History from Stafford County Museum
In the geography books of the 17th and 18th centuries, Kansas was labeled the “Great American Desert.” Coronado may have stepped foot on Stafford County soil when he explored northward from Mexico in 1541. (Or he may not have … but we like to think he at least saw us from the top of Pawnee Rock!)
Stafford County was within the area of the Louisiana Purchase made in 1803 from France by Pres. Thomas Jefferson. The following year, Lewis and Clark started on their famed expedition going west across the “desert” plains. Caravans of covered wagons followed in their footsteps and settlements developed around the way stations, trading posts and mission headquarters.
In 1848, the southwest territory became a part of the United States and in 1854 Congress created the territory of Kansas.
History from Kansapedia
Stafford County was organized on July 2, 1879, by John Birkbeck; Martin Fitzpatrick; James O’Connor; Elisha, Edward and F. Williamson; Abraham Lash; H. Campbell; J. C. Stone; R. M. Blair; Jesse Vickers; E. D. Crawford; Edwin Hadlock; W. Z. Nutting; George C. Ardry, and W. R. Hoole. It was named for Captain Lewis Stafford, a Civil War soldier in the First Kansas Regiment, and contains the cities of Radium, St. John, Macksville, Hudson, Seward and Stafford.
The establishment of a Mormon settlement northeast of St. John in 1875 brought a new population base to the county. Their leader, William Beckerton, was said to have asked God not to allow a cyclone to devastate the area. To date, no tornado has touched the area or the town of St. John.