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Claims in the area date as far back as the early 1870's. However, Decatur County was organized in 1879, with the County Seat located in Oberlin. At that time Oberlin was know as Sappa, after a nearby creek. It was later named in honor of Commodore Stephen Decatur, a distinguished American naval officer. He fell in a duel with Commodore Barron, United States Navy, in 1808. There is some confusion as to who was the first to settle the area but Decatur is given the credit.
The Last Indian Raids
This frontier outpost was the occasional victim of Indian Raids. In 1878 the last Indian Raid occurred. A band of Cheyennes invaded Kansas crossing the State line near the southeast corner. They divided into small bands and attacked the camps of stockmen along their route. They killed some and wounded others, and destroyed and stole stock and other property. After crossing the Arkansas River near Cimarron, Foote County, they passed due north, doing little damage until they reached the counties of Sheridan, Decatur and Rawlins. Besides murdering men and destroying property, outrages were committed on women and children. In Decatur County, eighteen men were slaughtered.
On September 30, Mr. H. D. Colvin, living eight miles southwest of Oberlin, was a short distance away from home when he was suddenly surprised by a party of raiding Indians, who drove him to his house. When the main body came up an attack was made on the house, but the two hundred were driven off by Mr. Colvin and his wife, with an old navy six-shooter and an antiquated shot gun. Mrs. Colvin fired the first shot with the shotgun. They left, doing no damage.
Oberlin, population approximately 2,700, stands as the county seat of Decatur County. Located in northwest Kansas, Oberlin is a quaint town with a rich western American history. If you are passing through take time to visit the Last Indian Raid Museum. There are many local committees and a very active community providing numerous community services. Whether you are stopping in for a visit or just traveling through to visit our Nebraska neighbors, we welcome you to Oberlin.
Please visit some of the links below to become familiar with our community. We look forward to having a visit from you.
Decatur County and City of Oberlin Official Website
Local Schools and Nearby Colleges
Decatur Health Systems