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Buffalo Hunter & Trader Area

The structures in the Buffalo Hunter/Trader Area centers around the area's first economic activities, hunting and trading. Many men came to the Great Plains to hunt fur-bearing animals of all kinds, as the sale of their skins could be quite profitable. The collection of the bleached bones from the carcasses created a "bone trade" that provided more economic activity. Traders interacted with the area's Native American population as well and these activities all combined to provide a solid economic base for future growth.

Here are a few samplings of the Buffalo Hunter/Trader Area:​


Heller Cabin

The public was first introduced to Heller Cabin in October 2009.

Its addition to Cowtown was especially significant because it is considered as one of the top 10 intact structures in the United States from the settlement period. It is also one of Cowtown's best documented properties because it was photographed, measured and sketched and all of its parts were numbered before it was dismantled and brought here.

The top 10 ranking was given to the cabin by Douglass C. Reed of Preservation Associates in Hagerstown, Maryland, who originally assessed the structure in 2002. Reed is a nationally known preservationist, author and historian on the subject.

Historic Wichita Cowtown, Inc. funded and oversaw efforts to move Heller Cabin from Elmo, Kansas to Cowtown and return it as closely as possible to its original state.

The 1870s cabin, located just behind the Visitor's Center, was donated to Cowtown by the estate of Wichita resident Donna B. Heller. As part of the restoration process that began in April 2009, rotten logs were replaced, open areas between the logs were filled and historically accurate interior features were added.

Heller Cabin was built by Civil War veteran Leonhard Hoffman, who expertly cut and pieced the logs together. It's an artifact that will appeal directly to those who are interested in log construction. Aspects of its construction, including notching and flooring, are different from that of Cowtown's Munger House or the Trapper's Cabin, both of which are log cabins built during the same time period in Sedgwick County.​


Trapper's Cabin

This hand-hewn, cottonwood log cabin originally stood on the Chisholm Trail several miles south of present-day Clearwater, Kansas. It was built on the south bank of the Ninnescah River circa 1865 by an unknown individual.

When the trust lands were opened for settlement, a man named Kincaid filed a claim on the land occupied by the cabin and lived there with his family. He sold the property in 1878 to Adrian Sautter, an immigrant from Switzerland.

​Sautter built a new frame house adjoining the cabin which was then used as a summer kitchen. By 1934 the cabin had been completely incorporated into a larger house, which accounts for its preserved state. The structure was donated to Old Cowtown Museum by Sautter's son, Louis A. Sautter, in 1969.​


Munger House

In 1869 Darius S. Munger built this two-story residence on a plot of land near 10th and Waco. That land was the core of the original platted town site. The structure is considered to be the first two-story substantial house in Wichita.

All of the building materials come from the river bank vicinity with the exception​ of the hardware and windows, which had to be freighted from Emporia. The logs are hand-hewn cottonwood, the floors are walnut and samples of the original plaster still exist. A log barn stood between the house and the river.

D.S. Munger was sent by a group of promoters in 1868 to establish the Wichita Town Company, although he was not the first inhabitant of the local area. Due to Munger's role in the development of the fledgling town, his family residence served many functions, including that of Post Office, boarding house, meeting place and office of the Justice of the Peace.

In 1874 W.C. Woodman, an early entrepreneur and Wichita's first banker, purchased the Munger House. Woodman enlarged and improved the structure until it was completely integrated inside a Victorian house that he named "Lakeside Mansion". The Munger House was rediscovered when Lakeside was demolished in the 1940s.

The Wichita Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution purchased the cabin to preserve the city's heritage and donated it to Historic Wichita Cowtown, Inc. in 1949. The Munger House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.​​