The year 1874 saw the first wave of an immigration of Russian Mennonites to south-central Kansas. The move was an attempt to preserve religious heritage and freedom. During the next decade, one-third of Mennonites in Russia moved to North America.
The village of Alexanderwohl was founded in 1874. Dr. Peter Richert was looking to establish a hospital. He decided to locate the hospital in what is now Goessel. He had read the story of Captain Kurt von Goessel, who went down with his steamship Elbe in the English Channel. Dr. Richert decided to submit the name Goessel to the U.S. Postal Department, and it was accepted on April 13, 1895. In 1910, the population was 100 people. By 1952, it had grown to 260.
There were 203 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.1% were married couples living together, 6.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 16.1% from 45 to 64, and 32.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 73.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 71.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,250, and the median income for a family was $42,727. Males had a median income of $30,313 versus $18,750 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,106. About 2.2% of families and 14.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 39.4% of those age 65 or over.