“re-created historic town & living museum”
Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site - Located on the Oregon Trail in Topeka, Kansas, Old Prairie Town is a 6-acre historic site with gardens, preserving the family history of one of the earliest settlers in the area. Mary Jane Ward called herself the "mother of Topeka." In 1854, she and her husband, Anthony, a carpenter, wheelwright, and teacher, purchased 240 acres of prime river land for $100 from a Kaw Indian named Joseph James. They combined three cabins on the property as their first home. Mary Jane offered lodging to weary trail travelers, and most nights, kept a candle burning in her cabin window to welcome them. The couple sold sand from the river to help support their family of six children. Part of the original cabin is incorporated in the reconstructed cabin located in the park. It is open for tours. The Ward family lived in the cabin until the 1870s, when they built the two-story limestone and brick Prairie home now called the Mansion. Their daughter, Jennie, married John Mackey Meade in 1879, and in 1897, Jennie and John inherited the home. Various members of the family lived in the house until 1961 when the city of Topeka bought the property to use as a park. The Ward-Meade house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and restoration began the next year as a bicentennial project.
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Old Prairie Town
- Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
- Sun: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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