kids encyclopedia robot

Marion County, Kansas facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Marion County
Marion County Courthouse in Marion (2009)
Marion County Courthouse in Marion (2009)
Map of Kansas highlighting Marion County
Location within the U.S. state of Kansas
Map of the United States highlighting Kansas
Kansas's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Kansas
Founded August 30, 1855
Named for Francis Marion
Seat Marion
Largest city Hillsboro
 • Total 954 sq mi (2,470 km2)
 • Land 944 sq mi (2,440 km2)
 • Water 9.4 sq mi (24 km2)  1.0%
 • Total 11,823
 • Density 12.5/sq mi (4.8/km2)
Time zone UTC−6 (Central)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−5 (CDT)
Area code 620, 785
Congressional district 1st

Marion County (standard abbreviation: MN) is a county located in the U.S. state of Kansas. Its county seat is Marion and its most populous city is Hillsboro. As of the 2020 census, the county population was 12,660. The county was named in honor of Francis Marion, a Brigadier General of the American Revolutionary War, known as the "Swamp Fox".


Francis Marion 001
Francis Marion (late 1700s)

Early history

For many millennia, the Great Plains of North America was inhabited by nomadic Native Americans. From the 16th century to 18th century, the Kingdom of France claimed ownership of large parts of North America. In 1762, after the French and Indian War, France secretly ceded New France to Spain, per the Treaty of Fontainebleau.

19th century

In 1802, Spain returned most of the land to France, but keeping title to about 7,500 square miles. In 1803, most of the land for modern day Kansas was acquired by the United States from France as part of the 828,000 square mile Louisiana Purchase for 2.83 cents per acre. In 1848, after the Mexican-American War, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo with Spain brought into the United States all or part of land for ten future states, including southwest Kansas.

In 1806, Zebulon Pike led the Pike expedition westward from St Louis, Missouri, of which part of their journey followed the Cottonwood River through modern Marion County near the current cities of Florence, Marion, Durham.

In 1854, the Kansas Territory was organized, then in 1861 Kansas became the 34th U.S. state. In 1855, Marion County was established. The first settlers in Marion County located on Doyle Creek, near the present site of Florence. They were Moses Shane, who came in 1858, and whose death the next year was the first in the county; Patrick Doyle, in 1859, for whom Doyle Creek and Township were named, and a family by the name of Welsh, in which occurred the first birth in the county in August 1859. The city of Marion Centre was founded in 1860, became the county seat in 1865, and later the city name was shortened to Marion.

1845 trailmap
1845 Santa Fe Trail crossing Marion County

From 1821 to 1866, the Santa Fe Trail was active across Marion County. In the spring of 1859, a trading post was established at the "Lost Spring" on the Santa Fe Trail, and in the autumn of the same year, the Moore brothers established a ranch near the present site of Durham, and the first post office was established at this place. Later in the same year, a post office was established at "Lost Spring" near the current city of Lost Springs. Previously the nearest post office was Emporia.

From 1867 to 1871, the Chisholm Trail was routed along the western edge of Marion County. The trail started in Texas and ended in Abilene, Kansas where cattle were shipped eastward by rail. As the railroads were built westward and southward, the trail was truncated from going further north.

Originally, Marion County covered more than a third of the area of Kansas, including all the territory in the state south and west of the present northern and eastern lines of the county. The original location of the county was fixed by legislative act in 1860. It comprised less than the present area. The original boundaries were altered by an increase of territory on the west and a decrease on the south. In 1863, the legislature by special act fixed the boundaries to include all of southwestern Kansas. In June of that year, on petition of the citizens of the county, the governor restored the previous boundaries and ordered a separate organization of the county. The south-eastern border one mile "notch" with Chase County was established under unusual circumstances. A murder had occurred and Marion County didn't want to have the trial, so a section one mile wide and eighteen miles long was ceded to Chase County to ensure the murder had occurred there. The one mile strip of land remains in Chase County to this day. The present county boundary lines were decided upon in 1872 and contain twenty-four townships.

The first two-story courthouse of stone was built in 1867. The upper floor was used for county court and the first floor was used as a school. A high wall for a place of refuge and defense in the event of an Indian attack surrounded it, but it was never needed for that purpose. An addition was completed in 1879 and part of the original structure was remodeled in 1881. The present three-story native limestone structure was completed in 1907.

Santa Fe Railroad

Stouffer's Railroad Map of Kansas 1915-1918 Marion County
1915-1918 railroad map of Marion County
Saraj in Gnadenau, Kansas
Burdei-type housing in Gnadenau
(Frank Leslie's Illustrated March 20, 1875)

The state of Kansas granted the Atchison and Topeka Railroad three million acres (12,000 km²) of land if it would build a continuous line to the western border of the state within ten years (March 1, 1873). In 1871, the railroad pushed westward from Emporia through Florence, Horners, and Peabody towards Newton, and got title to the land in 1873. According to the original land grant, the railroad was to receive every odd numbered section for ten miles (16 km) on each side of its track, but in eastern Kansas which was pretty well settled, much of this land wasn't available. The law therefore gave the railroad what was called "in lieu" lands further west. Eventually this worked out to be half the land on a strip twenty miles (32 km) on each side of its track from Emporia nearly out to Kinsley, which meant that most of Marion County fell in this strip.

In 1877, the Florence, El Dorado, and Walnut Valley Railroad Company built a branch line from Florence to El Dorado, in 1881 it was extended to Douglass, and later to Arkansas City. The line was leased and operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The line from Florence to El Dorado was abandoned in 1942. The original branch line connected Florence, Burns, De Graff, El Dorado, Augusta, Douglass, Rock, Akron, Winfield, Arkansas City.

In 1887, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway built a branch line from Neva (3 miles west of Strong City) to Superior, Nebraska. This branch line connected Strong City, Neva, Rockland, Diamond Springs, Burdick, Lost Springs, Jacobs, Hope, Navarre, Enterprise, Abilene, Talmage, Manchester, Longford, Oak Hill, Miltonvale, Aurora, Huscher, Concordia, Kackley, Courtland, Webber, Superior. At some point, the line from Neva to Lost Springs was pulled but the right of way has not been abandoned. This branch line was originally called "Strong City and Superior line" but later the name was shortened to the "Strong City line". The railway is connected via a switch to allow north-bound "Rock Island" traffic to connect onto the north-west-bound "Santa Fe" tracks. This is the only way for the Santa Fe traffic to travel north-west after removing the tracks to Neva.

As early as 1875, city leaders of Marion held a meeting to consider a branch railroad from Florence. In 1878, Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway and parties from Marion County and McPherson County chartered the Marion and McPherson Railway Company. In 1879, a branch line was built from Florence to McPherson, in 1880 it was extended to Lyons, in 1881 it was extended to Ellinwood. The line was leased and operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The line from Florence to Marion, was abandoned in 1968. In 1992, the line from Marion to McPherson was sold to Central Kansas Railway. In 1993, after heavy flood damage, the line from Marion to McPherson was abandoned. The original branch line connected Florence, Oursler, Marion, Canada, Hillsboro, Lehigh, Canton, Galva, McPherson, Conway, Windom, Little River, Mitchell, Lyons, Chase, Ellinwood.

In 1996, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway merged with Burlington Northern Railroad and renamed to the current BNSF Railway. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Santa Fe".

Rock Island Railroad

In 1887, the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway extended its main line from Herington to Pratt. This main line connected Herington, Ramona, Tampa, Durham, Waldeck, Canton, Galva, McPherson, Groveland, Inman, Medora, Hutchinson, Whiteside, Partridge, Arlington, Langdon, Turon, Preston, Natrona, Pratt. In 1888, this main line was extended to Liberal. Later, this line was extended to Tucumcari, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. This line is called the "Golden State Limited".

In 1887, the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway built a branch line north-south from Herington to Caldwell. This branch line connected Herington, Lost Springs, Lincolnville, Antelope, Marion, Aulne, Peabody, Elbing, Whitewater, Furley, Kechi, Wichita, Peck, Corbin, Wellington, Caldwell. By 1893, this branch line was incrementally built to Fort Worth, Texas. This line is called the "OKT".

The "Rock Island" has switches in Peabody and Lost Springs to allow connections to the crossing "Santa Fe" railroad in each city.

The Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway was foreclosed in 1891 and was taken over by Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway, which shut down in 1980 and reorganized as Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Railroad, merged in 1988 with Missouri Pacific Railroad, and finally merged in 1997 with Union Pacific Railroad. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the "Rock Island".

Chingawasa Springs Railroad

In 1889, the Marion Belt and Chingawasa Springs Railroad built a 4.5 mile railroad from Marion north-east to Chingawasa Springs. A hotel was built near the site of the spa at Chingawasa Springs, and a depot and eatery as well. Both Santa Fe and Rock Island offered round trip fares from Chicago and western cities to Chingawasa Springs. An economic panic in 1893 closed down the health spa and hotel, and quarry business along the tracks never developed sufficiently. In 1893, the railroad ceased operations, and tracks were removed in 1910.

20th century

Truck Hauling 36-inch Pipe To Build Keystone XL Pipeline
Truck hauling 36-inch pipe to build Keystone-Cushing Pipeline (Phase 2) southeast of Peabody

The National Old Trails Road, also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway, was established in 1912, and was routed through Lehigh, Hillsboro, Marion, Lost Springs.

Peabody, and nearby Watchorn, experienced an oil boom from 1918 to 1920. The influence of the petroleum industry remained strong in Peabody, and resulted in the greatest change upon the community in the shortest time. More than 100 residences were constructed in October and November 1919. From 1918 to 1919, the population increased by 75% or more, but later decreased as oil booms in other Kansas areas needed the workers.

From 1935 to 1937, the Marion County Lake was constructed southeast of Marion. From 1964 to 1968, the Marion Reservoir was constructed northwest of Marion.

21st century

In 2010, the Keystone-Cushing Pipeline (Phase II) was constructed north to south through Marion County with much controversy over road damage, tax exemption, and environmental concerns (if a leak ever occurs).


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 954 square miles (2,470 km2), of which 944 square miles (2,440 km2) is land and 9.4 square miles (24 km2) (1.0%) is water.

Marion County is located in the Great Plains, and the eastern part of the county is part of the Flint Hills.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 74
1870 768 937.8%
1880 12,453 1,521.5%
1890 20,539 64.9%
1900 20,676 0.7%
1910 22,415 8.4%
1920 22,923 2.3%
1930 20,739 −9.5%
1940 18,951 −8.6%
1950 16,307 −14.0%
1960 15,143 −7.1%
1970 13,935 −8.0%
1980 13,522 −3.0%
1990 12,888 −4.7%
2000 13,361 3.7%
2010 12,660 −5.2%
2015 (est.) 12,103 −4.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013
USA Marion County, Kansas age pyramid
Age pyramid

As of the census of 2000, there were 13,361 people, 5,114 households, and 3,687 families residing in the county. The population density was 14 people per square mile (5/km²). There were 5,882 housing units at an average density of 6 per square mile (2/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.06% White, 0.47% Black or African American, 0.59% Native American, 0.19% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.55% from other races, and 1.14% from two or more races. 1.92% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 5,114 households out of which 30.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.80% were married couples living together, 5.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.90% were non-families. 25.20% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 2.94.

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.80% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 23.50% from 25 to 44, 22.70% from 45 to 64, and 21.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 95.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,500, and the median income for a family was $41,386. Males had a median income of $30,236 versus $21,119 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,100. About 4.80% of families and 8.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.50% of those under age 18 and 9.70% of those age 65 or over.


Map of Marion Co, Ks, USA
2005 KDOT Map of Marion County (map legend)


Unincorporated communities

Ghost towns

Marion County contained early communities that have long since been abandoned.

Rail Towns / Stations / Cattle Pens
  • Hampson, station, approximately 5 miles south of Florence.
  • Horners (Honner), station and cattle pens, approximately 3 miles northeast of Peabody.
  • Jacobs, TBD, northwest of Lost Springs.
  • Oursler, station and tiny community.
  • Quarry, station and limestone rock quarry, approximately 5.5 miles north of Marion.
  • Wagner, TBD, southwest of Florence.
  • Waldeck, station, cattle pens, and tiny community.
Oil Towns
  • Watchorn, 5 miles east of Peabody.
  • Creswell (or Cresswell), east of Goessel
  • Elk, northeast of Marion (straddled Chase County border)
  • Fred, between Peabody and Hillsboro
  • Kuhnbrook
  • Morning Star
  • Strassburg
  • Youngtown, northeast of Marion
Mennonite Villages
  • Alexanderfeld
  • Ebenfeld
  • Friedenstal (Alvin)
  • Gnadenau (Grace Meadow)
  • Hoffnungsthal (Hope Valley)
  • Schoenthal (Fair Valley)
  • Steinbach
Alexanderwohl Mennonite Villages, (see Alexanderwohl Mennonite Church)
  • Blumenfeld (straddled on McPherson County border)
  • Blumenort (straddled on McPherson County border)
  • Emmathal
  • Gnadenfeld
  • Gnadenthal
  • Gruenfeld (Green Field) (abandoned then later became Goessel)
  • Hochfeld
  • Springfield


Marion County is divided into twenty-four townships. The cities of Florence (in Doyle and Fairplay townships), Hillsboro (in Liberty and Risley townships), and Marion (in Centre township) are considered governmentally independent and are excluded from the census figures for the townships. In the following table, the population center is the largest city (or cities) included in that township's population total, if it is of a significant size.

Sources: 2000 U.S. Gazetteer from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Township FIPS Population
Population Population
/km² (/sq mi)
Land area
km² (sq mi)
Water area
km² (sq mi)
Water % Geographic coordinates
Blaine 07125 Tampa 212 2 (6) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0.33% 38°33′30″N 97°10′46″W / 38.55833°N 97.17944°W / 38.55833; -97.17944
Catlin 11075 Peabody 180 2 (5) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0.05% 38°12′56″N 97°5′14″W / 38.21556°N 97.08722°W / 38.21556; -97.08722
Centre 11825 * 535 4 (11) 128 (49) 0 (0) 0.26% 38°20′36″N 96°59′39″W / 38.34333°N 96.99417°W / 38.34333; -96.99417
Clark 13500 Pilsen 149 2 (4) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0.42% 38°28′17″N 97°6′4″W / 38.47139°N 97.10111°W / 38.47139; -97.10111
Clear Creek 13750 Lincolnville 592 3 (8) 196 (76) 0 (0) 0.06% 38°28′1″N 96°57′35″W / 38.46694°N 96.95972°W / 38.46694; -96.95972
Colfax 14800 Ramona 218 2 (6) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0.01% 38°34′42″N 97°5′28″W / 38.57833°N 97.09111°W / 38.57833; -97.09111
Doyle 18550 * 75 1 (2) 98 (38) 0 (0) 0.08% 38°14′3″N 96°53′17″W / 38.23417°N 96.88806°W / 38.23417; -96.88806
Durham Park 19100 Durham 230 3 (7) 90 (35) 3 (1) 2.70% 38°29′9″N 97°12′46″W / 38.48583°N 97.21278°W / 38.48583; -97.21278
East Branch 19325 n/a 188 2 (5) 92 (35) 0 (0) 0% 38°13′33″N 97°11′53″W / 38.22583°N 97.19806°W / 38.22583; -97.19806
Fairplay 22350 * 121 1 (3) 116 (45) 0 (0) 0.04% 38°13′44″N 96°59′23″W / 38.22889°N 96.98972°W / 38.22889; -96.98972
Gale 25075 Eastshore 220 3 (8) 67 (26) 21 (8) 23.70% 38°23′15″N 97°5′21″W / 38.38750°N 97.08917°W / 38.38750; -97.08917
Grant 27775 n/a 128 1 (2) 174 (67) 0 (0) 0.08% 38°22′13″N 96°53′3″W / 38.37028°N 96.88417°W / 38.37028; -96.88417
Lehigh 39250 Lehigh 370 4 (10) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0% 38°23′3″N 97°18′27″W / 38.38417°N 97.30750°W / 38.38417; -97.30750
Liberty 40225 * 327 4 (9) 92 (35) 0 (0) 0% 38°18′13″N 97°12′37″W / 38.30361°N 97.21028°W / 38.30361; -97.21028
Logan 41950 n/a 127 1 (4) 94 (36) 0 (0) 0.07% 38°32′38″N 97°19′34″W / 38.54389°N 97.32611°W / 38.54389; -97.32611
Lost Springs 42850 Lost Springs 201 2 (6) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0.01% 38°34′14″N 96°58′23″W / 38.57056°N 96.97306°W / 38.57056; -96.97306
Menno 45800 n/a 317 3 (9) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0.12% 38°18′50″N 97°18′34″W / 38.31389°N 97.30944°W / 38.31389; -97.30944
Milton 46900 Burns 348 4 (12) 78 (30) 0 (0) 0.03% 38°6′6″N 96°53′4″W / 38.10167°N 96.88444°W / 38.10167; -96.88444
Moore 48100 n/a 65 1 (2) 93 (36) 0 (0) 0.03% 38°29′27″N 97°19′39″W / 38.49083°N 97.32750°W / 38.49083; -97.32750
Peabody 55125 Peabody 1,544 16 (42) 95 (37) 0 (0) 0.23% 38°9′40″N 97°6′22″W / 38.16111°N 97.10611°W / 38.16111; -97.10611
Risley 60000 * 241 3 (7) 89 (34) 1 (0) 1.36% 38°23′56″N 97°11′48″W / 38.39889°N 97.19667°W / 38.39889; -97.19667
Summit 69100 n/a 82 1 (2) 92 (36) 0 (0) 0.51% 38°7′21″N 96°58′54″W / 38.12250°N 96.98167°W / 38.12250; -96.98167
West Branch 76775 Goessel 1,024 11 (29) 92 (36) 0 (0) 0.01% 38°13′30″N 97°19′35″W / 38.22500°N 97.32639°W / 38.22500; -97.32639
Wilson 79750 Aulne 232 2 (6) 94 (36) 0 (0) 0% 38°18′17″N 97°5′19″W / 38.30472°N 97.08861°W / 38.30472; -97.08861

Historical maps



  • Tabor College, in Hillsboro

Unified school districts

  • Centre USD 397
  • Peabody–Burns USD 398
  • Marion–Florence USD 408
  • Hillsboro USD 410
  • Goessel USD 411

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Marion (Kansas) para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
Renowned African-American Artists:
Kyle Baker
Joseph Yoakum
Laura Wheeler Waring
Henry Ossawa Tanner
kids search engine
Marion County, Kansas Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.