Jump to Navigation

Cloud County, Kansas

Cloud County, Kansas, was originally inhabited by the Pawnee Nation. Here they lived in large villages where they raised their families and grew crops. When white settlers moved to the area conflicts arose between the populations. Originally Shirley County, established in 1867, the county was renamed for Civil War Colonel William F. Cloud. Camp Concordia, a POW camp, was established in the county during World War II.

The county was organized in 1866 with the original county seat as Elk Creek. A strong campaign ensued, and some commissioners refused to recognize the location of the county seat. They eventually settled the conflict and chose Concordia as county seat around 1869-1870.

In 1862 some citizens decided to take matters into their own hands and went after two horse thieves, Charles and Peter Conklin. The Conklin brothers were able to escape. Their two sisters and an orphan child however were left homeless. No one would risk helping them a couple weeks for fear of death, until a man finally decided to risk it, and they were helped to safety.

During the 1860s there were many Indian scares and attacks, even causing settlers to leave the county at times. Horse thievery was a problem, and the Indians even committed murder. 1864 was a particularly scary year for settlers. Word reached them of attacks in other places, such as Nebraska, and this caused them flee and head for Clay Center. A regiment of a company of Kansas State Militia was organized in the same year. In 1866, a party of hunters was killed. Benjamin White was killed and one of his daughters kidnapped. Other members of his family survived, and his daughter, Sarah was released months later. Another raid occurred in the county in 1869. Fort Brooks was established and was important to the local militia. 

Grasshoppers came to the county some in the 1860s. They didn’t cause too much damage though and an infestation in the mid-1870s was worse.

A tornado struck Cloud and Clay counties in 1895. It caused half dozen deaths and injured many more.

During World War II, Camp Concordia was established. The camp was a POW camp which at one time had over 4,000 prisoners. The camp did have incidents of violence that caused the transfer of Nazi leaders. It was in operation from 1943-1945. The University of Kansas provided college work and another option was farm labor for prisoners. Camp Concordia was one of the biggest POW camps in Kansas.

Cloud County possesses many properties on the National and State Registers of Historic places such as the Brown Grand Opera House, which opened in 1907 in Concordia, and Building T-9, a building that was a part of Camp Concordia.

There are interesting figures with connections to Cloud County. Frank Carlson, of Concordia, has been a state legislator, Congressman, Governor, and U.S. Senator. Boston Corbett, the purported killer of Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth lived in Cloud County in the late 1870s-late 1880s. Corbett, who once “adjourned” the Kansas House of Representatives at gunpoint, was declared insane by a local Justice of the Peace Court, and committed to an asylum.

Quick Facts

Date Established: March 27, 1867
County Seat: Concordia
Kansas Region: North Central
Physiographic Region: Smoky Hills
Courthouse: April 11, 1959


1860 - Shirley County is established.
1866 - Shirley County is organized.
1867 - Shirley County’s name is changed to Cloud County.
1860 - Indian troubles plague the county and surrounding areas.
1943 - 1945- Camp Concordia is an active POW camp. 

More on Cloud County

Entry: Cloud 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: June 2010

Date Modified: August 2023

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