Ottawa, KS

Town in Franklin County, KS

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Sponsors of Ottawa, KS

Since the founding of our communities, organizations, businesses and citizens have stepped forward to build and serve their community. Click on any of the logos below to learn about those who made this website possible! If you would like to learn about becoming a sponsor CLICK HERE!

About Ottawa, KS

On September 6, 1864, Ottawa was founded along the south side of the Marais des Cygnes River. The town was incorporated in 1866, and, in 1867, voted to become a City of the Second Class under the guidelines established by the State of Kansas. Our county’s development was highly influenced by the Indian tribe’s native to this area as well as those brought here by government treaties. The area that became Franklin County had the most immigrant Indians of all counties in Kansas. Franklin County was home to Pawnee, Missouri, Muncie, Osage, Ottawa, Kansa, Teton, Chippewa, Shawnee, Sac, Fox, and several smaller tribes. These tribes were given grants and reservations out of land of the Louisiana Purchase.

Indians lived in this area for thousands of years before European explorers, traders and settlers arrived. French explorers first began to penetrate the area now known as eastern Kansas around the time of the establishment of the Province of Louisiana. The French named the river that flows though Franklin County, the Marais des Cygnes, which means “marsh of the swans.” The river served as a route for trappers headed west. The French traders of the 1600s forged good relations with the Indians during this time period. In 1801, the Spanish gave the territory back to the French who sold it to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

The Ottawas became one of the tribes with a great deal of influence on the county. The word Ottawa means to trade, and that is what this tribe did. They supplied two thirds of France’s New World supply of fur during the 1600s. The British offered more supplies for their furs so the Ottawa sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. When America won, the Ottawas were forced to give up their homes.

In 1832, the Ottawa Indians gave up their Ohio lands to the U.S. government in exchange for 34,000 acres of what is now Franklin County Kansas. Joseph Badger King, an Ottawan who was forcibly removed from Ohio to Kansas and eventually relocated to Oklahoma once wrote: “It was indeed a beautiful country which we had left in Ohio but as I recall now, the new land in eastern Kansas was not a whit less attractive and pleasing. The swelling upland prairies and wooded valleys were not only beautiful to the eye, but they were teeming with wild game, which of course, made it rich to the Indians’ way of thinking.”

The first permanent white settlers to make their home in Franklin County were the Rev. Jonathan Meeker and his wife, Eleanor, American Baptist missionaries assigned to help the Ottawas. The Rev. Meeker founded the City of Ottawa as an Indian Mission. Ottawa was incorporated as a city on Nov. 23, 1867, and still serves as the Franklin County seat. When the Ottawas signed a treaty moving them to Oklahoma in 1867, settlers flocked in and the town of Ottawa prospered. The land was well suited for farming and ranching.

Development was spurred by the coming of the railroads in 1868. A period of economic expansion resulted in construction of homes and storefronts, many of which are now restored to their original beauty and grace the pages of the National Registry of Historic Places.

The nationally famous Chautauqua Assemblies were near the banks of the Marais des Cygnes and played a central role in the development of the area.

Ottawa wasn’t the only community prospering in Franklin County. Centropolis, was formed by Indian agent Perry Fuller in 1856. Le Loup in northeastern Franklin County, was an early shipping point for grain, hay and stock on the now defunct Southern Kansas Railroad, which later became the Santa Fe.

Businesses of Ottawa, KS

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Franklin County, KS

Visit our county page and you will find information about our town and county's points of interest, festivals/events and faith community. You also will learn about the community organizations that have built and continue to build strong communities (chambers, community groups, and departments, etc) and much more when you visit the Franklin County, KS page.