The Original Boundary was surveyed in 1861. The boundary line of Clark County was relaid in 1884 and the county was organized in 1885. Previous to that it was a part of Ford County. Ashland became the county seat and the population in 1885 was 2,042.
Clark County was named for Charles F. Clarke, a captain in the sixth Kansas Calvary, who was commissioned assistant adjutant general on June 12 1862. In the original creative act, the name of the county was spelled Clarke, but in subsequent acts and all legislation affecting the county, the final “e” was dropped.
Three Benedictine Brothers came to Clark County to establish a Monastery, remaining long enough to erect buildings for and gather hay for the use of their stock in winter. They stayed only three months, however, before being recalled to Atchison. Mount Casino Stone, used by the Benedictines in 1876 is now the monument commemorating early missionaries, placed east of Ashland.
Some historians say that Coronado crossed the county 400 years previously in his search for the Seven Cities Of Ciebola. A Spanish horse bit and other riding equipment and a childs grave was proof. The Clark county historical society also has a map of Kansas on which the route of Coronado entering Kansas through Clark County in 1541 is clearly marked. This map was marked and autographed by Paul Jones of Lyons.
The plains Indians and the Cheyennes were the tribes that lived in Clark County. White settlers came in around 1880. At least 23 towns sprang up, anticipating the railroads would come through the location, but only four now survive. Two railroads used tocross the county; in the north part the Rock Island runs through Minneola and the A.T. SF. used to run through Sitka, Ashland, and terminated in Englewood. The first redout, built in 1884, was located six miles northwest of Ashland in the Ravenscraft Pasture. A south redout was built after the north was completed. These government redouts were built to protect the mail, freight, and the white man from the Indians. They were located on the Fort Dodge-Fort Supply Trail. Ten soldiers and one non-commissioned officer stayed at each one until the Indian scare was over, 1884-1886.
Clark city, on the trail from Fort Dodge to Fort Supply, was the first town in the county and was laid out in June 1884, about a mile and a half north of the present city of Ashland. In October, 1884, Ashland was laid out. All the buildings in Clark city were moved to Ashland.
Ashland was organized by the Ashland Town Company in 1884. Among the members were several Kentuckians; Y.K., Thomas E. Barry, and captain J.B. Nipp. Captain Nip was from Ashland, Kentucky and had the honor of naming Ashland, KS. There were several trails through Clark county; two Indian trails, one running from the east boundary line to the west one, known as the Dull Knife trail and another across the southwest corner of the county, known as the old Indian Trail; otherrs were known as the Tuttle, Coronado, Chisholm, Mt. Jesus, Ft. Supply - Ft. Dodge, and numerous cattle trails. Many large herds of cattle were driven from Texas through this area to be shipped to market by rail.
Clark county is well known for its cattle ranches and wheat fields. Experts tell us that at one time this area had a tropical climate. In the northern part there are areas where pre-historical bones have been excavated. These include Mastodons, camels, rhinoceroses, horses (both three toed and four toed), and broken shells of very large turtles. Many of these bones are now on display in the Ashland Pioneer -Krier Museum, Fort Hays State Collage Museum, Smithsonian Institute museum, and some in Europe.
Several high peaks or hills have been named in Clark County. Mt. Jesus, Alt. 2,340, was named by General Custer, who came through Clark County with general Sherman and the 19th Kansas Calvary. They traveled by way of the Ft. Supply-Ft. Dodge Trail.
A Stone marker, made by the Indians and located on the highest point near St. Jacobs well, marks the wells location. This well has never been known to go dry. Other peaks named are: Mt. casino, Mt. Lookout, Mt. Helen, Mt. coffee, Sugarloaf Mountain, and Mt. Nebo.
The Clark county historical society has published six volumes on “Notes on Early Clark County” which give more details of the history. These volumes are available for purchase at the Pioneer-Krier Museum.