Mobile Navigation
Kansas Counties »

Kansas Counties » Morris - Osage

Morris County

  • County Seat: Council Grove
  • County Code: MR
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: August 25, 1855
  • Region in Kansas: Northeast

Origin of Name: Thomas Morris, a United States senator from Ohio in 1832, who distinguished himself as an opponent of slavery.

Did you know?

  • Morris 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.
  • Morris County was originally organized as Wise County, named for Henry A. Wise, the governor of Virginia during John Brown’s seizure of Harpers Ferry in 1859. One of the last acts of Wise’s administration was presiding over Brown’s execution. Abolition supporters renamed the county in 1859.
  • The Hays House in Council Grove is said to be the oldest continuously operated restaurant west of the Mississippi River. It was built in 1857.
  • Council Grove was named after an agreement between the U.S. government and the Osage Indian Nation that allowed settlers' wagon trains to pass through the area and proceed west.
  • Council Grove holds its Washunga Days festival each June. The festival celebrates the history of Council Grove and Morris County with special emphasis on its Native American heritage. Council Grove was once the site of a Kaw Indian reservation and honors the last full-blooded Kaw chief, Washunga, with the Kaw Nation Inter-Tribal Pow Wow at the Kaw Mission Historic Site.
  • Dunlap was the site of an "Exoduster" colony of freed slaves from the South established by Benjamin "Pap" Singleton, who was himself a former slave from Tennessee.

Notable Residents:

Gerald Roberts, Ken Roberts

Hays House image
Hays House in Council Grove
Photo courtesy of Keith Stokes

Morton County

  • County Seat: Elkhart
  • County Code: MT
  • Established: February 20, 1886
  • Organized: November 17, 1886
  • Region in Kansas: Southwest

Origin of Name: Oliver P. Morton, governor of Indiana, U.S. senator and prominent anti-slavery advocate.

Did you know?

  • The area occupied by Morton County was originally established as Kansas County in 1873, was merged into Seward County in 1883, then was established as Morton County in 1886.
  • There are 108,000 acres of rolling grassland in Morton County. The Cimarron National Grassland is one of 20 national grasslands in the United States and the only one in Kansas.
  • Morton County is home to a windmill that sits on the corner of three states: Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
  • Buffalo was abundant in the early days of Morton County. Trying to quell problems with Kiowa and Apache Indians that hunted them, army generals ordered the slaughter of 400,000 buffalo in one day, believing that the only way to get rid of the Indians was to kill the buffalo.
  • The establishment of a German prisoner of war camp in Elkhart in 1944 was a major event in the county. After overcoming the animosity towards the prisoners, the county took advantage of the labor and manpower to add improvements and harvest crops, particularly broomcorn.
  • Two Olympic heroes are native to Elkhart. Glenn Cunningham, also known as the Kansas Ironman, was the world's fastest miler in 1938. Thane Baker won gold, silver and bronze medals in various Olympic games in 1952 and 1956, and has the distinction of scoring more points in NCAA competition than any other athlete in Kansas State University's history.

Notable Residents:

Thane Baker, Glenn Cunningham

Cimarron National Grassland image
Cimarron National Grassland
Photo courtesy of John Rakestraw

Nemaha County

  • County Seat: Seneca
  • County Code: NM
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: August 25, 1855
  • Region in Kansas: Northeast

Origin of Name: Nemaha River in Nebraska that drains into the northern half of the county.

Did you know?

  • Nemaha 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 an Otoe Indian language, Nemaha means "muddy water" or "swampy water" or "no papoose," because tribes did not live in and raise families in the area but merely wandered through on hunting parties.
  • The town of Sabetha's settlement began circa 1854, with the name reportedly derived from the word "Sabbath," the day the first settler arrived.
  • The Kissel Shoe Tree is located outside the city of Wetmore. Sometime in the 1970s, John Kissel read an article in a farm magazine about a guy in another rural state who had a shoe tree. The idea kept with him and in the late 1980s he started nailing shoes on a cottonwood tree just north of his farm. People come from miles around to nail shoes to the Kissel tree.

Notable Residents:

Edward White, John Riggins

Shoe Tree image
Kissel Shoe Tree outside of Wetmore
Photo courtesy of

Neosho County

  • County Seat: Erie
  • County Code: NO
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: November 2, 1864
  • Region in Kansas: Southeast

Origin of Name: Neosho River that traverses the county from northwest to southeast, given its name by the Osage Indians.

Did you know?

  • Neosho 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.
  • Neosho County was originally established as Dorn County, named for Andrew Jackson Dorn, a veteran of the Mexican War and Indian agent for the Osage, Quapaw, Seneca and Shawnee tribes at the Neosho Agency from 1853 to 1861. The county was renamed to Neosho when Dorn joined the Confederate army in 1861.
  • Erie is famous for its annual Old Soldiers and Sailors Reunion held during the third week of July. This reunion has been conducted continuously since 1873 and is claimed to be the oldest consecutively running Old Soldiers and Sailors Reunion in the country.
  • The town of St. Paul began as the Osage Catholic Mission. This mission was founded in 1847 for Osage Indians living along the Neosho and Verdigris rivers. The town of Osage Mission built up around the Catholic Mission and incorporated in 1867. When the Osage Indians moved to Indian Territory in 1870, white children gradually replaced the Indians and the Osage Catholic Mission changed its name to the St. Francis Institution for boys and St. Ann's Academy for girls. In 1895 the town name was changed from Osage Mission to St. Paul.
  • The city of Chanute came to be as a result of four different small towns fighting for the right to house the LL&G Railroad's new land office. Octave Chanute, the chief engineer and general superintendent of the LL&G Railroad, suggested that the towns merge to end the bickering. On January 1, 1873, the towns merged and became chartered as the City of Chanute, named after Octave Chanute.
  • Chanute is home to the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum, a museum dedicated to the travels of filmakers, photographers and adventurers Martin and Osa Johnson. The museum offers an in depth look at the adventures the Johnson's undertook in the early part of the 20th century, to some of the most uncharted regions of the world, through their vast photograph collection, films and writings they produced.

Notable Residents:

Osa Johnson, Jennifer Knapp, Paul Lindblad, Ralph Miller

Ness County

  • County Seat: Ness City
  • County Code: NS
  • Established: February 26, 1867
  • Organized: October 23, 1873
  • Region in Kansas: West Central

Origin of Name: Corporal Noah V. Ness, of Company G, 7th Kansas Cavalry, who died of wounds received in a skirmish at Abbeyville, Mississippi, in August 1864.

Did you know?

  • Ness County was first organized in 1873, but there was a fraud claim on the population count. When the charge was substantiated the governor disorganized the county in 1874. The county was reorganized in 1880.
  • Ness County is the only county in Kansas named after a corporal.
  • The Ness County Bank building, a four-story 18,700-square-foot stone building at the intersection of Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Ness City, was built in 1890 and is known as "The Skyscraper of the Plains."
  • George Washington Carver homesteaded near Beeler and built himself a sod house. Two years later he sold the farm for money to go to college. There is a historical marker beside Highway K-96 and a stone monument on his homestead site.
  • Ness City gained international attention in March 2008 as news stations reported a story about a woman whose buttocks grew attached to a toilet seat after refusing to move from it for two years.

Notable Residents:

George Washington Carver, Nolan Cromwell, Ruth Riley

Bank Building image
Skyscraper of the Plains in Ness City
Photo courtesy of Bob Weston

Norton County

  • County Seat: Norton
  • County Code: NT
  • Established: February 26, 1867
  • Organized: August 22, 1872
  • Region in Kansas: Northwest

Origin of Name: Orloff Norton, captain of Company L, 15th Kansas Cavalry, who was killed by guerillas at Cane Hill, Arkansas, October 29, 1865.

Did you know?

  • Norton County was organized largely at the behest of N.H. Billings, who presented a forged petition to the governor, followed by a largely fictitious census. Once the governor issued the proclamation of organization, naming Billingsville the temporary county seat, Billings returned to the county and in the first election in September 1872 was elected state representative, county attorney and county superintendent of schools. During the 1873 session the Legislature, making sport of Billings' vanity, renamed the county in his honor. The name of Norton was restored the following year.
  • Prairie Dog State Park southwest of Norton is the site of the last remaining adobe house in Kansas. The renovated adobe house was built on the site in the early 1890s.
  • Norton is home to the "They Also Ran Gallery," a museum of portraits of unsuccessful contenders for the office of U.S. president.

Notable Residents:

Gary Bender

Osage County

  • County Seat: Lyndon
  • County Code: OS
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: February 11, 1859
  • Region in Kansas: East Central

Origin of Name: Osage River, the headwaters of which drain almost the entire county.

Did you know?

  • Osage 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.
  • The county was originally established in 1855 as Weller County, named for John B. Weller, a congressman from Ohio, U.S. senator from California, governor of California and ambassador to Mexico. Weller was a proslavery supporter, and the county name was changed in 1859 to Osage because of his political leanings.
  • The Carnegie Library in Lyndon is believed to be the smallest Carnegie Library still being used.
  • Earl Wilbur Sutherland, Jr., winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine, was born in Burlingame.
  • Osage County has two reservoirs built by the Army Corps of Engineers: Pomona Lake and Melvern Lake.

Notable Residents:

Barnum Brown, Daniel Forbes, Jr., Earl Wilber Sutherland, Jr.