Huron Cemetery Chronology
by Janith English
Chief of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas
The term “Huron” was a somewhat derisive nickname bestowed by the French. It is a reference to the traditional headdress worn by Wendat (or Ouendat) people that reminded the French of the bristly hairs that stood up on the back of a wild boar. Wyandot has evolved from our original name of Wendat (or Ouendat) means people of the islands and refers to our origins on the shores of Georgian Bay on Lake Huron.
March 17, 1842. The Wyandot Nation ceded all lands in Ohio and Michigan in exchange for 148,000 acres west of the Mississippi.* The Government promised to pay the Wyandot $17,000 annually, forever, plus $500 per year for the support of the school and $100,000 for moving expenses.
July 12, 1843. 664 Wyandot started on their Journey to Kansas. Illness (possibly typhoid) struck while the Wyandot were still camped along the Missouri River. Between 60 and 100 of their number died. Their bodies were carried across the river to a high ridge that overlooked the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. Huron cemetery is established.
December 14, 1843. In an Agreement between the Delaware and Wyandot Tribes, the Delaware granted 3 sections of land of 540 acres each at the junction of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. They granted and quit claimed to the Wyandot Nation 36 additional sections of land for $46,080.
1844 Another epidemic resulted in over 100 burials in Huron Indian Cemetery.
January 31, 1855. Treaty dissolved the tribal status of the Wyandot, declared them citizens, and took their lands “in severalty; except as follows, viz: The portion now enclosed and used as a public burying-ground, shall be permanently reserved and appropriated for that purpose….”
January 29, 1859. The Town of Wyandot is incorporated. Two streets are cut across the Huron Cemetery tract. 1857 Plat illustration shows that Minnesota Avenue and Seventh Street cut off the northern and western corners of the cemetery.
February 23, 1867. A new Indian Treaty was proclaimed. Its provisions cover the Seneca’s, Mixed Seneca’s and Shawnees, Quapaw’s, Confederated Peoria’s, Kalkaska’s, Weas, Pinkershaws; Ottawa’s of Blanchard’s Fork and Roche de Bouef; and certain Wyandotte.
1890 Senator Preston B. Plank introduced a resolution in the Senate to sell the old Indian Burial Ground. This proposal resulted in “a storm of protest from Wyandot descendants.” (Kansas City Times September 8, 1916.)*
June 4, 1890. Lucy B. Armstrong in writing of Huron Indian Cemetery: “To the best of my recollection and belief I think that between the years 1844 and 1855 there were at least 400 interments there and most of these graves are not perceptible and cannot be found. There were no tombstones placed there in those days.
1899. Real estate speculators persuade the Wyandotte of Oklahoma to sell the Huron Indian Cemetery. A storm of protest arose from local Wyandot descendants; and in face of the opposition, the sale was never completed. Kansas City, Kansan.
March 22, 1899. The tribal council of the Wyandotte Tribe in Indian Territory gave William E. Connelly a Power of Attorney to have the graves moved and make a sale of the old Huron Indian Cemetery. The Connelly commission was to be 15% of the sale. (K.C. Kansan reports the document to be in the Kansas City Kansas Library.)
June 7, 1899. K.C. Star. The Wyandot Cemetery Association is chartered to take care of the cemetery. The directors were Susan Betton, Lillian Hale Walker, Justin Walker, Walter R. Armstrong and William Mc Mullan; all related to Wyandot.
June 21, 1906. The K.C. Kansan reports that a provision was buried in a section of a 65-page Congressional appropriations bill, authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to sell a tract of land located in Kansas City Kansas (Huron Indian Cemetery.) Remains of persons buried there were to be moved to Quindaro Cemetery. * The Conley sisters established “Fort Conley” on cemetery grounds and led a successful resistance to this proposed action.*They padlocked the front gate and hung a sign on it warning all persons to “Trespass at Your Peril. Over the graves of their parents, they erected a small building where they slept during their vigil.
October 25, 1906. KC Times quotes: Miss Lyda Conley, “ In this cemetery are buried one-hundred of our ancestors…why should we not be proud of our ancestors and protect their graves? We shall do it, and woe be to the man that first attempts to steal a body. We are part owners of the ground and have the right under the law to keep off trespassers, the right a man has to shoot a burglar who enters his home.” J.B. Durant, Chairman of the Government commission that is trying to sell the cemetery, “We shall keep right on asking bids for the property.”
July 15, 1907. Kansas City, Kansas has refused the offer of the Interior Department to sell Huron Cemetery to the City for $ 75,000. Kansas City Times.
1908 Charles Bonaparte, Secretary of the Interior in a letter to the Department of Justice: A cemetery may be either a public or a private one. The former is used by the general community or neighborhood or church; while the latter is used only by the family or a small part of the community (Lay V. U.S. 12 Ind App. 362). In my opinion the Wyandotte in this treaty intended that this “portion of their land now enclosed and used as a public burying ground should be reserved for that purpose, that is for their own burying purposes only.”
August 1, 1909. K. C. Kansan: “ Praying aloud to the Great Spirit by night and guarding the graves of their ancestors by day, the Conley sisters have kept a constant vigil at the old Indian Burial ground for the past 2 years. Even in the coldest months of winter they did not desert their post; and when the warm and pleasant days and the summer nights arrived, they were found ever faithful in their watch.
October term of the Supreme Court of the United States. Eliza (Lyda) Burton Conley becomes the first woman of Indian descent admitted to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
February 4, 1910. K.C. Star (Washington): What is said to be the most sympathetic decision in many years by the U.S. Supreme Court was given in the suit of Lyda B. Conley to prevent the disturbance of the Indian Burial Ground. The bill was dismissed without costs. Following the court’s decision denying the descendants of the Wyandot Indians an injunction against sale of the Huron Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas for commerce, …came a revival of the movement for the purchase of the property for a group of civic buildings. The cemetery was reported to have frontage on Minnesota Avenue of 182 Feet. Adjoining it on the west is the Stubbs Building, owned by Governor Stubbs and People’s National Bank Building.”
June 13, 1913. Senator Charles Curtis visited Kansas City. W.R. Connell took him through the cemetery and convinced him that no one in Kansas City outside a few real estate sharks wanted the cemetery destroyed. K. C. Kansan.
Congress repeals the act authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to destroy the cemetery and then appropriates money for the upkeep of Huron Cemetery.
September 8, 1916. K.C. Times. Huron Cemetery…is to be improved as a small federal park as a result of an act which passed the U.S. Senate yesterday.
March 20, 1918. Kansas City Kansas contracts with the government to “forever maintain, care for and preserve” Huron Cemetery. $10.000 is appropriated for Cemetery improvements and maintenance through efforts of Congressman Taggert.
April 17, 1918. K.C. Post. The Conley sisters established headquarters in the cemetery last night and threw out of the shack, the contractor’s tools and filled up the excavations begun yesterday for sidewalks.
April 24, 1918. K.C. Times. Government Agents and the Conley sisters, Indian Representatives, have agreed on the improving of Huron Cemetery Indian Burying Ground in K.C. Kansas. Work will start when the weather permits.
May 15, 1918. K.C. Times. “Kansas City, Kansas police wrecked a shack in Huron Cemetery used by the Conley sisters, Indian descendants. They arrested Helen (a) Conley. Lyda was arrested last week.”
May 24, 1918. F. Robertson, U.S. Attorney answers telegram from the Attorney General of May 23, 1918. “Since telegraphing you May 18, relative Lyda B. Conley, department has received following telegram from her. Quote: Grading down graves Veterans War 1812 Wire relief immediately end of quote. This matter mentioned in the telegram of the 18th I refer to you for whatever action in your judgment may be necessary.”
September 7, 1918. A bill appropriating $10,000 for the care and preservation of Huron Indian Cemetery passed the Senate. The bill, introduced by Joseph Taggart. originated in the House, GS 21-1409. Kansas makes it an offense, punishable by both fine and jail sentence, to in any way molest or destroy any grave or the improvements placed thereon. It provides “that any person who shall willfully take, remove, destroy or disfigure any monuments, flowers, plants, or token of respect on the premises in any cemetery or burial ground or who shall in any way molest or destroy any grave or the improvement placed on the burial lot where the grave is located shall upon conviction be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed $500 or both such fine and imprisonment.
January 15, 1921, K.C. Journal. The house passed the bill already passed by the Senate, repealing the clause of the Indian appropriation act of 1907 authorizing the sale of the Wyandotte burying ground.
October 23, 1921. K.C. Star. The Conley Sisters, Indian women who lived in Huron Cemetery in the Heart of Kansas City, Kansas have repeated their curse against anyone disturbing the ground of the old burial tract.
Dec___, 1939. K.C. Star reports that the suggestion that Armstrong Avenue some day penetrate Huron Cemetery recalls previous controversies. Submitted to the planning commission last Wednesday night, there was immediate objection. Members recalled the trouble that had been encountered in the past when efforts were made to invade the cemetery. Indications are that the part of the report dealing with Huron cemetery will be deleted before the report is returned to the commission.
January 28, 1946. K.C. Star reports that Ralph Fulton, member of the K.C.K. Board of Education, proposed removal of the 43 year old public library building from Huron Park in Kansas City, Kansas, and replacement with an auditorium and library and museum of war today.
February 16, 1946. Clifton Roberts, Assistant Manager of the K.C.K. Chamber of Commerce, writes to the Department of the Interior, Washington D.C. He recalls that in 1911 the Department of the Interior offered the property for sale for $75,000 and received no bid. He asks for all information concerning the status of the tract. (Huron Indian Cemetery.)
March 4, 1946. U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Indian Affairs, Chicago 54, Illinois to K.C.K. Chamber of Commerce in answer to their letter of Feb. 16 re: Huron Cemetery. “On February 4, 1908, the Attorney General held that the fee title to the cemetery was in the U.S. by reason of the treaty, subject to the right of the Wyandotte Indians to use it perpetually for cemetery purposes. There is no yearly fund or appropriation for the maintenance of the cemetery. Provision for its maintenance is, however, contained in an agreement entered into with the authorities of K.C.K. approved by the Department on April 17, 1918.
March 4, 1946. K.C. Star reports that not only have some civic leaders endorsed the proposal presented on January 28 by Ralph Fulton, but have gone further to suggest elimination of Huron Cemetery Indian Burial ground fronting on Minnesota Avenue and incorporation of the two acres it occupied into the plan. Washington has been requested to furnish data on the status of that property.
March 24, 1946. K.C. Star reports that the Proposal of Ralph Fulton, School Board member. stirs up much interest with many approving it.
May 9, 1946. K.C. Star reports that Frank Fulton, sponsor of Huron Park proposal was the former chairman of the Wyandotte County War price and rationing board and is the new president of the Kansas State Funeral Directors and Embalmers association.
May 18, 1947. An underpass ‘that would carry traffic under two streets and a park in Kansas City, Kansas was visualized last night by A.H. Skinner, city attorney, as a solution to increasing traffic congestion in the Minnesota Avenue commercial district.
June 2, 1947, Senator Thomas of Oklahoma 80th Congress introduces S 1372 1st session; authorizing Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma to sell Huron Indian Cemetery and to distribute proceeds of sale to the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma.
July 15, 1947. Joseph A. Lynch, chief deputy city attorney, states that Huron Indian cemetery and Huron park were dedicated to public use in perpetuity by the original Wyandot town company and cannot be sold by the city. K.C. Kansan
December 10, 1947. Errett Scrivner to Clark Tucker, Mayor of K.C.K. Re: Attorney General’s opinion of status of Huron Cemetery…”it is held that KCK has no title to or right to the cemetery tract and that the only interest of the city in this cemetery is that of a caretaker.”
December 15, 1947. If Kansas City Kansas wishes to prevent the sale of the Huron Park Indian Cemetery, as proposed by measures now pending in congress, something more substantial than community sentiment must be raised as a barrier, according to a communication received today by Mayor Clark E. Tucker from Errett P. Scrivner. K.C. Kansan
December 17 – December 28, 1947. Grant Harrinton, an attorney and Wyandotte Historian wrote a series of articles about Wyandot history for publication in the K.C. Kansan. Chapter I. Charles Dickens (English Novelist) in his “American Notes” relates his visit with the Wyandot in Upper Sandusky Ohio. He remarks on their strong attachment to the burial places of their Kindred and their great reluctance to leave them.
Chapter 4. The Methodist Church South owned the triangular tract of land lying between 7th Street and the cemetery grounds. The church derived its title to the land from Hiram M. Northrup. The Town Company to the Methodist Church worshiping in the German Language first deeded the 150 ft. square at the southwest corner of Huron Place. Later, the Town Company deeded the tract to the First African Methodist Church. A brick church was built. The site in turn passed to the Masons and is now occupied by the Scottish Rite Temple.
February 2, 1948. Calendar of Business for the U.S. Senate lists order No. 565; S. 1372 sponsored by Senator Thomas of Oklahoma–A bill authorizing the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma to sell tribal cemetery. Reported by ( July 14, 1947) Mr. Watkins, Committee on Public Lands, with an amendment. (Report No. 527.)
March 3, 1948. Mrs. Paul Green, a great granddaughter of Franklin Butler and his wife, Harriet Brown Butler who are buried in the Cemetery, expressed opposition to the proposed sale of Huron cemetery. Harriet Brown Butler, the great-grandmother of Mrs. Green , was a sister of Quindaro Brown Guthrie, for whom Quindaro Ks. is named. K.C.Kansan.
The K.C. Star prints photographs of 2 tombstones in the Huron Indian Cemetery that were toppled by Vandals. The stones are among others that have been broken and overturned in the past few days.
January 27, 1949. Senator Elmer Thomas of Oklahoma authorizing the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma to sell Huron Indian Cemetery introduces S 662.
January 28, 1949. K.C. Star reports that Ralph Fulton, member of the Kansas City, Kansas board of education proposed a plan including the removal of the 43 year old public library building from Huron park in Kansas City, Kansas, and replacement with an auditorium and library; and museum of war.
January 31, 1949. Representative Gilmer (D) of Oklahoma introduced HR 2022 (1st Congress 1st Session) “authorizing the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma, through its business committee to sell and convey, subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, the Wyandotte Indian Public Burial Ground in Kansas City, Kansas.
February 4, 1949. K.C. Star quotes Mayor Tucker of K.C.K. as saying,” a few people in Oklahoma, whose ancestry in the tribe that used the historic burial ground in Kansas City, Kansas, might be questioned, have sought to destroy a government treaty for their personal gain. A vast majority of the people of Kansas City, Kansas want the landmark kept intact by the government.”
March 24, 1949. K.C. Star reports that a resolution requesting Congress, subject to executive approval, to designate Huron cemetery as a national monument was adopted today by the City Commissioners of K.C.K. in an effort to prevent a threatened sale of the cemetery under provisions of a bill now scheduled for an early hearing in the House of Representatives.
March 28, 1949. Errett P. Scrivner, of Kansas, appears before the Indian Affairs Committee of the Committee on Public Lands in opposition to HR 2022. He declares himself a spokesman for the Wyandot descendants in Kansas who he considers as legitimately a part of the Wyandot Nation as the 1949 reorganized remnant in Oklahoma. He argued that the Committee must consider the rights of the members of the Wyandot nation who did not again become wards of the Government; and the rights, if any. of the 1949 Wyandotte of Oklahoma made up of certain former members of the Wyandot Nation..* He expressed support of HR 3659 to make the cemetery a National Monument. Excerpts of Letters of protest from Wyandot descendants whose relatives are buried in the cemetery are read.
March 30, 1949. Errett Scrivner writes to H.M.T. that the Department of the Interior suggested that any excavations should be done under the proper archaeological practices. He further reported that The National Park Service indicated that, if his bill was to be reported, the designation be changed to Wyandot National Memorial rather than that the cemetery being known as a National Monument.
April 3, 1949. In a letter to the K.C. Kansan, Errett P. Scrivner emphasized that the Huron Indian Cemetery is not abandoned. He said he spoke for many descendants of the members of the Wyandot nation, many of them friends of his. He added that Kansas City, Kansas, “which already has paid out substantial sums for retaining walls and care, is bound by contract to continue to care for it.
April 15, 1949. K.C. Times. Old records show that the city is using 2000 square feet of cemetery land for the use of pedestrians and motorists along its busiest arteries, Minnesota and 7th Street.
April 29, 1949. Errett Scrivner relates proposed amendments to House bill No. 2022 that would protect the federal government, to which Huron Indian Cemetery was deeded years ago by the Wyandot with the stipulation it would remain a burial ground “as long as waters flow and grasses grow.”
May 11, 1949. Judge Henry A. Bundschu requests a word of encouragement from President Harry S. Truman to the Secretary of the Interior.
May 21, 1949. President Truman writes to Judge Bundschu: Dear Henry…about H.R. 3659. I sincerely hope that measure will pass because I think it is a good thing.
November 6, 1949. Howard Payne, K.C.K. City clerk proposes to build a parking lot under Huron Park, pointing out that there is a precedent for the use of the ground beneath the cemetery, there being a subway under one of the oldest burial grounds in Boston, on the common. The proposed parking lot would not be free but would be self-sustaining*
November 12. President Truman replaces J.A. Krug as secretary of the interior in the Truman cabinet by Oscar Chapman, under Secretary.
March 8, 1951. Errett Scrivner introduces HR 3150 to authorize the President to proclaim the Wyandot Indian Cemetery at Kansas City, Kansas The Wyandot National Monument and for other purposes.
March 31, 1951. In a letter to Errett Scrivner, H.M.T. reported his visit to the office of H.A. Andrews, District agent of the 5 civilized tribes, Indian Field Service, at the Post Office Building in Miami Oklahoma. He said that Mr. Andrews left no doubt as to his attitude being unfriendly to (HMT’s) cause. Mr. Andrews reportedly stated that regardless of what HMT wished or thought, the cemetery would be sold and no Wyandotte’s descendants except those within the tribal organization (in Oklahoma) would get any proceeds from the sale of the cemetery. Mr. Trowbridge stated, “Rep. Scrivner himself a lawyer holds that the Okla. Wyandotte’s have no valid claim at all on the cemetery grounds, having abandoned their tribal entity and pulled away from the rest.”
Andrews replied that from some 35 years in Indian field work he knew what the law was and what the courts had held; and none outside the tribe as now constituted (approximately 1000) would participate He asserted the cemetery was being neglected and was in disorder, etc. At that, HMT produced from his 2 scrapbooks pictures he had taken showing the grounds to be in perfect conditions. HMT stated, “From my experiences over the past four or five years, including those five active days in Washington two years ago devoted to this subject, plus the attitude so evident in
Miami, I am convinced the “ring” had the skids well greased two years ago to put the deal over with neatness and dispatch. I promised my friend in Miami that if the bill to sell was passed, a court fight would follow.”
February 6, 1952. K.C. Times reports that A federal Grand Jury is now investigating charges of another $500,000 shakedown attempt involving Albert A. Grorud who drafts Indian Legislation for the Senate interior committee. Grorud allegedly suggested that a former Washington attorney who had collected one of the largest fees ever awarded by the courts contribute $500,000 to a “campaign fund” to re-elect the senators on the interior committee. The FBI investigated and found that the senators had nothing to do with Grorud’s alleged proposal.
August 15, 1952. Drew Pearson reports that the Indian Law Business has become so profitable that a Senate Sub-Committee under Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico is investigating it.
March 8, 1955. Senator Carlson Introduces S 1335 to provide that the Secretary of the Interior shall investigate and report to the Congress as to the advisability of establishing Huron Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas as a National Monument.*
September 4, 1955. K.C. Times reports that transfer of the title of Huron Indian Cemetery to Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma threatens security of the site by commercial development.
September 4, 1955. KC. Times reports citizens protesting the proposed move are rallying behind the Wyandotte County Historical society that plans a legal battle to keep intact “the most valuable historical site in the county.” Although it is designated as the Wyandotte National burying ground, the 900 tribesmen meeting tonight at Wyandotte Oklahoma see it as a 1 1/2 million dollar opportunity. (Aerial photograph clearly shows encroachment by buildings and streets when compared to earlier photographs and plotting.)
September 7, 1955. K.C. Star reports that the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma refused to allow officers of and an attorney for the Wyandotte County Historical Society to speak at the annual tribal meeting. They had intended to present plans for Preserving Huron Indian Cemetery as a national shrine.
September 18, 1955. Secretary Seaton of the Department of the Interior issues a statement on The Wyandot Cemetery that includes the following statements: “…The Business Committee of the tribe has indicated that it will request a sale of the property, reinterment of the bodies, and distribution of the net proceeds of sale (after deducting the costs of reinterment) to the tribal members. However, there may well be, as there was in the period from 1906 to 1913, deeply felt opposition to a sale among many of the descendants of the Indians buried in the present site. Such sentiments should certainly be given an opportunity for expression through the referendum process… An item in the Indian appropriation act of June 32, 1906 authorized the Secretary of the Interior to sell the burial ground and pay the proceeds of sale to the Indians. Although a commission to sell the land was appointed, the sale was never consummated because of opposition to a sale by relatives and next-of-kin of persons interred in the cemetery. On February 13, 1913, Congress repealed the sale authority, and thereafter appropriated funds for the preservation and improvement of the site, authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to pay to Kansas City, Kansas, and the sum of $1,000 in consideration of the agreement by the city to maintain forever and care for the cemetery.
December 7, 1956. Congressman Errett P. Scrivner writes to Fred Seaton, Secretary of the Interior and asserts that the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma constituted only a part of what was the original Wyandot Nation. He says that descendants of those persons who went to Oklahoma have no more right than (Citizen) descendants to any property that belonged to the Wyandot Nation.
April 27, 1958. K.C. Star quotes Representative Errett P. Scrivner as stating that the cost of moving the graves and clearing the property of Huron Indian cemetery would take most of the sale price, leaving little for the Wyandot Indian Tribe living in Oklahoma.*
September 15, 1958. Helena (Lena) Gros Conley dies, and is buried in Huron Indian Cemetery on September 18, 1958. Proud of her Wyandot Indian ancestry, she had the name “Floating Voice” chiseled into her tombstone. Her tombstone warns, “Cursed be the villain that molests these graves.
January 1, 1959. Representative Newell George (D-Ks) Introduces HR. 2334 so that the Secretary of the Interior shall make a full and complete investigation and study of the feasibility of establishing Huron Cemetery as a national shrine and monument in order to commemorate the important role played by the Wyandotte Indian Nation in the history of the State of Kansas and of the United States to preserve the burial ground as a permanent place of historical interest. HR also would block the transfer, sale or other disposition of the land until after the Secretary of the Interior has made the report to Congress. HR also called for the Public Law 887 of August 1, 1956 to be repealed.
February 26, 1959. Paul Shanahan, Secretary of State of the State of Kansas Certifies the
Incorporation of “The Wyandotte Nation of Kansas. The Term for which this Corporation is to exist is ONE HUNDRED YEARS.”
May 10, 1959. George Zane, chief of the Wyandot in Greater Kansas City, will lead a delegation of tribesmen to Washington to testify in the hearing on the Huron Indian Cemetery. They hope to block the sale of the cemetery by their cousins in the Wyandotte tribe of Oklahoma., K.C.Star
May 17, 1959. The K.C. Kansan reports that an appraisal of Huron Indian Cemetery made by Appraisal Associates, 1016 Baltimore KC Mo. for the Department of the Interior expresses the opinion that the Huron Indian Cemetery land’s best commercial use would be as the site for a small department store or a parking lot.
May 18, 1959. Harry M.Trowbridge makes statement before the committee on Interior and Insular Affairs, House of Representatives He first refers to letters by Wyandot a number of years ago bitterly protesting a sale then proposed. He then read a copy of a letter written May 13, 1959 from Former President Harry S. Truman asking that Huron Cemetery be preserved.
May 19, 1959. A House subcommittee will go to Kansas City, Kansas to reopen its hearings on proposed legislation to stop the sale of the Wyandotte Indian Burial Ground in Huron Park.. The subcommittee session in Washington yesterday was cut short after only 4 of 13 witnesses had testified in favor of George’s bills to save the cemetery as a historic shrine. K.C. Star.
May 19, 1959. Mayor Mitchum said K.C. Kansas would not allow the cemetery grounds to be used as a parking lot. (as was recommended) in the event of a sale.) He said the city would bear cemetery upkeep expenses.
May 22, 1959. Mayor Paul F. Mitchum repeats ancient Indian philosophy, “Though I am dead The sun will glow, the stream will flow, the grass will grow” in expressing his gratification that the U.S. House subcommittee on Interior Indian Affairs had agreed to hold a hearing in K.C.K. since many of the persons qualified to speak on the historical merits of the cemetery were not heard.* June 9. K.C. Kansan and K.C. Times report on the investigation of apparent infringements on the Huron Park Indian cemetery boundaries by the city and business buildings facing Seventh Street. Two realty officials of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, George W. Mathis, chief appraiser for the bureau, and A.H. Harris, realty officer for the Muskogee, Oklahoma area, arrived in KCK on June 8th.
June 4, 1959. Fred A. Seaton, Secretary of the Interior, announced today he will send a
representative to K.C. Kansas to participate in a hearing to be held on bills dealing with the future status of the Huron Indian Cemetery.
June 27, 1959. Descendants of the Wyandotte Indians and persons from throughout Kansas City urged retention of Huron cemetery as a burial ground and historic Monument. Chief Lawrence Zane of the Wyandotte tribe of Oklahoma said that the Oklahoma Wyandotte were not concerned about who purchased the ground as long as they were compensated for it. Under questioning by the committee, he declined to elaborate on the tribe’s position, saying only that the law provided for the sale. “I did not come here to rehash what has already been said,” he declared. Following the reading of his statement, Chief Lawrence Zane and the six other representatives of the Oklahoma tribe left the hearings. With this exception, the 100 persons present favored preservation of the historic burial ground.
1959 Chief George Zane, Chief of the Wyandotte Nation of Kansas, said, “let the dead rest in peace.” He said that he felt that he had as much right to say what happens to the cemetery as any of the Oklahoma Wyandotte, many of whom have never seen the cemetery.” He is a cousin of the Chief of the Wyandotte tribe, but was not included in the roll. He added, “I don’t think the government did a very good job of establishing the roll. Descendants of persons buried in the cemetery challenged the federal register roll of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma as being incomplete, alleging they were not advised of the roll’s being undertaken until it was too late to make an application.
Clifford B. Zane told the committee: “It is a terrible thing the government is putting on us. I have three sons, a father, mother, grandmother, and great- grandmother buried there. I don’t think there is a person in this room who would like to see his relatives dug up.”
Frank A. Northrup pronounced himself “unalterably opposed to the sale of the cemetery.” Mrs. Edith Yunghans remarked “I am here to represent the dead of mine who are in the cemetery. It was hallowed ground to them. It was where they went to commune with their God. I hope someday that I can go lie down beside them.” In response to a question by Haley, several in the audience stated they wished to be buried in the cemetery. K.C. Times and K.C.Kansan
Ralph A. Fulton, a funeral director, told the committee the cost of moving the bodies in a respectable manner would be about $300 each. He added that present-day requirements of the board of health concerning permits for reburial would be almost impossible to meet. It was estimated that 400 Wyandot died of communicable diseases and were simply wrapped in blankets and placed in unmarked graves. (only the graves of chiefs were marked in the early days) K. C. Kansan.
July 3, 1959. Newell George believes that members of the House Sub-committee on Indian Affairs were convinced that Huron cemetery should be preserved after the group heard about 20 local witnesses at a hearing on the cemetery held last Saturday at the Town House hotel K.C. Kansan*.
July 6, 1959. Bids for the sales of Huron Indian cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas, were called for today by the bureau of Indian Affairs in Muskogee, Oklahoma and will be accepted until July 30. K.C. Star.
July 6, 1959. Paul L. Fickinger, director of the Muskogee Okla., area office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs said bids for the Huron Indian Cemetery would be opened at his office at 10 AM July 30. A notice to bidders said that an estimated 300 – 900 graves are located on this tract and will be removed at the expense of the Wyandotte tribe within a reasonable length of time. The notice also said the tract was an excellent location for a department store. The bidders were told that retaining walls, fire escapes, and vents of buildings on the west boundary encroach on the property to an extent of not more than five feet., Minnesota Avenue and 7th street also encroach on portions of the property. The bid notice stated that encroachments are matters that may be settled between the purchaser and the encroachers.(K.C. Kansan)
July 10, 1959. Alan Farley, special attorney for the city on Huron Cemetery filed a suit against the government for an injunction halting the sale of the Huron cemetery in U.S. District court here. It will be against the United States; Fred Seaton, Secretary of the Interior; the Wyandotte Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, and L.C. Maddox, Wyandotte’s county register of deeds. Farley said if a law providing for sale of the cemetery by Aug. 1 were followed, local descendants of the Wyandot Indians would be deprived of their rights. K.C. Kansan
July 10, 1959. Alan Farley said he mentioned the proposed suit to the congressional investigating committee in Kansas City, Kansas June 27 and they had “no objections to it being filed. K.C.Times
July l4, 1959. A second suit was filed in behalf of five Wyandot descendants in Greater Kansas City. Alan Farley represents Chief George Zane, Jr. Marie Hatthorn, Julia Grindel, Ruby Vickers and Dr. Frank Northrup. They noted they were filing in behalf of all tribal descendants in Greater Kansas City. The defendants are the U.S. government, Fred Seaton, Secretary of Interior; the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma, a corporation, and L.C. Maddox, Wyandotte County register of deeds. The suit alleges a treaty in 1855 provides that the portion of the land enclosed and used as a public burial ground, shall be permanently reserved and appropriated for that purpose. The petition asserts the plaintiffs have a personal right to burial in the cemetery without cost, that they are being deprived of these rights without due process of law, and are being denied equal protection under law. K.C. Times, July 15
September 29, 1960. The Federal Judges hearing suits arising from Public Law No. 887 passed by Congress Aug 1, 1956 recognized the sharp conflict of interests between local Wyandot descendants and the Wyandotte tribe of Oklahoma. The judges stated they took cognizance of the fact that the Wyandotte of Oklahoma had not used the cemetery since leaving this area in 1867. The judges said local Wyandot descendants are still using the cemetery. More than 800 persons are buried there. K.C. Kansan
September 30, 1960. The panel of 3 federal judges dismissed the suits saying that to overrule a 1906 precedent that was sought by plaintiffs was a matter for the Supreme Court. Alan W. Farley, attorney for the plaintiffs said he probably would take the case to the Supreme Court on an appeal. K.C. Times
March 21, 1960. The U.S. Supreme court affirmed dismissal of suits by five Greater Kansas City descendants of the Wyandot Indians and by the city of Kansas City, Kansas, seeking to enjoin the sale of the Huron Indian Cemetery. K.C. Star
March 30, 1961. In a letter to James E. Officer, Special assistant to the Secretary of the
Department of the Interior, H.M.T. points out that in 1958, two years after congress passed the bill allowing the sale of Huron Cemetery, Helena Conley, the last of the three sisters noted for their defense of the cemetery, was buried there. It didn’t make sense to “bury one year and prepare to bulldoze out the dead the next.”
February 23, 1965. Frank A. Northrup, M.D. dies and is buried in Huron Indian Cemetery.
March 7, 1966. Chief L.N. Cotter of the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma states in a letter to Maude L. McLaughlin that the Huron cemetery is the property of the Wyandotte Indian Tribe of Oklahoma and that “we are trying to sell it to some organization such as a historical society or maybe the city might be interested.”
May 26, 1968. KC.Star reports that the headstones of 14 graves in Huron Park Indian Cemetery were overturned and broken. Broken pieces of stone were widely scattered, indicating the stones were struck with a heavy instrument.
May 28, 1970. The Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma Business Committee enters into a preliminary agreement with The Urban Renewal Agency of Kansas City, Kansas without consulting members of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas or the Bureau of Indian Affairs.. The Wyandotte of Oklahoma requested that no further burials be allowed to take place in Huron Indian Cemetery for 20 years following completion of cemetery alterations.
September 1971. Huron Indian Cemetery is placed on the National Register of Historic Sites
December 22, 1971. In a Memorandum to the Muskogee Area Director, The Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs of the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Tribal Government services (Operations) states: (pg. 3; Section C) “At the time of the Treaty of Fort Industry in 1805, the Wyandotte was a unified tribe. The moves to Kansas and the Indian Territory, however, resulted in the breakdown of that unity. Since 1904, there have been two identifiable groups of Wyandotte as discussed above. Therefore, we find the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma and those listed on Special Agent Olive’s “Census of the Absentee or Citizen Wyandotte Indians” of November 18, 1896, as corrected, or their descendants to be the beneficiaries of the funds awarded by the United States Claims Court in dockets 212 and 213.”
1991 The City of Kansas City Kansas, under authority of the 1976 easement agreement, installs some 75 new grave markers to replace those from 1978-1979 that are missing, damaged, in error of text or location; or in some cases, never installed, at a cost of approximately $10,000.
February 1994. Information was received regarding Chief Leaford Bearskin of The Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma visiting Kansas City, Kansas and announcing the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma’s plans to build a bingo parlor on the sacred grounds of the Huron Cemetery. Re: March 17 Memo. Letter to Senator Nancy Landon Kassenbaum from the Area Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Anadarko Area Office, and Anadarko Oklahoma states that Mr. Sherman Yunghans’ inquiry into the status of the Huron Park Cemetery and the potential for conversion to a gaming facility has been forwarded from Assistant Secretary Ada Deer’s offices to his office for additional response. He encloses a general informational memorandum from his office to Mr. John Dalgarn, Realty Officer of the Miami Agency of the BIA and States that no action requiring the Bureau’s involvement will occur without substantial documentation of consultation with various agencies and, most importantly, consent from the lineal descendants of individuals interred at the Huron Park Cemetery, as required in the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.
May 5, 1994. Chief George Zane, Jan English, Fran Davidson, Darren English and Richard Yunghans, Wyandot of Kansas, appeared before the KCK City Council to officially oppose the proposed removal of bodies from the Huron Indian Cemetery.
June 6, 1994. Senator Nancy Landon Kassenbaum sends copy of a reply from the Bureau of Indian Affairs regarding the Huron Cemetery including Mr. Walker’s expanded view of the issue outlining the laws with which the Wyandotte Tribe of Oklahoma would need to comply, and the observation that the consent of lineal descendants is required. She also offers further assistance in this matter.
June 11, 1995. Spring Spruce up of the Huron Indian Cemetery. Wyandot of Kansas and friends of the cemetery brought sack lunches and lawn tools to work together. Rebecca Barber, Executive Director of the Wyandotte County Historical Museum offered archeological consultation in the marker replacement project.
Sept 12, 1995. Second Chief of the Wyandot Nation of Kansas discusses with Allen Cobb of Senator Robert Doles office discusses the tribe’s recommendations concerning the preservation of Huron Indian Cemetery and the utilization of the Federal Courthouse in downtown KCK as an office building for Wyandotte County.