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Exploring the Vibrant History of Montgomery County, Kansas

Montgomery County, located in Southeast Kansas, is a fascinating region filled with rich history and natural beauty. With its county seat in Independence and the bustling city of Coffeyville, Montgomery County offers a unique blend...

Map of Kansas highlighting Montgomery County

Montgomery County, located in Southeast Kansas, is a fascinating region filled with rich history and natural beauty. With its county seat in Independence and the bustling city of Coffeyville, Montgomery County offers a unique blend of small-town charm and vibrant urban life. Let's delve into the captivating history of this remarkable county.

Early History: A Land of Nomadic Native Americans and French Ownership

For thousands of years, the Great Plains of North America were inhabited by nomadic Native Americans. In the 16th to 18th centuries, the Kingdom of France claimed ownership of large parts of North America. However, after the French and Indian War, France ceded New France to Spain in 1762.

In 1802, Spain returned most of the land to France, but retained around 7,500 square miles. It was in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase, that the United States acquired most of the land that would become modern-day Kansas from France, at the unbelievably low price of 2.83 cents per acre.

The Birth of Montgomery County: A County Honoring a Revolutionary War General

Montgomery County was established on February 26, 1867, named after Richard Montgomery, a major general during the American Revolutionary War. Montgomery County's creation was closely tied to the history of Kansas itself, as Kansas became the 34th state in 1861.

When Kansas was admitted to the Union, the Osage Indian reservation occupied a large tract of land near the southern border of the state. This reservation, established in 1825, was the last and largest reserve of good land in the eastern part of Kansas. As settlement expanded, the Osage lands were gradually ceded, allowing for the growth of Montgomery County.

Settling the Land: From Native Resistance to Thriving Communities

For a brief period, the Osage attempted to maintain a boundary at the Verdigris River. However, settlers were undeterred and began crossing the river, leading to the establishment of Montgomery County in 1869. The county was surveyed and organized that same year, and settlers streamed in, making protests from the Osage futile.

The Verdigris River, flowing from north to south through the county, played a crucial role in the early development of Montgomery County. The Bunker brothers, Frank and Fred, established a cattle camp on the west side of the Verdigris River, thinking they were beyond the boundaries of civilization. However, settlers soon followed, and by 1869, the county was firmly established.

Map of the United States highlighting Kansas

Geography and Natural Wonders

Montgomery County spans an area of 651 square miles, with 644 square miles of land and 8.0 square miles of water. It features diverse landscapes, including parts of the northern Cross Timbers eco-region and the verdant beauty of the Plains.

One noteworthy geographical feature is the Verdigris River, which serves as the lowest point in the state of Kansas. Located in Cherokee Township, just southeast of Coffeyville, the river flows out of Kansas and into Oklahoma. Additionally, Fawn Creek Township in Montgomery County is recognized by Google Maps as the zero-mile point of the United States.

Communities and Education

Montgomery County is home to vibrant communities, including the county seat of Independence and the bustling city of Coffeyville. The county offers excellent educational opportunities with prestigious institutions like Coffeyville Community College and Independence Community College.

Embracing the Future while Preserving the Past

Montgomery County has a fascinating history that is intertwined with the growth of Kansas itself. From the early struggles for land to the thriving communities that exist today, the county is a testament to the enduring spirit of its residents.

As you explore Montgomery County, you will discover a region that values its past while also embracing the future. Take the time to immerse yourself in its rich history, visit its natural wonders, and experience the warmth and hospitality of its communities. Montgomery County, Kansas, eagerly awaits your discovery.

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