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Stafford County, Kansas

Stafford County was organized on July 2, 1879, by John Birkbeck; Martin Fitzpatrick; James O'Connor; Elisha, Edward and F. Williamson; Abraham Lash; H. Campbell; J. C. Stone; R. M. Blair; Jesse Vickers; E. D. Crawford; Edwin Hadlock; W. Z. Nutting; George C. Ardry, and W. R. Hoole. It was named for Captain Lewis Stafford, a Civil War soldier in the First Kansas Regiment, and contains the cities of Radium, St. John, Macksville, Hudson, Seward and Stafford.

The establishment of a Mormon settlement northeast of St. John in 1875 brought a new population base to the county. Their leader, William Beckerton, was said to have asked God not to allow a cyclone to devastate the area. To date, no tornado has touched the area or the town of St. John.

The Church of Christ established in the Ardry settlement in 1874 was probably the first. The Zion Valley Mormon Church was established in St. John in 1875. The Hoole School, Lincoln Township, is believed to be the first school district, established October 10, 1880. The first county fair was held in St. John, October 12-14, 1910. Dr. C. A. Ruggles, who settled in the county in 1896 established the first public hospital in Stafford County. The 50-bed hospital was the largest in western Kansas.

The novel, Chaff in the Wind, by Edna Walker Chandler, is based on a family farm near Macksville.

Interesting sites in the county include the Peacock and Soice Building, the Larabee Memorial Library, the Henderson House, the Weide House and Opera House, the Brinkman Hotel, the Jones Building, (the original Jones Store), the Omar Norton House, the Cornwell House, the Shank House, the Zion Valley Church and the Tudor Building.

For more information see the Stafford County website. Goodman Library in St. John have historical reference materials on the county's history.

Entry: Stafford 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.