Old Jefferson Town
where an ongoing record of the past is preserved and recorded for future generations
Jefferson County Historical and Genealogy Society
The Jefferson County Historical Society (JCHS) and Jefferson County Genealogy Society (JCGS) have worked hand in hand for the past 50 years preserving and recording the history of Jefferson County Kansas. The two societies share the responsibilities in maintaining Old Jefferson Town.
Old Jefferson Town consists of 10 buildings and a prairie grassland that preserve and exhibit donated artifacts (objects, documents, photos, books, maps, etc.) It has an extensive genealogy library open to the community on weekends throughout the year and by appointment.
A variety of volunteers keep the museum up and running. Recently the Genealogy and Historical society merged to better meet the needs of Old Jefferson Town. JCHGS meets monthly to hold a business meeting to discuss events and the needs of the facilities. Community members are encouraged to be a part of the meetings.
Volunteers work on accessioning and displaying objects, clipping and filing paperwork (obituaries, maps, family histories, photos etc.), planning events and connecting to the community through the local newspapers and social media. Local school groups and 4H groups help with projects outside keeping the grounds picked up and landscaping maintained.
The City of Ozawkie has a timeline of historical information about the history of Ozawkie.
A brief time line borrowed from their webpage:
1819 – U.S. Government Exploring Expedition under Major Long was said to be first white men to have visited the area.
1825 – After the Indian Treaty of June, 3 1825, Major Daniel Morgan Boone, son and 7th of 10 children of famed “Kentucky Pioneer” Daniel Boone, arrived to this area after being appointed “Kansa Indian Agent” where he was to advise the area Indians on agriculture matters.
1828 – On August 22nd the first white child born in Kansas Territory, Napoleon Boone, was the 12 child of Maj. Daniel Morgan Boone.
1831 – Delaware Indians, originally from the Lenape People from the Delaware Region, complete their move to Kansas from Missouri.
1854 – Kansas becomes a Territory. The Delaware Nation lands were surveyed and each tribe member received compensation for all but a small portion of their land by the United States, which was dispersed in the “Delaware Trust Land” sale. Both Pro-Slavery and Free-State Settlers came to Kansas to set claim on land. The first election was held in the district and a rivalry broke out between the two groups.
1855 – Osawkee boundaries were surveyed and town becomes county seat, the first post office, and first school house were also built. A bill was introduced in Legislature to change the town’s name to Wabash, which failed to pass.
1856 – Under the order of Colonel Whipple, many pro-slavery homes of Osawkee were raided with the aid of Captain Ephrain Bainter, a free-state man who was later elected free-state sheriff of Jefferson County.
1857 – Federal Lands sales take place and the area population rises to 3,500 due to an influx of immigrants. Unmarried men were said to be obliged to pay 25¢ per acre more than a married man.
1858 – An election was held after the Legislature of 1857-58, which gave the people of Jefferson County the ability to vote for the county seat. With 177 votes, Oskaloosa became the new county seat of Jefferson County. In the middle of the night a short time after the election, the court records were seized and transported to Oskaloosa via an oxen drawn wagon.
1860 – The remaining “Delaware Trust Land” was given to the Leavenworth and Pawnee Railroad to make way for the railroad, of which had never been built. A great drought plagued the area.
1865 – A water powered flour and grist mill was constructed by William Dail and J. M. Funk just south of Osawkee. It was used by the government to grind grain where they supplied flour to the remaining Delaware Indians occupying a small area of land south of Osawkee.
1867 – Due to their tiring of the “white man’s antics”, the remaining Delaware Indians moved out of the Osawkee area where they eventually settled in Oklahoma. 1870 – Drought and depression hit hard for the area forcing some to move; decreasing the population to 1,600.
1872 – Flooding of Osawkee.
1874 – Massive invasion of the grasshopper wiped out entire crops and anything else in their way.
1875 – Due to the frequent invasions by grasshopper, the town’s folk changed the river’s name from Grasshopper to Delaware.
Check out the "rest of the story" of Ozawkie recorded on the City of Ozawkie Page.
Kansas Digital Access to History Grant awarded to Jefferson County Historical Society
The Jefferson County Historical and Genealogy Society has been awarded a $3000 grant from the Kansas State Historical Records Advisory Board (KSHRAB) to work towards bringing the Old Jefferson Town historical archives to a digitized format. If all goes well, the digitized format will be available online around the first of June to not only Jefferson County, but others across the United States and World.
The Kansas State Historical Records Advisory Board (KSHRAB) seeks to encourage Kansas organizations and individuals to preserve records of the past by offering a digital grant to aid in the process of digitizing records into a shareable format to the public. Their funds are granted from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
Volunteers from the OJT museum began working January 10th to enter the thousands of objects, photos, archives and library items into a software program purchased with the grant money. The Past Perfect Software offers organization of the records that have been kept on paper for the past 50 years. The digitizing of the museum artifacts will make researching easier, not only at the museum, but also from the comforts of your home. The Past Perfect system will allow us to locate the items in the museum quicker if you want to come and see an item in person.
Currently, there are eleven volunteers who are working consistently each week at getting data entered into Past Perfect. So far over 5000 objects, photos, books, paper documents, etc have been entered into the system. We have inserted over 1500 Jefferson County names into the system that are linked to biographical information, objects, photos, books, maps and any documents that have been donated to the museum by that person or their family.
While the project is progressing much more quickly than ever imagined, please understand that this project is a 3-5 year project. When working with each record entered, each item can take anywhere from 4-10 minutes to enter. That’s a lot of volunteer hours. Just to give you an idea of what we have to work on...there are over 30,000 photos in our file cabinet that need to be scanned and data documented. In the museum buildings alone, I’m guessing that there are at least 5,000 - 10,000 objects that will need to be photographed and data entered. Our genealogy library is growing each day, there are over 5000 books in the library. There are thousands of family files and obituaries that someday could be scanned and connected to families and names in our system.
There are some ways that you can become involved in this project. If you have an hour or two a week or every couple of weeks, we can keep you busy. We are in need of volunteers who can scan photos and documents, file clippings, and assist with the cataloging of the numerous library books and photos that we house in our genealogy library. No experience is necessary, we will train you.
Volunteer hours are: Tuesday’s 11:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturday’s 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm.
If you are interested in becoming a part of preserving Jefferson County’s history, please email: email@example.com.
Public Access to our museum records!
We are a work in progress!
This is just a beginning!
Our volunteers have been working diligently since January to provide you with access to Old Jefferson Town artifacts. You will want to check in with us frequently as we add more to our public access catalog.
Each item that we enter and item, it takes 4-10 minutes to enter. We have entered over 6,000 items, thus far. That's a ton of volunteer hours. We wouldn't be this far along, if it wasn't for them!
As you browse, if you see something that you can give us more information about, please use the feedback link at the top of the page. We'd love to hear from you. If you see typing errors, please help us by letting us know. You won't hurt our feelings!
Use the following link to see what we've been up to:
Public Site link: https://oldjeffersontown.catalogaccess.com/
Help Preserve Jefferson County History
Become a Member!
Membership in the Jefferson County Historical and Genealogy Society is available by printing out the membership form and mailing it in or contacting:
Winchester, KS 66097
Annual dues are $25.
The Jefferson County Historical Museum and Genealogy Society is a non-profit organization that maintains Old Jefferson Town. Your dues are used to help with the continuing upkeep of the buildings and grounds at Old Jefferson Town. Your membership will help to maintain and preserve the rich history of Jefferson County and its communities.
As a member, you will receive a digital copy of the quarterly newsletter and the Yesteryears that comes out twice a year. Yesteryears are filled with historical stories and information about the citizens and communities in Jefferson County. (older issues are on this website - go to the Newsletters/Yesteryears tab)
Monthly meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at 7:00 pm at Old Jefferson Town. Members and non-members are encouraged to attend the meetings.
Become a volunteer!
Old Jefferson Town would not be here if it weren't for its volunteers. For over 50 years, history keepers have helped to preserve Jefferson County history. Come and be a part!
Jefferson County Historical Society
P.O. Box 146
Oskaloosa, KS 66066
Old Jefferson Town
705 Walnut Street
Oskaloosa, Kansas 66066
October 1 - May 1
OJT buildings closed
Saturday 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Arrangements can be made to open at other times. Please contact us at our email address.
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