Winfield is home to Southwestern College, a four-year private Methodist college. The city is well known for hosting the Walnut Valley Festival, a large bluegrass and acoustic music festival, on the third weekend of every September. The fictional castaway Mary Ann Summers hailed from Winfield.
Early History of Winfield
by William G. Cutler (1883)
The first claim on the Winfield town site was taken on June 11, 1869, by E. C. Manning. Shortly afterward, W. W. Andrews, C. M. Wood and A. A. Jackson took claims adjoining. The corner-stone of all these claims being at a point near the present L. L. & G. depot, and yet marked by a post. Andrews had the northeast claim; Wood the northwest; Manning the southwest, and Jackson the southeast.
On January 13, 1870, the Winfield Town Company was organized with E. C. Manning, President; W. W. Andrews, Vice-President; C. M. Wood, Treasurer; W. G. Graham, Secretary; E. C. Manning, J. H. Land, A. A. Jackson, W. G. Graham and J. C. Monforte, Directors. The forty acres of the land belonging to Manning was laid out as the center of the new town, and Main street, 120 feet wide, laid out north and south of this land. A log house was put up on the main street by the settlers, and given Manning in exchange for his land taken by them.
Settlement on the town site was slow, and when on August 15, A. D. Millington, now proprietor of the Courier, and J. C. Fuller, of the Winfield Bank, arrived and purchased Jackson's claim, the only buildings were the log store of E. C. Manning, which stood where the opera house now does; the log blacksmith shop of Max Shoeb, where Read's bank is now located; the drug store of W. Q. Mansfield and the hardware store of Frank Hunt. Millington and Fuller at once took active steps for the advancement of the town. For the various steps which led to their final success, we are indebted to the following account kindly furnished by Mr. Millington, who, as a leading character in the events of that day, deserves special credence:
In January, 1871, the survey of this county was made by the United States Deputy Surveyors, O. F. Short and Angell. This survey furnished a new excitement for the settlers, for the lines of the survey, necessarily, in the nature of things, could not conform with the claim lines. There was a crowd of settlers following each surveying party, with teams and lumber, and whenever a good bottom claim was shown by the survey to have no shanty or other improvements on it, the first one who got to it with lumber or logs took the claim. Some persons found their improvements surveyed on to the claims of older settlers, and thereby lost their claims. All this resulted in many contests at the land office, but it was remarkable that very little violence was resorted to.
The survey showed E. C. Manning's claim to be the northwest quarter, and J. C. Fuller's claim the northeast quarter of Section 28, in Township 32, south of Range 4 east. The town company's forty acres was the northeast quarter of Manning's claim. Immediately after the government survey, in January, 1871, E. C. Manning, J. C. Fuller and D. A. Millington formed themselves into another company, called the Winfield Town Association, and joined the southeast quarter of Manning's claim with the west half of Fuller's claim, as the property of the association.
This added to the town company's forty acres made a town site of 160 acres, in square form, and D. A. Millington, who was then the only surveyor and engineer settled in the county, surveyed this town site off into blocks and lots, streets and alleys. Though the three above named persons had then control of most of the stock of the town company, yet there were several other stockholders in the company, so that the addition to the townsite being wholly controlled by the three men, made it a different ownership, and created the need of the new corporation, the Town Association.
The plan that had been adopted to secure the erection of buildings in Winfield, was to contract to give a deed of the lot built upon free, and the adjoining lot at value, when the said Manning and Fuller should be able to enter their claims at the United States land office. It was intended and expected, that when the land office should be opened, Manning and Fuller should each enter his entire claim, then deed the forty acres of town site to the town company, and the 120 acres to the town association, and these corporations should then deed the improved lots to the owners of the improvements, and sell them the adjoining lots at value. Such entries and dispositions had been made in the cases of the town sites of Augusta and Wichita, and it was considered the true way in such cases.
During the spring, new buildings continued to be built on the town site, stores and shops were filled, and dwellings occupied. It took a long time, or until July 10, for the notes, plats and records of the survey to be made out and recorded in the offices at Washington and Lawrence, and get ready to open the land office at Augusta. During this time, the occupants of the town site began to get restless, and demand that the companies should give them more lots free. Some urged that the companies had no more right to the town site than any one else, and that all unimproved lots legally belonged to the owners of the improved lots, to be divided pro rata.
These disaffected parties became so numerous as to embrace a great proportion of the seventy-two owners of buildings on the town site. They procured the services of a great land lawyer of Columbus, named Sanford, made an assessment, and collected money to carry out their measures, held meetings, in which excited speeches were made against the two corporations, and were prepared, at a moment's notice, when the land office was open, to rush in and enter the town site, through the Probate Judge, who should distribute lots to the inhabitants, according to their theory. Thus commenced the famous Winfield town site controversy.
On Sunday evening, July 9, the town association got private information that the plats would arrive at Augusta that evening. They, with T. B. Ross, Probate Judge, were in Augusta at sunrise on the next morning, the 10th, and the Winfield town site was the first land entry in this county. Having made their other entries, they returned. During the next night, the citizens, having heard of the arrival of the plats, went up, in considerable force, to enter the town site, but they did not do it. After the entry, Judge Ross appointed W. W. Andrews, H. C. Loomis and L. M. Kennedy Commissioners, under the law, to set off to the occupants of the Winfield town site, the lots to which they were entitled, according to their respective interests. The time of meeting was advertised, and all parties met September 20.
The town companies presented to the Commissioners a list of the lots, showing what lots were improved, and who were entitled to them, and showing that the vacant lots were the property of the two companies respectively. The citizens spoke only through their lawyer, and demanded that the vacant lots should be divided up among the occupants, in proportion to the value of their buildings. After a full hearing, the Commissioners decided according to the schedule of the companies, and Judge Ross immediately executed deeds accordingly. This decision was accepted by a large part of the citizens, who, to prevent further trouble, executed quit-claim deeds of all the vacant lots to the two companies.
But Sanford was irrepressible, and a suit was commenced in the District Court, by Enoch Maris, A. A. Jackson et al. to set aside the deeds from the Probate Judge to the companies as void. The case was thrown out of court on demurrer by Judge Webb, commenced again, tried on demurrer before Judge Campbell, who over-ruled the demurrer, and promptly rendered judgment for the plaintiffs. The case was carried to the Supreme Court on error and reversed in the spring of 1873. Another case was commenced by ten of those who had quit-claimed, ran the course of the courts, and failed in the end.
It seems to have been an understood matter that the point where Winfield stands would some day be occupied by a town. In June, 1869, when C. M. Wood had his stockade on the west bank of the river opposite the town site, he thought of the location of a town, and later, promised Mrs. Wood that it should be named by her. After some deliberation the name of Legonda was selected and the settlement was thus known for some time. W. W. Andrews, who took a claim in 1869, and went back to Leavenworth for his family, used as a strong argument in inducing Mrs. Andrews to come to the frontier the privilege of naming the town in honor of Winfield Scott, a Baptist minister of Leavenworth. Mrs. Andrews' code at that time was that the town should be so named, $500 raised for a church, and Rev. Mr. Scott should come and be its pastor.
On her arrival at the settlement and learning that it already bore the name of Legonda, Mrs. Andrews expressed bitter disappointment and a desire to return, and was with difficulty made to see that no name could be finally adopted until voted upon by the settlers. An election was called and a formal ballot taken, and a dance followed. Formal ballot boxes were not in vogue, and a chest, to which was affixed the lock of Mrs. Andrews' washstand drawer, was used. There is no evidence that there were two keys to that lock, but Mrs. Andrews remarks with a twinkle in her eye, that while they were dancing Legonda lost the day. A count of the ballots resulted in favor of Winfield, which has ever since been the accepted appellation.
A post office was established at Winfield in May, 1870, with E. C. Manning as Postmaster. The office was in an old log store which stood where the opera house is now located. This building was removed in 1878 to the rear of the Telegram building, and served a year later as the starting point of the fire which swept the corner of the block. The post office moved from the log store to T. K. Johnson's, then back to the first position, whence it was moved again, occupying several places on Ninth avenue and finally reaching its present quarters. Manning held his position but a short time, being followed the same year by A. W. Tousey. T. K. Johnson took the office in 1871, James Kelley in 1875, and D. A. Millington in 1879.
Government and Schools
On February 22, 1873, Winfield was incorporated as a city of the third class. On February 27, 1879, the city having been found to have a population of over 2,000, it was declared by the Governor a city of the third class. It was then divided into two wards, the First taking in all east of Main street, and the Second all West of that line.
Of the early educational history of the city, but little can be said. Winfield had no long stretch of years scantily supplied with educational facilities. Hardly was it a town before a fine stone school house was erected, and thorough instruction accorded to all. The first settlement in the county was in 1870, and 1871-72 saw the erection in Winfield of a stone school building, costing $10,000. Here E. P. Hickok taught until 1875, when he was succeeded by A. B. Lemon. W. C. Robinson taught in 1876 and 1877; G. W. Robinson in 1878-79, an E. T. Trimble has been Principal from 1880 to the present time.
In 1878, the long wooden building in the northwest corner of the First Ward school block, was built to accommodate the primary department and ease the overflowing main building. Prior to this for two years, the basement of the Presbyterian Church and such buildings as could be rented, had been in use. After the division of the city into wards, the old school building was entirely remodeled, and now forms the north wing of the First Ward school. This building cost $6,000 and is one or the most commodious to be found in the State. It is of the limestone found near the city, and has four rooms. The teachers in this ward are: E. T. Trimble, Principal, Mrs. E. T. Trimble, Miss S. J. Clute, Miss Mattle Gibson, Miss Alice E. Dickie, Miss T. E. Goldsmith, Miss Rose Rounds. In the long wooden building is the primary department taught by Mrs. W. B. Caton and Miss Mary Bryant.
The school building in the Second Ward was also built in 1880, at a cost of $6,000. It is the exact counterpart of the First Ward School and has four rooms. It is taught by Miss M. E. Hamill, Miss E. McCrippen, Miss Ella S. Kelly and Miss A. Klingman. Its enrollment is 250, that of both schools 893.
The Winfield Bank.-- The first banking house established in the county was the Winfield Bank of J. C. Fuller. This institution opened its doors in the fall of 1870. In January, 1878, J. C. McMullen, who had been engaged in similar business in Arkansas City since 1871, came to Winfield and started the Citizens' Bank. On April 1, 1879, the two banks consolidated and formed the Winfield Bank, chartered under the State law. This institution has now a cash capital of $50,000, and a surplus of $25,000. Besides this accumulation, it has paid every year since its organization a semi-annual dividend of ten per cent - a record probably without parallel in the records of banking. This great success is due to two causes - careful management and immense tributary territory. The building occupied and owned by the bank was erected in the summer of 1879, at a cost of $8,000. It has two stories and a basement, the latter occupied by the Courier office, and the second floor by various offices.
Read's Bank was started in 1872, by M. L. Read, who still owns It. As a private bank, it has no statement of resources, but is known to have invested a capital of $75,000, and a surplus of $25,000. The bank building, on Main street, near Ninth Avenue, was erected in 1871-72, at a cost of $7,500. It is worth mention, that this was the first brick building in the county, and that the brick used in it were the first manufactured, the brick-makers being imported for that purpose. Various improvements in vaults and fixtures have increased the valuation of the building to fully $8,000.
Winfield City Mill was built in 1872 by C. A. Bliss & Co. The building was 40 x 30, feet, and had two and one-half stories. It was started with three run of buhr-stones, but later two buhrs and three rolls were added. In 1880, B. F. Wood became a partner in the concern, and in January, 1881, an engine of 100 horse-power was put in to aid the four turbine water-wheels before in use. In August, 1882, the property was valued at $30,000. On August 13, of that year, the mill was burned to the ground, only the water-wheels and part of the engine escaping.
The Roller Mill.-- With undaunted courage the sufferers by this fire went at the task of rebuilding, with the aim of making not only a finer mill than the old City Mills, but the finest in the State. In this they succeeded, the mill being completed in January, 1883. It is sawed magnesian limestone, five stories in height, and covers a ground space of 40 x 60 feet. The motive power is the same as that of the old mill. The other machinery consists of 34 pairs of rolls, 10 purifiers, 26 bolting and 4 centrifugal reels, 4 flour packers, 1 bran packer and 1 bran duster. The mill is rated at 350 barrels or flour per day. Its cost to the present time is $50,000. Attached to the mill is an elevator, with a capacity of 30,000 bushels, valued with its machinery at $4,000. A side-track of the A., T. & S. F. Railway runs to the mill, and shipments may be made over either road.
The Horning Elevator was built at a cost of $4,500 in the fall of 1880, on the track of the A., T. & S. F. R. R., by Fowler & Simpson. It was purchased in the fall of 1882, by J. H. Horning, who now operates it. It has a wheat cleaner and corn sheller, and can clean and handle four cars of wheat and one of corn daily. Power is furnished by an engine of twenty horse-power.
The Johnson Elevator was begun in July, 1882, and finished the same year by Allen Johnson, who still remains its owner. It stands upon the track of the K. C. L. & S. R. R.; has a storage capacity of 12,000 bushels, and can load ten cars daily. Power is furnished by an engine of ten horse-power.
The Winfield Carriage Works were started in December, 1880, by W. F. Doorley, who operated them until July, 1881, when the firm was changed to Albro & Doorley. No heavy wagons are sold; a large number of carriages, buggies and spring wagons are turned out. The manufacture of the first two years footed up 1,007, 700 of which were built in l882. This is said to be the largest carriage factory in the State; has a capital of $13,000, and employs twenty-five men.
The Brettun.-- Winfield boasts of the finest hotel in Southern Kansas. The Brettun was built in 1880-8l, by S. L. Brettun, and was opened August 11, 1881, by Harter & Black. The building is of sawed magnesian limestone, with trimmings of the same material; is three stories in height, with an English basement equivalent to another story, and covers a ground space of 55 x 100 feet. The house is heated throughout by steam and lighted by gas of its own manufacture. It is valued at $35,000. On December 1, 1882, Black retired from the hotel, which is now run by the senior partner.
Machine Shop.-- The only machine shop In the city is that of Clark & Abbott. This shop was started in 1878, by S. Clark. It is fitted with a lathe, planer and drill, and all tools necessary for ordinary manufacturing or repair work. All the shafting far the roller will was made here. The shop is valued at $3,000.
The Winfield Creamery was started in January, 1883, the buildings having been put up the preceding fall. As yet, it is not running to its full capacity, but will soon run fifteen wagon routes for the collection of cream, and turn out a ton of butter daily. The creamery proper is 40 x 36 feet, and the ice house adjoining a trifle larger. Power is furnished by an eight horse-power engine.
Telephone Exchange.-- On March 27, 1882, twenty-four of the principal points of Winfield were connected by telephone. This work was done by P. W. Bossart of Kansas City, Superintendent of the Bell Telephone Company. The subscribers now number twenty-six. No night service is required as yet, but the day service is very extensive.
Winfield is located at 37°14'52N, 96°58'50W (37.247889, -96.980672). The city is situated along the Walnut River at its confluence with Timber Creek. It is located 17 miles north of the Kansas-Oklahoma state border at the junction of U.S. Route 77 and U.S. Route 160. State highway route 15 follows US-77 to the north of the city and US-160 to the east. State highway route 360 is a bypass around the southeastern part of the city between US-77 and US-160. Arkansas City is 13 miles south of Winfield along US-77, and Strother Field, a general aviation airport, is about five miles south.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 33.0 km² (12.8 mi²), of which 28.6 km² (11.1 mi²) is land and 4.4 km² (1.7 mi²), or 13.25%, is water.
Over the course of a year, temperatures range from an average low below 20°F in January to an average high of nearly 93°F in July. The maximum temperature reaches 90°F an average of 69 days per year and reaches 100°F an average of 12 days per year. The minimum temperature falls below the freezing point (32°F) an average of 102 days per year. Typically the first fall freeze occurs between early October and the first week of November, and the last spring freeze occurs during the month of April.
The area receives nearly 38 inches of precipitation during an average year with the largest share being received in May and June - with a combined 20 days of measurable precipitation. During a typical year the total amount of precipitation may be anywhere from 26 to 50 inches. There are on average 90 days of measurable precipitation per year. Winter snowfall averages almost 12 inches, but the median is less than 3 inches. Measurable snowfall occurs an average of 7 days per year with at least an inch of snow being received on four of those days. Snow depth of at least an inch occurs an average of 11 days per year.
Winfield's population was estimated to be 11,861 in the year 2005, a decrease of 357, or -2.9%, over the previous five years.
As of the U.S. Census in 2000, there were 12,206 people, 4,627 households, and 2,952 families residing in the city. The population density was 426.1/km² (1,104.0/mi²). There were 5,049 housing units at an average density of 176.3/km² (456.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.06% White, 3.26% Black or African American, 1.08% Native American or Alaska Native, 3.74% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.73% from other races, and 2.12% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.66% of the population.
There were 4,627 households out of which 31.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.6% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 32.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.36 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the city the population was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 11.8% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 98.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $34,443, and the median income for a family was $44,539. Males had a median income of $31,768 versus $21,605 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,162. About 9.9% of families and 13.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.6% of those under age 18 and 11.4% of those age 65 or over.