The Grove
"This point is nearly a hundred and fifty miles from Independence, and consists of a continuous stripe of timber nearly half a mile in width, comprising the richest varieties of trees; such as oak, walnut, ash, elm, hickory, etc. and extending all along the valleys of a small stream known as "Council Grove creek," the principal branch of the Neosho river."
–Josiah Gregg
Commerce of the Prairies

A grove of trees along the river 

Cool Shade Under Canopy

". . . we stood at last beneath the sombre shadow of the old trees. We rode on through the thick wood, enjoying the grateful sensations occasioned by the transition from the burning heat of the prairie to the cooling shade of the grove."
–Matt Field, 1839

For most travelers, the huge and abundant hardwood trees on the east bank of the Neosho River meant shade, rest, and protection. Over the years, Euro American "progress" and natural forces have taken their toll on the grove. Today fewer than twenty trees of the Santa Fe Trail-era grove survive.
It was in this grove of hardwood trees that on August 10, 1825, three United States commissioners led by George C. Sibley met with chiefs of the big and little bands of the Osage tribe. 
Artist Charles Goslin
The American and Indian leaders signed a treaty granting Euro Americans safe passage along the Santa Fe Trail in exchange for eight hundred dollars in trade goods. The naming of the place derived from this encounter. Sibley wrote in his journal: "I suggested naming the place ‘Council Grove’ which was agreed to, & Capt. Cooper directed to Select a Suitable Tree, & to record this name in Strong and durable characters–which was done . . ."

Twenty-one years later famous historian Francis Parkman rode into Council Grove from the west. His account reflects the usual bias in favor of trees:

". . . we saw before us the forests and meadows of Council Grove. It seemed like a new sensation as we rode beneath the resounding arches of these noble woods,–ash, oak, elm, maple, and hickory, festooned with enormous grape-vines purple with fruit. We rode out again with regret into the broad light of the open prairie."

Today portions of the trunks of three historic trees–Council Oak, Custer Elm, and Post Office Oak--still stand in Council Grove. The Council Oak and Custer’s Elm have shelters protecting their sizable stumps. The 15-foot high trunk of the Post Office Oak looms above the front entrance of the Post Office Oak Museum operated by the Morris County Historical Society. In 1995 the G.F.W.C. Philomathian Club identified fifteen historic trees still living. The oldest of the thirteen bur oaks marked by the Philomathian’s sprouted in 1694, the other twelve sprouted in the 1700s. The two identified cottonwoods sprouted in 1803 and 1855.

The Prairie
The Flint Hills
The Grove
Prehistoric People

Discover the people who lived here before the Kaw.