Ellsworth, Kansas

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Ellsworth is a city in and the county seat of Ellsworth County, Kansas, United States.[3] The population was 2,965 at the 2000 census.



Once called "The Wickedest Cattletown in Kansas", the city is named for Fort Ellsworth, which was built in 1864. [1] Due to speculation on imminent railroad construction, the population of Ellsworth boomed to over two thousand by the time it was incorporated in 1867. Today, the largest employer in Ellsworth is the Kansas State Ellsworth Correctional Facility. 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. [2] 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 Chauncey Whitney, 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. [3]

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