Origins & Name
George W. Scott and William H. Colbern purchased about 80 acres of land on August 13, 1869, from Manzey Q. Ashby of Kentucky, who had received it a month earlier from the U.S. government. Scott and Colbern filed a plat for the 80 acres in December of 1871 and called the new town “Belton.” Belton was incorporated in 1872. It was named for one of Scott’s close friends, Captain Marcus Lindsey Belt, who helped Scott survey the land. The two had served in the Civil War together. Belton and its environs were settled largely by families from Kentucky.
The Shawnee lived and owned land four miles west of Belton, just across the Missouri-Kansas border, on what was known as the Black Bob Reservation. Located in the southern part of Johnson County, Kansas, it was deeded to the Shawnees in the Treaty of May 10, 1844. Because of harassment from both sides at the beginning of the Civil War, the Shawnees abandoned their lands and settled in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma. At the end of the war, they found their lands in Kansas had been occupied by white settlers, and most Shawnee had to return to Indian Territory empty-handed.
First Trading Center
High Blue, two miles west of Belton on 58 Highway, was the community’s first trading center. It was about 1,200 feet above sea level, making it the highest point between Springfield and Liberty Memorial Hill in Kansas City. Belton is located on a ridge reaching to Lee’s Summit. All water north of Main Street flows into the Little Blue River east of Kansas City. All water flowing south of Main Street goes to the Grand River and then the Osage River, finally emptying into the Missouri River 10 miles east of Jefferson City.
Order Number 11
Following the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas in 1863 by Quantrill’s Raiders during the Civil War, the union commander in Kansas City, Brigadier General Thomas Ewing, issued the infamous Order Number 11. It decreed the depopulation within 15 days of an area 30 miles wide and 100 miles long south of the Missouri River on the western border of Missouri. The order affected 20,000 persons, who had to salvage what they could of clothing, personal belongings, and livestock to make a hasty move. Plundering and devastation followed. Union soldiers confiscated horses and wagons. Looting was rampant and torches were set to fields and homes. The area came to be known as the Burnt District and for 18 months was largely uninhabited.
For More Information
For more information on Belton history, please contact the Belton Museum at (816) 332-3977.