Cheyenne County.On March 6, 1873, Gov. Osborn approved an act creating a number of new counties out of the unorganized territory in the western part of the state. One of these counties was Cheyenne, the most northwestern county of Kansas, the boundaries of which were defined by the act as follows: "Commencing where the east line of range 37 west, intersects the fortieth degree of north latitude; thence south with said range line to the first standard parallel; thence west with said parallel to the west line of the State of Kansas; thence north with the state line to the fortieth degree of north latitude; thence east with said parallel to the place of beginning."
A survey of the public lands in the county was made in 1874, and in 1876 the first cattle ranchthe "T" ranchwas located about 9 miles above Wano on the Republican river. The country was then full of Indians and buffalo hunters. The first actual settlers came to the county in 1879, when the Day brothers located on the "Big Timber," but they left the following spring, about the time that A. M. Brenaman, L. R. Heaton and a man named Bateham came with their families. Jacob Buck also settled in the county, near Wano, and in the spring of 1880. By Aug. 23 of that year there were enough settlers to justify the establishment of a postoffice at Wano, with A. M. Brenaman as postmaster. The first mail was carried from Atwood, the county seat of Rawlins county, on Oct. 15, 1880. Graham & Brenaman opened the first store in Sept., 1880, in a sod house, and it said their stock of goods was neither large nor particularly well assorted, consisting of a few necessary staple articles, such as a frontier settlement demanded. The first school was taught at Kepferle. School district No. 1 was organized on Dec. 3, 1881, and the following subscriptions were made to pay a teacher: G. T. Dunn, $5; L. R. Heaton, $5; S. O'dell, $5; Jacob Buck, $8; John Quistorf, $3; F. J. Graham, $3; H. Miller, W. H. Holcomb, J. A. Hoffman and John Long, $2.50 each; G. W. Howe, $1.50, making a total of $40.50, in addition to which the patrons agreed to board the teacher. School was opened on Jan. 10, 1882, in a building donated by F. J. Graham, with ten scholars in attendance.
In the winter of 1883 Cheyenne county was made a municipal township and attached to Rawlins county for judicial and revenue purposes. It was organized as such with A. M. Brenaman as district clerk and county superintendent, and John Long as sheriff and surveyor. Two years later (1885) the property of Cheyenne county was valued at $150,000 for taxation. In April of that year the site of Wano was selected by John Dunbar, W. W. McKay and John Goodenberger, in the southwest quarter of section 14, township 3 south, range 40 west, about a mile northeast of the present town of St. Francis. The name was selected by A. M. Brenaman when the postoffice was established. Wano is a Spanish word, meaning "good," esto wano signifying "very good."
On Sept. 7, 1885, the Cheyenne County Agricultural Society was organized at Wano, with the following directors: A. L. Emerson, Jacob Buck, L. R. Heaton, John G. Long, W. W. McKay, A. M. Brenaman, L. P. Rollins, Dr. J. C. Burton and John Elliott. At the same meeting it was decided to hold a fair on the 1st and 2nd of October. The Cheyenne Rustler of Oct. 9, 1885, says: "The first exhibit of the Cheyenne County Agricultural Society was successful beyond the expectations of the most sanguine friends of the enterprise," and publishes a list of the prize winners.
The first newspaper published in the county was the Wano News, which was established by A. M. Brenaman. It was printed at Atwood, and but five numbers were issued. It was followed by the Echo, which lived but a short time. The Cheyenne County Rustler was started on July 3, 1885, and was soon followed by the Cheyenne County Democrat and the Bird City News.
Toward the close of 1885 an agitation was started for the organization of the county. There was some opposition to the movement, but on March 10, 1886, a petition praying for an independent county organization was presented to Gov. John A. Martin, who appointed Morris Stine to take a census of the inhabitants and the valuation of property. On the 30th of the same month Mr. Stine made his report to the governor, showing a population of 2,607, of whom 85 were householders. The value of the property at that time, exclusive of railroad property, was "$509,124, of which $258,740 represented the value of the real estate." On April 1, 1886, Gov. Martin issued his proclamation declaring Cheyenne county organized, appointing J. M. Ketcham, W. W. McKay and J. F. Murray commissioners; B. W. Knott, county clerk, and designating Bird City as the temporary county seat. On Feb. 26, 1889, an election was held to determine the location of the permanent county seat. The town of St. Francis received a majority of the votes, and the county authorities established their offices there. Within a short time the county owned lots worth $3,000 and buildings worth $4,000 in the new county seat, when the question was raised as to the legality of the election. To settle the matter the legislature of 1891 passed an act, which was approved by Gov. Humphrey on Feb. 5, declaring "That the said election for the purpose of permanently locating the county seat of Cheyenne county, held Feb. 26, 1889, be and the same is hereby legalized, and the town of St. Francis is hereby declared to be the permanent county seat of said county."
It was also provided that the act should take effect and be in force from and after its publication in the official state paper. Such publication was made on Feb. 6, 1891, the day following the approval of the act by the governor. (See St. Francis.)
By the act of Feb. 25, 1889, the section lines in the county were declared to be public highways, and roads have been opened and improved on a number of these lines. The county has but one line of railroadthe Orleans & St. Francis division of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy systemoriginally known as the Burlington & Missouri River railroad.
On Feb. 20, 1903, the legislature passed an act providing that when a majority of the electors should petition the county commissioners for a county high school, the board should order such a school established at the point designated, if the school district would guarantee to furnish a suitable building, the necessary school furniture, etc. Under the provisions of this act the county high school was located at St. Francis, the town furnishing a modern school building of ten rooms.
The surface of Cheyenne county is generally undulating, with a few high bluffs along some of the streams. The bottom lands are usually narrow. There is not much native timber, but a large number of artificial groves have been planted about the farm houses. The soil is largely of sandy nature. Cheyenne is one of the leading counties in the state in the production of Kafir corn, broom-corn and spring wheat. Corn, barley and sugar beets are important crops. The Republican river flows in a northeasterly direction across the county and has a number of tributaries, the principal ones being Bluff, Cherry, Plum and Hackberry creeks. Little Beaver creek flows across the southeast corner, and about 3 miles of the Big Beaver are in the extreme southeastern part. Irrigation ditches have been constructed along the Republican river, and hundreds of acres of land are under irrigation. The county is divided into the following civil townships: Alexander, Beaver, Benkelman, Bird City, Calhoun, Cherry Creek, Cleveland Run, Dent, Eureka, Evergreen, Jaqua, Jefferson, Lawn Ridge, Nutty Combe, Orlando, Porter and Wano.
According to the U. S. census of 1910, the population of Cheyenne county was 4,248, a gain of 1,608 during the preceding decade. The assessed value of the property in that year was $6,486,668, and the value of all farm products, including live stock, was $1,215,954. The five leading crops, in the order of value, were: wheat, $325,302; corn, $317,256; barley, $123,345; hay (including alfalfa), $101,737; broomcorn, $65,008.
Cheyenne county has an altitude of over 3,000 feet. It was named for the Cheyenne Indians, and was crossed by the old Leavenworth & Pike's Peak express, which was established in 1859. The area of the county is 1,020 square miles. It is in the 39th senatorial, the 107th representative, the 17th judicial and the 6th Congressional districts. According to the U. S. Postal Guide for July, 1910, there were at that time but four postoffices in the county, viz.: Bird City, Jaqua, St. Francis and Wheeler.Pages 325-328 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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