Flat Rock Creek / Indian Creek Timeline:
This location was one of the first overnight stops on the trail. Flat Rock Creek flows into Indian Creek about half a mile from this location. The land surrounding it is now a city park and swimming pool, known as Flat Rock Creek Park.
(K.C. Area Historic Trails Association and Lenexa Historical Society Program for 175th Anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail Survey Enactment, April 27, 1996. Flat Rock Creek Park, 13120 W.103 St. Lenexa, Ks. 66215)
Juan de Onate spends five months traveling with wagons and artillery through the Plains.
Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri arranges for the U.S. Government to survey the Santa Fe Trail. The survey ended in 1827. Joseph Brown and George Sibley survey the Trail. Brown and Sibley designate the location as "Flat Rock Creek".
Fort Leavenworth established. Traders and military personnel from Fort Leavenworth reached the main stem of the Santa Fe Trail over various roads. The easternmost and probably the first thus used was the existing road to Fort Scott, which intersected the Olathe Cutoff a mile west of Westport and the main Santa Fe Trail east of "The Narrows" near present Baldwin City. Some traders would have taken the Fort Riley military road, leaving it northwest of Topeka to join the main Santa Fe Trail west of Burlingame.
Independence, Mo., established.
Charles Bent, William Bent, David and William Waldo, and others most likely crossed here at Indian Creek, going to Round Grove.
Mountain man William Sublette and others came down the Santa Fe Trail, likely crossing here in route to turning northwest of the Santa Fe Trail (west of present day Gardner) thus piloting the so-called "Sublette's Trace", the future Oregon Trail.
The first Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission is built near the present-day town of Turner.
Grinter's Ferry established. Moses Grinter established the first ferry across the Kaw (Kansas River) in January of 1831, a craft which utilized a rope arrangement to allow the current to carry it back and forth across the river. The present house was built in 1857. Ruts of the Fort Scott (and Fort Gibson) military road were found a short distance north-west of the house.
Returning east over the Santa Fe Trail, Col. Henry Dodge and the 1st U.S. Dragoons most likely crossed here, returning to Fort Leavenworth after a 1,645 mile round trip over the plains, in a "tour-de-force" to impress the indians of the plains.
Following the Santa Fe Trail out of Westport, in route to the Oregon Trail junction, a party of missionaries crossed here at Indian Creek. This party included four of the first white women to cross "Kansas" by this route, (they being Mary Gray, Myra Eells, Sarah Smith, and Mary Walker).
Dr. F. A. Wislizenus and the American Fur Company crossed here. Describing the location, Wislizenus said on May 5, 1839 that his group ..."marched over the broad Santa Fe road, beaten out by the caravans".
The Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission moved near the Santa Fe Trail in the present-day town of Fairway. The Mission was operated by Rev. Thomas Johnson, the namesake of Johnson County, Kansas.
Bidwell-Bartleson wagon train, the so-called first emigrant wagon train to set out for the Pacific, would have crossed here at Indian Creek shortly after leaving their Sapling Grove rendezvous.
During the Mexican-American War, many American troops crossed here at Indian Creek, going down the Santa Fe Trail to Mexico, the war lasting two years. Examples include Lacledes Rangers, a mounted company of 107 from St. Louis, ...also a detachment of Illinois infantry volunteers, escorting 30 government wagons crossed here on July 12, 1847.
The California Gold Rush filled the Santa Fe Trail with eager travelers destined for the West, and contemporary guidebooks of the day describe Indian Creek as a good campground the first day out.
Windwagon Thomas promotes the Overland Navigation Company, to send wagons to Santa Fe under sail.
Kansas opened to settlement. Cholera epidemic.
Mormon John Davies, with his wagon train on July 2, 1854...."At Indian Creek my wife gave birth to a daughter between 12 and 1 a.m. and at 8 o'clock we rolled out again".
From 1854 to 1856 Surveys were made of Kansas Territory to establish range, township, and section lines in preparation for statehood.
From 1854 to 1859 was the era of Border Wars in Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri.
From 1861 to 1865 the Civil War took place. Indian Creek crossing here saw use as troops and militia moved between Kansas City and Olathe. Johnson county had been considered a stronghold for southern sympathizers before the war broke out; when Kansas became a state, it was to be a 'free" state. Johnson County was caught in the crossfire between the guerrilla forces of both pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists, eight guerrilla raids in all. The county was just as likely to be visited by "jayhawkers" from Lawrence, Kansas, as "bushwhackers" from Missouri (also called "Missouri pukes").
The Lone Elm Campground was a major camping spot for thousands of Oregon and California emigrants as well as Santa Fe traders. Many others took the Olathe Cutoff, which took them past the Mahaffie Farmstead, now owned by the City of Olathe and operated as a museum. It is located on the Old Kansas City Road (the Santa Fe Trail) a few blocks northwest of the Intersection of I-35 and U.S. 169. The house, built in 1865, has been meticulously restored to replicate its role as a premier stop on the stage line to Santa Fe.
The town of Lenexa was platted and lots were sold. Some sources say the town was named after the Shawnee Indian Chief's daughter Len-ag-see; other sources say it was his wife Na-Nex-Se.
Road still used for local traffic, as well as the creek crossing.
The DAR marks the Santa Fe Trail with a red granite marker at 105th and Pflumm Road overlooking the Flat Rock Creek / Indian Creek site to the northeast. This is the same marker that is today in downtown Lenexa.
Kansas City Area Historic Trails Assoc. establish the site of Flat Rock Creek on the Santa Fe Trail. Kansas City Metro Surveyors Assoc. confirm the site by surveying with 19th century instruments as well as modern electronic distance measuring equipment. They further confirm the location with the use of satellite position technology.