Kansas Genealogy and History Guide

Kansas Genealogy Resources:



 Kansas quick facts:

  • Statehood:
    January 29, 1861
  • State Capital:
  • Counties:
    105 Counties - County Map  
  • State Nickname:
    Sunflower State
  • State Bird:
    Western Meadowlark
  • State Flower:
  • State Song:
    "Home on the Range "
  • State Motto:
    "Ad astra per aspera"
    (To the stars through difficulties)


Kansas Genealogy Research Guide:

Kansas Federal Census Records:

All Kansas Federal Population Schedules have been indexed. Below are the different census schedules available for Kansas.

  • 1860 - Population Schedule, Mortality Schedule, Social Statistics, and Industrial Schedule
  • 1870 - Population Schedule, Social Statistics, Mortality Schedule, and Agricultural Schedule
  • 1880 - Population Schedule, Mortality Schedule, Agricultural Schedule, and Industrial Schedule
  • 1890 - Destroyed in 1921 fire
  • 1900 - Population Schedule
  • 1910 - Population Schedule
  • 1920 - Population Schedule
  • 1930 - Population Schedule

Free Census Extraction Forms - Handy for keeping records in the original format.

Kansas Territorial and State Census Records:

Kansas Territorial censuses were taken in 1855, 1856, 1857, 1858, and 1859. Voters lists serve as census substitutes for Kansas Territory before 1860 when the Territorial census was taken as part of the US Federal Census.

1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, and 1925 are the years Kansas State Census were taken.

Kansas Land Records:

Homestead records are federal records which start in 1862. The Homestead Act allowed settlers to apply for up to 160 acres of free public land which they then had to occupy for five years and have proof of cultivation. The settler did pay a small filing fee.

Detailed information about homestead records and how to request copies of them is on the Government Land Office records web site.

Search for Homestead/Patented land.

Kansas Military Records:

Kansas had soldiers in several wars. The one thing that sets Kansas apart militarily, was the "Bleeding Kansas" war from 1854 -1861. This conflict was to determine if the state Kansas Territory was to become would be a free state or pro-slavery. Militias were formed on both sides and fought each other for several years until the pro-slavery faction was beaten or left the state.

Some of the resources for finding records of your soldier ancestors are:

Many of these records can be found at:

Kansas War Letters Online offers a unique perspective on the wars of our ancestors.

Vital Records:

Vital records are birth, death, and marriage (BMD) records. Kansas started recording birth and death records at the state level July 1, 1911. Marriage licenses were required in Kansas starting in 1867, but were not recorded at the state level until May 1, 1913.

Earlier birth and death records may be found in county or city clerks registers if they still exist. Marriage licenses before May 1913 were recorded in the district court which also recorded Divorce records until July 1951. Information on records older than those recorded may be found in places such as old newspapers, church records, old bibles, cemetery records, and old letters. Kansas State Historical Society has some of the older vital records on microfilm.

It is also good idea to contact genealogical societies in the area you are researching for help in finding records. Some societies have record indexes that help tremendously in finding ancestors.

SunflowerCondensed History of KansasSunflower

Kansas was the home of numerous indigenous Indian tribes including the Plains, Kansas, Kaw, Pawnee, Osage, and Wichita Indians. The main food sources were hunting buffalo and small game, gathering wild plants and grains, and the cultivation of corn, squash and beans. [Evidence of ancient villages has been found in eastern Kansas with similarities to the Cahokia Indians of Missouri. Pottery from these sites shares many of the same characteristics as the Cahokia tribe 250 miles away to the east. The Cahokian culture was active until around 1400 AD.]

The Spaniard Francisco Vasquez de Coronado along with a small army of Spanish soldiers and friendly Indians were the first to explore the Great Plains in 1541. Searching for the fabled "Seven Cities of Gold" they opened the way for more settlements of white men never seen before in Indian Territory.

In 1724 Etienne de Veniard Bourgmont, representing France, sailed up the Missouri River and explored what are now Atchison and Doniphan counties. By 1744 Fort Cavagnial and a healthy trade with the Kaw Indians was established just north of present-day Fort Leavenworth.

On April 30, 1803, France sold 828,000 square miles of land (of which Kansas sits almost in the middle) to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis & Clark were commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson to explore and chart the new purchase, and to evaluate the land and native Indian tribes. Zebulon Pike (Pikes Peak) also explored the region and declared the land to be worthless for cultivation, discouraging settlement. The Indian Removal Bill of 1830 moved around 20 different tribes from east of the Mississippi River to areas west of Missouri onto what is now Kansas and Oklahoma.

In 1854 the Kansas-Nebraska Act organized Kansas Territory and opened the land up for settlement. One of it's purposes was to open the country to build railways. The incorporation of popular sovereignty made the territories residents responsible for voting on whether slaver should be permitted. Few white persons were living in the territory at the time, but neighboring Missouri was a slave-holding state and many settlers moved from there to vote pro-slavery. Other people that were against slavery quickly moved to Kansas Territory hoping to outnumber the pro-slavery voters. At stake was not just the question of slavery in the territory, but the political standing of the legislators once Kansas became a state.

 Kansas became know as "Bleeding Kansas" because of the violence between these two factions. The anti-slavery (or as they were known, "free-staters") won and Kansas became the 34th state in the union on January 29, 1861.  In April of the same year, the Civil War started. Kansas contributed many soldiers to the Union.

With the influx of settlers, the extension of railways, and the Homestead Act of 1862 which gave 160 acres of Federal land to any citizen or any person declaring the intention of becoming a citizen, the Indian tribes were being pushed into smaller and smaller reservations or relocated altogether. The number of immigrant settlers increased and communities of Swedes, Germans, Swiss and Irish were prominent in several counties.

Longhorn cattle drives from Texas to the Kansas Pacific Railway used the Chisholm Trail from 1867 to 1884-85. Texas longhorns were tough and withstood the rigors of the trail better than other breeds of cattle. They sold for ten times more on the east coast, so cattle drives became a big business for enterprising ranchers. Stockyards at the trailheads were built to handle huge numbers of these cattle. An estimated 5,000,000 Texas longhorns went east from Kansas.

Kansas was home to many of our nations great people including:

  • Amelia Earhart (first transatlantic solo flight by a woman)
  • Carrie Nation (prohibitionist)
  • Hamilton Perkins Cady and David Ford McFarland (found helium in natural gas)
  • John Brown (first white American abolitionist)
  • Georgia Neese Clark Gray (first woman to serve as US Treasurer)
  • Mabel Chase (first woman county sheriff in the United States)
  • Nancy Landon Kassebaum (first woman elected to the US Senate)
  • Ronald E. Evans (astronaut, Apollo 17)
  • Susanna Salter (first woman mayor)

Kansas History Resources:

Sunflower graphics courtesy of Santa Lady