History of Rooks County……

In 1867, the Kansas Legislature defined the boundaries of Rooks County with twenty-three (23) townships. The county was named for a private, John C. Rooks, of the 11th Kansas Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, who died from a wound suffered during the savage December 7, 1862, Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Rooks County is the only county in Kansas named for a private. For a more complete story of the naming of Rooks County, click here.

historic_stocktonThe first settlers in Rooks County were ten persons engaged in the stock business named Joseph, James, Thomas, John and Francis NcNulty (originally from Massachusetts), Tunis Bulis, John Wells, John Powell, Seal Northup and Capt. J Owens. They arrived in January, 1871, and all took the first claims made in the County, in what afterwards became Stockton Township. They came from Washington County, Kansas and with the exception of James McNulty and Capt. Owens, all became permanent residents.

Soon after these settlers followed John Shorthill who resided on a claim in Lowell Township. Mrs. Robert E. Martin, who came with her husband and family in the fall of 1871, was the first woman who settled in Rooks County. She also resided in Lowell Township. Following these early settlers soon came Thomas Boylan, Henry Purdy, S.C. Smith, M.M. Stewart, G.W. Patterson, Henry Hill, George Steele, John Russell, Lyman Randall, John Lawson, W.H. Barnes, George W. Beebe, the Dibbles, Parks and others.

The first house erected in Stockton Township, and Rooks County, was erected in February, 1871, by the McNulty Brothers, two and one half miles south of town on the south side of the South Solomon. The first marriage occurred in Lowell Township, January 1, 1873. William E. Newton was married to Mary M. Young, by B.M. Cooper, a Justice of the Peace.

The first child born in the county was Myrtle Maud, daughter of Thomas McNulty, born Christmas night, 1871, on Elm Creek, three miles east and south of Stockton. The first death in the county was Erastas Foster, two miles from Stockton, in the spring of 1878. He was buried in the Stockton graveyard.








Courthouse Facts

Webster Dam

For more information about the history of Rooks County, consult the following books:
Pioneers of Western Kansas by Myrtle D. Fesler
Palco Centennial Book – September 1988
St. Ann’s Church Book – 2000
Damar History Book – 1988
Lest We Forget – Rooks County Historical Society
Bird, Kansas by Tony Parker
Pioneer Naturalist of the Plains by David M. Bartholomew
Stockton Heritage in Wood, Stone and Brick: The Town and its Historic Structures by Leo Oliva
Plainville Centennial Book – 1988
Woodston: The Story of a Kansas Country Town by Leo Oliva
Plainville: Its Early Beginnings by Margaret Houser