Mile 488: Topeka, Kansas (Modern Day)
After leaving Kansas City, Robert Campbell and company followed the Kansas River. They had made their way deep into the uncharted West by this point and they were encountering only remote outposts and Native American villages. The state of Kansas and the city of Kansas were both non-existent when Robert Campbell’s party made their way through this portion of the Kansas River. Topeka, Kansas would begin to be developed into a European-American settlement in the 1850s. In 1854 the first cabin was built in the area, and by 1857 the town was officially incorporated, more than 30 years after Robert passed through.
The Kaw people would have called the area all around modern day Topeka and Manhattan Kansas home. Topeka, in the language of the Kaw people translates roughly to “a good place to grow potatoes.” Kaw oral history states that they originated from the ancient Hoga tribe, which was located near modern day Illinois/Kentucky. The oral history goes that the Quapaw, the Ponca, the Omaha, the Osage and the Kaw all share a common ancestry in the Hoga civilization, and that they set out on a migration further west in the late 17th century. However, as their shared oral history goes, the Hoga split up during this journey. The Quapaw settled in Arkansas, the Ponca and Omaha settled in Nebraska, the Kaw in Kansas, and the Osage settled in Missouri. Many modern archaeologists do not accept this Dhegihan History, as it is called. However, it is an oral history that is shared by all five groups, who are geographically distant, yet share a common language root.