Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


The purpose of this thesis is to add Sherman County to the list of completed county histories, thus presenting future historians with more evidence with which to prepare a history of the state of Kansas. Since little had previously been written about the county, county records and county newspapers account for the bulk of the materials used in this study. Primary sources include unpublished and published governmental materials, newspapers and interviews. Secondary sources consist of books, periodicals, unpublished master's theses and a few pamphlets. To further portray the story of Sherman County this thesis embraces seven maps, eight tables and twenty-three charts. The area of northwest Kansas, now known as Sherman County, was defined and designated by the Kansas Legislature in 1873, and attained organized status on September 20, 1886. There were no permanent settlers in the county prior to 1880, but by 1886 there were 2, 820, primarily because of the availability of free or inexpensive fertile and productive land. These early settlers faced many hardships, the two most serious being the shortage of water and timber. Many small towns and post-office stations were established, but rapidly disappeared if not fortunate enough to be located along the Rock Island Railroad, which crossed the county in 1888. The only town to really grow and thrive was Goodland, the County seat, although three other towns, Edson, Ruleton and Kanorado still exist. Population growth in the county has been featured by periods of sporadic increases as well as decreases, brought about by droughts, the various depressions and periods of adequate precipitation and prosperity. In 1930, the population of the county reached its peak, 7,400 people, while by 1960 it had declined to 6,682 residents Agriculture has always been the most important industry in Sherman County since it was organized in 1886. Methods of farming and ranching have undergone revolutionary changes throughout the years. Some of the changes that have not been fully utilized as yet are the use of groundwater for irrigation, greater use of fertilizers, use of pesticides and weed killers, and the planting of improved varieties of seed and the raising of purebred animals. Governmental agencies, federal, state and local, have played an important part in the growth and development of roads, schools, social welfare, and other aids and developments which have had an impact, on the life of every resident of Sherman County. Cultural and educational pursuits are also an important part of the lives of the people in the county. Many organizations, clubs, churches and individuals have encouraged and abetted the improvement of cultural attainments. Banks, utility companies and other commercial institutions have contributed much to raise the standard of living within Sherman County. Historically, Sherman County is not unique. Its history is the story of hard-working, rural-area people dedicated to improving their environment and their living conditions.


Gordon W. Davidson

Date of Award

Spring 1966

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1966 Daryl A. Olson


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