Tag Archives: Native American Indians

Kansas Frontier Justice

The early immigrants to all western territories found life hard and rough, and often violent.  After the creation of the state of Kansas in 1854, rival governments arose, pro-slavery or anti-slavery; and sectional rivalries, conflict with Missouri escalated, it is no wonder a civil war wouldn’t erupt.

Among the immigrant shared experiences were Indian wars resulting from white encroachments on lands that were part of Indian reserves; lawlessness and the eccentricities of frontier justice; political battles over the location of territorial capitals (Lecompton-pro-slavery or Topeka-free state); corruption at the government land offices; bitter conflicts over land claims and the planting of town sites; as well as transportation lines, and banking facilities. (America in 1857-Kenneth M. Stampp)

In Massachusetts, after a story of a runaway slave incident in Boston, the New England Emigrant Aid Company was  recruiting abolitionists to move to Kansas and the new territories.  Among the first agents chosen were Dr. Charles Robinson, who became the first Governor of Kansas; and James Lane, from Indiana, who was an ambitious leader with a military background. In 1855 the two men were influential in framing the Topeka free-state constitution and its governing forces.

Kansas became a Free State. (Much more history that I could include but will save that for my book.)  I love to see what motivates people to do what they do, namely Charles Robinson and James Lane.

There is also Amos A. Lawrence, philanthropist, from Boston who gave financially to the abolitionist cause and to making Kansas a free state; and who the city of Lawrence, KS was named after.  He also helped in the funding of a college at the University of KansasRock Chalk Jayhawks (my emphasis) information taken from an article in Aug 2013-L JWorld)

So I am wondering how James Lane made it 90 miles north to the Sycamore Springs area.  Also John Brown is included in this mix too. And what about what was happening with the North American Indians.  More next time…


Sweatbaths and Healing Water

Sycamore TreeOne of the Sycamore Trees along the Creek

Chief Chawkeekee invited Alice and her father to “drink and grow strong”.  They did so and found the water to be a pleasant tasting mineral water clear as crystal.  They then watched the Indians using the water.  Many of them drank a gallon of water or more a day while others took “sweat baths” in it.  Early Indians were taking sweat baths in airtight wigwams where mineral water was poured over hot rocks. This gave them the effect of the modern steambath.


Excerpts from” Visions of a Vanishing Race” Written by Victor Boesen and Florence Curtis Graybill,

daughter of Edward Sheriff Curtis      Page 38

The sweat lodge was a small dome-shaped framework of willow wands covered with blankets.  Close by, the fire was heating the rocks.  The Indians set with their backs to the blanket wall on their haunches.  The attendant dropped hot rocks into the small pit.  The blanket opening was slightly closed and the singing began.  At certain words of the song, water was thrown on the rocks.  This steam filled the place.  The Indians advised only if necessary, that if the heat became too hot, you could lower your head and lift a corner of the blanket to release the steam.  This was a test to see the perseverance of the person and was not considered in good form.

At the end of four songs and the final series, the blanket was lifted slightly to let in a little air.  Then a new supply of hot boulders were thrown into the pit, with new steam rising up for the next round of songs.  The heat that went with the fourth and final round of songs brought the supreme test of endurance. 

The frigid air was a relief after being in the sweat lodge for any length of time.


They were using the blue mud by the springs to draw the poisons out of their bodies.  The Indians attributed the amazing results they were getting to super-natural powers, little realizing that the day would come when modern science would verify their discoveries.

(I remember playing with the mud; it was a blue-gray color and seemed to have a slippery oil coating of some sort. We would spread it on our arms and legs and let it dry. It would form a hard crust.)


NATIVE AMERICAN LEGENDS   Native American Medicine

Legends of America.com

With so many tribes, there were no exact standards of healing.  Most of the tribes believed that health was an expression of the spirit and was a continuous process.  The strength of staying strong spiritually, mentally, and physically, as well as keeping in harmony with themselves, kept their health reestablished. The natural environment, and Creator, would keep away illness and harm. Each person was responsible for his or her own health and all thoughts and actions had consequences, including sickness, disability, bad luck, or psychological injury.

Alice and her father returned home from this visit and the impression made that day never left her. Alice was convinced of its healing qualities.  She believed in them her entire lifetime.


Referenced materials  have been summarized.

Copyright 2015

At The End Of The Trail



…and they were off on their journey to the spring of “healing waters”.

After winding around hills and trees, following a faint Indian trail, they arrived in sight of the end of their quest.  They were told that two big springs came pouring out of the ground beneath a steep hillside.

A strange sight met their eyes. Alice and her father, John, were amazed and shocked what lie before them. Along the bank of the beautiful winding Pony Creek, running full of sparkling clear water, breaking into pools and riffles, were many Indian lodges, about 70.  Can you imagine what that looked like among the large Sycamore trees?

The Indians and their children were moving to and fro through their village. Laughing and strange talking was heard.  Above this temporary encampment arose the brow of a steep hill, formed of a peculiar blue clay. (What is it about the blue clay? hmmmmm!)  From under the foot of this hill the waters of two great springs poured forth and fell in a cascade into the creek.  Soon the little party passed through the encampment and stopped in front of the springs.

What was going to happen next?  Could the waters contain great medicinal merit?

Where do we go from here?

Does technology ever get to you? When is enough, enough?

Last night while I was flipping from a basketball game, to a news show, and a Roman movie, I have seen several times, all of a sudden it was too much. Of course I waited until the game was over (it was a close one); I had heard all of the rhetoric on the news before; and, of course, I knew how the movie was going to end (but I watched it to the end anyway). Suddenly, I leaned back and pushed the “off” button – Silence. Wow, it had been so noisy, and then it became quiet. I could hear the dog breathing, the wind was blowing outside, and I took a sigh of relief or was it detachment?

I talked recently about “oral tradition”- Indian folklore or stories handed down from one generation to the next. How did the story remain consistent? Haven’t you heard a story and somehow added in a few tidbits and made it more interesting? Today we have the internet, books written, a lot of media ways to preserve a story. But how did family members from generation to generation keep it all straight? I am sure they couldn’t and didn’t, not sure. But that isn’t a concern at this point in my story.

Some years ago I was a teacher for 5thand 6th graders in our Vacation Bible School. We were learning about Paul’s journeys in the Bible. He wrote letters to the various churches he visited and that is what we have today in the Bible. (I am not preaching here by the way).

My point here is, I did an experiment with the kids. I set up a tape recorder in a cave-like setting. (I was thinking of the movie “Planet of the Apes” at the time, where they found an old book in a cave. (Do I have the right movie?) Anyway, I recorded a futuristic story somewhat about the movie and finding this book. Each student could only listen to the previous recording and then record the story the way they interpreted it. By the end of all the recordings, there was a lot of blah, blah, blah! No sense to the story at all.

So what do we learn from this? The “oral tradition” stories had to be carefully articulated so as not to lose its meaning.

State of Kansas Seal

Today is “Kansas Day

Kansas became a state 154 years ago – January 29, 1861. I am thinking of all the history passed down since then. Was it recorded correctly?

Seal of Kansas

Forgotten Letters

I think I’m going to just jump in and start telling a story.

When I think of telling stories we have to go back many years ago. The history of telling stories called “oral tradition” with the Native American Indians was commonplace. Oklahoma State Historical Society has written a whole section on oral traditions, folklore and narrative that explains how they kept their stories alive. (More to come relating to Sycamore Springs on this subject).

Many years ago my family would receive letters and postcards (that is another story)  from family members who were missionaries.  It was always a long letter that you always had to “jump in” somewhere and start reading because it was written all over the page not in an orderly way.  They had great words of wisdom in every letter that we received.

So, in order for me to tell this story I have to “jump in” somewhere and start telling my story.

I think it was from the movie “Amistad”, one of the slaves said that “we are products of our past, we are who we are because of who and where we came from” (not a complete quote). I truly believe the words are true.

I remember an incident as a young child when my grandparents’ home was being sold and where they were no longer able to take care of it.  The family had an auction to sell off the furniture and extra belongings.

I was too young to know what was important to keep and my parents allowed the neighbor men to clear out the house, cupboards and drawers too. My father only allowed my mother to keep a few pieces. The men focused on the things that seemed most important and hauled the rest of the things to a ditch to be burned later (this was in the early 1960s when you could do this).

My mother had enough sense to know that there were probably documents that needed to be kept and we went  down to where they were going to burn the pile and we picked through most of it and she chose a bag full of papers and photos that should be saved.  Years later, she gave those to me and I tucked them away in the attic for many more years.

I can remember one winter when we had lots of snow in Kansas and we could not go anywhere, I was depressed and just needed some kind of a lift.  I had put all those old papers in an antique chest of drawers where it didn’t have handles. For some reason, I felt really drawn to that the drawer.

I got a screwdriver out and you know how you wiggle the end on each side until you get the drawer partially to open?  There in the drawer were old family pictures and letters that were just scattered. I decided it was time to make sense of what was going on since I love to organize everything.

There were old photos from my grandfather’s side of the family. He had grown up in Hillsdale, Michigan and later moved to Nebraska with my grandmother.

My grandfather was a lay preacher. In the messed up papers and pictures there were a bundle of his letters.  They were handwritten letters tied together with a string.

More to come….

Vanishing Past-Connecting the dots


Skating Rink and Swimming Pool
Skating Rink and Swimming Pool

Historical Fact or Fiction

The story is a journey of pieces.  How did we end up living where we live?  What sort of links along the way influenced our families? How and why.

I am from Kansas.  My parents owned a resort – Sycamore Springs for the first 17 years of my life.   My parents owned this business but they also made it our home.  We met so many people along the way, what a life! and what a story!

Sycamore Springs, Sabetha, Kansas, has a rich history back to the 1800s.  There are ever-flowing mineral springs, the Native Americans lived here, the place had a hotel and also a health sanitorium (mineral baths) was established here, Doctors and all.  Merry-go-rounds, live performances, skating rink, swimming pool, recreation areas, ball field, and much more.

I grew up here with all of this history and stories of Sycamore Springs. also I will link this to the Kansas area communities of Pennsylvania Avenue, Sabetha, Morrill, Hiawatha, Bern, Salem, Nebr., Falls City, Nebr and other towns, Lawrence and Lecompton,KS and churches in Northeast Kansas.

My blog will create links to historical events; family genealogy; stories, humor, inspiration; and family heirlooms. Why do we collect or keep family heirlooms?  Hmmmm, can’t wait to figure all of this out!