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11 Things Kansans Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners

by Joseph Griffin Dec 22, 2016

What “Bleeding Kansas” means.

An out-of-towner may have heard the term “Bleeding Kansas” before, especially in recent articles about the Kansas state budget, but not really known what it means.  The term was coined in the 1850’s to describe the violent conflicts breaking out between pro-slavery and anti-slavery forces near the Kansas/Missouri border just prior to the Civil War, before Kansas had determined itself to be a free state.

What a Jayhawk is.

An out-of-towner probably knows that Kansas University’s mascot is the Jayhawk.  Ok, but what’s a Jayhawk in the first place?  The short answer is a mythical bird—a combination of a blue jay and a sparrow hawk.  A longer short answer is the term goes back to the days of “Bleeding Kansas.”  Militants fighting for Kansas to be a free state were called “Jayhawkers.”  The term stuck around.

Like everyone else, we have a love/hate relationship with John Brown.

John Brown, the militant abolitionist who wanted to arm the slaves of the south and incite them to an uprising, and who set the stage for the Civil War, factored into Kansas becoming a Free State before his fateful siege on Harper’s Ferry.  He led anti-slavery forces in some key battles against pro-slavery forces while in Kansas.  The now-famous mural of Brown in the Capitol building in Topeka was met with controversy at the time it was commissioned, concluding with the commissioned artist, John Steuart Curry, refusing to sign the painting and leaving the state in anger.

Topeka is the state capitol, not Kansas City.

Actually, most of Kansas City isn’t even in Kansas. In fact, there are several things about Kansas City that will surprise you.

Kansas is called “The Wheat State” for a reason.

That’s because there’s a lot of farmland in Kansas and wheat is one of the biggest crops.

Not everyone in Kansas lives on farms.

A lot of people in Kansas wouldn’t be able to farm their way out of a brown paper bag.  Agriculture comprises about 12% of the Kansas workforce, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s website.

Kansas isn’t entirely flat.

While, apparently, some scientists concluded that Kansas is flatter than a pancake, the entire state isn’t like this.  There’s much more variation to the terrain than you might think.  No, there are no mountains, but there are hilly regions, such as the Flint Hills in Eastern Kansas.

Yes, there are tornadoes in Kansas.  No, they don’t happen every day.

People outside of Kansas seem to think tornadoes happen every day in Kansas and there is not one moment that goes by without tornadoes.  This isn’t exactly the case.  Historically, there are more tornadoes in May than any other month of the year.  But, stick around long enough and you’ll probably see one at some point.  Probably not in December or January, however.

You have to be prepared for any type of weather

Let’s just say that if Kansas had a Facebook page, the relationship status with the weather would always be “it’s complicated.”  The weather changes quite a lot here.

Wichita State University’s mascot is a bundle of wheat

Or, more precisely, WSU’s mascot, WuShock, is a “big, bad, muscle-bound bundle of wheat” according to the university’s website.

There are actually some good breweries in Kansas.

Kansas has historically been a dry state.  There was even an attempt to prevent airlines from serving alcohol in Kansas’s airspace in the 1970s.  And Kansas still hasn’t ratified the 21st amendment repealing prohibition.  Even still, in 1989, Free State Brewing Company became the first legal brewery in Kansas, opening in Lawrence.  Since then, several other breweries and a few distilleries have begun operating throughout the state, serving up some great beers and liquor.

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