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Sumner County, Kansas

Sumner County was organized on February 7, 1871, by John J. Albert and John S. McMahon. Named for Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, it contains the cities of Conway Springs, Belle Plaine, Caldwell, Argonia, Mulvane (part), Mayfield, Oxford, Milan, Hunnewell, South Haven, Geuda Springs (part), and Wellington.

The Belle Plaine Methodist Church, organized in 1871, was the first church in the county. The first county fairs were held near Wellington, the dates are uncertain. The present fair is held in Caldwell. The first school district was organized in Oxford in 1872.

Artesian springs, Gueda SpringsInteresting public figures from the county include Susanna Madora Salter who on April 4, 1887, was elected mayor of Argonia, the first woman mayor in the United States. Joe Maddy, a Wellington musician, founded the Interlochen Musical Camp. Fred Stone (1893-1959), who at one time lived in Wellington, was a well-known vaudevillian, actor, and movie personality, who was famous for his portrayal of the Scarecrow in the ”Wizard of Oz" on the stage. John Donovan Strong developed the 200-inch Mount Palomar telescope. May Williams Ward, one of Kansas' best known poets and winner of the Poetry Society of America Award in 1937, was from Wellington.

Local tales relating to the Chisholm Trail and its hardships, cowboys, and adventures include a story, that may also have some factual basis. When Wellington was attempting to procure some of the cattle drover business away from Sumner City, some men from Wellington plowed a furrow from a point on the trail, bypassed Sumner City, and proceeded into Wellington. From then on, when herdsmen asked directions they were told to follow the trail.

Interesting sites in the county include the Bartlett Arboretum, the Oxford Mill, the Salter House, Caldwell Carnegie Library, Wellington Memorial Hall, the Mineral Springs at Geuda Springs, and the Spring at Conway Springs

For more information see the Sumner County website. The Sumner County Historical Society, the Wellington Public Library, and the Caldwell Public Library, have references and source materials relating to the county's history.

Entry: Sumner 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.