For centuries before Europeans took an interest in Kansas, Native Americans found the area that is now Kansas an abundant place with plentiful buffalo roaming the fertile plains. The Indian Removal Act of 1830 further increased the Native American population as groups from other areas of the U.S. were pushed westward.
Early settlement took place as a result of people moving westward on famous routes like the Santa Fe Trail and the Oregon Trail. Kansas’ rich farmlands induced many to stay. Cattle drives pushed growth in cow towns, and railroads made the state a hub—a destination for moving produce and cattle from the Plains to northern markets. In the short 30-year span between 1860 (the year before statehood) and 1890, the state grew by more than 1332%.
The victory of the “free state” supporters as Kansas entered the Union in 1861, along with the Homestead Act of 1862 drew a large migration of African-Americans from the South. “Exodusters” looked to Kansas as a place of hope for a better life.
While many fled Kansas during the Dust Bowl, there were also many who stayed and adapted their farming methods, keeping Kansas’ legacy as a leader in agriculture intact.
Today marks Kansas 153rd birthday. Happy birthday to a state with a rich history! Download our free guide to the Sunflower State.
About Juliana Smith
Juliana Szucs Smith has been working for Ancestry.com for more than 16 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program, and is currently on the clock working towards certification from the Board for Certification of Genealogists.