Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Academic Divisions > Forsyth Library > Kansas Heritage > Cheyenne County
Bird City | Jaqua | St. Francis
Prentis, Noble Lovely. "History of Kansas". Winfield, KS: E. P. Greer, 1899.
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.
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
Cheyenne County Historical SocietyBox 611St. Francis, KS 67756
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