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Homesteading in Republic County

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

Republic County, like many other counties of Kansas, has been settled by people of many nations. After being used as a pathway for many years it finally came to be of interest to homesteaders. Perhaps the fact that it was the seat of the old Pawnee capital had something to do with its long period of neglect for the Indians still opposed settlement west of the Republic River and made frequent raids east from that point.

The county was laid out and its boundaries defined by the state legislature in 1860.

An old military road ran through the county, following the [Republic River], and is often spoken of in early letters and accounts of travel through this region. After the southern route west from Fort Riley became crowded and Indian attacks became almost a certainty for any train using it, this road to the north was used by some of the Mormons and by settlers bound for Oregon.

With the passage of the Homestead Bill in 1862, settlement in northern Kansas was given a new stimulus and land seekers came, at first slowly and then more and more rapidly until by the early seventies all the free land was gone. People of many nations of the world were once more claiming this region for their own, this time for homes. Fast and faster they came---Swedes, Norwegians, Poles, Bohemians, Scotch, English, German, French, Scandinavians, with sprinklings of other nationalities---all seeking land.

Most of these groups were represented by settlements in Republic County. Only the Germans and French failed to establish colonies within its boundaries but they settled so near its borders that their settlements have gradually extended themselves into the county.

This was the background for the group settlements of particular nationalities which began in 1868 with the coming of a group of settlers sent out by the Scandinavian Agricultural Society to the little village of New Scandinavia, now Scandia, which had been laid out for the settlers of this company. Although this group was the first to come, it was followed so quickly by the others that the settlements seem almost simultaneous.”*

“As the western part of Republic County is Scandinavian, so the eastern part is Bohemian. The Bohemians have spread over the county probably more than any of the other groups, but the eastern part of the county still remains distinctly Bohemian.”+

Republic County settlements map

Contact Us:

Republic County Historical Museum
W. Hwy 36
P.O. Box 218
Belleville, KS 66935
(785) 527-5971


We thank Patricia Walker, Curator/Director of the Republic County Historical Society, for pointing us to information on Republic County.

*Ida Lucretia Smith, “A History of the National Group Settlements in Republic County, Kansas” (M.S. thesis, Fort Hays Kansas State College, 1933), 1, 2, 3-4, 5.
+Ida Lucretia Smith, “A History of the National Group Settlements in Republic County, Kansas” (M.S. thesis, Fort Hays Kansas State College, 1933), 61.

Smith, Ida Lucretia. “A History of the National Group Settlements in Republic County,
Kansas.” M.S. thesis., Fort Hays Kansas State College, 1933.


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Monday,April 21 Forsyth will close at 10 pm because of no electricity

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