improvements to machinery.

Daniel R. Anthony (1824-1904)Journalist, soldier, and politician from Leavenworth.

Daniel R. Anthony, Jr. (1870-1931)Journalist and politician from Leavenworth.

Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906) ­ Leader in the American Anti­-Slavery Society, she later turned her life’s devotion to women’s suffrage and, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and the newspaper Revolution.

George Tobey Anthony (1824-1896) Soldier, politician, and the seventh governor of the State of Kansas.

David Rice Atchison (1807-1886) – U.S. Senator and supporter of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, leader of border ruffian raids into Kansas Territory. Atchison, Kansas is named for him.


Willis Joshua Bailey

Willis Joshua Bailey

Willis Joshua Bailey (1854-1932) – U.S. Representative and Sixteenth Governor of Kansas.

Thomas W. Barber (??- 1855) – Free state supporter, was shot and killed by a pro-slavery advocate.

Charles “Charlie” C. Bassett (1847-1896) – One of the many men who served the law in the wicked little town of Dodge City, Kansas.

Clarence Batchelor (1888-1977) – Received a Pulitzer Prize in 1937 for editorial cartoons.

Olive Ann Beach (1903-1993) – Aircraft manufacturer and philanthropist.

Walter H. Beech (1891-1950) – Aircraft manufacturer and philanthropist.

Hamilton Butler Bell (1853-1947) – Sheriff of Ford County, Kansas for three decades following lawman Bat Masterson. He arrested more alleged outlaws, with a warrant than any other lawman in the West.

Mary “Mother” Bickerdyke ( 1817-1901) – Civil War nurse and veteran’s supporter.

James G. Blunt (1826-1881) – Physician and abolitionist who rose to Union Major General during the Civil War.

Blackbear Bosin – (1921-1980) – An artist of Kiowa Comanche ancestry.

Justin De Witt Bowersock (1842-1922) – U.S. Congressman and businessman from Lawrence.

Charles H. Branscomb – Along with Charles Robinson, Branscomb was one of the founders of Lawrence and a Free-State advocate.

Jacob Branson – One of the early settlers of Douglas County, Free-State advocate arrested by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones.

David J. Brewer (1837-1910) – Jurist, U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

John R. “Doc” Brinkley ( 1885-1942) – Famous for his goat gland transplants, gubernatorial candidate, and pioneer radio broadcaster.

Joseph L. Bristow – (1861-1944) – Editor and U.S. Senator.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from Topeka.

Billy Brooks

Billy Brooks

William L. “Buffalo Bill” Brooks (1832-1874) – Lawman turned outlaw, Brooks served as Marshal in Newton and Dodge City, Kansas, before being arrested for horse theft. He and two other men were lynched by a vigilante mob in Caldwell, Kansas on July 29, 1874.

Earl R. Browder ( 1891-1973) – American Communist Party leader and presidential candidate from Wichita.

Cleyson Brown (1872-1935) – Utility and telecommunications pioneer from Abilene.

Esther Brown ( 1917-1976) – Civil rights advocate from Kansas City.

Henry Newton Brown (1857-1884) – Brown fought with the Regulators in the Lincoln County War of New Mexico. Later, he became a marshal in Caldwell, Kansas. While serving as a lawman, he made a failed attempt to rob a bank in Medicine Lodge, Kansas on April 30, 1884. He was immediately captured and hanged the same day by vigilantes.

John Brown

John Brown

John Brown (1800-1859) – Abolitionist who advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end all slavery. He led the Pottawatomie Massacre in 1856 in Bleeding Kansas and made his name in the unsuccessful raid at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1859.

Blanche K. Bruce – First African American graduate of the University of Kansas in 1885.

Abram B. Burnett (1811-1870) – Potawatomie chief.

Pardee Butler (1816-1888) – An abolitionist minister from Atchison.


John Calhoun (1806-1859) – The first surveyor-general of Kansas and a pro-slavery partisan.

George Campbell (1848-??) – Lawyer, author, and politician.

Jacob Cantrell (18?-1856) – An early settler of Douglas County, Cantrell was killed by pro-slavery advocates.

Arthur Capper (1865-1951) – Publisher, governor, and U.S. Senator.

Frank Carlson (1893-1987) – From Concordia, Carlson served in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, and as governor.

Frank Carney (1938-present) – Along with brother, Dan, established the first Pizza Hut Restaurant in Wichita, Kansas after borrowing $600 from their mother. Two years later they franchised their first Pizza Hut restaurant in Topeka.

Governor Thomas Carney

Governor Thomas Carney

Thomas Carney (1828-1888) –  A businessman in Leavenworth, Carney became the second governor of the State of Kansas.

Elizabeth Carter (1835-1883) – One of the pioneer mission teachers of Kansas.

George Washington Carver (1864-1943) – An agricultural scientist, Carver mortgaged his Kansas homestead to go to college.

Pedro De Castaneda – A chronicler of the Coronado Expedition to Quivira.

Sterling G. Cato (??-1867?) – A pro-slavery advocate and Associate Justice of the Territory of Kansas.

Clyde Cessna ( 1879-1954) – Airplane manufacturer from Wichita.

Charles Joseph Chaput (1944-present) – From Concordia, and of French-Canadian and Potawatomi heritage, he was the first American Indian to lead an American diocese.

Mabel Chase ( 1876-1962) – First female sheriff in Kansas.

Nick Chiles – Editor of the longest-running African American newspaper in the nation, the Plaindealer, established in Topeka in 1899.

Walter Percy Chrysler (1875-1940) – Born in Wamego and raised in Ellis, Chrysler was machinist, railroad man, automotive industry executive, and founder of the Chrysler Corporation.

George Washington Clarke – A pro-slavery border ruffian, Clarke was involved in a number of Bleeding Kansas skirmishes before he was finally driven from the state permanently in 1858.

Sidney Clarke (1831-1909) – One of the early members of Congress from Kansas and a Free-State advocate.

Clark Clifford (1906-1998) – From Fort Scott, Clifford served as special counsel to President Truman, and later as Secretary of Defense.

Nellie Cline

Nellie Cline

Nellie Cline – (1886-1984) – Lawyer and the first woman to present oral arguments before the Kansas Supreme Court. Later, she was among the first four women to serve in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1921 to 1924.

William F. Cloud (1825-1905) – Soldier and Indian fighter in Kansas, Could County is named in his honor.

William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846-1917) – Raised in Leavenworth, Cody was a Pony Express rider, buffalo hunter, soldier, scout, and “Wild West Show” promoter.

Don Coldsmith ( 1926-present) – Physician, professor, and author of several western fiction books and articles.

William Elsey Connelley (1855-1930) – Historian, author, and businessman.

Martin Franklin Conway ( 1827-1882) – From Leavenworth, Conway was the first U.S. Congressman to represent Kansas.

Thomas R. Boston Corbett ( 1832-??) – From Concordia, Corbett is credited with shooting John Wilkes Booth.

Richard Cordley (1829-1904) – Author and minister, Cordley was present at the Lawrence Massacre and lived to write about it.

George A. Crawford (1827-1891) – Lawyer, journalist, and founder of Fort Scott, Kansas.

Samuel J. Crawford (1835-1913) – Lawyer, soldier, and third governor of the State of Kansas.

Samuel J. Crumbine ( 1862-1954) – From Dodge City, Crumbine served as Secretary of the State Board of Health and led public health campaigns against the use of common drinking cups, the roller towel, and the fly.

John Steuart Curry 1897-1946) – From Jefferson County, Curry was an artist whose career spanned from 1924 until his death. He was noted for his paintings depicting life Kansas. Along with Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, he was hailed as one of the three great painters of American Regionalism of the first half of the 20th century.

Charles Curtis

Vice-President Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis (1860-1939) – Of Kanza Indian descent, Curtis served in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and as Vice President of the United States


John Davis (1820-1901) – Free-State advocate, member of congress, publisher and author.

Kenneth Sydney Davis (1912-1999) – Writer, biographer, aide to Milton Eisenhower, received the Francis Parkman Prize for his biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

J. H. Defouri (1830-??) – Early Catholic priest and author.

George W. Deitzler (1826-1884) – Free-State advocate, soldier, and politician.

Mark W. Delahay (1817-1879) – Jurist, politician and Free-State advocate.

James William Denver (18??-1894) – Secretary and governor of the Territory of Kansas.

Anne Le Porte Diggs (1853-1916) – From Lawrence, Diggs was a journalist, state librarian, and supporter of Populism and Women’s Suffrage.

Robert Docking (1925-1983) – 38th Governor of Kansas from 1967 until 1975.

Robert Joseph “Bob” Dole (1923-Present) – From Russell, U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, vice presidential candidate in 1976, sought Republican presidential nomination in 1980 and 1988, and 1996 GOP presidential nominee.

Israel B. Donalson (1797-1895) – The first United States Marshal of Kansas Territory

Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) – From Topeka, Douglas was an African American painter and a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Alva Lease Duckwall (1877-1937) – Originally from Ohio, the family moved to Kansas in 1898. In 1901 Duckwall purchased a Racket Store in Abilene. Along with brother, Wilbur, they soon founded Duckwall Brothers was founded, featuring everything needed for the home.

John Dunbar (1804-1857) –  Clergyman, missionary to the Pawnee Indians, and first treasurer of Brown County, Kansas.


Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart (1897- 1937?) – From Atchison, Earhart was the first woman granted a pilot’s license by the National Aeronautics Association and the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) – Wichita and Dodge City lawman.

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) – From Abilene, Eisenhower was five-star U.S. Army General, Supreme Allied Commander of the European theater, and President of the United States.

Peter Percival Elder (1823-??) – Politician, Indian Agent, and businessman, Elder was for many years intimately connected with Kansas affairs.

Rush Elmore (1819-1864) – One of the first Associate Justices of Kansas Territory.

Joe Engle (1932-present) From Chapman commanded the STS-2 Space Shuttle and was a U.S. Air Force colonel.

Ron Evans (1933-1990) – From Topeka, Evans was the commander of the pilot ship on Apollo 17.

Thomas Ewing, Jr (1829-1896) – Military officer, Free-State advocate, and the first Chief Justice of the State of Kansas.


Alfred Fairfax (1840-??) – From Chautauqua County, Fairfax was a Civil War veteran and the first African American elected to a state legislature.

David W. Finney (1839-1916) – A farmer, miller, and Kansas legislator.

Joan Finney (1925-2001) – First woman to serve as State Treasurer and first woman governor of Kansas. She was the 42nd Governor of Kansas from 1991 to 1995.

Ford County Pioneers

Frederick Funston (1865-1917) – From Iola, Funston was an adventurer, colonel of the Twentieth Kansas Volunteer Regiment, general in the regular U.S. army, and received Congressional Medal of Honor for action during Philippine Insurrection.

John Charles Fremont by John C. Buttre, 1859.

John Charles Fremont by John C. Buttre, 1859.

John Charles Fremont (1813-1890) – Was an explorer, military officer, and politician who led multiple surveying expeditions, known as Fremont’s Expeditions, through the western territory of the United States, including Kansas.


Ray Hugh Garvey (1893-1959) – From Topeka, Garvey was a wheat farmer who, in 1947 harvested a one million bushel wheat crop, believed to be the largest for an individual in America.

William Gay (18??-1856)- Shawnee and Wyandot Indian agent in 1856, Gay became a victim of the pro-slavery partisans during the Kansas-Missouri Border War

John White Geary (1819-1873) – The third Territorial Governor of Kansas.

Fry W. Giles (1819-1898) – Businessman, author, and one of the founders of Topeka.

George W. Glick (1827-1911) – The ninth governor of Kansas.

National S. Goff – From Neosho Falls, Goff was one of the founders of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas (Katy) Railway Company.

Isaac T. Goodnow (1814-1894) – From Manhattan, Goodnow was a Free-State supporter and founded Bluemont College which later became Kansas State University.

Grenville L. Gove (18??-1864) – Military Officer and Civil War casualty.

Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway

Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in Chicago, Illinois by Jack Delano, 1943.

Edward Grafstrom (1862-1906) – A mechanical engineer for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, he gave his life while trying to save many who were stranded in the great flood at Topeka.

Jane Grant (1892-1972) – Born in Missouri and raised in Girard, Kansas, she co-founded the New York Times with her first husband Harold Ross.

Georgia Neese Clark Gray (1900-1995) – From Richland, she was the first woman to serve as U.S. Treasurer.

Nehemiah Green (1855-1890) – Fourth governor of the State of Kansas.

Roy Farrell Greene (1873-1909)Poet and humorist.

Zula Bennington “Peggy” Greene (1895-1988) – From Topeka, she was an author and columnist.

Minnie J. Grinstead (18??-1925) – From Seward County, she was one of the state’s first female legislators.


Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, aka: Emanuel Julius (1889-1951) – From Girard, Emanuel was an author, publisher, and social reformer. Julius changed his name after he married Anna Marcet Haldeman.

Anna Marcet Haldeman-Julius (1887-1941) – From Girard, she was an actress, bank president, and author.

John A. Halderman

John A. Halderman

John A. Halderman (1833?-1908) – Soldier, statesman, and diplomat from Leavenworth.

Charles A. Hamelton – A pro-slavery leader during the Kansas-Missouri Border War.

Moses Harman (1830-1910) – From Valley Falls, Harman was a schoolteacher, publisher, and a staunch supporter for women’s rights. He was prosecuted under the Comstock Law for content published in his anarchist periodical Lucifer the Lightbearer.

William Alexander Harris (1841-1909) -Civil engineer and United States Senator.

Fred Harvey (1835-1901) – From Leavenworth, Harvey started the national chain of famous Harvey House restaurants and hotels that once stood at many of the railroad stations in the West.

James Madison Harvey (1833-1894) – The fifth governor of Kansas.

Carl A. Hatch (1889-1963) – From Kirwin, he was a U.S. Senator and U.S. District Judge, and author of the Hatch Act.

Coleman Hawkins (1904-1969) – From Topeka, he was a jazz saxophonist who played with Dizzy Gillespie, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie.

Steve Hawley

Steve Hawley

Steve Hawley (1952-present) – Born in Ottawa and raised in Salina, Hawley was an astronaut who was a mission specialist on the maiden flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Today he is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas.

Seth M. Hays (1811-1873) – The grandson of Daniel Boone, Seth M. Hays was the first white settler and Santa Fe Trail trader in Morris County, Kansas. He was the founder of Council Grove. His home, a stone barn, and a restaurant continue to stand today.

Clara H. Hazelrigg (1859-??) – Teacher, author, and evangelist.

Ben Hibbs (1901-1975) – From Pretty Prairie, Hibbs became the editor of the Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest.

James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok (1837-1876) – Abilene and Ellsworth gunfighter and lawman.

Edward W. Hoch (1849-1920) – Newspaper publisher and the 17th Governor of Kansas from 1905 to 1909.

Christian Hoecken (??-1851) – An early Catholic Missionary to the Kickapoo Indians.

Cyrus K. Holliday (1826-1900) – One of the founders of Topeka, first president of the  Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, as well as one of the railroad’s directors for nearly 40 years.

Edgar Watson Howe (1853-1937) – Newspaper and magazine editor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was well-traveled and known for his sharp wit in his editorials.

Thomas Sears Huffaker (1825-1910) – A pioneer teacher of Kansas, one of the founders of Council Grove, and a politician.

James Langston Hughes

James Langston Hughes

James Langston Hughes (1902-1967) – Raised in Kansas, Hughes was an African-American poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist.

Elanor “Peggy” Goodnough Hull Deuell (1889-1967) – Born and raised in Kansas, Deuell was the first woman war correspondent accredited by the U.S. government and the first woman to serve on four battlefronts.

Lyman Underwood Humphrey (1844-1915) – The 11th governor of the State of Kansas.

Walter A. Huxman (1887-1972) – The 27th Governor of Kansas.


John James Ingalls ( 1833-1900) – From Atchison, Ingalls served in the U.S. Senate and submitted the design for the state seal and proposed the state motto.

William Inge (1913 – 1973) – From Independence, Inge was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

Henry Inman (1837-1899) – Soldier and author from Topeka.

Samuel M. Irvin (1812-1887) – An early missionary and teacher to the Sac and Fox Indians.


Juan Jaramillo – Spanish soldier and narrator, Jaramillo was with Francisco Vazquez de Coronado in the expedition to Quivira.

Jayhawkers The Jayhawkers were militant bands affiliated with the free-state cause during the days of Bleeding Kansas and into the Civil War.

Charles R. Jennison

Charles R. Jennison

Charles Ransford Jennison (1834-1884) – A physician and anti-slavery Jayhawker who led the Redlegs.

Eva Jessye (1895-1992) – From Coffeyville, Jessye was the first African-American woman to receive international distinction as a professional choral conductor. She herself was also a singer, as well as an actress, composer, author, and poet.

Osa Johnson ( 1894-1953) From Chanute, Osa and her husband Martin, made themselves known as photographers, explorers, naturalists, and authors.

Martin Johnson ( 1884-1937) – From Lincoln, Martin and his wife, Osa, made themselves known as photographers, explorers, naturalists, and authors.

Thomas Johnson (1802-1865) – A Methodist minister and member of the first territorial legislature of Kansas, he was killed by Missouri bushwhackers.

Walter “Big Train” Johnson ( 1887-1946) – From Humboldt, Johnson was a pitcher for the Washington Senators and inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

Charles J. “Buffalo” Jones ( 1844-1918) – From Garden City, Jones helped to found the town and was renowned as one of the first to preserve the buffalo. He was also a cattle rancher, game warden at Yellowstone National Park.

Samuel J. JonesDouglas County Sheriff who led the Sacking of Lawrence in 1856.

Alvin “Creepy” Karpis (1908-1979) – Raised in Topeka, Karpis was a bank robber, bootlegger, who spent time in Alcatraz.


Kansas Redlegs

Kansas Redlegs

Kansas Redlegs – Although the “Red Legs” are commonly associated with the Jayhawkers of the Bleeding Kansas era and the Civil War, they were actually a separate guerilla unit that only fought during the Civil War.

Kanza/Kaw Tribe – From a period extending far back into the past — far back of any written record — the Kanza claimed, as a nation, the region that they ceded to the United States by the treaty of June 1825. They were moved to a reservation in Kansas, before being forced into Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1873.

Harrison Kelley (1836-1897) – A soldier and member of Congress.

Robert S. Kelley (1831-1890) – Pro-slavery partisan during the Kansas-Missouri Border War and U.S. Marshal in Montana.

Kenekuk, Kickapoo Prophet

Kenekuk, Kickapoo Prophet

Kenekuk (18??-1856?) – Kickapoo Indian chief and prophet, moved to present-day Kansas around 1833 when the Kickapoo were removed from Illinois.

Samuel A. Kingman (1818-1904) – A Chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court


E. M. Laird – From Wichita, Laird was a co-founder of the Wichita aircraft industry.

Alfred M. Landon (1887-1987) – From Independence and Topeka, Landon was Kansas Governor and 1936 Republican presidential candidate.

James Henry Lane, aka: “The Grim Chieftain,” Bloody Jim (1814-1866) – Principal leader of anti-slavery forces in Kansas during the Kansas-Missouri Border War and the Civil War.

Samuel Lappin (1831?-1892) – Prominent in Kansas political affairs, Lappin was tried for forgery, counterfeiting, and embezzlement.

Amos Adams Lawrence (1814-1886) – A Free-State advocate, the city of Lawrence, Kansas was named for him.

Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton (1909-1993) – From Wellsville, Layton became a renowned artist

Oscar E. Learnard (1832-1911) – Free-State advocate, lawyer, journalist, and soldier.

Mary Elizabeth. Lease (1853 – 1933) – Attorney, lecturer, writer, and supporter of Populism from Wichita.

Samuel D. Lecompte

Samuel D. Lecompte

Samuel D. Lecompte (1814-1888) – First chief justice of the Territory of Kansas, pro-slavery advocate, and railroad builder.

John W. Leedy (1849-1935) – The 14th governor of the State of Kansas

Lorenzo D. Lewelling (1846-1900) – The 12th governor of the State of Kansas

Delano Lewis (1938-present) – From Topeka and Arkansas City, Lewis was a U.S. Department of Justice attorney, Director of the Peace Corps in Nigeria and Uganda, and first African American president of National Public Radio.

William Henry Lewis (1829-1878) – Army officer who participated in both the Civil War and the Indian Wars. He was killed in the Battle of Punished Woman Fork, the last Indian battle in Kansas.

Albin K. Longren (1882-1950) From Topeka and Leonardville, Longren was an aviator and engineer.

Nat Love

Nat Love

Nat Love, aka: Deadwood Dick (1854-1921) – An early cowboy in Dodge City, Nat Love, who was also known as “Deadwood” Dick was said to have been the greatest black cowboy in all of the Old West.

Julia Louisa Lovejoy (1812-1882) – Ardent abolitionist who lived in Manhattan and Lawrence.

David Lykins (1820?-1861) – Pro-slavery advocate and member of the Bogus Legislature.

Lutie Lytle (1875-??) – From Topeka, Lytle was one of the first African American women to be admitted to the practice of law in the United States.


Edward P. McCabe (1850-1923) – Nicodemus colonizer and the first African-American to serve as state auditor in Kansas.

Margaret Hill McCarter (1860-1938) – Teacher, editor, and novelist.

Kathyrn O’Loughlin McCarthy (1894-1952) – Hays lawyer and first Kansas woman to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Isaac McCoy (1784-1846) – An Indian missionary who worked with several tribes in Kansas and established the Delaware Baptist Mission in Wyandotte County.

Joseph G. McCoy

Joseph G. McCoy

Joseph G. McCoy (1837-1915) – Founder of the cattle trade in Kansas, originator of the Abilene Cattle Trail and cattle baron.

Kay McFarland (1935-present) – From Topeka, she was the first woman in Kansas to serve as a district judge and as state supreme court justice.

Peter McVicar (1829-1903) – Clergyman, soldier and educator

Rex Maneval (1890-1974) – From Frankfort, Maneval was an inventor and helicopter manufacturer.

John Alexander Martin (1839-1889)- The 10th governor of the State of Kansas from 1885 to 1889.

Walt Mason (1862-1939) – A poet and humorist.

Edgar Lee Masters (1869-1950) – From Garnett, Masters was a poet and biographer.

William “Bat” Masterson (1853-1921) – Ford County sheriff, gunfighter, and friend to Wyatt Earp.

Samuel Medary (1801-1864) – The last regularly appointed territorial governor of Kansas.

Jotham Meeker (1804-1855)  – A missionary at the Ottawa Mission.

Karl Menninger (1893-1990) – From Topeka, Menninger was a psychiatrist and co-founder of the Menninger Clinic and Foundation.

Josiah Miller (1828-1870) – A Free-State advocate who started one of the first Kansas newspapers.

William Mervin “Billy” Mills (1938-present) – From Lawrence, Mills was born on the Pine Ridge, South Dakota and a member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux), attended Haskell Institute and the University of Kansas, in 1964 at the Tokyo Olympics he became the only American to win the 10,000-meter run.

General Robert B. Mitchell

General Robert B. Mitchell

Robert B. Mitchell (1823-1882) – Soldier, Free-State advocate, and member of the first Kansas Territorial Legislature.

James Montgomery (1814-1871) – One of Kansas ‘ most infamous “Jayhawkers.”

H. Miles Moore (1826-1909) – An early Kansas settler, Free-State lawyer, and politician in Leavenworth.

Horace L. Moore (1837-1914) – From Lawrence, he was a banker, soldier, and member of Congress.

Edmund Needham Morrill (1834-1909) – The thirteenth governor of the State of Kansas.

Victor Murdock (1871-1945) – Journalist and member of Congress.


James Naismith (1861-1939) – From Lawrence, he was the inventor of the game of basketball and a coach at the University of Kansas.

Carry Nation

Carry Nation

Carry A. Nation (1846 – 1911) – From Medicine Lodge, Nation was a well-known and radical temperance advocate.

Clarina I. H. Nichols (1810-1885) – Women’s rights supporter, educator, and newspaper journalist.


Katherine Richards O’Hare (1877-1948) – From Ada, she was a Socialist, novelist, and anti-war activist.

Old Crow – A Crow Indian, who was allegedly one of the members of the Dull Knife band of Cheyenne, which left the reservation in Indian Territory and made the memorable raid across Kansas in September and October 1878, killing 32 citizens

Thomas A. Osborn (1836-1898) – The sixth governor of Kansas from 1873 to 1877.

John Grant Otis (1838-1916) – Lawyer and member of Congress.


Francisco Juan De Padilla

Francisco Juan De Padilla

Francisco Juan De Padilla (??-1542) – A Franciscan friar and the first missionary to the Indians of Kansas.

Charlie “Yardbird” Parker (1920-1955) – Kansas City jazz saxophonist.

Henry Clay Pate (18??-1864) – A leader of a gang of border ruffians and newspaper correspondent.

Robert Hall Pearson (1828-??) – Pearson was one of the first settlers in Douglas County, Kansas, fought with John Brown in the Battle of Black Jack and built a home near Baldwin City that continues to stand today.

William A. Peffer (1831-1912) –   Soldier, publisher, and United States Senator.

Frank E. Peterson, Jr. (1932-present) – From Topeka, Peterson was the first black brigadier general in the U.S. Marine Corps and NAACP Man of the Year.

John Pettit (1807-1877) –  Succeeded Samuel D. Lecompte as Chief Justice of the Territory of Kansas.

William Addison Phillips (1824-1893)- Journalist, historian, and member of Congress.

R. L. Pitts – From Wichita, Pitts was the first African American to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for service in Vietnam.

Preston B. Plumb (1837-1891) – Lawyer, United States Senator, and founder of Emporia.

Samuel Clark Pomeroy (1816-1891) – Pioneer and United States Senator.

Paul M. Ponziglione (1818-1900) – One of the early Catholic missionaries in Kansas.

Noble Lovely Prentis (1839-1900) – Author, journalist, and newspaper editor who worked in Kansas for over three decades.

William Quantrill

William Quantrill

William C. Quantrill (1837-1865) – After serving as a teacher at Lawrence, Quantrill began to lead gangs of Border Ruffians in the Kansas-Missouri Border War, became a Confederate soldier during the Civil War, and was responsible for the Lawrence Massacre in 1863.


Charles Rath (1836-1902) – Merchant, buffalo hunter, and freighter, Rath was one of the original organizers of Ford County County, Kansas.

Clyde M. Reed – From Parsons, Reed was a publisher, 24th Kansas governor, and U.S. Senator.

Andrew Horatio Reeder (1807-1864) – Free-State leader and the first governor of Kansas Territory.

Albert T. Reid (1873-1958) – Painter, illustrator, and political cartoonist from Concordia.

Charles Reynolds (1817-1885) – Writer and minister.

Milton W. Reynolds (1823-1890) – Writer, politician and newspaper publisher.

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Charles Lawrence Robinson

Charles Lawrence Robinson (1818-1894) – Free-State leader and the first governor of the State of Kansas.

Sara Tappan Doolittle Robinson (1827-1911) – Author and wife of first governor, Charles Lawrence Robinson.

Bernard W. Rogers (1921-2008) – From Fairview, he was an American general who served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, and Commander in Chief, United States European Command.

Christian “Jim” Roper (1916-2000) – From Halstead, in 1949 he became the first NASCAR Winston Cup Series stock car race winner.

Franklin Albert Root (1837-1926) – Author, stage messenger, and publisher.

Edmund G. Ross (1826-1907) – Journalist and United States Senator.

Damon Runyon (1884-1946) – From Manhattan, he was a short story writer and journalist.

Rush County Pioneers

Jim Ryun (1947-present) – From Wichita, Ryun was the World’s Outstanding Athlete in 1966-1967, a three-time Olympian, set a world track record for the mile in 1966, and member of U.S. Congress.


John P. St. John (1833-1916) – From Olathe, the eight governor of Kansas, National Prohibition Party’s presidential candidate in 1884.

Susanna Madora Salter

Susanna Madora Salter

Susanna Madora Salter (1860-1961) From Argonia, she was the first woman mayor in the nation.

Sven Birger Sandzen (1871-1954) – From Lindsborg, he was a renowned artist and professor.

Satanta (1830-1878) – Noted Kiowa chief, frequently called the “Orator of the Plains.”

Charles F. Scott (1860-1938) – Journalist, newspaper publisher, and member of Congress from Iola.

Wilson Shannon (1802-1877) – The second Territorial Governor of Kansas.

William Eugene Smith (1918-1978) – From Wichita, Smith was a photojournalist for Newsweek, Life, and Parade; known for humanistic photography.

John Pierce St. John (1833-1916) – The eighth governor of the State of Kansas.

William Edgar Stafford (1914-1993) – From Hutchinson, Stafford was poet, pacifist, and winner of the 1963 National Book Award. He was appointed the twentieth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970.

Benjamin F. Stringfellow

Benjamin F. Stringfellow

Benjamin F. Stringfellow (1816-1891) – Lawyer and pro-slavery leader in Kansas.

John H. Stringfellow (1819-1905) – An early physician of Kansas, one of the founders of Atchison, a pro-slavery advocate, border ruffian, and Speaker of the House in the First Territorial Legislature.

Fred Andrew Stone (1873-1959) – Raised in Topeka, he was a famed Vaudeville song and dance man.

Earl Sutherland (1915-1974) – From Burlingame, he was the winner of the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in 1971.


Samuel F. Tappan (1831-1913) – A journalist, military officer, abolitionist, and a Native American rights activist.

Lucy Hobbs Taylor (1833-1910) – From Lawrence, the first fully-trained woman dentist in the world.

Solon O. Thacher (1830-1895) – Attorney, Free-State advocate, and politician.

Timothy Dwight Thacher – (1831-1894) – Scholar, statesman, and editor.

Eli Thayer

Eli Thayer

Eli Thayer (1819-1899) – Educator, inventor, Congressman, and one of the organizers of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company.

Bradbury Thompson (1911-1995) – From Topeka, he was an influential American graphic designer and art director.

Henry Theodore Titus (1823-1881) – A solider and pro-slavery advocate who was involved in several skirmishes of the Kansas-Missouri Border War.

Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997) – From Burdette, he was an astronomer who discovered the planet Pluto in 1930.



Robert James Walker (1801-1869) – The fourth Territorial Governor of Kansas.

John Lewis Waller (1850-1907) – From Lawrence, Waller was a lawyer, founded Lawrence‘s first black newspaper, and was U.S. consul to Madagascar.

Bernard Warkentin (1849-1908) – Originally from Russia, Warkentin was among the Mennonite settlers who came to Kansas in 1873. He imported Turkey Red Wheat to Kansas and established a milling operation.

Hugh Sleight Walsh

Hugh Sleight Walsh

Hugh Sleight Walsh (1810-1877)Secretary and acting governor of the Territory of Kansas.

Eugene Fitch Ware (1841-1911) Nicknamed “Ironquill,” Ware was a lawyer and poet.

Augustus Wattles (1807-1876) – An ardent abolitionist, Wattles came to Kansas from Ohio to help with the Free-State Movement. He was a candidate at Big Springs meeting and was elected to the Topeka Convention in 1855. Along with his brother, John O. Wattles, founded the town of Moneka, Kansas.

John Otis Wattles (1809-1859) – An abolitionist, spiritualist, educator, and women’s rights activist, Wattles helped to found the town of Moneka, in Linn County, Kansas.

Esther Whinery Wattles (1819-1908) – Supporting temperance, antislavery, and women’s rights, Wattles helped her husband, John Otis Wattles, to establish the town of Moneka, Kansas and founded the Moneka Women’s Rights Association.

Julius Augustus Wayland (1854-1912) Having his base of operations in Girard, Wayland was the founder of Socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason.

Edward Winslow Wellington (1853-19??) – A pioneer and business of central Kansas, Wellington was a founder of and essential in developing the cities of Carneiro and Ellsworth.

William Allen White (1868-1944) – From Emporia, White was an editor, publisher, author, and Pulitzer Prize winner.

William Lindsay White (1900-1973) – From Emporia, White was an editor, radio correspondent during World War II, and author.

John W. Whitfield (1818-1879) – Indian Agent and the first delegate to Congress from the Territory of Kansas.

Daniel Webster Wilder

Daniel Webster Wilder

Daniel Webster Wilder (1832-1911) – Journalist, author, and newspaper publisher.

Charles H. Withington (1816-1881) – A blacksmith for the Sac and Fox Indians, Withington was the first white settler in Lyon County, Kansas. There, he operated a successful store along the Santa Fe Trail, as well as serving as a mail agent.

Gerald Burton Winrod (1900-1957) – Evangelist, author, and political activist.

Samuel Newitt Wood (1825-1891) – Free-State advocate and politician, Wood was killed in the “Stevens County War.”

Harry Hines Woodring (1887-1967) – From Elk City, Woodring was a banker, Democratic governor of Kansas, and U.S. Secretary of War.

Daniel Woodson (1824-1994) – The first secretary and several times acting governor of the Territory of Kansas.

Henry Worrall (1825-1902) – One of Kansas’ first artists.

Lorraine Elizabeth Wooster (1868-1953) – From Beloit, in 1918 she became the first woman elected to statewide office in Kansas, as State Superintendent of Public Instruction.


Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated September 2020.

Colonel Sumner arriving at Constitution Hall in Topeka, 1856

Colonel Sumner arriving at Constitution Hall in Topeka, 1856

Also See:

Kansas History

Kansas Main Page

Kansas Photo Galleries

Kansas Time Line

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