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Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Six-Mile School

Location:  area of Six-Mile House in present-day Welborn Community

Annals of Quindaro: A Kansas Ghost Town
by Alan W. Farley
(copyright, 1956, by Alan W. Farley)
Winter, 1956 (Vol. 22, No. 4), pages 305 to 320;
Transcribed by Tristan Smith; composed in HTML by Tod Roberts;
digitized with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.

"The Wyandotte Gazette of December 30, 1881, reviewed the history of Six-Mile, as the locality around the tavern became known. It recalled that 15 years before, Six-Mile was quite a business center. It had a church, school house, blacksmith shop, a store, a hotel and a tobacco factory. The article went on to say that the Six-Mile post office had been moved to Braman Hill, one mile south."

Click on "A Kansas Ghost Town" above to link to the entire article.

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III. SIX-MILE HOUSE
by Alan W. Farley , 1956

     "Just west of Quindaro on the stage road to Leavenworth was Six-Mile House, a part of which is still in use. It was built in 1860 of polished black walnut as a tavern and became an important stop on the old stage route from Independence to Leavenworth. It was so named because it was just six miles from the Wyandotte ferry by the road, and is now one of the most fascinating buildings in the county. The land where it stood was acquired by J. A. Bartles on execution from its original Wyandotte Indian owner. Bartles and his son, Theodore, ran the notorious tavern.

     As originally built, it consisted of nine rooms and two stories, with a wine cellar and secret closets. In 1894 its owner, James K. P. Barker, had cut it in two. The front part was moved several yards to the east where it is now the home of Edna Williams Jarvis and is designated as 4960 Leavenworth road. The back section, or the "L," was moved about 200 feet east to become part of a barn, which has only recently been torn down. Barker then built a larger modern home on the former site which still stands. A fine well where travelers and stock of the stage line found refreshment still exists near the roadway which has become Kansas Highway No. 5. Andreas mentions the name of the stage line -- Kimball, Moore & Co. -- which ran from Westport to Weston in 1857 by way of Six-Mile and Leavenworth.

     The eastern part of Wyandotte county was then quite rough, with deep ravines and steep hills, the whole covered with forest. The land belonged to members of the Wyandot and Delaware tribes, and except for small clearings and the Kansas river bottom land; the balance was a tangle of matted vines, underbrush, and heavy timber. This was ideal timber. This was ideal cover for bushwhackers, guerrillas, and deserters, who made existence of the inhabitants a terror during the Civil War era when most young men were away in the army.

     On August 3, 1861, the Wyandotte Gazette summed up the situation: thirteen murders had been committed in the county in the past two years; none had been punished. Other papers were full of accounts of robbery, horse theft, and kidnaping of free Negroes by visitors from across the Missouri. The citizens of Wyandotte met this critical situation with a people's court which often administered punishment by horsewhipping and hanging.

     Six-Mile House became a well known rendezvous for vicious gangs. On July 17, 1862, a mass meeting was held by the citizens at the courthouse in Wyandotte to consider a means of putting out the fire. A "Committee of Safety" was formed with the avowed object of tearing down Six-Mile House as being a den of red-legs. Col. A. C. Davis was also castigated for the conduct of his regiment at Quindaro during the winter of 1861-1862. He had allowed his troopers to go across into Missouri to steal horses as well as destroy much property in the town. The next day this committee journeyed out to see Theodore Bartles, proprietor of Six-Mile, but were not shown the usual hospitality of the place. Bartles had heard of the projected visit and its purpose, had ridden to Fort Leavenworth to see the commandant, Gen. James G. Blunt. So the committee was surprised to find a company of soldiers from the fort encamped around Six-Mile. Blunt ordered that there be no destruction of property and the members of the committee were taken to the fort and required to give bond to keep the peace. Bartles was later arrested in the vicinity. Col. A. C. Davis had already left the county.

     On December 18, 1862, a man named Smith was shot at Six-Mile House by a posse looking for horses stolen near Westport. Several companions were taken prisoner.

     The Gazette also reported on July 16, 1863, a party of bushwhackers crossed the Missouri river above Parkville with the intent to burn Wyandotte and Six-Mile. Some of these marauders were caught and taken to Kansas City for trial.

     William E. Connelley in his Quantrill and the Border Wars, tells of a long acquaintance with Theodore Bartles, whom he describes as of the better class of "Red Legs." Bartles admitted to Connelley that he was a famous shot with the revolver; he had even defeated "Wild Bill" Hickock in many a contest of marksmanship! Bartles also is almost the sole authority for the curious tale of an attempt to warn the people of Lawrence of the Quantrill raid on August 21, 1863, sending Pelathe, a Shawnee Indian, from Six-Mile House on a midnight dash across the Delaware reservation. Bartles even finished a fine thoroughbred horse for the desperate venture for Pelathe got to the Kansas river across from Lawrence just as the raiders fired the first shots in the doomed city. I have been unable to verify this story from any contemporary source and if Pelathe followed the well-traveled road he didn't break any records.

     After the war banditry continued in the locality. The paper of November 11, 1865, reported robbery in the vicinity. The next week it was further outraged because Dr. J. B. Welborn and wife, who later platted the area and gave it their name, were shot as they were sitting at home one evening by a charge of buckshot fired through the living room window. Both later recovered.

     Old-timers can still show the tree near the site of the old hostelry where, during the war, a traveler and his son were hanged after being robbed by the bushwhackers. Sixty years ago neighbors of the tavern were convinced that ghosts of these victims still haunted the vicinity but the present owner will have no part of these tales. She is very gracious to visitors and will show the old bar with an arch over it where liquid inspiration was sold. Many a lurid adventure would entertain us if those old walls could reveal the past.

     The Wyandotte Gazette of December 30, 1881, reviewed the history of Six-Mile, as the locality around the tavern became known. It recalled that 15 years before, Six-Mile was quite a business center. It had a church, school house, blacksmith shop, a store, a hotel and a tobacco factory. The article went on to say that the Six-Mile post office had been moved to Braman Hill, one mile south.

     "Young America" was the picturesque title given to the trading post on the road from Quindaro to Leavenworth about a mile beyond Six-Mile Tavern. Although the trader carried a stock of merchandise, "grog" was his fastest moving commodity. In his journal Abelard Guthrie tells of stopping there -- that Indians in various degrees of intoxication were lying about as though a battle had just concluded."

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 23-Apr-2014

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