Archive for Thursday, June 9, 2016

Chief Tonganoxie: The man who shaped us

June 9, 2016

Years before the platting of Tonganoxie, the Delaware Indians were relocated to a new reservation in Northeastern Kansas that would become Leavenworth County.

With them came a Councilor named Tonqua-Oxie. He built a small log cabin on the bank of a small creek in the early 1830s.

Sometime around 1840, the United States Government built at least two lodges in Kansas on native-owned land, which were run by Native Americans. One of those lodges was for Tonganoxie, who lived in the lodge and operated it as a stage stop and inn. He also held U.S. Mail at the lodge, which perhaps bestows on him the title of first Postmaster. He was married and his wife and sister lived with him, along with his sister’s children. Meals were cooked for guests. Those guests gave reviews, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

Tonganoxie was known as a peaceful and kind man. He sheltered JWH Golden, who with two friends was chased from Leavenworth by Border Ruffians. All three were shot less than a half-mile north of Tonganoxie’s lodge. One died and two played dead long enough for the Ruffians to leave. Golden lived for several years and told his tale — which included being aided by Tonganoxie — to the Tonganoxie Mirror in 1883.

Tonganoxie was a member of the Turkey Clan of the Delaware. The U.S. government made a huge mistake in the early 1860s when it named Charles Journeycake as Chief of the Turkey Clan. He was not a member of the Turkey Clan.

The Turkey Clan then petitioned the government several times to name Tonganoxie the chief. Unfortunately, that never happened. We refer to Tonganoxie as a chief, a title of respect he earned from his clan and from those who knew him.

Westward expansion of the United States eventually reached Kansas. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the land as a U.S. Territory. In 1861, Kansas became a state. In 1866, the final treaty offered the Delaware two options: live in Kansas as American citizens or move to Oklahoma and merge with the Cherokee. Neither option allowed the Delaware Indians to retain their heritage.

Tonganoxie left this area in 1863 to live with a nephew in the Bonner Springs area on his nephew’s allotted land. His lodge was purchased by Mr. Quincy Baldwin, a Quaker and early settler. Tonganoxie died in southern Kansas while traveling to Oklahoma


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