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McPherson County, Kansas

McPherson County was organized on March 1, 1870, by A. G. Limm; Gustaf Johnson; Nicholas Sponberg; H. J. Nordlund; John F. Hughes; James M. Claypool; Robert Minns; and Harold Reese. It contains the cities of Canton, Windom, Galva, Lindsborg, McPherson, Marquette, Moundridge and Inman and was named for Civil War General James McPherson.

A treaty with the the Kaw Indians in 1825 that ceded all their land to the federal government opened the area to settlement. The arrival of the Chicago Swedish Company and founding of Lindsborg in 1868, prompted many Swedish settlers and the founding of Lindsborg College in the late 1860s and early 1870s. In 1881 Bethel College was founded. In April 1976, the King of Sweden visited Lindsborg. A Swedish immigrant, on his way to Lindsborg, arrived in New York. He took a look up at the tall buildings, and said, "My, if this is New York, what must Lindsborg be?"

The Freemont Lutheran Church was founded June 23, 1869, and the Bethany Lutheran Church of Lindsborg on August 19, 1869. The first school district, Number 1, was organized in Eureka in 1870. The first county fair was held in 1933 as a 4-H fair. It continues annually in Canton as an official county fair.

Farm in the same family for the longest consecutive period

Three farms were all founded in 1866 and still have descendants living on them. They are: the Minns family farm in Harper Township; the Rev. James Claypool farm in Marquett Township; and the Sponberg family farm in Smoky Hill Township.

Carl Swensson, pastor and founder of Bethany College, Lindsborg, was one of the most influential persons in the county. Abraham Smith, a prominent early day pioneer, was in the served in the Kansas House of Representatives and ran for governor in 1892. Belle Gray, mayor of Canton in the 1890s, along with an all woman city council, sought to reform the town creating state and national publicity.

The Fortune Hunter, and The Old Stone Corral, were written in 1888 by McPherson County resident, John D. Carteret.

Interesting sites in the county include the McPherson County Courthouse, the McPherson Opera House, the Swedish Pavilion in Old Mill Park, the Old Roller Mill, Old Mill Park, Bethany Lutheran Church, Freemount Lutheran Church, Walden College, and Central College.

For more information see the McPherson County website. Several publications relate to the history of the Swedish immigrants and Lindsborg. Bethany College has a research library and historical sources and the McPherson Public Library has the Jessie Rowland papers.

Entry: McPherson County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: October 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.