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Homesteading in Sherman County


The town of Voltaire was started by a group of people from Atwood (Rawlins County) on June 15, 1885. It was named for the French writer and philosopher. A post office opened on September 10th of that year in the general store owned by Ira Garver. By August of 1886, Voltaire had reached its peak with a population of 143 and about 45 buildings (businesses and houses).

However, the town of Eustis had been named the temporary county seat, and that was the beginning of the end for Voltaire. Since Voltaire was established on government land, the laws stated that a certain number of individuals had to reside there, and general improvements had to be made to their properties before the land could officially become the town site. So during the winter of 1886, a man and his family were hired to stay in Voltaire until the next spring when the settlers came back, while the townspeople spent the winter in Atwood. The Great Blizzard of 1886 came through the area, and it was a deadly one for the early settlers of Sherman County. Shortly after that winter, the town of Voltaire began to decline. In 1889, the town's post office was closed and the Kansas Legislature vacated the town.

The ethnicity of its settlers is not known.


"They Came to Stay". Sherman County Historical Society, 1980.
Fitzgerald, Daniel. "Ghost Towns of Kansas, A Traveler's Guide". University Press of Kansas, 1988.


Hours and Contacts

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

Spring Hours:
Sun:             1:00 pm - 2:00 am
Mon-Thurs: 7:30 am - 2:00 am
Friday:         7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Sat:            10:00 am - 5:00 pm

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Phone: 785.628.4434
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Mailing Address:
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   600 Park Street
   Hays, KS 67601
Physical Address:

   502 South Campus Drive
   Hays, KS 67601-4099