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List of Kansas Counties

Anthony  | Attica  | Bluff City | Crystal Springs | Danville | Freeport | Harper | Runnymede | Waldron

Homesteading in Harper County

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

Created by the legislature in 1868, Harper County lands were part of the "Osage Trust Lands" that the Osage Indians had received from a treaty in 1825.

Several men from eastern Kansas and western Missouri used fraud when petitioning for the organization of the county in 1873. They made up names or consulted city directories to get the required number of residents, and they used buffalo bones laid out as houses. The petition, dated July 13, 1873, also asked that Bluff City be named the temporary county seat. By law, the governor had to declare that Harper County was organized, and he did so on August 20, 1973. However, this was legal only on paper, and in 1878, the county was organized legally and officers were appointed.

An investigation into the fraud began in September 1884 in which it was found "that there never have been forty bona fide inhabitants in Harper County; that gross and inexcusable frauds have been practiced by those who engaged in planning and procuring the organization of said county,... and that the names as reported by said census takers are forgeries". (page 29 of "The Harper County Story").

The M. Devoure family were the first settlers in the county; they made their residence on Bluff Creek early in 1876.

Mennonites settled in Harper and organized a Mennonite church there. Runnymede was a British settlement founded to attract young wealthy British men to come and farm the area. Danville was settled by French Catholics. The Amish Mennonites settled in Crystal Springs in the early 1900's.


Sanders, Gwendoline and Paul. "The Harper County Story". North Newton, Kansas: The Mennonite Press, 1968.


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