Baxter Springs, Kansas

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Baxter Springs is a town situated along the Spring River in the extreme southeastern part of Cherokee County, located in southeast Kansas, in the Central United States. The population was 4,602 at the 2000 census, and it was estimated to be 4,221 in the year 2006.[4] It is the most populous city of Cherokee County.

After the American Civil War, in the late 1860s, the town developed as one of the first "cow towns" in Kansas, where thousands of head of Texas cattle were driven to market. It was a stopping place on their way to northern markets.

Baxter Springs downtown main street is part of the historic U.S. Route 66 that passes through Kansas, established in 1926 and connecting Chicago and Los Angeles. For decades it was the Main Street of this part of the United States.

Contents

History

For thousands of years, indigenous peoples had lived along the waterways throughout the west. The Osage migrated west from the Ohio River area of Kentucky, driven out by the Iroquois. They settled in Kansas by the mid-17th century and competed with other tribes. By 1750 they dominated much of the region of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. One of the largest Osage bands in present-day Oklahoma, led by Chief Black Dog (Manka - Chonka), made the Black Dog Trail before 1800.[citation needed] It started from their winter territory east of Baxter Springs and extended northwest to their hunting grounds at the Great Salt Plains in present-day Alfalfa County, Oklahoma.[5] The Osage stopped at the springs for healing on their way to summer hunting grounds. They cleared the trail of brush and large rocks, and made ramps to the fords. Wide enough for eight horsemen to ride abreast, the trail was the first improved road in Kansas and Oklahoma.[6]

During the American Civil War the United States government built several military posts at present-day Baxter Springs, fortifying what had been a trading post: Fort Baxter, Camp Ben Butler and Camp Hunter. In October 1863 Confederate forces attacked Fort Baxter in the Battle of Baxter Springs.

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