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Chautaugua County Courthouse in Sedan, Kansas. Photo by Susan Howell, Aug. 2, 2002.
Chautauqua County Courthouse - 1918



Chautauqua County

County Seat: Sedan
Founded: 1875
    ·   4,407 (1990)
    · 11,804 (1900)
Area: 644 Square Miles
Standard Abbreviation: CQ 


Chautauqua County is mostly covered with rocky, oak-covered hills.  Big valleys, particularly the valley of the Caney River, have rich and fertile farms and some of the hills are clear and home to thousands of grazing cattle.  The spectacular beauty and ruggedness of the countryside make it a great place for outdoor vacations.  Steve Harper's book of Kansas day trips has a nice tour of the County.


Map of Chautauqua County, KS in 1899
Organized in 1875.  County seat Sedan.  Created out of a portion of what was first Godfrey county, named after "Bill" Godfrey, a noted trader among the Osages; then Howard county in honor of Major-General O. O. Howard, for his efforts in behalf of the Union.  Chautauqua county N.Y., was the former home of Hon. Edward Jaquins, a member of the Kansas Legislature in 1875 from Howard county, who introduced the bill which divided Howard into Chautauqua and Elk; hence, from his native place this county derives its name.  The name originally given (in 1855) to Howard was Godfrey, and the name changed to Seward in 1861.  In 1867, the Legislature, ignoring former names, created the county of Howard.
Map and text from History of Kansas, Noble Prentis, (Winfield: E.P. Greer. 1899)
Chautauqua County was founded in 1875 when Howard County was split in two after bitter county seat wars.  Early settlers benefited from the cattle trade from Oklahoma and Texas.  In 1904, oil was discovered and the area had a big "boomtown" era.
William G. Cutler's History of Kansas, first published in 1883, tells about early Chautauqua County.
There is a section on Chautauqua County in the book Kansas: a Cyclopedia Of State History by Frank Blackmar (1912).
The Special Collections of the Ablah Library at WSU contain historical images of Peru, & Sedan.
The Kansas State Historical Society also has more historical data for Chautauqua County online including a rich bibliography and lists of cemeteries, post offices, and newspapers.

Cities, Towns, & Villages of Chautauqua County

                           2000               Year
    Town                Population  ZIP      Founded  Elevation
    =================   ==========  ======   =======  =========
    Cedar Vale                 723  67024                949
    Chautauqua                 113  67334                903
    Cloverdale                                          1050
    Elgin                       82                       784
    Gibbs                                               1037
    Grafton                                              810
    Hale                                                1014
    Hewins                                               885
    Layton                                               931
    Monett                                               825
    Niotaze                    122  67355                765
    Osro                                                 877
    Peru                       183  67360     1870       784
    Rogers                                               893
    Sedan                    1,342  67361     1876       862
    Wauneta                                              959
Census Bureau Quick Facts

Special Places in Chautauqua County

  • Around the turn of the century Elgin was the biggest cattle shipping town in the world and it was a boom town again later when oil was found. Now the last business in town, Margaret's Cafe, is closed and the sign outside it that announced "the town too tough to die" has been taken down.
  • Sedan is proud of its Yellow Brick Road. The Oz theme is almost everywhere in the downtown area.
  • Ackarman Hardware in Sedan has been open since 1879; it's an American classic.
  • The Emmett Kelly Museum in Sedan honors the famous clown Emmett Kelly (1898-1979) and his sad-faced character "Willie".
  • The road from Elgin to Hewins is one of the prettiest in Kansas, winding back and forth over of the Caney River through jumbles of giant boulders.  Stop at Wilson's Cemetery and you can walk down by the river.  At another crossing the millstones from Hart's Mill (1870) are displayed by the road.
  • The "Wee Kirk of the Valley" is a tiny chapel beside the scenic road from Cedar Vale to Hewins.

Special Events in Chautauqua County

  • The county fair and rodeo are held in Sedan in July.
  • Sedan holds its Yellow Brick Road Festival over the Memorial Day Weekend.
  • Each spring the hills are covered with redbuds and special tour maps guide you to the best spots for viewing.

Chautauqua County School Systems


  • Cedar Vale Community Hospital   (620) 758-2266
    501 Cedar / Cedar Vale, KS 67024
  • Sedan City Hospital   (620) 725-3115
    300 W. North St. / Sedan, KS 67361


  • Cedar Vale Memorial Library   (620) 758-2598
    606 Cedar / Cedar Vale, KS 67024
  • Sedan Public Library   (620) 725-3405
    115 N. Chautauqua Street / Sedan, KS 67361


  • Cedar Vale Museum   (620) 758-2590
    618 Cedar, Cedar Vale, KS 67024
  • Emmett Kelley Museum   (620) 725-3470
    204 E. Main St., Sedan, KS 67361

Newspapers & Publications

More Data about Chautauqua County

Economic Development
  • Kansas County Profile Reports
    Statistical data from The Institute for Policy and Social Research, the University of Kansas
Health Data


Chautauqua County Offices

For more about Chautauqua County contact:

  • Cedar Vale Chamber of Commerce   (620) 758-2244
    303 Jefferson / P. O. Box 518, Cedar Vale, KS 67024
  • Chautauqua County Council on Aging (Chautauqua County Health Department)   (620) 725-5850
    215 North Chautauqua, Sedan, KS 67361 (the courthouse)
  • Chautauqua County Tourism
    P. O. Box 185, Sedan, KS 67361
  • Sedan Area Chamber of Commerce   (620) 725-4033
    P. O. Box 182, Sedan, KS 67361
  • Sedan Area Economic Development Committee   (620) 725-3815
    P. O. Box 226, Sedan, KS 67361


  • Fitzgerald, Daniel, Ghost Towns of Kansas (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1988)
  • Harper, Steve. 83,000 Square Miles (Wichita: The Eagle and Beacon Publishing Co. 1990)

Last updated on November 29, 2009 by COUNTIES@KSLIB.INFO
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