forsyth library

Search the Online Catalog

List of Kansas Counties

  Burdett | Garfield | Larned | Rozel

Homesteading in Pawnee County


Captain Henry Booth, a retired Army officer and the postmaster at Fort Larned, formed the Larned Town Company along with some Topeka men in 1871. The Santa Fe Railroad was progressing through the area, and the town company planned to establish a new town six miles east of Fort Larned. In April 1872, the first house was put on the new town site called Larned, and on July 20, the train arrived at Larned for the first time.

To make matters interesting, there was an enterprising town several miles to the east called Petersburg which was named in honor of a Santa Fe Railroad official, T. J. Peters. Dr. Samuel Grant Rodgers had started Petersburg as a Chicago workingman's colony. Both Petersburg and Larned were within the original boundaries of Pawnee County which not yet been organized. Booth decided to press for organization of the county, and after a few unscrupulous tricks to the 40 local electors signatures required to sign a petition, Booth gave a petition to Governor Harvey in October 1872. The governor proclaimed Pawnee County to be officially organized on November 4.

 Dr. Rodgers, who had been in Chicago recruiting settlers, returned to Petersburg and found out what Booth was doing in order to get Pawnee County organized. He was angry, and he protested to the Secretary of State that the county was being organized by dishonest means. His protests did not stop the county from being organized.

 Booth's influence in Topeka was powerful enough to get the boundaries of Pawnee County changed. In 1872, the legislature took twelve miles off the south which left out Dr. Rodgers' town of Petersburg, and six miles on the north boundary and six miles on the east boundary were added, taking land away from Rush and Stafford Counties, respectively. A petition was presented in 1874 to the legislature asking that Pawnee County have its original boundaries restored, but the legislature returned just 1 township, which contained Garfield, and created a new county out of the rest of the townships. The new county was Edwards, and the town of Petersburg is now known as Kinsley.

 When Larned became the official county seat, there was still the legal problem of acquiring a legal title to the town site. On December 2, 1873, the titles were transferred by a judge to the occupants.

 The first office building in Larned was built in 1877 by Judge Bright and Henry Booth. In January 1876, Larned became an incorporated town. By 1885, the town had 5 hotels, 3 drug stores, 2 newspapers, 3 hardware stores, and 3 grain elevators among its many businesses.

 The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.



 "Panorama of Progress: Pawnee County, 1872-1972". Supplement to The Tiller & Toiler. Larned, KS: The Tiller & Toiler, 1972.


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