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Sedgwick County, Kansas

Sedgwick County was organized on April 27, 1870, by Darius Munger; William Greiffenstein; Charles Whittaker; Eli Waterman; and John Lawton. It contains the cities of Haysville, Valley Center, Goddard, Bentley, Garden Plain, Mount Hope, Kechi, Eastborough, Cheney, Clearwater, Maize, Derby, Mulvane (part), Andale, Colwich, Sedgwick (part), Viola, Wichita, Park City and Bel Aire, the county was named for General John Sedgwick, U.S. Army, who was killed at the Battle of Spotsylvania, 1864.

Sedgwick County was the northern terminus of the Chisholm Trail for a short time (1872-1876), and subsequently developed into an important cattle center. The Wichita and Southwestern Railroad Company (a branch of the Santa Fe) arrived in 1872, playing a crucial role in the development of the county's economic role in the state. The early development of the aircraft industry, beginning just prior to and during the 1920 saw the establishment of Cessna, Beech, Boeing, and other companies that made Wichita the center of the industry. Wichita is still a leader in military, commercial, and small aircraft production.

Both the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches in Wichita were organized in 1870. The first county fair was held in Wichita in 1874. After 1884 they have been held in Cheney. The first school district was formed in Wichita in the spring of 1870.

Many interesting Kansans are from Sedgwick County. Darius S. Munger was one of the first settlers who settled in and filed on one of the two plats for the original town site of Wichita in July, 1870, to begin the settlement of the area. William Greiffenstein, an early Indian trader and local store owner, filed the other town site plat. He actively promoted town development. James R. Mead, an early buffalo hunter and Indian trader also helped build the early town of Wichita. Milo Kellogg, a major town builder and manager of Durfee's Trading Post in the early 1870s, was a major contributor to the growth of Wichita and the county.

The interesting figures from the latter 19th and early 20th century are too numerous to mention. They can be located in any good history of Kansas or Wichita.

In 1871 two deputy U. S. marshals and government troops attempted to arrest one man named Ledford. Seeing he was in trouble, a bartender in DeAmour's Saloon tossed Ledford two old pistols. Ledford ran out the back and took refuge in a privy. When he tried to take his stand, the pistols would not work except for two shots. He was shot several times by the troopers.

Irving Stone's Passionate Journey, is the semi-fictional biography of Wichita artist John Noble. Tatoo, by Earl Thompson, is a novel about skid row life in Wichita.

On July 1, 1953, KTVH begins broadcasting in Wichita, the first television station in Kansas, which is now KWCH. Famous people from Sedgwick County include actress Vera Miles, basketball player Lynette Woodard, oceanographer Robert Ballard, television host Mike Jerrick, football player Barry Sanders, restaurateur Walter Anderson, and Ronald Walters of the Dockum sit-in.

There are 43 designated Wichita Historic Landmarks. A directory and history of each is available from the Historic Wichita Board office in the city building.

For more information see the Sedgwick County website. The Sedgwick County Historical Museum, the Cowtown Museum, the city historian's office at the Wichita Public Library, and the Special Collections Section of the Wichita State University Library have historical references and source materials on the county.

Entry: Sedgwick 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.