Although Hamilton received its designation as a town in 1880, it was actually settled between Willow and Slate Creeks in 1870. It was originally planned to be called Fullerton, but another town had already claimed that name. So in honor of Alexander Hamilton, the town of Hamilton, Kansas was founded.
At that time, Hamilton was the closest city to the center of the county. In the early years, cattle were shipped in and out of Hamilton by railroad. The Hamilton stockyard was the largest line from Emporia to Howard City and it had the ability to handle 800 head of cattle per shipment.
Hamilton's economy is still rooted in agriculture and oil.