Riley County, Kansas Genealogy

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United States
Riley County

Guide to Riley County, Kansas ancestry, genealogy and family history, birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

County Facts
County seat: Manhattan
Organized: August 30, 1855
Parent County(s): Original county[1]
Neighboring Counties
Clay  • Geary  • Marshall  • Pottawatomie  • Wabaunsee  • Washington
See County Maps
Location Map
200px-Map of Kansas highlighting Riley County svg.bmp

County Information


The County was named for Mexican-American War general Bennet Riley. The County has Manhattan as its seat and the County was created August 25, 1855. The County is located in the north central area of the state.[2]

County Courthouse

Riley County Courthouse]]
110 Courthouse Plaza
Manhattan, Kansas 66502-6018
Phone: 785.537.0700
Riley County Website

County Clerk has birth and death records 1885-1886 and 1892-1909.
City Clerk has birth and death records from 1910.
Probate Court has probate records.
Register of Deeds has land records. [3]

Riley County, Kansas Record Dates

Information for this chart was taken from various sources, often containing conflicting dates. This information should be taken as a guide and should be verified by contacting the county and/or the state government agency.

Known Beginning Dates for Major Records[4]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1885 1856 1885 1859 1857 1857 1855
Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1911. General compliance by 1917.[5]

Record Loss

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Boundary Changes

Populated Places

The following are locations in Riley County, Kansas:[7]

Unincorporated communites
Census-designated places
  • Ashland
  • Bala
  • Center
  • Fancy Creek
  • Grant
  • Jackson
  • Madison
  • Manhattan
  • May Day
  • Ogden
  • Sherman
  • Swede Creek
  • Wildcat
  • Zeandale
Ghost towns
  • Cleburn
  • Garrison Cross
  • Stockdale
  • Winkler

History Timeline


Bible Records


Business, Commerce, and Occupations


Cemeteries of Riley County, Kansas online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See Kansas Cemeteries for more information


Census Records

Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1860 1,224
1870 5,105 317.1%
1880 10,430 104.3%
1890 13,183 26.4%
1900 13,828 4.9%
1910 15,783 14.1%
1920 20,650 30.8%
1930 19,882 −3.7%
1940 20,617 3.7%
1950 33,405 62.0%
1960 41,914 25.5%
1970 56,788 35.5%
1980 63,505 11.8%
1990 67,139 5.7%
2000 62,843 −6.4%
2010 71,115 13.2%
Source: "".

Kansas became a territory in 1854 and the first territory census taken was in 1855. It was also enumerated as Kansas Territory in the 1860 Federal Census, although there were 15 counties that were marked with "no population" in them. The state continued to take state censuses after it was admitted to the Union in 1861.[8] See links listed below.

State and Territorial Census Records

Federal Census Records

The 1870 Census was the first Federal Census taken for Kansas after it became a state in 1861.[9] For links to Federal Census indexes, see Kansas Census.

Church Records

Most church records are held by individual churches. For contact information, check a phone directory, such as SearchBug or Dex Knows. Some denominations are gathering their records into a central repository. For more information about these major repositories, see Kansas Church Records.

Court Records


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political, and Religious Groups

Funeral Homes



Land and Property Records

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See Kansas Land and Property for additional information about early Kansas land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse, where records are currently housed.

Online Land Records

For more information see Kansas Land and Property

Local Histories

Local histories are available for Riley County, Kansas Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the wiki page section Kansas Local Histories.

Maps and Gazetteers

WashingtonMarshallPottawatomieWabaunseeGearyDickinsonClayRiley, Kansas.JPG
About this image
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Early migration routes to and from Riley County, Kansas Genealogy for European and African American settlers included:

Military Records

Naturalization and Citizenship


For more information, see Kansas Newspapers.

Kansas Newspapers Online

Kansas Newspaper Catalogs


Other Records

Voter Records


Probate Records

In most counties in Kansas, probate records have been kept by the county judge. They include wills, inventories, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, and dockets. The records are available at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for Kansas, Riley and click Probate records.

Online Records

School Records

Tax Records

Kansas tax records complement land records and can be used to supplement the years between censuses. Tax lists were usually made every year, however, there may be gaps of several years. For more information, see the wiki page Kansas Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents.

A copy or an extract of most original records can be purchased from the Kansas Office of Vital Statistics or the County Clerk's office of the county where the event occurred. See also Kansas Vital Records. For information about restrictions and costs for certificates, see the CDC Where to Write for Vital Records site.





Research Facilities


Family History Centers

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes.



Riley County Historical Museum
2309 Claflin Road
Manhattan, KS 66502
Telephone: 785-565-6490


Riley County Genealogical Society
2005 Claflin Road
Manhattan 66502-3415
Telephone: 785-565-6495


Research Guides


  1. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Riley, Kansas," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, ",_Kansas" 9/11/2017.
  3. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Riley County, Kansas page 255, At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  4. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), Riley County, Kansas. Page 255 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 237.
  5. “Kansas Research Outline”, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Department, 2000), 40.
  6. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT: Everton Publishers, 2002).
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Riley County, Kansas," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_Kansas#Communities, accessed 30 September 2017.
  8. William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses (Bountiful, UT: American Genealogical Lending Library, 1985), page 118-119.
  9. William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses (Bountiful, UT: American Genealogical Lending Library, 1985), page 119.
  10. National Park Service, "(Auto Tour Route) Maps" in Oregon National Historic Trail at (accessed 18 July 2011).
  11. National Park Service, "(Auto Tour Route) Maps" in California National Historic Trail at (accessed 18 July 2011).
  12. National Park Service, "Auto Tour Route Maps" in Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail at (accessed 18 July 2011).