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Kansas Secretaries of State

The Kansas Secretary of State is the chief elections office in the state. The secretary of state administers elections and voter registration, receives campaign finance reports, and registers lobbyists. The office shares regulation of lobbying and campaign finance with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission. In 2015 the Kansas Legislature granted the secretary of state with prosecutorial power in voter fraud cases.

  Name Term
Kansas Territory: Secretary
1. Daniel Woodson June 29, 1854-April 16, 1857
2. Frederick P. Stanton April 16, 1857 - December 21, 1857
3. James W. Denver December 21, 1857 - May 12, 1858
4. Hugh Sleight Walsh May 12, 1858 - June 28, 1860
5. George M. Beebe July 1, 1860 - February 9, 1861
 
State of Kansas: Secretary of State
1. John Winter Robinson February 9, 1861 - July 28, 1862
2. Sanders Rufus Shepherd August 28, 1862 - January 12, 1863
3. Warren W.H. Lawrence January 12, 1863 - January 9, 1865
4. Rinaldo Allen Barker January 9, 1865 - January 11, 1869
5. Thomas Moonlight January 11, 1869 - January 9, 1871
6. William Hillary Smallwood January 9, 1871 - January 11, 1875
7. Thomas Horne Cavanaugh January 11, 1875 - January 13, 1879
8. James Smith January 13, 1879 - January 14, 1885
9. Edwin Bird Allen January 12, 1885 - January 14, 1889
10. William Higgins January 14, 1889 - January 9, 1893
11. Russell Scott Osborn January 9, 1893 - January 14, 1895
12. William Corydon Edwards January 14, 1895 - January 11, 1897
13. William Eben Bush January 11, 1897 - January 9, 1899
14. George Alfred Clark January 9, 1899 - January 12, 1903
15. Joel Randall Burrow January 12, 1903 - January 14, 1907
16. Charles Eugene Denton January 14, 1907 - January 9, 1911
17. Charles Harrison Sessions January 9, 1911 - January 11, 1915
18. John Thomas Botkin January 11, 1915 - January 13, 1919
19. Lewis Julian Pettijohn January 13, 1919 - November 10, 1922
20. David Owen McCray November 14, 1922 - January 8, 1923
21. Frank Joseph Ryan January 8, 1923 - January 14, 1929
22. Edgbert Albert Cornell January 14, 1929 - January 9, 1933
23. Frank Joseph Ryan January 9, 1933 - January 10, 1949
24. Larry Ryan January 10, 1949 - January 8, 1951
25. Paul R. Shanahan January 8, 1951 - April 14, 1966
26. Elwill M. Shanahan April 28, 1966 - May 10, 1978
27. Jack Brier May 10, 1978 - January 12, 1987
28. William Preston Graves January 12, 1987 - January 9, 1995
29. Ron Thornburgh January 9, 1995 - February 15, 2010
30. Chris Biggs March 16, 2010 - January 10, 2011
31. Kris W. Kobach January 10, 2011 -

Alphabetical listing of Kansas Secretaries of State

Edwin Bird Allen
Died March 31, 1908 in Missouri (St. Joseph or Kansas City?)
Term of Office: January 12, 1885 - January 14, 1889
Republican from Wichita

Rinaldo Allen Barker
Term of Office: January 9, 1865 - January 11, 1869
Republican from Atchison

George M. Beebe
Born October 28, 1836, and died March 4, 1927
Term of Office: July 1, 1860 to February 9, 1861
Democrat

Chris Biggs
Born October 14, 1958 in Kansas City, Missouri
Term of Office: March 16, 2010 to January 10, 2011
Democrat

John Thomas Botkin
Died December 15, 1928, Wichita, Kan.
Term of Office: January 11, 1915 - January 13, 1919
Republican from Galena

Jack Brier
Term of Office: May 10, 1978 - January 12, 1987
Republican from Overland Park

Joel Randall Burrow
Died September 30, 1931, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 12, 1903 - January 14, 1907
Republican from Smith Center

William Eben Bush
Died October 6, 1943, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 11, 1897 - January 9, 1899
Populist from Mankato

Thomas Horne Cavanaugh
Died August 31, 1909, Tacoma, Wash.
Term of Office: January 11, 1875 - January 13, 1879
Republican from Salina

George Alfred Clark
Died October 9, 1938, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 9, 1899 - January 12, 1903
Republican from Junction City

Edgbert Albert Cornell
Died July 9, 1951, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 14, 1929 - January 9, 1933
Republican from Topeka

Charles Eugene Denton
Died March 6, 1913, Wichita, Kan.
Term of Office: January 14, 1907 - January 9, 1911
Republican from Attica

James W. Denver
Born October 23, 1817, and died August 9, 1892
Term of Office: Commissioned December 11, 1857; took the oath December 21, 1857; served 21 Dec 1857 to 12 May 1858
Democrat

William Corydon Edwards
Died May 4, 1922, Wichita, Kan.
Term of Office: January 14, 1895 - January 11, 1897
Republican from Larned

William Preston Graves
Born January 9, 1953, Salina, Kan.
Term of Office: January 12, 1987 - January 9, 1995
Republican from Salina

William Higgins
Died July 14,1925, Bartlesville, Okla.
Term of Office: January 12, 1889 - January 9, 1893
Republican from Topeka

Kris W. Kobach
Born March 26, 1966, Madison, Wis.
Term of Office: January 10, 2011 -
Republican from Piper

Warren Wirt Henry Lawrence
Died August 20, 1906, Mentor, Ohio
Term of Office: January 12, 1863 - January 9, 1865
Republican from Peoria City

David Owen McCray
Died June 5, 1930, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: November 14, 1922 - January 8, 1923; appointed to fill vacancy
Republican from Topeka

Thomas Moonlight
Died February 7, 1899, Leavenworth, Kan.
Term of Office: January 11, 1869 - January 9, 1871
Republican from Leavenworth

Russell Scott Osborn
Died May 22, 1912, Stockton, Kan.
Term of Office: January 9, 1893 - January 14, 1895
Populist from Stockton

Lewis Julian Pettijohn
Died April 4, 1936, Dodge City, Kan.
Term of Office: January 13, 1919 - November 10, 1922; resigned to become secretary of Federal Farm Loan Bank in Wichita
Republican from Dodge City

John Winter Robinson
Died December 11, 1863, Fort Smith, Ark.
Term of Office: February 9, 1861 - July 28, 1862
Republican from Manhattan

Frank Joseph Ryan
Died March 12, 1949, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 8, 1923 - January 14, 1929 and January 9, 1933 - January 10, 1949
Republican from Leavenworth

Larry Ryan
Died February 3, 1972, Wichita, Kan.
Term of Office: January 10, 1949 - January 8, 1951
Democrat from Manhattan

Charles Harrison Sessions
Died December 25, 1942, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 9, 1911 - January 11, 1915
Republican from Topeka

Elwill Mattson Shanahan (Mrs. Paul Shanahan)
Term of Office: April 28, 1966 - May 10, 1978; appointed April 27, to fill vacancy caused by her husband's death and took the oath of office the following day
Named Secretary of State Emerita on January 4, 1979
Republican from Salina

Paul R. Shanahan
Died April 14, 1966, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 8, 1951 - April 14, 1966
Republican from Salina

Sanders Rufus Shepherd
Died August 30, 1915, Leavenworth, Kan.
Term of Office: August 28, 1862 - January 12, 1863; appointed to fill vacancy
Republican from Topeka

William Hillary Smallwood
Died October 26, 1919, Duluth, Minn.
Term of Office: January 9, 1871 - January 11, 1875
Republican from Wathena

James Smith
Died May 28, 1914, Topeka, Kan.
Term of Office: January 13, 1879 - January 14, 1885
Republican from Marysville

Frederick P. Stanton
Term of Office: Commissioned March 13, 1857; took the oath April 2; served April 16 to December 21, 1857
Democrat

Ron Thornburgh
Term of Office: January 9, 1995 - February 15, 2010
Republican from Topeka

Hugh Sleight Walsh
Term of Office: Served May 12, 1858 to June 28, 1860
Democrat

Daniel Woodson
Term of Office: Commissioned June 29, 1854; took the oath September 28; served June 29, 1854 to April 16, 1857
Democrat

 

 

Entry: Kansas Secretaries of State

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 2017

Date Modified: February 2017

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