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Miami County, Kansas

Miami County was originally named Lykins County when created as one of the original 33 by the Territorial Legislature in 1855. The county was not organized until April 2, 1857. In 1861 the name was changed to Miami. It was organized by S. H. Houser; Daniel Goodrich; C. A. Foster; John Childers; C. H. Crane; S. L. Adair; T. J. Hodges; and D. L. Perry, and contains the cities of Louisburg, Fontana, Osawatomie, Paola and Spring Hill (part).

Isaac McCoy's proposal for an Indian state and the removal of the Indians in 1830 enabled white missionaries to settle in the area. John Brown's free-state headquarters was located in the area, and the Battle of Osawatomie, August 30, 1856, following a series of raids by both free staters and Missouri supported pro slavery forces, capped the disturbances in the area. Brown's son Frederick and four other free staters were killed. Osawatomie was also the "birthplace" of the Republican party in the state as it was organized at the Osawatomie convention on May 18, 1859. In 1910 President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the John Brown Memorial Park at Osawatomie.

The first church was the Osawatomie Congregational organized in 1856, and the first building was constructed in 1858. The first school district, Number 1, was formed at New Lancaster, Miami Township, in 1858. Although fairs had been held since the 1890s, there was no official county fair until 1945.

Interesting public figures of the county are the Reverend Samuel Lyle Adair, who came to Kansas in 1854 under the auspices of the American Missionary Association and organized the Osawatomie Congregational Church. He was a well-known free-state supporter who later married the half-sister of John Brown. Judge Thomas Roberts, a free-state supporter, participated in many of the territorial debates, was often threatened, and had his home attacked on at least one occasion. In 1861 he was elected to the state Senate. In 1864 he was elected Clerk of the District Court and in 1866 served as county attorney.

Similar to the legend of the naming of the town of Marais des Cygnes, and the naming of the river, both evolving from the legend of Longellow's Evangeline. The story relates Evangeline observing an Indian love story in which Coman and Osa tried to leave their village in spite of her father's protests, and as they stepped into his canoe and left, they were pulled under the water by a strong current, only to have two white swans appear in their place, hence the name, Marais des Cygnes, or "lake of the swans."

For more information see the Miami County website. The Osawatomie Historical Society has most publications relating to the area, as well as some primary research material.

Entry: Miami County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: October 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.