Allen County, KS

County in Southeast KS

In 1802, Spain returned most of the land to France, but keeping title to about 7,500 square miles. In 1803, most of the land for modern day Kansas was acquired by the United States from France as part of the 828,000 square mile Louisiana Purchase for 2.83 cents per acre.

In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized. Allen County is one of the 33 counties established by the first territorial legislature in August 1855, six years before Kansas statehood in 1861. It was named in honor of William Allen, a United States senator from Ohio. At the time of its creation, Charles Passmore was appointed probate judge; B.W. Cowden and Barnett Owen were appointed county commissioners, and William Godfrey was appointed sheriff. The appointments were temporary until the general election in 1857. The four men were authorized to appoint the county clerk and treasurer thus completing the county organization.

Richard J. Fuqua and his family are considered the first white settlers in the county, arriving in the valley of the Neosho River January 1855. Fuqua established a post for trading with the neighboring Indian tribes which became quite popular with the Sac and Fox Indians. B.W. Cowden and H.D. Parsons arrived in March of the same year and selected claims in the valley of the Neosho River, near the mouth of Elm Creek. The next settlement was made near the mouth of Deer Creek (so named for the abundance of deer in the area) by Major James Parsons, and his two sons, Jesse and James, and a Mr. Duncan. The population grew rapidly through the spring and summer of 1855, most of it located on or near the Neosho River.

Many of the early settlers were pro-slavery, but few slaves were actually brought into the county. The anti-slavery population expressed such antipathy toward their pro-slavery neighbors that slaves within the county there were either freed or taken elsewhere in Kansas by their masters. Immigration continued during the summer and fall of 1856, though in reduced numbers.

The first town and county seat was Cofachique. In the spring of 1855 pro-slavery settlers from Fort Scott laid out the town in a hilly area east of the Neosho River and south of the mouth of Elm Creek. The territorial legislature passed an act in July 1855 incorporating the Cofachique Town Association. It was the only town in Allen County for nearly two years and as such was quite successful; but in 1857 other towns were constructed and Cofachique began to decline almost immediately. One of the reasons for decline was accessibility; the other was a lack of good well water. Another possible contribution to the town's decline involved tensions between the pro and anti-slavery settlers. With the development of neighboring towns Humboldt and Iola the town of Cofachique all but disappeared by 1859. The county seat went briefly to Humboldt in 1857 where it remained until 1865, but with the election of that year Iola took the county seat and has retained this designation to the present.

After a series of disputes between residents in the county over where a county jail should be located, Allen County's first jail was constructed in Iola in 1869 at a cost of $8,400. It operated until a replacement jail house was opened in 1959. Since that time the original jail has been run as a museum.

The last year of the territorial period (1860) was one of the most difficult years since the initial settlement of the county. Periods of drought beginning as early as 1854 had plagued all of Kansas and though 1859 had seen a reprieve, by the end of 1859 and into 1860 the drought worsened. The St. Laurence newspaper reported: "No rain, no snow, and much open, thawing, mild weather, alternated with sharp, though brief [cold] snaps. . . ." Most of the people who had moved to the county in the previous two years were still trying to establish their farms. With the prospect of starvation and hardship before them, many decided to return to the east.

Sponsors of Allen County, KS

Since the founding of our communities, organizations, businesses and citizens have stepped forward to build and serve their community. Click on any of the logos below to learn about those who made this website possible! If you would like to learn about becoming a sponsor CLICK HERE!

Towns of Allen County, KS

The small towns of the Midwest are rich in history and a great way of life! Below you can visit and learn about the small towns we call home! Towns that have their name highlighted have become FEATURED TOWNS. Businesses/organizations from these towns have stepped forward as SPONSORS enabling us to include (or will include as acquired) stories and website links to ALL their community organizations (chambers, groups and departments, etc.), stories and website links to ALL their points of interest, annual festivals/events and stories done about their citizens, veterans and faith community. To learn how to become a featured town CLICK HERE!

Businesses of Allen County, KS

The businesses of our towns are truly the lifeblood of each community, click on any businesses below to learn about them, to learn how to add your business to your town and county page CLICK HERE!