Osawatomie, Kansas

The Jillson Hotel in Osawatomie, Kansas. Courtesy of the Kansas State Historical Society.

Notable Events:

The town of Osawatomie, Kansas was founded by abolitionist settlers associated with the New England Emigrant Aid Company in 1854 and named after two Native American tribes in the area: the Osage and Pottawatomie. Among the original settlers were Reverend Samuel Adair and Florella Brown Adair, the half-sister of John Brown. The Adair home served as a local headquarters for the violent activities of John Brown, who along with his five sons embarked on a personal crusade against slavery. Among Brown's other activities, he led an attack against a proslavery colony of settlers in Osawatomie, who came from the state of Georgia. Brown looted and burned their houses in early August 1856. Later that August, Brown unsuccessfully defended the town against 250-300 border ruffians who retaliated against him in the Battle of Osawatomie. Despite losing a son in the attack, and Osawatomie itself being burned to the ground, Brown earned the nickname "Osawatomie Brown" for his violent reputation and stubborn defense. Even after Brown's death by execution in 1859, and throughout the Civil War, Osawatomie continued to support the jayhawkers. Recognizing the antislavery zeal of the town, delegates formed the Kansas Republican Party there in May 1859. Today, visitors can see the Adair cabin at the John Brown Museum, which was one of just three buildings that survived the Battle of Osawatomie.