27th& S ewell
Kansas City, KS 66104
When we speak about the diversity of Kansas City, Kansas, the historic township of Quindaro is an example of where it all begins.
This histioric landmark received national honors in March of 2009 from the National Black Caucus of Elected Officials (NBC-LEO). The NBC-LEO presented the City of Kansas City, Kansas with the Cultural Diversty Award for its work as part of the Quindaro Ruins Stabilization and Restoration Project.
The Quindaro Township was a free state riverport settled by a diverse population of African Americans, European Americans and partial-blood Wyandotte Indians until economic depression and the Civil War led to the abandonment of the town by 1862. The town was named for Nancy Brown Guthrie, whose Wyandotte Nation name was Seh Quindaro.
Quindaro’s anti-slavery sentiment and position immediately across the Missouri River from the State of Missouri made it a natural stop on the Underground Railroad. Assisting runaway slaves was illegal, a hanging offense, in Kansas Territory under the Fugitive Slave Law. The People participating as “conductors” in the Underground Railroad and “stations” were carefully guarded secrets.
However abolitionists living in the area continued efforts to assist slaves escaping from Missouri. The slaves were reportedly brought across the river on small boats and by secret runs on the ferry. In September 1861, angry Missourians sank the steam ferry to curtail such activity. The escapees were hidden in caves, barns, cellars, attics, and secret rooms at the edges of towns such as Quindaro, Lawrence, and Oskalossa until they could be escorted or directed to the next station.
Despite the topography and challenging landscape, the townsite grew rapidly in 1857. Town lots sold between $150 to $1,500 dollars. The population passed 600 and rose to approximately 1,200 by 1858. However due to the Civil War and other factors, Quindaro’s growth was short-lived. By April of 1861 the town’s population would decline to less than 700 persons.
Even today, the archeological ruins serve as a monument to racial harmony and to freedom. They have cultural and historical value for the descendants of Native Americans who once owned and occupied the site, for African Americans whose ancestors once looked to Quindaro as a gateway to freedom, and for the descendants of Euro-Americans who saw the need to found a Free State port and fight slavery.
The site also has a cemetery that dates back to the mid 1800’s. Just recently the Unified Government constructed an Overlook Structure to allow easier access and view of the historical site.
Quindaro has become a regional tourist attraction and there are few sites and structures from 19th century Kansas City that remain as well known throughout the nation as the townsite and ruins of Quindaro.