Ellis County Historical Society Museum

Located at the corner of 7th and Main Street in downtown Hays, the Ellis County Historical Society exists to preserve and present the colorful history of the county. The main gallery includes exhibits centered on some of Hays City’s wild west personages, such as “Wild Bill” Hickok, “Buffalo Bill” Cody, George Armstrong Custer, and Billy Dixon. Other exhibits include early agricultural practices, the beginnings of the Experiment Station, and Leora Stroup: Nursing Pioneer. Temporary exhibits rotate in the 1879 Stone Church, many of which are contemporary art shows.

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." 

On the museum grounds, staff will guide you on a tour of the Volga German Haus, a replica home of early German Russian settlers, outfitted with furnishings authentic to the 1870s and 1880s, when the Volga Germans began settling the area. The Younger Harness Shop, built in 1901, once sat on 11th street. Mr. Younger worked in leather, producing harnesses and yokes for farm animals; also making and repairing shoes. You can see examples of items like he made, as well as our saddle collection. The Fire Department Museum is a cooperative effort between the Historical Society and the Hays Firemen’s Relief Association. Many firefighting tools and devices are shown inside, including a 1927 International Harvester fire truck and the 1936 Ford firetruck, which still runs. You might see it in the Wild West Fest parade!

Annual special events include Pioneer Day in May and a Christmas Open House the first weekend in December.