The Huffakers
Early in 1851 twenty-six-year-old Thomas Huffaker came to the recently-completed Kaw Mission to instruct Kaw boys in basic academic skills and Christianity. The boys occupied the four upstairs rooms as boarding students. On May 6, 1852 Thomas was wedded to sixteen-year-old Eliza Baker in the southeast room on the second floor. The Huffakers established a household and conducted classes on the ground floor. On July 4, 1853, the first of their eleven children, Susie, was born in the Kaw Mission.

In 1854 the U.S. government, acting on the advice of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, closed the school for the Kaws. The Huffakers continued to reside in the mission building until 1862 when they moved into a new house one-quarter mile northeast. Thomas Huffaker had a long and distinguished career in the Council Grove community as a businessman, probate judge, and legislator.

On May 14, 1872, tragedy struck when Susie drowned in the Neosho River within one hundred yards of the Kaw Mission. Soon after the turn of the century, Thomas and Eliza moved back into the Kaw Mission. Thomas died here on July 10, 1910. On July 5, 1920, Eliza passed away in the same room where she and Thomas had been wed sixty-eight years before.

Carl and Bertha Huffaker

In 1926 Carl Huffaker, the youngest child of Thomas and Eliza Huffaker, purchased the Kaw Mission. Huffaker had a profitable business career in Fairfax, Oklahoma before returning to his hometown of Council Grove to retire at age 46.

He and his wife, Bertha, renovated the old mission building into a fine home at a cost of $37,000. The oak floors, fireplace veneers, steam heat radiators, and chandeliers are products of this 1926 remodeling. Especially prominent is the dark brown wood composing the baseboards, ceiling moldings, doors, windows, and stairway. This is rosewood, a rare and valuable tree of the tropical rain forest.

Today the Kaw Mission orientation video is played in the room where the Huffakers and their daughter Marjorie dined. The kitchen pantry was located opposite the ladies restroom. The two-room kitchen, now a staff office, occupied the northwest corner. The large room on the west side was the living room. Upstairs were four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. One of the bedrooms was occupied by young women hired as maids.

Bertha died suddenly in the home in February 1949. In 1951 Carl sold the Kaw Mission to the state of Kansas for $23,500. Over a span of one century two generations of Huffakers had begun and ended occupancy of the historic Kaw Mission.

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

How many Kaw children were taught at the Mission?