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Woodson County, Kansas

Woodson County, Kansas, was established during the Kansas Territory period. Fort Belmont was established the year before the Civil War began and lasted until 1864.

Woodson County, Kansas, established as one of the original counties in 1855, was most likely named after Daniel Woodson. Woodson served as Secretary of the Kansas Territory for a few years in the 1850’s, and even acted as governor of the territory.

Woodson County was completely in the New York Indian Reservation, which meant legal settlement wasn’t allowed there until 1860. This didn’t stop settlers however. The New York Indians did not inhabit the reservation, and in 1860, and the government sold the land.

Around 1858, the county seat had been established at Neosho Falls. Several elections were held over the span of many years in the 1860s and 1870s. After the county seat being sent to different towns throughout the years of elections, in the mid 1870’s, Yates Center won the honor, and the county seat remains there today.

Woodson County, Kansas - HomeFort Belmont, a militia ran fort, was established in 1860. The reason for the creation of this fort was Border Ruffians and Indians. While it was manned by men of the local militia, it did have a Federal agency for Osage and Creek tribes there. The fort ceased to exist around 1864.

Agriculture, oil, and gas are important industries to Woodson County.

The Toronto Lake was created in Woodson and Greenwood counties as part of flood control along the Verdigris River. Construction began in 1954; the lake was completed in 1960. The lake also helps improve water quality, a source of water supply, and recreational uses.

Woodson County properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places include the Woodson County courthouse, built 1899-1900, and the Yates Center Carnegie Library built around 1912. The library was built with the assistance of Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation’s Carnegie Library Building Program. 

Quick Facts

Date Established: August 25, 1855
Date Organized: May 22, 1858
County Seat: Yates Center
Kansas Region: Southeast
Physiographic Region: Osage Cuestas and Chautauqua Hills
State Park: Timbers State Park
Courthouse: August 9, 1899


1855 - Woodson County is established
1860 - New York Indian lands are sold and the county is opened for settlement
1860 - 1864 - Fort Belmont years of activity
1860 - 1870 - County seat elections eventually choose Yates Center 

More on Woodson County


Entry: Woodson 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.