Kansas is a Midwestern state in the central region of the United States of America, an area often referred to as the American "Heartland". It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa tribe, who inhabited the area.
In the decade leading up to the American Civil War, the state was known as "Bleeding Kansas" as abolitionists and anti-abolitionists did battle over whether the state would be admitted to the Union as a slave state.
Kansas was badly hit when the Yellowstone Supervolcano erupted. It was down-wind of the eruption and so was covered with ash. No one was sure how many feet, but the U.S. wouldn't have the fleet of bulldozers and trucks to remove it. Two springs later (the third year after the eruption), much of the state was still covered in ash. While some ash had been washed or blown away by the weather, much of the landscape had drifted ash remaining. Agriculture was impossible, both due to the death of most of the livestock, fields still ash covered and the residents had either fled or died.