The Conley and Eddy Family Migration to Kansas onto Indian Land in the 1860's

The history will contrast the Potawatomi Indians and the Osage Indians up to the time when lands were ceded and the relationship between these events and my family coming to Kansas.  Figure 1 and 2 are from the 1855 History of Kansas and describes the Osage land as a strip 50 miles wide and 165 miles long.   The Potawatomi land in Kansas was an area 30 miles square and was ceded very soon after 1855.  My father’s family, the Conley’s, migrated to Osage Trust lands and my mother’s family the Eddy’s migrated to Potawatomi reservation land (figures 3 through 7).  The names of the owners were ‘Wahunsonacock’ which is a Powhatan Indian name. The reservation was Potawatomi.  The paper is the comparison between the Potawatomi Indians and the Osage Indians culture.  The paper refers to contemporary political boundaries rather than state the obvious that they were future Kansas counties or states at the time of Indian migration.

kansas map

Figure 1: Map showing Indian Land in 1855, the period just prior to when my ancestors came to Kansas
1855 map cover  figure 2 describes the map

map picture of Potawatomi land

Figure 3: section 31 Land sold by Joseph Negahnquet

Topeka link to reservation

Figure 4: The Topeka land a little later.

House on quarter section

Figure 5: This shows the house on the NE corner of Section 31.
land patent

Figure 6: Patent for the Topeka land

land patent 2

Figure 7  patent for the land.


Language:  The Potawatomi are Algonquian speakers.  Their language family covers upper eastern North America.  The language is closely related to Powhatan, Ojibwa and Ottawa.  They understand each other, like we understand Cockney in England.  The name of the Potawatomi tribe means “Keepers of the sacred fire” in Ojibwa.  The Potawatomi call themselves ‘Neshnabek’ (original people) in their language. 

The Osage are Siouan speakers.  The Siouan language was ‘Dhegiha’ spoken by the Kansa, Omaha, Ponca, Osage and Quapaw.

Dwellings: The Potawatomi lived in villages near rivers or lakes.  Their permanent villages were made up of rectangular buildings of poles covered by cedar or elm bark.  The buildings had a high arched roof.  In the summer the living space for smaller encampments was made up of oval, domed wigwams with saplings and covered with elm bark or woven cattail mats.  The holes in the roof were made for the smoke to escape in both cases.  Cooking shelters were separate.  Menstruating women were isolated in smaller structures also.

The Osage had permanent villages for most of the year.  Sometimes they built lodges for their permanent villages.  The living space of the Osage was a wigwam covered with bark mats or hides.  The Osage lived in rectangular bark covered wigwams.  Small circular lodges were less common.  The Osage hunting shelter was a tent with four poles in a rectangular pattern.

Subsistence: Potawatomi subsistence patterns depended on the season.  They fished with hooks, lines, harpoons, traps and weirs.  They hunted beaver raccoon, squirrel, opossum and elk or moose, bear and buffalo.  Basically they hunted any game.  Later the Potawatomi raised corn, peas, beans pumpkins, squash and melons.  Like many Indians they grew tobacco for ceremonial purposes.  The last buffalo hunt was legend.  The Potawatomi were anticipating a long, cold winter. Since buffalo were an important food source, preparations were made for a hunt. The Potawatomi were good at curing and drying buffalo meat.  They were skilled at making buffalo hides into blankets.  Federal regulations of the 1840s required the Potawatomi to get permits from the Indian agent before leaving the reservation. With a hunting permit the Potawatomi hunting party traveled west in Kansas to search for the buffalo. The party’s horseback journey took them through towns of Junction City, Lindsborg, Great Bend and Wakeeney, before finally locating a buffalo herd. There, the Potawatomi hunting party took enough buffalo to satisfy their needs.  This was their last hunt of the buffalo.

For the Osage, Hunting was the primary subsistence activity but they did grow some corn, beans and squash and dried and stored it.  The Osage farmed.  Cattle had been provided by the US Government in order to alter the Osage culture and it did not work.  The Osage killed and ate livestock provided by the US government.  Trade was critical to the Osage.  After European contact they depended on the French for guns and metal objects.  The Osage did what they could to keep the Caddoan’s from trading with the French for guns.  In the early 19th century the Osage adopted European tools.  (Volume 13 “Plains” p 478).  Most Osage artifacts found are from the French trading period.  They adapted to European tools quickly.  The Osage, in their migration, may have been exposed to the Oneota based on early artifacts found in Osage sites. (Volume 13 “Plains” p 476) 

Religion:  The Potawatomi did not have a structured religion early in history.  The Potawatomi felt a part of all creation.  (Gale Volume 1: P258)  They went on vision quests and had medicine bundles.  They did adopt religion later like the ‘Dream dance’ or ‘drum cult’.  They tried the peyote cult in later years.  Their Christianity still has elements that balance between nature and humanity.  The Potawatomi believed that there are two spirits who govern the world.  One is called ‘Kitchemonedo’, the Great Spirit and the other ‘Matchemonedo’, the Evil Spirit.  The first is good and beneficent.  In former times the Potawatomi worshiped the sun, they sometimes offered sacrifice to the sun in order to cure the sick or in order to obtain something. The Potawatomi would hold what was called the "feast of dreams”. Dog meat was used at this feast.  Burial was probably underground, though there is evidence that placing the body on a scaffold was practiced (Gale Volume 1: P258).

Osage Controlling power was called “Wakanda”.  There were 24 paternal clans and each had a ‘life symbol’ sacred bundle.  The village plan followed their idea of the universe. The Osage lived in a Moiety with ‘Tsizhu’ (North) and ‘Honga’ (South).  One Moiety came to the earth from the sky.  Osage kinship was of the Omaha Indian type.  That is that the Mother and Mother’s sister were called mother.  It also meant that the Father and Father’s brothers were called father.  The Osage participated in the Peyote ritual.  The Osage chief Black Dog (whose namesake trail is famous for traversing the lower part of Kansas) had a Peyote altar near Hominy, Oklahoma (Volume 13 “Plains”: p480).

Political organization / Customs:   Potawatomi organization centered on Clan membership.  Each clan has an origin myth and related to an animal.  They guard the sacred bundle.  Clan chants were all different.  Songs and dances bestowed names. Naming practices are very important to the Potawatomi.  This was like secret societies.

Osage organization was built around a Moiety.  Each Moiety chief had equal authority.  Hereditary chiefs were replaced with War chiefs.  Warfare was put under the ‘Little Old Men’ who could recite the words Life cycle polygamy.  The post marital residence moved from the father’s family to the mother’s family (Volume 13 “Plains” p 478).

Treaties: The Potawatomi were originally located around the southern portions of Lake Michigan, in southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana.  After removal of Indians from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, most Potawatomi moves until they settled on the reservation in northeastern Kansas (figure 1).  They like most Indians were moved west of the Mississippi. Some of the Potawatomi went to Southwestern Ontario. (Kehoe, p 303)  Following 1833, most of the Potawatomi people were moved from the tribe's lands. Many died on the trip to the new lands through Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma. 

Under the Indian Removal Act, the Potawatomi were relocated west, to Missouri in the mid-1830s and then to Council Bluff, Iowa in the 1840s. After 1846, the tribe moved to Kansas . The reservation was thirty square miles which included part of present-day Topeka (figure 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5).  This is discussed later in regard to the affidavit for land my Mother’s Grandmother’s family that settled just west of Topeka.  It was called Indian Hill Farm.  One can see it was on west Wannamaker road.  The farm’s hill was flattened for development about 12 years ago, but the hill was a source of Indian artifacts. 

The Potawatomi tribe originated around the Great Lakes. The tribe was living off the resources of the Great Lakes.  Anything else they needed they acquired through trade with other tribes.  During this time the Potawatomi held no real concept of land ownership. Their beliefs taught them that land belonged to all living things. The U.S. Government, in its first treaties with the Indians, established boundaries for tribal land. In the treaties that followed the Potawatomi agreed to sell land to the Government. Those concessions led to more loss of land.

The 1830 Removal Act was policy of the United States government. The policy revolved around a dream that the Indian "problem" could be eliminated by persuading the eastern Indians to exchange their lands for territory west of the Mississippi. The exchange would leave the area between the Appalachians and the Mississippi river free for white settlement.

During this migration west, the Potawatomi made stops in Platte Country Missouri in the mid-1830s and Council Bluffs, Iowa in the 1840s. The tribe controlled millions of acres at both locations. After 1846 the tribe moved to present-day Kansas, the "Great American Desert." The area lacked the resources of the Great Lakes, the political reality of the removal left the tribe no choice. It amounted to a period of adjustment for the tribe, just like so many times in the past. At that time, the reservation was thirty square miles which included part of present-day Topeka.

Settlement changed with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. Opening this territory to settlement started immigrating white settlers. The settlers moved onto Indian lands.  It was called "squatter sovereignty." Additional white migration to Santa Fe and Oregon areas made land like the Kansas Territory suddenly very appealing.

Two treaties cut the reservation into portions that accommodated individual interests. The railroad received over 338,000 acres, Jesuit interests 320 acres, Baptist interests 320 acres, and the rest was divided into separate plots. The Jesuits, failed to make Kansas a center of Catholic activity around St. Mary's Mission.

Congress passed the Dawes Act (the General Allotment Act) of 1887. Congress said they could no longer protect Indian lands from further settlement and the demands of the railroads and other enterprises. The basic premise of the General Allotment Act was to give each Indian a private plot of land on which to become an industrious farmer. To hasten assimilation, the law provided for the end of tribal relationships, such as land held in common. It stipulated that reservations were to be surrendered and divided into family-sized farms of 160 acres for each male and smaller portions for other people which would be allotted to each Indian. The aim was to substitute white culture for tribal culture.

The Potawatomi refused to recognize their allotments of land or the right of the government to make changes. The government withheld federal payments due the Potawatomi Prairie Band and gave double allotments of the tribes land to whites, Indians from other tribes, and the agent's relatives. Much of the allotted land was too poor to farm, and the tribe received no financial credit and was given little help of any kind.

The Osage began treaty-making with the United States in 1808, by the Osage Treaty and their first cession of lands in Missouri.   The1808 treaty also provided for approval by the U.S. President for future land sales and cessions. In 1808 the Osage moved from their homelands on the Osage River to western Missouri. Part of the tribe had moved to the Three-Forks region of Oklahoma soon after the arrival of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The Civil war slowed settler’s interest in moving the Osage from reservations, but after the war those lands were ceded. 

Between the first treaty and 1825, the Osages ceded their traditional land in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma to the US in the treaties of 1818 and 1825. They were to receive reservation lands and supplies to help them farm and lose their native culture. They were first moved onto a southeast Kansas reservation called the “Osage Diminished Reserve”, (Independence, Kansas).  As stated earlier the first Osage reservation was a 50 by 150-mile strip (figure 1). White squatters were a problem for the Osage. Subsequent treaties and laws through the 1860s reduced the lands of the Osage. By a treaty in 1865 they ceded more land and faced eventual removal from Kansas to Indian Territory.

The Drum Creek Treaty passed by Congress July 15, 1870 was ratified by the Osage in Montgomery County, Kansas on September 10, 1870. The treaty provided that the remainder of Osage land in Kansas be sold and used to relocate the Osage to Indian Territory. The Osage benefited by the change in Washington administration.  The Osage sold their land to the administration of President Grant.  They received $1.25 an acre rather than the 19 cents previously offered to them by the US and given to other tribes.  The Osage occupied land in present-day Kansas and in Indian Territory which the US government promised to the Cherokee and four other tribes. When the Cherokee arrived to find that the land was already occupied, many conflicts arose with the Osage over territory and resources (figure 1).

The Osage bought their own reservation, and they retained rights to the tribes land and sovereignty as a result.   Their reservation is Osage county Oklahoma in the north-central portion of the state between Tulsa and Ponca City.  Life was hard on the Oklahoma reservation as described in 1917 when Congress met to help with the relief of the Osage in Oklahoma.  Senator Charles Curtis from Kansas was part of that committee.  The agent J George Wright had not even been on the reservation and all of his activity favored oil and gas companies developing the land.  Part of the relief was to provide money for the use of the resources (figure 12 and 13 showing parts of the congressional record).

congressional record

Figure 12 congressional record of Relief of the Osage Indians

Kansas senator Curtis

Figure 13 showing Kansas Sen. Curtis was interested in relief of the Osage and there was pressure to move on to the next tribe in 1917

Conclusion: The significance of this comparison is that the two tribes spoke different language but shared a number of common traits in their culture due to their similar life ways.

My Family link to Tribal Land: Potawatomi   On my mother’s side the Eddy family Property was transferred from an Addison Hughes. The Potawatomi controlled millions of acres. After 1846, the tribe moved to Kansas. At that time, the reservation was thirty square miles which included part of present-day Topeka (figure 1).  Addison Hughes obtained land that was part of the reservation from Joseph Negahnquet and his wife Nodnoque.  It was defined as the NE quarter of section number 31 in township number 11 south of range number Fifteen  East Shawnee county Kansas by warranty deed Oct 11, 1875 (figure 3, 4 and 5).  Joseph Nequahnquet moved to Indian Territory and he was killed shortly after his arrival in Oklahoma.   

This is in relation to the documents for land my Mothers Mother’s family settled just west of Topeka they called ‘Indian Hill Farm’ that was on west Wannamaker road.  The farm and hill was razed for development about 12 years ago, but was a source of Indian artifacts for the family for years.

The Eddy property on Potawatomie reservation was bought from a Negahnquet.  Interestingly there was an Albert Negahnquet, who was Potawatomi, the first full-blood Indian of the United States to be ordained a Catholic priest. Born near St Marys, Kansas, in 1864, he moved with his parents to the Potawatomi Reservation. (Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma), From that point Albert Negahnquet attended a Catholic mission school of the Benedictine monks. Finally Negahnquet entered the ‘College of the Propaganda Fide’ in Rome, and was ordained a priest in 1903.  Quite a change from Indian culture to Catholic priest.

Osage: The Conely (Conley) brothers migrated to Osage Indian trust lands in 1877.  This property described in detail is in Sumner County and my Great Grandfather’s part of it was on Slate Creek. (figures 8 through 10)  The three brothers came from Jasper, Illinois but likely they lived in Boone County, Kentucky in 1877 based on their fathers home at the time of his death which was 1877.  Robert M Conely, got  Osage Trust land as the South west quarter of Section 25, Township 33, south of range 2 east,160 acres ,1 Dec 1874.  Osage Trust Lands to  John C. Conely,  was a land grant of the north ½ of the Northwest quarter and the southeast quarter of the Northeast quarter of Section 26, Township 33, south of Range 2 east, 120 acres, 2 July 1877 (Osage trust Lands).  My Great Grand Father, George Northcutt Conely, land grant was Lots # 1and #2, and the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 25, Township 33, south of range 2 east, 90 acres, 20, February 1877. (Osage Trust Lands)   All the land was in Sumner County, ValVerde Township. All lands were purchased through the Wichita, Kansas district land office. Robert M .Conely came to Kansas first.  Robert came by way of Colorado. George’s Land grant was before John’s. These farms were less than a mile apart. This gives more credence that these were the sons of Greenville Connelly (the brothers changed the spelling at some point). John is stated as having arrived in 1873. At least we know they are all in Kansas by the end of 1877. Benjamin is listed with John’s family in the 1880 census. That’s four of the five sons of Greenville Conely. The three sons of George Northcutt Conely (my great grandfather) were born in Sumner County.  The twins, Oliver and Oscar and definitely Ira Melvin were born in Sumner County. Robert’s land and George’s land are in the same section. George’s land lay near the Arkansas River. John’s was in the next section west. John moved to be on the River at Gueda Springs Kansas for his Ferryboat business crossing the Arkansas River. We also know in 1880, John is in Bolton Township Cowley County. This township is adjacent to the river. In 1884, Robert M Conely is buying lots in Winfield. George is next located in Walnut Township, Cowley County and in 1895 he is in Windsor Township., Cowley County (Grand Summit).  After selling his land George Northcutt Conely (Conley) started working for the Santa Fe Railroad and moved to Grand Summit Kansas which is on the rail road right of way west of Cambridge Kansas on highway 160 and North on Ferguson Ranch Road which crosses the railroad twice before getting to Grand Summit 1894 Windsor Township Cowley County.  This substantiates that my family migrated to Kansas and found a home on Indian reservation land from county records research.

Figure 8: Conley Brothers land from the Osage Trust.  My great grandfather seems to have bought land with Slate Creek in the middle of it.  Great bottom land but flooded.  He sold it very quickly and moved to Grand Summit Kansas.


Figure 9  old county map of the Conley Land

Figure 10:  Old Map of the Osage Trust lands that were made into ‘available’ for purchase.

Figure 11 Indian Territory after the movement of the Osage and Potawatomi



Chapman, Butler J (1855) “Map of Kansas Territory” to accompany his history of Kansas

Bailey, Garrick A. (2001), “Osage”, Handbook of the American Indian, Volume 13 the “Plains”. Volume 1, 476-496.

Kehoe, Alice B (2006), “North American Indians”, p 303

Malinowski, Sharon and Sheets, Anna editors (1998), “Potawatomi”, The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes: Volume 1, 256-261

Young, Gloria A. (2001), “Intertribal Religious Movements”, Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 13 the “Plains”, Volume 2, 996-1010


December 14, 2012