History of Hays, Kansas
Hays, Kansas has a rich history. In the beginning, it was a pretty wild place. Now it is an important historical and cultural city. There is a walking tour of historical sites with the route marked by twenty-five bronze plaques explaining the historical heritage of each place.
The tour includes Gospel Hill, Town and County Jail, Cy Goddard’s Dance Hall, “Dog” Kelly’s Faro House, Sante Fe Mail Co. Depot, churches, and saloons. It was a fun tour. If you are planning a vacation this summer, Hays, Kansas would be an interesting place to stop.
Shortly after the Civil War, railroad builders and settlers began pushing into western Kansas with ever-increasing intensity, provoking resistance from the Indian inhabitants of the area. To provide protection for this citizenry of railroad workers, soldiers and desperados, Fort Hays was established in 1867 and the city of Hays sprang to life on the plains in August of that year.
In those early days, Hays was a wild and lawless town, filled with saloons and dance halls. The legendary James B. “Wild Bill” Hickok served as sheriff for a few months in 1869, but left town the next year after a brawl with some troopers from the Fort. Summing up her impression while her husband, George Custer, was encamped near Fort Hays, Elizabeth Custer said, “there was enough desperate history in that little town in one summer to make a whole library of dime novels.” Between August of 1867 and December of 1873 there were over 30 homicides in and around Hays. Hays City developed the reputation, which was well deserved, as one of the most violent towns on the Kansas Frontier. The original Boot Hill was located in Hays, not Dodge City as many people believe. In fact, when Dodge City was founded in 1872, the Hays City Boot Hill was well populated. Mrs. Custer noted in her diary in the summer of 1869 there were already 36 graves in the cemetery called “Boot Hill”. Read more.