The first change in the boundaries was made in 1879, when the county was enlarged by township 15 in ranges 26 to 30. In 1881 it was diminished on the north by one tier of townships and increased on the south by a strip taken from Buffalo county. In 1883 townships 21 of ranges 27 to 30 were detached, the first two being given to Hodgeman and the last two attached to Finney.
In Feb., 1886, in response to a petition from the residents of Lane county for organization Gov. Martin appointed G. T. Sutton census taker. His report, made on June 3, showed that there were 2,726 inhabitants, of whom 924 were householders, and $739,843 worth of taxable property, exclusive of railroad property, of which $462,955 was real estate. Dighton was the choice of the majority of the voters for temporary county seat. The governor's proclamation, made the same day that this report was returned, declared Dighton the temporary county seat and appointed the following officers: County clerk, T. J. Smith; county commissioners, Joshua Wheatcraft, J. J. Shaffer and G. H. Steeley.
The first settlements were made in 1878 and were in or about Alamota, where the first postoffice was established in that year, a pioneer character known as "Wild Horse" Johnson being the first postmaster. Dighton must have been founded in 1879, as a newspaper, the Dighton Progress, was established in Feb., 1880, by Robert Mitchell. The first school was taught at Dighton in 1879. The first birth was that of Grace Lane Dow in 1879. The Dighton Republican in 1887 gave a list of 129 people who came into the county in 1879. The first United States census was taken in 1880 and showed a population of 619. At that time Lane was attached to Ness county for political purposes.
A number of towns were founded about this time, among which were Waterloo, by R. W. Hey; Gould City, or California, at the geographical center of the county, at which place the first newspaper was established one month prior to the Dighton Progress, and Watson. In 1881 Lane was organized as a municipal township and held its first election. The first marriage occurred in March, 1881, between William D. Larkin and Margaret A. Sprague, the ceremony being performed by Rev. N. R. Van Derran. In 1882 there were but three sections of land deeded, 1,198 head of cattle, and 2,304 sheep. The real estate and personal property was worth $45,000.
Five years later there were 180 sections of land deeded, the live stock numbered 6,326, of which one-half was cattle. The railroad had been built and Dighton had attained a population, according to the newspapers, of 2,000. The hard times of 1892-93, which caused a great deal of suffering in western Kansas, was especially disastrous to Lane county people. In the winter of 1893 many of the farmers, finding themselves unable to buy coal for fuel, sent a request to Gov. Lewelling that they be supplied from the state mines at Leavenworth. This could not be done under the law, but they were helped by private contributions. Ten years later the whole section had practically recovered from these hardships, land prices in Lane county had gone up, and permanent prosperity had been established.
The general surface of Lane county is rolling prairie. Bottom lands average one-half mile in width and comprise about 8 per cent. of the area. A few small streams, flowing north and east, have their sources within the county. There is a little native timber, and some artificial plantings. White limestone is found in the bluffs, and gypsum is plentiful.
The county is divided into nine townships: Alamota, Blaine, Cheyenne, Cleveland, Dighton, Spring Creek, Sutton, White Rock and Wilson. The postoffices are Alamota, Amy, Dighton, Division, Farnsworth, Healy, Lobdell, Pendennis and Shields. A branch of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad crosses near the center, almost directly west through Dighton. The Missouri Pacific railroad enters in the northeast and crosses southwest into Scott county. There are 45 organized school districts and one county high school.
The total value of farm products in 1910 was $691,847, of which $593,327 accrued from the field crops. The most valuable crop is wheat, which in 1910 amounted to more than $200,000. Sorghum for forage and grain brought $110,000. Corn, oats, barley and hay are other important crops. There were 13,520 head of live stock. The assessed valuation of property was $6,546,431. The population was 2,603, an increase of nearly 900 over that of 1900.
Law and government
Although the Kansas Constitution was amended in 1986 to allow the sale of alcoholic liquor by the individual drink with the approval of voters, Lane County has remained a prohibition, or "dry", county.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,858 km² (717 mi²). 1,858 km² (717 mi²) of it is land and 1 km² (0 mi²) of it (0.03%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,155 people, 910 households, and 613 families residing in the county. The population density was 1/km² (3/mi²). There were 1,065 housing units at an average density of 1/km² (2/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.73% White, 0.05% Native American, 0.09% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.51% from other races, and 1.58% from two or more races. 1.44% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 910 households out of which 29.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.10% were married couples living together, 5.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.60% were non-families. 30.30% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.91.
In the county the population was spread out with 25.40% under the age of 18, 5.40% from 18 to 24, 24.60% from 25 to 44, 24.10% from 45 to 64, and 20.50% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 100.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.70 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $36,047, and the median income for a family was $41,892. Males had a median income of $29,429 versus $20,446 for females. The per capita income for the county was $18,606. About 5.40% of families and 8.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.40% of those under age 18 and 7.60% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
Dighton, 1,138 (county seat)
Unified school districts
Healy USD 468
Dighton USD 482