Maps and text transcribed from: Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1903-1904; edited by Geo. W. Martin, Secretary. Vol. VIII. Topeka: Geo. A. Clark, state printer, 1904.
Reproduced with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.

MAP I, 1855.

The first territorial legislature, held in 1855, passed three acts relative to the establishment of counties in the Territory of Kansas.

The first of these defined the boundaries of thirty-three counties. As the survey had at that time only been begun, the definition was made by distances only, the starting point being the main channel of the Kansas river at the point where it crosses the Missouri line. The counties established by this act were Johnson, Lykins, Linn, Bourbon, McGee, Douglas, Franklin, Anderson, Allen, Dorn, Shawnee, Weller, Coffey, Woodson, Wilson, Richardson, Breckinridge, Madison, Greenwood, Godfroy, Davis, Wise, Butler, Hunter, Doniphan, Atchison, Leavenworth, Brown, Jefferson, Nemaha, Calhoun, Marshall, and Riley. (Laws of 1855, pp. 205-211.)

In most of these counties the population was not large enough to justify organization, so the system of attaching the thinly inhabited counties to those able to maintain an organization was adopted, the counties being organized, when they had acquired the requisite population. The counties organized at the time of establishment were Allen, Anderson, Atchison, Bourbon, Doniphan, Douglas, Davis, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, Lykins, Linn, Madison, Marshall, Nemaha, Riley, and Shawnee. For civil and military purposes, Weller and Richardson were attached to Shawnee; Butler, Wise and Breckinridge to Madison; Coffey to Anderson'; McGee to Bourbon; Greenwood, Hunter, Dorn, Wilson, Woodson and Godfroy to Allen; Brown to Doniphan; Davis to Riley (id., pp. 210-215)..

The second act of 1855 created two new counties: Marion, out of a tract of land one hundred miles long and eighteen wide, west of Hunter, Butler and the south half of Wise; and Washington, including all the part of territory west of Marion and east of a line drawn north from the northeast corner of New Mexico. Both counties were attached to Allen (id. p. 214).

The third act created Arapahoe county out of all that part of the territory west of the line running north from the northeast corner of New Mexico (id. p. 217). Commissioners were appointed, but the organization seems not to have been completed, for in the same session an act, providing for an annual election of a delegate to the territorial assembly, attached the county to Marshall. This act further provided that all territory west of Marshall and east of Arapahoe should be attached to Marshall, and all territory west of Riley and east of Arapahoe should be attached to Riley* (id. pp. 218,219).

Link to full size MAP I, 1855.

  *   For origin of county names as they exist today, see seventh volume, pages 472 to 474. The following gives the origin of the names that have disappeared, as near as possible to discover:

ARAPAHOE.- For the Plains tribe of Indians.

BILLINGS.- For N. H. Billings, a resident of Norton Center, and representative from the 100th district, legislature of 1873, changed to Billings in jest, and restored to Norton by the next session.

BRECKINRIDGE. - For John Cabell Breckinridge, vice-president of the United States with President Buchanan, a native of Kentucky, 1821-1875; presidential candidate in 1860 of the slaveholding interest.

BRODERICK. - For David Colbreth Broderick, elected United States senator for California in 1856, served 1857-'59, when he was shot in a duel by Judge David S. Terry. He was an eminent debater and opposed the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution. He became separated from the Democratic party on the slavery question in 1868.

BUFFALO. - For the bison of the plains.

CALHOUN. - For John Calhoun, first surveyor general of Kansas. See this volume, p. 1, foot-note.

DAVIS. - For Jefferson Davis, president of the Southern Confederacy.

DORN.- For Andrew J. Dorn, United States agent for the Osages, Quapaws, and united nations of the Senecas and Shawnees, at the Neosho Indian Agency, Kansas, July, 1853 to 1861, when he was succeeded by P. P. Elder of Ottawa.

EL PASO. - Spanish "The Passage," "the gap."

FREMONT. - For John Charles Fremont, the western explorer and Union general, nominated by the first national Republican convention, Philadelphia, for president June 17, 1856. Born, 1813, died, 1890.

FOOTE. - Probably for Andrew Hull Foote, 1806-1863, United States naval officer war of the rebellion.

GARFIELD. - For James Abram Garfield, twentieth president of the United States, 1831-1881.

GODFROY, or " frey."


HOWARD. - For Oliver Otis Howard, soldier and philanthropist, graduate of Bowdin, 1850, West Point, 1854, brigadier general volunteers 1861; chief of the Freedmen's Bureau, 1865-1874, because of his able services to secure to the freedmen of this country their rights as freemen.

HUNTER. - Probably for Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter, United States senator from Virginia, 1847-1861; opposed use of United States troops to enforce the "Bogus" laws in Kansas; favored the repeal of the Missouri proslavery law making a death penalty for certain offenses against the rights of slaveholders; favored the admission of Kansas under the Lecompton constitution; candidate for president before the national Democratic convention of 1860.

IRVING. - For the poet, Washington Irving.

KANSAS. - For the Kansas tribe of Indians.

LYKINS. - For David Lykins, a member of the Territorial Council of 1855, from the fourth council district, and at the time superintendent of the Wea Mission for the Weas, Piankeshaws, Peorias, and Kaskaskias. His post-office was Westport, occupation physician, and age 34 years, nativity Iowa. He had been connected with the Baptist Mission among the Pottswatomies in 1853, and was given the title of "reverend" by the agent.

MADISON. - For James Madison, fourth president of the United States.

McGEE. - For Mabillon W. McGee, member of the Kansas territorial house of representatives, 1855, with post-office at 110 Crossing, Weller (Osage) county. He was a merchant of Westport, Mo., who took a claim near Burlingame, but did not stay long in Kansas. He was born in Kentucky in 1818, and was a brother of Fry P. McGee of Osage county.


ORO. -

OTOE. - For the Otoe Indians of Nebraska.

PEKETON. - Probably of Indian origin.

RICHARDSON - For Wm. P. Richardson, senator from the eighth council district, legislature of 1855 and 1857; a native of Kentucky, 53 years of age in 1855. August 31, 1855, he was commissioned major-general of the northern division of the militia of Kansas Territory. Although a prominent actor of the proslavery party, he wrote a letter deprecating the insult offered Governor Geary by W. T. Sherrard in the territorial house of representatives in February 1857. His death occurred on the 14th of the same mouth. Sub-agent Great Nemaha sub-agency, for the Iowas, Sacs and Foxes, 1842-1846,

SHELBY. - For Joseph Orville Shelby, a native of Lexington, Ky., 1831, removed to Waverly, Mo., in 1850. He participated in several of the raids during the border troubles in Kansas. He served under General Price in the confederate cavalry, organized Shelby's brigade and distinguished himself at Shiloh. At the close of the war he marched his brigade to the service of Maximillian; died in 1897.

SHIRLEY.- For a young woman, in jest.

SEQUOYAH. - For Sequoyah (George Guess) the son of George Gist and a Cherokee woman, born in 1770. Abandoned by his father, his mother reared him to industry and trade. He had great mechanical ingenuity. By 1821 he had devised a syllabic alphabet of 83 letters for the Cherokee language, which was adopted by his nation.

ST. JOHN. - For John Pierce St. John, eighth governor of Kansas. (See this volume, page 295, foot-note.)

WELLER.- Probably for John B. Weller, United States senator for California, 1852-'57, defeating John C. Fremont. He was governor of California 1858-'60.

WISE.- For Henry Alexander Wise, governor of Virginia, 1855-1859; about his last official act as governor was the hanging of John Brown.

Map I, 1855
includes origin of county names
for those counties not existing in 1904.

Map II, 1857-'59

Map III, 1860

Map IV, 1861-1864

Map V, 1865-1866

Map VI, 1867

Map VII, 1868

Map VIII, 1869-1872

Map IX, 1873

Map X, 1874

Map XI, 1875-1880

Map XII, 1881, '82

Map XIII, 1883,'84

Map XIV, 1885

Map XV, 1886-1892
Map XVI, 1893-1904
Article Introduction

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Maps and text transcribed from: Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1903-1904; edited by Geo. W. Martin, Secretary. Vol. VIII. Topeka: Geo. A. Clark, state printer, 1904.
Reproduced with permission of the Kansas State Historical Society.

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