Sunday, July 6, 2014


Norton holds good memories for me. It was the site of a long-running homeschool basketball tournament that our team competed in for several years when I was in junior high and high school.

As the county seat of Norton County, this town has some nice restaurants, a large park, a fairground. It's a pretty sizable place for northwestern Kansas.

The park was well-maintained, though we were a little perplexed by the shouting-cone that led to nowhere. We were pleasantly surprised to find the bathrooms spacious, clean, and air-conditioned on this sweltering July afternoon! (We were also amused by this sign near the bathroom door: "TOILET PAPER AVAILABLE AT CONCESSION STAND.")

We also were happy to find some very passable Chinese food downtown. The China Kitchen also yielded us some excellent fortunes, which we have reproduced photographically.

In perusing what Kansas: A Cyclopedia has to say about Norton, I found this amusing reminder that unscrupulous politicians are nothing new in Kansas:

The county was prematurely organized in 1872. The prime mover in the event [N. H. Billings] brought about the organization for the purpose of exploitation. He disappeared from the county in June and went to Topeka, where he prepared a forged petition and presented it to Gov. Harvey. It contained but 8 names of residents of the county. The governor refused to act upon it. Immediately he prepared an affidavit stating that there were not less than 600 inhabitants in Norton county. This was sent to the governor and a second petition stating that there were at least 600 inhabitants in the county followed. It asked for organization, made recommendation for officers and asked that Billingsville be declared the temporary county seat. Although this petition did not contain the name of a single resident of Norton County the governor acted upon it and appointed Richard M. Johnson to take the census. As Johnson was a fictitious character, Billings had things his own way in regard to the census, and a bogus census was gotten up in short order. It was presented to the governor on Aug. 22 and the same day the proclamation of organization was issued declaring Billingsville the temporary county seat and appointing the following officers ...

He succeeded in having school bonds voted, which carried by only one vote, that of his wife's sister, a minor. When he took his seat in the legislature he had the rights of majority conferred upon her, hoping by that means to make the election legal. During that session a measure was introduced in the house of representatives as a joke to change the name of Norton county to Billings to tickle the vanity of that member whom his fellow law makers had dubbed in jest "the fiery untamed Demosthenes of Norton." C. C. Vance represented the county at the next session and the name was changed back to Norton.

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