Ellis County Historical Society Museum

Located at the corner of 7th and Main Street in Downtown Hays, the Ellis County Historical Society Museum exists to preserve and showcase the colorful history of the county. The main gallery begins with the frontier days, when legendary characters such as Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, and George Armstrong Custer walked the streets of Hays. In addition, learn about the clash of cultures that resulted when the railroad crossed tribal grounds and buffalo hunters decimated the great herds. Visit the recreated saloon and try your hand at faro, a favorite card game of the day. Round out your experience with a stroll through the first Boot Hill in the Wild West (18th and Fort Street,) the last resting place for those who "died with their boots on."

Transport yourself forward in time to the settlement era of Ellis County history, when nearly thirty different groups struggled to tame the land. Queen Victoria was the namesake for an English colony that included George Grant, who brought the first Angus cattle to America in 1873. The largest immigrant groups to settle in the county were Germans from the Volga River region of Russia, and Bukovina from Austria-Hungary. The museum complex also features the 1879 Stone Church, the Younker Harness Shop, and the Volga German Haus. The stone chapel is considered one of the oldest existing church buildings in western Kansas and is the oldest church building still standing in Ellis County. The Volga German Haus replicates an early immigrant dwelling, complete with authentic furnishings. Finally, children will enjoy the hands-on activities in the Learning Center, where history can be explored through toys and clothing of bygone eras. Annual special events include Pioneer Day in May and a Christmas Open House the first weekend in December.