REVIEW: The Wea Mission Site [History Tour]

This past weekend, I attended a professional wrestling show in Ottawa, Kansas, a town that lies something like an hour and a half from where I live now. Before the show, I decided to do some history adventuring, and ended up stumbling on a little roadside historical marker that I had no idea existed in Paola, Kansas. This is one of those blink and you miss it affairs that you sometimes see on the side of the highway, and I only stopped because it was obvious that I had come across some sort of historic site. As a child, I used to live somewhere in what would be considered Wea, Kansas (it’s unincorporated farmland), and went to school in and around Louisburg, KS for a few years. This was kind of cool to visit, almost like a homecoming for me in many ways. I’m actually surprised my mother never visited this when I was a kid (that is unless the marker was not up in the 80’s) because this would have been right up her alley.

The Wea Mission Site; Paola, Kansas

The primary goal of the mission was to introduce Christianity to the Native American tribes and facilitate their integration into American society. Missionaries sought to teach the tribes Christian principles, including reading and writing in English, as well as skills such as farming and other trades. I have strong modern opinions on the overall idea, and what went down at Mission Schools, but I won’t spill too much into that here. When it comes to looking at many parts of history that I would like to consider a black stain on our country, it’s always hard not to get emotional learning about it, or discussing it for that matter. Honestly, Mission Schools, as an arm of Native American genocide, are up there with Slavery as the top of the heap when it comes to American atrocities politicians really like to not talk about. I plan to go to other sites like this eventually, and I’m sure each one will be a dark reminder of the past.

This is an example of what I’m talking about up in Canada, people are just now opening their eyes as to what really happened in the name of “education”.

This charcoal drawing is the only image the Miami County Historical Museum has of Dr. David Lykins Jr. Image depicts a funeral for his family after sickness killed many at the Wea Mission in 1852


The Wea Baptist Mission Site, also known as the Baptist Indian Mission, is a historic site located near the town of Paola in Miami County, Kansas, not far from Ottawa, Kansas. Established in 1834, the mission played a vital role in the early 19th-century efforts to evangelize and educate Native American tribes in the region. The mission aimed to provide religious education, agricultural training, and literacy skills to the Wea, Miami, and Piankeshaw tribes, who were came from Indiana and Ohio.

According to Visit KC:

“The mission was operated by the Presbyterian Mission from 1834 until 1838. The government bought the mission later selling the property to the Wea Baptiste Mission, which had been established by David Lykins and his wife, Abigail, and a teacher, Sarah Osgood. The Wea Baptiste Mission existed until 1857. At that time, the property was sold to Robert and Alice McGrath. The McGrath family later sold the property to the Carrothers family in 1945. The Carrothers and heirs deeded these 1.6 acres to the City of Paola for historic preservation. A stone and bronze monument of Baptiste Peoria was erected by the Miami County Medical Center on the hospital grounds honoring this site.”

The Wea Baptist Mission operated for over two decades. However, with the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the subsequent forced relocation of Native American tribes, including the Wea and Piankeshaw, the mission faced challenges. The mission ultimately fully closed in 1857, as the tribes were moved to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). A number of tribe members and missionaries had died in 1852, including most of the Lykins family.

A really good source of information on David Lykins can be found HERE. Honestly he does not sound like a very good man in many ways, as he eventually was ran out of the entire state of Kansas during the lead up to Bleeding Kansas.

“In 1854, Lykins helped draft an Indian Treaty, which was signed by President Franklin Pierce and later resulted in the removal of the Indians to Oklahoma. Lykins was an ardent pro-slavery man who advocated annexing Cuba as a slave state. At the first territorial election on March 30, 1855, he was elected a legislative council member from the 4th district. He stuck to his missionary work, however, and did not join in his fellow legislators’ military or political efforts.”


There are a LOT of books about the treatment of Native Americans out there, but I especially wanted to read something by someone that had to attend a mission school, and that brought me to The Great Evil by Chris Mato Nunpa. This book pulls no punches when discussing the horrific onslaught that Christianity brought to America, and reading it is very sobering.

“In this account of the history between Indigenous Peoples and the United States government, readers will learn the role of the bible played in the perpetration of genocide, massive land theft, and the religious suppression and criminalization of Native ceremonies and spirituality. Chris Mato Nunpa, a Dakota man, discusses this dishonorable and darker side of American history that is rarely studied, if at all. Out of a number of rationales used to justify the killing of Native Peoples and theft their lands, the author will discuss a biblical rationale, including the “chosen people” idea, the “promised land” notion, and the genocidal commands of the Old Testament God. Mato Nunpa’s experience with fundamentalist and evangelical missionaries when he was growing up, his studies in Indigenous Nations history at the University of Minnesota, and his affiliation with the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) were three important factors in his motivation for writing this book.”

The Trip:


Truthfully, there isn’t much at the site than what you see in these images I took. You can see some concrete or stone from foundations of one of the buildings here, but most signs of the past are long gone. It would be great if they would try to rebuild some of the buildings in the future, but since one of the interpretive signs has long been knocked over, it does not seem like the site gets much attention other than mowing. I have not been to a lot of museums related to Native Americans in Kansas as of yet, but I think this area is long overdue for something that comes face to face with what happened in the early 19th century. Fingers crossed that I come across something like that. If you are in the area, this is a cool quick site to visit, but don’t expect it to blow you away. If anything it’s a great starting point for research of the broader topic of Kansas Mission Schools, and for that I’m glad I found it!

For more content like this, check out my History Tour page HERE


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