May 1989


For this issue of Tales Out Of School we have gathered together some "first facts" of Kansas and Kansans. We invite you to take a look at them. You might want to use them to provide students with a chance to practice using reference materials, or you might develop and play a Kansas trivia game. You probably have other ideas that will work in your classroom. If you use these "Kansas Firsts" in a way that you would like to share with other teachers, please send your ideas and suggestions to the Center for Great Plains Studies, 1200 Commercial, Campus Box 4032, Emporia State University, Emporia, KS 66801. We will include them in a future issue of Tales Out Of School.

1. The first forward pass in football history was thrown in December 1905. What two schools were playing? Washburn University and Fairmont College

2. What Kansas woman became the first woman mayor in the world? Susanna Salter of Argonia

3. What church established the first mission in Kansas? Methodist

4. Who was the first Kansas state governor? Charles Robinson

5. Who was the first governor in the United States to be impeached? Charles Robinson; acquitted in 1862

6. What Wichitan was the first black woman to win an academy award? Hattie McDaniel for Gone With The Wind

7. What were the first books in the Kansas State Normal School (Emporia) library? Bible and a dictionary

8. Who brought the first printing press to Kansas? Jotham Meeker, Baptist missionary

9. What was the first railroad built across Kansas east to west? Kansas Pacific, now Union Pacific

10. Rena Milner was the first woman city manager in the country. Where did she serve in 1928? Kinsley

11. Where was the first Kansas Library established and when? Vinland in 1859

12. Who were Kansas' first two senators, elected in 1861? James Lane and Samuel Pomeroy

13. What was the name of the first steamer to enter the Kansas River? The Western Engineer

14. What Kansan was the first woman who was fully trained in dentistry in the world? Lucy Hobbs Taylor

15. Where was the first Dillon's store? Sterling

16. When was oil first produced in Kansas? 1889

17. What Kansan was the first woman to serve as Treasurer of the United States? Georgia Neese Clark Gray

18. Who was the first woman ever elected to the United Stated Senate in her own right? Nancy Landon Kassebaum

19. What Kansas city became the first community in the country to be 100% immunized against polio? Protection

20. Kansas was the first state to ratify what amendment to the U. S. Constitution? The 15th which gives African-Americans the right to vote.  Thanks to some great sleuthing by Jay Schaefer at Kansas Public Radio we have discovered that this information is not technically correct.  According to information at http://www.skyways.lib.ks.us/genweb/archives, the Kansas legislature was in session when the 15th amendment was passed by Congress on February 27, 1869 and the legislature passed a resolution ratifying it.  But there was an error in the reading of the resolution, rendering it invalid.  Acting on the recommendation of Governor Harvey in 1870 the Kansas Leglislature adopted a resolution ratifying the 15th amendment on January 18, 1870.  Nevada was the first to ratify the amendment on March 1, 1869.  

21. What was the first woman elected to represent Kansas as a member of the United States Congress? Kathryn O'Loughlin, 1932-34, Democrat

22. In what year did Kansas cast its first vote for a presidential candidate? 1864-Lincoln vs. Gen. George B. McClellan; supported Lincoln 14,252 to 3,791

23. What was the first of the famous cowtowns in Kansas? Abilene

24. Who was the first Kansan to go into space? Ronald E. Evans, Apollo 17-1972

25. A ten-stool lunchroom in Topeka was the first in what early chain of restaurants? The Harvey Houses operated by Fred Harvey

26. When was the first automobile driven in Kansas? 1899 at the Emporia Street fair

27. What was the first regular newspaper printed in English in Kansas? Kansas Weekly Herald in Leavenworth in 1854

28. When was the first Hyllningsfest in Lindsborg? October 1930

29. When did Moses Grinter establish the first ferry on the Kansas River? 1831

30. What school opened the first library school west of the Mississippi? Kansas State Normal at Emporia

31. The first all-woman city council was elected in 1888 in what Kansas town? Oskaloosa

32. Who were the first people to live in present-day Kansas? Paleo-Indians (12,000-5,000 B.C.)

33. Who was the first European to enter what in now Kansas? Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541

34. What was the first German newspaper in Kansas? Kansas Zeitung in Atchison in 1857

35. In what year did Kansas become the first state in the nation to include prohibition of intoxicating beverages in its state constitution? 1880

36. Who was the first Democrat to serve two terms as governor of Kansas? George Docking

37. Where was the first important commercial oil well in Kansas? Norman #1 in Neodesha in 1892

38. Who was the first woman county sheriff in the United States? Mabel Chase (Kiowa County)

39. Who was the first accredited woman war correspondent in the United States? Peggy Hull (Bennington)

40. What was the first newspaper published in Kansas and the first in North America to be printed entirely in an Indian language? Siwinowe Kesibwi (Shawnee Sun) 1835 by Jotham Meeker

41. What University of Kansas scientists first found helium in natural gas? 1905 Hamilton Perkins Cady, David Ford McFarland

42. When were the first schools established in Kansas? 1830s for Indians by missionaries

43. What was the first railroad built in Kansas? 5 mile line built in 1860 from Elwood to Wathena

44. What was the first radio station in Kansas? KFH in Wichita (1922)

45. What was the first commercial television station in Kansas? KTVH in Hutchinson (1953)

46. In 1911 the Kansas Legislature passed the nation's first blue-sky law. What was the intent of the law? regulate sale of bonds, stocks, and other securities; protect investors from buying worthless securities

47. Who invented the first carousel with a jumping horse mechanism? Charles Wallace Parker of the C.W. Parker Amusement Company, Leavenworth; started manufacturing it in 1896

48. Who invented the first fully automatic shooting gallery (mechanized)? Charles Wallace Parker of Abilene in 1890

49. What international contest was held in Bronson, Kansas in the summer of 1909? First International Horseshoe Pitching Contest; Frank Jackson of Blue Mound, Kansas was awarded the World's Championship Belt

50. Where was the first county high school in the United States? Chapman, Kansas; Dickinson County Community High School opened in September 1889: the first building was constructed of limestone at a cost of $12,000. Enrollment the first year was 137.

51. When and where was the first bullfight in the United States? on July 4, 1884 in Dodge City

52. When and where was the first 300 mile motorcycle race in the United States? On July 4, 1914 in Dodge City; Time for winner Glen R. Boyd of Denver was 4 hr., 24 min., 58 sec.; average speed 67.92 mph

53. What Kansan completed the first transatlantic solo flight by a woman? Amelia Earhart (she also completed the first transcontinental non-stop flight by a woman, 8/24/32)

54. What was the first nonfiction bestseller other than a textbook or a purely theological work? In His Steps by Rev. Charles M. Sheldon of Central Congregational Church in Topeka

55. What was the first book series of small size paperbacks? Little Blue Books published by Haldeman-Julius Publications, Girard, Kansas; the first two were The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde

56. What was the first national penitentiary to be authorized by Congress? The federal Penitentiary in Leavenworth on March 3, 1891; however it was not the first one completed


Isern, Thomas and Wilson, Raymond. Kansas Land. Salt Lake City: Gibbs, Smith, 1988.

Kane, Joseph Nathan. Famous First Facts, Fourth Edition. New York: The H.W.Wilson Company, 1981.

Richmond, Robert W. Kansas: A Land Of Contrasts. St. Louis: Forum Press, 1980.

---, World Book Encyclopedia, 1898 Edition, #11. Chicago: World Book Inc.

"Plains Talk"--a series of public service announcements produced by the Center for Great Plains Studies