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Cherokee County, Kansas

Cherokee County was organized on August 3, 1866, by John Rogers; David M. Harlan; Richard Fields; George Fields; and Dennis Wolf. The county contains the cities of Baxter Springs, Columbus, Galena, Roseland, Scammon, Treece, Weir and West Mineral.

The first church to be formally chartered was the Baxter Springs Methodist, founded on March 16, 1869. However, another church had been organized by Methodist minister Dr. C. C. Dowell in his home as early as 1867. The first county fair was held in 1919 in the Columbus city park. The first school district was founded in Lola Township, at the Chico schoolhouse, October 20, 1867. In 1869, Baxter Springs founded the first elementary school in a building that also housed the Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

The county has been home to many interesting Kansans. Governor Samuel Crawford (1864-1868) lived in a large country house just east of Baxter Springs. James R. Hallowell was elected to Congress in 1878 but refused his seat because Kansas was allowed to have only three members and those were already serving. He also served as U. S. District Attorney from 1879 to 1884. Merle Evans, for more than 50 years the bandleader for Ringling Brothers, Barnum, and Bailey Circus, was a resident of Columbus. Chief Justice of the Kansas Court of Appeals Jerome Harmon. Paul Gregg, an artist, was an illustrator for the Denver Post for more than 30 years. Glad Robinson Youse, of Baxter Springs, was an internationally known composer. Hale Irwin, professional golfer, was a resident of Baxter Springs as a boy.

It is said that the Osage Indians under Chief Black Dog often used the Black Dog Trail (now 7th Street in Baxter Springs), from Spring River to reach their hunting grounds in present Labette and Montgomery counties. The story is told that women and children would clear the trail wide enough for thirty horsemen to ride abreast.

Lynn Riggs, author of Green Grow the Lilacs, wrote about life in the Cherokee Strip and Mary Lolek, a resident of West Mineral wrote Immigrant Woman based on her life in the area.

Interesting sites in the county are Johnston Public Library, Black Dog Trail, Marc Boss House, Ivan D. Chubb House and Ida Reddy House.

For more information see the Cherokee County website. The Baxter Springs Historical Museum, the Cherokee County Genealogical Society, and the Columbus Public Library all have historical reference works and archives.

Entry: Cherokee County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: October 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.