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 List of Kansas Counties

Homesteading in Kearny County

Touro

Founded in 1886, along with Leeser in Finney County, Toruo was in north central Kearny County. Leeser was 10 to 12 miles east of Touro Colony. Touro was named for a prominent American Jewish leader named Judah Touro. Mr. Touro lived in New Orleans and had given his fortune to Jewish schools, hospitals, synagogues, and orphanages.

The colonists came in the midst of a land rush to Kearny County which had started in late 1885. After building sod houses, the colonists planted corn and sorghum, and talked with their Gentile neighbors of building an irrigation ditch from the Arkansas River which was south of there about 15 miles.

Unfortunately Touro got caught up in a county seat war. Since it was close to the center of the county, several towns popped up within 1 to 3 miles of Touro, all vying to become the county seat. In 1886, the post office that was established in Touro was named Myton. That was relinquished to Chantilly which was the largest community with 200 people living there at the height of the Kearny County war. Because of its proximity, the Touro Colony was backing Chantilly in its fight for the county seat with Lakin.

After an election in 1887, Lakin supposedly won, but fraud was charged and it was only after the courts intervention that Lakin was named the official county seat ...which turned out to be temporary. Another election was held in 1889 at which Hartland won. But the Jewish population had lost interest after Chantilly lost in 1887 and a bad drought hindered the colonists in 1888. By 1890, both Touro and Leeser were nonexistent. After lands were opened in Oklahoma in 1889, many of the colonists left Kansas to go to the Sooner state.

Jewish Colonies in Kansas set up by Agricultural Aid Societies
Beersheba (Hodgeman) | Gilead (Comanche) | Hebron (Barber) | Lasker (Ford) | Leeser (Finney) | Montefiore (Pratt) | Touro (Kearny)

Sources

Douglas, Donald M. "Forgotten Zions: Jewish Agricultural Colonies in Kansas in the 1880's." Kansas History 16 (Summer 1993): 108-119.

Harris, Lloyd David. "Sod Jerusalems: Jewish Agricultural Communities in Frontier Kansas". Masters Thesis, University of Oklahoma, 1984.

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