The famous outlaw Jesse James was killed in St. Joseph, Missouri, which is just across the border from Kansas.
Butler County, Kansas has a rich and storied history that dates back to the 1850s. The area was originally inhabited by Native American tribes, including the Osage and Kansa peoples, who relied on the region's fertile land and abundant wildlife for survival. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act opened up the area to settlers, leading to an influx of pioneers who sought to establish farming communities.

The county's first permanent settlement, El Dorado, was founded in 1865 and quickly became a regional hub for trade and commerce. The discovery of natural resources, particularly oil and gas, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries spurred rapid growth in the county. El Dorado became known as the "Oil Capital of Kansas" and attracted numerous oil companies, which brought prosperity and jobs to the area.

During the early 20th century, Butler County experienced a boom in population and agricultural production. The county's fertile soil and favorable climate made it an ideal location for farming, and a variety of crops, including wheat, corn, and soybeans, were grown in abundance. The agricultural sector became a major economic driver for the county, along with manufacturing and oil production.

In recent decades, Butler County has continued to evolve and diversify its economy. While agriculture remains a significant industry, the county has seen growth in sectors such as healthcare, education, and retail. El Dorado, the county seat, has preserved its historic downtown area and is a center for arts and culture, with numerous museums and events celebrating the county's heritage. Overall, Butler County's history is one of resilience and adaptability, as it has transformed from a frontier settlement to a thriving community with a vibrant economy.

This timeline provides a condensed summary of the historical journey of Butler County, Kansas.

  • 1854 - Butler County is established as a county in the Kansas Territory.
  • 1870 - The first railroad, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, reaches Butler County, boosting the economy.
  • 1871 - El Dorado, the current county seat, is established.
  • 1877 - Oil is discovered in Butler County, leading to a major oil boom.
  • 1925 - El Dorado becomes home to a major oil refining and production center.
  • 1951 - The Kansas State Industrial Reformatory is established in El Dorado.
  • 1953 - Butler County Community College (BCCC) is founded in El Dorado.
  • 2019 - Butler County celebrates its 165th anniversary.