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Anderson County, Kansas

Anderson County was named for Joseph C. Anderson, speaker "pro tem" of the Kansas "bogus" legislature,1855, and representative of the Sixth District. Anderson, a resident of Lexington, Missouri, was an attorney and pro slavery advocate. The county was organized on January 7, 1856, after a year long struggle caused by differing free-state and slave-state factions appointed to organize the county. It contains the cities of Colony, Garnett, Greeley, Harris,  Kincaid, Lone Elm and  Westphalia.

Building of Lake Garnett by the C.C.C. during the 1930s was a major event in the counties history.

The first church in the county began in 1858 on the North Pottawatomie River. The Saint Boniface church was the first building in the county used only as a church and was built near Scipio which later became Putnam Township. In 1859 the first protestant church, a United Brethren congregation, constructed a church in Greeley. The first school in the county was organized in December, 1858, and was held in a log cabin in the Scipio area. It was later organized into Putnam Township in 1870. In 1862-1863 initial steps were taken to organize a county fair. However, it was not until 1871 that a newspaper reported an official fair was held at Moler's Schoolhouse, Reeder Township.

Arthur Capper, newspaperman and owner of Capper Publishing Company and a Kansas governor (1915-1919), and U. S. Senator (1919-1949), was a native son, born in 1865. Edgar Lee Masters, well-known poet and literary figure famous for his Petersburg, Illinois, based ”Spoon River Anthology," was born in the county in 1868.  Dr. J. G. Blunt, a doctor, settled near Greeley in 1856. Involved in the free-state movement he later joined the Union army rising to the rank of major general in the Civil War, the highest rank of any Kansan during the War. He was also involved in the founding of Mt. Gilead. August Bondi settled in Greeley in 1855 and served in the Pottawatomie Rifle Company under John Brown, Jr. Noah Rowan, who served in the Kansas Legislature more than 20 years, was an important figure in the 1880s and 1890s, changing to the Populist party and later becoming a Democrat. He was one of the largest landowners in the county. Dr. Martha E. Cunningham settled in Garnett in 1865 and began a teaching career and studied to enter the medical profession. She attended the Chicago School of Medicine in 1886 and became one of Kansas' first women doctors.

A homestead located in Rich Township became known as "Robbers roost" because of the border ruffians and general criminal element that inhabited the location. After the border warfare and Civil War period, other criminals, including Jesse James, are said to have hidden there.

Interesting sites within the county include the Anderson County Courthouse, the Farrow Building, the Garnett Harris Home, the Garnett Capper Home Site Santa Fe Depot the Garnett Stone Schoolhouse and Scipio Saint Boniface Church.

For more information see the Anderson County website.The Anderson County Historical Society has research materials and publications, clipping files, old newspapers, and the Civil War records of the county.

Entry: Anderson 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: January 2014

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