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Pratt County, Kansas

Pratt County was organized on July 25, 1879, by John Sillin; Thomas Goodwin; L. H. Naron; and L. C. Thompson. Containing the cities of Preston, Iuka, Byers, Cullison, Coats, Sawyer and Pratt, the county was named for Caleb Pratt, who migrated from Massachusetts to Lawrence, became active in politics, served in the First Kansas Infantry in the Civil War and was killed during the War.

The first church was founded in Iuka in 1877. It was a Union church that later divided into Presbyterian and Methodist churches. The first county fair was held in 1907 and still continues. The first school district, No. 1, was formed in Iuka in 1878.

J. S. Barnes migrated to Pratt in 1885 and became an important public servant. He was elected to the legislature in 1905 where he was the author of the Barnes High School Law allowing for county levy of taxes to establish high schools, a railroad switch law requiring railroads to extend side tracks to farmers' elevators and established the Fish and Game Law which provided funds to establish the headquarters at Pratt.

A trapper named Johnson came to the county in 1872. He built a cave into the Ninnescah River bank with a curving entrance to protect himself from Indians. Because of this he was able to fend off a band of Indians who had spotted him. He survived on rendered skunk oil after his provisions ran out, earning him the name of "Skunk Johnson." He and the cave became well known in the area.

Interesting sites in the county are the Coterie Library and Business House and City Hall and Fire Station in Pratt.

For more information see the Pratt County website. The historical society, in the Coterie Library, and the public library, have marriage, birth, and death records, original land patents, and microfilm of the county's newspapers.

Entry: Pratt 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: November 2011

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