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Riley County Kansas

The Riley County Courthouse is located at 1109 Courthouse Plaza, Manhattan, KS 66502; phone: 785-537-6300.

Beginnings [1]

Riley County received its name directly from the military post named after General Benjamin Riley. Fort Riley is about half a mile from the confluence of the Republican and Smoky Hill Rivers. At the time of its organization, approximately 95 percent of the land in the county was prairie and 5 percent woodland forest. Of this, 20 percent was dark, easily worked soil of the bottomlands and 80 percent was soil characteristic of the upland divides. In the area between the Big Blue and the Republican Rivers in Riley County, the major portion of the Kansas (Kaw) River flowed eastward through the county, following an irregular path through Manhattan. The Big Blue River, forming the larger portion of the eastern boundary of the county, flowed into the Kansas River east of Manhattan.

Samuel D. Dyer is thought to be the first white inhabitant of Riley County. In 1853, he ran a government ferry about one mile below Rocky Ford on the Big Blue River. The next year, abolitionist and New Hampshire native the Reverend Charles E. Blood established a residence near the ferry landing.

  1. Manhattan Kansas Cultural Resources Survey, Historic Contexts 2003,, accessed June, 2011.
Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
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