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Marion County

  • County Seat: Marion
  • County Code: MN
  • Established: August 30, 1855
  • Organized: July 6, 1865
  • Region in Kansas: East Central

Origin of Name: American Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion of South Carolina.

Did you know?

  • Marion County was one of the two original Kansas Territory counties created by the second act to establish counties passed by the first Territorial Legislature of 1855.
  • From 1865 to 1866, Marion County covered more than a third of the area of Kansas extending to the Colorado and Oklahoma Territory lines.
  • The first Harvey House, a chain of restaurants, hotels and other hospitality industry businesses, was located in Florence.
  • Although based in fact, many stories of legendary proportions surround the area of land one section wide and 18 sections long along the east boundary of Marion County. A murder had been committed in the area and Marion County did not want to have the trial so it gave those sections to Chase County to make certain the murder had occurred in that county.
  • The town of Lost Springs was named after the Santa Fe Trail stop Lost Springs. It was one of the favorite stopping points on the trail because it generally had an ample supply of good water. The spring apparently got its name because it is a periodic spring, drying up at times for a week, a month, or even two years, so those visiting the site could not locate the spring on a return trip.
  • Pilsen is home to St. John Nepomucene Church and was home to Father Emil Kapaun, a priest and military chaplain who died as a prisoner of war during the Korean War. As a prisoner, Kapaun sacrificed his own health to preserve the health of other POWs until his death in 1951. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor and the Roman Catholic Church declared Kapaun a Servant of God, the first stage on the path to sainthood. Each November there is a military pilgrimage to St. John Nepomucent Church in honor of Kapaun.
  • Filmmakers for the science fiction comedy Mars Attacks! traveled to the Marion County town of Burns to film the pre-title sequence in which a herd of cattle is set afire by Martians near a farmhouse. Scenes including Donut World, the shop where Richie works part time in the movie, were also filmed here. The movie, based on the cult trading card series of the same name, is said to take place in the fictional Kansas town of Perkinsville. Other scenes were filmed in Wichita, El Dorado and Leon.

Notable Residents:

Emil Kapaun, Shirley Knight, Fay Moulton

Marshall County

  • County Seat: Marysville
  • County Code: MS
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: August 25, 1855
  • Region in Kansas: Northeast

Origin of Name: General Frank J. Marshall, who established a ferry on the Big Blue River at the crossing of the old Independence-California Road in 1849, and was a prominent member of the first Legislature who had his own name applied to the county.

Did you know?

  • Marshall County was one of the 33 original Kansas Territory counties created by the first act to establish counties passed by the first Territorial Legislature of 1855.
  • In 1854 the first post office in the Kansas Territory was opened in Marysville.
  • Blue Rapids has the oldest public library west of the Mississippi River that has been in continuous operation in the same building since it was built in 1875.
  • Blue Rapids claims to be the smallest town in the U.S. to have hosted a Major League Baseball game. On October 24, 1913, more than 3,000 fans watched the Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants play a world tour exhibition game on the local ballfield that is still in use today.
  • Marysville is known as the Black Squirrel City due to an isolated community of all-black squirrels that make their homes in the town. The squirrels are said to be the result of escapees from a traveling circus.
  • Marysville was a stop on the famed Pony Express from 1860 to 1861. The original barn and stables where the riders would change horses still stands and is museum dedicated to the short-lived mail route. The barn was built in 1859 and is the oldest building in Marshall County.
  • The Oregon Trail crossed the Big Blue River at Independence Crossing, about six miles south of Marysville. The Donner party came through there in 1846 and named a spot near their campsite Alcove Spring. Today this site is considered one of the most important Oregon Trail sites in Kansas.

Notable Residents:

Ruth Blaney Alexander, Peggy Hull Deuell, Kendra Wecker

Black Squirrel image
Black Squirrel in Marysville
Photo courtesy of Marysville Schools, USD 364

McPherson County

  • County Seat: McPherson
  • County Code: MP
  • Established: February 26, 1867
  • Organized: March 1, 1870
  • Region in Kansas: Central

Origin of Name: Major-General James B. McPherson, United States Volunteers, who was killed at the Battle of Atlanta, Georgia, July 22, 1864, becoming the second highest ranking Union officer killed during the Civil War.

Did you know?

  • Established in 1859, the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is preserved natural prairie comprised of rolling hills, creeks, springs, prairie grasses and wildflowers. Here 50 elk and 200 head of bison roam free, one of the three largest herds of buffalo in Kansas.
  • Every year since 1882, the Bethany Oratorio Society, of Bethany College in Lindsborg, has presented Handel's Messiah.
  • Lindsborg is known as Little Sweden because it was settled by Swedish immigrants in the late 19th century. Today 30 percent of the population are of Swedish heritage. Occurring in October of odd-numbered years, the residents of Lindsborg host a community-wide festival, Svensk Hyllningsfest, and don traditional Swedish folk costumes to celebrate the Swedish pioneers who settled in the Smoky Valley in 1868-1869. The festival features arts and crafts, special foods, and ethnic music and dance.
  • Lindsborg has an art museum showcasing the works of artist, and later resident, Birger Sandzén. The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery houses the largest and most extensive collection of his paintings, prints, drawings and watercolors found anywhere in the world.
  • Canton has two water towers, one labeled "HOT" and the other "COLD." The words were painted on the towers as a tourist attraction in 1956. Both tanks hold water at an ambient temperature.
  • Established in 2004, the Kansas Motorcycle Museum is located in Marquette.
  • Conway is home to a large underground refined petroleum storage facility. It consists of large caverns carved into the underlying salt beds, has a holding capacity of more than four million barrels and holds approximately 30 percent of the propane stored in the United States.
  • The city of McPherson hosts the annual When Pigs Fly event on Labor Day weekend, which includes an airplane fly-in and a barbeque contest.

Notable Residents:

Ted Kessinger, Dev Nelson, Birger Sandzén

Meade County

  • County Seat: Meade
  • County Code: ME
  • Established: March 20, 1873
  • Organized: November 4, 1885
  • Region in Kansas: Southwest

Origin of Name: Major-General George G. Meade, a career United States Army officer who served as a Union general during the Civil War, best known for defeating Confederate General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

Did you know?

  • Meade County was originally established in 1873 but was dissolved and merged into Ford County in 1883. Meade County was re-established to its current boundaries in 1885.
  • The Lone Tree Massacre occurred in August 1874. A survey party sent by the U.S. government to survey land southwest of Dodge City was attacked and killed by Cheyenne Indians.
  • In the late 1870s and early 1880s, the discovery and use of artesian wells in the northern part of Meade County contributed significantly to the county's settlement and growth.
  • The city of Meade was home to Eva Whipple, the sister of the Dalton Gang, a group of outlaws from the 1890s that was known for robbing banks and trains. Eva's home served as a hideout for the gang, and after her disappearance new residents discovered a hidden tunnel between the house and a stable that was not highly visible. The home and its hideout were turned into a museum, which some people consider to be haunted.
  • Meade hosts its annual Dalton Days Wild West Festival at the Dalton Gang Hideout each June. The festival includes a reenactment competition by the Reenactment Guild of America, a quick-draw competition, a homemade ice cream crank-off and musical entertainment. The festival is held in conjunction with a rodeo at the Meade County Fairgrounds.

Miami County

  • County Seat: Paola
  • County Code: MI
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: April 2, 1857
  • Region in Kansas: East Central

Origin of Name: Miami Indian tribe, predominant in the area.

Did you know?

  • Miami County was one of the 33 original Kansas Territory counties created by the first act to establish counties passed by the first Territorial Legislature of 1855.
  • Originally organized as Lykins County in honor of Dr. David Lykins, a Baptist missionary and proslavery member of the first Territorial Council, when Kansas entered the Union as a free state in 1861 the county name was changed to Miami.
  • In recognition for Osawatomie's part in ensuring Kansas remained a free state, the Kansas Legislature established the Osawatomie State Mental Hospital in 1863, the first mental hospital west of the Mississippi River. It is still operational today.
  • Abolitionist John Brown established Osawatomie as his base of operation to fight proslavery forces from Missouri. While there he would stay in the cabin of his brother-in-law and half-sister, Samuel and Florella Adair, and from time to time would hide escaped slaves in the cabin as part of the underground railroad. The cabin was moved to its present location in John Brown Memorial Park in 1912 and a stone building was built around the cabin in 1928, preserving the original cabin. Both structures make up the John Brown Museum.
  • The Battle of Osawatomie took place in August 1856 when 250-300 border ruffians from Missouri attacked the city of Osawatomie. John Brown first got word that the group was coming when they shot and killed his son Frederick. Brown, with 40 or so men, tried to defend the town against the proslavery partisans, causing heavy casualties before being forced to withdraw. Despite the attempts of Brown to get the ruffians to follow, they instead looted and burned Osawatomie. Only three buildings remained standing when it was over.
  • Two U.S. presidents have visited Osawatomie. In 1910 President Theodore Roosevelt gave his famous New Nationalism speech in Osawatomie. In 2011 President Barack Obama gave an economic speech at Osawatomie High School.
  • The Louisburg Cider Mill was established in 1977 and produces apple cider and other apple products to many stores throughout Kansas.
  • Louisburg is home to the Cedar Grove Feline Sanctuary, which was opened in 2000 as a preserve for tigers and a refuge for all kinds of big cats that are abandoned, neglected or whose owners are unable to care for them.

Notable Residents:

Samuel Adair, B.H. Born, John Brown, Lynn Dickey, Brian Shay

Mitchell County

  • County Seat: Beloit
  • County Code: MC
  • Established: February 26, 1867
  • Organized: October 4, 1870
  • Region in Kansas: North Central

Origin of Name: William D. Mitchell, who entered the Union army as a private in Company K, 2nd Kansas Cavalry, was promoted to captain in the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, and was killed March 10, 1865, at Monroe's Cross Road, North Carolina.

Did you know?

  • Mitchell County is home to the world's largest ball of twine. This ball began in 1953 by Frank Stoeber and was given to Cawker City, Kansas, in 1961. It has been reported that the ball of twine weighs nearly nine tons.
  • Waconda Springs, also known as the Great Spirit Spring, is named after an Indian princess named Waconda. Indian legend has it that Waconda fell in love with a brave of another tribe. Prevented from marriage by a blood feud, this warrior embroiled the tribes in battle. During the fight an arrow struck the warrior as he stood on the bank of the spring and he fell mortally wounded into the waters. Waconda, grief stricken, plunged in after him. Believing her soul still lived in the depths, Indian tribes for countless ages carried their sick to drink the healing waters. Waconda Springs is now covered by Waconda Lake, in northwest Mitchell County.
Ball of Twine image
World's largest ball of twine in Cawker City
Photo courtesy of

Montgomery County

  • County Seat: Independence
  • County Code: MG
  • Established: February 26, 1867
  • Organized: June 3, 1869
  • Region in Kansas: Southeast

Origin of Name: General Richard Montgomery, an Irish-born soldier who was an officer of distinction in the British army, then resigned and settled in New York state in 1773 before becoming a major-general in the Continental army during the American Revolutionary War and dying in battle on December 31, 1775, shouting "death or liberty!"

Did you know?

  • Independence was home to one of the first monkey astronauts to travel to space and safely return to Earth. On May 28, 1959, Miss Able, a rhesus monkey born at the Ralph Miller Zoo in Independence, traveled 300 miles into space aboard a Jupiter Rocket traveling at speeds more than 10,000 miles per hour. Miss Able died shortly after returning to Earth on June 1, 1959, while undergoing surgery to remove an infected medical electrode. She was preserved and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
  • Independence's Neewollah celebration (Halloween spelled backwards) began in 1919 as an effort to provide positive activities for kids of all ages in place of the typical Halloween pranks that occurred in the community. Today Neewollah is the largest annual celebration in Kansas and includes a wide assortment of events spread over 10 days.
  • Coffeyville has a curfew ordinance for children under the age of 18.
  • The end of the Dalton Gang happened in Coffeyville. On October 5, 1892, the Dalton Gang tried to simultaneously rob the First National Bank and the Condon Bank (the banks were across the street from each other). The townspeople recognized the outlaws and fired upon them as they came out of one of the banks. Four members of the gang, including two of the Dalton brothers, were killed and another Dalton brother was shot 23 times but survived. Four townspeople, including the town marshal, were killed. The town holds an annual celebration each October in remembrance of the Dalton raid and the lives of its citizens lost.
  • The Verdigris River in Montgomery County is the lowest point in Kansas at 679 feet above sea level.
  • The children's book Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder was inspired by her time living with her family in a one-room cabin near Wayside in 1869. A replica of the Ingalls cabin was built at Independence and turned into a museum dedicated to Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Notable Residents:

Mildred Burke, Fred Etchen, William W. Hodkinson, William Inge, Eva Jessye, Alfred Landon, Harry Ford Sinclair, Vivian Vance

Miss Able image
Miss Able on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia