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Russell County, Kansas

Russell County was organized on July 18, 1872, by Benjamin Pratt; and A. E. Mathews. Russell County contains the cities of Gorham, Bunker Hill, Lucas, Luray, Paradise, Dorrance, Russell and Waldo. The county was named for Captain Avra P. Russell, Second Kansas Regiment, killed at Prairie Grove, Arkansas, in December, 1862

The introduction of Turkey Red Wheat into the county in 1880 greatly changed the agricultural picture for the area. The discovery of oil in 1923, over 150 miles from the nearest oil producing field, enabled Russell County to become one of the state's leading producers.

The Russell Congregational Church was founded in 1871. The first county fair was held in 1874 in Russell, and continues there. The first school district was formed in Bunker Hill on December 27, 1872.

United States Senator (1969-present) Robert Dole was born and raised in Russell. He has served as a Congressman (1961-1969), as the majority and minority leader in the U. S. Senate, and in 1987 is an announced candidate for the presidency of the United States.

A mystery has surrounded the 1893 murder near Lucas of Fred Dininny. His body was not found for six months. The accused murderers were removed from the jail and hanged from a railroad trestle before they could stand trial. No one knows how or why the murder was committed.

Robert Day's novel, The Last Cattle Drive, is set in the cattle country of Kansas including Gorham and Russell County.

The county contains several interesting sites including the Fossil Station Museum, the Gernon House, the Garden of Eden, the Log House.

For more information see the Russell County website. All the county newspapers are on file at the Russell Public Library. An index to the newspapers is at the Fossil Station Museum.

Entry: Russell 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.