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Meade County, Kansas

Meade County, Kansas, in the southwest part of the state was once hunting grounds for Plains Indians. Tensions increased when white settlers arrived and railroad construction began. The infamous outlaws, the Dalton Gang, are believed to have hidden in the area. Their sister Eva lived in this county.

Meade County, Kansas, organized in 1885, was named after Civil War veteran Union General George Meade. Meade County was once part of the land that was the old Washington County, Peketon County, and later an enlarged Marion County. Indian Tribes that were once associated with the county were Kiowa, Apache, Cheyenne, and Comanche. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado traveled through the county on a 1540s expedition.

Upon the county’s organization, Meade Center had been established as the temporary county seat, and was soon voted the permanent location, despite having rivals.

Years before Meade County was organized, however, there was trouble in the county. In 1874, a group of surveyors were killed by Cheyenne Indians in the Lone Tree Massacre. Around the same time John and Liddia German and some of their children were also killed. Four of their daughters were taken captive, and eventually released months after. In 1878, Northern Cheyenne Indians, who had been located at a reservation that was less than desirable, escaped their reservation. They came up through Kansas during their escape, and this included Meade County. 

 For a time during the 1880’s and 1890’s thievery was common as stock-raising was an industry in the county. The acts were eventually stopped as residents taking action deterred the thieves as not the best use of their time. A salt well was discovered at one point in the county and for a time was a popular attraction for bathers. Artesian well were discovered in the county as well.

Farming continues to be important in the county, which is among the top corn and sorghum producers.

The infamous Dalton Gang’s sister Eva Dalton Whipple lived with her husband in Meade County and it is believed that her house was used as hideout for her brothers. The Dalton Gang Hideout and Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places. The WPA was involved in the renovation of the property as it was turned into a historical park.

Western Kansas was impacted by the Dust Bowl years of the 1930’s, and Meade County was not shielded from being impacted. During the 1930s, the Fowler Swimming Pool and Bathhouse was built and was a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). When it opened, the celebration and festivities was a popular event and was attended by over a thousand individuals. The pool and bathhouse is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Quick Facts

Date Established: March 20, 1873
Date Organized: November 4, 1885
County Seat: Meade
Kansas Region: Southwest
Physiographic Region: High Plains & Red Hills
State Park: Meade State Park
Courthouse: 1928


1873 - Meade County is established.
1874 - Lone Tree Massacre
1878 - Northern Cheyenne escape their reservation, and in their escape come through Kansas, including Meade County.
1885 - Meade County is organized. 

More on Meade County


Entry: Meade 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: August 2023

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