From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Kansas--100 Years Ago

Good Kansas Land Was Selling At three Dollars Per Acre

Leavenworth Times, 1956

On Nov. 17, 1856, the sale of the Delaware Indian trust lands began at Ft. Leavenworth. Over 200,000 acres, all within a 35-mile radius of Leavenworth, were offered by the federal government to interested bidders and the sales continued until Dec. 16. By that date nothing remained of the trust land but city lots in Leavenworth, the townsite being on the lands. Nearly $500,000 was taken in from buyers of the farmland and while the Delaware tribe was poorer in land it was substantially richer in money.

The following article about the sale appeared in the Herald of Freedom, Lawrence, Nov. 29, 1856:

"The sale of the Delaware Trust Land.....opens every day at 10 a.m., and is continued for an hour, and then closed for the day, in order to make out the duplicates, and receive the purchase money. It goes on very slowly. The first three days were occupied with selling that portion of the Trust Township 7, Range 19; and Township 8, in the same range.

"The greater number of the quarter sections was claimed by settlers, who, when their claims were recognized by the association of settlers of the township, were not bid against, and, on bidding the appraised value, had the quarter-section at once knocked off to them. Instructions from Washington were read at the sale, to the effect that competition against bona fide settlers was to be discouraged, and where they had been driven off, or had other meritorious causes for absence, their claim should not be sold for the present. Bogus claimants were not, however, allowed these privileges, and the settlers were advised not to attempt to protect them.

"The unclaimed sections were offered for competition. On the first day, Mr. Collamore, of Boston, bought four quarter sections. On the second and third days, Proslavery men purchased most of the unclaimed quarter-section...The Proslavery men were very eager to become purchasers, after the first day. They had heard exaggerated reports of large amounts...which had been raised in Boston and New York, to invest in those lands. A great noise was made in both places, by advertisements in all the leading newspapers, and the appointment of trustees to collect and administer funds. These were noticed in the Missouri Republican (St. Louis), a copy of which, charging the Eastern capitalists with attempting to monopolize the lands, arrived at Leavenworth on the evening of the first day.....Capitalists were present.....from all sections of the County[sic], particularly from Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. In the opinion of most of them, the unclaimed sections were run up to too high a rate. They ranged, after the first day, from $2.50 per acre to $3.20.

"There were fifteen hundred persons present at the sale, one fourth of whom were settlers, who occupied places adjoining the stand of the auctioneer. The sale was entirely quiet. The settlers were, in many cases, unprovided with funds. They were able to find them, by allowing the capitalist who paid the entire purchase money, to have one half the claim--he taking the receipt and giving a bond to convey the half when he received the patent. The settlers were generally loath to part with a part of their land on these terms, and preferred to give 35 and 40 per cent interest, for the purchase money, on which terms they procured loans.

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