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History

The Soldiers Monument

The Soldiers Monument was dedicated August 30, 1877, and was erected to honor the five men killed in the Battle of Osawatomie (August 30, 1856). The men buried beneath the monument are Fredrick Brown, George W. Patridge, David Garrison, and Theron Parker Powers. The body of Charles Kaiser was never found but his name appears on the stone. The name of John Brown also appears on the north side of the shaft but he is buried in North Elba, New York.

The monument was paid for by friends and relatives of those buried beneath it, and was planned and erected by “The Monument Association” which later disbanded and gave the ground and monument to the city.

The Mills House

William M. Mills, an oilman from Pennsylvania, drilled over 400 oil and gas wells in his lifetime. He drilled the Norman #1 well in Neodesha, Kansas which was the first successful commercial oil well west of the Mississippi and opened up the mid-continent oil field. His companies supplied gas to the towns of Osawatomie, Paola, and Spring Hill.

In 1902, he used profits from these ventures to build a magnificent home on First St. in Osawatomie. The Queen Anne style house was designed by the famous architect, George Barber, and cost $49,000 to build. It has:

  • 7,000 square feet
  • 9 fireplaces
  • elaborate woodwork
  • ornamental ceilings

During the mid-1900s, the house was converted into several apartments and was allowed to deteriorate. Fortunately, the home is now being restored to its original beauty by former State Senator Doug Walker and his family. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

MoPac Railroad Depot Museum

Located next door to the Osawatomie History Museum, the MoPac Railroad Depot Museum is an exact replica of the town’s original train depot. Dedicated in 2002, the depot museum houses the majority of the Osawatomie History Museum’s railroad artifacts and memorabilia.

The Kansas Republican Party was organized in Osawatomie in 1859 and Horace Greeley, founder and editor of the New York Tribune, attended the first convention on his famous overland journey to promote a transcontinental railroad.

The railroad, then the St. Louis-Kansas-Arizona line, reached Osawatomie in 1879, and later became the Missouri Pacific and now the Union Pacific and was for years the principal employer in Osawatomie. The Union Pacific still operates a major switching operation in Osawatomie.

Our history as a railroad town is rich and storied.

Osawatomie History Museum

The Osawatomie History Museum has plentiful exhibits on the history of Osawatomie, including our storied railroad past, the Osawatomie State Hospital, our community as it was pre-Civil War, the rural culture of small-town-Kansas, and the enduring social history of Osawatomie.

An exact replica of the original train depot was erected next door and dedicated in 2002 as the newest wing; it houses the Museum’s railroad memorabilia.

Contact Us
628 Main St.
Osawatomie, KS 66064

913-755-6781

Hours
Tuesday – Sunday
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
or by appointment

Old Stone Church

The church was built by Rev. Samuel L. Adair and his son Charles of native stone hauled from the hills around the city. It was dedicated on July 14, 1861. Rev. Adair was many things to the community a kind hearted abolitionist, a minister and a mental health pioneer. The brother-in-law of John Brown, Rev. Adair first served as a volunteer chaplain and then the first official chaplain at the Osawatomie State Hospital.

Renovation was started on the church on October 7, 1948 and rededicated July 14, 1963 as an All Faith Chapel. The building can now be rented for special meetings and weddings. If you are interested in using the Church for your special event, please contact our Utilities Department at 913-755-2146, Option 1.

John Brown Memorial Park and Museum State Historic Site

John Brown, considered a fanatical abolitionist by some and a martyr by others, is closely associated with the proslavery and free-state struggle of the Kansas Territorial period (1854-1861). John Brown followed five of his sons to Kansas in 1855 where he saw an opportunity to help make Kansas a free state — bringing a wagon load of weapons along with him. He made headquarters at the log cabin belonging to his half-sister Florella Adair and her husband, the Reverend Samuel Adair.

In May of 1856, a small party consisting mainly of Brown and his sons raided the cabins of proslavery men, killing five of them. Up to that time there had been little bloodshed between proslavery and free-state groups. Brown’s raid brought retaliation. On August 30, 1856, Brown and his followers were attacked by a large force of border ruffians. In the “Battle of Osawatomie” five of Brown’s men, including one of his sons, were killed and the town of Osawatomie was burned.

Brown was in and out of the area over the next few months and took part in the border skirmishes near Ft. Scott. Later, on December 23, he made a raid into Missouri to liberate slaves and other property from slaveholders. The group was hidden in the Adair Cabin and later safely made their way to Canada and freedom.

The John Brown State Historic Site is located in beautiful John Brown Memorial Park, which was dedicated by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1910. The family-oriented park sits on the site of the Battle of Osawatomie and houses the John Brown Museum, which includes the original Adair family cabin. Through artifacts and interpretation, visitors learn about the struggles of these early pioneers.

The Adair cabin, originally located just outside of town to the west, was carefully dismantled and relocated to John Brown Park. It is encased in a protective stone pavilion to help preserve it for generations to come.

It took hard work and courage to take a firm stand against the spread of slavery into Kansas Territory. Kansas was admitted as a free state in 1861.

First Land Office

This land office building was built in 1854 and was used by the first mayor of Osawatomie, H.B. Smith, and his brother who were the first land patent agents in the territory. It was deeded to the city in 1954 by A.Q. Youngberg as a memorial to his wife.

Formerly a Tourist Information Center in the summers, it was operated by the Osawatomie Historical Society.

Dedicated May 18, 1995, the Trail of Death plaque, a memorial to the Pottawatomie Indians, is on this site.

Creamery Bridge

The Creamery Bridge, which spans the Marais des Cygnes River at Eighth St., is one of two Marsh Arch triple span bridges located at Osawatomie. The other spans the Pottawatomie Creek at Sixth St., and both are on the National Register of Historic Places.

James B. Marsh’s patented design used rainbow arches that would expand and contract along with the bridge floor under varying conditions of moisture and temperature. The Creamery Bridge, built in 1930, has a rainbow span reaching 140 feet into the air at its highest point. The Pottowatomie Creek Bridge was built in 1932, reaches 120 feet into the air, and contains 1,500 cubic yards of concrete and 313,000 pounds of steel. These are two of only eight Marsh Arch triple span bridges remaining in Kansas.

Asylum Bridge (First St. Bridge)

The Asylum Bridge, which crosses the Marais des Cygnes River at First Street, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was built during a three month period – October through December, 1905, by Kansas City Bridge Company out of Kansas City, Missouri. Its bid of $4,800 was the lowest of the ten companies bidding. The bin-connected reverse Parker truss structure is 219 feet long and 16.5 feet wide and originally has gas lights at each end.

No other examples of this bridge design have been located to date. It has been closed to vehicle traffic since the mid-1970s and, due to safety concerns, was closed to pedestrian traffic a couple decades later.