WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Sunday is Kansas Day.
One hundred sixty-two years ago, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state. Here are some Kansas-related facts you may not know.
Kansas and Arkansas
The words Arkansas and Kansas are related, but not exactly. They are both separate words that stem from Algonquian words for two distinct tribes.
Arkansas comes from the French Arcansas, which is the plural form of their word for Akansa. Akansa is the Algonquian name for the Quapaw or Kawpaw people who settled in Arkansas.
Kansas is named for the Kansa, the Algonquian word for the Kaw. Quapaw and Kaw are part of a group of native peoples who speak a similar language.
Born when Kansas was still a territory in 1860, Charles Curtis served Kansas as a congressman and senator. He eventually became vice president under Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933. He was the first person with Native American ancestry to hold the nation’s second-highest office. He died just 3 years after leaving office at the age of 76. He is buried in the Topeka Cemetery.
Home of the “First Buffalo Bill”
Kansas is home to the first man named “Buffalo Bill.” William Mathewson was a trader and trapper who built tradeposts along the Arkansas River from Great Bend to what today is the Wichita area. Following a drought in 1860 that wiped out the crops of settlers, Mathewson was approached to hunt buffalo to help prevent starvation. He reportedly provided over 80 buffalo in a single day and refused to accept payment for the work. The incident led to his nickname. He would go on to settle in Wichita, becoming one of its founding fathers and building one of the first homes in the city.
The French-Canadian Connection
The tiny community of Damar is thriving, thanks to its heritage. The town was founded in 1888 by French-Canadian immigrants, many of who worked for the railroad. Aside from the French monikers of its residents, and the french influence that can be seen around the community of about 120, its most prominent landmark is the twin towers of St. Joseph Catholic Church.
It’s a Gas
Dexter, May 1903: The town is in the midst of a huge celebration over the discovery of a major natural gas deposit. The discovery will put the community on the map, but not in the way they thought. As they went to ignite their newly discovered natural gas well as part of the celebration, the flame source kept being extinguished, much to the town’s disappointment. It would take two years before scientists at the University of Kansas would figure out that the deposit contained Helium gas. In fact, Kansas was sitting on a massive amount of it. It would be over a decade before a practical application was found for the second most abundant element in the Universe and decades before it became something vital for machines like MRIs.
I Want Candy
Speaking of Dexter, the Cowley County community is home to the Henry Candy Company. Depending on which origin story you believe, the Henry family who founded the candy company may or may not be responsible for creating the Oh Henry! candy bar, selling it to a Chicago candy maker. True or not, they still make candy at Henry’s Candy Company in Dexter, old-fashioned candy since 1956.
Shawnee is home to Sifer’s Valomilk, a gooey, liquid marshmallow cream surrounded by chocolate, in a cup form, similar to a peanut butter cup. The company began in 1903 in Iola before the family moved to the Kansas City area in 1916. Valomilk was created by accident around 1931.
We’re why everyone’s fat
Kind of. We’re at least responsible for every bad food choice you ever made when you didn’t want to cook or possibly imbibed in one too many. The fast food restaurant was invented in Wichita. White Castle, which is credited as the very first fast-food restaurant in the nation, was founded in Wichita in 1921. Pizza Hut, also a Wichita invention, came along in 1958.
The Northernmost Pueblo in the United States isn’t in Colorado. It’s in Kansas. Just north of Scott City to be exact. El Cuartelejo is believed to have been built by the Taos people, who left New Mexico during the Spanish occupation. It didn’t end well as they were rounded up by Spain and returned to New Mexico. Later, the Picuris, who are also Pueblo people, traveled to Kansas to escape Spanish rule because they had peaceful trade relations with the Apache who had settled in the area. It didn’t end well for them either.
A Lost City of Gold
Near Arkansas City sits a massive archeological site that was once the home to 20,000 Wichita Indians. Etzanoa existed from about 1450 to 1700. It was lost until 2017, when WSU Archeologist Donald Blakeslee, using updated translations of Spanish accounts of expeditions into Kansas, found evidence of the settlement. Etzanoa is believed to be part of Quivira, which was a collection of native American communities in Kansas that were mistakenly believed to be one of the legendary “Cities of Gold” that first brought Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to Kansas.
He didn’t cure impotence, and definitely not ignorance
John Brinkley had a dream. To cure impotence by transplanting goat glands into men. He lived that dream by opening up a clinic in Milford in 1918. He charged an exorbitant fee and made a fortune. He even published a book on modern medicine with the very authoritative title of “Dr. Brinkley’s Doctor Book.” Yes, he was a quack.
Ad Astra Per Socialismus
You may or may not know Southeast Kansas was once a major mining hub in the United States. Coal, Zinc, Lead, and other metals and minerals were mined up until around 1970. Zinc and lead went to munitions factories to make bullets, much of it used in World War I and World War II. To work the mines, immigrants from eastern and western Europe came to Kansas. With them, they brought not only their faith and culture but political ideas that were formulating across Europe, ideologies like Anarchy (Not the chaos kind) and Socialism. Girard, Kansas, became a major hub for Socialism in the United States after J. A. Wayland began publishing the socialist newspaper Appeal to Reason.
In 1971, something may or may not have happened on a farm near Delphos in Ottawa County. According to what numerous websites found during a Google search say, “A very credible UFO encounter” occurred. A family reportedly witnessed a UFO land in their yard. A 16-year-old boy reportedly was temporarily blinded or at least had trouble seeing for several weeks, the family dog was reportedly permanently blinded in one eye, and for the rest of her life, the mother experienced occasional numbness in her hands. There is also a book written by what could be a credible scientist that claims that chemical analysis of the soil where the craft reportedly hovered “strongly implicates a genuine UFO to have been present.”
About an hour and 20 minutes southwest of Delphos is Geneseo. It’s home to a Geneseo Historical Museum that is at least partially dedicated to UFOs. Geneseo has dubbed itself the UFO Capitol of Kansas, so it only seems fitting that there be a UFO museum in the community. While their website appears to be down, the museum is open and active, with a UFO-related event coming up in July.