Olathe, Kansas

An 1874 plat of Olathe, Kansas. Courtesy of the Johnson County Museum.

Notable Events:

The city of Olathe was founded in 1857 in the midst of the "Bleeding Kansas" era. Reportedly named after the Shawnee word for "beautiful," Olathe emerged as a home to many abolitionists, and as a result it suffered an attack by the notorious bushwhacker William Clarke Quantrill. Quantrill's Raiders used their horses as shields against the 125 Union soldiers who defended Olathe, and the bushwhackers killed one Union soldier and approximately a half dozen civilians. The raiders looted and destroyed a large portion of the city before retreating back to Missouri. Olathe remained an important supply point for travelers on the Oregon, Santa Fe, and California trails until the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, after which it declined into a small rural town. Only in the 1950s, with the construction of Interstate-35, did Olathe finally reemerge as a booming suburb of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.