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Kansas Counties - October 5, 2012

Q: Kansas has 105 counties, but in the early 1890s… Kansas had 106 counties. In 1896, one of them ceased to exist. What’s the name of the western Kansas county that disappeared from the map?

Street-Scene Ravanna_1886-KHS
A copy of a lithograph showing a street scene in Ravanna, Kan. (dated 1886) (Image Courtesy of Kansas Historical Society /

A: Garfield County


James Abram_Garfield,_photo_portrait_seated

Garfield County was organized in 1887 but then merged into Finney County in 1893, which is why Finney County has such an unusual shape. Garfield consisted of what is now the eastern portion of Finney County, north of Gray County. Garfield County was named after President James A. Garfield who had been assassinated just six years earlier. A bitter dispute erupted between the towns of Ravanna and Eminence over where to locate the county seat. Initially, Ravanna won. But the citizens of Eminence leveled charges that ballot boxes had been stuffed. The Kansas Supreme Court agreed and moved the county seat to Eminence. Citizens of Ravanna fought back. They hired surveyors who determined that Garfield County had less than the required minimum of square miles it took to be considered a county under the Kansas Constitution. So, in 1892, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that Garfield County had been illegally organized. The following year, it was annexed into neighboring Finney County. Ravanna and Eminence eventually became ghost towns. There’s a lesson here: be nice to your neighbors!

Map of_Kansas-Garfield-County Ravanna KS_KHS


Credit: Today’s question was supplied by retired Kansas Trivia Champ Ted Heim, of Topeka! Thanks, Ted!

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