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Cherokee County (CK)

area 591 sq mi; population ~20,530; seat Columbus

location of Cherokee County
location of Cherokee County

Cherokee County Court House
Cherokee County Court House

Cities and Towns

name population (2016 est)
Baxter Springs 3,960
Columbus 3,100
West Mineral  


The first permanent white settler in what is now Cherokee County was the Reverend John Baxter, who homesteaded 160 acres on the site of present-day Baxter Springs in 1849. McGee County was created by the first Territorial Legislature in 1855. Because its namesake, Mabillon W. McGee, was a pro-slavery man, the Free-State Legislature of 1860 changed the name to Cherokee, in honor of the Cherokee Indians. By the act of creation in 1855, Cherokee County was attached to Bourbon County for all military and civil purposes.

On August 3, 1866, Governor Samuel J. Crawford appointed a board of commissioners for the purpose of formally organizing Cherokee County, and designated Pleasant View (about 10 miles north of present-day Columbus) as the temporary county seat. A representative to the State Legislature and county officers were elected on November 6, 1866. At the general election on November 5, 1867, the location of the county seat was submitted to a vote of the people. Columbus, then known as Cherokee Center, and Baxter Springs were the contestants. Baxter Springs received 136 votes and Cherokee Center 3. The commissioners held their last meeting at Pleasant View on April 10, 1868, and the first at Baxter Springs on April 14.

Despite the overwhelming vote in favor of Baxter Springs, enough residents protested its location that the commissioners agreed to hold another election on May 12, 1868. The votes in that election were recorded as follows: Baxter Springs, 600; geographical center of the county, 639; Cherokee Center, 1; the center, 95. As no place received a majority another election was held on May 26. The votes this time were recorded as 965 for Baxter Springs and 920 for geographical center. Supporters of "geographical center"charged that Baxter Springs supporters had "stuffed" the ballot boxes, however, and another election was called for February 17, 1869. A total of 2,276 votes were counted from this election, of which 1,151 were for Columbus. (The total votes cast in Cherokee County for President in November, 1868, was but 1,358). The county records were at once transferred to Columbus and established in a room of a house on the south side of the public square, where they remained until a temporary court house was completed in the spring of 1871. The current courthouse was completed in 1889.

Branding cattle between Columbus and Baxter Springs during the spring round-up of 1895.
calf branding in Cherokee County

Official Websites

Cherokee County
Cherokee County Sheriff

See Also

Baxter Springs

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This page was last updated on November 18, 2018.