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Morton County, Kansas

Morton County was organized on November 17,1886, by John Beatty; J. W. Soules; George Bowman; Dill Chapman; Bill Barney; J. H. Haines; Charles Haines; M. M. Durkee; H. C. Helton; W. W. Anderson; Lewis Darraugh; and Mass Gibbons. Named for Indiana Governor, and later U. S. Senator, Oliver P. Morton, the county contains the cities of Richfield, Rolla and Elkhart.

The establishment of a German prisoner of war camp in Elkhart in 1944 was a major event in the county. After overcoming the animosity towards the prisoners, the county took advantage of the labor and manpower to add improvements and harvest crops, particularly broom corn.

The first church (date unknown) was the Plummer Presbyterian Church in Richfield. The first county fair was held in Elkhart on August 27, 1914. The first school district was Taloga formed on December 21, 1886.

Morton is the only county to have produced two Olympic winners: Glenn Cunningham (silver medal, 1936) and Thane Baker (gold, silver, two bronze, 1952, 1956). Cunningham was also a world record holder in the mile. Baker also held records in dashes from 60 to 300 yards.

Part true and part legend, is the story of William Becknell's trip on the Santa Fe Trail using wagons and hoping to prove the worth of a new route over the "Cimarron Cut-Off." After running out of water, the men had tried everything from killing their dogs and their mules' ears to drink their blood, when they spotted a buffalo evidently gorged with water. They killed the animal and drank the water from its stomach. They followed its tracks to water, thereby saving the expedition.

Leave it to Miss Annie, written by Georgia Tucker Smith, is the story of Dr. William V. Tucker, a county resident.

For more information see the Morton County website. The Morton County Historical Society produced a new history of the county in 1985.

Entry: Morton 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.