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Thomas County, Kansas

Thomas County, Kansas is home to Colby Community College, founded in the 1960s. In the early 1940s, Thomas County Hospital was built with the help of the Works Progress Administration.

Thomas County, Kansas, organized in 1885, was named for General George Henry Thomas. When the county was organized, Colby was made the temporary county seat. It was put to a vote, and Colby was easily made the permanent county seat. The railroads entered the county in the 1880s, reaching Colby late in the decade.

During the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, the county suffered from the drought and dust storms. Low prices on items like wheat added to the struggle of those within the county. The Thomas County Hospital, also referred to as St. Thomas Hospital, was built in 1941. It was a project of the Works Project Administration and received private funds as well. The architect on the project was Joseph Radotinsky. In 1948, there was an expansion to the hospital. In the 1980s, it was replaced with the New Citizens Medical Center. The building, however, was used for a number of years as administration offices. St. Thomas Hospital is on the National Register of Historic Places. Thomas County possesses other properties on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, such as the Thomas County Courthouse, built in 1906-1907. 

Colby Community College was founded in the 1960s and offers many programs. It has nearly 2,000 students.

Interesting figures with connections to Thomas County include Mary Hay who homesteaded on 160 acres of land in the county in the late 1880s. She was a foster mother of two children. In 1886 she had been registered as a doctor of medicine by the State Board of Health after a recorded medical practice of 20 years. She was a teacher of a private day school and the public supervisor of education in Thomas County. She was the founder and owner of the town of Otterbourne, Kansas, and its first postmistress in 1881, and organizer of the first Sunday school in the county, later serving as the minister. John R. Connelly served as a Congressman from 1913 to 1919.

Quick Facts

Date Established: March 20, 1873
Date Organized: October 8, 1885
County Seat: Colby
Kansas Region: Northwest
Physiographic Region: High Plains
Scenic Byway: Western Vistas
Courthouse: November 25, 1907


1873 - Thomas County is established.
1885 - Thomas County is organized.
1941 - St. Thomas Hospital (Thomas County Hospital) is built.
1964 - Colby Community College is founded. 

More on Thomas County


Entry: Thomas 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.