The first town in the area was not Hays City, but the short lived town of Rome, established in May of 1867. However, the details surrounding the rise and fall of this small town are not clear. The first inhabitants of Rome appear to have been the Lull brothers from Salina, Kansas. Whether they were the town founders, emissaries of the founders, or simply the first businessmen remains a question. Also unclear is the roll William Cody played in the town's history. Some accounts credit Cody and his partner, William Rose, with the founding of Rome. Cody as a scout for the Army and Rose as a railroad contractor may have had information that could have led them to choose the site as a good location for a town, as neither the railroad nor the Fort were in the area when Rome was first settled. Regardless of their questionable status as founders, both Cody and Rose were avid promoters of the town.
A stone marker on the western outskirts of Hays shows the approximate location of the Rome town site.