Newton in Kansas was established as a cowtown in March, 1871. It became a terminus of the Chisum Trial and grew rapidly after the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railroad linked the town to Chicago. In its first year of existence over 30,000 head of cattle were shipped out of Newton.

As Ellsworth grew it attracted small businessmen to the area who established saloons, brothels and various stores. It also became the source of a great deal of crime and lawlessness. On 20th August, 1871, part-time lawman, Mike McCluskie and four others were killed during what became known as the Newton's General Massacre.

In May 1872 the railroad reached Wichita and the importance of Newton went into decline.