Doniphan County was organized on September 18, 1855, as one of the 33 original counties organized by the Territorial Legislature. It was founded by Joel P. Blair; E. B. Rogers; and A. Dunning, and contains the cities of Troy, Highland, White Cloud, Denton, Elwood, Wathena, Leona and Severance. It was named for General Alexander Doniphan, of Mexican War fame. It is said that in the county seat war between Troy and Wathena, the story is told of a cannon that was stolen nightly by one town or the other, depending on who had it in their possession, until finally someone sunk it in the local creek. It was also told that the county records were treated in the same manner.
Doniphan county is known as the “birthplace” in Kansas of “squatter sovereignty,” with the creation of the Squatter Association of Kansas in the county in 1854. Also the first railroad in Kansas, the Roseport and Palmetto, was established in the county in 1860. The first macadam road in the state was laid in the county in 1858, and the first long distance telephone company in the state was established in 1881.
The first church was the Highland Mission Presbyterain Church. The first county fair was held near Troy in the 1860s. The first school district was at the Martin School in 1856.
Doniphan is home to two interesting Kansans, Daniel Woodson, the first secretary of Kansas Territory, and five times acting governor of the Territory (1855, 1856) and Charles E. Whittaker of Doniphan County served on the United States Supreme Court from 1957 to 1962. He is the only native Kansan to ever sit on the nation’s highest court.
The book, Paper Moon, used the town of White Cloud as one of its locations.
Doniphan is home to many interesting sites such as, the Charles “Buffalo” Jones House in Troy, the Benjamin Harding House in Wathena, the James Gallagher House of Wolf River, the Highland Mission, and the Fred Baker House (where Lincoln stayed during his visit to Kansas) in White Cloud. see footnote.
footnote: The Fred Baker House is in Troy, not White Cloud and Mr. Lincoln visited it December 1, 1859. Mr. Lincoln was a passenger on the steamboat Columbia that was at White Cloud August 11, 1859, on his way to Council Bluffs, Iowa. For more particulars, see my, “a lincoln guide c. b. 1859” coming soon to this site.
Larry Faulkner, researcher and web site owner.