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Did you know that the history of a state can be seen in its counties?  Well you can.  In Kansas, there are 105 counties, each  have their own name. And the name of each county reflect the history of the state.  

Of the 105 counties, 33 were named in honor of Civil war Soldiers, 4 were named in other soldiers prior to the Civil war.  8 Counties were named in hoonor of prominent Kansans who helped develop the state or contributed to its history in one fashion or another. 5 Counties were named in honor of a United States President.

23 counties were named in honor of political figures that lived elsewhere in the nation. 12 counties were named after indian tribes that lived in the state before the state was settled. 4 counties have Indian names. 10 counties were named for Kansas Territorial and Pre-Territorial Residents. 1 county was named in honor of a woman. 1 was named in honor of a journalist, 2 counties were named after other places in the United States. and finally 2 that have other names.

 

Counties named after Civil War Soldiers (33)

Clark -- Charles F. Clarke, captain of Co. F, Sixth Kansas Cavalry. Promoted to Ass't Adjutant General in the U.S. Volunteers, he died at Memphis, Tenn., on 10 Dec 1862.

Cloud -- William F. Cloud (1825-1905), colonel of the Second Kansas Cavalry during the Civil War.

Cowley -- 1st Lt. Matthew Cowley of Co. I, Ninth Kansas Cavalry, who died on active duty in Little Rock, Arkansas, on 7 Oct 1864.

Ellis  -- 1st Lt. George Ellis of Company I, Twelfth Kansas Infantry, killed in action 30 April 1864 at Jenkins Ferry, Arkansas.

Ellsworth -- Fort Ellsworth, a military post in the county near Kanopolis, itself named in honor of 2nd Lt. Allen Ellsworth of the Seventh Iowa Cavalry, who supervised construction of the fort in 1864.

Ford -- James H. Ford (died 1867), colonel of the Second Colorado Cavalry, which in 1864 was posted along the Kansas/Missouri line to defend against bushwhackers and guerrillas. During the Confederate Gen. Sterling Price's raid through Kansas and Missouri in late 1864, Col. Ford and the 2nd Colorado fought at the battles of the Little Blue, Westport, and Mine Creek. Late in the war, the regiment was largely devoted to escorting supply and wagon trains across Kansas, and occasional skirmishes with Indians. Col. Ford, brevetted as brigadier general, commanded the military District of the Upper Arkansas, in which role he selected a location between two fordable crossings of the Arkansas River for the site of what became Fort Dodge.

Gove -- Capt. Grenville L. Gove of Co. G, Eleventh Kansas Cavalry, who died 7 Nov 1864.

Graham -- Capt. John L. Graham, of Co. D, Eighth Kansas Infantry, who was killed in action at the Battle of Chickamauga on 19 Sept. 1863.

Harper --  Sgt. Marion Harper of Co. E, Second Kansas Cavalry, who died at Waldron, Ark., on 30 Dec 1863 of wounds received the previous day.

Hodgeman -- Capt. Amos Hodgman of Co. H, Seventh Kansas Cavalry, who died 16 Oct 1863 near Oxford, Miss., of wounds received in action at Wyatt, Miss., on 10 Oct 1863. The statute creating the county added an extra 'e' in his surname.

Jewell -- Lt. Col. Lewis R. Jewell of the Sixth Kansas Cavalry, who died 30 Nov 1862 of wounds received in action at Cane Hill, Arkansas, on 28 Nov 1862.

Kearny -- Gen. Phillip Kearny (1815-1862), a career soldier who served with distinction in the Mexican War.

Lyon -- Gen. Nathaniel Lyon (1818-1861), who became the first Union general to die in battle in the Civil War when he was killed in action at Wilson's Creek, Missouri, on 10 Aug 1861.

McPherson -- Gen. James B. McPherson (1828-1864). Major-general and commander of the Army of the Tennessee, he was the highest-ranking Union officer to be killed in battle during the Civil War, at the Battle of Atlanta.

Meade -- Gen. George G. Meade (1815-1872), Union army general and the victor at Gettysburg.

Mitchell -- William D. Mitchell, who entered the Union army as a private in Company K, Second Kansas Cavalry. Promoted to captain in a Kentucky regiment, he was killed in action at Monroe's Cross Roads, North Carolina, in 1865.

Ness -- Corp. Noah Van Buren Ness (or Kness), of Co. G, 7th Kansas Cavalry, who died 22 Aug 1864 at Abbeyville, Miss., of wounds received in action three days earlier.

Norton -- Capt. Orloff Norton of Co. L, 15th Kansas Cavalry, who was killed by guerillas near Cane Hill, Ark., on 11 Nov 1864.

Osborne --Pvt. Vincent B. Osborn[e], of Co. A, 2nd Kansas Cavalry, who lost his right leg to wounds received 17 Jan 1865 on the steamer Anna Jacobs on the Arkansas River just south of Roseville, Ark. The steamboat, carrying 200 refugees and 50 soldiers, came under fire from a Confederate artillery piece and made for shore; Osborne carried the cable ashore and was attempting to secure it when he was shot, shattering the bone just above the knee.

Pratt -- 2nd Lt. Caleb S. Pratt, of Co. D, 1st Kansas Infantry, killed at the Battle of Wilson's Creek on 10 Aug 1861.

Rawlins -- John A. Rawlins (1831-1869), Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's chief of staff and closest friend during the Civil War; he died a few months after accepting the position of Secretary of War in Grant's first presidential administration.

Reno --Gen. Jesse L. Reno (1823-1862). Commander of the Union 9th Army Corps, he was killed at the Battle of South Mountain (Maryland) on 14 Sept 1862.

Rice -- Brig.-General Samuel A. Rice (1828-1864), U. S. Volunteers, who died 6 July 1864 of wounds received at Jenkins' Ferry, Ark.

Rooks -- Pvt. John C. Rooks, Co. I, 11th Kansas Cavalry, who died 11 Dec 1862 in Fayetteville, Ark., of wounds received in action at Prairie Grove on 7 Dec.

Rush -- Alexander Rush, captain of Co. H, 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry, who was killed in action at Jenkins' Ferry, Ark., on 30 Apr 1864.

Russell -- Avra P. Russell, captain of Co. K, 2nd Kansas Cavalry, who died 12 Dec 1862 of wounds received in action at Prairie Grove, Ark., on 7 Dec.

Sedgwick -- Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick (1813-1864). A career soldier, Sedgwick fought in the Seminole and Mexican Wars and served in territorial Kansas, on the Mormon Expedition, and in several frontier Indian campaigns.

Sherman -- General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891), most famous for his scorched-earth tactics during the Civil War, during the march from Atlanta to the sea.

Smith -- Maj. J. Nelson Smith, 2nd Colorado Cavalry, killed in action at the Battle of the Little Blue, 21 Oct 1864.

Stafford --  Capt. Lewis Stafford of Co. E, First Kansas Infantry, who was accidentally killed at Young's Point, La., on 31 Jan 1863.

Thomas -- Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas (1816-1870), called the 'Rock of Chickamauga' for his defense of that Georgia city in 1863. The townships of Thomas County are named after fallen soldiers in the Battle of Chickamauga.

Trego -- Edgar P. Trego, captain of Co. H, 8th Kansas Infantry, who was killed in action at Chickamauga, Ga., on 19 Sept 1863.

Wallace -- Gen. William H. L. Wallace. Commander of the Second Division at the Battle of Shiloh (6 Apr 1862), he was wounded in action and died a few days later, on 10 Apr 1862.

Counties Named for Other Soldiers (4)

Leavenworth -- Gen. Henry Leavenworth (1783-1834), U.S. Army. Leavenworth, directed to establish a military post on the east bank of the Missouri River near the confluence of the Little Platte, instead selected a site on high ground on the west bank to establish Cantonment Leavenworth, later renamed Fort Leavenworth.

Riley -- Maj. Gen. Bennett Riley (1787-1853), who commanded the first military escort along the Santa Fe Trail in 1829.

Scott -- Gen. Winfield Scott (1786-1866), hero of the War of 1812 and the Black Hawk War, commander of U.S. forces in the Mexican War, and the first general-in-chief of the Union armies in the Civil War.

Sheridan -- Gen. Philip H. Sheridan (1831-1888), active in the post-Civil War Indian campaigns on the plains.

 

Counties Named for Prominent Kansans (8)

Crawford -- Samuel J. Crawford (1835-1913), governor of Kansas from 1865 to 1868, when he resigned to take command of the 19th Kansas Regiment.

Edwards -- state senator John H. Edwards; more likely, named for W. C. Edwards, a Reno Co. businessman who owned much land in the area and built the first brick building in Kinsley; according to an article in the Kinsley newspaper in 1879, he agreed to build that building and give it to the new county on condition the county bear his name.

Finney -- David W. Finney (1839-1916), at the time lieutenant governor of Kansas.

Gray -- Alfred Gray (1830-1880), secretary of the Kansas Board of Agriculture.

Harvey -- James M. Harvey (1833-1894), governor of Kansas and U.S. senator.

Haskell -- Dudley C. Haskell (1842-1883), U.S. congressman from Kansas.

Kingman -- Samuel A. Kingman (1818-1904), member of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention, chief justice of the Kansas supreme court, briefly state librarian, and first president of the Kansas State Historical Society.

Wilson -- Col. Hiero T. Wilson (1806-1892), sutler, postmaster, and prominent citizen of Fort Scott.

 

Counties Named for U.S. Presidents (5)

Grant -- Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), the most capable of the Union generals during the Civil War, and later the 18th president of the United States.

Jackson --  Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), soldier (victor at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815) and seventh president of the United States.

Jefferson -- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third president of the United States.

Lincoln --  Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the martyred sixteenth president of the United States.

Washington -- George Washington (1732-1799), first president of the United States.

 

Counties Named for Statesmen and Political Figures Outside Kansas (23)

Allen   -- William Allen (1803-1879), an Ohio senator and governor

Atchison  -- David Rice Atchison (1807-1886), United States senator from Missouri at the time of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Butler -- Andrew Pickens Butler (1796-1857), United States senator from South Carolina at the time of the Kansas-Nebraska Act

Brown -- Albert Gallatin Brown (1813-1880), United States senator from Mississippi at the time of the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

(In the 1870s, the secretary of the state Board of Agriculture attempted to determine for whom the county was named. Several of the legislators in the 1855 session declared the county was named for Albert Gallatin Brown (1813-1880), United States senator from Mississippi at the time of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Other legislators, however, stated it was named for O. H. Browne, a member of that legislature.)

Chase -- Salmon Portland Chase (1808-1873), in turn governor of Ohio, United States senator, Secretary of the Treasury, and chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Clay -- Henry Clay (1777-1852), statesman and senator from Kentucky.

Decatur -- Commodore Stephen Decatur (1779-1820), a U.S. navy hero during the Tripolitanian Wars and the War of 1812.

Dickinson -- Daniel S. Dickinson (1800-1866), United States senator from New York.

Doniphan -- Col. Alexander W. Doniphan (1808-1887), of Missouri, who commanded a regiment of cavalry during the Mexican War.

Douglas -- Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861), United States senator from Illinois.

Franklin -- Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the American statesman and inventor.

Greeley -- Horace Greeley (1811-1872), the famed founder and editor of the New York Tribune, who advocated support of land grants for farmers and a government-financed railroad to the Pacific.

Greenwood -- Alfred B. Greenwood (1811-1889), U.S. congressman from Arkansas and later commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Hamilton -- Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), Revolutionary War veteran, author of The Federalist, and the first Secretary of the Treasury for the young United States.

Linn -- Lewis F. Linn (1796-1843), a doctor and U.S. senator from Missouri.

Logan -- John A. Logan (1826-1886), a Union general during the Civil War and later U.S. senator from Illinois.

Marion -- Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion (1732?-1795). Known as the 'Swamp Fox' for his elusive tactics, he led a largely guerrilla campaign of raids and skirmishes against the British in South Carolina, wrecking havoc on British communication and supply lines, then withdrawing into the swamps.

Montgomery -- Gen. Richard Montgomery (1738-1775), a Revolutionary War hero who led the army into Canada, capturing the city of Montreal; he died while attempting to capture Quebec.

Morris -- Thomas Morris (1776-1844), U.S. senator from Ohio.

Morton -- Oliver Hazard Perry Throck Morton (1823-1877), U.S. senator from Indiana.

Seward -- William H. Seward (1801-1872), senator from New York and a leader of the anti-slavery wing of the Whig Party. Joining the Republican Party in 1855, he served as Secretary of State under Lincoln and Johnson, and arranged to purchase Alaska ("Seward's Folly") from Russia.

Stanton -- Edwin M. Stanton (1814-1869), Secretary of War from 1862 to 1868.

Stevens -- Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868), a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and a passionate advocate of Radical Republicanism.

Sumner -- Charles Sumner (1811-1874), a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. The Senate's leading opponent of slavery, he was beaten unconscious on the Senate floor by a South Carolina congressman after one speech Sumner made against pro-slavery groups in Kansas in 1856.

 

Counties named after Indian Tribes (12)

Cherokee -- Cherokee Indian tribe, who by a treaty signed in 1835 held the 'Cherokee Neutral Lands,' a strip 50 miles north to south and 25 miles across, comprising all of Cherokee, most of Crawford, and a slice of Bourbon County. In 1866, another treaty ceded the Neutral Lands to the United States.

Cheyenne -- Cheyenne Indian tribe, buffalo-hunters who roamed the plains of western Kansas and Nebraska south to the Arkansas River.

Comanche -- Comanche Indians, a nomadic tribe of buffalo hunters on the southern plains.

Kiowa -- Kiowa Indian tribe.

Miami -- the Indian tribe. Organized under its original name, Lykins County, in 1855.

Osage -- Osage River, which drains much of the county and is itself named for the Osage Indian tribe.

Ottawa --  Ottawa Indian tribe

Pawnee -- Pawnee Indian tribe.

Potawatomi -- Indian tribe.

Shawnee -- Shawnee tribe of Indians

Wichita -- Wichita tribe.

Wyandotte -- the Indian tribe.

 

Counties with Indian Names (4)

Nemaha, probably from the Otoe word Ne-ma-ha, meaning 'muddy water' or 'swampy water.'

Neosho, most likely from the Osage word ne-o-zho or ne-u-zhu, meaning clear water.

Republic County is named indirectly for the Pawnee Republic, a major division of the Pawnee tribe.

Wabaunsee, named for the Pottawatomie chief Wah-Bahn-Se (1760s?-1845 or 6)

 

Counties Named for Kansas Territorial and Pre-Territorial Residents: (10)

Anderson -- Joseph C. Anderson

Barber -- Thomas W. Barber, a Free State settler in Douglas County, who was killed by pro-slavery forces near Lawrence on 6 December 1855.

Coffey --  Col. A. M. Coffey, a member of the Legislative Council of Kansas Territory.

Geary -- John W. Geary (1819-1873), territorial governor of Kansas.

Johnson -- Rev. Thomas Johnson (1802-1865), who established a mission to the Shawnee Indians in 1829 (Shawnee Indian Mission in present-day Fairway, Johnson Co.).

Kingman -- Samuel A. Kingman (1818-1904), member of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention, chief justice of the Kansas supreme court, briefly state librarian, and first president of the Kansas State Historical Society.

Labette -- Pierre Bete [also spelled Baete or Beatte], a French-Canadian trapper and trader who married into the Osage tribe and lived along the Neosho River in the 1830s and 40s. Pierre Bete served as a guide for Washington Irving during the author's tour across the prairie in 1832.

Lane -- James Henry Lane (1814-1866), a leader of the Free State forces in territorial Kansas and one of the first U.S. senators from the state. During the Civil War, he helped organize several regiments of volunteers, including one of the first black regiments. Never very stable mentally, he committed suicide in July of 1866.

Marshall -- Frank [or Francis] J. Marshall, member of the first territorial legislature, who operated a ferry on the Big Blue River at the Oregon Trail crossing.

Phillips -- William Phillips, a Free State man who was murdered at Leavenworth on 1 Sept 1856 by Frederick Emory and his pro-slave 'law-and-order' militia.

Woodson -- Daniel Woodson (1824-1894), who served as secretary of Kansas Territory, 1854-1857, including four stints as acting governor.

Counties Named for Women (1)

Barton County is the only current Kansas county named for a woman. It is named for Clara Harlowe Barton (1821-1912), Civil War nurse and founder of the American Red Cross.

Counties Named for Writers and Journalists (1)

Greeley, named Horace Greeley (1811-1872), the famed founder and editor of the New York Tribune, who advocated support of land grants for farmers and a government-financed railroad to the Pacific.

 

Counties Named After Other Places (2)

Bourbon County is named for the Kentucky county of that name.

Chautauqua County was named Chautauqua County, New York, the birthplace of Edward Jaquins, a member of the Kansas House who in 1875 introduced the bill dividing Howard County into Elk and Chautauqua. The New York county, in turn, derives its name from an Indian word meaning 'foggy place.'

Other County Names (2)

Saline County is named for the Saline ('salty') River.

Elk County was named for the Elk River, itself named after the animal.

 

For information about individual Counties visit the Kansas Facts: Information about The Counties of the State section of this site.