The first newspapers in Kansas…

March 30, 2010 by  
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The first permanent settlement in Kansas was made at Fort Leavenworth in 1827, but  until 1854 when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by congress the region remained a part of the somewhat indefinitely bounded Indian Territory.

Early in 1834, missionary Jotham Meeker set up his printing press–the first press to be used west of the Missouri River–at the Shawnee Baptist Mission in present Johnson County. That year he published hymns, religious tracts, and other materials that were the first items printed in Kansas.

On February 24, 1835, Meeker printed at the Shawnee Mission the first number of the “Shawnee Sun” (Siwinowe Kesibwi), the first periodical publication in Kansas, and the first printed entirely in a Native American language. The paper was issued at irregular intervals from 1835 to as late as 1844, probably in limited editions of 150 or 100 copies. Measuring about 6 3/4 inches by 10 3/4 inches, the paper had two 8 1/2-inch columns of text per page.

The “Shawnee Sun” circulated among the Indians at and near the mission settlement. Today only one copy of one issue is known to have survived–the issue for November 1841, now in the library of the University of Missouri at Kansas City.

The “Kansas Weekly Herald” was established at Leavenworth on Sept. 15, 1854 by William Osborn and William Adams. It was a truly pioneer enterprise as is evidenced by the fact that the town site was occupied only by four temporary tents. The editor in his first number noted: “Our editorials have been written and our proof corrected while sitting on the ground with a big shingle for a table.”

Another newspaper was begun in Kickapoo, Kansas, in 1854 titled the “Pioneer“, and a year later the first newspaper at Topeka was established, the “Kansas Freeman“.

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