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Wabaunsee County

  • County Seat: Alma
  • County Code: WB
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: March 25, 1859
  • Region in Kansas: Northeast

Origin of Name: The Potawatomi Indian chief, Wabaunsee.

Did you know?

  • Wabaunsee 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.
  • Wabaunsee County was originally established in 1855 as Richardson County after Colonel “Dick” Richardson of Illinois, who was the leader in the House of Representatives on the Democratic side in the debate on the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. In February 1859 the county was name was changed to Wabaunsee.
  • The famed Beecher Bible and Rifle Church is located in the town of Wabaunsee. The church gets its name from abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, who gave money to help supply rifles for the men of Wabaunsee to defend themselves against proslavery forces. The rifles were smuggled through proslavery areas in crates marked "Beechers Bibles." In John Steuart Curry's painting Tragic Prelude, John Brown is holding a "Beechers Bible" in his right hand.
  • Harveyville is home to an artist residency program known as The Harveyville Project. The purpose of the program is to provide an inspiring, energizing environment to foster creative output. The residency programs are located at two rural school buildings and are open to artists, writers, musicians and craftsmen, both student and professional.
  • Alma is home to the Alma Creamery, which has been producing cheese products since 1946.

Wallace County

  • County Seat: Sharon Springs
  • County Code: WA
  • Established: March 11, 1868
  • Organized: January 5, 1889
  • Region in Kansas: Northwest

Origin of Name: Brigadier-General William H.L. Wallace, who was commander of the 2nd Division at the Battle of Shiloh, April 6, 1862, and died April 10, 1862, of wounds he received in that battle.

Did you know?

  • Weskan is home to the highest point in Kansas at 4,039 feet above sea level. Deemed Mount Sunflower, the state's tallest point is located on the Harold Family Ranch in the far west side of Kansas. If you happen to stop at Mount Sunflower, be sure to sign the guestbook at the site.
  • Wallace County is one of four Kansas counties in the mountain time zone.
  • At the old Fort Wallace Post Cemetery there is a cenotaph erected by the men of Custer's 7th Cavalry in memory of the comrades who lost their lives near Fort Wallace during the summer of 1867. It is believed that this cenotaph (a monument honoring a deceased person buried elsewhere) is the only surviving relic of its kind remaining from the legendary army division. Fort Wallace was located near present day Wallace from 1865 to 1882.
  • While on a railroad tour in 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt made a stop in Sharon Springs and was given a baby badger to have as a pet from a 12-year-old girl. Roosevelt named the badger Josiah and let it have free run of the White House. However, as Josiah grew and aged he developed an ugly temper and had to be sent to the Bronx Zoo in New York.
Mount Sunflower image
Summit of Mount Sunflower
Photo courtesy of Keith Stokes

Washington County

  • County Seat: Washington
  • County Code: WS
  • Established: August 30, 1855
  • Organized: April 9, 1860
  • Region in Kansas: Northeast

Origin of Name: George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Did you know?

  • Washington 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.
  • The original boundaries of Washington County began at the northwest edge of Marion County and extended south and west to the boundaries of the Kansas Territory. This area was never organized and there was no evidence that a county seat was established. In 1857 Washington County was moved to its present location in northeast Kansas leaving the original territory without a name until Peketon County was established in 1860.
  • The Hollenberg Pony Express Station near Hanover, built in 1857, began as a way station and supply store for travelers on the Oregon-California Trail, and from 1860 to 1861 served as a station for the Pony Express. The building still stands and, along with the visitor center, tells the stories of Gerat and Sophia Hollenberg, pioneer life, and the Pony Express at this National Historic Landmark.
  • The world's first bulldozer was designed and built in 1923 in Morrowville. A replica is on display in the Morrowville city park.
  • MarCon Pies, located in the county seat, has been baking pies since 1985. The business started in the kitchens of its two founders and eventually moved to a larger facility when demand rose. MarCon Pies processes nearly 500 pies per day (Mondays through Thursdays) and increases to more than 1,000 per day at Thanksgiving time. More than 100,000 pies are baked yearly. MarCon has helped Washington become the Pie Capital of Kansas.

Wichita County

  • County Seat: Leoti
  • County Code: WH
  • Established: March 20, 1873
  • Organized: December 24, 1886
  • Region in Kansas: West Central

Origin of Name: The name of a confederacy of Caddoan Indians, the Wichita.

Did you know?

  • In 1885 the county had only seven houses, but because of speculation in land by 1886-1887 settlement was rapidly reaching a population large enough for county organization. A group of cattlemen did not wish to see the county organized, and two different messengers sent to Topeka with the county census were never seen again. A personal envoy of the governor finally came for the census in 1886.
  • White Woman Creek, which runs east across southern Wichita County, got its name following an Indian attack in the late 1860s. An Indian war party attacked homesteads in the area, including an army ambulance. A mutilated body of a soldier was found in the ambulance carnage and settlers later learned that a woman was traveling with the ambulance and was kidnapped by the Indians. The woman, to avoid the same tortures she had seen inflicted upon the ambulance driver, stole a rope from the Indians while they camped, ran to a tree on the banks of this little stream and hanged herself before her captors could stop her. From that time, the story goes, the Indians called this stream White Woman Creek.
  • The county seat war of Wichita County was perhaps the bloodiest in the history of the American West. The towns of Leoti and Coronado were vying for the county seat when armed conflict broke out. In February 1887 hired cowboys from Leoti rode to Coronado and started roughing up the town, with gunshots being fired. Men from Coronado returned fire and the gunfight left several dead from both sides. The Kansas Militia and a group of lawmen from Dodge City, including Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson, were dispatched to Wichita County to restore order. Leoti eventually won as the county seat and Coronado became a ghost town.

Notable Residents:

Steve Tasker

Wilson County

  • County Seat: Fredonia
  • County Code: WL
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: September 24, 1864
  • Region in Kansas: Southeast

Origin of Name: Colonel Hiero T. Wilson, a prominent citizen of Fort Scott in the territorial days and the first white person to settle there.

Did you know?

  • Wilson 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 original boundaries of Wilson County extended south to the Kansas Territory boundary and later to the state boundary. In 1867 Wilson County was split in half and the southern area was used to establish Montgomery County.
  • The first oil well west of the Mississippi River to produce a commercial quantity of oil was drilled just outside of Neodesha. Known as Norman No. 1, it was also the first well drilled in the vast Mid-Continent Oil Field that covers parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
Norman #1 image
Norman #1 oil well outside of Neodesha
Photo courtesy of the Kansas Historical Society

Woodson County

  • County Seat: Yates Center
  • County Code: WO
  • Established: August 25, 1855
  • Organized: May 22, 1858
  • Region in Kansas: Southeast

Origin of Name: Daniel Woodson, who was the territorial secretary and, on five different occasions, acting territorial governor.

Did you know?

  • Woodson 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 state record black crappie (4 lbs., 10 oz.) was caught on October 21, 1957, at the Woodson County Fishing Lake.
  • Yates Center is the only town to be named a county seat before the town was even built.
  • Woodson County is the birthplace of silent film star Buster Keaton. A memorial museum for "The Great Stone Face" of comedy is located in Piqua.
  • The town of Neosho Falls was an inspiration for the album In the Spirit of Things by the band Kansas.

Notable Residents:

Buster Keaton

Wyandotte County

  • County Seat: Kansas City
  • County Code: WY
  • Established: January 29, 1859
  • Organized: January 29, 1859
  • Region in Kansas: Northeast

Origin of Name: Wyandot Indians.

Did you know?

  • Wyandotte County has been nicknamed The Dot by locals, and is the smallest county in Kansas geographically but the fourth largest in population.
  • The Kansas Constitution that was approved by the voters of the Territory of Kansas and accepted by Congress was written in Wyandotte County.
  • In 1997 voters approved to consolidate the governments of the city of Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County into one jurisdiction, creating the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Wyandotte County serves as the gateway to the Kansas City metro area and includes two NASCAR races at the Kansas Speedway, the Sporting Kansas City major league soccer stadium, the Kansas City T-Bones baseball park, the Legends outlet shopping area, the Great Wolf Lodge and the Chauteau Avalon, as well as many other attractions and events.
  • There is a General Motors automobile factory in the Fairfax District of Kansas City.
  • The Rosedale Arch in the Rosedale District of Kansas City is dedicated to the men of Kansas City, Kansas, who served in World War I. It is a small-scale replica of France's famous Arc de Triomphe.
  • Bonner Springs contains The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame, a privately funded charitable institution charted by the U.S. Congress "to educate society on the historical and present value of American agriculture and to honor leadership in Agri-Business and Academia by providing education, information, experience and recognition."
  • At the Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs you can learn how marbles are made plus shop for antique toys.
  • Bonner Springs hosts the annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival each weekend in September and October. The festival offers more than 100 different artisan shops, food fit for a king, costumed characters and demonstrations from the Medieval and Renaissance periods that include a live jousting tournament.

Notable Residents:

Lucius Allen, Ed Asner, Gene Clark, Larry Drew, Edward J. Dwight, Jr., Ray Evans, Scott Foley, Maurice Greene, John McLendon, Charlie Parker, Jackie Stiles, Eric Stonestreet, Dee Wallace

Renaissance Festival image
Jousting at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in Bonner Springs
Photo courtesy of Kevin Harber