Located in the Holland Creek Valley, a post office was established on February 21, 1872.
Though it was situated in a rich agricultural area, the town grew slowly. It peaked in 1910 when it was described as a thriving village. At that time, it had a money order post office with one rural route, telegraph and express offices, some good general stores, Presbyterian and Baptist churches, a two-story school, and a population of 225. At that time, it was the principal shipping and supply point for the southwestern portion of the county.
In the following decades, the town’s population declined.
A new school was built in Carlton, Kansas, in 1955. The L-shaped brick and stone building with glass block and hopper windows has a gymnasium in the rear. In the 1880s, the school was consolidated with those in Chapman, Kansas. Today, it is used as a community center and city building.
At some point, its school was consolidated with Chapman, Kansas.
The post office closed on July 29, 1995.
As of the 2020 census, the population of the city was 40. Though it is a ghost of its former self, it still has active grain elevators and silos, and the Presbyterian church still serves a congregation.
It is located about 18 miles southwest of Abilene, just off Highway 4.