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Kansas Civil Townships and Independent Cities

In Kansas there are two different land divisions called townships: civil townships and survey townships.

Kiowa County map showing townshipsCivil Townships

Civil townships, also known as governmental or political townships, are political subdivisions within a county, usually responsible for activities such as road maintenance and fire protection in rural areas. The Kansas state censuses are subdivided by civil township. Most civil townships are identified by name, and their boundaries may or may not coincide with survey townships. The boundaries and names have sometimes changed through the years; over the past several decades, some less-populous counties have consolidated their townships.

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This searchable database/index includes the township's name, the county in which it is located, its population as of the 2000 census, and sometimes brief notes. Most listings are for currently-extant townships; information about historical townships is gradually being added, but is incomplete. The database also includes the names of independent cities (cities of the first and second classes, generally with over 2,000 inhabitants), which are administratively separate and not part of any township).

Survey Townships

A survey township is a geographic unit based on the Public Land Survey System, used to identify parcels of land for deeds and other legal documents. Survey townships are sometimes called congressional townships, because they were created by an act of Congress--the Land Ordinance of 1785. When Kansas was opened for non-native settlement in 1854, surveyors divided the region into 25 ranges east and 43 ranges west of the 6th principal meridian (which follows a line north to south approximately along Highway 81). Laterally, Kansas was divided into 6-mile squares called townships, which are numbered from 1 to 35, going south from the Nebraska border. Each township is further divided into 36 sections that are one mile square. (Some irregular townships have been created to correct for the Earth's curvature and survey errors.) This early range and township system is still used for the legal descriptions of rural property. The map below shows the range and township lines in Kansas.

Township and Range lines of federal surveys in Kansas.