Stilwell had its start when the railroad was extended to that point. It was platted in 1886 under the name of Mt. Auburn. The first post office in Stilwell was established in June 1888. It was renamed to Stilwell in 1889. Like many towns along the line to the Gulf of Mexico, it is named for Arthur Stilwell, founder of what became the Kansas City Southern Railroad.
Stilwell is mostly agricultural land, largely sod farms, but in recent years has spawned suburban neighborhoods. The Aubry Township Board stated[when?] that by 2010, most of Stilwell would be urban. Stilwell has affordable land and some farms are abandoned; however the large population growth of Overland Park, Kansas increased the demand for new neighborhoods, raising the land value in some areas.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Stilwell has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
- Gary Burrell (b. 1937), engineer and entrepreneur, co-founder of Garmin GPS technology company
- Tara Cunningham, Gold Medalist in Women's Weightlifting at 2000 Summer Olympics
- Michael Stevens, host of Vsauce channel on YouTube
- Tom Watson, American professional golfer
- Blackmar, Frank Wilson (1912). Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume 2. Standard Publishing Company. p. 766.
- Blair, Ed (1915). History of Johnson County, Kansas. Standard Publishing Company. p. 173.
- "Kansas Post Offices, 1828-1961, page 2 (archived)". Kansas Historical Society. Archived from the original on October 9, 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2014.
- House Journal of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Kansas: Sixth Biennial Session, Begun at Topeka, January 8, 1889. p. 1387.
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Climate Summary for Stilwell, Kansas