December 2020 NEWSLETTER

WINTER 2020 | Published Quarterly | VOL. II

Happy Holidays from LHS!

Greetings! The Lenexa Historical Society wishes everyone a meaningful and rewarding holiday season. We sincerely wish good health for all — stay safe!

LHS is moving ahead on several fronts. Here’s a sampling of what’s being worked on: 

Our website is continually being updated, our Facebook participation is increasing steadily, our work with the Lenexa Parks and Recreation Department has been mutually beneficial, and outside interest in Lenexa’s history is growing.

In a joint effort with Lenexa Parks and Rec, illustrated, descriptive, free standing signs are being created for the Historical Complex in Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park. Legler Barn, the Train Depot, the Bandstand, Strang Line Wait Station and the Caboose will all be duly recognized.

A second joint effort is with the Shawnee Indian Nation. LHS and the Shawnees are sharing their historical information. This partnership will provide Lenexans with detailed information about Native American traditions and culture. A timeline of Shawnee leaders is being created — a museum display will follow, and additional mutual projects are planned.

We Need Your Help: Unfortunately, there are significant gaps in the photographic history of our city. LHS is creating what does not currently exist: a Pictorial History of Lenexa. We have too few images of our earliest days and even fewer that document later times. If you have negatives, photographs or transparencies that w help document the city from the 1800’s until today, please contact LHS – 

Feast Near Shawneetown Kansas Territory circa 1868

The Lenexa Historical Society is very pleased with the partnership we have created with The Shawnee Tribe. Our shared goals will add to the History of Lenexa while documenting what took place on our lands. 

The following 1868 historical narrative describes a feast that took place during late fall or early winter, after most Shawnees were forced to sell their land and move to Oklahoma. It was written by Demmeria (Dimmie) Byrd Ford, daughter of Julia Ellick Byrd. Dimmie was born in the Cherokee Nation in 1877 near Russell Creek, just south of Chetopa Kansas.

1868 was years before churches were plentiful there and at times members who were fortunate enough to own large homes were asked to open their homes for some special meeting.  Today, the brownstone home of the Williams family set in the midst of its acres about a mile south of town was the scene of this meeting.  The great double parlors were thrown open – and also the dining room with the wide doors connecting it with a bedroom known as the parlor.

The huge fireplaces in the rooms were ablaze with cheery popping wood fires as winter was also in the land and the already deep snow had just been renewed by a steady fall since daybreak of great fluffy flakes and the landscape turned into a fairy land of sparkling white.

Eliza, a child of eight years, was alive with interest in all that was happening and at the first sound of sleigh bells was at the door with her mother to welcome the guests.    Most of them came in sleighs and most of them drove up with bells jingling and everyone swathed in buffalo robes.

Her excited eyes soon discovered coming to a stop at the gate the loveliest sleigh she had ever seen – and excitedly she asked of her mother whose it could be.

That, said Margaret Williams is the Silverheels sleigh – Moses Silverheels, chief of the Shawnee tribe of Indians and the great man of the town. His horses and carriages are the finest in town and his home is on the high north side with its lovely hills.    The sleigh which had attracted Eliza’s attention has scrolls back and front and along the sides of the same scroll effect. By this time the occupants of the sleigh had descended and were at the door.

Moses Silverheels himself was not more than a quarter blood-but Chiefs were chosen as to ability in leadership and integrity and in these he had the respect of all.   
His large home housed not only his own wife, himself and their children but he adopted and reared Julia Ann and Polly and  Louisa a daughter of another sister – and they were all reared as one big family.

This day as they all came to the Williams home for   a big church meeting, was a feast day and the long table extended from end to end of the great dining room.  At each end of the table were huge tall glass bowls on pedestals containing canned fruit peaches and preserves and again the center of the table a great centerpiece of fruit, apples and pears ripened in paper wrappings.

A beef had been killed and large roasts served at each end of the table.  Also there were wild turkeys baked and served with dressing, roast pig and vegetables of all kind.  Desserts were stored peaches, apples, cakes and pies.  The kind of a table that groans – and the kind that is seldom seen now – but in that day it would have been unheard of to have carefully planned menus.

Folk then had the greatest variety and it was good taste as that time and hospitality was at its best. Stored vegetables apples, vegetables all came from cellars.  There were years of fun and companionship and school days as the young people were growing up and the cousins and sisters in the Silverheels family were now young women.

Thank You to Bob Legler

LHS would like to thank Bob Legler for donating his negatives to us. The above photo of Old Town Lenexa was in his collection. 

If you have negatives, photographs or transparencies that would help document the city from the 1800’s until today, please contact LHS –


Now through Jan. 10, 2021 you can take a nighttime stroll around Rose’s Pond, just outside the LHS Complex, to view the beautiful annual lights display in Sar-Ko-Par Trails Park throughout the holiday season.

This holiday lights display is free and open to the public. No tickets required.

Want to be a member of LHS?
Lenexa has a long-running and continuing story — we’d love for you to join the Historical Society and help preserve its history.
Sign up at Here
Have a Lenexa History Story? If you have a Lenexa history story that you think would be a good fit for this newsletter, email it to us at
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