Kansas Government records cover a broad range of genealogy subject areas that can help you as part of your research, such as land ownership, courts, taxes, and naturalization’s. Given that Kansas court records cover such a wide selection of topics, they could aid you in many different ways. As an example, they could aid you in finding ancestors’ residences, identify occupations, locate financial information, determine citizenship status, or shed light on relationships between individuals. The whole thing relies upon on the type of court records that the ancestors” names show up in. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia.
Kansas Courthouse records change extensively from county to county in both level of quality and volume. You will find different kinds of court records that are most likely to possess information related for your genealogical research below.
Kansas Court Records
Both criminal and civil case records are maintained by the district court, along with records of naturalization and other documents. Those records may also contain: Jury Lists, Witness Claims, Alimony Records, Patent Rights, Judgments, Attorneys Records See Also Research In Court Records.
In 1854, Kansas was officially opened up for white settlement for the first time. It was surveyed around that time using a rectangular survey system. The Salt Lake City Family History Library (FHL) has some of the microfilmed early patent books for Kansas on file.
The 1862 Homestead Law passage is what led to a lot of the development in Kansas. Although, it didn’t actually go into effect until January 1, 1863. It enticed new settlers with “free land,” but there were 5 major requirements. They were:
The landowner had to be the head of the family, or at least 21 years old., The landowner had to declare their intention of becoming a citizen of the United States, or already be a citizen., The landowner could not already own more than 320 acres., The landowner could not abandon land that he already owned in the territory or state in order to take possession of new free land., The landowner had to intend to maintain a family homestead on the land.
Land in Kansas could be distributed from any of four sources. Those were higher learning institutions, common-school lands, lands distributed by the federal government, and lands distributed by the railroad.
There were 9 land districts in Kansas originally, with land offices established in 25 Kansas towns. Some of them were: Larned (Pawnee County), Oberlin (Decatur County), Topeka (Shawnee County), Kirwin (Phillips County), Independence (Montgomery County), Concordia (Cloud County), Salina (Saline County), Wakeeney (Trego County), Wichita (Sedgwick County), Cherokee Strip Lands, Osage Indian Trust Lands.
Multiple railroad offices also distributed land. Some of them were the Kansas and Missouri railroad offices. Also, the offices of the Texas Railway, which was headquartered in Parsons Kansas, and the Topeka and Atchison railway offices distributed land. So did the Santa Fe railroad office, although it was headquartered in Topeka. The Kansas City headquarters of the Kansas Division of the Union Pacific Railroad also distributed lands.
The Dodge City land office purchase records are on file at the Kansas State Historical Society, along with various tract maps, tract books, and plats. Many of them have been placed on microfilm. The Santa Fe Railroad land sale records are also on file there, along with the records from the Kansas Town and Land Company (Rock Island Railroad). That company sold lands in Kansas, as well as in New Mexico, Nebraska, and Colorado. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) records from 1840 through 1915 for Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas are on file at the National Archives-Central Plains Region.
The Register of Deeds office in each Kansas county holds any land records for that county that were recorded after each piece of property was originally purchased. See Also Guide to U.S. Land Records Research
The district court has many county-level probate records on file. There are indexes available for many of those records, which may include: Probate Court Papers, Court Records, Executor’s Bonds, Letters of Testamentary, Inventories, Sale Bills, Guardian and Curators’ Records, Court Appointments.
Case files, probate minute books, and other probate court records are also available, in many cases. Researchers should also check the files for:
Administration Application Letters, Executors and Guardians, Administrators and Guardian’s Bonds, Appraisements of Estates, Names and Oaths of Witnesses, Sale Bills, Settlement Records, Orders of Publication, Term Docket Books, Wills and Record of Wills. See Also Guide to U.S. Probate Records Research
Kansas contains 105 counties. Each county is the local level of government within its borders. The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a Kansas county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database. Kansas State Government is located in Topeka.