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List of Kansas Counties


Homesteading in Lincoln County

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

Spanish and French explorers are thought to be the first white men to set foot in Lincoln County. Among the earliest written accounts of the county are those of James R. Mead, an early Kansas explorer and buffalo hunter who became one of the founders of Wichita, Kansas.

The first settlers in Lincoln County to establish a real dwelling were John L. and Thomas Moffitt, J. W. Houston and James Tyler. They came in 1864 and built a crude home not far from where Lincoln now stands. While hunting buffalo they were surprised by a party of Indians, who murdered all four. Two are still buried near the rocks where they sought protection; the Moffetts' family had their bodies exhumed and returned to Illinois.

In 1865, a settlement was established near what is now Beverly by the "Colorado Boys", a group of Union soldiers of the First Colorado volunteers who had passed through the area during their service and decided to return as homesteaders. Their names were Richard B. Clark (born in Indiana), Darius C. Skinner (Ohio), Edward E. Johnson (Massachusetts), William E. Thompson (Maine), Isaac DeGraff (New York) and James M. Adams (British Isles).

Within the next few years settlers began to pour into the rich Saline Valley region, despite the fairly constant threat of Indian reprisals. In 1869 an Indian raid took the lives of 10 settlers, and an 11th was captured and later murdered just as rescue was at hand. Many of the settlers temporarily left their claims, but they returned later that year and the next, bringing with them kinsmen and countrymen, and the settlement of the county began in earnest at that point. By 1880 there were more than 8,000 residents.

The county was organized in 1870 when the first elections were held. However, a bitter fight over the county seat continued between two candidate towns, Abram and Lincoln (both named for President Abraham Lincoln, of course.) Lincoln carried the day, and later literally carried the town of Abram, buildings and all, to the new county seat. All that remains of Abram today is a memorial marker erected in the 1930's.

A group of Danes took adjoining homesteads along the Spillman and later established the town of Denmark. There were many Germans among the early settlers and there were strong German Lutheran churches established at Lincoln and Sylvan Grove as well as north of Lincoln and north of Beverly. The Irish came as well, some with the railroads, and eventually Catholic churches were established in Lincoln and Vesper. There were many Scots among the settlers near what is now Barnard. Of course, there were also settlers from England, Sweden, Holland, Prussia, Norway and Canada, among other countries, and a large group of black settlers homesteaded in the western part of the county.


Written by Tracee Hamilton
Lincoln County GenWeb Coordinator, 2003


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