Wichita is the largest city of the state of Kansas, and is the county seat of Sedgwick County. Wichita began as a trading post in the 1860’s, and was formally incorporated as a city on July 21, 1870. As the city grew, it became a hub of commerce first with cattle drives and railroads in the late 19th century, followed by an oil boom and a robust aeronautical engineering and manufacturing industry which still continues today.
Named for the Wichita (Quivira) people who first populated the area, archeological evidence suggests that the area was populated as far back as 3000 B.C. The area was claimed by France as part of the Louisiana, but was later acquired by the United States during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. The first trading post was established by Jesse Chisholm in the 1860’s, and then improved upon and expanded by James R. Mead in 1868. He and other within the settlement were the ones who decided to name their settlement after the Wichita tribe.
Because of Wichita’s ideal location along the banks of the Arkansas River, the Chisholm Trail, and numerous railways such as the Santa Fe Railway, the city soon became a central hub for cattle trade throughout the Mid-Western United States. As the city gentrified and the cattle business moved on towards the end of the century, oil deposits were discovered in nearby Butler County which fueled a new era of expansion and growth for the City of Wichita.
The influx of wealth due to Wichita’s oil boom allowed for the development of aeronautical industry throughout the early 20th century. By World War II, airplane manufacturer Boeing was operating largely out of Wichita and was the city’s largest employer. This tremendous influx of jobs combined with the post-war establishment of McConnell Air Force Base led to yet another population boom in the city.
Notable residents of Wichita include famous lawman Wyatt Earp, Mike Pompeo and Robert Gates, both of whom became director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Civil Rights activist and attorney Donald Hollowell.