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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.
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.
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. That opportunity grew substantially in the last half of the century, as General Electric’s GE Aviation division, in the late-1940s, began producing engines for Wichita aircraft, and eventually in the 1960s, one of Wichita’s principal manufacturers, Cessna Aircraft Company built a factory at Winfield’s Strother Field.