The Conley Sisters' Fight To Save Huron Cemetery 
 Lyda Conley's Law School Graduation Picture
Lyda Conley after arrest for shooting a policeman in the Huron Cemetery 

Research Question:   Were the methods used by the Conley sisters to save the Huron Cemetery effective?

      In 1843, the Wyandot Indians  were forced to leave their lands in Michigan and Ohio to move to Indian territory in Kansas.  In July of 1843, they began arriving in Kansas.  They first located on a strip of federal land between the Missouri state line and the Kansas River. (currently known as the West Bottoms).  The Wyandots were expecting to buy land from the Shawnee but were unable to do so.  Unable to find suitable land for settlement, the Wyandots began to die from sickness and exposure. The first burials were carried out in the what is now known as the Huron Indian Cemetery.  In December 1843, they signed a treaty with the Delawares to buy 24,960 acres and were able to move to higher ground.
     Several disasters struck the area in the next six years. First was a flood in June of 1844 and a cholera epidemic occurred in 1849. In spite of these obstacles, the area developed and  businesses such as a ferry run by the Wyandots and Chouteau's farm and fur trading business were established. Schools and churches were also founded.  The cemetery continued to be used by area residents. However, at the turn of the century developers threatened the existence of the of the cemetery.
    The Conley sisters won national fame for their unlady-like behavior in 1904.  They felt so strongly about keeping their parents' graves from being moved with others in the cemetery to make way for sale of the land and commercial development that they resorted to building a "fort" in the cemetery and carrying a gun.  Some said that Lena was involved in sorcery.  One of the sisters would take her case to the highest court in the land.  How did a woman of one eighth Wyandot Indian blood earn the right to be heard in the Supreme Court?  Were the Conley sisters successful in saving the cemetery from destruction?  Why did they feel so strongly that the cemetery must be saved?
   The Huron Indian Cemetery began to be used in 1843. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Kansas.  Many important Wyandot chiefs and relatives of the Conley sisters were buried in the Cemetery.  The Conley sisters wished to be buried in the cemetery with their relatives in the same place without disturbance of the graves.  Their efforts were to shape the course of their lives

Summary taken from The Wyandot Indians and Huron Indian Cemetery:  A chronology compiled by Larry Hancks, November 1997.