I was born in the small Kansas town of Council Grove. Perhaps some of my love of history comes from being surrounded by an abundance of Historical Markers (21 of them) and discussion of the past as if it were just yesterday.
Council Grove was named for a large grove of hardwood trees that offered shelter from the Kansas heat and cold. The stand of trees next to the Neosho River was a place to gather for Native Americans and later for travelers heading west. The town was named after an agreement between European Americans and the Osage Nation. The agreement allowed settlers’ wagon trains to pass through the area and proceed onto Santa Fe. Council Grove was the last community on the Santa Fe trail (before Santa Fe) for many years and was the place travelers restocked their supplies and repaired their wagons. There are a total of 13 sites there listed on the National Register of Historic Places: The Last Chance Store, Hays House Restaurant, Post Office Oak, Council Oak, Custer Elm and more.
The Santa Fe trail began primarily as a trade route. Mexico had just gained independence from Spain and the inhabitants of the southwest were anxious for trade with Americans, and vice versa. Pioneering settlers also followed the trail, adding to the populations of Texas, Colorado, future Arizona & New Mexico and California.
Here are some excellent resources to learn more about the Santa Fe Trail
National Park Service
Santa Fe Trail Organization:
If you have Southwestern Native American heritage you will find these links at the Library of Congress worthy of review:
Edward S. Curtis Photograph Collection: https://www.loc.gov/collections/edward-s-curtis/