Ottawa (pronounced ) is a city in, and the county seat of, Franklin County, Kansas, United States. It is located on both banks of the Marais des Cygnes River near the center of Franklin County. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,649.
The name derives from the Ottawa tribe of Indians, on whose reservation the city was laid out. In the spring of 1864, title to the land was obtained from the tribe through treaty connected to the founding of Ottawa University, the Ottawa having donated 20,000 acres of land to establish and fund a school for the education of Indians and non-Indians alike. The word Ottawa itself means “to trade”. In 1867, the Ottawa tribe sold their remaining land in Kansas and moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
On the last day of March, 1864, J.C. Richmond built the first non-Indian settlement in the new town, at the corner of Walnut and First streets.
Ottawa has a history of flooding because of its location straddling the Marais Des Cygnes river. The area's first recorded flood was the Great Flood of 1844. In 1928, a flood crested at 38.65 feet and killed six people. Other flood years include 1904, when water crested at 36 feet and ran to a man's shoulders in the Santa Fe depot; 1909, cresting at 36.3 feet (11.1 m); 1915, cresting at 31 feet (9.4 m), and 1944, cresting at 36.5 feet (11.1 m).
However, it is the Great Flood of 1951 which is the most famous. It was about five inches higher than the 1928 flood.