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Comanche County, Kansas

Comanche County, Kansas, was first organized in 1873 with records that reflected a population beyond actual numbers. The financial implications of this switch lasted for nearly 70 years.

Comanche County was named for the Comanche Indians who hunted on this land. The county was established in 1867. Previously it was part of the land that was the old Washington County, Peketon County, and later an enlarged Marion County.

C. C. Bemis was among the county officials who exaggerated population numbers to gain legislative approval to organize the county and float bonds. The Kansas Attorney General investigated and found that the only population was among Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes in the area. Even so, the legislature declared a legal government had issued the fraudulent bonds, and this held the county back from any funding for improvements. The county was represented in the 1874 state legislature even though it had no population. The county was reorganized I the 1880s. Lawsuits were filed against those holding the original bonds. In 1941 the bonds were completely retired. 

One of the most well-known cattle pools was organized in the county in 1873. The operation included the entire county and some adjoining area. It reached its peak in 1884 with a herd of about 84,000 cattle.

Comanche County properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places include the Kansas Rock Art nomination, among these is Comanche County’s Big Gyp Cave Pictographs site. While the nomination includes many sites in Kansas, the one in Comanche County is the only with Pictographs identified. These sites are dated between 1541 and 1870. Also listed in the National Register is the Comanche County courthouse, built in 1927-1928.

William V. Jackson, a state legislator in the 1920s, land promoter, and innovator in new farming and ranching techniques, was the first to plant alfalfa in the county; Bernice Herd was named Kansas Mother of the Year by American Mothers, Inc., in 1976. Harold Herd was a justice of the Kansas Supreme Court from 1979 to 1993.

Quick Facts

Date Established: February 26, 1867
Date Organized: February 27, 1885
County Seat: Coldwater
Kansas Region: Southwest
Physiographic Region: Red Hills and High Plains
Courthouse: 1927


1867 - Comanche County is established
1873 - County is fraudulently organized.
1873 - One of the most well-known cattle pools was organized in the county
1880 - County is organized again, this time legitimately.
1941 - Bonds are completely retired from the fraudulent organization of 1873.

More on Comanche County

Entry: Comanche 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: August 2023

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