Kansas day is right around the corner, January 29th, and the museum is gearing up for the big day. The museum participates all over the school district by bringing our traveling trunks to classrooms to share state and local history with the children.
Do you wonder why we celebrate Kansas Day? It is to celebrate our unique history and to wish Kansas a happy birthday. Kansas became the 34th state on January 29, 1861.
Kansas Day was started in 1877 by Alexander Copley a teacher in Paola who wanted to make Kansas history come alive for his students. He challenged the students to find as much information about the state as they could. The students spent two weeks reading through books, and asking questions of family, friends and the community. On January 29th he gave the students the opportunity to show what they had learned. The only downside to the day was that the school room was too small to accommodate everyone who wished to hear the presentations.
Two years later Copley became the superintendent of schools in Wichita and the popularity of the day quickly spread.
In 1882 the first Northwestern Teachers Association was held in Beloit. At the meeting it was decided that a small pamphlet should be published to give educators information about the state that could be used to celebrate the day. Two thousand copies of the pamphlet, called Kansas Day, were printed by Del Valentine, of the Clay Center Dispatch. Every teacher in the state received one and it was briefly used as a textbook in the state normal school in Emporia.
So how much Kansas trivia do you know? Don’t worry we have some to share with you. Here are some fun facts to jump-start your learning about this great state:
- Part of Kansas was included in the Louisiana Purchase. President Thomas Jefferson bought the land from the French with no idea of what was there. He sent the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the new territory. During their expedition they passed through the eastern edge of Kansas.
- Kansas takes its name from a tribe of Native American Indians, the Kansa, whose name means “People of the South Wind”. They are also referred to as the Kaw.
- There were many other tribes living in the territory that would become Kansas; the Osage, the Pawnee, and the Quivira all had permanent villages. Many tribes had hunting grounds in the western plains such as the Comanche, Kiowa, Arapahoe, Southern Cheyenne, Cuartelejo Apache and the Kiowa Apache. These tribes are known as the plains Indians. They are more nomadic and followed the buffalo herds.
- The Spanish introduced horses to the plains. Horses changed the way the plains Indians traveled and hunted.
- Leavenworth is the oldest city in Kansas.
- The First Territorial Capital was built at Pawnee near Fort Riley by the first territorial governor, Andrew Reeder. At the first and only legislative session to take place at Pawnee laws with severe consequences were passed for anyone caught helping to free slaves. Many called these “Bogus Laws” because many of the pro-slavery supporters who voted were border jumpers and did not have the right to vote.
- The city of Codell may have the worst luck when it comes to tornadoes. They were struck on May 20 of 1916, 1917 and 1918.
- Dodge City is the windiest city in the state and is in fact windier than Chicago.
- Kansas was the first state to have an African American infantry regiment. The First Regiment Kansas Colored Infantry was formed in August 1862. Despite nationwide resistance to the group being acknowledged as a part of the military they quickly saw action, a portion of the regiment engaged in battle with a rebel force at Butler, Missouri during the fall of 1862.
- In 1958 Frank and Dan Carney opened the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas. By 1972 there were a thousand restaurants throughout the United States. The Pizza Hut in Manhattan’s Aggieville is the longest operating Pizza Hut in its original location. In 1973 the chain went international when the first United Kingdom Pizza Hut was opened in Islington, London.
- In the late 1950’s Omar Knedlik owned a Dairy Queen in Coffeyville, Kansas. Not having a soda fountain he would keep the soda in the freezer sometimes until it froze. His customers loved this frozen soda drink. You can now buy it at almost any gas station it is called an ICEE.
- Walter Chrysler who started the car manufacturer Chrysler Corporation was born in Wamego and grew up in Ellis.
- Jess Willard was born in Pottawatomie County and became the world champion boxer when he defeated Jack Johnson in 1915.
- Mort Walker known as the creator of the comic strip “Beetle Baily” was born in Kansas.
There is so much more to learn about our state. Stop by the museum around Kansas Day and share with us your favorite Kansas facts. We love learning more about our favorite state.
Milford lake is the largest man-made lake in Kansas with a surface area of 16,200 acres and a maximum depth of 65 feet.