Cheyenne County, Kansas Families

Cheyenne County Families

This page features early Cheyenne County families. If you have a pioneer Cheyenne County family that you'd like to submit, contact me at [email protected]. Copy my email address into your email template. To help me locate your email more quickly, mention "Cheyenne County" in the Subject line.


One of the earliest families to settle in Cheyenne County were four Rathbun brothers, along with several of their cousins. Alfred, Elon, John and William Rathbun, sons of John Rathbun and his wife Keturah Corey, along with several cousins, came to Cheyenne County in 1886. They migrated from Arabella, Missouri in February of that year. Their homes sold, their belongings packed into a railroad car, some 40 members of this family made the trip by rail to Oronoque, Kansas, where the railroad tracks ended. They bought wagons and horses to continue their journey another 100 miles. At Oberlin, they applied at the U.S. Land Office for homestead lands in southwestern Cheyenne County. Settling south of the Republican River, they staked out their new property on fertile ground, inhabited by buffalo, antelope, coyotes, prairie dogs, and wild horses.

That first spring and summer was spent building sod homes and planting their crops. Their corn and wheat harvest was taken to the nearest gristmill in Atwood, Kansas--some 50 miles from home. They rode 40 miles north to the nearest trading post in Hagler, Nebraska, to buy staples they could not produce themselves.

As the years went by, the families expanded their farms, fenced in pasture land and built bigger and better homes. By 1893 the "Rathbun Settlement" numbered 15 families, including several of the children who had married, and another brother, Uzell Alexander, joined them several years after the first group had arrived. The 15 couples had a total of 65 children, 38 of whom were enrolled in local schools. The Rathbun cousins made up the majority of students in each of the three schools they attended.

This settlement of brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews, grandchildren--owned a total of 3,520 acres. They built windmills, bought mowing machines and binders, and jointly owned two steam-operated machines to harvest wheat and strip and husk corn.

Information taken from "The Rathbun Family Historian" newsletter.

Contributed by Alice Allen ([email protected])

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Copyright 2010 by Alice Allen. Copying for personal use is permitted. Copying for commercial purposes or to use on other web sites is prohibited without the express written consent of contributors or Alice Allen.

July, 2010