City of Ozawkie

524 Kiowa
785-876-2550

History

Osawkee" it is believed that this Indian Village was named in honor of the Chief of the Sak (Sauk) tribe. Perhaps, you have been told that the name means, "People of the Yellow Earth", where "Wa-sae', meaning yellow, plus 'ah-Kee meaning earth". However, contradicting statements argue that the name actually means, "People of the Outlet", in reference of the Sauk Tribe's Saginaw Bay, Michigan origin.

The area had been inhabited by several different Indian Tribes for thousands of years-until the "white man" discovered it. And through the years Osawkee has seen many changes; not only by the people who have lived here, but in the land itself. Once just a river named "Grasshopper", then renamed "Delaware River", it flowed through until a dam was built to create a lake. Even the spelling of the town has changed, and more than once: from Osawkee to Osawkie in 1883, when the railroad depot was built, and then 17 years later to Ozawkie.

The current City of Ozawkie is known as the "Oldest and Newest Town in Jefferson County". Founded by William F. Dyer who, in fact, illegally settled on the land prior to the Treaty of 1854. Though nothing came of his "illegal" settlement, Mr. Dyer went on to build the first business in the area, a trading post, alongside the military freight road that ran between Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.

During the Delaware Trust Land sales, people immigrated from both the northern and southern states to Osawkee seeking trade along the Military Freight Road and fertile land to raise abundant crops. The southerner's who had slaves brought them, hence "Pro-Slavery". The northerner's were anti-slave and fought to keep Kansas a free state, hence "Free-State".

The pro-slave men took up residence in Osawkee, east of the Grasshopper river, where the free-state men made their homes west of the river, which is where the new City of Ozawkie is located, calling it "Pleasant Hill".

In 1964, Ozawkie was rebuilt on higher land one mile west of the original town in order for Perry Dam Project to be constructed.