Kansas County records vary widely from county to county in both quality as well as quantity. Some have been carefully maintained and some have been much neglected and neglected. A certain amount of Kansas records have purely vanished. For genealogists doing research in Kansas there is no effective replace for an on-site search of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
The county seat’s county courthouse should be consulted for information regarding land deeds, court records, and probate records. Death and birth records from before statewide recording was required can also be found at the county seat, but in the office of the county clerk.
In general, court, land, and probate records were not recorded until each county was formed. However, that does vary from one county to the next. So, some records, especially those from shortly after each county was organized, may not be complete. Some counties had separate “date formed” information for the legislation in the county versus the county government organization (establishment of the county itself). Dates from when records began should be listed in parentheses on those early documents. If names of county seats are listed in parentheses, it means that they are no longer county seats in the present day. It could also mean that the listed name is the original county seat name. Researchers should also note that the probate judge holds early marriage records.
See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.
|County||Date Formed||Parent County||County Seat|
|Allen||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Iola|
|Anderson||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Garnett|
|Atchison||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Atchison|
|Barber||1867||From unorganized area||Medicine Lodge|
|Barton||1867||From unorganized area||Great Bend|
|Bourbon||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Fort Scott|
|Brown||1855||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Browne County)||Hiawatha|
|Butler||1855||One of the original 36 counties||El Dorado|
|Chase||1859||Formed from Butler and Wise counties||Cottonwood Falls|
|Chautauqua||1875||Formed from Howard County||Sedan|
|Cherokee||1860||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly McGee County)||Columbus|
|Cheyenne||1873||From unorganized area||Saint Francis|
|Clark||1885||Formed from Ford County||Ashland|
|Clay||1857||From unorganized area||Clay Center|
|Cloud||1867||Formed from Washington (Formerly Shirley County)||Concordia|
|Coffey||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Burlington|
|Comanche||1867||From unorganized area||Coldwater|
|Cowley||1867||Formed from Butler County||Winfield|
|Crawford||1867||Bourbon and Cherokee Counties||Girard|
|Decatur||1873||From unorganized area||Oberlin|
|Dickinson||1855||From unorganized area||Abilene|
|Doniphan||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Troy|
|Douglas||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Lawrence|
|Edwards||1874||Formed from Kiowa County||Kinsley|
|Elk||1875||Formed from Howard County||Howard|
|Ellis||1867||From unorganized area||Hays|
|Ellsworth||1867||From unorganized area||Ellsworth|
|Finney||1883||Formed from Arapahoe, Grant, Kearney and Sequoyah Counties||Garden City|
|Ford||1863||From unorganized area||Dodge City|
|Franklin||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Ottawa|
|Geary||1889||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Davis County)||Junction City|
|Gove||1868||From unorganized area||Gove City|
|Graham||1867||From unorganized area||Hill City|
|Grant||1873||Formed from Finney and Hamilton Counties||Ulysses|
|Gray||1887||Formed from Finney and Ford Counties||Cimarron|
|Greeley||1873||From unorganized area||Tribune|
|Greenwood||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Eureka|
|Hamilton||1873||From unorganized area||Syracuse|
|Harper||1867||From unorganized area||Anthony|
|Harvey||1872||Formed from McPherson, Sedgwick and Reno Counties||Newton|
|Haskell||1887||Formed from Finney and Ford Counties||Sublette|
|Hodgeman||1873||From unorganized area (Formerly Hageman County)||Jetmore|
|Jackson||1859||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Calhoun County)||Holton|
|Jefferson||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Oskaloosa|
|Jewell||1867||From unorganized area||Mankato|
|Johnson||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Olathe|
|Kearny||1873||Formed from Finney and Hamilton Counties||Lakin|
|Kingman||1872||Harper and Reno Counties||Kingman|
|Kiowa||1886||Formed from Comanche and Edwards Counties||Greensburg|
|Labette||1867||Formed from Neosho County||Oswego|
|Lane||1873||From unorganized area||Dighton|
|Leavenworth||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Leavenworth|
|Lincoln||1867||From unorganized area||Lincoln|
|Linn||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Mound City|
|Logan||1887||Formed from Wallace County (formerly named St. John County)||Oakley|
|Lyon||1862||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Breckenridge County)||Emporia|
|Marion||1855||From unorganized area||Marion|
|Marshall||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Marysville|
|McPherson||1867||From unorganized area||McPherson|
|Meade||1885||Formed from Finney, Ford and Seward Counties||Meade|
|Miami||1861||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Lykins)||Paola|
|Mitchell||1867||From unorganized area||Beloit|
|Montgomery||1867||Formed from Wilson County||Independence|
|Morris||1859||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Wise County)||Council Grove|
|Morton||1886||Formed from Seward County||Elkhart|
|Nemaha||1855||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Dorn County)||Seneca|
|Neosho||1861||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Dorn County)||Erie|
|Ness||1867||From unorganized area||Ness City|
|Norton||1867||From unorganized area (Formerly Billings (1873-9)||Norton|
|Osage||1859||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Weller County)||Lyndon|
|Osborne||1867||From unorganized area||Osborne|
|Ottawa||1860||From unorganized area||Minneapolis|
|Pawnee||1867||From unorganized area||Larned|
|Phillips||1867||From unorganized area||Phillipsburg|
|Pottawatomie||1857||Formed from Calhoun and Riley||Westmoreland|
|Pratt||1867||From unorganized area||Pratt|
|Rawlins||1873||From unorganized area||Atwood|
|Reno||1867||From unorganized area||Hutchinson|
|Republic||1860||Formed from Washington County||Belleville|
|Rice||1867||From unorganized area||Lyons|
|Riley||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Manhattan|
|Rooks||1867||From unorganized area||Stockton|
|Rush||1867||From unorganized area||La Crosse|
|Russell||1867||From unorganized area||Russell|
|Saline||1860||From unorganized area||Salina|
|Scott||1873||From unorganized area||Scott City|
|Sedgwick||1867||Formed from Butler County||Wichita|
|Seward||1861||From unorganized area||Liberal|
|Shawnee||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Topeka|
|Sheridan||1873||From unorganized area||Hoxie|
|Sherman||1873||From unorganized area||Goodland|
|Smith||1867||From unorganized area||Smith Center|
|Stafford||1867||From unorganized area||Saint John|
|Stanton||1873||Formed from Hamilton County||Johnson City|
|Stevens||1873||Formed from Seward County||Hugoton|
|Sumner||1867||Formed from Butler County||Wellington|
|Thomas||1873||From unorganized area||Colby|
|Trego||1867||From unorganized area||WaKeeney|
|Wabaunsee||1859||One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Richardson County)||Alma|
|Wallace||1868||From unorganized area||Sharon Springs|
|Washington||1855||From unorganized area||Washington|
|Wichita||1873||From unorganized area||Leoti|
|Wilson||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Fredonia|
|Woodson||1855||One of the original 36 counties||Yates Center|
|Wyandotte||1859||Formed from Leavenworth and Johnson Counties||Kansas City|
Interactive Map of Kansas Counties Formation
Kansas Extinct Counties
Kansas seems to have counties that no longer exist. They were organized by the state, provincial, or territorial authorities. A lot of these counties were established and disbanded during the Nineteenth century; county boundaries have evolved very little since Nineteen hundred in the vast majority of states. These counties need to be checked out when performing ancestry and genealogy research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or consolidated with a different county.
- Arapahoe (1st) County: Established in August 30, 1855. Arapahoe County was attached to Marshall County for all business purposes. Arapahoe County was never organized. In early 1859 it was split into six counties (Arapahoe, Broderick, El Paso, Fremont, Montana, and Oro). When Colorado Territory was established Feb. 28, 1861, the new Colorado legislature created seventeen counties, which are considered the original counties of the state.
- Billings County: Established on March 20, 1873. Billings County, during its brief history of less than one year, operated as an organized county because Norton County was organized on 22 Aug 1872 by the proclamation of Governor James Madison Harvey. Billings did not, however, have a county seat during its period of existence. The town of Norton was elected the county seat in 1874, following the reinstatement of the name of Norton County on February 25, 1874.
- Breckenridge County: Established on August 25, 1855. The Territorial Legislature of 1855 organized Breckinridge County, attaching it to Madison County for civil, criminal, and military purposes. In 1861, Madison County was abolished, and its northern part was given to Breckinridge.
Breckinridge County was renamed Lyon County in February 05, 1862, due to Breckinridge’s political sympathies.
- Buffalo County: Established on March 20, 1873. In 1881, the northern tier of townships was removed from Buffalo County and added to Lane; the remainder was made part of newly-created Gray County, and later was taken to form part of Finney County. Buffalo County was never organized.
- Calhoun County: Early marriages of Calhoun County, Kansas Territory, are in Holton, Jackson County, Kansas. Established on August 25, 1855 and Organized on September 24, 1855. The location of the town of Calhoun was in the extreme southeast corner of the county. By the time the 1859 Legislature changed the county name to Jackson on February 11, 1859, the town of Calhoun had lost its postoffice, and it soon faded into oblivion.
- Davis County: Established on August 25, 1855. Davis was one of the original 33 counties created by the first territorial legislature. It lost territory to Dickinson County in 1857 and to Wabaunsee County in 1860; it gained territory from Dickinson in 1860 and from Riley in 1873. Name changed on March 07, 1889 to Geary County
- Dorn County: Established on August 25, 1855. Named in honor of either (1) Earl Van Dorn (1820-1863), an army officer during the Mexican War and Indian campaigns, or, more likely, (2) Andrew Jackson Dorn (1815-1889), also a Mexican War veteran and Indian agent for the Osages, Quapaws, and Senecas and Shawnees at the Neosho Agency from 1853 to 1861. Both men joined the Confederate Army in 1861, and the county was renamed Neosho. The county was never organized. Dorn was divided on June 03, 1861 into present counties of Neosho and Labette.
- Foote County: Established on 1881 from Unorganized Territory. (renamed Gray, 1887)
- Garfield County: Established on 1887 from Buffalo County. (annexed to Finney, 1893)
- Godfrey County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. The name changed to Seward (not present day county); then to Howard.
- Howard County: Established on 1867 from Godfrey (which had been Seward) County. (divided, 1875 into Elkland and Chautauqua)
- Hunter County: Established on 1867 as an Original County. (1870) (renamed Cowley)
- Kansas County: Established on 1873 from Unorganized Territory. (abolished 1883; became Morton)
- Lykins County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. (changed to Miami, 1861)
- Madison County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. Madison was divided 1861–64 into Breckenridge (later Lyon) and Greenwood.
- McGee County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. (name changed, 1866 to Cherokee)
- Otoe County: Established on February 17, 1860 as an Original County. Named for the Otoe [Oto] Indian tribe of Nebraska. On February 24, 1864, the boundaries of Butler County were enlarged to include Otoe County. Most of the territory once comprising Otoe is included in the present county of Butler, with the remainder in the eastern parts of Harvey and Sedgwick counties.
- Peketon Territory County: Established on 1854 as an Original County. The County Seat was Beach Valley. Peketon County was never organized due to no population, and its territory became a part of Marion County in February 26, 1867.
- Richardson County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. (changed to Wabaunsee 1859)
- St. John County: Established on 1881 (name changed to Logan 1887)
- Sequoyah County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. (absorbed in 1883 by Finney) Some records are in Ford County.
- Seward (old) County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. (as Godfrey; renamed, 1861; renamed Howard, 1867)
- Shirley County: Established on 1860 as an Original County. (name changed 1867, Cloud)
- Weller County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. (name changed 1859, Osage)
- Wise County: Established on August 25, 1855 as an Original County. (name changed 1859, Morris)
Kansas Counties with Burned Courthouses
The harm to Kansas courthouses significantly has a effect on genealogists in every way. Not only are a lot of these historic buildings torn from our lifetimes, so are the records they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, among others. Once destroyed they’re destroyed permanently. Although they have been put on mircofilm, computers and film burn up too. The most heartbreaking side of this is the reason why virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed at the hands of arsonist. Though, not all records were lost. Numerous Kansas counties have dealt with a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.
- Douglas County Courthouse had records destroyed 21 August 1863 in Quantrill’s raid. Some marriage records reconstructed.
- Elk County Courthouse burned 1906