Sherman County, one of the western tier, the second south from Nebraska, is bounded on the north by Cheyenne county; on the east by Thomas; on the south by Wallace and Logan, and on the west by the State of Colorado. It was created in 1873 and named for Gen. William T. Sherman. The boundaries were defined as follows: "Commencing where the east line of range 37 west intersects the 1st standard parallel; thence south with said line to the 2nd standard parallel; thence west with said parallel to the west line of the State of Kansas; thence north on said line to the 1st standard parallel; thence east on said parallel to the place of beginning."
There were no settlers in the county at that time. The first town was laid out at the geographical center of the county about 1880 and was called Inez. It had disappeared, in name at least, before the county organization, which took place in 1886. The first newspaper in the county was the Voltaire Advertiser, founded in Dec., 1885, by Ernest J. Scott. In the spring of 1886 there was such an influx of new settlers that the population was sufficient for county organization. The citizens of Voltaire tried to bring about the organization before the newer settlers in the southwest part of the county were eligible to vote, hoping in this way to have their town made the county seat. In June they secured the appointment of O. T. McCormick as census taker and he was instructed to make all possible haste in the enumeration so that the election to complete the organization could be held not later than the middle of September. He did not make his returns until Aug. 30, and the people of Voltaire, learning that he had been given several lots in the town of Eustis, ascribed the delay to that fact.
The returns showed a population of 2,820, of whom 975 were householders. There was taxable property to the amount of $362,960, of which $129,320 was real estate. In order to delay the organization the Eustis men had claimed that there were less than 400 voters in the county. However, their petition to the governor asking that Eustis be made county seat had 2,500 names attached to it. The opponents of Eustis claimed that hundreds of these names were of people living in adjoining counties, but this was not proven and Eustis was made the temporary county seat. The following officers were appointed: county clerk, J. H. Tate; commissioners, L. J. Gandy, O. D. Dickey and R. R. Edwards. The other candidates for county seat were, Itasca, Shermanville and Voltaire. The first named town moved to Shermanville, which began to be called Sherman Center. An effort was made to get Voltaire to move, and the Voltaire newspaper was very much in favor of joining forces against Eustis and making Sherman Center the county seat. About half of the people of Voltaire moved but those who remained entered the town in the lists at November election, when Eustis won by 61 votes, and the following officers were elected: county clerk, G. W. Benson; sheriff, R. G. Albright; treasurer, J. E. Rule; superintendent of public instruction, F. S. Palmer; register of deeds, E. W. Penny; county attorney, W. K. Brown; probate judge, L. E. Tobias; clerk of the district court, P. C. Brown; surveyor, L. M. Harwood; coroner, A. E. Tice; commissioners, C. E. Bennett, John Bray and E. L. Lyons.
In the spring of 1887 Goodland was founded just south of the geographical center of the county and not far from Sherman Center. The latter town was induced to move to the new site. The county seat matter was again voted upon in Nov., 1887. The vote was not properly canvassed and a mandamus was issued by the supreme court the next spring to compel a canvass of all the returns of the election. It was found that Goodland had a majority and that town became the permanent county seat. Eustis moved to Goodland and the county seat contest was ended.
At their first meeting in 1886 the commissioners divided the county into 6 townships, Grant, Voltaire, Shermanville, McPherson, Itasca and Washington. Since that time, Iowa, Lincoln, Llanos, Logan, Smoky, State Line and Union have been organized, making 13 in all. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad crosses the center of the county from east to west, a distance of 36 miles.
The general surface is undulating prairie, with a few bluffs and some rough lands along Beaver creek and in the western part of the county. Lamborn (railroad name Kanorado) is the highest point in the state. Its altitude is 3,906 feet. Timber is scarce, existing only in thin belts along the north fork of the Smoky Hill river and on the middle fork of the Sappa. The north fork of the Smoky Hill enters near the southwest corner and flows across the southern portion into Wallace county. The north and middle forks of the Sappa have their source in the central part of the county and flow northeast across the eastern boundary. Beaver and Little Beaver creeks rise in the northern part and flow north into Cheyenne county. Limestone is found in the southwest.
In 1885 there were 2,605 head of live stock in the county valued at $12,138. The next year there were 4,409 head with a total value of $100,087. The field crops that year amounted to $82,628, the wool clip to $1,548, the produce to $2,000 and the milk sold to $100. In 1910 the value of live stock was $1,035,082, and the number of head was 19,756. The value of animals sold for slaughter in the same year was over $66,000; the value of corn, the largest field crop, was $158,214; barley, $126,694; wheat, $137,569; hay, $94,863; sorghum, $45,465; oats, $22,540; poultry and eggs, $18,203; dairy products, $53,230. The total value of farm products in 1910 was $776,149.
The population in 1890 was 5,261, nearly twice what it was in 1886. During the next ten years there was a decrease incident to poor crops and heavy immigration to the southwestern states and the population in 1900 was but 3,341. The last few years have seen an increase and in 1910 the number of inhabitants had reached 4,549. The assessed valuation of property in that year was $9,343,387. The average wealth per capita being $2,054, several hundred dollars above the average for the state. (Cyclopedia of Kansas, Volume II, by Frank W. Blackmar, 1912, pages 691-693)