About WyCo & KCK

Memorial Hall

"A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." ~ Marcus Garvey

About Wyandotte County

From frontier adventures and bloody battles between pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions to bitter Civil War conflicts and achievements in aviation, some of America’s greatest historical moments have roots in Kansas and Wyandotte County. This Kansas Territory became the first battlefield in the conflict over slavery and southern secession that led to the American Civil War.
Wyandotte County is the smallest county in Kansas, mostly between the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. The county is named after the Wyandot Indians. They were called the Huron by the French in Canada and were also known as the Wyandott or Wyandotte. The area known as Wyandotte County was once part of Leavenworth and Johnson counties. Unfortunately, many of the people living on the land located at the mouth of the Kansas River had little input on shaping the affairs of government and politics due to the dominating influence of citizens living in Leavenworth and the Missourians, who often came over to Kansas territory. However, a series of events would soon forever change the political landscape for the people in this area.
One of these significant events was the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention. It was from this Convention that Wyandotte County was created, Kansas became a state, and most importantly, a state that was free from slavery. Before the Wyandotte Constitution was drafted and passed, several events preceded this document.
The first election in the county, aside from the elections held by the Indians themselves before the organization of the territory, was in 6/1857, to select a delegate to the Kansas Constitutional Convention. The Lecompton Constitution, a pro-slavery document, was drafted at this convention and became the second proposed constitution for Kansas; the Topeka Constitution was the first to be drafted in 1855. Both the Topeka and Lecompton constitutions were placed before the people of the Kansas Territory for a vote.  The abolitionist forces boycotted the ratification of both votes because it failed to offer them a means to vote against slavery.
The Lecompton Constitution was accepted by the 15th President of the United States, James Buchanan, who urged acceptance and statehood. Congress disagreed and ordered another election. In the second election, the pro-slavery forces boycotted the process, allowing the anti-slavery forces to claim victory by defeating the document. In the end, the Lecompton Constitution died because it was unclear whether it represented the majority's will.

In 1858

A 3rd constitution was drafted by a group of anti-slavery supporters. The Leavenworth Constitution was viewed as the most progressive of the three proposed constitutions. The most intriguing aspects of this Constitution were a Bill of Rights that referred to "all men" (making no distinction between the rights of white men and African American men):

  • The banning of slavery from the state, and;
  • A basic framework for the rights of women.

The Leavenworth Constitution did not significantly impact Kansas’s history, as the United States Senate disapproved of the codified laws in the written document.
The Topeka constitution prohibited slavery. The Lecompton constitution sanctioned slavery. The Leavenworth advanced even farther than the Topeka constitution by leaving out the word “white.” Three constitutions! And no statehood for Kansas in sight.

In 1859

The Wyandotte Constitution met in Wyandotte on July 5th and became the fourth constitution voted on by the people of Kansas Territory. The convention was composed of (35) Republicans and (17) Democrats. The Wyandotte Constitution settled the terms of Kansas’ admission into the Union and established that it would:

  • Be a free state.
  • Reject slavery and affirm property rights for women.
  • Deny universal suffrage for women, blacks, and Indians.
  • Wyandotte Constitution Convention Members.

The Wyandotte Constitution was approved in a referendum by a vote of 10,421 to 5,530 on 10/4/1859. In 4/1860, the United States House of Representatives voted 134 - 73 to admit Kansas under the Wyandotte Constitution. The admission of Kansas as a free state became effective 1/29/1861.
The Wyandotte Constitutional Convention was a key event in the creation of the present Constitution of the State of Kansas and Wyandotte County. The same legislators that approved the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention approved the creation of Wyandotte County.
On 1/29/1859, Samuel Medary, Governor of the Kansas Territory from 12/1858 - 12/1860, signed a piece of legislation that carved out 153 square miles of land from the southeast corner of Leavenworth County and the north side of Johnson County. This territory become Wyandotte County.

It was from this Convention that Kansas became a state:

  • That was free from slavery.
  • Where women were given some rights in voting and holding property.
  • Where Wyandotte County was created and established as a free and independent political entity, capable of managing its own elections and governmental affairs without the aid or interference of its neighbors, and an important factor in the affairs of Kansas.

This is what makes the citizens of Wyandotte County who we are and how we are important in the birth of our county, state, and nation.

"We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges, to ensure the full enjoyment of our rights as American citizens, do ordain and establish the Constitution of the State of Kansas, with the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning at a point on the western boundary of the State of Missouri, where the thirty-seventh parallel of north latitude crosses the same; thence running west on said parallel to the twenty-fifth meridian of longitude west from Washington; thence north on said meridian to the fortieth parallel of north latitude; thence east on said parallel to the western boundary of the State of Missouri; thence south with the western boundary of said State to the place of beginning."

In 1997, voters unanimously approved consolidating the city and county governments into one jurisdiction. The county of Wyandotte – also affectionately known as “The Dot” – is also home to the cities of Bonner Springs and Edwardsville.

Wyandotte County 1859 Sesquicentennial Celebration

Wyandotte County held its Sesquicentennial celebration in 2009. The event commemorated the county’s long historical past and diverse cultural background with events and activities that were held for a (6) month period beginning in January.
6/6/2009 and 6/7/2009, the Wyandotte County Historical Society and Museum held a (2) day event that closed out the sesquicentennial activities. One of the programs was a special unveiling of a new monument to document the Sesquicentennial celebration and honor the ethnic communities present during the forming of Wyandotte County. There were (14) member ethnic communities, but the major groups were:

  • African
  • Delaware
  • English
  • German
  • Irish
  • Scottish
  • Shawnee
  • Welsh
  • Wyandot

The granite obelisk shape memorial will forever document the 150th Anniversary Celebration and be a symbol of the county’s long and rich history for future generations. 

Visit Wyandotte County Museum or Kansas State Historical Society websites for additional information.

About Kansas City, KS

While many cities are known for their expanding skylines, action-packed nightlife, and bustling communities, KCK has all of that incorporated into a small, diverse, and family-oriented community. It has some big city amenities with a small-town down-home appeal.
KCK is the 3rd largest city in the state of Kansas and is the county seat of Wyandotte County. The city was incorporated in 1886 and for (73) years was governed by a (3) member elected Board of Commissioners. In August of 1982, the city held an election, and voters approved a change in the form of city government. Under the Charter Ordinance No. 84 the city changed to a (7) member, Mayor-Council-Administrator form of government in April 1983.

April 1, 1997

Voters unanimously approved consolidating the governments of the City of Kansas City, KS (the “City”) and Wyandotte County, KS (the “County”), into (1) jurisdiction; The Unified Government (UG) of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, KS effective October 1, 1997. The UG, with a 2010 County population of 163,831, covers 155.7 square miles. KCK is located on the eastern border of the State of Kansas and situated at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers, we’re part of a greater metropolitan area of nearly 2 million people. The bistate region encompasses Kansas City, MO, and suburbs on both sides of the state line.

Success Breeds Success

Wyandotte County citizens set the stage for today’s economic development successes in 1997 when they overwhelmingly agreed to consolidate the county and city government. The community was suffering from years of economic hardships and decline. Citizens were ready for a rebirth. The new form of government began the landmark renaissance in the community.
The fresh political dynamic created by consolidation allowed the community to take new, bold approaches to many issues, including economic development. Soon after the UG was launched, the economic development opportunity of a lifetime landed in Wyandotte County. The Kansas Speedway and Village West developments are the most successful economic developments ever built in the State of Kansas, turning mostly undeveloped land into one of the most popular tourist, shopping, and entertainment attractions in the Midwest.

Village West
Has 114 businesses, including (28) restaurants. Those businesses employ nearly 5,700 people, jobs which (10+) years ago did not exist. It generated over $610 million in retail sales in 2009, producing $41 million in local and state sales tax collections. The 2009 real and personal property taxes levied on Village West is just over $11 million. Before the development, that same land area produced only $209,000 in annual property taxes.
Great Wolf Lodge
An indoor waterpark resort and was the first hotel. Other Village West hotels soon followed, including Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Country Inn, and Chateau Avalon. Chateau Avalon is a unique hotel where every room is decorated in a different destination theme. Expedia.com has acknowledged it as among the top one percent of hotels worldwide. Residence Inn by Marriott Kansas City just opened recently in 2016.
Village West is also the product of innovative financing and groundbreaking economic development approaches. The development is largely financed by Sales Tax Revenue Bonds (STAR Bonds), in which sales tax revenues generated by the businesses pay the bonds used to build the infrastructure and key components of the development. The taxpayers of Wyandotte County nor the State of Kansas are obligated to pay a dime on the STAR Bonds should a project fail. That obligation rests solely with the investors who purchased the bonds.

The Village West development has sparked construction of surrounding retail not part of the STAR Bond district, including a Walmart Supercenter, Best Buy, Kohl’s Department store, JC Penney, Target, National Tire and Battery, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster restaurants. The Plaza at the Speedway development generates sales and property taxes which go to the State of Kansas, Unified Government, and public schools.
The synergy generated by the Kansas Speedway and Village West creates new destination tourism attractions. The Schlitterbahn Waterpark opened in 2009 and continues to expand with new fun water attractions. Nearly $200 million in private funds had been invested before a dime of STAR Bond dollars were even issued. Schlitterbahn employs approximately 300 workers during the summer season.

More Success

The UG was recognized by Site Selection magazine for its $400 million deal to bring a major expansion of the Cerner Corporation and an 18,000-seat multipurpose soccer stadium for Sporting Club, Kansas City’s Major League Soccer team, to Village West. The corporate real estate and economic development magazine ranked this project as one of the top deals in North America in its May 2011 issue.
The Cerner Corporation/Sporting Kansas City brings 4,000 new high-paying healthcare technology jobs to the State of Kansas;

  • Creates several thousand additional jobs connected with the sports stadium and spin-off employment
  • Contributes to the States goal of becoming a national leader in the healthcare field
  • Creates educational and job opportunities for Wyandotte County students
  • Brings Kansas its first and only major league sports franchise

The Village West area also welcomed a $386 million Hollywood Casino to Kansas Speedway, which is also planning to construct a new hotel in 2015.
This continued success and established track record is what attracted Google to Kansas City. On Wednesday, March 30th, 2010, Google announced its selection of KCK, as the location for its ultra-high-speed fiber project. Kansas City was the first city out of 1,100 applicants to be selected for this unique and innovative partnership.

On July 23, 2014, the UG joined Sporting Club and U.S. Soccer to announce plans to construct a $75 million development soccer training facility in Kansas City, Kansas. The brand-new training center will be home to the premiere soccer development complex in the world and make Wyandotte County the new home of American soccer. Construction is scheduled to commence in late.

2014 - Early 2015

Other highlights include high rankings for job creation and is known as a business-friendly city. Sara Lee Corp, General Motors, Proctor and Gamble, and Kellogg’s is just a few of the nation’s leading and innovative companies that have chosen Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County as their home. Kansas City has (4) school districts that provide services to public and private students living in Wyandotte County. The Kansas City, Kansas Schools is the largest school district and consists of (49) schools. In 2012, KCK was named one of America’s Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People presented by ING.
Regardless of your interests – history, concerts, family fun or dozens of other activities – From KCK provides access to a huge variety of fun and fascinating attractions.

Visit the Chamber of Commerce or the KCK Convention & Visitors Bureau websites for additional information.