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Wichita County, Kansas

Wichita County, Kansas, early days as an organized county were rough ones where Leoti and Coronado fought hard over the county seat.

Wichita County, Kansas, organized in 1886, is named for the native people now known as Wichita and Affiliated Tribes. In Wichita County stone circles remain that tell a story about early life on the plains. These stone circles mark the location of tipis where Indian families lived while they hunted in the area. The stones were used to weigh down the bottom edges of the tipis. When they left, they took the tipi poles and animal hide covers but left the stones behind. Sometimes they returned to the same spot in subsequent hunting seasons, resulting in shallow depressions where the tipis were located. A stone scraper recovered at the site could have been used to prepare bison hides. Such archeological sites are rare in Kansas. The tipi rings are present today because the pasture has never been plowed.

This was once part of the land that was the old Washington County, Peketon County, and later an enlarged Marion County. Residents in Wichita County had protracted disagreements over the selection of a county seat. Leoti emerged as an early contender for the title, but Coronado became an intense rival. They fought the issue in the newspapers; guards were required to keep voters safe at the polls, and some bloodshed ensured. The town newspapers did not shy from accusing their rivals of crimes. An altercation in Coronado in 1887 led to the death of some voters and even more were injured. From the organization until even after the county seat was permanently established at Leoti in 1887, the feud continued. It ended quickly in 1888-1889 when Leoti made an offer and Coronado residents didn’t refuse. Leoti offered those who wished to relocate plots. Coronado faded away into the history books after this. 

Wichita County fair in 1887Ranchers used specific brands to mark their livestock. A project by the Kansas State Planning Board, from 1888 to 1935, compiled these unique markings by county. The records designate the type of livestock the brand marked and where on the animal the brand would be applied. In Wichita County 128 brands were registered.

Farming continues to be important in the county with 75 percent considered cropland by the early 21st century Major crops include sorghum; oilseed, a source of vegetable oil; wheat; and corn; major livestock include cattle ranching and feedlots, and poultry and egg.

Properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places in the county include the hand dug well at Selkirk for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway production in 1887. Santa Fe discontinued the line and removed 35 miles of tracks going to Selkirk in the 1890s.

Individual of note in Wichita County include Albert. E. Mead. A Leoti city councilman in 1886, Mead moved to the state of Washington in 1889 and became that state’s governor in 1905.

Quick Facts

Date Established: March 20, 1873
Date Organized: December 24, 1886
County Seat: Leoti
Kansas Region: Southwest
Physiographic Region: High Plains
Courthouse: 1916-1917


1873 - Wichita County is established.
1886 - Wichita County is organized.
1886 - 1889- County Seat War Between Leoti and Coronado. 

More on Wichita County


Entry: Wichita 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.