Land Office - narrow doorway

Old Cowtown Museum Tour

Land Office - narrow doorway

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Old Cowtown Museum


The Land Office, located in the Business District of Old Cowtown Museum, represents the transfer and dispersal of land in early Wichita and Sedgwick County, Kansas. There were two types of land in the Wichita area and two types of land offices existed in Wichita during time of 1865-1880. There were several private real estate firms and a U. S. Land Office which sold government land.

The land in the Wichita area was part of the Osage Reserve, and owned by the native nation. They negotiated variously with several railroads and the United States Government over the sale of the land. By final treaty with the U.S. government, the land was held in trust and sold by the government for the benefit of the Osage Nation. Once sold, it could then be resold for any price by the private individual(s) who purchased it from the government.

One wrinkle in this process is that many followed the time long practice, of placing pre-emption claims on the land before it was legally available with the expectation that it would be sold to the government.

Some of the first land claims in the area that became Wichita were made by D. S. Munger, a partner of the Wichita Land and Town Company in 1868. The claims were made at a time when the land legally belonged to the Osage Indian Nation as trust lands.

The first white settlers filed quit‑claims with the hope that Congress through treaty negotiation would make the Osage trust lands available for legal settlement. In 1870, negotiations were completed and the land became available from the Osage Nation at $1.25 an acre.

A land boom followed the location of industries such as rail road development, the cattle trade, and agricultural expansion in the area. During the 1870s there were real estate agents who worked out of land offices and served as sales representatives to prospective sellers and buyers of the surrounding land.

In addition, the land agents acted as legal representatives to Eastern land buyers, collecting their rents and tending their business interests in the West.

The land agents also acted as a welcoming committee to newly arrived immigrants in their promotion to acquire buyers. The land agents also indirectly acted as county extension agents in their zeal to prove the value of the new land to their prospective buyers. Displays of corn and wheat, the produce of gardens and orchards, together with evidence of the superiority of the tall prairie grass hay and game animals one might expect to find, were exhibited in the land office of the period.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Old Cowtown Museum Tour


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