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Homesteading in Barton County


People began settling in the area south of the present site of Claflin in 1872. Many of these settlers were from the northern states, Movaria and Germany. By 1886, the Kansas and Colorado Railroad (later became the Missouri Pacific) had laid tracks through the area and the depot built south of the tracks was named Giles City for the owner of the land next to it. The main line was completed on February 21, 1887.

The Claflin Town Company was formed in 1887 with Stelle Giles as president. They wanted to buy the land south of the tracks, but A. Giles would not sell it, so the group bought 160 acres north of the tracks and changed the name to Claflin in March 1887. The name came from the maiden name of the wife of Judge O. P. Hamilton, one of the members of the town company.

George Norris built the first building in the new town; he put in a furniture and hardware store. A dry goods and grocery store was opened by Joe Cannon.

Father Warren Emmerich established a school in 1888, which was known as the "new German school" because many of the classes were conducted in German.

The first church in Claflin was the Christian Church, dedicated in March 1892, followed by the Methodist Church in June 1893. The Lutherans were the earliest religious organization in the area, but their church was not built until 1897.

Its settlers were most likely of German ancestry.


Harrington, Marge, Compiler. Barton County: Golden Heartland of Kansas. Great Bend: Great Bend Tribune, 1996.

Huff, Wayne. Centennial History of Claflin, Kansas. Newton, KS: Mennonite Press, 1987.


Hours and Contacts

Monday,April 21 Forsyth will close at 10 pm because of no electricity

Spring Hours:
Sun:             1:00 pm - 2:00 am
Mon-Thurs: 7:30 am - 2:00 am
Friday:         7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Sat:            10:00 am - 5:00 pm

For current month(s) and detailed information, please select desired month under announcements (below).

Phone: 785.628.4434
Fax: 785.628.4096
Contacts Directory
Mailing Address:
   Forsyth Library
   600 Park Street
   Hays, KS 67601
Physical Address:

   502 South Campus Drive
   Hays, KS 67601-4099