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Homesteading in Republic County

Scandia: The Scandinavian Colony

The Scandinavian Agricultural Society purchased twelve of the best sections of land in Republic County in 1867. It was purchased in trust for the company by Englebreth H. Hanson, and was not in one tract but was scattered up and down the Republic River from the most southern part of the county to the most northern part.

This Scandinavian Agricultural Society had been organized by Scandinavian workmen in Chicago sometime in 1867. Buffalo hunters had told of the wonders of northern Kansas and it was decided to form a company to colonize there. Agents were sent out to locate land, and in October of 1868 a group of thirty of the members set out from Chicago. They came to Junction City by train. There three hundred farms of one hundred sixty acres each had been laid out from Lake Sibley, in Cloud County, to the north of Scandia. These were numbered, the numbers were placed in a hat and a girl drew a number for each man. Part of the party remained in Junction City for a time; the rest set out for the land of the colony afoot except for one or two men in charge of a load of provisions belonging to the company and hauled in an oxen-drawn wagon.

This group included M. Johnson, Charles Lesom, P. Walin, John Lundin, O. G. Strom, R. Granstadt, A. Bergren, A. Erickson, J. R. Sandell, John Holstrom, Peter Johnson and Andrew Johnson Floodberg.

In early November, they came to a place on the Republican River that they named New Scandinavia (later Scandia). The men lived in dugouts while they built the colony house. This house, which was to serve as a temporary home for the men and as a block house in time of Indian danger, was frame, and was walled up on the inside with stone. The windows were equipped with four-inch oak shutters that were put in place only when rumors of Indian attacks came. Each shutter had four portholes for guns.

Republic County - Colony house 1

The houses in New Scandinavia were of log and built end to end so that the end of one was also the end of another. Out on the farms, there were sod houses or dugouts.

In the spring and summer of 1870 they started going out to the claims in crews, working one claim a day. Later this same summer they moved out to the farms. These men knew very little of farming because they were nearly all tradesmen. Most of them were Swedes although some of them called themselves Norwegians because they had gone to the capital of Norway to be graduated in their trades.

The colonists had homesteaded about this land to make the colony unbroken by other nationalities. The company land had been divided into seventeen plots so that no one man would have all his land from the best or from the worst. The village had been laid out in lots that were also divided in proportion to the money invested by each man.

New Scandinavia became Scandia in 1876. It was incorporated as a city of the third class on March 28, 1879. The growth of the town was slow until it got a railroad. The first train came into the town over the Atchison, Republic Valley and Pacific Railroad (later the Missouri Pacific) on December 24, 1878. This was the first road into the county and Scandia boomed for a time.

The first post office was opened in the colony house on July 1, 1869, with Englebreth H. Hanson as postmaster.

The first store was built in the fall of 1869 by J. A. Sandell. It was eight feet square and the first stock of goods invoiced at $125. The first hotel in the village as well as the first in the county was opened by L. C. Hanson in the spring of 1870 and was known as the Hanson House.

The first bank was opened in February 1879. The first church to be organized by the Scandinavians was the Swedish Lutheran in June of 1873.

Scandia today is a prosperous town, second in size in the county. It is still the center of the Swedish settlement.”*

 Republic County settlements map

More Information on the "Scotch Plains"


*Ida Lucretia Smith, “A History of the National Group Settlements in Republic County, Kansas” (M. S. thesis, Fort Hays Kansas State College, 1933), 7, 8-9, 11, 14, 23-24, 25.

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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