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Wellington was platted in 1871 and named for the Duke of Wellington. It was designated as the Sumner County seat in 1872, winning out over Sumner City according to the Wellington library. Cattle herders coming up the Chisholm Trail helped to build the early town’s economy.
The first post office in Wellington was established in July 1871.
In 1887, the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway built a north–south branch line from Herington through Wellington to Caldwell. Creditors foreclosed on it 1891 and the railroad was taken over by Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad, which shut down in 1980 and reorganized as Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas Railroad, merged in 1988 with Missouri Pacific Railroad, merged in 1997 with Union Pacific Railroad. Most locals still refer to this railroad as the “Rock Island”.