Thursday, January 12, 2006


RILEY County was the westernmost county of Kansas, having the Kansas River for its southern boundary, among those organized by the Territorial Legislature of 1865. Its northern boundary was the county of Marshall; its western, the line between Ranges 5 and 6 east, its eastern, Calhoun County, lying east of the line dividing Ranges 10 and 11 east. Between it and the Missouri River, were the counties of Calhoun, Jefferson and Leavenworth. Going northward and westward from Leavenworth, Atchison, Doniphan, Brown, Nemaha and Marshall were traversed, as the Northern River and Nebraska line counties, making eight counties to the north and east of Riley. What was then Western Kansas is in 1882, Northeastern Kansas, for west of the four then northern tier counties, are now eight organized ones, only one unorganized county "Cheyenne" lying in Northwestern Kansas, on the Nebraska - Colorado line. From 1857 to 1873, changes have been made in the county lines of Riley. That part of it east of the Big Blue River is now the major portion of Pottawatomie County. Its western boundary was extended eight miles west from the line dividing Ranges 5 and 6. From its southwestern portion, Davis County has been enlarged by territory from Riley, and on the south and southeastern portion of Riley has there come additions from the counties of Davis and Wabaunsee. On the north it is bounded by Washington, Marshall, and Pottawatomie; on the east by Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee; on the south by Wabaunsee and Davis; on the west by Davis and Clay. There is no more irregularly shaped county than this in Kansas.

Its present area is about 620 square miles; with the United States Military Reserve taken out it has in round numbers 600 square miles. On its longest continuous line from north to south, it is thirty-four miles. At its widest place it is twenty-six miles across it from east to west; at its narrowest point, it is twelve and one-half miles across it.

In parting with Milford and South Milford Townships, as they were known at different times, Riley County gained strength for Manhattan, and Davis for Junction City as county seats; especially with the addition of other territory to Riley from Davis and Wabaunsee.

Riley County received its name directly from the military post of Fort Riley, and indirectly from General Benjamin Riley, an officer of the United States Army. July 81, 1852, Col. T. T. Fauntleroy, of the First Dragoons, while in Washington, D. C., in a letter to Maj.- Gen. T. S. Jessup, Quartermaster- General of the United States Army, urged the establishment of a military post at or near a point on the Kansas River, where the Republican Fork unites with it. He also recommended the "discontinuance of the Leavenworth, Scott, Atchison, Kearney and Laramie Posts, and the concentration of troops at the post proposed." In the autumn of l852, Col. Fauntleroy, Maj. E. A. Ogden, and an officer of the Engineer Corps, were appointed a Commission to select a site on the Smoky Hill River for a ten- company cavalry post, and the point chosen was the present site of Fort Riley. May 19, 1853, Captain Lovell, of the Sixth Infantry, formed an encampment and named it "Camp Center, at the mouth of the Pawnee River." July 26, 1858, it took the name of "Fort Riley." The buildings of the post were constructed under the supervision of Maj. Ogden, who died at the fort, of cholera in July, 1855. At the highest eminence of the post a fine monument of native limestone has been erected to his memory.

Fort Riley is about half a mile from the confluence of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers, about three miles from Junction City. The buildings are of a white, magnesian limestone and are very complete in all their appurtenances. It is now a twelve-company post.

Stay tuned for part 3 tomorrow :)

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