Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

County seat war

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
County seat war

A county seat war is an American phenomenon that occurred mainly in the Old West as it was being settled, although similar incidents elsewhere, such as in southeastern Ohio, have also been recorded. As new towns sprang up and county lines were drawn, there was intense competition for the status and tax benefits bestowed by becoming a county seat. These "wars" often involved nothing more than lining up at the ballot box, but sometimes partisans for a particular town would resort to voter fraud, intimidation or violence.


The fight between Coronado and neighboring Leoti in western Kansas is considered the bloodiest occurrence of this phenomenon. Leoti hired lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson from Dodge City, Kansas to help win the fight. Another violent county seat war in Kansas resulted in the Hay Meadow Massacre in Stevens County.

Another Kansas county seat war resulted in the dissolution of a county. Eminence and Ravanna fought over the privilege of being the county seat for Garfield County. When people in the county suggested the county be surveyed, it was found that it was too small to be a legal county under a Kansas law established in the late 19th century (Wyandotte County had been founded before this law was passed). Garfield County was dissolved and annexed into Finney County, which is why that county has a panhandle.

By the late 19th century, battles over county seats were settled in elections that saw instance of voter fraud, intimidation, and heated debates, as seen in the relocation of two Washington county seats in 1896: Lincoln County from Sprague to Davenport, and Snohomish County from Snohomish to Everett.


County seat war Wikipedia