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Why Jayhawk?
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The History of the Jayhawk
(from the official athletic site)

Each spring, as the University of Kansas graduates a new cl*** of Jayhawks, the origin of its name comes into question. It's known that the term, "Jayhawk", was used as early as 1849. In that year, a party of pioneers crossing what is today Nebraska, called themselves "The Jayhawkers of '49." They are believed to have taken the name from a combination of two birds which are familiar in the West -- the hawk and the blue jay. Whether these pioneers were the first to call themselves Jayhawkers is not known. (later they did discover Death Valley in California.)

One member of the party, John B. Colton, later remembered first hearing the word in Platte River in 1849, long before the Kansas Territory was established. Colton said when the Argonauts returned to the East, the word continued to be used.

The word "Jayhawk" first was used in present day Kansas about 1858. It was ***ociated with robbing, looting and general lawlessness. During the Civil War, however, it took a new meaning.

Dr. Charles R. (Doc) Jennison, a surgeon, used it in 1861 when he was commissioned as a colonel by Kansas Gov. Charles Robinson and charged with raising a regiment of calvary. Jennison called his regiment the "Independent Mounted Kansas Jayhawkers," although it was officially the First Kansas Cavalry and later the Seventh Kansas Regiment.

During the Civil War, the word Jayhawk became ***ociated with the spirit of comradeship and the courageous fighting qualities ***ociated with the efforts to keep Kansas a free state. Following the war, most Kansans were proud to be called Jayhawkers.

By 1866, the University of Kansas at Lawrence had adopted the mythical bird as a part of the KU yell. By the mid 1890s, birds of one sort or another were used to represent KU on postcards and wall posters - even the university yearbook became known as the Jayhawker Yearbook.

But it was not until 1912 that Henry Maloy, a student from Eureka, Kan., created a cartoon Jayhawk. The image has evolved through six changes to the modern day bird, symbolic of the University of Kansas. In fact, the current Jayhawk logo celebrated its 50th anniversary this past year.

04-29-2002 02:11 PM
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