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George Remsburg Papers

George RemsburgCollection 78

 

Introduction

George Remsburg was a nationally known authority on the history and archaeological study of Indians in northeastern Kansas and northwest Missouri, as well as a noted author and journalist. This collection consists mainly of personal correspondence from 1891-1941, utilizing five boxes or 1.66 cubic feet. The collection was donated to the Society by Remsburg over a number of years, the last donation arriving in 1942.

Biography

George Jacob Remsburg was born on September 22, 1871, in Atchison County, Kansas, to John E. and Nora E. Eiler Remsburg. John was a native of Ohio and came to Kansas in 1868. He was an internationally known author, of such works as The Life of Thomas Paine, Image Breaker, and Bible Morals. He also gained international fame as a speaker in support of free thought and the secularization of states.

George Remsburg attended public schools in Atchison County and then worked on a fruit farm for several years before moving to Atchison in 1892. From 1892-1900 he served as a reporter and eventually city editor of the Atchison Daily Champion. From 1894-1895 he served as editor of the Missouri Valley Farmer, the largest agricultural magazine in the area at that time. Due to ill health, Remsburg returned to a farm near Oak Hill, Kansas in 1900 turning his attention more fully to the study of Kansas Indians and history. He served as a special correspondent for several newspapers including the Atchison Globe, Topeka Capital, Leavenworth Times, St. Joseph Gazette, and others, and such magazines as The Archaeologist, The Antiquinarian, Gameland, Freethought, and Western Life.

Remsburg soon became known for his extensive collection of Indian artifacts and for his explorations and excavations of Indian villages and burial grounds throughout eastern Kansas. In all Remsburg located and examined at least 100 village sites and campgrounds in the area. He also identified all of the important Indian village sites of the Kaw, Kickapoo and other prominent Indian tribes of the area.

From 1907-1917, Remsburg was connected with the Potter Kansas, as well as his other papers, and also became active in several organizations. He was a member and president, from 1902-1903, of the American Society of Curio Collections. He was a member of the Western Historical Society, Kansas and Oklahoma Historical Societies, the International Society of Archaeologists, the National Geographic Society, and the McClean County, Illinois Historical society.

Remsburg did extensive work on the Kickapoo Indians of Kansas and centered his study and investigations mainly around them. Because of his work in history and archaeology he soon became known as the Atchison County Antiquinarian, a title he held most of his life. Remsburg was plagued by ill health most of his life and eventually moved to California where he died in Porterville on March 25, 1954.

Scope and Content

The material in this collection consists mainly of personal correspondence between friends and business associates. It deals with articles written for magazines; letters gathering information about the Indian history of the area, especially the Kickapoo Indians; the Quivera Historical Society; and between Remsburg and two associates concerning the archaeological study of Doniphan County, Kansas.

Correspondence between Remsburg and business associates deals mainly with articles and stories which several magazines requested or received from Remsburg. These magazines include Hobbies, Pony Express Courier, Gossip Printery, Western Life and several others that Remsburg contributed to during his career.

A very important and valuable part of his correspondence deals with the history and archaeological study done by Remsburg on several Kansas Indian tribes. There is a great deal of correspondence concerning the locations in eastern Kansas of Indian camps and grave sites. Almost every site of this kind in Atchison County Kansas was located by Remsburg and the correspondence is from people telling him where they were.

Another important area of correspondence deals with the Kickapoo Indians of Kansas and Illinois. Correspondence dealing with the origin, history, lifestyle, and life of these Indians in Kansas is included in this collection, as is a rather detailed study of Keannakuk (Kennekuk), a Kickapoo prophet and Paschal Pensoneau, a French trader among the Kickapoo.

Included in the collection is correspondence of Remsburg’s father and grandfather, which also includes some deeds and abstracts and a collection of business cards.

Finally, the collection includes correspondence between Remsburg and E. A. Kilian, Sec., of the Quivera Historical Society, which was founded to promote the rediscovery and preservation of Quivera, the sight that Coronado supposedly visited in Kansas. This correspondence deals mainly with the operation of that organization. There are also letters between Remsburg and Dr. D. S. Dinsmore and Mark E. Zimmerman discussing archaeological projects and finds in Doniphan County, Kansas. This collection is an excellent source of information for anyone interested in locating Indian camps and grave sites in that county. This is also true for anyone interested in Kickapoo Indians since Remsburg concentrated mainly on that tribe in his studies.

January, 1980 Jim Stringer, Intern

Contents List

Box 1
General Correspondence – March, 1891 – December, 1921

Letters between Remsburg and magazine publishers
and editors
Letters containing information about Indian sights near
Doniphan, Kansas and in eastern Kansas
Letters containing information on R. J. Gatling who
helped found White Cloud, Kansas

Box 2
General Correspondence, 1922 – 1934

Personal correspondence
Brief history of ferry boats in Atchison County, Kansas
Letters from Fred Sutton, personal friend of Billy the Kid,
telling Remsburg of their experience
Magazine correspondence

Box 3
General Correspondence, 1935 – 1941

Memoriam to J. M. Challis, adopted by Atchison Co.
Bar Association
Correspondence between Remsburg and John Ellenbecker,
author of book on Pony Express
Letters containing information about Pony Express routes
and riders

Undated Correspondence
Kickapoo Indian Correspondence
Paschal Pensoneau, information on, biographical sketch of
Sample of Sacred Book of Kickapoo Prophet
Keannakuk, information on obtained from Rev. John Masquequa
Illinois Kickapoo, notes on
Copy of Speech of Mahimamba, Kickapoo chief, at Conference of
Detroit, June 29, 1778.
Copy of Speech of Misquitto, Kickapoo chief, at Conference of
Detroit, June 31, 1778
Notes on Wigwams, Diet, Dress, Crops, etc.
Bibliography on Kickapoo information
Religious ceremonies, sketch of Keannakuk
Kickapoo history and archaeology-Illinois
Consumption among Kickapoo
Origin of Muscotah
Old Kickapoo Mission
Kickapoo language, sample of
Box 3 (continued)
Kickapoo dance, account of
Abstract of treaties made between U. S. and Kickapoo
Death of Rev. John Masquequa
Kickapoo flogging ceremony
Cadue’s and Masquequa’s
Benny Moses-son of Chief LaFerines, information on
Kickapoo language – some pronunciations
Kickapoo bibliography
Account of the Kickapoo prophet by H. W. Beckwith
Account of Keannakuk’s church in Illinois
Jack Masquat and Peponie
Dance Indians, pronunciation of
Keannakuk’s name
Death of John Masquequa
Copy of Treaty of Portage des Souix between U. S. and
Kickapoo, September 2, 1815
Sketch of Kickapoo prayer stick
Extract from Bureau of American Ethnology, Report giving
information on Kickapoos
Copy of “An Ancient Indian Fort,” by H. W. Beckwith and
J. H. Burnham

Box 4
Correspondence – Kickapoo Indians

Some private papers of John Masquequa
Recollections of Mrs. F. M. Green while a teacher among
Indians
Origin of names Kickapoo and Keannakuk
Copy of sermon preached by Keannakuk on July 17, 1831
Correspondence of H. W. Honnell, farmer among Kickapoo
Kickapoo bibliography
Kickapoos in Kansas – Brief History, by George J. Remsburg

Papers of George and John Remsburg, grandfather and father of
George J. Remsburg

Correspondence related to Quivera Historic al Society.
Primarily letters from E. A. Kilian, sec. of the society, to
Remsburg

Box 5
Correspondence related to archaeology in Doniphan County, Kansas

Letters from Dr. D. S. Dinsmore and Mark E. Zimmerman,
discussing sites, discoveries, artifacts, archaeology
and history of Indians of all types in Doniphan County