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Morris County, Kansas

Morris county was created on June 21, 1855, by S. M. Hays; T. S. Hufacker; A. J. Baker; Chris Strieby; Warren Johnson; H. M. Ramsey; August Warneke; Hiram Allen; Thomas White; Bill Parker; J. W. Randle; Cornelius Atkinson; June Baxter; Allen Crowley; Frank Doran; Thomas Black; Jonathan Hammond; and William White, Sr. It was originally called Wise County for Governor Wise of Virginia, a pro-slave supporter. In 1858 the name was changed to Morris after Senator Thomas Morris of Ohio, who was a prominent opponent of slavery. It contains the cities of Dunlap, Dwight, Parkerville, White City, Latimer, Willsey and Council Grove.

The first organized church was the Methodist Church, South, in 1855. This congregation also constructed the first church building in 1869. The county fair continues to be held near Council Grove at the site of the Camp Fremont CCC camp. The date of the first fair is uncertain, but in the early 1900s the fairs had been held northeast of Council Grove. The first school was the Kaw Indian Mission, built in 1851. A few years later, white children also attended the school. The first district and school to be constructed was in 1856.

Morris county has been home to many interesting figures. Charles Curtis, United States Senator (1915-1928) and Vice-President of the United States (1928-1934), attended the Kaw Indian School on the reservation south of Council Grove when he was eight years old. He moved to Topeka when Cheyenne Indians threatened to raid the Kaw Indians. Frank "Chief" Haucke, an active local politician and candidate for governor (1930), became an honorary chief of the Kaw Indians. George A. Custer purchased a great deal of land in the area, and had camped under "Custer Elm" in 1867. W. L. "Bill" Young, who was a long time mayor of Council Grove, was known statewide for his work for flood control and his efforts in obtaining the federal reservoir near Council Grove. John Rhodes, the U. S. Representative from Arizona and Minority Leader in Congress (1985-1986) is a native of the county. George Morehouse, lawyer, writer, state senator, drafted the first automobile laws in the West and sponsored the bill making the Sunflower the state flower. He originated the movement after the turn of the century to mark the Santa Fe Trail and other historic highways. James M. Miller served as a Congressman from the county from 1899 to 1911. Michael Amrine, All Sons Must Say Goodbye, Margaret Hill McCarter's Price of the Prairie, and Kate Aplington's, Pilgrims of the Plains, are all novels relating to the area.

The county has many interesting sites including the Kaw Mission, the Hays House Restaurant, the Seth Hays House, the Last Chance Store, the Old Brewery, the Cottage House, the Calaboose, the Mather-Blim House, the Sylvan Grove Depot, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Depot, and most of the downtown business district of Council Grove is an historic district

For more information see the Morris County website. The Kaw Indian Mission, the Council Grove Public Library, and the collections of the Morris County Historical Society all have primary and secondary information concerning the history of the county. For information concerning availability, contact the Chamber of Commerce office.

Entry: Morris 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.