Ellsworth water tower as seen from Kansas State Highway 156 (2012)
Location within County and Kansas
KDOT map of Ellsworth County (legend)
|• Mayor||John Whitmer|
|• City Clerk||Patti Booher|
|• Total||2.43 sq mi (6.29 km2)|
|• Land||2.43 sq mi (6.29 km2)|
|• Water||0 sq mi (0 km2)|
|Elevation||1,539 ft (469 m)|
|• Estimate (2012)||3,116|
|• Density||1,300/sq mi (500/km2)|
|Time zone||Central (CST) (UTC-6)|
|• Summer (DST)||CDT (UTC-5)|
|FIPS code||20-20500 |
|GNIS feature ID||0475460 |
Once called "The Wickedest Cattletown in Kansas", the city is named for Fort Ellsworth, which was built in 1864. Due to speculation on imminent railroad construction, the population of Ellsworth boomed to over two thousand by the time it was incorporated in 1867. It has since been said, ""Abilene, the first, Dodge City, the last, but Ellsworth the wickedest".
Ellsworth was a bustling cattle town for a time during the late 1860s but its cattle trade had dwindled down by the mid-1880s. During this period it was known for being one of the wildest cattle towns, the scene of numerous killings following shootouts between drunken cowboys, and the town sported numerous saloons, brothels and gambling halls, with prostitution being rampant. Wild Bill Hickok ran for Sheriff there in 1868, but was defeated by former soldier E.W. Kingsbury. Kingsbury was an extremely effective lawman, but had to have the help of the local police to control Ellsworth itself, as he also had the county to deal with. Violence inside Ellsworth was commonplace. Ellsworth Marshal Will Semans was shot and killed on September 26, 1869, while attempting to disarm a rowdy man in a dance hall.
For a time during this period, two small-time outlaws known only as Craig and Johnson began bullying people around the community, often committing armed robbery openly and without fear of arrest due to Marshal Semans having been killed. Before long, though, citizens formed a vigilance squad and overwhelmed both men, hanging them near the Smoky Hill River. Sheriff, a deputy to Kingsbury, took over following Sheriff Kingsbury's departure, and Whitney quickly gained a reputation as being both tough and respectable, resulting in his being well liked. In 1872 the Drovers Cottage was built, which could accommodate 175 guests, and stable 50 carriages and 100 horses.
Lawman Wyatt Earp served in Ellsworth for a short time, achieving nothing notable. He would later claim that he'd arrested gunman Ben Thompson there, however that was a false claim. In actuality, professional gunman and gambler Ben Thompson was arrested by Deputy Ed Hogue after his brother Billy Thompson accidentally shot and killed Ellsworth County Sheriff Chauncey Whitney in 1873. Billy Thompson fled despite the shooting being accidental, fearing that he would be lynched. Thompson was eventually captured and put on trial, but was acquitted in the shooting, as Sheriff Whitney himself, a friend to both Thompsons, stated prior to his death it was an accident. At the time of being shot, Whitney was standing with the two brothers, who were having a dispute with local Ellsworth police officer John "Happy Jack" Morco and gambler John Sterling over a gambling debt Sterling owed Ben Thompson. Although rumors about that shooting have circulated over the decades into Billy Thompson cold bloodedly shooting Sheriff Whitney down, that never happened.
Following the accidental Thompson killing of Sheriff Whitney, violence against visiting Texas cowboys passing through on cattle drives increased. Ellsworth Chief of Police Ed Crawford beat Texan cowboy Cad Pierce to death with his pistol, after first shooting him in the side, while crowds of drunken vigilantes roamed the streets threatening Texas cowboys and ordering them out of town. "Happy Jack" Morco swore out a warrant for assault against Ben Thompson, and shortly thereafter Ed Hogue arrested Thompson.
Ellsworth police officer John "Happy Jack" Morco was fired due to his involvement in the incident leading up to Whitney's death, and a short time later the entire force was dismissed, replaced by new personnel. Morco was shot and killed shortly thereafter by newly appointed Ellsworth police officer J. C. "Charlie" Brown in front of the Lizzie Palmer Dancehall. Former officer Ed Crawford was shot and killed shortly after this, in a brothel in Nauchville, more or less a suburb of Ellsworth, being located about a half a mile out of the city. No arrests were made, and it was suspected that cowboy friends to Cad Pierce had committed the killing. Former officer Ed Hogue fled.
Ellsworth has recently seen a resurgence in interest in its historical significance. Plans for the restoration of Ellsworth's Signature Insurance Building and its operation as the National Drovers Hall of Fame are underway and partly funded by one of the only historically accurate cattle drives in the US down Main Street and Douglas Avenue every year.
Ellsworth is located at  The city lies on the north side of the Smoky Hill River in the Smoky Hills region of the Great Plains. Oak Creek, a tributary of the Smoky Hill, flows south past the eastern side of the city to its confluence with the river southeast of the city.(38.731924, -98.229204) at an elevation of 1,539 feet (469 m).
Ellsworth is located at the intersection of K-14, K-140, and K-156 in central Kansas roughly 27 miles (43 km) west-southwest of Salina, Kansas. Ellsworth is approximately 82 miles (132 km) northwest of Wichita and 192 miles (309 km) west-southwest of Kansas City. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.43 square miles (6.29 km2), all of it land.
Lying in the transition zone between North America's humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa) and humid continental climate (Köppen Dfa), Ellsworth experiences hot, humid summers and cold, dry winters. The average temperature is 53 °F (12 °C), and the average yearly precipitation is 27.3 inches (694 mm). Snowfall averages 16.7 inches (424 mm) per year. On average, July is the warmest month, January is the coldest month, and May is the wettest month. The hottest temperature recorded in Ellsworth was 117 °F (47 °C) in 1936; the coldest temperature recorded was -30 °F (-34 °C) in 1913.
|Climate data for Ellsworth, Kansas|
|Record high °F (°C)||78
|Average high °F (°C)||39
|Average low °F (°C)||13
|Record low °F (°C)||−30
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||0.72
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||6.3
|Source: The Weather Channel; National Weather Service|
|U.S. Decennial Census|
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,120 people, 997 households, and 639 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,284.0 inhabitants per square mile (495.8/km2). There were 1,154 housing units at an average density of 474.9 per square mile (183.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 87.9% White, 9.3% African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.7% from other races, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.2% of the population.
There were 997 households of which 26.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.9% were non-families. 32.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.77.
The median age in the city was 38.4 years. 17% of residents were under the age of 18; 10.5% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 31.5% were from 25 to 44; 25% were from 45 to 64; and 16.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 61.9% male and 38.1% female.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,965 people, 995 households, and 641 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,413.3 people per square mile (545.1/km²). There were 1,141 housing units at an average density of 543.9 per square mile (209.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.40% White, 7.55% African American, 0.94% Native American, 0.51% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.94% from other races, and 1.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.95% of the population.
There were 995 households out of which 27.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.9% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.5% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the city the population was spread out with 17.3% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 31.5% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 132.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 139.9 males.
As of 2000 the median income for a household in the city was $35,625, and the median income for a family was $45,156. Males had a median income of $30,233 versus $19,762 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,396. About 3.8% of families and 7.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.0% of those under age 18 and 9.9% of those age 65 or over.
The Ellsworth government consists of a mayor and five council members. The council meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month at 7PM.
- City Hall, 121 W First St.
In 2008, TradeWind Energy and Enel North America made Ellsworth and Lincoln counties home to the Smoky Hills Wind Farm. Its 155 wind turbines have a total capacity of 250MW and cover approximately 20,000 acres of agricultural land. 100 landowners host the Smoky Hills Wind Farm’s turbines on their property. The wind farm generates enough power to satisfy 85,000 homes’ energy consumption requirements.
- Keith L. Ackerman, Episcopal bishop
- Robert Herbert Mize, Jr., Anglican bishop
- John Morco, gunfighter
- Ben Thompson, gunfighter
- Billy Thompson, gunfighter
- Libby Thompson, prostitute
In popular culture
The first four episodes in 1955 of the ABC/Desilu western television series, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, starring Hugh O'Brian in the title role, are set in Ellsworth, where Wyatt Earp was the marshal prior to moving to the larger Wichita, where the remainder of the season-one episodes are set. Subsequent seasons were in Dodge City, Kansas, and Tombstone, Arizona.
Ellsworth Federal Penitentiary appears in the game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent, indirectly referencing "Ellsworth" (its location is listed as simply "Ellsworth Federal Penitentiary, Kansas"). There, the main character, Sam Fisher, must meet with an inmate named Jamie Washington, a member of a US terrorist organization called John Brown's Army. Fisher must escape with Washington and then use Washington to solidify cover for his mission. The actual Federal Penitentiary is in Leavenworth, KS. There is however an Ellsworth Correctional Facility, which is a facility with the Kansas Department of Corrections.
- Ellsworth - Directory of Public Officials
- "US Gazetteer files 2010". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-05-29.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
- "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
- "2010 City Population and Housing Occupancy Status". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
- Ellsworth - History
- Smith, Jessica (2013). "Morality and Money: A Look at how the Respectable Community Battled the Sporting Community over Prostitution in Kansas Cowtowns, 1867-1885" (PDF). Kansas State University.
- Drovers Mercantile - History
- Chauncey Whitney
- Legends of America - Ellsworth
- Billy Thompson
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- "City Distance Tool". Geobytes. Retrieved 2010-03-25.
- "Historical Weather for Ellsworth, Kansas, United States of America". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
- "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Weather Service Forecast Office - Wichita, KS. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
- "Average weather for Ellsworth, KS". The Weather Channel. Retrieved 2010-01-18.
- "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "About this Newspaper: Ellsworth reporter". Chronicling America. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- "Ellsworth County Independent/Reporter". Ellsworth County Independent/Reporter. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- "K243AR-FM 96.5 MHz". Radio-Locator. Theodric Technologies LLC. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- "Station Information Profile". Arbitron. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- Meghan Lawrence, " Homeier adds value by growing energy on his Ellsworth Co. farm", Farm Talk, Retrieved 2012-1-10.
- 'The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (September 1955 episodes) at the Internet Movie Database
- History of the State of Kansas; William G. Cutler; A.T. Andreas Publisher; 1883. (Online HTML eBook)
- Kansas : A Cyclopedia of State History, Embracing Events, Institutions, Industries, Counties, Cities, Towns, Prominent Persons, Etc; 3 Volumes; Frank W. Blackmar; Standard Publishing Co; 944 / 955 / 824 pages; 1912. (Volume1 - Download 54MB PDF eBook),(Volume2 - Download 53MB PDF eBook), (Volume3 - Download 33MB PDF eBook)
- Guide Map of the Best and Shortest Cattle Trail to the Kansas Pacific Railway; Kansas Pacific Railway Company; 1875. (Read Online)(Map)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ellsworth, Kansas.|
- USD 327, local school district
- Ellsworth Independent Reporter - Going To Press From Ashes on YouTube, from Hatteberg's People on KAKE TV news
- Ally Britton - Giving Turkeys A Try on YouTube, from Hatteberg's People on KAKE TV news
- Ellsworth City Map, KDOT