History of Stafford County

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.

A pictorial map of Kansas, published by the Wichita Beacon, indicates Kiowa Indian Chief, Satanta, known as the "Terror of the Santa Fe Trail," used the Stafford County area as his base of operations.

In 1865, at the close of the Civil War, what would later become Stafford County was part of Marion County, which extended west to Colorado.

According to Family Heritage Album (Family Heritage Society, 1975), Stafford County was first established Feb. 26, 1867, but was "unstable." The boundary lines of Stafford County were defined by the Legislature of 1870, but the county remained unorganized. The Legislature of 1875, with the intention of obliterating the county from the map, partitioned the territory off to surrounding counties. However, a strip six miles wide and 12 miles long remained as Stafford County.

On April 25, 1879, the Supreme Court declared the Legislature's act of dividing the county unconstitutional and the county was restored to its original boundaries.