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Allen County, Kansas

Allen County was named for William Allen of Ohio. Allen, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives one term beginning in 1831, was the youngest member at that time. He later served in the U.S. Senate in 1837 and returned in 1843. The county was one of the original 33 counties organized by the territorial legislature on March 30, 1855. The territorial legislature determined the boundaries of Allen County and appointed the county officers to serve until elections in 1857. The county was founded by Richard Fuqua; D. H. Parsons; B. W. Cowden; W. C. Keith; James Barnes; A. W. J. Brown; Charles Passmore; Kasnal martin; J. W. and Harmot Scott; R. M. Works; Aaron Case; H. H. Hayward, and Z. C. Wisner, and contains the cities of Bassett, Elsmore, Gas, Humboldt, Iola, La Harpe, Mildred, Moran and Savonburg.

Natural gas in commercial quantities was discovered in 1893 near Iola, and oil was subsequently discovered near Humboldt. The discovery of natural gas allowed the building of large smelters for zinc smelting and the operation of cement plants. Both industries used the natural gas in their processing. A decline in the supply of gas and oil beginning in the 1920s caused a decline in the county's economy, and removal of most of the smelting and cement plants.

The first church in the county was the Congregational church in Geneva, organized on December 26, 1857, with the Reverend Gilbert S. Northrup as pastor. The first school district was Number 1 Geneva, organized at that location in 1858. The first county fair was held in 1894 by the County Agriculture Society. The exact location of the fair is not known for certain, but it was probably in the grove that later became Riverside Park. The fair is now held at Everett Shepherd Park.

Many interesting figures hail from Allen County. General Frederick Funston of Spanish-American War fame lived in Iola as a boy. Walter Johnson, one of baseball's greatest pitchers, and Hall of Fame member, was born in Humboldt. Charles F. Scott, Congressman (1901-1907) and editor from Iola. Debra Dene Barnes, Miss America, 1968, was from Moran. Others include: Edward H. Funston, Congressman, 1884-1894 and 1907-1911; and John R. Goodwin, Congressman, 1875-1877.

It has been told that a buried treasure is located just south of where the first settlement of Cofachique was located.

Allen County holds such interesting sites as the Allen County Jail, the Iola Post Office, the Bandstand in Iola and the Seven Arch Rock Bridge.

For more information see the Allen County website.The Allen County Historical Society, 207 N. Jefferson, Iola, maintains a small research library that contains most published sources relating to the county, and a small archives.

Entry: Allen 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: January 2010

Date Modified: December 2012

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