Not a lot of people are familiar with Ellsworth, Kansas. Many people outside of Kansas have a tendency to lump all of Kansas together. Ellsworth, Kansas has a story that is tightly connected to many of the major developments in nineteenth century culture.
The story of Ellsworth officially started back in 1864. Many people moved to Ellsworth when it was first constructed as a result of railroad speculation. It was incorporated in 1867. By this point in time, there were around two thousand people in the city of Ellsworth.
Sure enough for the people interested in the development of railroads, the Kansas Pacific Railroad had stockyards in Ellsworth and a stop. This managed to open up Ellsworth in an entirely new way. Many of the cattle that were present in Ellsworth in these areas did not come from Ellsworth, of course. They were shipped up from Texas. From Ellsworth, they were shipped to a good portion of the existing major cattle markets throughout the United States.
One of the things that really made Ellsworth a cow town in the first place was the fact that the cowboys of the time seemed to be the leaders of it for a little while. After all, these were the people who needed to work with the cattle, and this was an area where cattle were traded. It made sense that this would give them a certain degree of authority in general.
This situation was relatively short-lived, of course, which is to be expected during a time period of tremendous social change and upheaval. Kansas Pacific moved everything to a different location in 1875 and the cattle pens were all closed down for good. Within another decade, there was no cattle trade in the area.
Many people who travel to Ellsworth today are specifically interested in the nineteenth century history of Ellsworth. It is truly a popular site for heritage tourism. It is true that in an area with a relatively low nineteenth century population, only so many people are going to be able to trace their heritage to Ellsworth.
However, when people research their ancestry in the United States, they will often find that they had some relatives in small nineteenth century towns of some kind. If they can trace their relatives back to Ellsworth, they will only have so many options for who their relatives were. Many people who had nineteenth century relatives had farmers, loggers, and other people who worked in those industries as ancestors. Some people might have had rowdy cowboys as ancestors if they can trace everything back to Ellsworth.