Frontenac was established as a coal mining town in 1886 in the Cherokee-Crawford Coal Fields. In 1888, Frontenac had the worst mining disaster in Kansas history, when an explosion killed 47 miners. During the last decade of the nineteenth century and in the early twentieth century the town was populated primarily by immigrant families from eastern and southeastern Europe, predominately Sicilian, Italian, and Italian and Slavic people from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its maximum population neared 4,000. It housed various ethnic lodges and drinking parlors despite the state's increasingly severe ban on the distribution, sale, and manufacture of alcoholic beverages. Coal mining remained the town's occupational base until World War II, when its economy began to change as did the entire region's.
Frontenac is located at 37°27?16?N 94°41?43?W / 37.45444°N 94.69528°W / 37.45444; -94.69528 (37.454465, -94.695185). It is a small town nestled in southeastern Kansas, adjacent to Pittsburg. Frontenac is located about an hour's drive west of Springfield, Missouri, and about a two hour drive northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma.