Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Academic Divisions > Forsyth Library > Kansas Heritage > Harvey County
Burrton | Halstead | Hesston | Newton | North Newton | Sedgwick | Walton
Prentis, Noble Lovely. "History of Kansas". Winfield, KS: E. P. Greer, 1899.
There are five areas in Harvey County with ethnic heritage. Newton, North Newton, and Hesston all have close ties to the Mennonite migration into south central Kansas in the 1870s and 1880s. Halstead also was the location of Mennonite settlement but to a lesser extent than the first three. A fourth community, McLains, seems to have had something of a Swedish heritage at its founding in the 1880s. However, it is most probable that the citizens who settled there came from other Swedish communities in the nation. McLains does not exist anymore as a town but there is a small settlement there, including a grain elevator and a fertilizer distributor.
Newton, and to a lesser extent Halstead, also have Mexican populations. Newton is a sizable culture center for the Mexican population due to the presence of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad facilities here. Newton was at one time a major point on the Santa Fe and thousands of Mexican laborers came here to work for the railroad. In time, many became permanent residents and second and third generation family members still work for the railroad.
Perhaps the most ethnic characteristic of Harvey County is the Mennonite influence. Bethel College, a private liberal arts institution, is a Mennonite school. So also is Hesston College, a two year institution, at Hesston. The headquarters of the Mennonite Church is located here. It was the Mennonite settlers who introduced Turkey Red Hard winter wheat to the state.
Library & MuseumP.O. Box 4, 203 N. Main StreetNewton, KS 67114(316)283-2221 e-mail: email@example.com http://www.hchm.org
Information from Roger N. Wilson of the Harvey County Historical Society
More Information about Harvey County
Founded after a period of rivalry between Newton and Wichita which was fueled from Newton's Texas cattle business and its railroad hub. Newton was just inside the borders of Sedgwick County in 1871, and in August, Sedgwick County voted in bonds worth $200,000 to finance a railroad extension to Wichita. The residents of Newton were only too happy to let Wichita deal with the cattle.
Talk of creating a new county began, and petitions were circulating in the Newton area in December 1871. The bill creating the new county passed in the Kansas Legislature on February 29, 1872. It was named Harvey County in honor of the governor, James M. Harvey. Newton was named the temporary county seat.
An election for the permanent county seat was held a short time later with the choices being Newton and Sedgwick City. Sedgwick City won, but there were more votes then there were residents of the county! The county commissioners threw out the ballots and named Newton as the county seat by default.
In March 1873, a bill was passed annexing Walton Township, previously of Marion County, to Harvey County. Also, a courthouse was not built until 1907 because the bond issues kept getting voted down because some residents were not happy about the county seat being in Newton. So until then, the county offices were housed in various buildings.
Smurr, Linda C. ed. Harvey County History. Texas: Curtis Media Corporation, 1990.
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