Groundbreaking of Quindaro, Kansas

Thursday, January 1, 1857

Western University, an African American college in Quindaro, Kansas. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.

Settlement begins at Quindaro, Kansas, an abolitionist refuge for free African Americans and former slaves. The name is a Wyandotte Indian word, meaning "bundle of sticks," which the settlers take to mean, "in strength there is union." The town, located near North 27th Street and the Missouri River in present-day Kansas City, Kansas, receives assistance from the New England Emigrant Aid Company. With its location just across the river from the slave state of Missouri, Quindaro soon becomes a landing port for Free-State settlers and a refuge for escaped slaves along the Underground Railroad. By 1865, a children's school evolves into the Quindaro Freedman's School (and eventually Western University), but the town had already begun its long economic decline. Western University finally closes its doors in 1943, and today all that remains are ruins, but it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places


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