Before there was a town, the Santa Fe Trail ran just north of the Arkansas River through its future site. Later a "war" would erupt involving the town.
Asa T. Soule of Hops Bitters and Soule Canal fame founded Ingalls, Kansas in 1884 in hopes it would serve as Gray County Seat. Soule named the town after John J. Ingalls, U.S. Senator from Kansas.
John Ingalls is credited with creating the Kansas motto "Ad astra per aspera" which translates to "To the stars through hardship."
Ingalls also wrote the poem "Opportunity" based on the principle opportunity only knocks once.
Asa Soule's interest in founding Ingalls was purely for profit. He had big dreams for the area. He was the backer of building the Eureka Irrigation Canal for channeling Arkansas River water from Ingalls to Spearville for irrigation.
Fortunately for Soule, he sold it for $1,000,000 shortly after its completion and before it failed from either too much water damaging its structures or too little water flowing to irrigate.
After changing ownership numerous times "Soule's Elephant" was totally abandoned in 1921.
The people of Ingalls fought against those of another town, Cimarron, over which town would be the county seat of Gray County.
This erupted into a bitter feud between the two towns as to which City would have the coveted county seat.
The "County Seat Wars" lasted years and climaxed on January 12, 1889, when supporters of Ingalls raided the Gray County Courthouse in Cimarron.
The Ingalls supporters where headed by Asa T. Soule, who hired Bill Tilghman, Jim Masterson, Ben Daniels and others to conduct an actual raid to steal court records and bring them to Ingalls. During the gunfight, which lasted several hours, one citizen of Cimarron was killed and several people were wounded.
Though the violence ended with this failed attempt, the dispute lasted until February 1893 when Cimarron became the official seat of Gray County.
By1928, Ingalls was so small the Board of Agriculture report did not list the population of Ingalls as a separate town.
Today the town remains, and signs of the Santa Fe Trail and the Soule Canal still exist.
In 1906 the Daughters of the American Revolution erected two red stone markers in downtown Ingalls marking the route of the Santa Fe Trail. The Santa Fe Trail Museum in Ingalls includes one of the enormous pumps used to operate the Soule Canal.
This pump moved 30,000 gallons of water per minute. Mounds of dirt excavated during the construction of the Canal grace the landscape around the town.
In 2014, the two western most portions of the Soule Canal near Ingalls in Gray County were added to the National Register of Historic Places.