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Revised 27 December 2010


Kansas was part of the Louisiana Purchase, which became annexed to the United States in 1803.  It was included in the Missouri Territory until 1821.  For a period of 33 years, it was known as an unorganized territory, which was primarily inhabited by Indians.  The trouble between the white settlers and the Indian tribes of the area continued until the Indians were finally pushed out of their homes and into the Oklahoma territory.

The first community in the area was Fort Leavenworth, which was established in 1827.  It became a primary stop-over to those en route to Utah and the California gold fields as a place for outfitting their wagon trains.  The population as of its admission as a state consisted mostly of Southerners and New Englanders with a few settlers from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.  It is said that many Civil War veterans took up homesteads in Kansas following the war.  You will find that many of the foreign born settlers came from Germany, Russia, Sweden and England as well as Mexico.  Kansas became a territory in 1854 and on 29 January, 1861, was admitted as our 34th state.

Many of the Kansas counties were named after people who became involved in the leadership of the Confederacy.  Because of this, names were changed after the Civil war and those who were Confederate sympathizers no longer had counties named after them.

Name Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Allen 1855 Original County Iola
Anderson 1855 Original County Garnett
Arapahoe (Disorganized)

(see Finney)

1)August 30 1855

2)new action was taken in 1883.

 Two separate formations existed of this county.  (1)This county comprised all the land west of the present Kansas/Colorado border to the crest of the Rocky Mountains. In early 1859 it was split into six counties (Arapahoe, Broderick, El Paso, Fremont, Montana, and Oro). When Colorado Territory was established Feb. 28, 1861, the new Colorado legislature created seventeen counties, which are considered the original counties of the state. Arapahoe County is still extant, but today is a relatively small county (12 miles north-south, 72 miles east-west), with its western end in the Denver metropolitan area.(2)In 1883, Arapahoe was merged into an expanded Finney County; in 1887, when Finney was broken up, that part which had been Arapahoe was created as Haskell County. (Inc. some of Colorado)
Atchison 1855 Original County Atchison
Barber 1873 Harper Medicine Lodge
Barton 1867 Ellsworth Great Bend
Billings (See Norton) March 20, 1873 Norton County was named Billings as a joke, then changed back to Norton in 1874  
Bourbon 1855 Original County Fort Scott
Breckenridge (See Lyon) August 25, 1855 In honor of John C. Breckinridge (1821-1875), congressman from Kentucky and subsequently vice-president of the United States under James Buchanan from 1857 to 1861. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1860, he was expelled the following year for supporting the rebellion; he served as a major-general in the Confederate Army and briefly as the southern Secretary of War. Breckinridge County was renamed Lyon County due to Breckinridge's political sympathies.  defunct February 05, 1862
Brown 1855 Original County Hiawatha
Buffalo March 20, 1873 Formerly was Foote, then according to map, it was split and became the upper part of Gray County and Finney March 13, 1881
Butler 1855 Original County El Dorado
Calhoun 1855 Name changed to Jackson after the Civil War  
Chase 1859 Butler Cottonwood Falls
Chautauqua 1875 Howard Sedan
Cherokee 1855 Unorganized Territory Columbus
Cheyenne 1875 Kirwin Land District St. Francis
Clark 1873 Ford Ashland
Clay 1856 Original County Clay Center
Cloud 1860 Formerly Shirley County Concordia
Coffee 1855 Original County Burlington
Comanche 1875 Kiowa Coldwater
Cowley 1867 Formerly Hunter Winfield
Crawford 1867 Bourbon Girard
Davis August 25, 1855 Riley (See Geary, Junction City) defunct March 07, 1889
Decatur 1873 Norton Oberlin
Dickinson 1855 Original County Abilene
Doniphan 1855 Original County Troy
Dorn (See Neosho) August 25, 1855 In honor of either (1) Earl Van Dorn (1820-1863), an army officer during the Mexican War and Indian campaigns, or (2) Andrew Jackson Dorn (1815-1889), also a Mexican War veteran and Indian agent at the Neosho Agency during Buchanan's administration. Both men joined the Confederate Army in 1861, and the county was renamed Neosho. defunct June 03, 1861
Douglas 1855 Original County Lawrence
Edwards 1875 Original County Howard
Elk 1875 Howard Hays
Ellis 1865 Unorganized Territory Hays
Ellsworth 1867 Saline Ellsworth
Finney 1884 Arapahoe, Foote, Sequoyah Garden City
Foote (See Finney) March 20, 1873 Unorganized Territory defunct March 13, 1881 (Map shows it now part of Finney) Dodge City 
Ford 1873 Original County Ottawa
Franklin 1856 Original County Ottawa
Garfield March 23, 1887 In 1892, the Kansas Supreme Court decided Garfield County was illegally organized, having less than 432 square miles; it was annexed to Finney County the following year (1)defunct 1893
Geary 1889 Davis Co. 1875 to 1888 Junction City
Godfrey August 30, 1855 (Name changed to Howard in 1855) In some sources, the county name is spelled 'Godfroy,' but this is apparently a misprint.  
Gove 1880 Unorganized Territory Gove
Graham 1880 Rooks Hill City
Grant 1873 Finney, Kearney Ulysses
Gray 1887 Finney, Ford Cimarron
Greeley 1873 Wichita Tribune
Greenwood 1855 Original County Eureka
Hamilton 1873 Unorganized Territory Syracuse
Harper 1879 Kingman Anthony
Harvey 1880 McPherson, Sedgwich Newton
Haskell 1887 Finney Sublette
Hodgeman 1879 Indian Lands (Est. 1868) Jetmore
Howard February 26, 1867 (Originally Godfrey, later split in two and became Elk and Chautauqua Counties) officially defunct March 25, 1875
Hunter (See Cowley)   Probably named for Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter (1809-1887), a Virginia congressman and senator, who favored the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. He was expelled from the senate in 1861 for supporting the rebellion, and he served in the Confederate Senate and as Confederate Secretary of State.  
Jackson 1855 (See Calhoun)  
Jefferson 1855 Original County Oskaloosa
Jewell 1870 Mitchell Mankato
Johnson 1855 Original County Olathe
Kearny 1873 Finney Lakin
Kingman 1874 Unorganized Territory Kingman
Kiowa 1886 Comanche, Edwards Greensburg
Labette 1867 Neosho Oswego
Lane 1877 Finney Dighton
Leavenworth 1855 Original County Leavenworth
Lincoln 1870 Ellsworth Lincoln
Linn 1855 Original County Mound City
Logan 1881 Wallace Russell springs
Lykins (See Miami) August 25, 1855 For David Lykins, a Baptist missionary to the Confederated Tribes (Weas, Piankeshaws, Peorias, and Kaskaskias), whose mission was located just east of the modern city of Paola. Lykins was a pro-slavery member of the territorial council. After the Free State forces came to political ascendancy, Lykins left the state and his namesake county was renamed Miami.  (defunct: June 03, 1861
Lyon 1857 Madison (See Breckenridge) Emporia
McGee (See Cherokee) August 25, 1855 Named for Mabillon W. McGee (born 1818), a member of the Kansas house of representatives in 1855. As he was a pro-slavery man, the free-state legislature of 1860 changed the name to Cherokee defunct February 18, 1860
McPherson 1870 Unorganized Territory McPherson
Madison August 25, 1855 Divided to Morris & Lyon Counties defunct January 31, 1861
Marion 1860 Chase Marion
Marshall 1855 Original County Marysville
Meade 1873 Unorganized Territory Meade
Miami 1855 Formerly Lykins Paola
Mitchell 1870 Kirwin Land District Beloit
Montgomery 1869 Labette Independence
Morris 1858 Madison (Formerly Wise) Council Grove
Morton 1881 Stanton Richfield
Nemaha 1855 Original County Seneca
Neosho 1855 Original County Erie
Ness 1873 Hodgeman Ness City
Norton 1872 Unorganized Territory Norton
Osage 1855 Formerly Weller Lyndon
Osborne 1867 Mitchell Osborne
Otoe  February 18, 1860 according to the map, it primarily went into Sedgwick, Harvey and Butler Counties  defunct February 24, 1864.  
Ottawa 1866 Saline Minneapolis
Pawnee 1872 Rush, Stafford Larned
Phillips 1872 Kirwin Land District Phillipsburg
Pottawattamie 1857 Riley, Calhoun Westmoreland
Pratt 1879 Stafford Pratt
Rawlins 1873 Kirwin Land District Atwood
Reno 1877 Sedgwick, McPherson Hutchinson
Republic 1868 Washington, Cloud Belleville
Rice 1867 Reno Lyons
Richardson August 25, 1855 Named for William P. Richardson, a pro-slavery member of the territorial council.  renamed Wabaunsee county in 1859. defunct February 11, 1859
Riley 1855 Unorganized Territory, Wabaunsee Manhattan
Rooks 1872 Kirwin Land District Stockton
Rush 1874 Unorganized Territory La Crosse
Russell 1867 Ellsworth Russell
Saline 1860 Original County Salina
Scott 1873 Finney Scott City
Sedgwick 1867 Butler Wichita
Sequoyah( See Finney County) March 20, 1873 Created out of  the Peketon Territory was once part of the eventually disorganized Arapahoe County,  formed in 1855;  became part of the Territory of Colorado in 1861. Sequoyah County  renamed Finney County in 1883.
Seward  1873 Finney Scott City
Shawnee 1855 Original County Topeka
Sheridan 1873 Unorganized  Territory Hoxie
Sherman 1873 Kirwin Land District Goodland
Shirley (See Cloud) February 27, 1860 The county was possibly named for William Shirley, governor of Massachusetts Colony from 1741 to 1756. Andreas's History of Kansas, however, asserts it was as a joke named for Jane Shirley, a lady of questionable character in the Leavenworth area. By request of the first representative, J.B. Rupe, the name was changed in 1867 to Cloud County. defunct May 27, 1867
Smith 1982 Unorganized Territory Smith Center
Stafford 1870 Unorganized Territory Saint John
Stanton 1873 Reorganized Johnson
Stevens 1873 Indian Lands Hugoton
St. John (See Logan) March 13, 1881 Chartered as St. John County and later renamed to Logan County. defunct: February 25, 1887
Sumner 1857 Cowley Wellington
Thomas 1873 Kirwin Land District Colby
Trego 1879 Ellis Wakeeney
Wabaunsee 1855 Riley, Morris Alma
Wallace 1865 Indian Lands (See Logan) Sharon Springs
Washington (old)

Washington (current)

August 30, 1855


originally took up almost a quarter of the southwest part of the state.

Original County-located in the upper middle east side fo the state.

defunct: February 20, 1857



Weller (See Osage) August 30, 1855 Named for John B. Weller (1812-1875), who served at various times as congressman from Ohio, senator from California, and U.S. Minister to Mexico. Name later changed to Osage.  
Wichita 1873 Indian Lands Leoti
Wilson 1855 Original County Fredonia
Wise (See Morris) August 25, 1855 Named for Henry A. Wise (1806-1876), an outspoken proponent of slavery, congressman from Virginia from 1833 to 1844 and governor of Virginia from 1856 to 1860; one of his last official acts as governor was to sign John Brown's death warrant. He served as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. defunct February 11, 1859
Woodson 1855 Original County Yates Center
Wyandotte 1856 Original County Kansas City