The St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Park memorialize’s the lives, and the work of these early Kansas settlers and is the original site of this Potawatomi and Missionary community at Sugar Creek Mission. This park has been well preserved, and serves as a spiritual, educational, and recreational opportunity for Catholics, and for those who will appreciate this rich piece of Kansas history.
The entrance to the park has been enhanced by a fort-style gate to visualize the frontier days of the mid 1800’s. Once inside the park, there is a detailed memorial that records the “Trail of Death,” describing the many weeks of misery and death which brought the Indians to Kansas.
At the site of the original church, a large altar and cross have been erected. Next to the altar and crosses, are the foundation remnants of the original buildings, which housed the priests and nuns. With each remnant, there is a detailed historical marker.
Not far from the altar and crosses, is the beginning of several nature trails. Throughout the park, rock monuments tell the story of how the Indians and the clergy ministered to each others needs. The park also has the 14 stations of the cross set along a beautiful nature trail.
In an open field, there is a seven cross memorial, listing the names of over 600 baptized Indian Catholics buried here. Another memorial honors Father Benjamin Petit, a young French priest who ministered to the Potawatomi tribe, both spiritually and physically on their “Trail of Death” from northern Indiana to St. Mary’s Mission in Kansas.
With nearly twenty combined acres of grasslands and woodlands, there is plenty of space for camping, picnics and recreational outings.
There is a shelter house that is available for public use, but please keep in mind that the park doesn’t have electricity or running water. It does have what we like to call a “modern outhouse.”See Map
The park is open to the public during the daylight hours and overnight camping is allowed by permit only.
All of the monuments in this park were accomplished through the tireless efforts of Robert “Bob” White of Overland Park, Kansas. Bob and his family spent several years constructing and/or supervising the construction of these monuments. Currently the maintenance and improvement efforts are being handled by the Knights of Columbus.
For even more information about the nearby Sugar Creek Mission, click here.