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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
However, the region had been traveled through frequently, by pioneers along the
Santa Fe Trail.
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.
established in 1864, was on the north bank of the Arkansas River, about five
miles southeast of
The old military reservation is now the site of the State Soldiers' Home.
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
in 1867. He kept a few cattle and a general store for a year, then moved to
and engaged in the sutler business until 1874. Herman J. Fringer came to
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
was established upon the completion of the
& Santa Fe Railroad the following month. Before the buffalo were wiped out,
their hides were extensively shipped from
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
Charles Rath chairman. An election for county officers was
ordered for June 5, 1873, when the commissioners and officers were
had developed into the primary shipping point for the
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
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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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.
Made in the USA.