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.

Kansas is divided into 105  counties. Kansas State Government is located in Topeka.

Kansas Counties

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.

CountyDate FormedParent CountyCounty Seat
Allen1855One of the original 36 countiesIola
Anderson1855One of the original 36 countiesGarnett
Atchison1855One of the original 36 countiesAtchison
Barber1867From unorganized areaMedicine Lodge
Barton1867From unorganized areaGreat Bend
Bourbon1855One of the original 36 countiesFort Scott
Brown1855One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Browne County)Hiawatha
Butler1855One of the original 36 countiesEl Dorado
Chase1859Formed from Butler and Wise countiesCottonwood Falls
Chautauqua1875Formed from Howard CountySedan
Cherokee1860One of the original 36 counties (Formerly McGee County)Columbus
Cheyenne1873From unorganized areaSaint Francis
Clark1885Formed from Ford CountyAshland
Clay1857From unorganized areaClay Center
Cloud1867Formed from Washington (Formerly Shirley County)Concordia
Coffey1855One of the original 36 countiesBurlington
Comanche1867From unorganized areaColdwater
Cowley1867Formed from Butler CountyWinfield
Crawford1867Bourbon and Cherokee CountiesGirard
Decatur1873From unorganized areaOberlin
Dickinson1855From unorganized areaAbilene
Doniphan1855One of the original 36 countiesTroy
Douglas1855One of the original 36 countiesLawrence
Edwards1874Formed from Kiowa CountyKinsley
Elk1875Formed from Howard CountyHoward
Ellis1867From unorganized areaHays
Ellsworth1867From unorganized areaEllsworth
Finney1883Formed from Arapahoe, Grant, Kearney and Sequoyah CountiesGarden City
Ford1863From unorganized areaDodge City
Franklin1855One of the original 36 countiesOttawa
Geary1889One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Davis County)Junction City
Gove1868From unorganized areaGove City
Graham1867From unorganized areaHill City
Grant1873Formed from Finney and Hamilton CountiesUlysses
Gray1887Formed from Finney and Ford CountiesCimarron
Greeley1873From unorganized areaTribune
Greenwood1855One of the original 36 countiesEureka
Hamilton1873From unorganized areaSyracuse
Harper1867From unorganized areaAnthony
Harvey1872Formed from McPherson, Sedgwick and Reno CountiesNewton
Haskell1887Formed from Finney and Ford CountiesSublette
Hodgeman1873From unorganized area (Formerly Hageman County)Jetmore
Jackson1859One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Calhoun County)Holton
Jefferson1855One of the original 36 countiesOskaloosa
Jewell1867From unorganized areaMankato
Johnson1855One of the original 36 countiesOlathe
Kearny1873Formed from Finney and Hamilton CountiesLakin
Kingman1872Harper and Reno CountiesKingman
Kiowa1886Formed from Comanche and Edwards CountiesGreensburg
Labette1867Formed from Neosho CountyOswego
Lane1873From unorganized areaDighton
Leavenworth1855One of the original 36 countiesLeavenworth
Lincoln1867From unorganized areaLincoln
Linn1855One of the original 36 countiesMound City
Logan1887Formed from Wallace County (formerly named St. John County)Oakley
Lyon1862One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Breckenridge County)Emporia
Marion1855From unorganized areaMarion
Marshall1855One of the original 36 countiesMarysville
McPherson1867From unorganized areaMcPherson
Meade1885Formed from Finney, Ford and Seward CountiesMeade
Miami1861One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Lykins)Paola
Mitchell1867From unorganized areaBeloit
Montgomery1867Formed from Wilson CountyIndependence
Morris1859One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Wise County)Council Grove
Morton1886Formed from Seward CountyElkhart
Nemaha1855One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Dorn County)Seneca
Neosho1861One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Dorn County)Erie
Ness1867From unorganized areaNess City
Norton1867From unorganized area (Formerly Billings (1873-9)Norton
Osage1859One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Weller County)Lyndon
Osborne1867From unorganized areaOsborne
Ottawa1860From unorganized areaMinneapolis
Pawnee1867From unorganized areaLarned
Phillips1867From unorganized areaPhillipsburg
Pottawatomie1857Formed from Calhoun and RileyWestmoreland
Pratt1867From unorganized areaPratt
Rawlins1873From unorganized areaAtwood
Reno1867From unorganized areaHutchinson
Republic1860Formed from Washington CountyBelleville
Rice1867From unorganized areaLyons
Riley1855One of the original 36 countiesManhattan
Rooks1867From unorganized areaStockton
Rush1867From unorganized areaLa Crosse
Russell1867From unorganized areaRussell
Saline1860From unorganized areaSalina
Scott1873From unorganized areaScott City
Sedgwick1867Formed from Butler CountyWichita
Seward1861From unorganized areaLiberal
Shawnee1855One of the original 36 countiesTopeka
Sheridan1873From unorganized areaHoxie
Sherman1873From unorganized areaGoodland
Smith1867From unorganized areaSmith Center
Stafford1867From unorganized areaSaint John
Stanton1873Formed from Hamilton CountyJohnson City
Stevens1873Formed from Seward CountyHugoton
Sumner1867Formed from Butler CountyWellington
Thomas1873From unorganized areaColby
Trego1867From unorganized areaWaKeeney
Wabaunsee1859One of the original 36 counties (Formerly Richardson County)Alma
Wallace1868From unorganized areaSharon Springs
Washington1855From unorganized areaWashington
Wichita1873From unorganized areaLeoti
Wilson1855One of the original 36 countiesFredonia
Woodson1855One of the original 36 countiesYates Center
Wyandotte1859Formed from Leavenworth and Johnson CountiesKansas City



Interactive Map of Kansas Counties Formation

(Kansas maps made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company)


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