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Museum - Kansas Families Exhibit

Kansas families sections of the Kansas Museum of History

There's lots to see on Kansas families at the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka.

 You'll see:

Families have been important to Kansas since its earliest days of human occupation.

Native Americans hunted and farmed the Great Plains for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. Learn how a sacred bundle was passed down in one Pawnee family.

Missionary Fanny Simmerwell's day cap.In the 1850s, missionaries established schools to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Like most Americans of the time, they believed Indians should live like whites in order to succeed. Near Topeka, one missionary family helped set up the Potawatomi Baptist Mission. The museum displays a number of family items from Robert and Fanny Simmerwell and their daughter Sara, including clothing and blacksmithing tools used at the mission.

Immigrant families poured into Kansas after the Civil War, many settling into temporary dwellings such as log and sod houses. One such immigrant, Solomon Humbargar, built a log house on the banks of the Saline River in 1866 and lived there until 1890 with his wife Nancy and their two sons.

During the cattle drive era, one important Kansas family supplied an essential component of a cowboy's outfit. The Hyers began making boots around 1880, and continued to operate for nearly a century in Olathe.

Another important 20th century Kansas family group were the Whites of Emporia. William Allen White and wife Sallie published the Pulitzer Prize-winning Emporia Gazette newspaper for many years. Their son, Bill, won a Pulitzer for editing his father's unfinished autobiography. The newspaper is still being printed by members of the White family. Today their home, Red Rocks, is a state historic site.