The Bradford Memorial Library Teen Night Tuesday took a look back at the roots of El Dorado, with the program, “Travel Through Time.”

Lisa Cooley, curator of education/research librarian at the Butler County History Center, gave a presentation on the town’s history.


The Bradford Memorial Library Teen Night Tuesday took a look back at the roots of El Dorado, with the program, “Travel Through Time.”

Lisa Cooley, curator of education/research librarian at the Butler County History Center, gave a presentation on the town’s history.

“There has been change throughout the years,” Cooley said.

That includes changes in housing, chores, transportation, fashion and communication.

“The original town site was 1 1/2 miles south of the present-day community,” Cooley said.

That put it where Frontier Refinery is now located.

Despite what many believe, that El Dorado was formed because of the oil, it actually got its start before that.

El Dorado was settled in 1857, where the California and Osage trails crossed.

“For 12 years, El Dorado was the Western Frontier,” she said.

That changed when Wichita was founded 12 years later.

Early El Dorado faced its problems.

Around 1860 there was a drought and minor grasshopper infestation. The war also had an impact.

Then after the Civil War, people started moving to El Dorado and platting around where the courthouse is today.

“The courthouse was built in 1908, but that is not the first courthouse,” Cooley said.
The original courthouse was built in 1871.

“There also was a county seat war between Augusta and El Dorado,” Cooley said.

A general in El Dorado had heard that Augusta was going to try to steal the county records because at that time, whoever had possession of the records was the county seat. There was no election to determine that.

They barricaded the courthouse and Augusta did try to get the records, but they left empty-handed and with no blood shed.

“Then they changed it so a vote was required to change the county seat,” she said.

Cooley also told of a time when a railroad track ran through where Gordy Street is now located.

The town saw a major change when oil was discovered in 1915.

In a few years, the population went from 3,000 to 20,000.

“When oil came in a lot of buildings were torn down and replaced with new buildings,” she said. “And a lot of houses were torn down and replaced with new bungalow-style houses.”

A major celebration for the community was the Kafir Corn Festival, which lasted three days and had an attendance of 60,000 people.

“It celebrated the agricultural heritage,” Cooley said.

Of course, another major event was the 1958 tornado, which was recently remembered with a dedication of the tornado memorial in Graham Park.