The start of Tonganoxie as a community can be largely attributed to a hard-working Delaware Indian tribe and their appointed leader.
The start of Tonganoxie as a community can be largely attributed to a hard-working Delaware Indian tribe and their appointed leader. The chief's name was Tongqua Oxie and later changed to Tonganoxie.
Because of the expanding white population in the east, the Delaware tribe was pushed west from New York. "Due to the abundance of timber, water and game, the chief and his followers chose the area now called Tonganoxie. The chief lived in a log cabin near what is now known as Tonganoxie. He was a man of peace during violent times. The chief was said to be of short stature, but no pictures have been located, leaving his physical description up to the imagination.
He was recognized not only by his fellow tribesmen but also by the W.S. Government as a leader. In return for the chief's cooperative attitude, the government Indian agent had a travel lodge built for him in 1840. This building has been described as a large two-story building about 60 feet long and 30 feet wide. It included a grand staircase with a fireplace in every room.
With the establishment of this tavern, and later the stage stop and trading post, the community of Tonganoxie came into being. The lodge stood on the northeast outskirts of what is now the city.
The chief's sister and her son, who was named "Best Quality" after the chief's favorite tobacco, assisted him with the lodge, which became a primary stop for mail and a stagecoach stop. Although the chief had two wives, he fathered no children.
July 21, 1866, the city of Tonganoxie was established. Early residents decided to build on the south side of the creek.
Fort Leavenworth was established in 1827, and Fort Riley in 1852. A road was constructed between the two forts, and passed near the Chief's lodge, going toward Lawrence.
Annie Johnston is a Leavenworth resident and wife of the late J.H. Johnston III, former Times publisher.