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Cain City | Ellsworth | Holyrood | Lorraine | Wilson | Essick Piece on Ellsworth County  

Homesteading in Ellsworth County

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

Several roads were built in the area comprising of what is now Ellsworth County to accommodate travelers that were going through the region and to assist military troops in getting to where they needed to be during a time of Indian troubles. The first such road was built in 1854 by the War Department from Fort Riley to the mouth of the Walnut Creek. Another road, built in 1860, became a major route during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush.

The first settlement was made as early as 1860 by a group of gentlemen from New York, Michigan, Germany and Mexico.

A fort was established in 1864 to protect the railroad workers and settlers from Indian attacks. The site of the fort was on the north bank of the Smoky Hill River where the road from Fort Riley crossed it. General Curtis selected the name of Fort Ellsworth to honor its commander, Lieutenant Allen Ellsworth. A new site for the fort was selected in 1866, and it was a mile northeast of Fort Ellsworth and was on higher ground. The name was changed to Fort Harker on November 17, 1866 in honor of Brigadier General Charles Harker who was killed on June 27, 1864 at the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain. The old fort's buildings were abandoned and torn down.

The town site for Ellsworth was laid out on January 23, 1867, and the State Legislature defined the county's boundaries on March 3, 1867. Later in the year, on May 8, the plat was filed in Saline County. Ellsworth County was attached to Saline County for judicial and municipal purposes. A flood wiped out the town site on June 8, so a new town site located two miles northwest of the old site was laid out. It is the location of the current town.

In May 1874, a caravan of wagons carrying Bohemians who were under the leadership of Francis Swehla came to Ellsworth County. They set up a Bohemian settlement in the Bosland (later Wilson) area. Other Bohemian families came to the area in response to Swehla's articles in Bohemian-American papers. Jan Charvat built the first Bohemian Hall in May 1880 in Wilson.

Holyrood was founded by Canadians of Irish descent. Cain City was also founded by the Canadians. The Bohemians established Palacky in June 1876 north of Cain City, but it never became a town.

German Baptists settled in the area around what is now Lorraine.


"A History of Ellsworth County, Kansas". Compiled by Francis L. Wilson. Ellsworth, KS: Ellsworth County Historical Society, 1982.

Choitz, John F. "A History of Ellsworth County: 1854-1885." Masters Thesis, Fort Hays Kansas State College. 1967


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