Although the Kaw Mission did not begin to operate as a school for Kaw boys until May, 1851, its construction began in September 1850. The foreman of the Kaw Mission construction crew was Allen T. Ward, an employee of the Shawnee Mission, located in modern Johnson County near the Missouri border. Ward was both a well-traveled and well-educated man. He had arrived at the Shawnee Mission in 1843, where he spent the next few years teaching Indian students and assisting the school superintendent, Thomas Johnson. While at the Shawnee Mission Ward married an Peoria Indian woman named Wahponkequa.

Allen Ward’s letters sent from the Shawnee Mission to his relatives in the East contain our best documentation of the construction of the Kaw Mission. The following is an excerpt of a letter Ward wrote to his Sister, Elizabeth, on September 1, 1850:
"...just at this time I am employing men (mechanics & laborers) to go out West 125 miles to council grove to build a School house & Missionary Station for the Kansas tribe of Indians; as all the tools & provisions have to be taken from here it is no small business to make the outfit– Tomorrow is the day appointed to start with 25 men & a number of wagons loaded with lumber &c–"
"The building is to be stone sufficiently large to accommodate 50 students as regular boarders, besides teachers, missionaries, farmers &c &c– I will be gone probably between two & three months– As I shall have some spare time I will try & write to you from the grove if I can find a conveyance to the State line– 
I feel some reluctance to quit my comfortable quarters here & undertake such a job where I will be exposed to many hardships & privations, but I see no way to excuse myself from going. Mr. Johnson our Supt had intended to go himself & leave me to manage the business here, but his health not being very good of late he is afraid to undertake it–"

By December 21 Ward had returned to the Shawnee Mission where on that date he wrote a letter to his family. In this letter he described the construction of the Kaw Mission.

"I started on the 4th of September with a force of about 25 hands expecting to get through the job in two months, but owing to sickness we were nearly three months in getting done the mason work; I then left the carpenters to finish their work; let out contracts for fencing and breaking two hundred acres of prairie and making some other improvements and with the rest of the workmen started for home..."

"I accomplished the work I had to do, build a large substantial stone house, with eight rooms and two halls or passages, besides two log houses and dug a well. This improvement is on the Ne-o-sho at Council Grove on a tract of land lately ceded to the Kaw Indians 125 miles west of this place..."

On February 23, 1851, Ward wrote ". . . They [the carpenters] have just got back & report the house ready to be occupied."

To learn more about the construction of the Kaw Mission, read the series of articles published in the Republican, to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Kaw Mission in 2001.

Collision - Kaw Mission
The Huffakers
School Years 1851-54
The Mission 1854-1951

Who taught at the Kaw Mission?