With five days remaining before Kansas ends its 150th anniversary celebrating statehood, Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday announced the top 12 events that shaped the state and affected the nation.
Some were painful, such as the efforts to remove Native Americans from the prairie.
Others, such as the arrival of rural electrification, caused farm homes across the state to be as bright as those in the cities. Yet, one event in the 1930s caused those homes to grow dark again when great dust storms swept the state.
"It’s a fitting end to the year of celebrating our history to recognize the 12 events in Kansas history that most impacted the nation and the world,” Brownback said in front of students at the Topeka High School Media Center.
The events, selected by a blue-ribbon panel that included prominent Kansas historians, are:
Overland trails: On Sept. 1, 1821, the first party left Missouri headed for Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail. Trails helped the nation expand to new territories and initiate trade with neighboring countries.
Indian removal: On Nov. 4, 1838, the Pottawatomie Trail of Death ended in Kansas. Under the Indian Removal Act, 859 Pottawatomie people were forced to walk more than 600 miles to Kansas. As many as 90 different tribes were removed to Kansas in the mid-19th century, and hundreds of native people lost their lives during their first few years here.
Kansas-Nebraska Act: On May 30, 1854, President Franklin Pierce signed into law the act creating the Kansas Territory, which became a battleground for pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces and became known as Bleeding Kansas.
Railroad development: On Feb. 11, 1859, the Kansas Territorial Legislature chartered the Santa Fe Railway. Railroads brought jobs and settlers to the state and influenced town development.
Women’s rights: On July 5, 1859, discussions and debates of the Wyandotte constitution included women’s rights. Provisions regarding child custody, property rights for married women and equality in matters pertaining to public schools were included in the final draft of the state constitution. This placed Kansas ahead of most other states in terms of women’s rights.
Wheat industry: On March 5, 1862, the Legislature formed the Kansas Agricultural Society. This organization would later become the State Department of Agriculture, and promoted Kansas to prospective settlers, including Volga German farmers.
Cattle drives: On Sept. 5, 1867, the first load of cattle to be shipped via rail left Kansas. This positioned Kansas as a leader in the beef industry – first as the place where Texas cattle were driven to be shipped to the East, then as a producer of quality beef from shorthorn cattle and Herefords.
Reform movements: On Jan. 1, 1881, Kansas adopted prohibition as part of the state’s constitution. Alcohol consumption was just one of the many health and safety concerns that reformers campaigned against. Others, such as the public drinking cup and child labor, were addressed first in Kansas and led the way to national change.
Aviation industry: On Jan. 26, 1925, the Travel Air Manufacturing Co. was established in Wichita by aviation innovators Clyde Cessna, Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman, who later formed their own aviation manufacturing operations.
Dust Bowl: On April 14, 1935, a massive front darkened the entire Midwest in clouds of dust. The day became known as Black Sunday. Drought conditions, overgrazing and large tracts of cultivated land led to the Dust Bowl. The disaster led to soil conservation movements such as planted windbreaks, and strip and contour farming.
Rural electrification: On April 1, 1938, rural electrification reached Kansas. Electricity allowed farmers and families to take advantage of modern conveniences and increase productivity.
Brown v. Board of Education: On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its unanimous landmark ruling that laid a foundation of equal rights and opportunities for all.