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Homesteading in Barber County

Medicine Lodge

Derrick Updegraff, a follower of John Brown, left Eastern Kansas and arrived at the present site of Medicine Lodge in December 1872. A post office was established on December 5, 1872. In February 1873, a town site was laid out, and a general store had been built by the summer. During this time up through 1879, the town was basically a trading post for hunters and the Indians.

Medicine Lodge is named for the river that is on the west side of the town. This stream itself was named by the Indians, who often met in council to make medicine along its banks.

However, Indians were still raiding the settlements in the area, and a stockade was built for the citizens of Medicine Lodge. 200 or so people and their livestock were living inside the stockade walls and were guarded by the Medicine Lodge militia that were are on the lookout for Indians.

On May 21, 1879, Medicine Lodge became an incorporated city. Soon there were hotels, restaurants and general stores, as well as a bank which was the scene of a robbery on April 30, 1884. One person was killed, and the four members of the gang were eventually found and killed.

The town's first newspapers began in 1879 (The Cresset) and 1880 (The Barber County Index). A gypsum plant (the first one west of the Mississippi River) was built in 1889; a sugar mill was established that same year; and the flour mill was built in 1890.

The most famous resident of Medicine Lodge was Mrs. Carry A. Nation who came with her husband, David, in 1889. He was a lawyer and a minister, and he served the Christian Church in Medicine Lodge.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.


Barber County History Committee. "The Chosen Land: A History of Barber County, Kansas."
Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1980.

"Early History and Settlers of Barber County, Kansas." Kansas State Historical Society. September 28, 2005 <>

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