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Neosho County, Kansas

Neosho County was organized on November 2, 1864, by B. Vaugn; R. W. Jackson; Simeon W. Hadden; Thomas Jackson; Darius Rodgers; Wily Evans; W. H. Davis; J. L. Gletcher; William Jackson; Seth W. Jackson; Stephen Beach; and H. Woodward. The county was named for the river, an Indian word of which the first syllable translates "water" and has been interpreted to describe either "clear water," "muddy water," or "river with potholes." It contains the cities of Earlton, Galesburg, Chanute, Thayer, Erie, Stark and St. Paul.

The first church was originally founded at Mission Neosho in 1824, but that was short lived. In 1847 the Catholic St. Francis of St. Paul Church was founded. The first county fair was held in October, 1872, at Osage Mission. The county fair is currently held in Erie. The Harmony School District east of Chanute was the first organized; the first school, however, was the Osage Manual Labor School, organized in 1847 at the Osage Mission. The township also had the first school in 1857.

Interesting figures from the county include Osa Helen (Leighty) Johnson, 1894-1953, born and raised in Chanute, and her husband Martin Johnson were famous wild animal photographers and writers. She published her bestselling autobiography, I Married Adventure, in 1940. Also Hugo T. Wedell served as a Congressman from 1935 to 1955.

John Brown while being pursued by men attempting to collect a reward for his capture, was said to have been forced into hiding in the county in 1859. This is supposedly the last night he spent in Kansas.

For more information see the Neosho County website. Resources Survey of Chanute; and the Historic Preservation Department of the City of Chanute, all have historical resources and publications on the history of the county.

Entry: Neosho 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: October 2015

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