The map of Phillips County began to develop its character as the first visitors encountered the geography of the land.
He entered the land as an explorer or mapmaker, as solider or hunter, as a traveler with a farther destination, or as homesteader and settler. In his way and time, he gave names to the land’s arteries of life-the river and creeks. He named them for the game and the wildlife with which he shared the countryside. He named them for the fowl of the air. He named creeks for the timber along the banks. He described the creek: Big, Little, Dry, and Bow. He described the water: Crystal, Spring, and Silver. He commemorated events: Battle Creek and Starvation Creek.
The land that is Phillips County was created in 1867 by the Kansas Legislature in regular session. It was one of thirty-six counties divided from the unorganized territory and is bounded on the west by Norton County, on the south by Rooks County, on the east by Smith County, and on the north by the Nebraska state line. It measures thirty miles by thirty miles.
First permanent settlers in the county arrived in December 1869. They were C.J. Van Allen in the southeastern part of the county and Amos Cole in the northwestern part. By 1872, the resident population had grown to 681, and the county was organized for local government.
The railroads brought growth and prosperity to the county. Men came to survey, build the road, and lay the track. They contributed to the economy, and some stayed, bringing their families to make a permanent home. When the trains came, the markets improved. Grain, livestock, and produce moved out while eastern goods moved in. But most importantly, the trains brought more settlers to this rich land.
Phillips County continues to prosper and flourish today. The communities hold fast in their hearts the history of our ancestors and settlers, keeping northwestern Kansas heritage and hospitality alive. The hard work and success of our ancestors will continue, sustaining the happy place many call home.