In 1825, the U.S. Government and the Osage Indians signed a treaty allowing Santa Fe Trail wagons to cross Indian land. The treaty was signed near the Neosho River. Major George Sibley named the grove of trees where the treaty was signed Council Grove.
See also the Council Grove local tour, Stops 300-337.
The location became an important rendezvous point on the Santa Fe Trail. This was the last place that the caravans could get hard wood to repair heavy ox yokes, wheel parts, and tongues of wagons. It also had a good supply of water. Most traders would stay in this area until there were enough wagons gathered together to form a wagon train that could defend itself. The men would elect a wagon master for the train and start the long journey.
In this park is a statue placed by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) in 1928. This park is part of the old campground. The Santa Fe Trail was a merchant trail and not an emigrant trail, so few women and children traveled it. However, the Madonna of the Trail monument shows the strength and courage of women and children who traveled westward.
By 1857, two merchants, Seth Hays and Malcolm Conn, had set up businesses in this area to sell merchandise to the Kaw Indians living on the reservation and to travelers on the Santa Fe Trail. This led to more people sett ling in this area and the town of Council Grove was begun. Conn and Hays, like many other early settlers of Council Grove, are buried in the Greenwood Cemetery on the west side of town.