Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Kansas

Plate XIII. KANSAS, the central State of the American Union, lies between 37° and 40° N. lat. and between 94° 38' and 102° W. long. It is bounded on the N. by Nebraska, on the E. by Missouri, on the S. by Indian territory, and on the W. by Colorado. The State is nearly rectangular in shape, with a breadth of about 210 miles from north to south, and a length of 400 miles from east to west. It contains an area of 81,318 square miles, or 52,043,520 acres.

Kansas is an undulating plain, gently sloping from west to east, at an average of nearly 7 feet per mile. There is also an inclination from north to south, as indicated by the course of the rivers, which flow southerly as well as easterly, but never northerly or westerly, except for short distances from local causes. The mouth of the Kansas river, at the east line of the State, is 750 feet above the sea-level; the average altitude of the western boundary is about 3500 feet. The broad prairie surface is diversified by an endless succession of valleys and woodlands. The great central valley is traversed by the Kansas or Kaw river, which, inclusive of the Smokyhill branch, extends the entire length of the State. Lateral valleys on the north are formed by the Saline, Solomon, Republican, and Blue rivers, and other smaller streams. Another broad valley is formed in the southern half of the State by the Arkansas river, with lateral valleys on the north, traversed by the Walnut, Little Arkansas, Pawnee Fork, and other streams. The south eastern portion contains the important Neosho valley, and the smaller valleys of the Osage and Verdigris. In the extreme south-west and along the southern boundary are the valley of the Cimarron, and a network of the southern tributaries of the Arkansas. Numerous small affluents of the Missouri enrich and diversify the north-eastern quarter of the State. The streams of Kansas are usually fed by perennial springs, and, as a rule, the eastern and middle portions of the State are well watered. The western part is more elevated, and water is less abundant.

Geology and Minerals.—The surface presents three distinct geological sections. The eastern portion of the State belongs to the Carboniferous system, in which are found inexhaustible beds of valuable bituminous coal, often at shallow depths or cropping out on the surface. The central portion belongs to tho Triassic formation, with magnesian limestone, ferruginous sandstone, and gypsum as the representative rocks. Magnesian limestone, known as dolomite, is especially plentiful along the Blue, Republican, and Neosho rivers and their tributaries. This beautiful stone, resembling white, grey, and cream-coloured marble, is exceedingly useful for building purposes. It crops out in the bluffs in endless quantities, and is easily worked. The western portion of the State belongs to the Cretaceous formation, in which chalks and a species of native quicklime are very prominent in the river bluffs. The white and cream-coloured chalks are much used for building purposes, but the blue is usually too soft for exposure to the weather. The quicklime as quarried from the bluffs slakes perfectly, and with sand makes a fairly good mortar, without calcination or other previous preparations. Lead-mines are extensively worked in the south-eastern portion of the State, and prosperous towns and cities are growing up in connexion with these mines. In the central region, salt is produced from wells, and appears in occasional marshes. Salt industries are carried on at Solomon City, near the mouth of the Solomon river, and an excellent brine is obtained at Junction City. The salt of the south-west is found in beds and dry incrustations, varying in thickness from a few inches to 2 feet. The salts of Kansas are remarkably free from lime and other impurities. Gypsum is found in beautiful crystalline form in extensive quarries, but it has not been much utilized. The lignite found near the Colorado line makes a valuable domestic fuel.

Climate.—The climate of Kansas is exceptionally salubrious. Extremes of heat and cold occur, as in all open prairie countries, but as a rule the winters are dry and mild, while the summer heats are tempered by the perpetual prairie breezes. The summer nights are invariably cool and refreshing. The mean annual temperature at Fort Riley for twenty-three years ending December 1874 has been 53°. The highest temperature there during the same period was 98° and the lowest 12° below zero. The average annual rainfall at the city of Lawrence for six years (1875-1880) was 32.68 inches, the heaviest rainfalls occurring in May, June, July, and August, the lightest in November, December, January, and February.

Soil.—The soil of the upland prairies is generally a deep rich clay loam, of a dark colour. The bottom lands near the streams are a black sandy loam; and the intermediate lands, or “second bottoms,” show a rich and deep black loam, containing very little sand. These soils are all easily cultivated, free from stones, and exceedingly productive. There are exceptional spots on the upland prairies composed of stiff clay, not as easily cultivated, but very productive when properly managed and enriched. In the early history of the country the prairies were covered with the short “buffalo grass,” very nutritious for pasturage, on which immense herds of buffalo and other animals subsisted, but utterly unfit for hay. With the disappearance of the buffalo, and as the country is settled and cultivated, the short buffalo grass gives place to the tall blue stem and other bladed grasses valuable alike for pasture and for hay. Timber is abundant along the streams in the eastern section of the State, but is less plentiful in the central portion, and very scarce in some parts of the west. The varieties of timber embrace oak, elm, black walnut, cottonwood, mulberry, box, elder, willow, hickory, sycamore, white ash, and other hard and soft woods.

Agriculture.—The farm products of 1880 were as follows: Indian corn, 101,420,718 bushels; winter wheat, 23,507,223; spring wheat, 1,772,661; rye, 676,507; oats, 11,483,796; barley, 287,057; buckwheat, 43,455; Irish potatoes, 4,919,227; sweet potatoes, 391,196; castor beans, 558,974; flax seed, 1,245,279; sorghum syrup, 3,787,585 gallons; cotton, 142,517 ℔); hemp, 635,872 ℔; millet and Hungarian hay, 629,084 tons; Timothy hay, 79,634 tons; hay from wild or native grasses, 798,707 tons; clover pasture, 5927 acres; blue grass pasture, 38,259 acres; native grass pasture, 901,125 acres; produce of market gardens to the value of $449,797.

The bright climate and pure atmosphere are admirably adapted to the growth of the apple, pear, peach, plum, grape, and cherry. The smaller fruits also, with scarce an exception, flourish finely. Trees never suffer from sodden or water-soaked roots, and very seldom from the winter's cold, when reasonable judgment and care have been exercised in selecting and managing the grounds. At a national exhibition in Philadelphia in 1869 the great gold medal of the National Pomological Society was awarded to Kansas “for a collection of fruits unsurpassed for size, perfection, and flavour;” and similar awards have been made to Kansas fruits at later exhibitions. In November 1872 the American Institute, at its great show, awarded a diploma for 190 varieties of apples grown in Kansas, as the largest and handsomest exhibited. At the International Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876, Kansas exhibited ninety-six varieties of apples, and received the diploma of the centennial commission. Estimates based on the tables of 1877 indicate that the number of bearing trees now in the State (1881) is about as follows:—2,500,000 apple, 100,000 pear, 8,000,000 peach, 200,000 plum, and 1,000,000 cherry trees. The planting of trees is still on the increase, and the older orchards are very profitable. The same is true of vineyards and plantations of small fruits.

Live Stock.—The wide prairies, with their nutritious grasses for hay and grazing and their never-failing springs of pure water, make the State a very paradise to the herdsman and stock-raiser. The following are the statistics for 1880 : horses, 367,589; mules and asses, 58,303; milch cows, 366,640; other horned cattle, 748, 672; sheep, 426,492; swine, 1,281,630; value of animals slaughtered

and sold for slaughter, $12,700,045; value of poultry and eggs sold, $531,550; wool (clip of 1878), 289,644 ℔; wool (1879), 1,194,453 ℔; honey (produce of 1879), 370,398 ℔; wax (1879), 10,949 ℔. The great herds of buffalo which formerly overran the plains have disappeared, the elk is gone, and deer and other game are less plentiful than formerly. There remain, however, the rabbit, hare, turkey, prairie hen, quail, and the usual variety of migratory water-fowl, to gratify the sportsman. The numerous streams are well supplied with fish of choice varieties and of unusually large size.

Manufactures.—There is perhaps no tract of country of equal extent better supplied with available water power than Kansas. The streams are fed by living springs, and the inclination of the country insures uniformly rapid currents. Most of the streams maintain a good flow of water in the driest seasons, and in case of heavy rains many of them “underflow” the adjacent bottom lands, saturating the permeable substratum of the country with the surplus water, which in time drains out and feeds the subsiding streams. This feature is particularly true of the Saline, Solomon, and Smokyhill rivers. The Smokyhill river has not risen above the banks of its deep channel at Junction City since 1869, while at the lowest stages it is capable of driving large flouring-mills, having half a dozen sets of burrs. A dam on the Kansas river at Lawrence supplies a water-power capable of developing a great manufacturing centre. In 1870 there were one hundred and ten improvements of water-power in the state. Estimates based on the latest statistics now place the number of utilized mill sites at about three hundred, where flouring-mills, saw-mills, planing-mills, and woollen-mills run the entire year, with very little hindrance from either high or low water. In the eastern section of the State, where coal is plentiful, steam-power is much used, especially in the manufacture of iron. At Leavenworth there are manufactories of iron bridges, engines, boilers, stoves, railroad iron; and miners tools. There are also manufactories of waggons, carriages, carpets, soaps, paints, and cement, at Leavenworth, Fort Scott, Lawrence, Columbus, Ottawa, and other places. At Topeka, Parsons, Armstrong, and Argentine there are rolling mills and railroad repair shops, while planing-mills, tanneries, cheese factories, and pork-packing establishments are found in various localities.

Transport and Trade.—There are numerous railroads in the State, with an aggregate length of completed track of 3104 miles. The central branch in the north and the Union Pacific (Kansas division) near the centre traverse the northern half of the State from east to west, in nearly parallel lines, the latter extending by its connexions to San Francisco. The Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe line passes from the north-east to the south-west, extending through to the Pacific coast; and the Missouri Pacific (Kansas division), by uniting with the Texas Central, connects the richest portion of Kansas with the Gulf of Mexico at Galveston. Other lines in connexion with these facilitate the internal commerce of the State. Kansas has an eastern front of 150 miles on the Missouri river, which is navigable for steamboats of all sizes. The internal rivers of the State are not utilized for commercial purposes, though the Kansas was formerly considered navigable to Fort Riley, near the mouth of the Republican river, and steamboats have ascended the Smokyhill to the mouth of the Saline, about 50 miles farther west. By means of these railroads and the Missouri river immense quantities of wheat, corn, cattle, and swine are sent from Kansas to the eastern markets; flour is sent south, south-west, and west, and butter, poultry, and eggs, with large quantities of vegetables, hay, and garden produce, to the western mining regions.

Education.—The public schools are liberally endowed and supported. Two sections of land (1280 acres) are set apart in each congressional district for school fund purposes. There are in the State 5242 public school buildings, and the value of public school property is $4,633,044. The teachers employed number 6707. The pupils of school age are estimated from statistics of 1875 at 230,000, about half of whom are in actual attendance. The annual expenditure for school purposes, estimated from statistics of 1875, is 1,500,000. The State supports a university at Lawrence, and a normal school at Emporia; and the agricultural college at Manhattan is endowed by the general Government. There are also State institutions for the education of the blind, and the deaf and dumb, and for the care of the insane. A reform school for juvenile offenders is being built at the State capital.

Religion.—All the usual religious denominations are represented, owning church property to the amount of $2,511,520.

Administration.—In Kansas, as in all the States of the American Union, the government is vested in three departments, legislative, executive, and judicial. The governor is elected for a term of two years. The legislature consists of a senate and house of representatives. The members of the house are elected for two years, and members of the senate for four. The judiciary consists of a State supreme court and subordinate district courts. The judges are all elected by a direct vote of the people.

Population.—The following table gives the population at the last three census enumerations, with the number of inhabitants per square mile at each period:—

Total. Males.  Females.   Per Sq. Mile. 

1860 107,206 59,178  48,028  1.3 
1870 364,399 202,224  162,175  4.5 
 1880   995,966   536,725  459,241  12.2 

The State is divided into 104 counties. The following are the largest towns, with population in 1880:—Leavenworth, 16,550; Topeka, 15,451; Atchison, 15,106; Lawrence, 8511; Wyandotte, 6149; Fort Scott, 5372; Wichita, 4911; Emporia, 4632; Parsons, 4196; Ottawa, 4032. Topeka, the State capital, is advantageously situated, and is one of the most flourishing towns in the State.

History.—Kansas belongs to that immense tract of country, purchased by the American Government from France in 1803, known as the Louisiana purchase. Prior to 1854 it was in the hands of various Indian tribes, some native, and others which had been removed from the older States. It was organized and opened for settlement as a territory by Act of Congress in May 1854, in the midst of a heated contest on the slavery question. The slaveholders and the friends of freedom at once began a vigorous contest for the occupancy and control of the new territory, and thus it was that Kansas became the vanguard in the great struggle which resulted in the overthrow of slavery in the United States. Before the formal beginning of the war, societies were organized by the rival settlers and their friends in the States on both sides of the slavery question, and even rival legislatures were elected and convened. The discussions frequently resulted in personal violence, and the greatest excitement prevailed till the breaking out of the civil war. Kansas was admitted into the Union as a State in January 1861, and took an active part in furnishing troops for the suppression of the rebellion. The State was frequently invaded, and the city of Lawrence was sacked and burned in August 1863. Since the overthrow of slavery, Kansas has shared fully in the general progress of the country. (J. D.†)

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