The Early History of Grant County
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)
Grant County, in the southwestern part of the state, is the second north from the Oklahoma line and the second east from Colorado. It was created in 1887 out of Finney county territory, by act of the legislature which fixed its boundaries as follows: "Commencing at the intersection of the east line of range 35 west with the north line of township 27 south; thence south along range line to where it intersects the 6th standard parallel; thence west along the 6th standard parallel to where it is intersected by the east line of range 39 west; thence north along said range line to its intersection with the north line of township 27 south; thence east to the place of beginning."
In compliance with a petition from the citizens the governor appointed T. J. Jackson to take the census. He made his report in Aug., 1887, which showed that there were 2,716 inhabitants, 653 of whom were householders, and $534,756 worth of taxable property. There were three candidates for the county seat, Ulysses, Cincinnati and Surprise, the latter being a little town 4 miles northwest of Ulysses and 2 miles north of Cincinnati. The governor's proclamation was not made until June, 1888. It named Ulysses as the temporary county seat, and appointed the following officers: Commissioners, J. A. Huff, Richard Brollier and P. F. Raudebaugh; clerk, Samuel Swendson; sheriff, H. M. Bacon.
An election to decide the location of the county seat was held on Oct. 16, 1888, and resulted in favor of Ulysses, but the fight did not end there. It was settled in the supreme court in 1890, Ulysses in the end being the victor. Some interesting evidence was brought out in court by Alvin Campbell, who was a Cincinnati partisan. He introduced facts to show that the city council of Ulysses had bonded the people to the extent of $36,000 to buy votes. It was an open secret that votes were bought. Professional voters had been brought in and boarded for the requisite 30 days before the election and given $10 each when they had voted, but it was not known at the time that this had been done at public expense.
Professional toughs were also hired to intimidate the Cincinnati voters. It was claimed that Ulysses bought 338 votes. The exposure of the fact that public funds had been used created excitement among the citizens who found themselves thus involved for the payment of bonds, and those to blame for the outrage retaliated upon Alvin Campbell by tarring him in Aug., 1889. It was also shown in court that Cincinnati had bought votes and engaged in irregular practices, and Ulysses finally won, though it was a dearly bought victory. Added to the $36,000 spent in the county seat fight was $13,000 in bonds, which had been voted for a school house and $8,000 for a court-house.
Then came the panic and crop failure of 1898. The population of Ulysses fell from 1,500 to 400, and later to only 40. Buildings were moved away. Banks closed and the merchants let their stock of goods run down. A succession of good years brought prosperity. A new bank was opened, new buildings were erected to take the place of those moved away, and all would have been well but for the old debt which hung like a weight to the town. The bonds were due in 1908, and with accrued interest amounted to $84,000.
It was decided to move the town to a new location. Only two people who had passed through the boom days remained, and the newcomers could not see the justice of their having to pay a debt from which they derived no benefit. A new and better site was selected, about half way to the old site of Cincinnati, which had meantime become a field. It was no light work to move the whole town, which had a hotel of 35 rooms, a bank, a printing office, a number of fair sized stores and a number of residences.
Moving outfits were brought from Garden City and St. John to do the heaviest hauling while several local teamsters handled the lighter work. As a result of damage done to the bank building, the safe sat out in the street for several weeks without being disturbed. The courthouse was left on the old site and the county officers continued to do business there. The school house was not moved, so the people did not take with them any of the "benefits" for which the town had been bonded. The town is now called, New Ulysses.
The surface of Grant county is prairie. The north fork of the Cimarron river enters 2 miles north of the southwest corner, flows in a northeasterly direction to the center, thence southeast across the eastern boundary. The south fork of the same river flows east across the southern part, joining the north fork near the east line of the county.
The county is divided into three townships—Lincoln, Sullivan and Sherman. The postoffices are, Doby, Gognac, Lawson, New Ulysses and Warrendale. There are no railroads at present, but a line of the Athchison,[sic] Topeka & Santa Fe will probably be extended from Jetmore southwest through Grant county. The nearest shipping point is Hartland in Kearny county.
Grant is one of the counties in which irrigation is used. The special session of the legislature in 1908 passed an act authorizing the county commissioners to appropriate money to drill artesian wells for irrigating purposes. The farm products amount to about $250,000 a year. In 1910 the wheat crop was worth $9,000, corn, $14,724, broom-corn, $70,000, milo maize, $30,000, Kafir corn, $47,000 and Jerusalem corn, $31,000. Animals sold for slaughter and dairy products amounted to over $30,000.
The population in 1910 was 1,087 as against 422 in 1900. The assessed valuation of property in 1910 was $1,797,214. Grant being one of the newer counties, and just having recovered from the effects of its boom days, has only begun to grow. The railroad and an increase of the irrigated area will doubtless cause a large increase in population and the value of property in the next few years.
Law and government
Although the Kansas Constitution was amended in 1986 to allow the sale of alcoholic liquor by the individual drink with the approval of voters, Grant County has remained a prohibition, or "dry", county.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,489 km² (575 mi²), of which 1,489 km² (575 mi²) is land and 0 km² (0 mi²), or 0.03%, is water.
Grant County's population was estimated to be 7,552 in the year 2006, a decrease of 335, or -4.2%, over the previous six years.
As of the U.S. Census in 2000,GR2 there were 7,909 people, 2,742 households, and 2,097 families residing in the county. The population density was 5/km² (14/mi²). There were 3,027 housing units at an average density of 2/km² (5/mi²). The racial makeup of the county was 77.00% White, 0.86% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.21% Black or African American, 19.46% from other races, and 2.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 34.67% of the population.
There were 2,742 households out of which 43.60% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.40% were married couples living together, 7.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.50% were non-families. 21.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.86 and the average family size was 3.34.
In the county the population was spread out with 32.80% under the age of 18, 8.70% from 18 to 24, 28.70% from 25 to 44, 20.20% from 45 to 64, and 9.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 100.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.50 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $39,854, and the median income for a family was $44,914. Males had a median income of $34,464 versus $22,000 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,072. About 6.50% of families and 10.10% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.60% of those under age 18 and 7.50% of those age 65 or over.
Cities and towns
Name and population (2004 estimate):
Ulysses, 5,769 (county seat)
Unified school districts
Ulysses USD 214