Jonah Weddle

Jonah Weddle was a 28-year-old teacher from Virginia when elected to the Bogus Legislature from Kickapoo in Leavenworth County. He died at Kickapoo a few months later, on October 12, 1855 of typhoid fever. [KHQ 18:424] His life in Kansas was short and little is known about him. He listed his time in Kansas as one year in length in July 1855. If he came to Kickapoo in June 1854, he arrived just as the town was being laid out by a group from Weston, Missouri. 309 acres were surveyed in July 1854 and in October 1854 the town was platted and acknowledged on the record by its mayor. Kickapoo was thought to have an advantage in that the area was already open to pre-emption, while its rival Leavenworth was not. [Cutler, History, Leavenworth County]

Steamboat Arabia 1856

Missouri River steamboats brought settlers to Kickapoo.

The town got off to a fast start. By late June 1854 there were already 1,500 people in Kickapoo with three saloons, a livery stable, a blacksmith shop, several saw mills, a grocery store, a dry goods store and numerous lawyers and doctors. [Fitzgerald, Ghost Towns, 32] But there was probably no school in Kickapoo to employ teacher Weddle.

The Reverend Joel Grover had wanted to have a school at his mission to the Kickapoo Tribe before his death in 1853. [Cutler, History, Leavenworth County] The Methodists had operated a school there in earlier days. The Mission School had 40 students in 1835 but only 16 in 1839. The government also had a school on the same grounds with 6 pupils in 1835. [Lutz, Methodist Missions, 160ff] But in 1854 the the Kickapoo Tribe had been displaced by the town and there no Indians to teach.

The Bogus Legislature to which Weddle was elected established a public school system patterned on the Missouri system. Districts were formed upon petition to the county commission. The first public school in the territory was established in Leavenworth City in May 1855 and the first in Leavenworth County in May 1856, the year after Weddle's death. [King, Kansas School System, 425] If Weddle operated a private school in the boom town of Kickapoo, there is no record of its existence.

Charles Clark