Kansas in History

Kansas: Kansas City - Topeka - Wichita

Historical Events

Historic Expedition

1842-06-15 John C. Frémont sets off from Kansas River on his first expedition of the Oregon Trail with frontierman Kit Carson as his guide

  • 1854-05-30 Kansas-Nebraska Act repeals Missouri Compromise creating the territories of Kansas and Nebraska
  • 1855-03-24 Manhattan Kansas founded as New Boston Kansas
  • 1856-05-21 Lawrence, Kansas, is captured and sacked by pro-slavery forces

Historic Event

1856-05-24 Pottawatomie Massacre: John Brown and abolitionist settlers kill five pro-slavery settlers in Franklin County, Kansas

  • 1860-07-09 Temperature hits 115°F in Fort Scott and 112°F in Topeka, Kansas
  • 1860-07-19 1st railroad reaches Kansas
  • 1861-01-29 US state of Kansas admitted to the Union as the 34th state
  • 1861-07-01 US War Department decrees that Kansas and Tennessee are to be canvassed for volunteers
  • 1863-10-06 Battle at Baxter Springs, Kansas
  • 1864-10-25 Battle of Marais Des Cygnes River, Kansas (Mine Creek)

Historic Event

1874-12-08 Jesse James gang takes train at Muncie Kansas

  • 1877-09-05 Southern blacks led by Pap Singleton settle in Kansas
  • 1879-05-30 An F4 tornado strikes Irving, Kansas, killing 18 and injuring 60.
  • 1881-02-19 Kansas becomes 1st state to prohibit all alcoholic beverages
  • 1881-04-16 In Dodge City, Kansas, Bat Masterson fights his last gun battle
  • 1887-04-04 Susanna Madora Salter elected 1st US woman mayor in Argonia, Kansas
  • 1889-03-02 Kansas passes 1st US antitrust law
  • 1889-03-09 Kansas passes 1st general antitrust law in US
  • 1891-03-10 Almon Strowger, an undertaker in Topeka, Kansas, patents the strowger switch, a device which led to the automation of telephone circuit switching
  • 1892-10-05 Dalton Gang ends in shoot-out in Coffeville, Kansas bank holdup
  • 1897-06-24 Hail injures 26 in Topeka, Kansas
  • 1905-02-13 -40°F (-40°C) Lebanon, Kansas (state record)
  • 1906-02-01 1st federal penitentiary building completed, Leavenworth, Kansas

Historic Event

1907-01-29 Republican Charles Curtis of Kansas becomes the 1st Native American US Senator

Historic Event

1910-08-31 Theodore Roosevelt makes a speech in Kansas advocating a 'square deal': property shall be 'the servant and not the master of the commonwealth'

  • 1912-11-05 Arizona, Kansas & Wisconsin vote for female suffrage
  • 1913-03-13 Kansas legislature approved censorship of motion pictures
  • 1916-05-20 Codell, Kansas hit by tornado (also on same date in 1917 & 1918)

The 1918 Flu Pandemic

1918-03-11 US Army mess cook Private Albert Gitchell of Fort Riley, Kansas becomes the first documented case of Spanish flu; start of worldwide pandemic killing 50-100 million

  • 1929-03-04 Republican Charles Curtis becomes the 1st Native American to be Vice President of the United States
  • 1930-04-28 1st night organized baseball game played in Independence, Kansas
  • 1936-07-24 121°F (49°C), near Alton, Kansas (state record)
  • 1936-10-02 1st alcohol power plant forms, Atchison, Kansas
  • 1941-05-31 -June 1) 32.0 cm rain falls on Burlington Kansas (state record)
  • 1941-06-01 12.59" (31.98 cm) rainfall, in Burlington, Kansas (state 24-hr record)

Historic Event

1941-06-14 Ground broken for Boeing Plant II (ex-AFLC Plant 13) in Wichita, Kansas

  • 1949-06-09 Georgia Neese Clark of Kansas becomes 1st woman treasurer of US
  • 1951-06-23 Most expensive US hailstorm ($1.5M crop damage & $14M property-Kansas)
  • 1951-07-13 Great Flood: 2.000,000 acres in Kansas and Missouri in central US are flooded from rain swollen Missouri and Kansas Rivers
  • 1955-05-25 Series of 19 twisters destroy Udall, Kansas and most of Blackwell, Oklahoma

Murder of Interest

1959-11-15 Richard "Dick" Hickock and Perry Smith murder four members of the Clutter Family at their farm outside Holcomb, Kansas (subject of Truman Capote book In Cold Blood)

  • 1964-09-17 The Beatles are paid a then record $150,000 by baseball team owner Charles Finley for a concert at Municipal Stadium in Kansas, Missouri on a scheduled day off
  • 1966-06-08 Topeka, Kansas is devastated by a tornado that registers as an "F5" on the Fujita Scale: the first to exceed US$100 million in damages. Sixteen people are killed, hundreds more injured, and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed.
  • 1967-09-09 Debra Dene Barnes (Kansas), 20, crowned 40th Miss America 1968
  • 1978-06-28 UNICEF chooses rock group Kansas as Ambassadors of Goodwill
  • 1990-03-03 Carole Gist (20) is the 1st African American to be crowned Miss USA in Wichita, Kansas
  • 1991-02-22 Kelli McCarty, 21, (Kansas), crowned 40th Miss USA
  • 1991-04-26 23 killed in Kansas & Oklahoma by tornadoes
  • 1995-08-15 Keylee Sue Sanders, 18, of Kansas, crowned 13th Miss Teen USA
  • 1996-09-14 Tara Dawn Holland (Kansas), 23, crowned 70th Miss America 1997
  • 1998-12-05 3rd Big 12 Championship Game: #10 Texas A&M beats #2 Kansas State, 36-33 (2 OT)
  • 2000-11-07 The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration discovers one of the country's largest LSD labs inside a converted military missile silo in Wamego, Kansas
  • 2000-12-02 5th Big 12 Championship Game: #1 Oklahoma beats #8 Kansas State, 27-24
  • 2003-12-06 8th Big 12 Championship Game: #13 Kansas State beats #1 Oklahoma, 35-7
  • 2005-08-18 Dennis Rader is sentenced to 175 years in prison for the BTK (Bind, Torture, Kill) serial killings in Sedgwick County, Kansas.
  • 2007-05-04 Greensburg, Kansas is almost completely destroyed by a 1.7m wide EF-5 tornado
  • 2014-06-26 NBA Draft: Kansas small forward Andrew Wiggins first pick by Cleveland Cavaliers
  • 2017-06-08 US prisoner Richard Anthony Jones freed after 17 years in Roeland Park, Kansas when his lookalike discovered
  • 2018-11-06 Sharice Davids (Kansas) and Deb Haaland (New Mexico) are the first Native American women to be elected to the US House of Representatives

Famous Birthdays

  • 1814-06-22 James Henry Lane, US General during Civil War (Union) and Senator (Kansas), born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana (d. 1866)
  • 1829-08-07 Thomas Ewing Jr, American attorney, 1st chief justice of Kansas, congressman, and Brevet Major General (Union Army), born in Lancaster, Ohio (d. 1896)
  • 1834-01-16 Albert Lindley Lee, American lawyer, Kansas State Supreme Court Judge, and Brigadier General (Union Army), born in Fulton, New York (d. 1907)
  • 1850-07-18 Rose Hartwick Thorpe, American poet (Curfew Must Not Ring) and writer, born in Mishawaka, Indiana, Kansas (d. 1939)

Charles Curtis

1860-01-25 Charles Curtis, American Republican Senator (Kansas: 1907-13, 1915-29) and 31st US Vice President (1929-33) who was the first Native American to become a Senator and Vice President, born in North Topeka, Kansas (d. 1936)

  • 1869-08-23 Edgar Lee Masters, American poet and novelist (Spoon River Anthology), born in Garnett, Kansas (d. 1950)

Walter Chrysler

1875-04-02 Walter Chrysler, American automotive pioneer (Chrysler Corporation) and thoroughbred breeder, born in Wamego, Kansas (d. 1940)

  • 1880-03-12 House Peters, British silent film actor (This Is the Life, Kansas Territory), born in Bristol, England (d. 1967)
  • 1880-07-27 Joe Tinker, American Baseball HOF shortstop (World Series 1907, 08 Chicago Orphans/Cubs) and manager (Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs), born in Muscotah, Kansas (d. 1948)

Damon Runyon

1880-10-04 Damon Runyon, American journalist and writer (Guys & Dolls-based on his work), born in Manhattan, Kansas (d. 1946)

Hugh S. Johnson

1881-08-05 Hugh S. Johnson, American head of the National Recovery Administration and member of FDR's Brain Trust, born in Fort Scott, Kansas (d. 1942)

  • 1881-12-29 Jess Willard, American boxer (World heavyweight champion 1915-19), born in Pottawatomie County, Kansas (d. 1968)
  • 1882-03-01 Ida Moore, American character actress (Mr. Music; Ma and Pa Kettle; Desk Set), born in Altoona, Kansas (d. 1964)
  • 1887-03-24 Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, American actor (The Bell Boy, Moonshine, Keystone comedies), born in Smith Center, Kansas (d. 1933)

Walter Johnson

1887-11-06 Walter Johnson, American Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher (3 x Triple Crown of Pitching; World Series, 1924; AL MVP, 1913, 1924; Washington Senators), born in Humboldt, Kansas (d. 1946)

  • 1889-07-08 Eugene Pallette, American actor (The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Mark of Zorro), born in Winfield, Kansas (d. 1954)
  • 1893-01-23 Frank Carlson, American politician (Gov/Rep/Sen-R-Ks), born in Cloud County, Kansas (d. 1987)
  • 1893-07-23 Karl Menninger, American psychiatrist (Menninger Clinic), born in Topeka, Kansas (d. 1990)
  • 1894-01-03 ZaSu Pitts, American actress (Life With Father, Dames, Wedding March), born in Parsons, Kansas (d. 1963)
  • 1895-01-20 Eva Jessye, American singer, actress, songwriter (Hallelujah) and 1st black woman to receive international distinction as a choral conductor, born in Coffeyville, Kansas (d. 1992)
  • 1895-03-03 Robert Gordon, American silent film actor (Loveless), born in Belleville, Kansas (d. 1971)

Hattie McDaniel

1895-06-10 Hattie McDaniel, 1st African American actress to win an Oscar (Gone With The Wind -"Mammy"), born in Wichita, Kansas (d. 1952) [some sources cite year as 1893]

Buster Keaton

1895-10-04 Buster Keaton, American actor and comedian (Navigator, Steamboat Bill Jr, The General), born in Piqua, Kansas (d. 1966)

  • 1896-02-24 Richard Thorpe, American director (Jailhouse Rock), born in Hutchinson, Kansas (d. 1991)
  • 1897-04-14 Claire Windsor, American actress (The Blot), born in Cawker City, Kansas (d. 1972)

Amelia Earhart

1897-07-24 Amelia Earhart, American aviator (1st woman to fly solo across the Atlantic), born in Atchison, Kansas (d. 1939)

  • 1897-11-14 John Steuart Curry, American painter/lithographer (Baptism in Kansas)
  • 1898-12-09 Emmett Kelly, American circus clown (Weary Willie), born in Sedan, Kansas (d. 1979)
  • 1899-01-06 Phyllis Haver, American silent screen actress (What Price Glory), born in Douglass, Kansas (d. 1960)
  • 1899-02-22 Dwight Frye, American actor (Black Camel, Dracula, Frankenstein), born in Salina, Kansas (d. 1943)
  • 1900-03-03 Ruby Dandridge [Ruby Jean Butler], American actress (Father of the Bride), born in Wichita, Kansas (d. 1987)
  • 1901-02-22 Charles E Whittaker, Kansas, US Supreme Court justice (1957-62)
  • 1901-05-18 Harry Robert Wilson, American composer, born in Salina, Kansas (d. 1968)
  • 1903-09-25 Olive Ann Beech, American businesswoman (Co-Founder of Beech Aircraft Company), born in Waverly, Kansas (d. 1993)
  • 1904-07-05 Milburn Stone, American actor (Gunsmoke, Pickup on South Street), born in Burrton, Kansas (d. 1980)
  • 1904-08-13 Charles "Buddy" Rogers, American musician and actor (An Innocent Affair, Wings), born in Olathe, Kansas (d. 1999)
  • 1906-04-04 John Cameron Swayze, American newscaster (Timex, Hindenberg), born in Wichita, Kansas (d. 1995)
  • 1907-08-03 Lawrence Brown, American trombonist (Duke Ellington Orchestra), born in Lawrence, Kansas (d. 1988)
  • 1907-11-26 Ruth Patrick, American botanist and limnologist, born in Topeka, Kansas (d. 2013)
  • 1908-07-21 Harold "Jug" McSpaden, American golfer, course designer (17 PGA Tour wins), born in Monticello, Kansas (d. 1996)
  • 1909-02-16 Hugh Beaumont, American actor (The Mole People, Leave it to Beaver), born in Lawrence, Kansas (d. 1982)
  • 1909-07-26 Vivian Vance [Jones], American stage and screen actress (I Love Lucy - "Ethel Mertz"; The Lucy Show - "Viv"), born in Cherryvale, Kansas (d. 1979)
  • 1909-08-04 Glenn Cunningham, American middle distance runner (1930's), born in Atlanta, Kansas (d. 1988)
  • 1911-12-15 Stan Kenton, American musician, jazz pianist, arranger and bandleader (Artistry In Rhythm), born in Wichita, Kansas (d. 1979)
  • 1913-05-03 William M. Inge, American playwright (Picnic-Pulitzer 1953), born in Independence, Kansas (d. 1973)
  • 1914-12-13 Larry Parks [Samuel Lawrence Parks], American actor (The Jolson Story, Love Is Better Than Ever), born in Olathe, Kansas (d. 1975)
  • 1915-12-05 Carl Donnell "Kansas" Fields, American jazz drummer, born in Chapman, Kansas (d. 1995)
  • 1916-05-26 Moondog [Louis Thomas Hardin], American composer, musician and poet, born in Marysville, Kansas (d. 1999)
  • 1916-09-18 John Jacob Rhodes, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona), born in Council Grove, Kansas (d. 2003)
  • 1917-06-02 Max Showalter, American actor and composer (Kansas, Niagara, Stockard Channing Show in Caldwell), born in Caldwell, Kansas (d. 2000)
  • 1917-06-07 Gwendolyn Brooks, American poet (Bean Eaters, Annie Allen, Pulitzer 1950), born in Topeka, Kansas (d. 2000)
  • 1918-08-24 Ray McIntire, American chemical engineer, born in Gardner, Kansas (d. 1996)
  • 1919-08-09 Ralph Houk, American baseball catcher, coach, manager and executive (World Series champion 1947, 52-53, coach, 58; mgr 1961-62; NY Yankees), born in Lawrence, Kansas (d. 2010)
  • 1919-11-21 Steve Brodie [John Stevenson], American actor (The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp), born in El Dorado, Kansas (d. 1992)
  • 1921-01-10 Rodger Ward, American aviator & race car driver, born in Beloit, Kansas (d. 2004)
  • 1921-06-08 Sheila Ryan, American actress (Big Fix, Mule Train, Ringside, Caged Fury), born in Topeka, Kansas (d. 1975)
  • 1921-07-16 Bernard W. Rogers, United States Army general who served as the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, born in Fairview, Kansas (d. 2008)

Bob Dole

1923-07-22 Bob Dole, American politician (Senate Republican leader, 1985-96, Presidential candidate in 1996), born in Russell, Kansas (d. 2021)

  • 1923-09-03 Mort Walker, American cartoonist (Beetle Bailey, Hi & Lois), born in El Dorado, Kansas (d. 2018)
  • 1923-09-27 Mary McCarty, American singer, dancer, stage and screen actress (Babes in Toyland; All That Jazz;, Trapper John, M.D.), born in Winfield, Kansas (d. 1980)
  • 1925-05-22 James King, American tenor, born in Dodge City, Kansas (d. 2005)
  • 1925-07-02 Marvin Rainwater, American country singer (Ozark Jubilee), born in Wichita, Kansas (d. 2013)
  • 1926-07-02 Lee Allen, American tenor sax player (Walkin' With Mr Lee), born in Pittsburg, Kansas (d. 1994)
  • 1926-12-17 Patrice Wymore, American actress (The Big Tree), born in Miltonvale, Kansas (d. 2014)

Vernon L. Smith

1927-01-01 Vernon L. Smith, American economist and Nobel laureate, born in Wichita, Kansas

  • 1928-04-12 Russell L. Rogers, American electrical engineer and astronaut (X-20), born in Lawrence, Kansas (d. 1967)
  • 1928-07-20 Jan Meyers, American politician (Rep-R-Kansas, 1985-97), born in Lincoln, Nebraska (d. 2019)
  • 1928-12-20 Jack Christiansen, American football player and coach (Lions), born in Sublette, Kansas
  • 1929-04-13 Marilynn Smith, American golfer (Titleholders Championship 1963-64), born in Topeka, Kansas (d. 2019)
  • 1929-11-15 Ed Asner, American Emmy Award-winning actor (The Mary Tyler Moore Show - "Mr. Grant"; Lou Grant; Roots; Up), and activist, born in Kansas City, Missouri (d. 2021)
  • 1930-02-12 Arlen Specter, American Senator (Republican-PA, 1981- 2011), born in Wichita, Kansas (d. 2012)
  • 1930-06-25 George Murdock, American actor, born in Salina, Kansas (d. 2012)
  • 1930-11-03 Lois Smith, American actress (True Blood, Desperate Housewives), born in Topeka, Kansas
  • 1932-01-15 Dean Smith, American actor & relay runner (Olympic gold 1952), born in Emporia, Kansas (d. 2015)
  • 1932-03-02 Frank E. Petersen Jr, American soldier and 1st African American Marine aviator & General, born in Topeka Kansas (d. 2015)
  • 1932-03-25 Wes Santee, American runner, born in Ashland, Kansasmiler (d. 2010)
  • 1932-07-29 Nancy Kassebaum, American politician (Sen-R-Kansas, 1979-97), born in Topeka, Kansas
  • 1932-08-26 Joe H. Engle, American USAF Major General, test pilot (X-15), and NASA astronaut (STS-2; STS-51-I), born in Chapman, Kansas
  • 1932-10-13 Jack Colvin, American actor (Incredible Hulk), born in Lyndon, Kansas (d. 2005)
  • 1934-05-19 James Charles Lehrer, news anchor (McNeil-Lehrer Report), born in Wichita, Kansas
  • 1935-04-13 Lyle Waggoner, American actor (The Carol Burnett Show; Wonder Woman), born in Kansas City, Kansas (d. 2020)

Charles Koch

1935-11-01 Charles Koch, American businessman and philanthropist (Koch Industries billionaire), born in Wichita, Kansas

  • 1936-04-20 Pat Roberts, US Senator (Rep-R-KS, 1981-1997), born in Topeka, Kansas

Dennis Hopper

1936-05-17 Dennis Hopper, American actor (True Grit, Blue Velvet, Easy Rider), born in Dodge City, Kansas (d. 2010)

  • 1936-07-05 Shirley Knight, American actress (Endless Love, Desperate Housewives), born in Goessel, Kansas (d. 2020)
  • 1937-02-27 Barbara Babcock, American actress (Dr Quinn,; Dallas; Hill Street Blues), born in Fort Riley, Kansas
  • 1937-03-06 Ben Keith [Schaeufele], American musician and record producer (Neil Young, Great Speckled Bird), born in Fort Riley, Kansas (d. 2010)
  • 1938-03-12 Johnny Rutherford, American auto racer (Indianapolis 500 1974, 76, 80), born in Coffeyville, Kansas
  • 1938-12-13 Tom Shaw, American golfer (The Tradition 1993), born in Wichita, Kansas
  • 1939-05-18 Gary S. Paxton [Larry Wayne Stevens], American musician and songwriter (Monster Mash; Alley Oop), born in Coffeyville, Kansas (d. 2016)
  • 1939-09-18 Bob Whittaker, American politician (Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Kansas), born in Eureka, Kansas
  • 1940-05-03 David Koch, American businessman and philanthropist (Koch Industries billionaire), born in Wichita, Kansas
  • 1940-08-03 John W. Carlin, American politician (40th Governor of Kansas), born in Salina, Kansas
  • 1941-12-12 Terry Kirkman, American rock vocalist and keyboardist (Association - "Windy"), born in Salina, Kansas
  • 1942-03-28 Samuel Ramey, American operatic bass (La Scala, 1981- ; Metropolitan, 1984-), born in Colby, Kansas
  • 1942-06-30 Robert Ballard, American explorer and discoverer (discovered Titanic wreck in 1985), born in Wichita, Kansas
  • 1942-07-08 Janice Pennington, American Playboy playmate (May 1971) and model (The Price is Right), born in Seattle, Washington
  • 1942-08-25 Margaret L. Thompson Murdock, American army and first woman to win medal for small bore rifle (Olympic silver 1976), born in Topeka, Kansas

Gale Sayers

1943-05-30 Gale Sayers, American College and Pro Football Hall of Fame halfback, 4X Pro Bowl, 2X NFL rushing leader (Chicago Bears), and source for the TV movie "Brian's Song", born in Wichita, Kansas (d. 2020) [1]

  • 1943-09-25 Robert Gates, American statesman (22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense), born in Wichita, Kansas

Famous Weddings

J.E.B. Stuart

1855-11-14 Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart (22) weds Flora Cooke in Fort Riley, Kansas

Sally Ride

1982-07-24 Physicist and astronaut Sally Ride (31) weds astronaut Steven Hawley (30) in Salina, Kansas

  • 1996-12-07 Former Tennessee Republican Senator Howard Baker (71) weds retired Kansas GOP Senator Nancy Kassebaum (64) in Washington, D.C.

Famous Deaths

  • 1866-07-11 James Henry Lane, US General during Civil War (Union) and Senator (Kansas), commits suicide at 52
  • 1946-08-29 John Steuart Curry, American painter (Baptism in Kansas), dies at 48
  • 1967-12-07 House Peters, British silent film actor (This Is the Life; Kansas Territory), dies at 87
  • 1987-10-12 Alfred M Landon, former Kansas Gov, dies at his Topeka home at 100
  • 2000-07-30 Max Showalter, American actor and composer (Kansas, Niagara, Stockard Channing Show in Caldwell), dies of cancer at 83