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Mitchell County, Kansas

Mitchell County in the north central part of the state was once home to Plains Indians. Early on Wakanda Springs gained a reputation for medicinal and relaxation properties. The springs attracted many people seeking its powers.

Mitchell County, organized in 1870, was named after Captain William Mitchell, who fought and died in the Civil War.

Tension increased with the native peoples as white settlers moved into the area. From 1868 to 1870 settlers feared attack. Concerns were heightened when two women were kidnapped, but later returned. Residents built a stockade near Cawker City for protection.

The grasshopper invasion of 1874 affected Mitchell County and others in the region.

The arrival of the first railroads in the Beloit area beginning with the central branch of the Missouri Pacific in 1879 aided in the bringing additional settlers to the area.

Iowa and Elsie Cather traveled from Ohio to Kansas about 1885 and settled on a farm north of Beloit in Mitchell County. Iowa, a Civil War veteran, raised primarily wheat. He used a walk-behind plow, and a harrow to smooth the rough sod, before planting winter wheat. At harvest time he bound, shocked, and thrashed the wheat producing grain that could be bagged and hauled to market in a horse-drawn wagon. He also planted broomcorn and grain to feed his animals. There the Cather’s raised their children and taught them farming skills. The Cather’s purchased a Hart Parr steam engine in the early 1900s.  

Wakanda Springs, a well believed to have medicinal purposes, was once an attraction to the area. A resort and other profitable endeavors were established in the area. However, in the 1960’s the Glen Elder Dam was built causing the Wakanda Reservoir to flood the well.

The area is rich in limestone rock making it part of the “Land of Kansas Post Rock.”

Mitchell County possesses properties on the National Register of Historic Places such as the Works Project Administration’s Brown’s Creek Tributary Masonry Arch Bridge build in the 1930s and the Mitchell County Courthouse built in 1900-1901.

There are interesting figures with connections to Mitchell County. Isaac Young served in Congress from the county. Abram Ellis and Clark A. Smith served as Justices of the Kansas Supreme Court.

Quick Facts

Date Established: February 26, 1867
Date Organized: October 4, 1870
County Seat: Beloit
Kansas Region: North Central
Physiographic Region: Smoky Hills
State Park: Glen Elder State Park
Courthouse: April 4, 1901


1867 - Mitchell County is established
1868 - 1870- Indian raids result in deaths.
1870 - Mitchell County is organized.
1968 - Waconda Springs, once a well believed to have medicinal purposes, is flooded when the Glen Elder Dam is built. 

More on Mitchell County


Entry: Mitchell 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.