|KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS|
|PART 1:||Location and Natural Features | Map and Population|
|PART 2:||General History | Schools, Manufactories, Etc. | Statistics of Progress|
|PART 3:||Hays City|
|PART 4:||Biographical Sketches|
|PART 5:||Ellis | Victoria|
LOCATION AND NATURAL FEATURES.
Ellis County was named after Lieut. George Ellis, of the Twelfth Kansas Infantry, who was killed April 30, 1864, in a battle at Jenkins' Ferry, Arkansas. Until 1867, the county was embraced in the unorganized territory of the western portion of the State, but the Legislature of that year defined its boundaries and named it as above. The county contains 576,000 acres, or 900 square miles, and is bounded on the north by Rooks County, on the south by Rush, on the east by Russell, and on the west by Trego County.
In formation, the county is exactly square, being thirty miles north and south and the same number east and west. The territory embraced within the county limits is divided into five civil townships, Ellis embracing a strip nine miles wide on the west side of the county, extending from the north to the south line of the county. Saline Township embraces a strip nine miles wide in the northern portion, extending from the east line of the county to the east line of Ellis Township. Big Creek Township is twelve miles wide, joining Ellis Township on the east and extending from the south line of Saline Township to the south line of the county. Victoria Township joins Big Creek on the east and its formation is very irregular, being only three miles wide on the north, which width it maintains for nine miles, when it widens to five miles, and three miles further south the width is increased to six miles, when three miles still farther south it is again increased to seven miles, which it maintains to the south line of the county. Walker is the remaining and eastern township of the county, whose formation is the same as that of Victoria, with the exception that as the latter widens the former narrows until the southern portion of it is only two miles wide. Ellis is in the fifth tier of counties from the west line of the State.
The surface of the county is of the same character as that of most of Western Kansas, one vast stretch of prairie, almost completely destitute of timber, what little there was originally having almost disappeared, except a small portion on Big Creek, within the limits of the military reservation at Fort Hays. The face of the country, however, is very far from being uniform, some portions, especially the southeastern, being quite level or gently undulating, the central portion, though not bluffy, is very high and uneven while in the western and northern portion, especially in the vicinity of the Saline River, there are considerable bluffs. About ten or twelve per cent of the county may properly by termed bottom-lands, that is, lands that lie in strips of valley along the streams.
The only streams in the county of any importance are the Saline River, which runs from west to east along the northern boundary of the county, the Smoky Hill River, that runs in the same direction close to the southern boundary line, and Big Creek, that enters the county from the west, midway between the northern and southern boundary lines of the county, and flows in a southeasterly direction. The lesser creeks that flow into these streams are rather insignificant, and even the larger streams, as a usual thing, contain but very little water.
At one time the timber-land of the county was estimated at one per cent of the total area, but even this little has been greatly diminished by settlers cutting it down for fuel. The valleys along the creeks average about a mile in width, some being much less than this, and some considerably more. There are a few springs in the county, especially in the northern portion, but almost in all parts of the county good well-water can be had at various depths, ranging from fifteen to forty feet.
The soil of the county is good, being a rich, black loam, varying in depth from two to eight feet. With ordinary rains it is capable of producing almost anything that grows out of the ground. When the seasons are favorable, immense yields of wheat are raised, but the scarcity of rain renders crops very uncertain. Notwithstanding the richness and depth of the soil, Ellis cannot be classed as an agricultural county, its chief adaptation being wool-growing and stock-raising. Cattle and sheep-raising are the most profitable as they can sustain themselves the year round on the nutritious buffalo-grass which grows all over the county. Swine, and stock that require to be corn-fed in the winter, are not so profitable, as it is only in exceptionally wet seasons that any corn can be raised, and in most seasons the corn required for feeding purposes has to be shipped in from other counties. Owing to the uncertainty of the seasons, farming in the county is not engaged in to any great extent, but with anything like a reasonable rainfall, the soil is very productive.
POPULATION BY FEDERAL CENSUS (not published by townships in 1870) 1880 ----- (a) Big Creek Township ................ 1,390 (b) Catherine Township ................ 244 (c) Ellis Township .................... 1,198 (d) Freedom and Wheatland Townships ... 791 (e) Hamilton Township ................. 232 (f) Hartsook Township ................. 439 (g) Lookout Township .................. 252 (h) Saline Township ................... 436 (i) Smoky Hill Township ............... 265 (j) Victoria Township ................. 349 (k) Walker Township ................... 583 -------- Total ...... 6,179 -------------------------- (a) In 1877, part detached to form Saline; in 1878, part to Walker; in 1879, parts to Catherine, Victoria and Wheatland; in 1880, parts to Hartsook and Look (b) Organized in 1879, from part of Big Creek. (c) In 1880, parts detached to form Hamilton and Smoky Hill. (d) Not separately returned. (e) Organized in 1880, from parts of Ellis and Saline. (f) Organized in 1879, from parts of Big Creekand (sic) Victoria. (g) Organized in 1880, from part of Big Creek. (h) Organized in 1877, from part of Big Creek; in 1880, part detached to form Hamilton. (i) Organized in 1880, from part of Ellis. (j) Organized in 1879, from part of Big Creek; in 1890, parts detached to form Freedom and Hartsook. (k) Organized in 1878, from part of Big Creek; in 1880, part detached to form Freedom. --------------------------