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the seat of Ellis County; population ~20,000
location of Hays
Both Fort Hays and Hays City were established in 1867. The arrival of the Kansas Pacific Railroad spurred rapid growth, and for many years Hays City was the point from which the west and southwest obtained supplies. It became the seat of Ellis County in 1870, and was incorporated in 1885. "City" was officially dropped from the name in 1895.Although Hays City was never a "cow town," it still developed the reputation, which was well deserved, as one of the most violent towns on the Kansas frontier. Between August of 1867 and December 1873, there were over 30 homicides in and around the city. In fact, the original Boot Hill is located in Hays, not Dodge City as many people believe. When Dodge City was founded in 1872, the Hays City Boot Hill was already well "populated." The city quieted down considerably after the "end of the railroad" moved to Dodge City, as the "unsavory" elements that had followed the railroad into Hays City moved on as the railroad moved south and west. They were replaced by immigrants more interested in agricultural pursuits than in causing trouble. Many of those immigrants came from the Volga region of Germany and brought a strain of wheat known as Turkey Red with them, and that strain is what made Kansas one of the most important wheat producers in the country.
Fort Hays closed in 1889. In 1900, the Kansas delegation to the U.S. Congress secured the fort's land and facilities for educational purposes. The following year, the Kansas Legislature established the Fort Hays Experiment Station and set aside land for the Western Branch of the Kansas State Normal School, which opened in 1902 and eventually became Fort Hays State University.
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This page was last updated on November 17, 2018.