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Phillips County, Kansas

Phillips County, one of the northern most counties, was organized on July 26, 1872, by C. J. VanAllen; W. R. Shleppy; Thomas Cox, Jr.; Henry McDowell; J. W. Kidd; H. W. Bean; J. S. Shurtz; P. I. Hitchcock; Thomas Cox, Sr.; A. W. Tracy; Jame Large; George W. Stinson; T. A. Marvin; Abraham Troop; Fred Dutton; Frank Strain; H. W. Bean; W. H. Barker; Frank Weeks; James Large; Noah Weaver; and John and William Bissell. Containing the cities of Speed, Kirwin, Logan, Long Island, Phillipsburg, Agra, Prairie View, and Glade, this county was named for William Phillips, a free-state resident who was tarred and feathered in Leavenworth County in 1855, forced to leave, and was killed a year later by ruffians.

The first church was Kirwin Congregational Church, organized in 1875. The first Methodist Episcopal Church had a "class" in the county as early as 1870 near Marvin. The first county fair was held in Phillipsburg in 1888. School District 1 was organized in 1872 west of Phillipsburg.

The establishment of Fort Bissell, built by early settlers for defense and protection from American Indians (1872-1878) was a major assistance in the settlePhillipsburg, 1940sment of the county. The Grasshopper Plague of 1874 devastated most crops in the county, and forced many settlers to leave.

A story is told that residents of Phillipsburg once were convinced that Plotner Creek carried a deposit of gold in its waters. The morning after the rumor began, businesses didn't open, county officers held their business elsewhere, and all worked away at slate out-croppings trying to find the mother lode. A visiting Colorado miner confided in some that the creek was a salted mine, then left before the local citizens could find a rope.

Phillips County has been the home for numerous interesting Kansans, including Cornelius James VanAllen who arrived in Kirwin in 1869, built the first land office in 1874, taught school until 1878, and was the first county superintendent. Fred C. Albright (1849-1954) was an early homesteader (1869), buffalo hunter, and Indian fighter. Also McDill "Huck" Boyd, newspaper editor, and a state Republican leader, was a favorite son of the county until his death in 1987.

There are many interesting sites in Phillips County, such as the William Bissell House, the John Bissell House, and the site of original Fort Bissell.

For more information see the Phillips County website. The Phillipsburg Library, and the County Historical Society, have a variety of publications and other sources on the county's history.

Entry: Phillips 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.