Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Kansas Heritage: Cheyenne County

Aimed at preserving the heritage of central and western Kansas

Cheyenne County Map 1899

Cheyenne County map

Prentis, Noble Lovely. "History of Kansas". Winfield, KS: E. P. Greer, 1899

Bird City

Founded by the Northwest Town Site Company in 1885, Bird City was named for Benjamin Bird, president of the company. By 1886, the town's population was over 1500. A courthouse was built when the town was named the temporary county seat. By July 8, 1888, the railroad had been built to Bird City. On February 26, 1889, St. Francis was named the county seat after a bitter fight between Bird City and St. Francis for the honor. In the early 1890's many settlers left because of drouth (drought) and grasshoppers. Still, there were settlers that remained through the hardships and helped the town to survive.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Cheyenne County Historical Society, ed. "The History of Cheyenne County, Kansas" Published by the Curtis Media Corporation, 1987.

St. Francis

The Wano post office was established in the trading post of A.M. Brenaman on August 23, 1880. A bank, Citizens State Bank, was organized in Wano on April 14, 1887, but later in the year, buildings were being moved to a new location one and one half miles southeast of Wano. This new location was named Francis in honor of Francis Emerson, brother of A.L. Emerson who surveyed the site. The Saint was added to the name later.

By June 1, 1888, the post office had relocated to St. Francis and there were a good number of businesses, new and old (that had been moved from Wano). The first train arrived on July 8 of that year. St. Francis continued to grow and by April 9, 1903 when the county commissioners approved incorporating it into a third class city, the town had three hundred residents.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Cheyenne County Historical Society, ed. "The History of Cheyenne County, Kansas" Published by the Curtis Media Corporation, 1987.

Jaqua

This town site was founded by brothers Ruben and Cassius (Cash) Jaqua who settled in the area in 1886. By February 1887, the land near the Colorado border had been surveyed and platted. The town was named Guy and the first application for the post office was for Tama. That application and the second application for the name Guy were both turned down by the postal system. In the meantime, expectations about the railroad coming through were fueling speculative ventures. A general store, a hotel and a newspaper were all established by the spring of 1887, and the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad had stakes set down within 10 miles of Guy. The town again sent a list of names to the Postal Department, and Cash Jaqua had written his name at the end of the list. The postal system decided on Jaqua, and in the spring of 1887, the Jaqua Townsite Company was formed.

The railroad never did come to Jaqua and the bad years of 1893-1894 prompted a number of settlers to leave the area. By 1918, when the post office closed its doors, the dream of Cassius Jaqua was gone.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Sources

Cheyenne County Historical Society, ed. "The History of Cheyenne County, Kansas" Published by the Curtis Media Corporation, 1987.

Contact Us

Cheyenne County Historical Society
PO Box 611
St. Francis, KS  67756

Phone: 785-332-2504

Website: http://www.stfrancisks.com/htdocs/StChey/StFran/museum.html

Homesteading in Cheyenne County

Cheyenne County was a part of Rawlins County until residents started a petition drive in late 1885 to have the area be organized into a separate county. Governor John A. Martin issued a proclamation on April 1, 1886 to organize Cheyenne County and named Bird City the temporary county seat. The earliest German-Russians appeared on the 1885 census, which was taken when the area was still a part of Rawlins County.

Between April 1886 and February 1889, there were numerous elections and court cases involving the towns of Bird City and Wano with regard to the permanent location of the county seat. The first election took place on May 15, 1886, and Wano claimed the victory with 788 votes to Bird City's 465 votes. The commissioners met a couple of days later to canvass the votes, but had to adjourn the meeting because of a mob. They met again on May 22, and the Wano precinct reportedly did not have any votes, and at the next meeting, Bird City showed over 1000 legal votes for county officers and the county seat. 612 names that were not recorded on the May 15th vote were reported to have been added to the poll books after the election. Because of the poll book fraud, there were legal ramifications. Eventually St. Francis (formerly Wano) was named the permanent county seat after an election on February 26, 1889, but there were several law suits filed even after the Board of County Commissioners declared St. Francis as the county seat beginning March 2, 1889. The State Legislature finally put the matter to rest with a February 5, 1891 ruling that stated that the election of February 26, 1889 was legal and therefore St. Francis was to be the permanent county seat.

Most of the settlers came from settlements in the Black Sea area of Russia. These settlements included Neudorf, Rohrbach and Hoffnungstal. A large contingent of Germans from Russia settled in the four northwest townships of Nutty Combe, Cleveland Run, Eureka and Cheery Creek. Six German language churches were eventually built in the Eureka and Cherry Creek townships where most of the German-Russian settlers lived. The first church, First German Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, was founded on May 8, 1887. Eventually a seventh church was founded in St. Francis in 1926 after several of the older settlers moved into town.

Descendants of those early settlers still reside in Cheyenne County today.

The settlers were of the Protestant faith and were members of the Lutheran and Evangelical Churches. German church services were discontinued around the time of the Second World War. Today there are still a few people who speak the German language which is quite removed from the German spoken when the people left Germany for Russia.

There was one citizen who made the trek from Germany to Russia, and lived to also come to Cheyenne County. Katharina (Hahn) Hahn (1820-1917) went to Russia at age thirteen and came to the United States with her daughter Paulina Wagner.

One German-Russian homestead is located next to Highway 27, but several buildings have disappeared, and the rock house and other outbuildings are rapidly falling apart.

Sources

Cheyenne County Historical Society, ed. "The History of Cheyenne County, Kansas" Published by the Curtis Media Corporation, 1987.

Information from Marilyn Holzwarth, Cheyenne County Historical Society