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Graham County, Kansas

Graham County was organized on April 1, 1880, by H. McCarty; F. C. Makee; A. E. Jones; W. E. Ridgely; Dr. A. D. Wilkerson; John McGeary; Burris Harper; Robert Morrison; Frank Nickel; T. D. Deshon; P. H. Collins; Z. T. Fletcher; Theodore Rudeman; A. H. Brinkmeyer; Alvin Law; S. Garland; Clark Samuels; William Kirtley; and Frank Olmstead. Containing the cities of Moreland, Hill City, and Bogue, the county was named for Captain John L. Graham, a Civil War soldier with Company D, 8th Kansas Volunteers, who was killed at the Battle of Chickamaugua.

Nicodemus, a community of Exodusters from the south in 1877, helped bring agriculture and people to the county. It is also an important historical site. One of the families of Exodusters who settled in Nicodemus was the Sayers family that produced not only teachers and lawyers, but one branch of the family produced the University of Kansas, Chicago Bear, and Hall of Fame football running back, Gayle Sayers.

The first county seat designated by Governor John P. St. John was Millbrook. The seat was contested by Hill City. When a tornado nearly destroyed Millbrook in 1887, the county seat was moved to Hill City. Later the coming of the Union Pacific Railroad in 1888 caused the demise of several small settlements, established others, and generally assisted in increasing the settlement of the area. Finally the drought, dust, and depression of the 1930s caused most of the population to leave the county.

The first "sabbath school" was organized on May 10, 1874, at the home of J. A. Halliways. The first church society was organized July 30, 1876, and became the First Presbyterian Church of Graham. The first recorded county fair was held in the now defunct town of Gettysburg in 1880. The first school district in the county was formed in Nicodemus in 1879.

Graham County is home to such interesting Kansans as John S. Dawson, a schoolteacher and lawyer who later served as Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court (1937-1945) and as a Justice (1915-1937). Jay S. Parker also served as Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court (1957-1966) and as a Justice (1943-1957).

For more information see the Graham County website. The Graham County Historical Society, located at the public library in Quinter, has photographs, documents, and published material relating to the county.

Entry: Graham 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: July 2019

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