The Search for the Trading Post Marker

I learned about the Moxley-Mosely marker from a list of city owned art.  I thought a story about the beginnings of Wichita might be interesting.  Turns out it was a little harder to find information than I thought.  The original address on the city’s list was incorrect.  I did my research and I stumbled into a number of weird things.  Although not nearly as action packed as the movies, I felt like Indiana Jones following the clues in the Search for the Trading Post Marker.

So what is it?  It’s a marker commemorating the early days of Sedgwick County and Wichita.  The site was the old Moxley and Moseley trading post, established around 1857.  It was one of the first trading posts in this area. 

Let’s start with the name: The city listed it as the Moxley-Moseley Historic Site. This is where things got complicated. Turns out the names were wrong. Mosley has several spellings including Moesly, Moseley, and Mosely. The city’s spelling as listed on the street is Mosley named after Edmund Mosely. As for Moxley, I could not find his information at all. Turns out his last name was Maxley, not Moxley. Still I could not find anything else on this Maxley, including his first name. I turned to the book, “Walking with the Wichita Pioneers,” in the library. EXCELLENT Book by the way. Using Barb Myers’ well-researched book, I found out the correct names and spellings of both men.

Edmund Mosely and Ewing Maxley built a “trading ranch” on land near the Little Arkansas River. Their business included capturing buffalo cows and calves to be sold to eastern markets. 

Mosley Street in downtown Wichita is named after Edmund Mosley. The name was picked by James Mead, who once described him as “a large, strong man with clear blue eyes and locks of black hair dangling to his shoulders – the most perfect specimen of physical manhood I ever saw.”

Ewing Maxley was said to have a light complexion, had light hair and whiskers, and was a little about medium hight” (sic) and Buried Bunny Trails’ described him “as being a thorough frontiersman, born in the wilds, an unerring marksman, fearless, honest and simple and tender as a child” 

The location of the original trading post faded away into history.

In 1981 the third grade class at Pleasant Valley Elementary school decided to erect a marker dedicated to Wichta’s early days.  They researched the project and using a surveyor picked the site they thought would be the right location. The property owners were contacted and they were excited about the marker. 

The students created the monument out of cement.  The students transferred their drawings of life along the river to the marker.  Some really cute touches and smiles on the people depicted on the stone.  

A small ceremony was held and the marker was dedicated.

A plaque on the top reads, “Maxley-Moseley Historic Site:  Maxley and Moseley built and operated a trading post in 1857 within 200 feet of the marker.  On this site in 1865, the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Apache Nations signed the Treaty of the Little Arkansas with the U.S. Government.  Kit Carson, Black Kettle, Santanta, Jesse Chisholm, and Lone Wolf were here with thousands of Plains Indians and Federal Troops.  Historic marker erected 1981.  By the Third Grade class of 1980-81. Pleasant Valley Elementary School”

I stopped by the monument dedicated to the treaty that sits at 61st & Seneca.

So where is it?  I could not find it.  I reached out to the city’s art commission.  They provided me with a little tidbit they had in their files and commented they would like to find it too.

I added a post to “Wichita History from my perspective” asking for help. The question turned up some great information included in this post, along with pictures of the marker.  Still, no one wanted to give an exact location because it is buried deep on private property.

Using my own research and google maps I thought I figured out the location and decided just to knock on the person’s door on a fall afternoon.

That morning I got a facebook message from someone asking why I was interested in the marker.  I told them I loved Wichita and had this website and I thought it would make a great story. I told them I had narrowed down a location and was going to check it out this afternoon.  A moment later, the person wrote back, “you found it.”  It was on their property.  I promised not to give the location here.  I will say, I was only two houses off from my best guess on the location.

I donned my fedora, tied on my gun and whip and headed to the location.  The owner met me at the front porch.  They are a wealth of knowledge.  They were kids when the school called to install the marker.  The land and marker have been passed down through the family. 

The land along the river was once the camping ground of the Osage Indians.  The trading post was built in the area.

The owner told me a few years ago, a dowser, investigating the Osage trail, reached out to them to see if he could track the trail and find the trading post location.  He did, it was almost exactly where the students had figured it out.   

The property has been scanned and metal detectors have covered the land, there are no artifacts to be found.

The owner was kind enough to share a few pictures of where the dowser marked the property.

I reached out to the city to let them know I found the marker.  They were excited.  The owner wanted to talk to them about preserving the art.  The city and the property owner met a week after I was at the site.

So what happened to Maxley and Mosley?

The Civil War brought an end to the pair’s trading days. Mosley, a patriot, was known for detaining Confederates soldiers with his stories.  

Mosley moved to Comanche County, where he died in an Indian raid.  He is buried along the river.

Maxley made a habit of shooting confederates on their horses, stealing the horses, and selling them for his pay.

Moxley met his end while attempting to swim stolen cows across the Kansas River near Lawrence. He had little contact with his family at the end of his life, and his final resting place is unknown.

I would like to thank everyone for their help in putting this story together.

One thought on “The Search for the Trading Post Marker

  1. Awesome. I lived across the street from the big rock. Played on it all the time. There were big cedar trees around it that we could climb in. Those have been cut down. We knew there was a second marker in the area.

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