Sylvia was founded on May 26, 1887. The land in which Sylvia was to become belonged to Henry S. Thompson. Henry had lasting influence on the founding and shaping of the town of Sylvia and the State Fair in Kansas. He convinced the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe Reailroad to have its Kinsly Branch routed through Sylvia, Kansas. On April 7, 1886, Sylvia Town Company platted the town of Sylvia, which was recorded at the Reno County Courthouse. Sylvia was named after the wife of the Vice-President of the Santa Fe Railroad. When the town was just two months, a newspaper reported that Sylvia had two elevators, three lumber yards, a bank, livery stable, hotel and a newspaper. Henry had a race track on his ranch, known as the Syliva Trotting and Racing Association, which was the forerunner of the Kansas State Fair. Henry served two terms as the president of the State oard of Agriculture and three years as State Representative from the 76th District. He was instrumental at having the Kansas State Fair being located in Hutchinson, Kansas.