Category Archives: Kansas

Customs Of The Osage People


An Osage Village

An Osage Village

 I am writing this from the Osage point of view, written by memory from the writings of an Osage descendant, Louis F. Burns. I have found his book to be the most comprehensive. If you are a student or researcher, please consider Mr. Burns as my main reference here. While searching the internet, I have found several inaccurate sources with widely varying information.

This brief overview generally deals with the Osage nation prior to the “Louisiana Purchase” of 1803. After 1803, everything changed for the Osage people at such a quick pace that they were unable to adapt and survive as the proud nation that I write here about.

Osage Territory (1700's)

 For centuries, the Osage possessed the most prime real estate on the continent. The four-state area that they claimed during their height of power is a humid, temperate climate, encompassing just about every type of geography; wetlands, mountains, and bluegrass plains of the buffalo. Their enviable position in the center of the nation fashioned their customs and religious practices.

 The Osage style of government is thought to have been used by our founding fathers as a model for our present American style of government. The Osage had developed a special relationship with the French, and a group of the natives were taken to France a full half-century before our war of independence. A famous French treatise on this style of government was written shortly after this event and this treatise was indeed part of the model for our present constitution. Although no written proof of credit to the Osage is found, the similarities are beyond coincidence. Not the least of these is the concept of “inalienable rights” of each individual.

 At the top of the Osage government there was a powerful group of elderly ‘wise men’, who were referred to as “The Little Old Men”. The Little Old Men shared power and were made up of men from varied factions of the nation. It was their job to make judicious decisions based on petitioning from various counsels of “Grand Chiefs”. These Grand Counsels were specific to areas of tribal life. For instance, a Grand Counsel on war-making and another one meant just to lobby for peace.  At the more local, or “band” level, there was also some allowance for their own government. There were Chiefs and Councils at all levels. Sound familiar? This system was known to be in effect as early as the 1500′s.

 The government reflected the Osage personality. Slow to action and deliberate in all things, the system eventually became so top-heavy that it was cumbersome and had to be modified to meet the changing times. As such, The Little Old Men had a decreasing power as they approached 1800.

 The Osage had no concept of individual land ownership. The land was claimed by the entire nation. As a nation of hunters, these claims of territory were fiercely defended by warriors whose full time job was policing their claims. These small ‘war parties’ were not without rules.

Intruders were generally watched from a distance without them knowing they were observed. They were subsequently categorized and then dealt with. Although the whites considered these Osage people cruel savages, the punishments usually were comparable to the white’s justice.  

Three classes of intruders were considered. First was the traveller. If you were observed to be just passing through, and you took only what game and resources you needed to survive your journey, you would probably not even know you were watched. Minding you manners would save your life. Second was the hunter/trapper. These intruders were considered the worst, and were just common poachers as far as the Osage were concerned. White men would promptly hang a cattle rustler, and Osage warriors took it one step further. Poachers were beheaded and the heads displayed as a warning to any others with the same ideas. Third consisted of two different types of offenders who were treated similarly; settlers and traders. If traders were not poachers, they were not killed. If they were not trading directly with the Osage, they were however, robbed of their trade goods and sent on their way. The message was clear; Osage controlled the early merchants. Approved traders (mostly French) were encouraged.  Unapproved traders were harassed out of the area. Any trade with other native nations was not approved, as the Osage were constantly at war with them on all sides. Agricultural settlers, white or native, were treated much the same. Since the Osage were primarily concerned with hunting, and hunting territory, small groups of settlers were tolerated on their eastern border, along the Mississippi river. They were subject to some harassment though, and stealing their horses was fairly common. If they were not inter-married with the Osage, they were usually harassed until they left the area.

 At the time of Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the Osage Indians lived in most of Missouri, northern Arkansas, eastern Kansas and northeast Oklahoma. They were thought to have descended from one branch of the Omaha Sioux and migrated from the lower Ohio River Valley. They were divided into three clans: the Great Osage, Little Osage, and Arkansas Osage. Their first experiences with Euro-Americans came in the mid 1600′s when French trappers and traders encountered them. Early records from the Trading Post that was to become St. Louis indicate that early Americans traded with the Osage at nearly twice the rate of all the other Native Americans combined.

 The Osage had a special relationship with the French from the very first encounters. This has been attributed to the temperament and manners of the French explorers, more than anything else. The official French government policy was to subdue the Osage and make them proper colonial subjects. The actual practice was nothing like this. Several French were married to Osage women, and are now the ancestors of many thousands of Osage people. Apparently the Spanish and English did not have the good sense to treat the Osage as equals, and subsequently were nearly completely shut out of the lucrative fur trading, unless done by proxy through the French. Osage warriors were known to attack British soldiers on sight.

Osage girls married immediately upon reaching puberty, unlike boys, who married in their late teens. When the oldest daughter in a family married, her husband also got marriage rights to all of her younger sisters if he so chose. However, this did not happen often; polygamy was rare. A distinction was always made between the first born daughter and those that came after. Marriages were arranged by the girls parents, and though inter-marrying with other clans, tribes and even whites was done, it was not the norm. When a daughter was married away into other clans, it was a political advantage and the family ties were never forgotten. The marriage to a first-born daughter was the highest honor. When a baby was born, the town would have a naming ceremony to make it a “real” person. As the children grew up, girls were educated mainly by their mothers in domestic arts, horticulture, and gathering. Children of native and white mix were considered “real” people as long as they followed Osage traditions. If they did not adhere to Osage customs, they were allowed to move about the clans and villages as they pleased, but they were not “real”, as such, they were not spoken to, or spoken of at all. Usually these ignored offspring would live with their French relatives.

The Osage were not an agricultural society, but the women did keep gardens at semi-permanent villages. They grew maize, squash, pumpkins, gourds, and beans, as well as gathering wild fruit, berries, acorns, and nuts. In autumn they would harvest the crops and preserve them for winter. Families lived in lodges made of wood and reeds, or of tall poles covered with animal hides. The lodges were thirty to forty feet in length, with two doorways and an opening at the top for venting campfire smoke. They were permanent, yet villages were regularly moved just short distance when conditions warranted, such as sanitation, gardening, flooding and draught. Osage warriors left them twice a year, once in the summer and once in the fall, when they headed west to hunt buffalo. Although some women travelled with the buffalo hunt, the main job of women in the villages was to grow crops and gather food, as well as raise children and take care of the home. The only time the Osage used “Teepee” style shelter was when they hunted far out on the plains, away from woodlands.

There were ceremonies in all seasons for naming, mourning, peace, planning, and harvesting, where women would dance in the rituals, but singing, priesthood and religous ritual and authority were only the dominion of men. Women commonly got tattoos, especially to remember their husbands, if their husbands were killed. If a man committed a notable act of bravery he earned the right to tattoo his wife and daughters. Mothers taught their children well-defined rules of behavior. They raised their kids gently, disciplining them using ridicule and rewards, never physical punishment. Osage women carried their babies on boards on their backs, because it was convenient. As a result of this the babies’ heads were flattened in the back and stayed that way for life.

 The mode of burial among the Osages was to place the corpse in a sitting posture on the ground, at most only in a slight excavation, and pile around it a heap of stones for its protection. When the early settlers came here many such graves were seen in which the skeleton was remaining intact, and in some instances the flesh scarcely yet having entirely disappeared.

Related articles - tag/osage

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Antique Postcards ~ Fatherless Children of France, World War One


This card is dated 1918, and World War 1 had created approximately 3 million widows and 10 million orphans. Europe was in ruins, but the United States homeland remained completely unaffected, with a booming economy and the good times of the roaring twenties on the way. Obviously, this card is sent to let someone know that you donated to a charity for French orphans, in their name. What a wonderful gift!

Any Parsonions related to Mrs. Stella Lynd, 2718 Main?

For more about The Fatherless Children Of France; http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=940DEFDD133FE433A25755C0A9679C946996D6CF 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click the photo below to read the entire book of letters from orphans to their American benefactors. The book is ‘public domain’ from google.

The book above is priceless. Sweet, cute, and heartbreaking all wrapped up in one.

The true spririt of Christmas, COMPASSION.

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Postcard from Iwo Jima foxhole – WW2


Iwo Jima 1

The text of this card is printed below.  After some research, I believe Emery put the wrong year on this card. It should be 1945. ~ sekanblogger

Iwo Jima 2

(from) Pcf. Emery B. Schwartz  904965 – Co. A. 5th tank Bn. – 5th Marine Div. FMF – c/o F.P.O. San Fransisco

(to) Leon & Betty Hodges – 2409 E. Kellog – Wichita, Kansas

(body of text) Iwo Jima – March 18, 1944

Dear Leon & Betty,

  What have you kids been doing all the time since I’ve been gone? Alice says that Leon kept the kids amused the other night by drawing them pictures. I hope you keep drawing alot as it will come in very useful in many ways later on. On the way here a boy on the ship drew a different scene nearly every day. How are you getting along in school? Tommorrow will make one month staying in a foxhole every night. I’ve only had my shoes off three nights and things have been plenty rough all the time. I hope you study hard in school and learn a profession so you won’t have to go through this. I have to put this Japanese card in an envelope as they won’t accept it otherwise.  Love, Emery

———

(for the official Marine report from Iwo Jima on March 18, see below.) Please notice the casualty count. (X marks the end of sentence)

This is only the 5th Div report, the 3rd and 4th Div were also at Iwo Jima.

Continue reading

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The Bloody Benders of Labette County ~ a TRUE Ghost Story!


 I wrote this years ago for Halloween and I keep recycling it every year. This post also gets more views (from all over the world) than anything else I’ve ever written. I did quite a bit of research for this piece. I wish I had listed my sources at the time. Be assured that this story is as accurate as any you’ll find about the Benders. ~ sekanblogger

The old Bender property is haunted. A mere decade after the gruesome killings, nothing was left of the cabin and outbuildings on the property, the only thing that remained — an empty hole that had once been the cellar, has long been filled in. From these depths come the souls of those murdered on the site, wandering about the property and making moaning sounds that can be heard by any passersby. Of those most often reporting seeing glowing apparitions on the property are those who come to the site in search of some long lost souvenir of the grisly murders. Quickly, the scavengers are frightened away by the dead souls to spread their ghostly tales.

As the legend of the haunting continues, people say that Kate Bender, herself, returns to the property, doomed to roam the land where she had committed so many atrocities. Whether folklore or fact, many believe that the trapped souls of these century-old ghosts continue to lurk at the site today, looking for the cabin, well, and shallow graves they were left in. Of those who were mistaken for the Bender family, and murdered by vigilantes, they continue to roam Southeast Kansas, seeking revenge! The old Bender property is approximately 10 miles west of Parsons Kansas.

benders

 Through the Treaty of 1870, the Federal Government moved the Osage Indian tribe out of the state of Kansas completely and finally. The Osage defense of the best of their territory had become impossible, due to a flood of European immigrants. Prior to 1870, the immigrants were entirely illegal, but the State refused to accept that fact, while the Federal Government simply turned a blind eye. The Osage had been promised the land, literally “As long as the wind blows and the grass grows.” This was the actual wording in one of the treaties. However, the Osage saw the future, and had capitulated long before 1870, in heart and mind, if not in writing. One well used Osage trail led from Ft. Scott Kansas, to Independence Kansas. It was mid-point along this stretch of trail, near a mound that still bears the name “Bender’s Mound”, that our sordid story ensues.

The landmark known as "Bender's Mound"

At about the same time, and just a few miles from the now famous Ingalls family (Little House On The Prarie), a family of Germans, consisting of four persons – a man, his wife, son and daughter – moved into southeast Kansas, at Osage township. The man was known as William or John Bender, the son and daughter as John Jr. and Kate. In reality, none of them were named Bender, and the woman and daughter were the only ones actually related. Continue reading

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BLEEDING KANSAS and Murder on the MARAIS DES CYGNES


 For many years I’ve driven by Trading Post Kansas, near the Marais Des Cygnes river (and now reservoir and wildlife refuge) without paying much attention to why it was named Trading Post. This was a trading post that was established specifically to trade with the Osage Indians. I did stop one time to read a historical marker about some murders that took place there. Now I’m a bit more interested in the history of Kansas.  This incident is also known as the MARAIS DES CYGNES MASSACRE, and the whole incident is a part of the meme of this blog. 

 The bloodiest single incident in the Kansas-Missouri border struggles, 1854-1861, occurred May 19, 1858, when 25-30 Pro-slavery Missourians seized 11 Kansas ‘Free-State’ men near Trading Post and marched them to a creek-bed nearby. The eleven men were lined up ‘execution style’ and promptly shot, apparently for no other reason than occupying land in a Free State. Five were killed and five wounded.  Weeks afterward, John Brown arrived and built a two-story log “fort”, about 14 x 18 feet, which he occupied with a few men through that summer. John had other armed and fortified encampments near the border. Ossowatamie is one location, and some reporters referred to John as “Ossowatamie Brown”. That December he led a raid into Missouri and liberated 11 slaves, killing one white man in the process.

 A Brown follower , Charles C. Hadsall, bought this property in 1858. Later, at the site of the fort, he built a stone house which still stands there today. The building and grounds are now part of a State Historical Site. This area, and some residents, were also part of the famous “underground railway”.

 The following is one of Brown’s many letters, documenting the turmoil in “Bleeding” Kansas. This letter was addressed to the Lawrence Kansas newspaper, the Lawrence Republican.

Trading Post, Kansas, Jan., 1859

Gents:–You will greatly oblige a humble friend, by allowing the use of your columns, while I briefly state two parallels, in my poor way.

Not one year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz.: Wm. Robertson, Wm. Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thos. Stilwell, Wm. Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B.L. Reed, were gathered up from their work and their homes, by an armed forced (sic) under one Hamilton, and without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defence, were formed into a line, and all but one shot–five killed and five wounded. One fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. The only crime charged against them was that of being Free-State men. Now, I inquire, what action has ever, since the occurrence in May last, been taken by either the President of the United States, the Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools, or by any pro-slavery or Administration man, to ferret out and punish the perpetrators of this crime?

Now for the other parallel. On Sunday, the 19th of December, a Negro man called Jim, came over to the Osage settlement, from Missouri, and stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another Negro man were to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get away. On Monday (the following) night, two small companies were made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the slaves, and also took certain property supposed to belong to the estate.

We however learned, before leaving, that a portion of the articles we had taken belonged to a man living on the plantation as a tenant, and who was supposed to have no interest in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another plantation, where we freed five more slaves, took some property, and two white men. We moved all slowly away into the Territory for some distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us as soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed one female slave, took some property, and, as I am informed, killed one white man (the master) who fought against the liberation.

Now for a comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their natural and inalienable rights, with but one man killed, and all “hell is stirred, from beneath.” It is currently reported that the Governor of Missouri has made a requisition upon the Governor of Kansas for the delivery of all such as were concerned in the last named “dreadful outrage.” The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse of Missouri (not Kansas) men, at West Point, in Missouri, a little town about ten miles distant, to “enforce the laws.” All pro-slavery, conservative Free-State and doughface men , and Administration tools, are filled with holy horror.

Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party.

Respectfully Yours,

John Brown

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ELVIS SIGHTING!


This photo is proof that someone not too far from here is a GENUINE REDNECK!

The picture was taken near Welch Oklahoma. Oklahoma is, of course, just Baja Kansas.

Notice the cowboy boot nailed to the porch. What is the license plate for? To keep the rain out of the boot?

Hmmm….most peculiar. Okay Elvis, start the guitar!

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Irena Sendler – worthy of a symphony


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Fire With Fire


MartyMac is a singer/songwriter who is a native of Southeast Kansas. He has written hundreds of songs, and I even helped with lyrics on a couple of tunes. Marty is very versatile and can write and perform just about any genre, from country/bluegrass to heavy metal.

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Chief Black Dog – The Builder


Chief Black Dog with Wife

Chief Black Dog-II with Wife

Although there have been many Osage Chiefs over the history of the people, I will probably continue to return to Chief Black Dog and his band of Osage, as he was paramount to the local history in this area where Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma meet.

Black Dog was a huge man, even by today’s standards. He stood 7 feet tall and was well over 300 pounds by all accounts. I will not attempt to go into a personal history of the Chief at this time. Native American history can be confusing at best. Each person may have been known by several names, for instance, an ‘honor name’ which is something to be earned in battle or hunting. (War and hunting were practically the same for their purposes). Besides having multiple names, there are generations carrying the same name. At this time I am speaking of Black Dog I and his accomplishments in primitive civil engineering. There are 3 main feats to mention.

THE BLACK DOG TRAIL:
Although Black Dog’s Band lived in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, the Black Dog Trail extended across southern Kansas.  It went from Baxter Springs to Cedar Vale, to Hooser, up to Dexter, to Silver Creek, near Winfield and across to the Arkansas River north of Oxford. An 1895 map supports this account and today’s US highway 166 runs on the same route in many places. This major trail also had many alternate routes, as do all of the ancient Osage trails. The main trail was completely cleared of rocks and plants. One account says that in most places the trail was “eight horses wide”. Black Dog I is correctly credited with creating the very first improved roads in both Kansas and Oklahoma.
THE CLAREMORE RACETRACK:
 Black Dog’s band were sometimes mistaken for Cheif Claremore’s band. One large Black Dog camp was at Claremore’s village, the present Claremore Oklahoma. The Black Dog camp was actually located at the site of today’s Woodlawn Cemetery at Claremore. Black Dog was notoriously shy of whites, and authority of any kind. As such, accounts of this racecourse are rare. Please mention any accounts you may find!
THE CLAREMORE CAVE:
 At Claremore (Oklahoma), Black Dog had constructed a completely concealed cave. It was not just a place for a Chief to hide, but was built large enough to hold the almost 500 members of his band, along with an entire year’s supply of food. This cave proved to be the Black Dog Band’s saviour.
 In 1817, a group of white men, along with bands of Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Comanche, Delaware, Kowasati and Tonkawa fell upon the Claremore village. The village was empty of all the able warriors, who were on a buffalo hunt at the time. They subsequently killed or captured all of the Osage they found. This became known as the ‘Battle of Claremore mound.” None of Black Dog’s people were harmed, as any that were present hid out in the cave, but their empty village was looted and burned.
 In all fairness, I must mention at this point, that this Osage band was not innocent themselves. It was Scouts from this band that led a raid by Custer’s soldiers on a helpless village at the Washita river. The same scene is now immortalized in the movie “Little Big Man”.

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Parsons City Commission Code of Conduct – proposed


 It appears that Parsons City Manager Fred Gress and Commissioner Greg York are pushing a code of conduct for our City Commissioners. This code seems to be aimed at new commissioner Frankie Barnett, since he is to our city what “Columbo” was to detective shows.

 True or not, the appearance (to the public) is that Gress basically wants control over who Frank can speak with, and what the topics/questions are.  Since the other commissioners almost always vote in favor of whatever the City Manager proposes, and Mr. Barnett is often the only dissenting vote, it only stands to reason that certain portions of this proposal are intended to affect Barnett and his remarks regarding the issues at hand.

Love or hate Frankie, I believe there are NO inappropriate questions, as long as they pertain to city works and finances. We elected Frank to shine some light into the process so that we see where our tax dollars are going.

Here’s a sample that reads much differently than Fred and his allies propose. This sample certainly does not need a manager or mayor to filter questions to city staff.  http://www.battlecreekmi.gov/City_Government/Mayor_and_Commission/Code_of_Ethics.htm

I’m assuming you haven’t seen a copy of this proposal, so I have attached this below. There are other copies already around town, so some of you may have seen this.

I believe section 6 of the proposed rules is completely unacceptable. It basically says asking questions is inappropriate, unless Fred Gress says it’s appropriate.

From section 12, who will it be that makes the judgement call on what comments are “belligerent, personal, impertinent, slanderous, threatening, abusive or disparaging? Will Mr. Gress or Mr. York be making these decisions?

It is a well-known fact here in Parsons that Mr. Barnett has been attending public meetings and has often irritated Mr. Gress and other commissioners by simply asking that they enforce City regulations with a fair and even hand for all, while pointing out cases where inconsistencies exist. He has admittedly been an outspoken critic of the current City Manager and the city’s management in general. This past history practically insures that Frank Barnett has prejudice against him when someone claims he is making disparaging remarks.

We elected Frank to ask questions and get information. Especially when taxpayers feel inappropriate actions or spending is being done.  In essence, he was elected to be an outspoken critic. Not liking Frankie’s “tone and tenor” at a meeting is an emotional reaction, and not a good reason to create this over-reaching code of conduct.

If Frank speaks the truth, as he sees it, he will be in danger of being labeled belligerent and then being admonished publicly. Is that what this document is leading to, a public spanking for constantly asking tough questions?

Who would be a fair and impartial judge of what a disparaging (section 12) or “personal remark” is? Are we leaving it up to Gress and York to decide what’s appropriate and what’s not?……well THAT’S NOT APPROPRIATE!

Much of the document below is “standard boiler-plate” stuff and just common sense. I have no objections to those ordinary and customary requirements of code, they are quite acceptable and possibly should be accepted.

My questions are these: why wasn’t some of this boilerplate already in place years ago? If this was un-needed before, what has suddenly changed that we need to adopt these rules and give the City Manager these new controls and powers? 

Some of this common sense stuff was needed in the past, especially for conflicts of interest when giving JOBS Inc. $24,000 that was ultimately wasted. The City Manager and a former City Commissioner (the Commissioner has since been voted out) who belong to that private group had a glaring conflict of interest then (see section 2). What has changed?

The bottom line is this; The document and the timing of it’s proposal just don’t pass the “smell test”. Does anyone else get that feeling? If so, or not….feel free to comment!

Sorry so small – please ZOOM IN.


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