Ellis began the same year as Hays, in 1867, when workers built the Kansas Pacific Railroad westward to Denver.
It officially was founded in 1870 as a division point on the railroad, and that would have an influence on the town for years to come.
The railroad, later Union Pacific, operated a roundhouse and terminus on the busy line.
By 1972, however, passenger service had been eliminated, and diesel locomotives no longer required as many stopping points along the line. The division point was moved to Oakley and with it the employees.
Ellis was incorporated in 1888, and a variety of settlers came to town, including ethnic Germans from Russia's Volga River region as well as Bukovina Germans from Austria.
Two of the town's immigrant settlers produced famous offspring. Walter P. Chrysler, founder of Chrysler Corp., grew up in Ellis, and a museum preserves his boyhood home.
Walt Disney, the founder of Walt Disney Studios, never lived in Ellis, but his grandfather was a settler, and his father was born there.
The 2010 census put the Ellis population at 2,062.
Source: "At Home in Ellis County, Kansas" 1991