Oklahoma * Missouri * Nebraska * Kansas * Iowa
Open plains, cattle and pioneers are all part of the History of the (Region 5) Breadbasket Region. Here is where the Pioneers and Settlers came to farm and ranch. This Region birthed the stories of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, and the fun loving characters from the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This Region was home to the hardy, rugged and stalwart folks that homesteaded and cultivated those Midwestern plain states which eventually became some of the largest food producing areas of the U.S.
For our ‘Focused Events’ we’ll spend most of our time between the years 1850 and 1900. We’ll call this the ‘Age of the Pioneer’.
A). A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION TO GET STARTED:
*1680-1690: Most of the Midwest was explored initially by Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle of France.
*1803: The Louisiana Purchase opened up the land west of the Mississippi for exploration and eventual settlement.
*1804-1806: Lewis and Clark explore the new Territory.
*1829: The Indian Removal Act is signed into law by President Andrew Jackson relocating Native American Tribes to lands west of the Mississippi.
*1840: Nearly 1000 Pioneers head to the Northwest via the Oregon Trail leaving from Missouri.
*1848: Gold is discovered in California.
*1862: The Homestead Act signed into law by President Lincoln for the purpose of enticing settlers to move west and acquire land at little or no cost.
*1863-1869: The Trans-Continental Railroad connects the Atlantic and Pacific.
B). UNDERSTANDING THE HOMESTEAD ACTS:
*Signed in 1862 by President Lincoln for the purpose of getting more settlers out to the Midwest.
*Under this new law a U.S. Citizen could:
-get 160 acres of unoccupied land west of the Mississippi and east of the Rockies,
-keep the land permanently as long as they lived there for 5 years and made improvements,
-if over the age of 21, acquire land even if they were former slaves, immigrants or single women,
-be disqualified if they had ever taken up arms against the U.S. government
-acquire the title to their land with only 6mos of residency and minimal improvements if they paid $1.25 per acre and met all other requirements.
How well did the Homestead act work?
Well… not so well. Here were some of the problems:
*Most farmers, immigrants and laborers did not have the means to acquire the seeds, livestock and building materials necessary to make the needed improvements.
*Most people who took advantage of the Act came from surrounding areas, so it didn’t really help much to entice those from the eastern parts of the U.S.
*The Act was so loosely written that it invited fraud, and the more Congress tried to remedy the problems, the worse it got.
*Of the 500 million acres dispersed by the General Land Office between 1862 and 1904, only 80 million acres went to homesteaders.
*Most of the land went to railroads, miners, speculators and lumber mills.
*More land was acquired by homesteaders in the 20th century than in the 19th!
C). A FEW FACTS ABOUT EACH STATE:
1). OKLAHOMA: Motto: ‘Labor Conquers All Things’
*1682: The Territory of Oklahoma is claimed by France.
*1803: Most of the Oklahoma Territory is acquired from France in the Louisiana Purchase.
*1804: Lewis & Clark and then Zebulon Pike explore Oklahoma.
*1830: Indian Removal Act signed into law by Andrew Jackson.
*1834: The area was set aside as ‘Indian Territory’.
*1832-1839: The ‘Five Tribes’ are relocated to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. These Native American tribes were the: Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.
*1842: The last of the Seminole Tribe was relocated from Florida to Oklahoma after the Seminole War.
*1861-1865: American Civil War. Oklahoma was mostly Indian Territory, but the Indians that fought sided with the Confederacy.
*1860s: Because the Indians had sided with the Confederacy, most of them lost their lands
*1870: Another 25 Native American Tribe were moved to the Oklahoma Federal Reservations.
*1872: Businesses began to open and operate as the Railroad pushed through Oklahoma.
*1889: A series of ‘horse races’ began as unoccupied lands were made available to settlers on a first-come-first-served basis. Those who came early to stake their claims became known as ‘Sooners’.
*1890: The territory was split in half and the western half becomes the Oklahoma Territory.
*1907: The Indian Territory and the Oklahoma Territory join to become the 46th state and it is called Oklahoma.
*1930s: The Great Depression ruins most of Oklahoma’s farmers.
*1990: Oklahoma becomes the first state to limit the terms of a legislator.
2). MISSOURI: Motto: ‘The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law’
*1540: Hernando De Soto discovers the Mississippi River.
*1682: French explorers Cavalier and La Salle claim the Mississippi Valley for France.
*1699: first capitol of the French Colonies is established.
*1724: Fort Orleans built on the North bank of the Mississippi River.
*1756: The French & Indian War ends with victory for Great Britain. France surrenders all French lands east of the Mississippi River except New Orleans, and the Spanish turn over east and west Florida to Great Britain in exchange for Cuba.
*1762: Spain gains control of the Louisiana Territory from France at the Treaty of Fontainebleau.
*1764: City of St. Louis founded.
*1769: City of St. Charles established as a trading post.
*1770: Spanish government officially takes control of the Louisiana Territory.
*1776-1783: American Revolution
*1800: Napoleon Bonaparte forces Spain to return the Louisiana Territory to the French at the Treaty of IIdefonso.
*1803: France sells the Louisiana Territory to the U.S. for 15 million dollars.
*1804: Lewis and Clark Expedition.
*1805: The Territory of Louisiana was established with the government seat at St. Louis.
*1812: A portion of the Territory of Louisiana became the Territory of Missouri.
*1817: The steamboat Zebulon M. Pike reaches St. Louis and is the first steamboat to navigate the Mississippi River above the Ohio River.
*1821: Missouri become the 24th state with the first capitol in St Charles. It is nicknamed the ‘Show Me State’.
*1826: Jefferson City becomes the permanent state capitol.
*1857: Dred Scott case originates in St. Louis.
*1861: Missouri is claimed by both the Union and the Confederacy.
*1865: Missouri abolishes slavery.
3). NEBRASKA: Motto: ‘Equality before the Law’
*The Tribes of Nebraska were the: Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Comanche, Chippewa, Delaware, Fox, Omaha, Kansas, Iowa Oto, Missouri, Kiowa, Sauk and Pawnee.
*1541: Nebraska / Kansas area claimed for Spain.
*1682: Area claimed for France.
*1803: Louisiana Purchase makes the area a U.S. Territory.
*1819: 1st U.S. Army Fort established at Ft. Atkinson
*1833: U.S. purchases Pawnee lands south of the Platte River
*1840’s: The Oregon Trail goes across Nebraska bringing thousands of settlers. Ft. Kearny is established.
*1854: Territory of Nebraska established.
*1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act allows the territories to decide whether or not to allow slavery within their borders. This act repealed the Missouri Compromise and opened the north to slavery.
*1867: Nebraska become the 37th state.
*1877: Famed Indian ‘Crazy Horse’ surrenders at Camp Robinson.
*1868: Lincoln becomes state capitol.
*1869: Completion of the Union Pacific Railroad brings more settlers to Nebraska.
*1870: Nebraska approves the 15th Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race.
*1898: Omaha hosts the Mississippi International Exposition.
*1913: Gerald Ford, 38th President of the U.S. born in Omaha.
*1919: Nebraska become the 36th state to ratify prohibition.
*1939: Petroleum discovered in SE Nebraska.
*1942: Lake McConaughy is created as the Kingsley Dam is finished.
*2002: Grasshopper invasion caused by drought costs the state over 1 billion.
*2011: Controversial TransCanada pipeline is rerouted to avoid the Sand Hills and Ogallala aquifer.
4). KANSAS: Motto: ‘To the Stars through Adversity’
The Tribes of Kansas were the: Pawnee and Wichita.
*1541: Coronado of Spain explores Kansas.
*1724: Kansas area claimed for France.
*1762: France loses area to Spain.
*1803: Louisiana Purchase makes the area a U.S. Territory.
*1800’s: Conflicts between Native American Tribes and settlers.
*1812: American Fur Company is formed.
*1820’s: Kansas lands reserved as Indian Territory and closed to white settlers.
*1822: Santa Fe Trail is pioneered by Capt. W.H. Becknell.
*1823: Boundaries fixed between Kansas and Missouri.
*1827: Fort Leavenworth is established.
*1832: Kickapoo, Potawatomie, Kaskaskia, Peoria, Wea, and Piankeshaw Indian Reservations established.
*1840: Miami Tribe moved to Kansas.
*1850’s: Kansas lands start opening to white settlers.
*1854: The Kansas Territory is established.
*1855-1859: The Kansas-Nebraska Act creates fighting over slavery. Kansas is called, ‘Bloody Kansas’.
*1859: John Brown leads raid on Harper’s Ferry which directly leads to the outbreak of the Civil War.
*1860: The Railroad reaches Kansas.
*1861: Kansas become the 34th state.
*1867: The first cattle drive heads over the Chisholm Trail.
*1894-1895: The state’s first oil and gas fields go into production.
*1930’s: ‘Dust Bowls’ destroy millions of acres of crops.
*1952: Landmark decision in Topeka makes segregation in public schools illegal.
*1961: World’s largest wheat elevator built in Hutchinson.
*2002: Maiden flight of Airborne Laser (designed to destroy missiles during early stage launch) takes off from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.
5). IOWA: Motto: ‘Our Liberties we prize and our Rights we will maintain’
*1682: Area is explored and claimed by France.
*1762: Area is transferred from France to Spain.
*1788: Julien Dubuque is the first white settler in Iowa.
*1800’s: Conflicts with the Native American Tribes push them further to the West. The tribes in this area were the: Chippewa, Fox, Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Nez Perce, Pahodja, Pawnee, Winnebago, Missouri, Moingwenga, Omaha, Oto, Ottawa, Peroria, Ponca, Potawatomie and Sauk.
*1800: Spain transfers land back to France.
*1803: Louisiana Purchase from France makes this area part of the U.S.
*1804: The only death (Charles Floyd) on the Lewis and Clark expedition occurs in Iowa territory.
*1808: U.S. Army builds Fort Madison which is later burned.
*1811: The phase,
“Go West young man” is coined by Horace Greeley who was born on Feb. 3.
*1820: Missouri Compromise makes Iowa a non-slave territory.
*1832: “Black Hawk War”: Sauk leader, ‘Black Hawk’ waged war with the U.S. and ended up surrendering after a 15-week war.
*1833: Iowa Territory opens to settlers.
*1834: First Public hanging occurs in Iowa.
*1838: The Iowa Territory is established.
*1839: Iowa’s Supreme Court rules against slavery.
*1846: Iowa become the 29th State admitted to the Union.
*1846: Buffalo Bill is born on Feb. 26.
*1856: First train arrives from Chicago.
*1857: Des Moines becomes the Capitol.
*1867: First Railroad completed through Iowa.
*1907: Last lynching occurs in Iowa.
*1913: Keokuk Dam completed.
*1913: Largest single piece of coal produced by Martin Coal Co. weighing 2,445 lbs.
*1916: Prohibition closes breweries.
*1928: Herbert Hoover becomes the 31st U.S. President.
*1991: Riverboat gambling legalized.
What fun it is to take a trip through the Breadbasket! Learn it’s history, savor the food, enjoy the slower pace of a Midwestern lifestyle, and don’t forget to wear your boots!