Papers concerning the Wyandot Tribe of Ohio who were forced to relocate to Kansas Territory in 1843
The documents in this collection concern the Wyandot tribe who departed Ohio in 1843, relocating in what became Kansas Territory. Most of the collection consists of letters to and from prominent members of the Wyandots who relocated from Ohio, including William Walker, Jr., his brother Joel, John W. Grey Eyes, and Wyandot Indian Agent John Johnston.
- 1842 - 1864
- Wyandot Nation (Organization)
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Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.
Administrative History of the Wyandot Tribe
As part of the increasingly aggressive United States Indian removal policies of the mid-19th century, on March 17, 1842, the Wyandot tribe of Ohio signed a treaty with the United States government, executed on their behalf by Indian agent John Johnston, in which the Wyandots agreed to depart Ohio and to cede to the government their Ohio lands of some 109,000 acres.
In exchange the U.S. government agreed to make specified payments to the Wyandots and to grant to them for the purpose of relocation a 148,000-acre tract of land west of the Mississippi, to be identified by the Wyandots. Prior to their departure from Ohio, the Wyandots attempted but failed to reach final agreement with the Shawnee tribe for purchase of land below the mouth of the Kansas River.
Still in search of land, the Wyandots departed Ohio for Indian Territory in July 1843. They numbered approximately 700 and were accompanied by the Reverend James Wheeler, who had served as a missionary to the Wyandots in Ohio. Among the Wyandots were John W. Grey Eyes, Indian Agent John Johnston, William Walker, Jr. (later named Provisional Governor of Nebraska Territory), and Walker's brothers Matthew and Joel.
Arriving at the Kansas River in late July 1843, the Wyandots camped at the mouth of the river in present-day Wyandotte County, Kansas. As they continued to seek land for purchase from neighboring tribes, disease diminished their numbers. In December 1843, the Wyandots signed an agreement with the Delaware Indians for purchase of land at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, at a cost of $46,080.
.25 Linear Feet (1 document case)
Language of Materials
Scope and Contents
The documents in this collection concern the Wyandot tribe who were forced to depart Ohio in 1843, relocating in what became Kansas Territory. The documents date from 1842 to 1864 (more than half dating prior to 1850). Most of the collection consists of letters to and from prominent members of the Wyandots who relocated from Ohio, including William Walker, Jr., his brother Joel, John W. Grey Eyes, and Wyandot Indian Agent John Johnston.
Included is an 1842 letter from Johnston to Joel Walker, preliminary to the Wyandot treaty of 1842, in which Johnston eagerly transmits a letter from Shawnee Indian Chief Joseph Parks, offering Shawnee land for purchase by the Wyandots. In a later 1842 letter from Johnston to Ohio Senator Benjamin Tappan, written in the month following the treaty, Johnston urges Tappan's resistance to efforts of several Wyandot members, reroute to Washington seeking weakened rights of succession to benefits of the treaty. An 1845 letter from Wyandot chief John W. Grey Eyes, written from Washington, describes his efforts to secure promised government funds in the political environment of the city, his contacts with Commissioner of Indian Affairs William Medill, and the strong Washington presence of the Cherokees, notably Cherokee chief John Ross. Two 1851 letters from William Walker, Jr., including one to his brother Joel and the other on behalf of the Wyandot Council, protest financial claims against the Wyandots by Thomas W. Bartley, attorney to the Wyandot nation.
Personal correspondence within the Walker family letters includes two letters from Joel Walker to his future wife, Mary Ladd of Westerville, Ohio. Both are written prior to the Wyandot departure from Ohio. One from Washington contains Walker's impressions of the city. The other, dated July 1843--Walker's last from Ohio--conveys his affections and news of his family members. Both letters are signed "Wawas," Walker's Wyandot name. Also included is an 1864 letter from Mary Ladd Walker, by then widowed, writing to their son Justin, who is age 15 and away at school.
In addition to correspondence, the collection contains a sworn statement dated 1864 by Wyandot Methodist Episcopal missionary James Wheeler, describing conditions of the Wyandots following their departure from Ohio. Other documents in the collection include a land grant certificate issued by the Wyandotte Commissioners, a receipt for sale of land by Wyandot Mary Walker, two published documents of the U.S. Senate concerning the relocated Wyandots, and--of particular note--the handwritten records of Wyandot payments to the Delaware nation for land purchased from the Delaware Reserve. The seven receipts date from 1845 to the final payment of 1851, contain the names and marks of Wyandot chiefs, and reflect Wyandot payments totaling $46,080.
The collection is arranged by form of material, beginning with correspondence, followed by records of payment, a land grant, and published documents. Sub arrangement within correspondence and within subsequent forms of material is chronological.
RH MS 382
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchase, Alta California Bookstore.
- Guide to the Wyandot Native Americans Collection
- Papers concerning the Wyandot Tribe of Ohio who were forced to relocate to Kansas Territory in 1843
- Finding aid prepared by mh, 2004. Finding aid encoded by mg, 2004. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2019.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Finding aid written in English.
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- Preferred citation
Papers concerning the Wyandot Tribe of Ohio who were forced to relocate to Kansas Territory in 1843, Kansas Collection, RH MS 382, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository
1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States