forsyth library

Search the Online Catalog

List of Kansas Counties

AntoninoCatharine | Czech Colony | Ellis | Emmeram | Hartsook/Herzog | Hays | Munjor | Pfeifer | Schoenchen | Turkville | Victoria  | Vincent | Walker | Yocemento

Volga Germans
Fort Hays
Other Colonies

Homesteading in Ellis County


The site of the town to be known as Hays City was selected in late 1866 by W. E. Webb, W. J. Wells, and Judge Knight. Three sections of land were platted in June of 1867, and the Big Creek Town Company registered that land with the courts in Ellsworth County on July 23, 1867 to form a new town called Hays City. The land was purchased from the Union Pacific Railroad for half-price with the stipulation that a station and depot would be located on it. The town was named after Fort Hays.

Hays City was named the temporary county seat; in 1870, it became the permanent county seat. The population of Hays City had grown to 1,000 by 1871.

Hays City was a wild and rowdy town from the time that the railroad came through in 1867 until about 1873 when settlers started coming into the area to set up homesteads and farms. Among the businesses that were started in the late 1860's were saloons, gambling houses, bordellos, a combination grocery store/post office, hotels and a supply store. By 1872 most of the wild and rough elements were moving on, mostly to Dodge City, which many of Hays City's first residents helped found.

Civilization became a part of Hays City as settlers began moving in and the rowdy crowd moved out. However, there had been Irish Catholics living in Hays City since its beginnings, and by 1872, there were 3 general stores, a bakery, 2 blacksmith shops, 1 hotel and numerous houses. A colony from Pennsylvania moved to Hays City in 1873, and several years later, in 1876, Germans who had lived in the Volga Region of Russia began moving into the area.

Hays City became incorporated in May 1885, and a city government was established with a mayor, city commissioners, a city marshal, a city clerk, and a police justice being appointed to serve the town.

On March 30, 1895, a fire devastated the town. Over 60 businesses were destroyed and many others were damaged. The community was rebuilt through the efforts of Hays' citizens.

Ellis County - Downtown Hays

Downtown Hays in the 1880s

Ellis County - Lumber Yard

Lumber Yard Office in 1885

Ellis County - I. M. Yost Mill       
I. M. Yost Mill Co. in 1900

Ellis County - Brunswick Hotel

Brunswick Hotel in 1914

Ellis County - Hays in 1928

Hays in 1928



"At Home in Ellis County, Kansas 1867-1992.” Hays, KS: Ellis County Historical Society, 1991.

Forsyth Library Photo Archives



Hours and Contacts

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