County seat war

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A county seat war is a phenomenon that occurred in the American West as it was being settled, although incidences elsewhere, such as in West Virginia, have been also been recorded. 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 voter fraud, intimidation or violence. The fight between Coronado and neighboring Leoti in western Kansas is considered the bloodiest occurrence of this phenomenon. Another violent county seat war in Kansas included the Hay Meadow Massacre in Stevens County.

Another Kansas county seat war 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 19th century (Wyandotte 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.

References

  • Mason, Henry F. The Kansas Historical Quarterly 2:1 (February 1933) 45-65. (retrieved from August 29, 2006)


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