Fort Hays State University > About FHSU > Academic Divisions > Forsyth Library > Kansas Heritage > Stevens County
Hugoton | Lafayette | Moscow | Woodsdale
Prentis, Noble Lovely. "History of Kansas". Winfield, KS: E. P. Greer, 1899.
On March 7, 1875, the legislature passed an act fixing the boundaries of Stevens, Seward and Kansas (now Morton) counties. In 1880, the Beaty Brothers brought in the first herd of cattle and established a ranch on the Cimarron River with the headquarters at Point of Rocks in (Kansas) Morton County. On May 16, 1881, men from McPherson, namely H. B. Kelly and John Hughes, made an exploration into Stevens County and selected a town site near the center of the proposed county. After their return to McPherson, a town company of sixteen persons was formed.
The 1880 census shows two men (possibly brothers) who were born in Ireland; their names were Patrick and Michael Quinn. The others living in the area at the time were from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, New Hampshire and New York.
The three counties were incorporated into one county in 1883; it was called Seward County. In July 1885, four years after the town company was formed, some members of the group came back to the town site and built shanties for homesteading purposes.
Governor Martin issued a proclamation for the organization of Stevens County on August 1, 1885, and the town of Hugo was platted ten days later. Stevens County was named for statesman Thaddeus Stevens, and Hugo was named after Victor Hugo. In 1886, the name was changed to Hugoton because of other post offices with the same name of Hugo. Stevens County was organized on August 3, 1886, and Hugoton named the temporary county seat on September 2.
There was a bitter and violent county seat war between Hugoton and Woodsdale. Hugoton was eventually named the permanent county seat in 1887. See story on the Woodsdale page.
Stevens County has always been an integrated county. Hugoton had many families homestead in the area, and as the people came west, water wells were drilled, farming was established, and schools and churches were built. The main agricultural products are cattle, wheat, milo, corn, soybeans, sunflowers, broomcorn, millet, and in the 2000 era, cotton and cucumbers were introduced as crops new to the area.
Natural gas was discovered in 1927 and many wells were drilled by Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Company and others.
The town of Lafayette was founded by Quakers in 1886.
Stevens County Gas and Historical Museum
"The History of Stevens County and Its People." Hugoton, KS: Stevens County History Association, 1979.
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