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Eminence | Garden City | Holcomb | Kalvesta | Lakin | Leeser | Pierceville | Ravanna

Homesteading in Finney County


This town went through several name changes after it was founded in 1882 by John Bull. It was originally called Bulltown, after Mr. Bull, but the settlers did not like that name. It was then changed to Cowland which the merchants did not like. Ravanna was the next and final name chosen.

By the time Garfield County was organized in July 1887, Ravanna had become a trading center for the ranchers in the area. Governor John Martin named John Bull as a county commissioner and the commission named Ravanna the temporary county seat. The commission set up an election to be held in November for the permanent county seat. Ravanna had 467 votes; Eminence had 432 votes. A courthouse constructed with native rock was built in Ravanna, and it ended up costing $2,000 more than the $10,000 in bonds and was nicknamed the "Great White Elephant".

Citizens of Eminence started an investigation of the election and found that a construction crew, using the names of the dead men, had voted and none of them were citizens of Ravanna. The attorney's general's office deducted 60 votes from Ravanna, and Eminence became the county seat on December 11, 1888.

The county commissioners in Ravanna refused to hand over the county records. There are several different accounts of what happened next, but the men of Eminence basically forced their way into the courthouse and seized the county records. The new courthouse was completed except for some final touches in 1889.

The State Adjutant General was sent to the area and persuaded the two towns to hold off on declaring the county seat until the court met in September, 1889. The final judgment gave the victory to Eminence.

A surveyor hired in 1892 by Ravanna citizens found that the county did not meet the required number of acres that it needed to be organized legally. In the autumn of 1892, this finding was upheld in the court which declared Garfield County illegal. The state legislature annexed Garfield County to Finney County in the spring of 1893.

The county annexation was a blow both to Eminence which had a population of 300 and to Ravanna. Both towns lost their bid for the county seat, and people began moving away, closing businesses and leaving farms.

The Kansas Pacific Railroad's plans to put in tracks from Ravanna to Dodge City did not come to fruition. These decisions ultimately led to the demise of Ravanna. Today there are only a few foundations that lay where a town once was home to several hundred people.

The ethnicity of its settlers is unknown.


Blanchard, Leola Howard. Conquest of Southwest Kansas: A History and Thrilling Stories of Frontier Life in the State of Kansas. Wichita, KS: Wichita Eagle Press, 1931.

Finney County Historical Society. History of Finney County. Garden City, KS: 1950.

Fitzgerald, Daniel. "Ghost Towns of Kansas." Vol. 2. Daniel Fitzgerald, 1979.

Lindner, F. Claudine. History of Garfield County, Kansas. Masters Thesis, University of Wyoming, 1949.

Harris, L. David. "Lest We Forget Beersheba". The Wichitan, February 1981.


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