Kansas is one of the richest states in historical lore of any in the American West; from Native Americans to the Bleeding Kansas days before the Civil War, to the wild west days of its many cattle towns, and beyond, the Sunflower State provides a wealth of history, lore, and legends within the American Heartland.
The state’s heritage and traditions go back to the nomadic Native American tribes who hunted vast herds of buffalo to the time of Montezuma and the Spanish conquest of Mexico. In the Sixteenth Century, the Spanish conquerors extended their explorations through the land known as Kansas; then the mythical kingdom of Quivira, and claimed it by right of conquest and discovery as a part of the domain of the Spanish Crown. Nearly two centuries passed before the French, coming by way of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, again visited the mysterious land.
After another 100 years, American explorers began to traverse the region. They designated it as the Great American Desert at a time when the prairies were filled with countless herds of buffalo and Native American tribes, including the Kanza, Pawnee, Osage, Kiowa, and more. With the numerous settlers in the east, more tribes were pushed westward voluntarily or by government force.
Before long, numerous settlers began to move through Kansas on the many overland trails to the west, including the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails, which resulted in numerous battles and skirmishes with the Indians as their homelands were invaded and violated.
Before the Civil War, eastern Kansas’s ground became a bloody battlefield when pioneers fought the Kansas-Missouri Border War in the struggle to make it a free or slave state. Kansas entered the Union as a “Free-State” on January 29, 1861, and soldiers flocked to the battlefields in the conflict with the south.
Associations in Kansas History
Early Expeditions Through Kansas
Territorial Kansas & the Struggle For Statehood
The Beginning of Kansas History
Border Ruffian Warfare in Atchison
Coming of the Settlers to Kansas
Constitutional Conventions of Kansas
Exploration of Kansas by the United States
The First Territorial Government
Grasshopper Plague of the Great Plains
Jayhawkers – Terror in the Civil War
Kansas Becomes Part of the United States
Kansas Description & Brief History
Kansas Organized as a Territory
Kansas Time Line – A Chronology of Events
Prohibition and Alcohol in Kansas
Pro-Slavery Movement in Kansas
©Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated February 2023.