Delaware and Shawnee Migration


In 1825, the U.S. government seized the land from 30 Indian tribes in the East and gave them land in Kansas in return. Around Eudora, land north of the Kansas River was given to the Delaware Indians; land south to the Shawnee.

The Delaware. The Delaware (also known as the Lenape, which means “ordinary” or “common”) originated in the New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic area and migrated to Ohio and Indiana. To Kansas, they came on horseback and by wagon to the reservation.

John Pratt, a missionary who lived with them in 1837, wrote:

“That part of the country on the north side of the Kansas River was first settled by the Delaware in 1829. They brought with them a knowledge of agriculture, and many of them habits of industry. They opened farms, built houses and cut out roads along the ridges and divides. . .” Pratt said other “wilder” tribes were hostile to the short-haired Delaware and would attack them when they went out to hunt buffalo and beaver.”

According to Rodney Staab in his article "Dining with the Delawares: Kansas Delaware Home and Hospitality, 1830-1860s,” the Delaware first built bark homes. By the early 1860s, their homes were mostly small cabins of wood with one or two rooms and dirt floors. These cabins had large, open stone fireplaces, often so large that a man could stand upright in them -- and their beds were shelves held onto the walls with wooden pins. In clearings, they put up chicken coops, stables, and barns.”

The Delaware men hunted game such as rabbits, turkey, and deer, for food. In addition to foraging berries and honey and tending orchards, the Delaware grew corn, wheat, potatoes, oats, and beans. They also kept cattle, hogs, chickens, horses, and dogs.

They had a trading post in what is now the town of Linwood. Sarah Lindsey, a Quaker from England, toured Quaker settlements in Kansas and wrote of the Delaware living in this area:

“In crossing an unbroken prairie, several miles in extent, & not knowing which way to proceed, we came to a stand, and at a distance observed 3 Indians mounted on horseback coming towards us; on their advance the party seemed to consist of a man & his wife & 2 children; the woman had a yellow handkerchief bound round her temples, & a long yellow scarf round her neck, with a red blanket over her shoulders, enclosing a babe upon her knee: various ornaments hung from her saddle, and altogether she had quite an imposing appearance. On one of the man's boots I observed a large spur, the stirrups were made of wood, & covered with leather which came up to the ankle. The Indian was well dressed & tried to give us some information about our journey. After proceeding some miles we became uneasy, thinking we were going in the wrong direction, and on coming to a cross road altered our track. There are numerous natural roads over the prairies, and we often see Indian trails where they ride on horseback two or 3 abreast,. . .”

Lindsey also wrote in the same account: "Passing thro' the Delaware Indians reservation, we rode about 12 miles over the open prairie without passing a single house; the first we came to was a good new frame house belonging to an Indian chief, and was used as an hotel. Some of the best houses we see here are two stories high & belong to the Indians. They generally locate themselves on the margin of rivers & creeks, . . .”

The Eudora Area Historical Society Newsletter #4 (October 1984) included the short article “Delaware History” that said that Chief Fall Leaf was “buried on the Harold Canary farm as there is an old cemetery northeast of his house. His property included the old Dessinger house and was near Fred Reetz’s farm. . . .There were two Indian graves on the northeast corner of the old Bill Hunter farm, the first farm north of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the west side of the #1 to Hiway 32 from Eudora. These graves used to be cribbed with logs but a fire from a railroad engine burned the logs in 1913.” Sources for this information weren’t included in the article.

Carol Rooker, said in a March 5, 2008, interview that the Harold Canary farm is the same as the Bill Hunter farm, 80 acres presently owned by Carol and Robert Rooker. The house, which the Rookers have expanded, is at 11259 222nd Street on Leavenworth County Road One, and the two Indian graves are northwest of the house, in the northwest quarter of the 80 acres and not really in “the corner” as newsletter article suggests.

The Shawnee. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home." Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Nation

Iroquois drove the Shawnee from southern Ohio, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania during the 1660s. By 1730, most Shawnees returned to their homelands. American settlement pushed them out again, first to Ohio, and then some to Missouri.

Starting in 1830, many came to Kansas because of treaties as did several other emigrant tribes made up of numerous “half breeds,” that is, of white and Indian parents. Stated the History of Wyandotte County Kansas and Its People:
“The Shawnee Indian mission was the most ambitious attempt of any Protestant church in the early times to care for the Indians of Kansas. In 1828 what was called the Fish band of Shawnee Indians was moved by the government from Ohio to Wyandotte county, Kansas. They were under the leadership of the Prophet, the brother of the great Tecumseh, who made his home near the spot where the town of Turner now stands. The following year the Reverend Thomas Johnson, a member of the Missouri conference of the Methodist church, followed the Indians to Turner, built a log house on the hill south of the Kansas river and began working among the red men as a missionary. In 1832 the rest of the Shawnee Indians from Ohio rejoined their tribe in Kansas. The government allotted them a large reservation of the best land in eastern Kansas.”

Paschal Fish Sr., a white man named William Jackson who took the name “Paschal,” the Latin word for “Easter,” was educated at a mission school in Ohio. According to Fish, was born about 1760 and taken from his white family in the Ohio River Valley to be the adopted son of Black Fish before 1778. He married Elizabeth Bishop, a white woman, about 1789; took a Shawnee wife in 1789; and then married Polly Rogers, the grand-daughter of Black Fish and half-Shawnee. He had several children, including Paschal Fish, Jr., a child with his Shawnee wife. He brought 30 mostly mixed-blood Shawnee (most with white skin and several with light hair) and five whites around 1831 to the Shawnee Mission in present-day Fairway, Kansas, which was a Methodist-run school for Indian youth. While Baptists and Quakers also ran mission schools, the Methodists had the largest at the Shawnee Mission, which was also a stopping post for travelers. Fish died there in 1834.

A journal entry of Isaac McCoy, an area Baptist missionary, who lobbied for Indian land removal and surveyed treaty lands in Kansas [see “Journal of Isaac McCoy for the Exploring Expedition of 1828,” edited by Lela Barnes, November 1936 (Kansas Historical Quarterly, vol. 5, no. 4, pages 339 to 377) referred to Paschal Fish when it stated: “Today more than twenty Shawanoes assembled in obedience to a call of Major Campbell, to whom I made a pretty lengthy address on the subject of a mission being established among them. . . .After the council was dissolved, I had an interview with Fish, alone, He is the Chief of a band of them, He assured me that he and his party were in favour of having a mission established among them. They had been desiring it for some time. They would not have come to this place had they not hoped that this would be done for them. He said he had often expressed his opinion to Shane, He was of the same opinion still. He thought that if a School, &c. was once begun those who are now indifferent to the subject would be induced to follow the example of others who are now ready to adopt those measures, and when they would see others sending their children to school, &c. they would be induced to do the same, &c. &c. I assured him that at his request a mission should be given them, and that I would enter immediately upon the work of bringing it about. Another man of influence said to me alone that he greatly desired a school that he might send his children, and that his brother might be allowed to send his. Another man, one of Fish's party was pointed out to me, who said that if a school could not be established here he would have to send his daughters into the settlements of the whites, which would occasion an expense which he could not well bear.”

Paschal Fish, tribe leader, innkeeper, ferry operator, and Methodist minister. At age 33, Paschal Fish Jr., also spelled “Pascel,” “Pascal,” “Paschall,” “Pasqual,” and “Pescel,” assumed leadership of the Fish Tribe, also known as the Jackson tribe. In 1837, he worked as a blacksmith and gunsmith assistant at Fort Leavenworth, according to Indian Department employment records.           

The Fish Tribe with Fish Jr. moved to the Eudora area in the early 1840's. With him came James Captain; William Rogers; Joe Parks; William Parks; a Crane; the Bluejackets (Charles, George, and Henry); and others. Votes cast in the 1855 tribal election, with Mathew Clerk serving as clerk, showed some of this original group stayed. As for the election, it resulted in Henry Bluejacket, Dougherty, Simon Hill, Tooley, and Tucker voted council leaders, and Joseph Parks and Graham Rogers (who owned 1,000 acres in Johnson County by 1858, built a home at 6741 Mackey in Merriam, and was the son of a white man kidnapped by Shawnee and raised by Chief Blackfish), the principal chiefs. Charles BlueJacket served as interpreter as he did for federal treaty agreements.

On 1854 Indian census rolls, Fish Jr. was listed as being 50 years of age with a wife, Martha, age 40. His children were Obadiah, 12; Eudora (Udora), 9; and Leander Jackson, 7. Fish Jr. also had foster children (and additional children with his later wife, Mary Ann). Mary Emmons, a direct relative, found at least four wives for Paschal — Hester Zane, Martha Captain, Jane Quinney (another account says her surname was Hohthawakawe also spelled Hoh-tha-wa-ka-se), and Mary Ann Steel — and four for Leander — Julia Parks, Rose Fish, Mary Kathryn Large, Josephine Heitz, all of whom divorced Leander. Other genealogical reports include Mary Ann Clure; Fern Long, Eudora, claims he was married also in Missouri before his marriage to Hester Zane, a Wyandot and mother of Eudora Fish; and a Mrs. Barret was recorded in February 9, 1854 by Reverend C. Boles in Shawnee Marriages 1843-1857.

Although Shawnee, Paschal Fish Jr., and other tribe members did not resemble the Indians of western lore and Hollywood movies. Wilson Hobbs, a doctor who lived with the Shawnee from 1850 to 1852, wrote: “At the time of my residency with these people there were very few full-blooded Indians among them. . . . The Parkses (Joe and William), the Blue-jackets (Charles Henry, and George), the Fishes (Paschal and John), the most noted and influential men of their tribe, were scarcely half-bloods, the white predominating. Of the three Blue-jacket brothers, George had most red blood and least civilization.”

He and his brother, Charles, pictured on the left, who had helped at the inn, operated a ferry across the Kansas River in the Weaver area. Charles appeared to operate the ferry in all government references and owned the land from which crossings took place. The ferry was on the trail that the U.S. Army blazed from Fort Leavenworth to Willow Springs to join the Santa Fe Trail. The Kansas Legislature also licensed Fish to operate the ferry a mile up and a mile down the Wakarusa.

Colonel Stephen Kearney and 280 First U.S. dragoons left the military trail in 1846 to blaze a new trail to Fort Leavenworth. They crossed the Kansas River near where the Wakarusa joins it on “a ferry operated by Indians.” Lieutenant J. W. Albert wrote June 29, 1846:

“In the river we found two large flatboats or scows, manned by Shawnee Indians dressed in bright colored shirts, with shawls around their heads. The current of the river was very rapid, so that it required the greatest exertion on the part of our ferrymen to prevent the boats from being swept far downstream. We landed just at the mouth of the Wakaroosa creek. Here there is no perceptible current; the creek is fourteen feet deep, while the river does not average more than 5 feet; and in some places is quite shallow. . . .the pure cold water of the Wakaroosa looked so inviting that some of us could not refrain from plunging beneath its crystal surface.”

According to Fern Long, Eudora local historian specializing in the Kansas Territory, the Fish ferry was in operation before 1845 and until the 1860s. The ferry was used continuously by the army as well as by travelers heading west to join other trails. Troops from Fort Leavenworth usually made it to the ferry in one day and camped on the Wakarusa bank after crossing. Fish got $1 a wagon for the crossing. Some days as many as 90 provision wagons crossed over on the ferry.

John Bowes wrote in From Exiles and Pioneers: Eastern Indians in the Trans-Mississippi West (New York, 2007, pg. 112-113): "A prevalent business in the 1840s entailed charging American travelers for passage across the creeks and rivers that impeded their journey along the various trails that originated in the Missouri border towns. . . .Wyandots, Shawnees , Potawatomis, and Delawares all ran small ferries at the various rivers in eastern Kansas that coursed across both their reserves and the popular emigration trails. . . .Only a few miles east of the Potawatomi reserve, Paschal and Charles Fish, two Anglo-Shawnee brothers, also operated a ferry on the Kansas River. They benefitted not only from emigrant travel but also from the U.S. soldiers that required the Indian flatboats on their way to Mexico in 1846.

"Paschal Fish did more than just operate a ferry, however. He took advantage of other traveler needs and by the 1850s transformed his home into an inn. Located approximately ten miles east of present-day Lawrence, his two-story house greeted weary travelers in need of food and a place to rest their heads. Although the creaking cottonwood boards did not always inspire confidence in the stability of the second floor, and competition for the single washbasin and square mirror often delayed morning preparations, the inn nevertheless received satisfactory evaluations. A hot breakfast, complete with fresh biscuits and coffee, was served, and it sent travelers on their way. Fish also owned a small store and cultivated approximately one hundred acres of corn and thirty acres of oats. Wagon train drivers told visitors stories of this Shawnee man who 'don't drink a drop of whiskey' and who sat on his porch with his hat on, 'in a ruminating mood.' Although these drivers may have tried to make their stories more colorful with such descriptions, it remained clear that informed travelers in the 1850s knew of Paschal Fish and the services he provided."

Fish Jr.’s thatched-roof roadside inn for travelers, the Fish House, was on the 1857 Territorial Map. Morris Werner, author of Hotels, Taverns and Stage Stations, said it was in Block 154, Lot 9 or at the junction of the then Ferry Road and Westport & Lawrence Road. A Kansas Historical Quarterly article locates it at Section 8, Township 13 south, Range 23 east. The Eudora News Weekly in more recent years claimed the inn was on the Fremont Trail used by travelers going to Topeka at the site where William Knake lived in the 1930s. Supporting the trail location, Oscar Richards, who wrote about Fish in the March 23, 1892 Eudora newspaper, recalled his friend of more than 30 years as charitable, kind man who kept a “sort of hotel, or tavern, in the south part of Eudora townsite, on the line of the wagon road leading from Independence, Kansas City, and Westport to Lawrence, Topeka and further west, and known as the John C. Fremont Trail.”

Another Eudora News article, this one from 1895, reads: “Probably the oldest structure in or about Eudora was destroyed last week when Albert von Gunten tore down the old Roper dwelling house, on the south edge of town, to replace it with a handsome story and-a-half modern building. Away long in the early 50s, . . .this building was the first stopping place out of Independence on the old Santa Fe Trail, and was under the management of Paschal Fish, an Indian, from who, some years later, the present townsite of Eudora was purchased. With the advent of the railroad and the abandonment of the overland stage, the usefulness of the inn was destroyed and for many years it has been occupied as a dwelling house by different parties. The building originally was constructed from native timber and while much repair work was done it is nevertheless a fact that the biggest part of it stood as first put up and would have stood from many years to come.”

An 1855 account by C. H. Dickson, “A Night in the Paschal Fish Hotel,” says 32 women, men, and children slept in a 6-foot by 16-foot room and used bedding from their wagons. It had one bed with a prairie hay mattress, six chairs, and a fireplace. Wrote the author, “In the sleeping room, all but one (who sat in a rocking chair all night) spread out on the floor. I had a buffalo robe and managed to wrap in it and wedge into the mass of humanity on the floor.” Territorial governor Andrew Reeder hid there one day from pro-slavery sympathizers in the nearby town of Franklin. The inn was used a polling place in 1855 and was said to have a blacksmith shop and grocery.

Dee Brown, in the 1958 book The Gentle Tamers, said Fish Jr., hired a New England man as a business manager and cook. A woman stopping there in 1855, Brown wrote, described the inn:

“We dismount and enter at the only door into the first story of a large building, simply boarded and loosely floored. It is dimly lighted with poor tallow candles in Japan candlesticks, which bear evidence of having been the support of many candles before. There is a long table, and men, in whose faces there is absolutely no mouth to be seen, and only a gleam for eyes — an entire party of heads, covered with dirty, uncombed, unwashed hair. There were no more chairs. Our baggage was brought in, and we made seats of it. The men ate as though the intricacies from their plates to their mouths had become a perfect slight of hand with them. As they passed out of the room, the dishes were wiped out for us.”

After he sold the inn as a residence during the 1850s, Fish Jr. went on to build a house east of Eudora off Seventh Street past the present Eudora Cemetery on Lothholz family land holdings.

About this fellow Methodist, Marovia (Still) Clark, an early Eudora resident wrote:

“But our truest and best friend was Paschal Fish, a brother of Charles (the interpreter). He told Father that he had never tasted whiskey since he became a Christian. He said, “I like whiskey but when I see it and smell it, I go off, because it makes me a very bad man.’ He came over to see us nearly everyday, as he lived only a few hundred yards from the Mission.

“Father had built a small smoke house and put a bend in the shade of that smokehouse so that he could sit there and rest and read when he came in from work. He and Mr. Fish would sit there and relate their experiences and surely if anyone every enjoyed hearty laugh, he did. He liked to tell jokes, one in particular he liked to tell on himself.”

“The joke was about an incident in St. Joseph, Missouri. Fish went with a missionary who preceeded Still (before 1851). When asked to attend to prayers, Fish said, ‘Brother Fish feel very big’ and throw his head back and stepped to show how big he felt to be honored by so many preachers. When going to a chair, he missed and fell with his feet flying up in the air. Fish said to concerned onlookers ‘Brother Fish feel so shamed. Brother Fish feel so small.’ Each time Fish told the story, he would laugh and laugh.”

From the journal of Sarah Lindsey and printed in the 1858 English Quakers Tour Kansas article in February, 1944 (Kansas Historical Quarterly 13, 1, p. 50) comes another account of Fish: "On 5th day the 8th had a meeting in our friends cabin where Levi Woodward, wife & child came to meet us. An Indian named Pascal Fish, with his wife & son also gave us their company. The Wing of Divine Goodness was felt to spread over us, and we had an interesting season, wherein counsel & close things were spoken to some present. Prayer was also offered. On separating the Indian seemed to regret that we had not taken up our quarters at his house, as he had room &c., and could have found food for ourselves, and corn for our horses: he requested that we would pray for them. The Indians were well dressed, & the man spoke good English."

(Georgianna “Anna” Rogers Stanley, born in 1861, the daughter of George and Laura Stanley, often told her children stories of the Shawnee traveling on a trail east of the Hesper Church. In her obituary, the children said the Shawnee traveled the trail to go to their camps on Captain Creek and the Wakarusa River.)

The 1857 Annual Report of the Missionary Society, Sunday-School Union and Tract Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Volumes 38-42, tells of Fish's religious conversion: Among the Shawnees is Paschal Fish. His father was a white man by the name of Rogers [?] and was taken by the Indians when a boy, and married a Shawnee wife. Many years afterward Rogers and one of his brothers met, and by marks and scars which they recollected, they recognized each other. Their mutual recognition was deeply affecting. They fell on each others' neck and wept. The brother, a gentleman of wealth, invited Rogers to come and live with him, but he declined. He said he loved his wife and children, and they were Indians, and would not be respected among the whites, and rather than subject them to mortification and insult, he chose to dwell among his adopted people. The son took the name of Fish, because he belonged to what was termed the 'Fish Band,' that resided on the Gasconade in Missouri. Pascal was educated by his uncle, among the whites, and when our minsters began to preach where Pascal resided, being able to understand our language, he became deeply awakened, afterward was powerfully converted to God. For some ten years past he has been a preacher, and has served our ministers as an interpreter. He has acquired great influence among his people, and at the council which was being held when I left the territory, he was the leading Free Soil candidate for the chieftancy of his nation. He sets his people an example of industry. I heard it estimated that his lands, the present season, would produce five thousand bushels of corn and several hundred bushels of wheat. Fish did obtain leadership of a certain Shawnee segment but only briefly.

In the 2007 Exiles and Pioneers: Eastern Indians in the Trans-Mississippi West, John Bowes wrote of Fish's land speculation during a time when Shawnee land selection and distribution took years. Fish's missionary school education helped his intermediary positon and Shawnee Council involvement during the 1850s until he was accused of accepting a thousand dollar bribe involving land transfers and had to resign in disfavor. Then, in February 1858, the Shawnee real estate mogul sent a letter to Commissioner of Indian Affairs James Denver requesting a patent in fee simple for the land he and his family selected under the 1854 treaty. "I propose to sell all or a portion of my lands to a company of men from Chicago, Illinois who intend to build up a town," Fish explained, "and unless you shall favorably regard my request I shall be unable to retain them here and my lands and those of my neighbors will lose the plus value they might acquire by the instance of that town." Yet this communication was nothing more than a formality. The Chicago group settled, built, and populated the town of Eudora, appropriately named after one of Fish's daughters. Following the lead of the Territorial Legislature, Governor Samuel Medary approved Eudora's charter in February 1859. The only hindrance of the town's existence was the fact that Fish still had not received an official deed to his land from the federal government by the summer of 1859."

Copyright 2015. Cindy Higgins. Where the Wakarusa Meets the Kaw: A History of Eudora, Kansas. Eudora, KS: Author.