Jump to Navigation

Jackson County, Kansas

During the years prior to the American Civil War, the issue over slavery was fought throughout the Kansas Territory, including Jackson County. In 1858, the “Battle of Spurs” took place between free states and proslavery forces. That same year the county voted for a free state constitution.

Jackson County, Kansas, formerly Calhoun County when it was established in 1855, was named after U.S. President Andrew Jackson in 1859. The county was one of the original 33 counties set forth by the 1855 legislature. The county seat was Calhoun Bluffs, but after county boundaries changes, Holton became the county seat in 1858, where it remains today.

Many tribes of Indians have lived in the area of Jackson County such as the Delaware, Kickapoo, Potawatomie and Prairie Band. Today, the Prairie Band Indian Reservation is in Jackson County.

During it’s early, Jackson county was not shielded from the fight of Bleeding Kansas. The “Battle of Spurs” occurred in 1858 not far from Holton, between freestaters and pro-slavery forces. The underground railroad operated in the county prior to its statehood. On 1858, the county voted for a free state constitution for the state. Residents of Jackson county volunteered in the Civil War that followed Kansas’s territorial period.

The first railroad reached Holton in 1872, and the coming of the Rock Island Railroad to the county in the mid-1880’s was an economic boost to the county. The worst of the many grasshopper invasions occurred in 1874-1875, and Jackson County experienced destruction. Carrie Nation visited several saloons in the county. The founding of Campbell College in Holton added to the education facilities in the county. 

Jackson County contains properties on the National and State Registers of Historic Places such as the McFadden Residence, an example of Lustron houses which was developed when housing was becoming a problem after World War II, and the Holton Bath House and Swimming Pool, a project of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Project Administration in the 1930’s.

Holton in Jackson County had a lot to celebrate 80 years, when the Fourth of July event included the opening of a new swimming pool. The event featured a high diving exhibition, fire dive, beauty contest, band concert, baseball game, platform dance, carnival, and fireworks display. The pool was built during the Great Depression as part of the New Deal Era’s Works Progress Administration. Local laborers were employed through the federal program while the city issued $7,500 in bonds. The pool, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, continues to be popular summer destination.

Notable figures with connections to Jackson County are Congressman Albert M. Cole; Will Beck, founder and publisher of the Holton Recorder newspaper and regarded as one of the editors belonging to Kansas’s “golden age of journalism;” Congressman Case Broderick; and Kansas Supreme Court Justice Edward Sloan.

 Quick Facts

Date Established: February 11, 1859
Date Organized: September 24, 1855
County Seat: Holton
Kansas Region: Northeast
Physiographic Region: Glaciated Region
Reservoirs: Banner Creek Reservoir
Courthouse: 1920


1855 - Calhoun County is established on August 25.
1859 - Calhoun County’s name is changed to Jackson
1872 - Railroad reaches Holton.
1874 - 1875 - The worst of the grasshopper invasions to the area.

More on Jackson County


Entry: Jackson 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.