Miss Hermana Kaessmann, a school teacher from New York gathered funds from her fellow teachers to found the Sunflower Oil Refinery in Niotaze in 1906. She was the first woman to own an oil company in the United States. The Sunflower Oil Company of Niotaze grew from a 250 barrel capacity to 1,500 barrel per day capacity within one year of operation. When crude oil prices fell she opted to make paraffin and lubricating oils but it did not save the company.
Miss Kaessmann took bankruptcy in late 1909. The refinery went through several owners and eventually was dismantled and moved to Texas.
Niotaze had its beginnings in a trading post one mile north and one half miles east of he present site. In 1871 , the people of the area called it Jayhawk. Then is was changed to Matanzas.
When the railroads came to this part of Kansas, in 1886, both the Santa Fe and the Pacific missed the trading post of Matanzas. Cal Robison purchased the store building and then sold it to George Tames who moved it to the present site of Niotaze, only two blocks north of the present Main Street which is Highway 166. The post office was in the store building and the town was known as Mantanzas. Then it was changed to Neola, KS and mail was missent there. The name was changed to New Port but there was a New Port, Kentucky and the abbreviations "Ks" and "Ky" were confusing so the postmaster, a Mr. Gorby, changed the name back to Niota and added the "ze". Niotaze is the only Niotaze in the United States - quite a distinction.
In 1886 cotton was grown south of town and there was a cotton gin in Niotaze brought by Alfred Fairfax who later became the first Negro to serve in the Kansas Legislature from Chautauqua County.