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Delaware woman chose life as U.S. citizen

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, at 1:01 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, at 5:56 a.m.

This is one in a series of vignettes celebrating history. The series’ name comes from the state motto, Ad astra per aspera: “To the stars through difficulties.”

Her Indian name was “Windagamen.” It meant “Sweetness.” Her white name was Anna.

She was a Lenape Delaware Indian who married Moses Grinter, and when she died in 1905, she was a wealthy, prominent woman in Kansas City.

Moses Grinter was among the first whites who settled in Kansas; first, operating a ferry across the Kansas River and later opening a trading post for travelers, soldiers and freighters along the Oregon-California and Santa Fe Trails.

Together, the couple built a farm and an orchard. Their two-story brick house, built in the late 1850s, is the oldest unaltered building in Wyandotte County. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is operated as a museum by the Kansas State Historical Society.

In the early 1830s, the Lenape Delaware tribe was one of several relocated from the Eastern United States to the Fort Leavenworth Indian Agency.

In 1836, Moses Grinter married Anna. At that time, Kansas was Indian Territory.

More than 10,000 Indians from nearly two dozen tribes emigrated to the Kansas Territory. Two forts were built to oversee the tribes — Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott.

Some of those tribes were the Wyandot, Munsee and Shawnee.

The military hired Grinter to operate his ferry on the Kansas River near Fort Leavenworth.

Some of the earliest records giving an indication of what Grinter charged to carry people across the river can be found in James Kennedy’s list of expenditures for conducting Kickapoo immigrants to their reservation above Fort Leavenworth, written in May, 1833:

“Moses R. Grinter, for ferriage of Indians, four wagons and baggage, across the Kansas River [the amount of $38.75]” and “Moses Grinter for ferriage of 5 wagons and teams across the Kansas river [the amount of] $9.25.”

The venture was not without hazards.

The Rev. Isaac McCoy wrote of a cholera threat that “so alarmed the Delawares, that they removed their ferry boat to prevent travelers from crossing to them.”

Still, the Grinters survived and prospered.

They built a store . A government-run blacksmith shop was located nearby. A post office opened in 1849.

The Grinter land was part of the Delaware reservation, covering what is now several counties in northeastern Kansas. When the federal government moved the Indian tribes from Kansas into Oklahoma in 1867, the Grinters chose to stay behind.

Anna became a U.S. citizen. She was one of 26 adult Delaware who elected to remain in Kansas and become citizens of the United States. And, when her husband died in 1878, he left her a wealthy woman.

She had 200 acres — 90 of which were being cultivated — on a farm that was then valued at $10,000. It is in the Muncie neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan.

When she died on June 28, 1905, Anna Ginter’s last words were a prayer she said in Delaware.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com.

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