Kaw Mission State Historic Site
Built during the winter of 1850-51
by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the Kaw Mission served
as a boarding school for Kaw (Kanza) boys until closing in 1854.
One exhibit and bookstore feature the Santa Fe Trail. The Kaw
Mission is administered by the Kansas Historical Society.
Open Tue.–Sat. 10 am–5 pm, Sun. 1–5 pm Phone 620-767-5410.
| Hermit’s Cave
cave was the temporary abode of an Italian hermit, Giovanni Maria
Augustini. Born in 1801, this religious mystic lived here for a brief
period in the spring of 1863. Later in 1863 he left Council Grove in the
company of a wagon train, walking the five hundred miles on the Santa Fe
Trail to New Mexico.
| Last Chance Store
by Tom Hill in 1857, the Last Chance Store was, for a brief period of
time, the last opportunity for freighters bound for Santa Fe to pick up
supplies for their journey, hence its name. It also the oldest
commercial building in Council Grove. For several years, the building
housed post office facilities and also served as a government trading
house and polling place.
| Conn Stone Store
in 1858 by local merchant Malcolm Conn, the Conn Store was one of the
two most important trading posts in Council Grove during the Santa Fe
Trail days. It shared the business provided by trail travelers, the
Kanza Indians, and later, by local settlers. The Conn Store has been
added on to and remodeled over the years. The outline of the original
store is defined by the light-colored stone on the building’s west
| Hays House
Hays House was built in the late 1850s by famous Santa Fe Trail trader
Seth Hays. It is known as the oldest continuous restaurant west of the
Mississippi. Over the years the building has been used as a mail
distribution point and a gathering place for court cases and church
services. Today the Hays House is one of the finest restaurants in
Kansas. It also houses an interesting display of Santa Fe Trail–related
photographs and artifacts.
| Seth Hays Home
brick house was built by Seth Hays in 1867. Hays’ slave, "Aunt
Sally," lived in the basement and cared for the family until her
death in 1872. While Hays never married, he did adopt a daughter in
1867. The home, operated as a museum by the Morris County Historical
Society, is open in the summer on Sunday afternoons and by appointment.
| Neosho River Crossing
of the river bridge is the main Neosho River crossing of the Santa Fe
Trail. Riffles in the stream indicate the presence of a flat, hard rock
streambed which would have helped make the crossing easier.
| Post Office Oak and Museum
to have been over three hundred years old, this bur oak is said to have
served as an unofficial post office for travelers on the Santa Fe Trail
from 1825–1847. Passing caravans could leave messages for future
travelers in a cache in the base of the tree. The tree trunk stands next
to a stone building erected in 1864 for use as a brewery. The Morris
County Historical Society has a fine museum in this building, open
Sunday afternoons in the summer and by appointment.
The Council Oak received its name from the council held under
this tree August 10, 1825, attended by three U.S. commissioners
and the chiefs of the Great and Little Osage Indians. The
resulting treaty gave Americans and Hispanics free passage along
the Santa Fe Trail through Osage territory in return for eight
hundred dollars. Its was also at this time that Council Grove
got its name. Before it blew down in a windstorm in 1958, the
oak was approximately seventy feet high and measured sixteen
In1860 a Council Grove merchant, Goodson M. Simcock, constructed
the southwest portion of this two-story stone house. Simcock was
a partner of Seth M. Hays, providing goods and services for the
Kaw Indians and the Santa Fe Trail trade. He was one of the
organizers and original stockholders of the Council Grove Town
Company, formed in 1857. Upon Hays’ retirement in 1862,
Simcock became the sole owner of the business, retiring in 1873.
The "Simcock House" was added on to in 1863 and in the