Missouri and Ozarks History

Information and comments about historical people and events of Missouri, the Ozarks region, and surrounding area.

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I'm a freelance writer specializing in the history of the Ozarks and surrounding region. I've written sixteen nonfiction books, two historical novels, and numerous articles. My latest books are Wicked Women of Missouri, Yanked Into Eternity: Lynchings and Hangings in Missouri, and Show-Me Atrocities: Infamous Incidents in Missouri History.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Cherokee Neutral Lands

The Neutral Lands was an area in southeast Kansas that was originally set aside as a buffer between Missouri and Osage Indian territory after the Osages were removed from Missouri to Kansas under the terms of an 1825 treaty. The area; comprising present-day Cherokee County, Crawford County, and a strip of southern Bourbon County; was ceded to the Cherokee Indians as an additonal allotment of land under terms of the 1835 treaty by which they were removed from the Southeast to Indian Territory, and the region became known as the Cherokee Neutral Lands. Few Cherokees actually settled in the area, however, and when white settlers started squatting on the land around the time of the Civil War, the Cherokees decided to sell it.
In 1866, the Cherokees signed a treaty with the United States to act as their agent in the transaction, and the following year the government sold the land to railroad magnate James F. Joy, who was representing the Kansas City, Fort Scott, and Gulf Railroad. The prospect of a railroad coming through the Neutral Lands, though, angered many settlers already there, and settlers and prospective settlers were further enraged when the railroad starting selling excess land at what they considered exorbitant prices. The clash between the two sides turned violent and ended up being the biggest railroad-settler dispute in Kansas history.

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Anonymous Daniel R. Baker said...

Interesting. Why were the settlers upset about the railroad coming through? It was my understanding that towns usually wanted to have a railroad close by; it brought customers and access to markets for farm produce.

By the way, I read James Michener's Texas a few months ago, and it mentions that a considerable number of Cherokees settled in Texas during the 1830s and 40s, until the Texans drove them out, which came as a complete surprise to me.

December 4, 2009 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Larry Wood said...

The settlers weren't especially upset until the railroad started selling off the extra land. The settlers became irate because of what they considered exhorbitant prices.

December 4, 2009 at 5:03 PM  

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