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Kingman County, Kansas

Kingman County, named after Samuel Kingman, was once part of two counties that no longer exist. The old Washington and Peketon Counties once incorporated Southwest Kansas and part of South Central Kansas, including Kingman County.

Kingman County, organized in 1874, was named after Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court Samuel A. Kingman. In addition to the supreme court, Kingman held other important positions. He was a member of the Wyandotte Constitutional Convention, state librarian, and the first president of the Kansas Historical Society. Before Kingman County was established, this land was once part of the old Washington County, Peketon County, and later an enlarged Marion County.

Kingman had been established as the county seat, but its temporary status soon became permanent. An election was held in 1881, and Kingman was confirmed as the county seat by the people.

Immigration started off slow during the first three years after its organization, but in 1877, immigration picked up. From 1877 to 1879 the population increased nicely.

The coming of the railroad to Kingman in 1884, and additional lines throughout the county through 1889 including the Santa Fe, and Missouri Pacific railroads brought many settlers to the area. The discovery of salt in 1887 and the building of evaporation plants in 1888 were major industrial developments. The discovery of oil in 1926 led to oil and natural gas becoming the county’s primary source of income. A helium plant was once located near Cunningham. 

 During World War II, a U.S. Navy ship was named U. S. S. Kingman, and commissioned April 17, 1945. The ship represented this county in Kansas.

Despite the state constitution changed regarding prohibition in 1986, Kingman County voters did not end prohibition in their county until 2004.

Kingman County has several properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the Register of Historic Kansas Places. The Kingman Carnegie Library was established with funding from the Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation. The Kingman County Courthouse, built in 1907-1908, is also listed in the National Register. Kansan George P. Washburn was the architect.

There are some interesting public figures with connections to Kingman County. Clyde Cessna was founder of the Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita. Paul Wunsch, one of the state’s leading elected officials. During his career he served in Kansas House of Representatives, even holding the position of speaker, and the Kansas Senate. His son, Robert, went on to fill in his footsteps when he was elected to the Kansas House in 1983.

Quick Facts

Date Established: March 7, 1872
Date Organized: February 27, 1874
County Seat: Kingman
Kansas Region: South Central
Physiographic Region: High Plains, Red Hills, Wellington-McPherson Lowlands and Arkansas River Lowlands
State Park: Cheney State Park
Courthouse: July 4, 1907


1855 - 1857- Kingman County is part of the old Washington County
1860 - 1867- Kingman County was a part of the county of Peketon.
1872 - Kingman County is established on March 7.
1874 - Kingman County is organized on February 27.
1926 - Oil is discovered in the county. 

More on Kingman County


Entry: Kingman 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.