Native American roots. Buffalo hunters. War veterans.
A diverse melting pot of immigrants. History lurks around every corner in Finney County, Kansas.
No matter the reason for your visit to the area, be sure to take some time to learn about its rich and storied past. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Plains Indians were the first to live and hunt in the region, and in the 1700s, Spanish explorers stumbled upon the area. But Finney County’s modern roots date back to the last quarter of the 19th century.
Finney’s County’s Start
By 1870, few people lived in Kansas. In fact, not many Americans lived west of the Mississippi River, which was wild and unsettled, in general. But war veterans and land speculators were drawn to the possibilities and untapped potential of the Western United States.
Many of these individuals hopped on the Union Pacific Railroad, stopping at various points along the way to explore and settle areas. This is how Finney County’s first residents landed in the area and founded the county.
In 1879, Charles Jesse Jones, John A. Stevens, and William D. and James R. Fulton established Garden City, now Finney County’s county seat. The county itself was called Buffalo and Sequoyah, at first. Then, in 1883, it was renamed for Lieutenant Governor David Wesley Finney.
Jones, a particularly colorful character who earned the nickname “Buffalo” for his skills as a buffalo hunter, was integral to Garden City’s growth in those early days. He convinced two railroads – the Atchison-Topeka and the Santa Fe – to make the city one of its stops. This meant more people could access Finney County and its population boomed after this. Because of his efforts, Jones was named the city’s first mayor.
Mexican Immigrants Come to Finney County
By 1900, the county began to see an influx of Mexican immigrants. They came to the United States, and Kansas in particular, looking for work on ranches and jobs. They also took jobs in the U.S. Sugar and Land Company factory that opened in 1906, an opening that transformed the county.
Mexican culture has been integral to the Finney County community since the early 1900s. The annual Mexican Fiesta is one of its most popular events. More Mexican immigrants decided to call the county home in the 1940s when they came to work on the region’s sugar beet farms. Today, more than half of the county’s residents are Hispanic or Latino.
Finney County’s Growth Continues
Finney County is a melting pot of nationalities. In the 1970s, Vietnamese migrants came to the area to work in the beef packing plants. And decades later, in 2006, the region saw an influx of immigrants from Somalia, Burma, and Ethiopia. The vibrant county is easily the fastest growing – and most diverse – in Kansas.
Plan a Trip to Finney County
Now that you know a bit about the history of Finney County and its growth, let us help you plan your next visit to the area. Contact us for a free Visitor’s Guide or check out our blog and lists of events, hotels, restaurants, and things to do.
There’s something for everyone in Finney County!