History of Council Grove

 

Council Grove is a Santa Fe Trail National Historic Landmark town and the site of an 1825 treaty between the Great Osages and the Little Osages and the United States Federal Government. From 1821 to 1866 it was a center of trade and commerce along the Santa Fe Trail.

 

The name of the settlement came from George C. Sibley, one of the three U.S. Commissioners.  

 

The name “Council Grove” appears in the treaty as identifying the location of the treaty.  It was Sibley who ordered one of his men to carve the name Council Grove and the date of August 10, 1825, on the side of the oak.

 

 

Business in Council Grove was dependent upon Sante Fe Trail travelers only through 1866, and Indians until they were removed in 1873. Use of the Sante Fe Trail ceased in incremental stages all across Kansas as new railheads were established further west.  In Council Grove, that phenomenon occurred in 1866.  After the Civil War, many settlers came to Morris County, soon replacing the loss of Sante Fe Trail trade.  

 

The preservation of the town itself, although relying considerably on agriculture and ranching activities, occurred from a diversification of its economic activities.  The several manufacturing plants which have come and gone, the exploitation of the tourism industry, and other changes have been what has kept the town more alive than most towns of similar size. Today, the town has a population of just over 2,000 people and provides a historical experience of Santa Fe Trail days with more than 24 historical sites including the Hays House, the Kaw Mission, and several museums.