Medicine Lodge, the county seat of Barber county, is located in the northeastern part of the county on the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R. and is also the terminus of a branch of that road which is extended from Kiowa in the southeastern part of the county. The town is situated at an altitude of 1,468 feet. It has substantial business blocks, good graded and high schools, 5 churches, 2 state banks, and two newspapers (the Barber County Index and the Medicine Lodge Cresset). There is a daily hack to Eagle and Lasswell. The town is supplied with telegraph and express offices and has an international money order postoffice with two rural routes. The population, according to the census of 1910, was 1,100. This is the home town of Chester I. Long, and was the home of the late Carrie Nation, before she began her career of wrecking saloons. Medicine Lodge was named after the river which flows along its southern edge. The Indians were in the habit of camping here to make medicine. The town was not founded until 1873, but there were settlers at this point before that date, as it is recorded in the historical collections that the Indians made a raid through this territory in 1868 and murdered women and children at Medicine Lodge. In Feb., 1873, John Hutchinson came with a party of men and laid out a town on a site of 400 acres. The first building was a hotel erected by D. Updegraff. A number of buildings were erected, including two stores. Immigration was very rapid during the first year. The first physician to locate was C. T. Trigg; the first attorney, W. E. Hutchinson; the first druggist, S. A. Winston; the first merchants, Bemis, Jordan & Co. The postoffice was established in 1873, with S. A. Winston as postmaster. It was made a money order office in 1879. The town was incorporated in that year, and the first officers were: Mayor, W. W. Cook; police judge, H. M. Davis; city clerk, S. J. Shepler; councilmen, W. W. Staniford, J. N. Iliff, George Mitts, J. Storey and D. M. Carmichael. The first newspaper was the Barber County Mail, which was started in 1878 by M. J. Cochran. The first school was taught in 1873 by Miss Lucinda Burlingame.
(Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, 1912, edited by Frank Wilson Blackmar, Pages 263-264)
The particular medicine lodge, mystery house or sacred tabernacle from which the Medicine Lodge River received its name was in reality an arbor-like shelter of tree trunks and leafy branches which was erected by the Kiowa people for the celebration of their annual sun dance in the summer of 1866. It was located in the valley of the Medicine Lodge River, several miles below the present town of Medicine Lodge, which is at the mouth of Elm Creek. In their own language, the Kiowa people called this stream A-ya-dalda P?a, meaning "Timber-hill River." The Kiowa had considered the site sacred due to the high content of Epsom salts in the river.
The Medicine Lodge Treaty was a set of three treaties signed between the United States of America and the Kiowa, Comanche, Plains Apache, Southern Cheyenne, and Southern Arapaho in October 1867. The site of the Peace Council camp was about three miles above that of the future town and on the same side of the river. A Peace Treaty Pageant, first presented in 1927 in an outdoor amphitheater on a quarter section of Kansas prairie, commemorates this significant event in Western history.
Settlers led by a man named John Hutchinson founded the town of Medicine Lodge north of the confluence of Elm Creek and the Medicine Lodge River in February 1873. The community grew rapidly with a hotel, stores, and a post office established within a year.
In 1874, in response to Native raids in the region, residents and the state militia constructed a stockade. A group of Osage killed three settlers within a few miles of the compound, but no direct attack on the fortifications occurred. Medicine Lodge was incorporated as a city in 1879.
Temperance activist Carrie Nation launched her crusade against the sale of alcohol while living in Medicine Lodge in 1900. Her home and a reproduction of the 1873 stockade are open to the public.
(Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)