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Ellsworth, Kansas

Ellsworth, Kansas Location of Ellsworth, Kansas Coordinates: 38°43′55″N 98°13′45″W / 38.73194, -98.22917CountryUnited StatesStateKansasCountyEllsworthArea - Total 2.1 sq mi (5.4 km²)  - Land 2.1 sq mi (5.4 km²)  - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km²) Elevation1,539 ft(469 m) Population (2000)  - Total 2,965  - Density1,413.3/sq mi (545.7/km²) Time zoneCentral (CST)(UTC-6)  - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5) ZIP code67439 Area code(s)785FIPS code20-20500[1]GNISfeature ID 0475460[2]

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



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. Ellsworth also has a local newspaper, the Ellsworth County Independent/Reporter. 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 town 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 26th, 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 town, often committing armed robbery openly and without fear of arrest due to Marshal Semans having been killed. Before long, though, citizens formed a vigilence 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 accomidate 175 guests, and stable 50 carriages and 100 horses. [3]

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 dispite the shooting being accidental, fearing being lynched, but was eventually captured and tried, but was acquitted in the shooting, as Sheriff Whitney himself, a friend to both Thompson's, 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 bloodily shooting Sheriff Whitney down, that never happened.[4]

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 town. No arrests were made, and it was suspected that cowboy friends to Cad Pierce had committed the killing. Former officer Ed Hogue fled town.

By the late 1870's the crime rate had dropped dramatically, but the town was beginning to suffer due to cattle drives taking their cattle elsewhere, like Dodge City and Abilene. 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 party funded by one of the only historically accurate cattle drives in the US down Main Street every year.


Ellsworth is located at 38°43′55″N, 98°13′45″W (38.731924, -98.229204)[4].

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.4 km²), all of it land.


As of the census[1] 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/sq mi (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.

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.

In pop culture

Ellsworth is featured in the game Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent. In the game, it is the home of Ellsworth Federal Penitentiary. 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.

The town is also featured in a recent song by Rascal Flatts titled "Ellsworth".


  1. ^ a b American FactFinder. United States Census Bureau. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
  2. ^ US Board on Geographic Names. United States Geological Survey (2007-10-25). Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
  3. ^ Find a County. National Association of Counties. Retrieved on 2008-01-31.
  4. ^ US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990. United States Census Bureau (2005-05-03). Retrieved on 2008-01-31.

External links

v • d • eMunicipalities and communities of
Ellsworth County, KansasCounty seat: Ellsworth Cities

Ellsworth | Holyrood | Kanopolis | Lorraine | Wilson


Ash Creek | Black Wolf | Carneiro | Clear Creek | Columbia | Ellsworth | Empire | Garfield | Green Garden | Langley | Lincoln | Mulberry | Noble | Palacky | Sherman | Thomas | Trivoli | Valley | Wilson


Black Wolf | Carneiro | Langley | Venango | Yankee Run

Categories: Cities in Kansas | County seats in Kansas | Ellsworth County, Kansas

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