Conley Sisters

The Conley Sisters

The Conley Sisters served as the champions of the Huron Cemetery. The sisters, Lyda, Helena, and Ida, came to the defense of the cemetery when Congress proposed selling the land. To defend the cemetery, the Conley sisters erected a small, fortified shed on the grounds and through their efforts succeeded in saving the historic location. Lyda defended the cemetery before the Supreme Court of the United States. This action made her the first woman of Native American ancestry to appear before the high court and argue a case. Although she lost, Lyda and her sisters gained support for their cause and the Huron Cemetery was not sold. Decades later after the Conley sisters died, the federal government did approve and make improvements to the cemetery through work with the City of Kansas City and Urban Renewal plans.


The following images relate to the Conley Sisters.

Fort Conley

Fort erected by the Conley Sisters

Lyda Marker

Grave marker for Lyda Conley

Ida Marker

Grave marker for Ida Conley

Helena Marker

Grave marker for Helena Conley

Articles & Video

The following documents and articles provide information about the Conley Sisters and their work along with obituary notices.

Article Title Date Published Description
Conley's Argument 1910 Lyda Conley's argument presented to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Lyda Conley Interview 1909 Interview with Lyda Conley regarding her work and the lawsuit over Huron Cemetery.
Conley v Ballinger - U.S. Supreme Court Opinion 1910 The Supreme Court decided on the Conley v Ballinger on Jan. 31, 1910 with its opinion delivered by Justice Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr. Conley lost her case, but gained support for her cause. The Huron Cemetery was not sold and no bodies were disrupted.
Defense of Cemetery and the Curse of the Conley Sisters June 7, 1946 and May 17, 1959 Two articles from the Kansas City Times that focus on the Conley sisters and their defense of the Huron Cemetery.
A Defender of Huron Cemetery Dies at 72 May 28, 1946 Obituary notice and article about Lyda Conley.
Ida Conley Was Noted for Huron Cemetery Stand Oct. 6, 1948 Obituary notice and article about Ida Conley.
Descendant of Wyandot Tribe Dies Sept. 16, 1958 Obituary notice and article about Helena "Lena" Conley.
Last of Conleys Joins Family Sept. 19, 1858 Story about the funeral and burial services for Helena Conley.
Huron Cemetery plans 'wouldn't please sisters' Feb. 29, 1976 The federal government approved city and Urban Renewal plans for Huron Cemetery improvements. Article interviews Conley sister friend to gain perspective on what their reaction would be.

Huron Cemetery Segment

KTWU's Sunflower Journeys featured Huron Cemetery in a segment, which aired on Dec. 12, 2017. The segment behinds about 10 minutes into the video.