Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5 v. (lvi, 2731 p., [228] leaves of plates) : ill., maps (some fold.), ports. ; 27 cm.

1918 KANSAS AND KANSANS Chapter 1 Part 4


Onate returned to New Mexico, as we have seen. It is said that in a few years eight hundred Quivira Indians visited Onate, carrying with them a prisoner named Axtaos. It seems that the Quivirans were at war with the Axtaos tribe, and desired that Onate aid them in this warfare. The idea of seeking his aid may have originated from reflection upon the battle with the Escanjaques. The Axtaos of the Quivirans may have been the Escanjaques of the Spaniards. Perhaps the Quivirans supposed that it would be an easy matter to induce the Spaniards to engage in war with a tribe which had handled them so roughly on the plains. Finding an unwillingness on the part of the whites to again cross swords with the fierce tribe of the prairies, the Quivirans sang the old song so pleasant to Spanish ears - that of gold. They said there was gold in the interior of their country, supposing the cavaliers would set forth at once to find it. But even this siren song failed to move the Governor of New Mexico, and the Quivirans returned alone to their towns along some plains river.

There is some reason to believe that in 1634 an expedition under Captain Alonzo Vaca penetrated the plains to the River Quivira. It marched eastward more than three hundred leagues, but did not cross the river into Quivira. Very little is known of this expedition. Probably some wild tale of gold in the plains streams induced these Spaniards to brave the march from the deserts to search for it.

Of the expedition of Don Diego Dionisio de Penalosa, Governor of New Mexico from 1661 to 1664, there is a better record. This record has been condemned and discredited by some writers. If admitted it would upset the preconceived ideas of some on the location of the country - and especially the towns - of Quivira. Having fixed these towns on the Kansas River it would prove troublesome to admit as genuine any document which would make the location untenable.6

In the spring of 1662, Penalosa gathered his forces for the march eastward to find Quivira, the location of which remained an enigma to some extent even to the New Mexican Spanish, notwithstanding the many explorations they made to that land. The expedition consisted of eighty Spanish soldiers, with six three-pounder cannon, and thirty-six carts to carry the ammunition. There were one thousand Indians, by which we may suppose there was possibly one-fifth of that number. These were armed in Indian fashion, with bows and arrows. It is said that there were eight hundred horses and three hundred mules. It is always well to view with suspicion the boasting numbers set down in any Spanish document, even though it is known to be genuine. These reports were sometimes composed by priests in the New World for the use of priestly authority in Spain, and large numbers were sometimes employed to create a favorable impression across the ocean.

In Quivira, Penalosa found the great city of Taracari. It was within eight leagues of "a very high and insuperable ridge," which was the end of Quivira. It does not appear that the Spaniards tarried at Taracari. They passed on, coming finally to a river called, by the Indians, the Mischipi. There they found the Escanjaques Indians, to the number of three thousand, assembled and armed to invade Quivira and attack its first city. The Mischipi was reached in June. The prairies were beautiful. One crop of corn was no sooner gathered than another was planted in that fertile land.

The Spaniards and Escanjaques marched together up the river, having the "insuperable" ridge of mountains on their left hand. They halted for the night in some fine prairies, and six hundred Escanjaques went out to hunt the buffalo, in which they were very successful, each returning with the tongue of a cow, and some bringing two or three tongues. The next day, after marching four leagues, the mountain range was again discovered. It was covered with signal smokes to tell of the approach of the Christian army. And coming thence to some "widespread prairies of another beautiful river," the great settlement of Quivira was found. This river came out of the mountain range to the west and united with the Mischipi.

The Escanjaques desired to destroy the Quivira settlement, and the Spaniards ordered them to remain behind and not enter it. But it seems that they crossed the river with the whites, and were with difficulty restrained from attacking the Quivirans. Seventy head-chiefs came out to meet Penalosa, bearing presents, buckskin, and fur caps, and bonnets. They were entertained by the Spaniards, who bestowed upon them some presents, but they were much disturbed when they found their white visitors in company with their avowed enemies, the Escanjaques. To reassure the Quivirans, the Spaniards gave them presents and expressed the warmest friendship for them, promising to stand by them. This pleased the Quivirans, who made further presents, consisting of furs, bread, corn, beans, pumpkins, sandpipers, turkeys, partridges, and fish. They invited the Spaniards to enter their principal settlements the next day, to do which, another river had to be crossed - a rapid river. When they departed, the commander detained two of their chiefs, who were questioned until midnight, when they lay down to sleep, as was supposed. But they arose and went over to their own city, fearing an attack there of the Escanjaques. Their fears were well founded, for those treacherous Indians crossed in the night and attacked the Quivirans, killing all they could and burning the city. The Spaniards crossed the river and entered the burning city shortly after sunrise, but the Quivirans had fled, believing the whites in treacherous league with the Escanjaques. The soldiers spent most of the day in arresting the conflagration and restraining their self-imposed allies. The next morning Penalosa marched two leagues through the settlement and counted thousands of houses. He halted on the bank of another river, which he found coming down through the settlement. It was observed that the much-used paths came down from the lofty range six leagues away, entering the settlement every quarter of a league. A detachment of twenty men, under Major Francis de Madrid, was sent to explore all the town, but they were unable that day to come to its outward bounds. They returned to report that the Quivirans had fled and could not be found. On the 11th of June, which was probably the following day, the Spaniards departed from Quivira and set out on their return to New Mexico.

As in all the other Spanish expeditions to Quivira, it is impossible to tell to what point Penalosa penetrated. There is no probability that he reached the Mississippi. At Fort Smith, where the Arkansas enters the Ozarks, there are many streams, and the old chronicle describes the country round about fairly well. But none can say certainly where he did actually go. The country on the Neosho, about the mouth of Spring River, is well described, and it may be that to that point Penalosa came. One thing is apparent. There never existed even in New Mexico any clear conception and definite knowledge of the location of Quivira. It was to the eastward. It was a land of plains and rivers. It was grass-covered. And it was roamed over by the wild cattle. That is most that was known by the Spaniards along the Rio Grande about Quivira.

6 See Bancroft's History of Arizona and New Mexico, P. 169. Also Houck's A History of Missouri, Vol. I, P. 39. The story may be a fiction, but satisfactory evidence of that fact has not been produced.


It is necessary to notice here the work of one J. V. Brower, who some years ago came into Kansas and pretended to fix beyond question the exact spots visited by Coronado. He published three books on the transactions of Coronado. He made maps of Quivira and the adjacent country of Harahey. On these maps he pretended to define the bounds of those countries exactly - there was no conjecture, no possibility of error admitted. In instances without number the lines of Quivira bend around the heads of ravines as though a careful survey had been made. The north line is carried along the south bank of the Smoky Hill, falling sometimes within a mile or less of that stream, but never permitted to touch it. The line between France and Germany was never more closely adjusted than he made that between two tribes of brutish Indians belonging to a common linguistic family. He pretended to rediscover the principal villages and camps of Quivira and Harahey. He caused to be erected granite monuments to mark the sites of these supposed rediscoveries. And these shafts always bore inscriptions telling how the sites they marked had been rediscovered by J. V. Brower.

Mr. Brower pretended to define these countries of Quivira and Harahey by the extent of certain chert beds and the forms of certain flint implements he found about the forks of the Kansas River. He claims to have traced the inhabitants of Quivira and Harahey from the Ozark Mountains to the locations he assigns them. He did this by means of the forms of the flint arrowheads, knives, axes, and hammers made by them. He even assures us that they lived on deer and wild turkeys in the Ozarks, but became raw-meat eaters and blood-drinkers on the Kansas plains where they could get buffaloes for food. This seems strange when we remember that there were as many buffaloes on the plains skirting the Ozarks as there were on the Kansas River, and as many deer and turkeys on the Kansas streams as there were in the Ozarks. And even on the Ozark ranges there were buffaloes in untold numbers. For the Ozark Mountains were treeless and grass-covered until the expulsion of the Indians. The timber appeared on them after the white man came and stopped the Indian practice of burning the country over annually.

The methods of Mr. Brower cannot be approved. The shafts which he caused to be erected may by mere accident be in proper locations. Most probably they are not. He did not know. No one knows. No one ever will know. The data to determine these matters does not now exist. So far as is now known, this evidence has not been in existence for the past three hundred years.

With Quivira, Kansas made her first manifestation. She broke on the world with a radiant flash as a recompense to Coronado for Cibola and the pueblos of the Rio Grande - the mummy villages of the dead deserts. While she was not appreciated and was left to her "brutish people" and her rolling herds of wild oxen for some centuries, it is a source of satisfaction to know that the Kansas plains were ridden over by mailed knights generations before Jamestown and Plymouth Rock were planted on our eastern shores. Vague Old Quivira plants the feet of lusty young Kansas in the dim and misty fastnesses of the past to give dignity and beget pride in the history of a state. Hazy and distant Quivira is hoary with antiquity, but in young and buxom Kansas she becomes the beacon of modern energy to light up the ways of the world. Touched with the magic fire of Kansas, Old Quivira has become a flame that burns across the heavens - an inspiration, an ideal far superior in value to the crops or herds or mines embraced in all her borders. For ideals are more precious to mankind than material things.

So, Quivira takes its place as one of those romantic incidents peculiar to Kansas history. It was all but forgotten for two hundred years. Connected with any other state, Quivira would have passed from the memory of man. Or, perhaps, a few dry lines would have appeared in the misty annals of the Southwest to tell of a fruitless trip to a desert land. but associated with Kansas it became an indefinite mystery vital as the pilgrimages to find the Holy Grail. Romances will have their seat in it. Quivira is not only coequal with Kansas - it is Kansas. It matters not now about exact metes and bounds, and never more will matter, for they are not essential to Quivira. It assumes a larger part - takes form as our earliest absorbing tradition. It is our remotest background in which take refuge the mystic tragedies incident to the evolution of the Great Plains. As a field for the fanciful it holds an expanding value to the coming generations of Kansas. Intangible as the luminous haze of a plains-horizon, Quivira will become the swelling fountain of romance for all who shall seek to connect their times with that mystic life which is to remain the strongest support of civilization as long as the world shall stand.


The principal authorities on the Spanish explorations of Kansas are - George Parker Winship, in The 14th Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1896.

Hubert Howe Bancroft in the History of Arizona and New Mexico, 1889.

Spanish explorations in the Southern United States, edited by Frederick W. Hodge, 1907.

Spanish Explorations in the Southwest, edited by Herbert Eugene Bolton, 1916.

"The True Route of Coronado's March," by F. S. Dellenbaugh, in Bulletin of American Geographical Society, Vol. XXIX, No. 4, 1897.

The works of A. F. Bandelier. Among these, see Historical Introduction to Studies Among the Sedentary Indians of New Mexico. Also Contributions to the History of the Southwestern Portion of the United States.

Journal of a Military Reconnoissance from Santa Fe, etc. Senate Executive Document 64, 31st Congress, 1st Session. Also Coronado's March in Search of the "Seven Cities" of Cibola, Smithsonian Report for 1869. By James Hervey Simpson.

Important articles have been published in the Kansas Historical Collections.

John Madden has, in Volume VII, "Wardens of the Marches," an extensive and intelligent discussion of the route of Coronado and the land of Quivira.

In Volume XII is "A Study of the Route of Coronado between the Rio Grande and the Missouri Rivers" by James Newton Basket, of Mexico, Mo.

In Volume X is "The White Man's Foot in Kansas" by John B. Dunbar, of Bloomfield, New Jersey.

In Volume VIII is "Early Spanish Explorations and Indian Implements in Kansas " by W. E. Richey, of Harveyville, Kansas. A picture of the famous "Coronado Sword," and an account of where it was found, and how it came into Mr. Richey's possession, are a part of the paper. The sword is now the property of the Kansas State Historical Society. It was found in the year 1886, on the head waters of Pawnee Creek, near the north line of Finney County, Kansas, nearly due north of the town of Ingalls. It evidently belonged to Gallego, one of the principal men of the Coronado expedition, for it bears his name graven in the metal. On it are these inscriptions:

No Me Saques Sin Razon
No Me Enbaines Sin Honor.

In the Agora, a magazine published in Kansas and running through the years 1891 to 1896, there is a translation of Voyages, Relations Et Memoires Originaux Pour Servir a L'Historie de la Decouverte De L' Amerique, Publies Pour La Premiere fois en Francais Par H. Ternaux - Compans. This translation was made by Eugene F. Ware, and the first chapters were published in 1895.

In A History of Missouri, by Louis Houck, three volumes, 1908, there is a good discussion of Coronado's route. Some parts of the subject are there better treated than in any other work examined.

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A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans , written and compiled by William E. Connelley, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, 1998.