1541: Francisco Vazquez de Coronado explores part of Kansas.
1803: In the year 1803, the area that is now Kansas was bought as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
1806: American explorer Zebulon Pike explores Kansas, referring to it as the “Great American Desert.”
1820s-1840’s: The area that is Kansas as set aside as Indian Territory and numerous tribes removed from their natives land are forced to live on Kansas “reservations.”
1821: The Santa Fe Trail is opened and settlers stream through Kansas on their way west.
1827: Fort Leavenworth is built to protect westward-bound settlers from Indian attacks.
1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act established boundaries between the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Both territories were authorized to decide for themselves concerning the issue of slavery.
1854: Many Indian tribes forced to settle on Kansas “reservations” cede their lands in various treaties to the U.S. Government.
1855-1858: Parts of eastern Kansas become known as “Bleeding Kansas,” due to violence between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers.
One incident, known as the Pottawatomie Massacre, involved the murder of five slavery advocates by the fugitive John Brown.
1861: Kansas is admitted to the Union as a free state after the establishment of the Wyandotte Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the state. It became the 34th state.
1863: The city of Lawrence is burned by pro-slavery guerillas from Missouri. 150 people are killed.
1860s-1880’s: Kansas becomes a major ranching center and stockyards built in Abilene attract cattle drives from Texas. The area also becomes well-known for its lawlessness and Wild Bill Hicock becomes Marshall of Abilene in 1871.
1876-1884: Dodge City becomes a boomtown as the terminus of the Great Western Cattle Trail. The city becomes a typical “Wild West” atmosphere with numerous saloons, gambling halls and gun battles.
1881: Kansas becomes the first state to enact prohibition laws, making the possession or sale of alcoholic beverages illegal.