LEGENDS OF KANSAS

 

History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs

 

Ford County, Kansas

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Ford County: 

Towns & Places

Extinct Towns

Ford County Pioneers

 

Ford County, Kansas

 

Ford County, Kansas Map, 1899

Ford County map, 1899.

 

 

 

Located in the southwestern part of the state, Ford County was created by a Legislative Act of 1867, which provided for the division into counties of all the unorganized part of the state. It was named in honor of Colonel James H. Ford of the Second Colorado Cavalry, who was in charge of the construction of Fort Dodge after the Civil War. However, the region had been traveled through frequently, by pioneers along the Santa Fe Trail.

 

Fort Dodge, Kansas, 1867One of the first parties to travel westward through this portion of Kansas with a pack train was the McKnight Expedition in 1812, which followed the Arkansas River. A few years later Major Stephen H. Long's Expedition passed up the Arkansas Valley and by 1825 this route became known as the Santa Fe Trail. One of the earliest military posts in Kansas, Fort Atkinson, was located in what is now Ford County. Fort Dodge, established in 1864, was on the north bank of the Arkansas River, about five miles southeast of Dodge City. The old military reservation is now the site of the State Soldiers' Home.

 

During the California Gold Rush in 1849 thousands of gold seekers passed along the Santa Fe Trail, through what is now Ford County, but few located there. One of the first permanent settlers was Andrew J. Anthony who settled on a ranch about 20 miles west of present-day Dodge City, in 1867. He kept a few cattle and a general store for a year, then moved to Fort Dodge and engaged in the sutler business until 1874. Herman J. Fringer came to Fort Dodge in 1867 as quartermaster's clerk. Later he opened one of the pioneer drug stores and served as Justice of the Peace before the county was organized. H.L. Sitler came to the county in 1868, and was one of the pioneer freighters, before the railroad was built.

 

 

 

In August, 1872, buffalo hunters and business men in various branches of industry, were attracted to Ford County and Dodge City was established upon the completion of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad the following month. Before the buffalo were wiped out, their hides were extensively shipped from Dodge City. A short time later, Dodge City would develop into a rough and tumble cowtown.

 

As the frontier moved further west Ford County became populated with industrious farmers and ranches, who established permanent homes. On April 5, 1873, Governor Thomas A. Osborn issued a proclamation providing for the organization of Ford County. He appointed Charles Rath, J. G. McDonald and Daniel Wolf as special commissioners, and Herman J. Fringer as special clerk. The commissioners soon met at Dodge City and elected Charles Rath chairman. An election for county officers was ordered for June 5, 1873, when the commissioners and officers were elected.

 

By 1874, Dodge City had developed into the primary shipping point for the Texas cattle trade; the cowboys from the Plains driving in large quantities for shipment. These many cowboys , along with railroad workers, gamblers, gunfighters and “ladies of the night,” soon earned Dodge City a reputation as a wicked little town.

One of the earliest newspapers in the county was the Dodge City Messenger, established in February, 1874 but the paper was suspended in 1875.

 

 

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Dodge City, Kansas, 1876

Dodge City, Kansas, 1876.

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Kansas Historic Book Collection - 35 Historic Books on CDKansas Historic Book Collection - 35 Historic Books on CD - The Historical Kansas Book Collection is a collection of 35 volumes relating to the history of Kansas and its people primarily in the 18th and 19th centuries. Several of the volumes have great period illustrations and portraits of relevant historical figures. Includes such titles as the History of Kansas (1899), History of Kansas Newspapers (1916), All five volumes of A Standard History of Kansas (1918), Pioneer Days in Kansas (1903), and dozens of others.

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