In 1873, a group of well-to-do English and Scottish immigrants arrived in Ellis County. A Scotsman named George Grant established a town which they named Victoria in honor of their queen.
Later in October of 1875, a group of Volga-German colonists from Saratov, Russia arrived in Baltimore, Maryland. From there they traveled west to Topeka, Kansas and stayed throughout the winter. On April 8th, 1876, they came to Victoria and erected their first dwellings on the east bank of the creek, a little west of the present town. So favorable did the original settlers find conditions they sent word to their relatives and friends in Russia. As a result, on August 3, 1876, 286 persons mostly of Herzog, Russia arrived. Thus the new settlement was named Herzog. In the course of this time, the new settlement absorbed the old and in 1913 the name was changed to Victoria.
ENGLISH CEMETERY - In the cemetery is a monument commemorating the 1873 arrival of the first Aberdeen Angus cattle. Beside the monument is the grave of George Grant, leader of the original Victoria colony who died in 1878. Grant's colony had become a high-cultured community of aristocratic agriculturists.
HISTORIC LANDMARK - This historical marker is dedicated to the scarlet-coated Britishers who chased antelope on bob-tailed ponies and the frugal, hard-working Russian immigrants that settled here for religious freedom and to escape the czar's army.
CHEYENNE RAID - The grave site of six railroad workers killed by Cheyenne Indians on August 1, 1867. The workers had detached themselves from the main work camp and were unarmed when surprised by the Indians.
CATHEDRAL OF THE PLAINS - Working from 1908 to 1911, the parishioners built St. Fidelis Church from native post rock limestone. Its length is 220 feet and the towers rise 141 feet high. In 1912, Presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan dubbed the church, "Cathedral of the Plains."
ST. FIDELIS CEMETERY - (Iron cross, first cemetery) - In this cemetery you will see the unusual iron crosses. These were made by local craftsmen and marked several of the early graves. To the west of the cemetery you will see a white cross that marks the site of the first Roman Catholic cemetery in the community.
PIONEER VOLGA GERMAN FAMILY SCULPTURE - This sculpture, sculpted by Pete Felten of Hays, memorializes the early poverty and hardworking simplicity of the pioneers who came here in 1876. They were all of the peasant class. Agriculture was their business. Taking advantage of the liberal homestead laws, each head of a family secured eighty acres of government land.
To: Ellis County