Community History
Community History
From the first settlers who made their way over the horizon, to the individuals who have found their lives, fun and fortunes here, people have long recognized Shawnee, Kansas as a place of new beginnings.

Although her history runs deep, everything about this thriving community continues to point forward. Opportunity is at every turn . . . for a better life, a better job, and a better education. And because Shawnee embraces and nurtures new ideas, she attracts modern pioneers looking to start big things. Wherever you are in life. Whatever your dreams. Whether you’re starting a family or raising a business, hitting your first home run or running off to your next adventure, everything you need is right here - in a place where life takes off and great things begin.




Timeline of Historical Highlights from the Shawnee, Kansas Community

    1724
      Captain M. Etienne Venyard DeBourqemont, a French explorer, discovers a Kansas Indian Village near present day Shawnee.
    1762
      France loses the territory of Kansas to Spain.
    1802
      The first white hunter known to enter Indian Territory (Jacob "Joe" Pursely).
    1803
      The Shawnee area and hundreds of thousands of acres to the east, north and west are acquired by the United States in the Louisiana Purchase.

    1804 - 1806
      Meriwether Lewis and William Clark explore the Louisiana Purchase by order of President Thomas Jefferson.

    1815
      Francis Chouteau establishes a trading post near the current site of Kansas City, Kansas.

    1820's
      The Chouteau brothers establish trading posts along the Kaw River.

    1823-24
      The house which later served as the Wells Fargo station on the government trail from Ft. Leavenworth to Ft. Scott and Ft. Gibson, Arkansas is built by Chris Fangro. Part of the building remains today as the front of the Calkins Electric building, 5707 Nieman Rd., in Shawnee.
    1825
      The Shawnee Indian treaties are signed removing the Shawnee from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Missouri to Kansas. Johnson County becomes their headquarters although the Shawnee Reservation extends to Topeka. Over the next ten years, Shawnee from different parts of the country come to the reservation. The treaties give 1,600,000 acres of land in the Johnson, Wyandotte and Douglas county area to the Shawnee Indians. 1,600 Shawnee Indians eventually relocate to Kansas from Missouri, eastern Ohio, Indiana and Western Pennsylvania, having originally occupied Georgia and later Tennessee.

    1825
      The United States government signs a treaty with the Osage Indians, giving them right-of-way for a public highway to be known as the Santa Fe Trail.

    1827
      Ft. Leavenworth is established by Col. Henry Leavenworth on May 8, 1827, to keep peace in the Indian territory and to protect the travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

    1828
      The first band of Shawnee arrive in Kansas, after wintering at Cape Girardeau. They decide on the area of present day Shawnee as their headquarters, although their territory includes all lands from the Missouri border to present day Topeka.

    1830's
      Farming begins in the area; the first wheat is grown in Kansas. Three missions are established. The Shawnee Methodist Mission and Manual Labor School is established in Turner, Wyandotte County, in 1830 by Reverend Thomas Johnson and moves to its current location, at 6125 W. 61st Street, in 1839. The Methodist Mission contains 2,000 acres and 16 buildings, including mills, shops and factories where several thousand Indians are taught agriculture, manual trades and domestic arts until 1862. A mill is established at Mill Creek in 1837. Churches are built and Rev. Charles Bluejacket becomes tribal leader.

    1830
      A log council house is constructed on a farm which is now part of McAnany Estates, near 53rd and Nieman Rd.

    1830
      A smallpox epidemic kills most of the Shawnee Tribe as well as members of other tribes. Other tribes which have arrived are the Kickapoo, Delaware, Munsee, and Wyandotte.

    1832
      The remainder of the Shawnee tribes arrive from Ohio. The population of the Shawnee is about 1,000 persons.

    1832
      On July 11, 1832, Alexander S. Johnson is born at the Methodist Mission, the first white child born in Kansas Territory. He is later to be one of Shawnee's city founders.

    1833
      Jotham Meeker arrives in Westport from Michigan, bringing the first printing press to Kansas.

    1835
      Jotham Meeker starts the first newspaper in the state of Kansas, the Shawnee Sun, also the first newspaper in the Shawnee language.

    1838
      A Military Road is built from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to Ft. Gibson, Arkansas.

    1840
      The Santa Fe Trail is established between Independence, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico passing through Overland Park, Lenexa, and Olathe. Six hundred wagon trains per week pass through Johnson County on their way to Mexico.

    1844
      Devastating flooding of the Kaw River destroys mill and farm lands of the Shawnee Indians.

    1853
      First Kansas Territorial election held, with half the votes cast in Gum Springs.

    1854
      In May, a new treaty with the Shawnee Indians is signed. The Shawnee Indians surrender 1,600,000 acres in exchange for $829,000 (less than $1.00/acre) and 200,000 acres to be distributed in individual allotments. The Shawnee may stay in Kansas, taking 200 acres, or take land allotments in Oklahoma. Some stay while many leave to be uprooted again.

    1854
      On May 30, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act is passed and signed by President Franklin Pierce. Kansas becomes a territory which extends into eastern Colorado. The Kansas Territory opens up for white settlement.

    1854-56
      From November 24, 1854 - June 27, 1855 and from July 1855 - Spring 1856, the Shawnee Methodist Mission serves as the capital of the Kansas Territory. In July 1855, a territorial capitol built of natural stone is completed. Andrew H. Reeder is appointed the first territorial governor of Kansas and the first territorial legislature meets in 1855. Counties are organized and a census is taken later in the year. Pioneers flock to Kansas to establish homes and farms. Towns spring up overnight. A territorial road is established. Border wars heat up.

    1856
      Shawneetown is incorporated on August 10, 1856.

    1857
      Gum Springs (later Shawnee) is designated the first county seat of Johnson County and the first District Court is held here in the fall. Mr. J. D. Allen becomes the first white settler in the Shawnee area.

    1858
      Deed to Shawneetown dated October 23, 1858. Territory begins to attract multitude of settlers. Among them James Butler ("Wild Bill Hickok") who is elected constable of Monticello Township at the age of 18.

    1858
      In July, the first post office is established in Shawnee, with M. P. Randall as postmaster.

    1859
      The fourth and last constitutional convention meets at Wyandotte; they draft a document banning slavery and fixing the present boundaries of the state. The document is accepted by a vote of the people in October and in December, a provisional state government is elected.

    1860-62
      The Pony Express operates in Kansas, with 11 stations along the Kansas section of the route.

    1861
      The eastern portion of the Kansas territory becomes the 34th state on January 29, 1861, joining as a free state after many years of turmoil. Upsets balance of free-state, slave-state balance and ignites spark to start the Civil War. Kansas women are given the right to vote in school elections.

    1862
      Shawneetown is affected by the Civil War. On October 17, 1862, Shawnee is raided by William Clarke Quantrill, a frustrated school teacher in his twenties, and his band of guerillas. Many of the town's homes and businesses are burned and two are killed. Civil War continues until 1864. Many settlers leave the area to find tranquility elsewhere.

    1860's-70's
      Horse thieves are hung by rope from a tall hickory tree in a little pioneer cemetery at 55th and Goddard, which comes to be known as "Horse Thief Cemetery".

    1864
      Charles Bluejacket is elected Shawnee chief. Bluejacket was the grandson of Marmaduke Van Swerangen, a white man born in Virginia who had been captured by the Shawnee Indians and given the new name Bluejacket because he was wearing a blue hunting shirt at the time of his capture. Van Swerangen had been out hunting with a younger brother when he was captured by the Shawnee Indians, and had agreed to go willingly to live with the Shawnee provided they release his brother.

    1868
      Shawnee's St. Joseph's Catholic Church organized.

    1875
      Most of the Shawnee Indians again pushed West, this time to the Shawnee Reservation in Oklahoma. Some Shawnee Indians remain in Shawnee.

    1912
      Women gain the right to vote in Kansas.

    1922
      Re-incorporated as Shawnee, a city of the 3rd class, on June 10, 1922.

    1940's
      Post war era, Johnson County begins to develop with houses and highways.

    1957
      Incorporated as a city of the 2nd class on January 29, 1957.

    1960
      On April 5, 1960, Shawnee passes a $65,000 bond issue (418 - 208) to build its first City Hall in the city square, bounded by Johnson Drive, 58th St., Nieman Rd., and Barton Avenue. Prior to this, offices had been at fire headquarters.

    1960
      Shawnee's first City Hall built.

    1966
      The Shawnee Historical society begins development of Old Shawnee Town to preserve local 19th century buildings.

    1968
      Shawnee annexes to Woodland Drive south of Johnson Drive. City now covers 20 square miles. This includes the site of the town of Zarah.

    1971
      Incorporated as a city of the 1st class on October 22, 1971. Shawnee annexes area to K-7, south of 55th, and north of 55th between the railroad and Locust. These areas included the former towns of Monticello and Holliday.

    1971
      City Hall remodeled, increasing in size from 6,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet.

    1974
      Shawnee adopts City Manager form of government with Charter Ordinance 12. Dennis Kallsen is appointed the City's first City Manager in August 1974, when Shawnee has a population of approximately 25,000. Kallsen resigns in January, 1976, after 16 months as City Manager, to become City Manager of Tinley Park, Illinois.

    1979
      Shawnee Public Safety Center built at 65th and Quivira.
    1983
      City Sister Program implemented (Listowel, Ireland; Pittem, Belgium; and Erfurt, Germany)
    1984
      Shawnee annexes land north of 55th, west of K-7. This includes the town site of Wilder and location of the Chouteau settlement.

    1987
      Shawnee annexes land south of 55th to 83rd/79th west to Kansas River. City size increases to 42 square miles and ultimate boundaries are defined. This includes the the location of the settlement of Frisbie.

    1990
      City Hall remodeled, in a $2.8 million expansion, tripling in size, from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet. Dedication and open house held January 13, 1990. Kansas Governor Mike Hayden participates in ribbon cutting ceremony. Time capsule is buried, including letters from local families to their children, Royals baseball cards, a bottle of homemade wine, a McDonald's Happy Meal (minus the food) and many other items brought by local residents. Also buried in the vault is a 2-hour documentary, "Shawnee, 1990," which no one will be allowed to view for 25 years, until the vault is opened on January 17, 2015.

      Civic Centre at Johnson Drive and Pflumm built.
    1993
      At the July 26, 1993 City Council meeting new parkland adjacent to Monticello Trails Middle School was named. Gamblin Park was named in honor of Police Officer Donald B. Gamblin, Jr. who was killed in the line of duty on July 13, 1991,
    1997
      Shawnee named Tree City USA
    1998
      Public Works Service Center, 18690 Johnson Drive, completed. Dedication held March 28, 1998.

      A third fire station is added in western Shawnee to improve quicker response times 2000
      Population hits 50,000

    2001
      Charles J. Stump Park is dedicated March 24, 2001 and named after the first full-time police chief in Shawnee
      Mill Valley High School and Mize Elementary School

    2002
      An antique-looking clock tower was added to the streetscape in front of City Hall.
      The West Pool extensive renovation is completed and was rededicated as the Thomas A Soetaert Aquatic Center

    2003
      Charles Bluejacket statue dedication.
      Garrett Park is completed with Parks and Pipes funds
      Johnson County Landfill property is annexed. This includes the last remaining portion of Monticello Township inside the City limits.

    2004
      City takes over ownership and operation of Pleasant View Cemetery

    2005
      Jeff Meyers elected as Mayor
      Monticello Springs Park is built with Parks and Pipes funds

    2006
      Shawnee celebrates its 150th birthday
      Shawnee’s Municipal Court receives a 5 star rating in the Kansas City Star

    2007
      Splash Cove is dedicated
      Shawnee is named one of the Top 25 Most Affordable Suburbs in the Country
      City takes over ownership and operation of Shawnee Cemetery
    2008
      Shawnee is named as one of two communities in the State of Kansas and one of 89 communities in the United States to be designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the American League of Bicyclists
      Shawnee is in Money Magazine’s Top 100 Places to Live
      New city brand introduced: “Good Starts Here”
      Justice Center and Fire Station 72 is dedicated
      Water Tower Park is built with Parks and Pipes funds
      Shawnee’s population hits 60,000

    2009
      City of Shawnee starts using social media (Facebook and Twitter) to interact with its citizens
      Clear Creek Trail Phase I & II opened
    2010
      Public Works Service Center, 18690 Johnson Drive renamed Frank C. Goode Public Works Service Center in honor of longtime Council member.
    2011
      The Farmstead is added to Shawnee Town

    2013
      Ground breaking begins at Erfurt Park
      Clear Creek Trail Phase III is completed
    2015
      Michelle Distler becomes the first female mayor of Shawnee
      Third Thursdays with the Mayor begins
      Erfurt Park is completed and dedicated to our Sister City, Erfurt, Germany
      Fire Station 71 at 6501 Quivira Road renamed John B. Glaser Fire Station in honor of fallen Firefighter Glaser (1976 -2010)
      City named as recipient of the 2015 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in recognition of effort to support employees in the National Guard and Reserves
      Public Works earns National Accreditation from American Public Works Association
      Time capsule buried in 1990 is excavated and opened. New time capsule is buried and will be opened in 2065.
    2016
      Old Shawnee Days celebrates its 50th anniversary





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