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Geary County, Kansas

Geary County was one of the first 33 counties organized by the Territorial Legislature in 1855. Most of the earliest settlers were soldiers and officers at Fort Riley. Colonel William Montgomery organized the town of Pawnee which is now on the military reservation. Thomas Reynolds settled near Ogden. Two army officers, Robert Wilson and Abram Barry incorporated the town of Junction City about 1855. The county was originally named Davis after the then (1855) Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis. In 1889 the name was changed to Geary for John White Geary, the third territorial governor of Kansas. Geary contains the towns of Grandview Plaza, Junction City and Milford.

The establishment of Fort Riley in 1852, has been the major influence on the county since its inception to today. It is currently the home of the U.S. Army's First Division.

The first church was the St. John Episcopal established in 1859. The first county fair was held in Davis County and was sponsored by the Central Kansas Agricultural Society. It was held in 1875. This fair was discontinued until 1907-1909 when a Corn Festival replaced it. Presently there is a county 4-H fair. The first school district was formed in Junction City on July 12, 1862.

Geary County was been home to many military leaders stationed at Fort Riley. Other people of note from Geary are the early editor of the Junction City Union newspaper (1861), George W. Martin, who was well known nationally for his aggressive editorials. He was later Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society. Also Governor James M. Harvey, 1869-1873, and Congressman John Davis, 1891-1895, was from the county.

Joseph Stanley Pennell's novel, The History of Rome Hanks, a best seller in 1944, used Junction City as the novel's location.

Geary County contains the sites of the Lamar Hotel in Junction City, the Geary County Museum, the Church of the Covenant and St. Paul's Lutheran Church (first log cabin built in the area) east of Junction City. Which was moved to its current location from Clark's Creek settlement.

For more information see the Geary County website. Dorothy Bramlage Public Library and the Geary County Historical Society Museum and Research Room, Sixth and Adams, contain many historical and genealogical sources on the county, including cemetery directories, clippings, publications, county records, and photographs.

Entry: Geary 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.