Osawatomie, Kansas

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Osawatomie is a city in Miami County, Kansas, United States, 61 miles (98 km) southwest of Kansas City. The population was 4,645 at the 2000 census and 2009 estimates are that there is little change in population. It derives its name from two streams near by, the Osage and Potawatomie. In 1900, 4,101 people lived in Osawatomie; in 1910, 4,046. Osawatomie was chartered in 1883 and in 1890 became a second-class city. The commission form of government was adopted in 1914.



Osawatomie's name is a compound of two primary native American indian tribes from the area, the Osage and Pottawatomie. In addition, the town is bordered by Pottawatomie Creek and the Marais des Cygnes River (part of the Osage River system), which are also named for the two tribes. ]].[3] The Emigrant Aid Society's transport of settlers to the Kansas Territory as a base for Free State forces played a key role in the establishment of the community of Osawatomie in October 1854. Settled by abolitionists in hopes of aiding Kansas' entry to the United States as a free state, the community of Osawatomie and pro slavery communities nearby were quickly engaged in violence.[4]

In March 1855, abolitionists Rev. Samuel Adair and his wife Florella settled in a cabin near Osawatomie to serve as missionaries to the community. Florella's half-brother, John Brown came to "Bleeding Kansas" later the same year with a wagon of guns in order to help fight the pro slavery forces like his five sons, who were already living in another community in the area. Brown then came to Osawatomie to visit the Adair's and fight pro slavery forces there. By 1856, having established himself as a leader of free state guerillas, Brown made Osawatomie and the Adair cabin his base. In a raid in May 1856, Brown killed five pro slavery men along Pottawatomie Creek near Osawatomie. This was then referred to as the "Pottawatomie Massacre", which inflamed the fighting throughout the Kansas Territory.[5] The second and main Battle of Osawatomie took place on August 30, 1856. Osawatomie played a key role throughout the Civil War, serving as a center for Jayhawker activity.[6] By 1857 Osawatomie had grown to a town of 800 and in 1859 hosted the first convention of the Kansas Republican Party.[6] In recognition for Osawatomie's part in ensuring Kansas remained a free state, the Kansas Legislature established the Osawatomie State Mental Hospital in 1863, the first mental hospital west of the Mississippi River. It admitted its first patient in 1866, and is still operational.[4] By 1879, a railroad was built to serve Osawatomie, aiding its growth into a supply town and a main shipping point. As a result, Osawatomie grew to a population of 4,046 by 1910.[6] Osawatomie was a division point for the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad from 1879 to 1985.[5]

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