Winfield is a city and county seat of Cowley County, Kansas, United States. It is situated along the Walnut River in South Central Kansas. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 12,301 and second most populous city of Cowley County.
Winfield was founded in 1870. It was named for Rev. Winfield Scott, who promised to build the town a church in exchange for the naming rights. The first post office at Winfield was established in May, 1870. In 1873, Winfield incorporated as a city.
Railroads reached Winfield in the late 1870s. and finished at Arkansas City in 1881. Eventually, a total of 5 railroads passed through Winfield.
In 1881, the State of Kansas established the Kansas State Asylum for Idiotic and Imbecile Youth, temporarily established at Lawrence, but moved to Winfield in 1887/1888, where it served as a dominant local employer for 117 years.
The Winfield-Arkansas City area became an industrial community in the 20th Century, manufacturing consumer goods, and eventually aircraft and aircraft parts, while retaining its traditional dominant employer, the Winfield State Hospital.
In World War II, Winfield, along with neighboring Arkansas City, became home to a military pilot training base, Strother Field, which remained in operation until the end of the war, bringing several thousand military personnel into the area. After the war, in the early 1950s, the field became the shared municipal airport and industrial park for Winfield and neighboring Arkansas City.
The aircraft manufacturing industry in nearby Wichita (40 mi or 64 km to the north)—one of the world's principal aircraft-manufacturing centers—provided employment for many Winfield residents, directly and indirectly.