seat war

County seat war

A county seat war is a phenomenon that occurred in the American West as it was being settled. As new towns sprang up and county lines were drawn, there was intense competition for the status and tax benefits bestowed by becoming a county seat. These "wars" often involved nothing more than lining up at the ballot box, but sometimes partisans for a particular town would resort to intimidation or violence. The fight between Coronado and neighboring Leoti in western Kansas is considered the bloodiest occurrence of this phenomenon. Other violent county seat wars include the Hay Meadow Massacre.

Another county seat war, this also in Kansas, resulted in the dissolution of a county. Eminence and Ravanna fought over the privilege of being the county seat for Garfield County. When people in the county suggested the county be surveyed, it was found that it was too small to be a legal county under a Kansas law established in the late 1800s (Wyandote County had been founded before this law was passed). Garfield County was dissolved and annexed into Finney County, which is why that county has a panhandle.


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