https://www.kansascity.com/news/local/a ... ml-E2MK4e0...
With a town company formed, the group turned to the task of naming their prospective city. In her seminal 1908 work, Kansas City, Missouri: Its History and Its People, librarian and historian Carrie Westlake Whitney provides an excellent summary of how the city’s name was decided:
The proprietors decided to call the town “Kansas” after the Kansas river. The river was named after the Kansas Indians who lived along the banks of the stream. The Kansas Indians’ name for themselves was “Kanzas,” pronounced by the French traders “Kahns” a term that finally was adopted by the American settlers. In regard to the naming of the town, Charles C. Spalding makes this explanation in his “Annals of the City of Kansas,” published in 1858:
“Many persons, particularly the citizens of Kansas Territory have of late charged the citizens of Kansas City with ‘stealing the name Kansas.’ It is therefore due to ourselves to explain the matter.
“When Kansas City was first selected as a town site, and the survey made, (in 1838) it was agreed, by the then proprietors of the town, that it should be called ‘ Kansas,’ inasmuch as it was situated at the mouth of the Kansas river. Some suggested the name of ‘ Kawsmouth’ ; but it was finally agreed that the name of the place should be Kansas. All of the territory to the west being at that time known as the Nebraska Territory.
“It is evident, therefore, that no ‘stealing’ has been done on our part, for the purpose alleged by these persons, viz. : ‘to convey the idea that this city is situated in the Territory of Kansas,’ for no such Territory was known in the geography of our country till Kansas City had come to be a place of considerable trade.”
What came to be known as the Kansas Territory would have been known to the investors as the Nebraska and Indian territories in the late 1830s. The same would have been true in 1850 when Kansas City was officially incorporated.
Quicker answer. Kansas City was named because it was at the mouth of the Kansas River, which is named after the native American Kansas tribe. Kansas City existed before Kansas was a territory or a state. When people started settling here, neither Kansas or Missouri were yet states.
I still find the explanation strange because if Kansas City was named because its' location near the Kansas River, wouldn't it then have been logical to name the city after the Missouri River, or Missouri tribe?
Missouri City, Missouri would have probably been the better choice had they known all the problems the naming would create later.