Edwards County,

Edwards County is a county located in Southwest Kansas. The official county code is ED. The population was estimated to be 3,138 in the year 2006. Its county seat and most populous city is Kinsley.


The Early History of Edwards County
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)
On March 7, 1874, Gov. Osborn approved an act creating several new counties and defining the boundaries of some previously erected. By this act Edwards county was called into existence with the following described boundaries: "Commencing at the intersection of the east line of range 16 west with the north line of township 24 south, thence west with said township line to the east line of range 19 west, thence north with said range line to the north line of township 23 south, thence west with said township line to the east line of range 21 west, thence south with said range line to the north line of township 27 south, thence east with said township line to the east line of range 16 west, thence north to the place of beginning."

By the act of March 5, 1875, which abolished Kiowa county, two tiers of townships were added to Edwards on the south, giving it an area of 972 square miles. Kiowa county was reëstablished by the act of Feb. 10, 1886, when the original boundaries of Edwards county were restored, so that the present area of the county is 612 square miles. It was named for W. E. Edwards, one of the early settlers, who erected the first brick block in the county, which block was occupied as a courthouse for several years before a building was erected by the county.

Lieut. Zebulon M. Pike's expedition passed through the county in 1806, following closely the route which afterward became historic as the Santa Fe trail. In the fall of 1872 the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad was completed as far as Edwards county, and in March, 1873, a colony from Massachusetts settled where Kinsley now stands, W. C. Knight, who was elected county superintendent of schools in Nov., 1874, being the first man to erect a building. Soon after the first settlers located there E. K. Smart started a lumber yard, and a little later T. L. Rogers opened the first general store. A postoffice—called Peters—was established in May, 1873, with N. C. Boles as postmaster. The first school was taught the following fall by Mrs. A. L. McGinnis in a room 12 by 16 feet, a little over $30 having been subscribed for a three months' term, the law requiring three months of school to have been taught in the county before it was entitled to participate in the public school fund.

On May 18, 1874, a memorial was filed with the governor, representing that the population of the county was more than 600 and praying for its organization. The petitioners also asked for the appointment of Charles L. Hubbs, Nicholas L. Humphrey and George W. Wilson as county commissioners, James A. Walker as county clerk, and that Kinsley be named as the temporary county seat. Robert McCause was appointed to take a census, which showed the population of the county to be 633, and on Aug. 1, 1874, Gov. Osborn issued his proclamation declaring the county organized, with the officers and county seat recommended in the memorial.

One of the first acts of the board of commissioners was to divide the county into the townships of Brown, Kinsley, and Trenton, and designate voting places for the general election in November, when the following officers were elected: Charles L. Hubbs, representative; F. C. Blanchard, J. A. Brothers and T. L. Rogers, county commissioners; William Emerson, county clerk; J. H. Woods, clerk of the district court; E. A. Boyd, treasurer; V. D. Billings, sheriff; L. W. Higgins, register of deeds; Massena Moore, probate judge; Taylor Flick, county attorney; J. L. Perry, coroner; Frank A. White, surveyor; W. C. Knight, superintendent of public instruction.

Edwards county suffered greatly the year it was organized from grasshoppers. After investigating the conditions in the county, the commissioners met in special session on Sept. 15, when they made out a report to the governor in which they said:

"Our crops are totally destroyed; not one bushel of vegetables or grain being saved for man or beast. Our people are mostly poor people, without wealthy relatives or friends to assist them in their extremity. We have personally and carefully investigated each case and find six families, containing 22 persons, totally destitute; five families, containing '8 persons, partially destitute. The above are the only persons in the county that will need aid to carry them to another crop. We believe $500, judiciously expended, will be sufficient with what they can earn, to keep them in the necessaries of life."

The commissioners also suggested that, if aid was extended by the extra session of the legislature then about to meet, the persons having charge of the distribution of such funds employ needy, able-bodied men to work on the public highways, etc. The grasshopper scourge of 1874 and the short crops of 1878 retarded for a time the settlement of the county, but in 1885, the reports of abundant crops and cheap land brought hundreds of new settlers to southwestern Kansas, and the population of Edwards county was nearly doubled during the year.

Along the Arkansas river, which enters the county near the southwest corner and flows northeast, the "bottoms" are about 3 miles wide, constituting about one-fourth of the area. The remaining surface is generally level or undulating prairie. Narrow belts of cottonwood trees are found along the Arkansas river and Rattlesnake creek, which flows across the southeast corner. These comprise about all the native timber, but many fine artificial groves have been planted. Building stone is found on the hills, which is the principal mineral of any kind. Transportation facilities are afforded by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe R. R., the main line of which crosses the county from east to west a little north of the center, and a branch runs northeast from Kinsley to Great Bend in Barton county. Altogether there are a little over 37 miles of main track.

The population of Edwards county in 1910 was 7,033, a gain of 3,351, or more than 90 per cent. during the preceding decade. The county is divided into the following civil townships: Belpre, Brown, Franklin, Jackson, Kinsley, Lincoln, Logan, Trenton and Wayne. in 1910 the assessed valuation of property was $15,220,616. The value of farm products for the year was $2,137,608. The five leading crops in the order of value were: Wheat, $1,442,741; corn, $230,225; hay, $62,247; Kafir corn, $50,152; oats, $46,444.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,611 km² (622 mi²), of which 1,611 km² (622 mi²) is land and 0 km² (0 mi²), or 0.01%, is water.

Geographic Features
The Arkansas River flows through Edwards County from the southwest corner to the Pawnee County line near U.S. Route 56. Since the early 1990s, however, the riverbed has contained little to no water, and can be waded across in most places.

Major Highways
Three U.S. Routes run through Edwards County, all meeting in Kinsley. An east-west route, U.S. Route 50 circumvents Belpre and Lewis before joining with westbound U.S. Route 56 in Kinsley. The single road then passes through Offerle and west into Ford County. U.S. Route 183 runs from Kiowa County in the South to Kinsley, where it joins eastbound U.S. 56, running as a single highway to Panwee County. Kansas Highway K-19 starts at U.S. Route 50 near Belpre, and travels North into Pawnee County.

Edwards County's population was estimated to be 3,138 in the year 2006, a decrease of 289, or -8.4%, over the previous six years.

As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 3,449 people, 1,455 households, and 955 families residing in the county. The population density was 2/km² (6/mi²). There were 1,754 housing units at an average density of 1/km² (3/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.52% White, 0.32% Black or African American, 0.49% Native American, 0.32% Asian, 5.57% from other races, and 0.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 9.71% of the population.

There were 1,455 households out of which 28.70% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.30% were married couples living together, 6.00% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.30% were non-families. 32.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.60% under the age of 18, 6.70% from 18 to 24, 25.10% from 25 to 44, 22.80% from 45 to 64, and 20.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 97.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.80 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $30,530, and the median income for a family was $38,250. Males had a median income of $27,050 versus $20,132 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,586. About 7.00% of families and 10.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.40% of those under age 18 and 8.00% of those age 65 or over.

Cities and towns
Incorporated cities
Name and population (2004 estimate):

Kinsley, 1,559 (county seat)
Lewis, 476
Offerle, 215
Belpre, 101

Unincorporated places

Unified school districts
Kinsley-Offerle USD 347
Lewis USD 502

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