Wyandots in Kansas Territory 1844

 "Mrs. Lucy Armstrong, wife of John M. Armstrong, gave the following account of the building of the first church ever erected by the people of Kansas: At the close of the meeting in January, 1844, Rev. Esq. Gray-Eyes proposed that the brethren should come together soon and cut down trees, hew logs, make puncheons and clapboards and build a church. 'Why,' answered one of them, 'you have no house for yourself.' 'True,' said Gray-Eyes, 'but I want a house for the soul first.' So while they were all busy building their own houses, clearing ground and making rails to enclose their fields preparatory to spring planting, they set apart a day now and then to build the church. So faithfully did they labor that they worshiped in it the next April, the preacher standing on one tier of the puncheon floor which was laid, and the congregation sitting on the uncovered sleepers. That was a very pleasant and happy day, never to be forgotten.' This first church built by the people themselves in Kansas was a good hewed.log house, about thirty by forty feet, located about three miles from the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers. It was completed [in May 1844] before the return of the missionary Wheeler, and their first quarterly meeting for the year was held in it the first Saturday and Sunday in June, at which time [Rev. Wheeler] baptized all infants born to the Wyandots during his absence."

From William Connelley

Jun 4, 1844...
 "Rev. Wheeler returned to the Wyandots with his family; and reached the mouth of the Kansas River on the  4th day of June, 1844. During the winter Rev. Wheeler had [developed] plans to be adapted [when he returned to Kansas to continue] the mission work, [but upon arriving in Kansas he found the] conditions [under which the Wyandots were living] so materially changed [from what he expected] that after his return he called the principal men together to council with him. By treaty stipulation the Government promised to give them five-hundred dollars each year for educational purposes, which they offered to turn over in aid of the mission; [however], Rev. Wheeler advised that they should adapt the district school plan, employing their own teachers, and pay them from money they were to get from the Government; after learning reasons given in support of his advice, they decided to accept it, and they straightaway went to work to put it into operation. They divided their territory into two districts, built school houses, employed their teachers, and set them to work, and the result was gratifying in the highest degree and proved beneficial in more ways than one; for it inspired them with a footing of self-reliance which served as a stimulant to independent effort; in many directions and became an incentive, which led them in rapid strides on their march to civilization. Under this arrangement, Rev. Wheeler was relieved of much labor, care, and responsibility and at the same time relieved the missionary society of a very great expense. Rev. Wheeler now had time to visit with and encourage those who had been gathered into the fold and to visit and exhort the irreligious to seek and secure the Christians hope; and his efforts for good were not lacking in encouragement."

From the Obituary of Rev. James Wheeler


The Great Flood of 1844

 "The spring of 1844 was warm and very dry until in May, when it began to rain, and continued for six weeks, rain falling every day. The result was the Kaw River rose so high that what is now Kansas City, Kansas, and West Kansas City, Missouri, were covered with fourteen feet of water; the Missouri backed up to the mouth of Line Creek; Jersey Creek was backed up to the crossing on the Parallel road."

A.T. Andreas History of the State of Kansas - 1883

 The  flood of 1844 occurred from the 13th to 16th of June. The following extract from an eye-witness report stated:

 "The Missouri River at about the 13th was only a few feet over the bottom lands, but the great volume of water that came down the Kansas River madly rushing against the mighty Missouri caused a seething waters to pile up at the mouth, no doubt several feet higher than they would have had they met at the point of junction more obliquely.

 On the morning of the 14th, Col. Wm. M. Chick, who was temporarily occupying with his family a house he owned, which stood on the east side of Turkey Creek, not far southeast of the State Line house, was surprised to find the water rising above the banks of the creek. By nine o'clock it had reached the door step, and as the ground was lower towards the hills eastward, he decided it advisable to seek a place of safety on higher ground, which they succeeded in doing with the aid of a canoe or small boat.

Some rescuers returned to the house at twelve o'clock noon and found the water level to be waist deep on the lower floor, by four o'clock that afternoon the water had reached nearly to the upper story. The water continued to rise through that night and into the next morning.

The seething, foaming flood water was not only dashing madly onward in the river channel, but it swept across the heavily timbered bottom of West Kansas, from bluff to bluff, with a roar almost deafening.  During the night of the 15th, and the next morning, from time to time loud cries were heard over at Wyandotte, in the direction of the residence of Louis Tromley, who then lived near the Missouri south bank, just east of the state line. Those who listened to the cries knew full well that the old man was in deep trouble, as well as deep waters, but the impetuous Kaw forced its mad waters into the broad sea of the Missouri with a current so rapid that it was impossible to get the ferry flat across to the opposite woods without moving the boat some distance up the Kaw, and before this could be done darkness had spread over the desolate scene. At early dawn brave hearts and strong arms were ready for the rescue. Isaac Walker, Ethan Long, Russell Garret,
David Froman, and Tall Charles, of Wyandotte, soon made their way with the boat, cutting their way through the woods, to poor old Tromley, who they found perched in a tree, and a few hundred yards farther on his wife in another tree, and a short distance further his boy sitting straddle of the comb of the house which was beginning to sway into the seething waters of the river.

Tromley had tried to make his way to Wyandotte on a log, in order to procure a boat and help, but finding he would be inevitably swept into the Missouri, he desisted from his effort and took to his perch in the tree, and thus passed the long vigils of that dreary, desolate night to those three helpless persons. Poor Tromley meanwhile tried through his long watches to comfort his terrified wife and boy, whom he was unable to reach.  The rescuers took them to the hills near Twelfth Street, picking up some others along the way as they went. Soon afterwards, the hundreds gathered on the hillsides saw old Tromley's house, with his favorite dog perched upon its top, passing rapidly down in mid current, and poor Tromley who had just arrived, called to his dog by name, who set up a mournful wail, and the old man seemed disposed to dash in to its rescue.

 During this day, the 15th, the Wyandotte rescuers were busy saving persons and property in the West Kansas bottom until darkness closed their labors, theirs being the only boat that operated on that day, and after that none was needed for nothing was left to save of life or property."

WH Miller History of Kansas City, Illustrated 1881

 "The long, continued rains were succeeded by dry and hot weather, and the overflowed vegetable matter decomposing, caused much sickness among the Wyandots, and by the 1st of November, one-hundred of them were dead - being one-seventh of the whole number who had come to the country only fifteen months before. The species of sickness which prevailed the most and made the most havoc in the nation were chills and fever, and bloody flux. It is stated that there was not a single well person in the nation by the latter part of the fall of 1844.  The town of Wyandotte, having these discouragements of poverty and sickness to contend with, could not be expected to, grow - neither did it."

A.T. Andreas History of the State of Kansas - 1883