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 Achilles | Atwood | Blakeman | Herndon | Ludell | McDonald

Homesteading in Rawlins County


The Lorenz Demmer family came from Smith Center, Kansas, to claim a homestead in Herndon Township in May of 1876. In the spring of 1877, the Mathais Hafner family became the first of many Austrian immigrants to settle in the area. By the fall of 1879, a post office called "Pesth" had been opened with Lorenz Demmer being the first postmaster. Also in the fall of 1879, I. N. George, a pioneer merchant, set up a general store called "George Bros". He became the second postmaster, and renamed the town to Herndon on October 18, 1880. Mr. George was an admirer of President Abraham Lincoln, and he wanted to name the town Lincoln, but there was already another town with that name in Kansas. So, he chose to name it after Billy Herndon, Lincoln's law partner.

A lot of people who settled in Herndon were Austrian-Hungarian immigrants who wanted independence and a homestead of their own. The railroad came through in November 1887, and shortly thereafter a building boom took place in 1888. The town's number of businesses grew, but on December 23, 1905, there was a huge fire, presumably started by arson, that damaged most of the buildings. Businesses were rebuilt in 1906, and new businesses were started throughout that year.


Hayden, Ruth Kelley. "The Time That Was: The Courageous Acts and Accounts of Rawlins County, Kansas, 1875-1915". H.F.Davis Memorial Library, Colby Community College, Colby, KS, 1973.

"History of Rawlins County, Kansas". Rawlins County Genealogical Society, 1988.

Courtright, Alfaretta. "An Old Time History of Rawlins County, Kansas". 1961.

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