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Ford County, Kansas

Ford County was organized on April 5, 1873, by A. L. Peacock; Charles Rath; W. S. Tremaine; A. J. Anthony; Morris Collar; Patrick Ryan; George G. Cox; R. W. Evans; A. B. Webster; John Haney; Jacob Collar; F. C. Zimmerman; James P. Kelley; Herman J. Fringer; George J. Hoover; H. L. Sitler; E. B. Kirk; F. C. Tupper; and Robert M. Wright. It was named for Brigadier General James H. Ford, who established Fort Dodge, and contains the cities of Bucklin, Dodge City, Ford and Spearville.

The establishment of Fort Dodge in 1865, and the coming of the cattle trade and trails in the 1870s, and the arrival of the Santa Fe Railroad in 1872, were the three most significant events in the early history of Dodge City.

The Union Church, organized June 14, 1874, was the first, but the first denominational organization was the Presbyterian church in June, 1878. The first fair was held by the Driving Park and Fair Association, formed in April, 1884, to produce the bull fight. The first county fair was held at Dodge City, October 23, 1886. This is now a 4-H fair. The first school district was formed in Dodge City in 1873.

Ford Counties most famous characters would be the entire cast of Dodge City's "wild west" days. In addition, Robert M. Wright, the father of the Texas cattle trade, and "Mr. Dodge City" George J. Hoover, the first businessman in Dodge City, and Chalkley Beeson, saloon owner, farmer, and cattleman, are all interesting figures in addition to the better known. Dodge City is also the home of former Kansas Governor Fred Hall (1955-1957). Jess C. Denius Sr., veteran Dodge City newspaperman and Republican politician, served in the Kansas Senate from 1933-1939.

There have been many books and movies about Dodge City. However, there are two recent publications, Stagecoach Station 1: Dodge City, by Hank Mitchum, Bantam Books, 1982, and Lee D. Willowby's Dodge City Darling, Dell Publications, 1982, that are lesser known.

There are interesting sites in the county. There is the Home of Stone, the Lora Locke Hotel, the Scared Heart Cathedral, the St. Cornelius Episcopal Church, the Sughrue House, the Carnegie Building, the Santa Fe Depot and the Hoover Pavilion.

For more information see the Ford County website. The Kansas Heritage Center, Dodge City, has books, vertical files, photographs and newspapers. The Boot Hill Museum has an informational file, photographs and a museum. The Ford County Historical Society operates a museum in a restored house and the Dodge City Public Library has books, some scrapbooks and photographs.

Entry: Ford 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: June 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.