St. Mary’s College (Originally St. Mary’s Mission)

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A Brief History of St. Mary’s Mission St. Marys, Kansas

Following their removal from the Great Lakes area, Pottawatomie Indians were moved to Kansas. Admission was set up for them on Sugar Creek near present day Osawatomie in March of 1839. In1846 under yet another treaty, the government bought from the Kansas tribe 30 square miles along the Kansas River and gave the Pottawatomie a new tract which includes the area where St. Marys is today. A site was chosen from this tract for the Catholic Manual Labor School and Mission.

In 1857 the Indian Agency was established and the present building was constructed by the government. This building was then used as the pay station for the annuity payments to the Pottawatomie.

By 1864, the Prairie Band of the Pottawatomie had begun to scatter–to Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada and even a few to Mexico. The loss of buffalo hunting grounds, the beginning of the Civil War, the impact of the Oregon Trail travelers, the influence of railway dominated officials who wanted the Indian land, and the conflict between Bands all contributed to the demise of the Jesuit Mission to the United Pottawatomie Nation.

The mission school, then became St. Mary’s College an internationally known Catholic school for boys. This school was in operation until 1931 when it became a Jesuit Seminary. The Seminary continued in operation until 1967, when the Jesuits transferred to their new location in St. Louis.

The old mission grounds still serve as an educational institution today and is a private non accredited educational facility operated by the Society of St. Pius X.

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