Council Grove, Kansas

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Council Grove is a city in Morris County, Kansas, United States. It was named after an agreement between European Americans and the Osage Nation about allowing settlers' wagon trains to pass through the area and proceed to the West. Pioneers gathered at a grove of trees so that wagons could band together for their trip west. It is the county seat of Morris County[3]. The population was 2,321 at the 2000 census.



Council Grove was one of the last stops on the Santa Fe Trail heading southwest. The first European-American settler was Seth Hays, who came to the area in 1847 to trade with the Kaw tribe, which had a reservation established in the area in 1846. Hays was a grandson of Daniel Boone. In 1858, the town was officially incorporated by the legislature. Hays also opened a restaurant in 1857, the Hays House, which is said to be the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River.

The town has 13 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One is the Post Office Oak. Travelers left their mail in this designated tree to be picked up by others going in the right direction. General Custer of the United States Army slept here with his troops during the American Civil War, under a large tree known now as the Custer Elm.

Presently, both the Council Grove Reservoir and the City Lake are popular for recreational activities. While both lakes are open to the public and motorized boats, most of the land around the City Lake is privately owned with over three hundred lake houses. Building is restricted on the larger Council Grove Reservoir but there are many well-positioned camp sites. Excellent fishing is found on these lakes as well. Walleye, crappie, white bass, and many more fish are in both the Council Grove Reservoir and the City Lake.

In 1943, German and Italian prisoners of World War II were brought to Kansas and other Midwest states as a means of solving the labor shortage caused by American men serving in the war effort. Large internment camps were established in Kansas: Camp Concordia, Camp Funston (at Fort Riley), Camp Phillips (at Salina under Fort Riley). Fort Riley established 12 smaller branch camps, including Council Grove.[4]

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