According to historians the first inhabitants of Kabankalan were people who came from neighboring towns. They derived the name Kabankalan from the word “Bangkal” a species of trees which abundant and can be found in the place. The settlers established the Barangay form of government, which every group has its own leader called the Capitan.
In early years Kabankalan started as a barrio of Ilog a neighboring town of the city today. When Kabankalan turned into a town in 1903, and its first town president was Capitan Lorenzo Zayco, but in mid-1907 a group of rebel called “pulahan” led by Papa Isio raided the town and burned all the houses. However, the people of Kabankalan quickly recovered and rebuilt the town from destruction caused by the dissidents.
During the Spanish regime, the people were taught by the Spanish with their language and introduced the Roman Catholic religion. When the American came they introduced the democratic form of government. During this time, a lot of improvements came through to the town and new modern techniques of farming were introduced by the Americans to the local farmers that give them good products.
After the American regime another invaders occupied the town of Kabankalan the Japanese and during this time, a guerilla unit was formed to oppose the foreign aggression and many people fled to the mountain to avoid the Japanese military abuse but when Americans returned in the island, they helped the people to be freed from the Japanese.
After the WW II the town began to move and regain the economy, the establishment of two sugar mills in 1960’s and early 70’s give the town a boost into the list of top improving towns of Negros.
The town of Kabankalan was declared by former president Fidel V. Ramos as a chartered city on August 2, 1997 under Republic Act No. 8297.