There are four parts to this booklet. Part 1:







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     It is now nearly five years since I resigned my "Curacy" in the diocese of Dublin, and came out to this country in order to lend my humble aid in the sacred cause of our holy relgion. I was well aware that amidst the crowd of immigrants flocking out upon the prairies of the new State of Kansas many Catholics were to be found and I also felt convinced that sons and daughters of Old Ireland would never be happy and contented while wanting the consolation Catholicty affords.
     Having been accepted as a volunteer in the "Grand Army of the Cross," in the vicariate of Kansas, I have had many opportunities, since the time of my arrival, of noticing everything connected with immigrant life. My missionary duties have been performed in the rising cities and amidst the young settlements upon the prairies for nearly five years; I therefore presume to think I can afford some useful information to persons intend-


ing to emigrate, and some interesting reading to all my countrymen at home who take an interest in the adopted country of millions of their race.
     I am well aware that the columns of many of the Irish newspapers have oftentimes contained long letters from correspondents in America, descriptive of portions of the United States and their special advantages; but writers on the subject of emigration are too often prejudiced in favour of their own country or land of their adoption, and many are led from pecuniary motives to write up the advantages to be derived from emigration to a certain state or territory.
     For the most part, writers on emigration are connected with emigration agencies or steam ship companies and care very little how much they may injure the future prospects of intending emigrants, provided they amass money for themselves. I have read descriptions of places bordering on Kansas, which appeared in some of the Irish journals, which were simply absurd. I have read accounts of the State of Iowa which I felt convinced were very much exaggerated; I have sometimes met crowds of immigrants seeking homes in Kansas who were just after departing from Iowa disappointed, and whose statements contradicted a great deal of what writers in Irish papers had asserted.
     And so it is concerning many statements relating to other States of the Union. It is on account of so many misstatements appearing in Irish journals, and because I dread the injurious consequences to my countrymen, I undertake the task of writing on the subject of Irish emigration, especially to Kansas; and as I feel convinced that my sacerdotal character will be a pledge to the reader of my sincereity, and that more reliance will be placed in the statement of one who has been engaged in the duties of the priesthood amidst the people in the young cities and rising settlements of the Great West than in the words of land-jobbers and their agents. I


willingly dedicate the few leisure hours I have to a work which may be of benefit to some of "the old race" in "the dear old land."
     I begin by assuring the reader that I am not an advocate of Irish emigration; I would rather a million of times that "the old race" could hold every inch of "the old land." I believe that the pang of separation, and the subsequent sad feeling of exile from friends and country, leave an impress upon the heart that can never be removed. Let those, then, who can live at home in Ireland remain there--unless, indeed, the future prospects of their family are very dark.
     There is one class in Ireland which, I am well aware, has no other resource left but emigration--I allude, of course, to the unhappy farmers who become the victims of eviction. An Irish farmer cast, in accordance with the cruel laws that crush him, out upon the wayside, with his family, deprived of the home and lands of his fathers, turns his tearful eyes towards the Far West.
     To such I say, with a heart full of sympathy, hesitate not, if you have health and strength, and money enough to bring you out; come to the great free country, where you may soon grow rich and independent as a farmer, with yellow corn waving upon the breasts of the prairies, and cattle grazing upon the hills, and no master over you but the Great Lord of Heaven and Earth. I wish every young Irishman who understands how to farm would keep before him, as the great object of his ambition when coming to America, the possession of a good farm in this country. Of course I intend this suggestion especially for young men who have been raised upon farms in the old country.
     Unfortunately, too many give up the idea of resuming the life of a farmer as soon as they land in America. When they leave the emigrant ship they find employment as labourers in the docks or on the streets, on the canals or on the railroads, and, becoming fascinated with city life, mingle in its follies, learn evil habits, and


grow prematurely old. As a consequence, hundreds of our Irish people are found in the most wretched state of poverty in the large cities, and many go to the grave in a more deplorable plight than if they had wandered on through life beggars beside the ruins of old Ireland. It must be confessed that it would be better for the name and fame of Ireland, and for the souls of hundreds of thousands of her children, if the emigrant ships that bore them across the wide Atlantic had sunk for ever beneath the seething waters, rather than cast them into the countless temptations of eastern cities. Every good Irishman on this continent will admit the truth of my assertion.
     Some of our most intelligent, philanthropic countrymen in America, perceiving the evils that come upon many of our people in consequence of their love of city life, have made most strenuous exertions to direct their attention to agricultural pursuits. My friend the Hon. Dillon O'Brien, of Minnesota, has devoted a great deal of time and labour to this important matter. Some time ago, at an Irish convention, held in St. Louis, for discussing this subject, he proposed a plan for encouraging Irish immigration, which, if carried out, would have been a great boon to many of our exiled countrymen, and a means of enticing many out from the crowded cities. He wished to form a large company of rich prominent Irishmen, who would buy up large tracts of land in the best States of the Union, at government prices. The company would then set about establishing Irish colonies on these lands; they would offer peculiar inducements and advantages to our people; they would sell the land in "sections," "half sections," and "quarter sections," at very little above the price they themselves paid for it--allowing, moreover, the purchaser a certain number of years in which to pay off the purchase money.
     As a further inducement, the company would provide implements of labour and every other necessary to industrious persons who had no money "to make a start"


with--retaining, of course, their right to all until the colonist became able to pay. Dillon O'Brien did not receive the support he hoped for, in endeavouring to inauguarate his grand scheme for Irish colonization, and so up to the present moment it is cast aside.
     Meanwhile, great numbers of Germans are turning their attention to agriculture, and striving strenuously to form German settlements in many States, while tens of thousands of our Irish people are neglecting favourable opportunities such as will never again be found.
     What, therefore, I desire to impress upon the farming class who intend to emigrate to America is, to keep before them a firm purpose of purchasing a farm in some favourable State of the Union as soon as they are able.
     If they have money sufficient to buy a farm when they set foot upon American soil from the emigrant ship, let them go immediately, without even a day's delay if possible, and purchase one to suit them.
     The amount of money necessary for such purchase I will state in another place. But those poor fellows who have merely enough of money to pay their passage on the emigrant ship, and a few dollars to support them for a week or two on shore, will have most probably to begin a life of hard manual labour. If, however, they live soberly, and enjoy good health, and have constant employment, they will be able to save money, even in the large cities, and in a few years have funds sufficient to purchase a farm in some of the Western States. But my advice to young men of the farming class who hav eno [sic] means when they arrive here, is to go out in the country, and work as "farm labourers." This advice I give, however, especially to young men who come out as far as Kansas, where "farm labourers" are in demand, and get good wages.
     With these preliminary remarks I enter upon the subject I proposed to treat of--namely, the State of Kansas as it is, and the many reasons why Irish Catholics should be made acquainted with it.


     The State of Kansas is situated almost in the centre of the United States of America, and is in length, from east to west, about four hundred and twenty miles, and in breadth, from north to south, two hundred miles. The area is 81,318 square miles, or 52,043,520 acres--almost equal to that of England, Wales, and Ireland. The population of Kansas, according to the census returns of last year, is 380,000.
     Twenty-five years ago very few white men could be found in the whole territory of Kansas. The wild Indians wandered over her fair prairies, from the banks of the Missouri to the foot of the Rocky Mountains; and the only marks of civilization made over the vast region were the tracks of the traders and the trappers, and the soldiers stationed in the government forts. The Kickapoo Indians raised their wigwams near the banks of the Missouri, where Fort Leavenworth now stands; the Delawares, after the hunting season, came back to the beautiful country twenty miles south of the same fort; the Osages dwelt two hundred miles farther south, amidst the meadows fertilized by many streams; and the Pottowattomies, after many wanderings from the shores of Lake Michigan to the fields of Iowa, came down to the pleasant prairies of Kansas, and settled at a place called Sugar Creek. This last-mentioned event took place in the year 1847.
     The very name of Indians has something startling in it for the civilized nations of the world; and no doubt some of my readers begin to think that if Kansas still retains any of the red-men it must be a dangerous country for white men to live in.
     But, will they believe me when I assure them that I have seen and conversed with boys, bearing the Celtic names O'Brien and McCarthy, who were born of Indian mothers, and had good Irishmen for fathers? Of this, however, I will treat more fully in another place.
     The policy of the American Government has been to endeavour to civilize the wild Indians, and, that failing,


to drive them back from the fertile lands, where civilization might spread her mighty arms under the care of the hardy pioneers. Eventually, however, the noble red-man will be exterminated, if the teachings of civiliation fail to reach his heart and curb his inclinations.
     Nearly all the wild Indians have moved away from Kansas, or are hemmed in at the extreme north of the State, and the smallest acts of lawlessness on their part would afford a good excuse to the military, who occupy the various government forts, to dash in upon them and exterminate them. Some of the Delawares have been civilized, and retain large farms under patent from the government; also some of the Osages and Pottowattomies; and, indeed, I must say they are generally good citizens, and as kind and gentle as the majority of the Causcasian race.
     According to a United States law, every person who married the daughters of the Indians, "when in their tribal relations," receives from the general government one hundred and sixty acres of land for himself, wife, and every child born unto him. This law has induced some young Irishmen and Americans to link their life in the matrimonial bond, to Indian maidens, and to settle down on lands that cost them nothing. Some persons who read this may feel astonished that any white men would marry Indian women, but I assure the reader many of these Indian maidens, especially Pottowattomies and Osages, are as good-looking as Irish girls in general, differing only in one respect in appearance, being all brunettes, having long black hair. A great many of them are well-instructed in the rudiments of the English language, and most of the Pottowattomies who live upon farms are good Catholics. The same may be said of the civilized Osages. These two grand results--the education and evangelizing of these people--are due to the noble efforts of some Jesuit Fathers, who followed the Indian tribes out upon the prairies, when the latter first moved into Kansas. Facing every


danger with the courage of the first Apostles, undergoing every hardship, these true pioneer-soldiers of the cross raised the standard of Christ beside the wigwams of the Indians, and around the camp-fires, in the cold, bleak days of winter, and under the scorching sun of summer, preached the glorious truths of Catholicity. After a time, these brave missionaries built log cabins for a residence, and schools at the foot of a gently sloping hill, and near by they erected a commodious frame church. They named their new home "Saint Mary's Mission;" and there, from the rising to the setting of the sun, for many years (and up to the present moment), the Indian children were to be found, in happy groups receiving instruction from "the Brothers," or listening to divine truths explained by the Fathers. Some years after the establishment of "Saint Mary's Mission," the good ladies of the Society of "The Sacred Heart" built a dwelling-place, or convent, of logs, beside the home of the Jesuit Fathers, and devoted their time to the instruction of the young Indian girls. A similar good and pious work was wrought by other Jesuit Fathers about the same period (1847), amongst the Osages, in Southern Kansas--a church and schools were erected, and the good Sisters of Loretto undertook the instruction of the Indian girls.
     The latter missionary settlement has been known by the title of "The Osage Mission." Of these two missionary settlements I will have something to say farther on, of great interest to many of my countrymen. The number of civilized Indians at present in the State of Kansas is very small--probably not more than three thousand; and the number is daily decreasing, as many soon get tired of a quiet agricultural life, and ride back to the haunts of the buffalo, and chase the antelope towards the setting sun.
     What a wonderful change has taken place in Kansas within the past few years! In the year 1861 she was admitted into the Union, and since that time her giant


strides have astonished the people of the other States; and now the easy-going inhabitants of old Europe would not believe as true one-half that could be stated concerning the rapid development of the riches of Kansas.
     About the year 1854 the first small stream of immigration came in on the eastern border-lands of Kansas. Brave pioneers came up "the muddy Missouri" in boats from Saint-Louis, and pitched their tents in a pleasant place near the protecting guns of Fort Leavenworth, having a semi-circle of wooded hills beside them, and the great river as an arc to the chord of silvan bluffs. Here some speculators soon built up frame houses and small "shanties," and store-houses, trusting for trade to the officers and soldiers of the fort, and to the freighters who transported goods across the plains. "A Town Company" soon began operations; the land on which the future city was to rise was surveyed and "mapped out;" "lots" for building purposes were sold cheap to newcomers; and the young town began to grow rapidly after a little while.
     I do not propose to trace its growth up to the present time; suffice it to say that the late war, while it destroyed some cities, was the means of building up this young one; and to-day the city of Leavenworth is one of the largest, most beautiful and most prosperous towns between Saint-Louis and the mountains above the Missouri.
     Everything that denotes a prosperous American city is seen amidst the streets of Leavenworth. The old wooden buildings of the early settlers have disappeared, and now churches and schools, and banks and theatres, of stone and brick, and long broad streets of shops and store-houses, built of the same materials, are to be seen. One of the finest buildings in the West is the Catholic Cathedral of Leavenworth, of which I have the honour of being one of the pastors. I will treat more fully of this grand structure when I come to the subject of religion.

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This page was created on March 25, 2000,
Feast of the Annunciation.