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Kansas Heritage: Gove County

Aimed at preserving the heritage of central and western Kansas

Gove County Map 1899

Gove County map

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

Alanthus

Alanthus was located in Larrabee Township in the Smoky Hill Valley and was built with plans for the railroad. The Post Office was established in 1887 with Nathan Burkhead as Postmaster. The town then consisted of a lumber yard, a store and a livery barn. School District No. 48, called the Alanthus School, was formed in 1888. The Congregational Church was held in the school until a church building was built in 1911. It was called the Grandview Methodist Episcopal Church of Alanthus, Kansas. It was discontinued in 1941. The town of Alanthus existed for a time, but became another ghost town due to the lack of the railroad.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Buffalo Park / Park

Park began as a railroad station for the Union Pacific Railroad. The station known as "Buffalo Station" was established in 1868. William (Billy) Sternberg became the agent at Buffalo Station because of his ability with a telegraph and his promise to stay 3 1/2 years. His brother, Charles Sternberg, was a noted fossil hunter who made his first trip to Buffalo Station in 1876.

The Buffalo Town Company was formed February 2, 1878. Buffalo was the first platted town site in Gove County. The first Post Office for Buffalo Station, established in 1873, was called Hill Gove. On April 28, 1879, the name was changed to Buffalo Park. In 1880 the second newspaper in Gove County, "The Express", was established in Buffalo Park. In June of 1880, "The Express" stated that by the end of 1879, Buffalo Park had 12 stores, 3 hotels, 3 livery stables, 3 restaurants, 3 saloons, 1 barbershop, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 harness maker, 1 bakery, 1 newspaper, and 1 physician/surgeon.

Buffalo Park had the first school district in Gove County. It was formed in 1878. The first church in Buffalo Park was a Congregational Church built around 1880. In 1889, the first Catholic Church was built.

The "Buffalo Park Pioneer" replaced "The Express": in 1885. In May 1886, the "Buffalo Park Pioneer" listed numerous businesses which included: Buffalo Meat Market, Buffalo Hotel, Real Estate, General Store, Fancy Boot and Shoemaker, Hay, Feed and Grain, and G.A.R. Post 367. In 1889, the G.A.R. Memorial College of Buffalo Park was chartered by the state as a college for children of Union Soldiers.

Among the settlers who came to the Buffalo Park area in 1878 was Pennsylvania Dutch from Pennsylvania. Beginning around 1900, the Volga-Germans began immigrating to the Buffalo Park area in large numbers.

The town of Buffalo Park was incorporated as a city of the 3rd class in 1950 when the name was changed to Park.

Campus

Originally, Campus was a Union Pacific Railroad stop. Campus was first called "Elizabeth". The Campus Post Office was established in 1905. The town was platted in 1906.

In its early years, Campus had 2 general stores, a lumber yard, a blacksmith shop, a farm implement store, a church, a schoolhouse, a depot, a post office, an elevator, a stockyard and 5 residences. The schoolhouse, District No. 57, was organized in 1911.

A church was built in 1906 and organized in 1907 as an English Evangelical Lutheran Church. It began declining with the community around 1910.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Gove

The Gove City Improvement Company was organized at Davenport, Iowa. The Company acquired land on Hackberry Creek, 12 miles south of Grainfield. The Gove City town site was laid out in 1885. Like the county, the city was also named for the Union soldier, Grenville Gove.

Gove was off the railroad line, but located in the center of the county. The first building in Gove was a sod structure. The first church services and first school were held in the sod building. The first hotel built was called the Benson house and has served as the County Court House since 1886 when Gove City became the county seat.

Churches were very important to the community. The first church was a Presbyterian Church built about 1888. All denominations used the building. The Methodists built a small church in 1890. Eventually the Methodists purchased the Presbyterian building in 1916. A Pilgrim Holiness Church existed for a time around 1934.

A red brick schoolhouse was built around 1887. The Gove High School was built in 1921 and became the Gove County Historical Museum in 1970.

The Gove City Library was started in 1895 by ladies of the community.

In the early days, Gove had a lumber and coal company and a brick kiln, which furnished the bricks for the Grainfield Opera House. Between 1888 and 1890, Gove had a livery barn/hotel called the Hackberry House, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop, a harness shop, a hardware store, the Clifford Hotel, the Redwing Hotel, the Brown Hotel, drug store, several doctors, 2 banks, 4 abstractors, a butcher shop, an opera hall, and several ice houses.

The Gove Post Office was established in 1886. The first newspaper in Gove City was the "Gove County Gazette" founded in 1886. It eventually became the "Gove County Republican Gazette".

Gove City continues to celebrate its heritage each year with Gove Old Settlers Day.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Grainfield

Grainfield was platted in June 1879 as a station for the Kansas Pacific railroad. The Post Office was established May 10, 1879. In 1880 Grainfield had a hotel, a Post Office, a newspaper, a depot, a express and telegraph office, 2 lumber yards, a livery stable, stores of various kinds and a public well.

Charles Johnson was the first resident of the town site of Grainfield. A colony of Holland Dutch settled near the town site in 1878. The first newspaper in Gove County was "The Grainfield Republican" first printed in 1880. It went out of business within a short time and was replaced in 1885 by the "Grainfield Cap Sheaf". In a short time, Grainfield boasted 3 hotels: the New City hotel, the Keystone hotel and the Occidental hotel, which was the largest of the three. The first grade school building was built in 1887.

Churches were, of course, of great importance. The Methodist Episcopal Church was chartered in 1887. The Methodists met in a small frame building, which was shared with the Congregationalists. The Catholic Church was built in 1910.

A group of businessmen from Gove and Grainfield formed and founded the Gove County Telephone Company.

In 1916, Grainfield was known as the "Tree City". Grainfield was especially known for the Opera House, which still stands on Main Street and is presently being renovated. The Opera House brought people to town after its construction in 1887. People came for shows and entertainment. The huge banquet room/auditorium was also used for County Graduation ceremonies.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown. 

Grinnell

Grinnell was established as a railroad station in 1868. It was first inhabited by railroad workers and buffalo hunters. The first settler in Gove County, George Van Dehsen, a buffalo hunter, stayed at Grinnell as a pumper for the railroad. In 1873, Grinnell had a population of 40 people. Seven years later, the population had grown to 75 people. The Grinnell town site was platted in 1879 on the north side of the railroad tracks. In 1885, a second town site was laid out on the south side of the tracks. This caused a feud within the community. The north faction put up a fence and planted a 60 foot strip to cane to separate the factions. The fight lasted until the end of the 1880's.

The first Post Office in Gove County was established in Grinnell in 1870. The Grinnell School District was organized in 1880. The first Sunday School /Church called Cowboy Sunday school was organized in 1888. It was followed by the South Grinnell Church or Grinnell Church which was a Methodist Church. A Christian Church was built in 1900. Immaculate Conception parish served Catholics in the Grinnell area from 1896 until a church was erected in 1907.

Grinnell had three newspapers. The "Grinnell Record Leader" was started in 1905 and continued until 1972.

Grinnell was incorporated in 1917. It had a number of businesses which included 4 grain elevators, 3 grocery stores, a hardware store, a butcher shop, an ice house, 2 hotels, a cafe, a lumber yard, a dry goods store, a bank, a newspaper and 2 doctors, each with his own drug store. Several more businesses were added after World War II.

Early settlers included a small group of Norwegians.

Contact Us

Gove County Historical Museum
P.O. Box 103
Gove, KS 67736-0103


(785) 938-2385 (Curator of the museum, Marcia Roemer)

Email: roemer@ruraltel.net

Website: http://www.ksgenweb.com/gove/museum/museum.html

Sources

Gove County Historical Museum
They used the following sources in writing this information.

"History and Heritage of Gove County". Gove County Historical Museum.

Harrington, W. P. "History of Gove County, Kansas".

Homesteading in Gove County

Gove County was created by the legislature in 1868. The size was 30 x 60 miles with the same boundaries as today. According to Blackmars, "History of Kansas", Gove County was named for a Union soldier, Grenville L. Gove, son of Moses Gove, who was one time mayor of Manhattan.

The University of New Hampshire Special Collections has two letters written by Capt. Grenville Llewllyn Gove in its collection. The following are links to the transcription of the letters, both written to Capt. Gove's cousin, Julia Parsons.
http://www.library.unh.edu/special/transcription/Parsons/18630803.html
http://www.library.unh.edu/special/transcription/Parsons/18631103.html

The first settler of record in Gove County was George Von Dehsen, who came to the county from Colorado with a party of buffalo hunters in 1871 and stayed on at Grinnell settling on the Hackberry Creek.

Early settlers included: Pennsylvania Dutch, Norwegians, Holland Dutch, Volga-Germans, Russians, Germans, Swedes, Canadians, and English, primarily.

 

Hackberry Community - Plum Creek Community - Swedish Community

Three large settlements within Gove County in the late 1880's were not organized towns but were active communities. The Hackberry Community, located south of Quinter in the Hackberry Valley, centered its activities around the Hackberry School. They formed a Farmer's Union in 1916.

The Plum Creek community was located on the strip of Plum Creek that crosses Lewis Township. Part of the community was located in the Swedish settlement in Jerome Township. Consequently, many settlers at Plum Creek were Swedes as well as other foreigners. The Coin Schoolhouse and Coin Post Office existed for several years in the settlement. The Plum Creek Community also formed a telephone service and had a second school called Plum Creek Schoolhouse. The community also had a Farmer's Union.

The Swedish Community was settled by Swedish families who located in eastern Lewis Township and western Jerome Township. One of the first undertakings of the Swedes was the organization of a Swedish Lutheran Church and the building of the church between 1886 and 1887.

Jerome

The town of Jerome was platted in 1887. It was located on the Smoky Hill River, twelve miles south of Gove and ten miles north of Shields in Jerome Township. The Town Company included Andrew Whitehair, his brother and C. E. Casley. The Whitehairs came from Jerome, Idaho and, therefore, called the new town Jerome.

In July 1886, the town had 2 general stores, a blacksmith shop, a restaurant, a livery stable, a newspaper, a hotel, a drugstore, and real estate office, and many dwellings. The post office was established in 1886.

Jerome had a newspaper that started in 1887 called "The Smoky Hill Globe". The first school at Jerome was District No. 13, organized in 1887. The Wesleyan Methodists and the Methodist Episcopalians met at different times in the schoolhouse.

Jerome was a large community until the establishment of the Gove County Aerial Gunnery Range. The government took over in 1943, and the people had to move out and the buildings were sold.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Orion

The town of Orion was never a platted town. It was located 12 miles west of Gove City and centered around crossroads at that location. Orion was named after a schoolteacher, Justin Orion McBurney, who taught at the Orion School in District No. 22. The district was organized in 1887. The Methodist Church was built in 1898 in Orion. The Post Office was established in 1901. Orion had a large two-story building that housed a large store and the Post Office. The Lutherans held services in the second story of the building on Sundays. Gaeland Township was formed in 1903. Because Orion was located in Gaeland Township, the cemetery was named Gaeland Cemetery. Orion has since ceased as a community center. The cemetery and a few buildings still remain.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Pyramid

Pyramid was platted in 1888 in Lewis Township just southeast of the Pyramids or Monument Rocks. Pyramid Post Office was established in 1888. It was discontinued in 1891. The town of Pyramid existed only for a short time.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.

Quinter

The Union Pacific Railroad established a sidetrack called Me-lo-te Switch in 1879. A land company from Nebraska purchased the land for a town site in 1885 and called it Familton after William Familton of Omaha. The land company known as the I. B. Chase Company sold land to a colony of Brethren as well as other homesteaders. The homesteaders and those who had bought lots in town discovered that they had no land when they returned the following spring. The I. B. Chase Company had swindled them out of their money. Eventually a new town company was formed and property ownership was finally settled.

The Post Office was established in 1886 and the town was then renamed Quinter after Elder James B. Quinter, a minister in the Church of the Brethren. One year later, the town was thriving. It had 13 stores, several restaurants, 2 blacksmith shops, a bank and a drugstore. The "Settler's Guide" was established in 1886 as the first newspaper. It later became "The Quinter Republican", and finally, in 1919, "The Gove County Advocate".

After the drought in the 1890's, the town grew and prospered with many businesses. The town claimed five churches: Church of the Brethren, started in 1886; Reformed Presbyterian, started in the 1870's; Big Creek German Baptist Church, started in 1891; Methodist Episcopal Church, started in 1898; and the Dunkard Brethren Church, started in 1926. All are still active today.

The Quinter School District was organized in 1886. A two story brick building was built in 1888. Quinter Rural High School was formed in 1916. The Quinter High School was the largest school in the county and still is today.

The Quinter Hospital and Sanatorium was stared in 1914 and was controlled by the Church of the Brethren. It became a county hospital in 1950. A long term care facility was added in 1963.

Quinter has the largest population of Gove County at this time. 

Teller

The town of Teller, named for Willard Teller, was located in Larrabee Township near the Smoky Hill River. It was established in 1887. The expectation of a railroad along the Smoky prompted the establishment of the town. Teller never had a post office, but did have a store and a blacksmith shop, as well as a few dwellings. In 1890, Teller became a ghost town.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.