ELLIS COUNTY, KANSAS

BIOGRAPHIES

 

CALVERT, CECIL

Cecil Calvert, building and loan executive was born in Quinter, Kansas, August 31, 1890, son of Abraham Moses and Mary Elizabeth (Harding) Calvert. The father, a farmer, was born in Leeds, England, July 13, 1854 and came to America at the age of 30. He died at Topeka, November 2, 1930. Mary Elizabeth Harding was born in Leeds, April 4, 1862, and died at Los Angeles, December 16, 1916. She came to America with her husband in 1884.
Cecil Calvert attended the public schools of Kansas, finished a high school course by home study, and completed the work of the Blackstone Institute of Law of Chicago by correspondence. He was a rural and grade school teacher seven years, served as postmaster of Quinter nine and a half years, and as vice president of the First National Bank there three years. There after he engaged in the furniture and undertaking business for five years at Quinter and for the past three years has been secretary of the Hays Building and Loan Association. He is also a director of that corporation.

A Democrat, Mr. Calvert was a member of the Kansas house of representatives from Gove County the sessions of 1927 and 1929 (special sessions also).

On July 23, 1913 he was married to Lela May Songer, daughter of Moses A. Songer, at Grainfield. She was born in Knox City, Missouri, August 22, 1890. Mrs. Calvert, a teacher before marriage is active in civic and religious affairs. She has been an officer in the Rebekahs several years. There are six children, John William; Nadyne Cecil; Eleanor Lela; Susan Kathleen; Jean Claire; and Cecil, Jr. Nadyne Cecil was valedictorian of Gove County Grade Schools in 1928, graduating with the highest honors in the state. And high point girl of the Hays High School class in 1932. She has won many contests in music, and now attends Fort Hays state College where she is a member of the band. Each of the other children plays the piano and one other musical instrument.

Mr. Calvert held the rank of first lieutenant in the finance section during the World War. Although he had no active service, he was in special service at Fort Snelling in 1923 and at Omaha in 1926. He resigned his commission to accompany the Kansas Civilian rifle team to Camp Perry, Ohio, and upon his return accepted a second lieutenant's commission in the reserves. He was central accounting postmaster at Quinter during the World War, and handled the accounting work for thirteen postoffices. He is a member of the Field Artillery Reserve Officers Association, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Kansas Building and Loan League, the Citizens relief Committee (treasurer), the Hays Chamber of Commerce, and the Rotary International.

Mr. Calvert is listed in Who's Who in the Kansas Legislature. He is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and from 1931 until 1932 served as grand master. During 1921, 1922, and 1923 he was treasurer of school district No. 6 at Quinter. He is an expert rifleman and pistol shot having been a member of the teams that won the State Vigilante Rifle meet in 1926. His hobby is marksmanship. Residence: Hays. (Illustriana Kansas, by Sara Mullin Baldwin & Robert Morton Baldwin, 1933, page 191)

CHRISTIANSEN, LOUIS

Louis Christiansen, county superintendent of public instruction of Ellis County, was born in Denmark, the son of N. J. and Mary (Jensen) Christiansen. He came to Kansas in 1877, homesteading with his parents in Ellis County in 1880.

The father, a farmer, was born in Denmark in April, 1840 and died in Ellis County in June 1914. He came to the United States in 1877. His wife, Mary was born in Denmark, September 11, 1837, and died in Ellis County, April 2, 1920.

Educated first in public and high school, Louis Christiansen received the Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1916 from the Fort Hays Normal School, and the degree of Bachelor of Science in Commercial Education in 1927 from the Fort Hays Teachers College. He attended Salina Normal University and Fort Hays State College. He was active in intramural debate in both institutions.

Mr. Christiansen began teaching in 1902. He was elected county superintendent of schools in 1914 on the Republican ticket. He was unsuccessful candidate for the same office in 1932. He is a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church, the Red Cross, the Chamber of Commerce, the Masons (Apollo Lodge No. 297, at Ellis), the Kansas State Histocial Society (life member), the Red Red Rose, and the National Kansas State and Ellis County Teachers Association Residence: Ellis. (Illustriana Kansas, by Sara Mullin Baldwin & Robert Morton Baldwin, 1933, page 226)

GILLILAND, ELWOOD C.

Elwood C. Gilliland, one of the leading newspaper men of York county is editor and proprietor of the Blue Valley Journal published at McCool Junction. He was born in Hancock county, Illinois, February 28, 1870 and is a son of George W. and Mary F. (Smith) Gilliland, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Illinois. George W. Gilliland was a farmer, and in 1884, thinking to benefit his condition, he removed to Ellis County, Kansas, locating on a farm near Hays City, his family joining him the following year. In 1893 he removed to Davenport, Nebraska, where he still resides.

Elwood c. Gilliland our subject was educated in the country schools of Hancock county, Illinois, and also at Carthage in the same county, supplementing this with acourse in the high school at Hays City, Kansas and during vacations learned the printer's trade. In 1894 he went to Davenport, Nebraska, and for about two years was connected with the People's Journal at that place. He then, April 1, 1896, leased the plant and had full charge of it until May 15, 1897. He then established the Blue Valley Journal at McCool Junction, which he has since successfully published. The Journal is an enterprising eight-page paper and is circulated extensively throughout this section. It is essentially a local paper, although broad and aggressive in defending the honest convictions of its editor.

Mr. Gilliland was married at Davenport, Nebraska, June 9, 1897, to Florence Berkey a native of Pennsylvania and a daughter of David A. and Louisa (Phillippi) Berkey, both of whom were natives of the same state.

Mr. Gilliland is a member of the M. W. A. at McCool Junction and takes an active interest in all moves calculated to advance the interests of his home town. Both he and his wife are members of the Evangelical Lutheran church at Davenport, Nebraska. (Memorial & Biographical Record and Illustrated Compendium of Biography of Butler, Polk, Seward, York and Fillmore Counties, Nebraska, Geo. A. Ogle & Co., 1899, pages 547 & 548)

GOSSER, PETER

Ellis county numbers among her citizens many descendants of the sturdy, aggressive Alsasian stock. None however, displayed more determination in making the farm a success by surmounting difficulties, than Uncle Peter Gosser of Buckeye township. He was born on the 29th of April, 1833, in Carroll County, Ohio. The family later moved to star county, Ohio, near Waynesburg, and engaged in farming. On April 11, 1862, he enlisted in the 115th Ohio Infantry, and served with his regiment till the close of the war. Immediately after being discharged from the service he returned to the old home and resumed the vocation of farmer. April 28th, 1878, he arrived in Hays City and a few days later located where he now resides. Frequently during the first decade of his residence in Ellis county he was compelled, on account of crop failures, to seek employment away from home in order to meet the demands of those dependent upon him. Not dismayed by failures, he eventually triumphed over every difficulty that beset and annoyed him in his effort to make a comfortable home for himself and devoted helpmate, who, without murmur endured the privations of the early reverses upon the farm. Success finally came. Peace and contentment is the harvest of their determination and busy life in Ellis county. (Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

HALL, JOHN

The subject of this sketch was born in Norfolkshire, England, in the year 1847. The literature descriptive of the western states in America and the rare opportunities offered for young men with limited means had been eagerly perused by him during his boyhood days. When twenty-three years of age he concluded the time had arrived to execute the ambition of his desires, and sailed for America, remaining only a few days in New York, when he pushed westward and located for the time in Chicago, and engaged with one of the gas companies in the capacity of common laborer. This not being in harmony with his earlier resolution, he started for Kansas in the spring of 1869, and located, after some investigation, in Lincoln county. For six years he contended with the usual perplexities of farm life on the frontier, devoting the summer season to the farm, the fall and winter to the more attractive and exciting pursuit of Buffalo hunting. These expeditions brought him frequently to the Saline valley. Recognizing the advantages this section offered to engage in the stock business he concluded to move farther west. Returning from one of his expeditions in quest of game late in the winter of 1874, he immediately commenced preparations to move to the Saline valley, Early in April of 1875 he returned and located upon the quarter section now the home of T. A. Parker. The following spring he moved up the river to where he has resided for the past twenty-five years, devoting his time and attention the past quarter of a century to raising and feeding cattle for the market. The result of his care and good judgment, the rich and nutritious native grass, especially calculated for the industry, made the efforts of John Hall a conspicuous success. (Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)


HAMILTON, T. K.

T. K. Hamilton, one of the pioneers in Ellis county, coming direct from his native state to the frontier in February, 1868, while not locating in the county at the time of his arrival, he was a quasi resident on account of his employment in the fuel department of the Kansas Pacific railroad. He was in care of the wood yard in Ellsworth. Later he had the care of the wood delivered along the line of the road between Victoria and Walker. Still alter he was serving in the capacity of brakeman. His actual residence dates from July 1, 1870, when he located in the town of Ellis and engaged in the mercantile business. Some time in 1874 he sold out his business and located on the saline river. Between cattle thieves, grasshoppers and Texas fever, his first residence on the river proved disastrous. In the fall of 1874 he went to California. The year on the Pacific coast was divided between hard work and sickness. Upon his return he took charge of the pump and eating house at Grinnell station. After three more years employment with the railroad he returned to his farm on the Saline river, which he later sold, and located on Sand creek, near the Roods county line and engaged in farming and stock raising. From here he was called into official life and served two terms as sheriff of the county. He is a veteran of the civil conflict, serving with the 57th Pennsylvania, in the Army of the Potomac to the close of the war. He still conducts his ranch on Sand Creek, in Hamilton township, but resides with his family in the town of Ellis. (Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

KELLEY, E. C.

On the roll of residents of Doniphan County who during the civil war "wore the blue" in defense of their country and loyally aided in the suppression of the rebellion of the south, is E. C. Kelley, a well-known and highly respected citizen of Elwood, whose life history cannot fail to prove of interest to many of our readers, for he is both widely and favorably known in this part of the state. A native of Michigan, he was born in Lenawee county, February 6, 1841 and is a son of L. Kelley, a native of Dennis, Massacushetts. The grandfather, John Kelley, was born in a Quaker settlement at Sydney, Maine. L. Kelley took up his abode in Michigan in 1838, in a region which at that time was an almost unbroken wilderness. He was twice married, his first union being with Miss Deborah Estes, and to them were born six children, namely: Ben, Rufus, John, Content, Mary J. and Sarah. For his second wife Mr. Kelley chose Miss Lydia Hoxsie, who was born in Cayuga county, New York, a daughter of John Hoxsie, a soldier of the war of 1812. By their union three children were born, namely: Edwin C., Allan and Betsey Ann. The father died near Adrian, Michigan, at the advanced age of ninety years. His life was an honorable and upright one in harmony with his belief as a member of the Society of Friends. In anti-slavery days he was a stanch abolitionist and when the Republican party was formed to prevent the extension of slavery he joined its ranks and continued to follow its banner throughout the remainder of his life. His wife, who was a consistent member of the Society of Friends, died at the age of eighty-four years.

Edwin C. Kelley was reared in Michigan and attended the public schools. During the civil war he enlisted in Company G Fourth Michigan Infantry, on the 6th of February, 1862, being on that day just twenty-one years of age. He took part in some of the most memorable engagements of the war, including the siege of Yorktown, Fredericksburg, the seven-days battle of the wilderness, the engagement at Richmond, Gaines' Mills, White Oak Springs, Malvern Hill and Gettysburg. During his service he spent some months in the hospitals of Maryland and when honorably discharged returned to his home in Adrian. He has always found at his post of duty, faithfully defending the cause represented by the old flag, and upon the battle fields of the south he bravely labored to preserve the Union.

In 1867 occurred the marriage of Mr. Kelley and Miss Edy Potter, who was born, reared and educated in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Her father, Jeremiah Potter, was a native of Herkimer County, New York, and was of New England lineage. His wife who bore the maiden name of Nancy Johnson, was born in Oswego County, New York, and was a daughter of Andrew Johnson. Mr. and Mrs. Potter became the parents of eleven children, but three died in childhood. Those who reached the age of maturity were Corydon, Demetra, Morton, Josephine, Homer, Mrs. Edy Kelley, Morell and Cora. The father died at the age of sixty-six years, while his wife passed away at the age of eighty-four. Both were members of the Universalist church and he was a Democrat in his political affiliations. Mrs. Kelley successfully engaged in teaching for some time previous to their marriage and is a lady of culture and broad general information. Unto our subject and his wife have been born five children: Lola, who is an artist of superior talent and a successful art teacher; Bennie, Florence and Edwina. One child, Alma, the second of the family, died at the age of nineteen years.

Mr. Kelley gives his political support to the Republican party, but has never sought or desired office, content to support the principles he believes by his ballot without seeking for reward through official preferment. He belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic in Gratiot county, Michigan. His identification with Kansas dates from 1886 at which time he located in Ellis County where he remained for three years. For the last ten years he has been a resident of Doniphan county and is one of the honored and prosperous citizens within its borders. All who know him esteem him highly for his sterling worth, for his loyal service on the battle fields of the south was but an indication of the fidelity which characterized his entire career. (Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1900, Page 552-553)

MONTGOMERY, FRANK C.

Frank C. Montgomery was born in Maquoketa, Iowa, February 10, 1857, and went with his parents to Lecompton, Kansas, in 1859. In 1861 the family removed to Lawrence, and at the age of ten years Frank entered upon his apprenticeship as a printer with John Speer, publisher of the Lawrence Tribune. He attended the public schools and spent three years in the Kansas University, but at the age of 16 removed to the northwestern part of the state and engaged in hunting buffalo. In 1874 he returned to Lawrence to take a herd of cattle to Decatur county, and on his way back west, arrived in Hays City, December 14, 1874. A terrible blizzard scattered is herd that night, and after days or search he recovered only twenty-seven head out of the entire ninety-four, while tow of his four horses were not found until the following May, when they were picked up in Hodgeman county.

The storm had swept away his hope and dream of securing a fortune in the stock business, and stranded but not discouraged, he engaged in hauling wood from the Saline to the government contractor at Fort Hays, spending the winter of 1874-5 in this employment. In the spring of 1875 Frank commenced during the mechanical work on the Hays Sentinel, published by his father. In two years he bought the paper and ran it on his own account. In 1879 he was married to Miss Mary Emma Milner, one of Hays City’s most estimable young ladies. In 1881 he moved the Sentinel office to Washington territory and started a paper at Cheney. Two years later he sold out and became editor in chief of the Tacoma Daily Ledger, very soon being appointed printer for the Territory. When this office was lost by the election of President Cleveland he founded the Seattle Daily Times, which he continued to publish until the spring of 1887, when he returned to Hays City and commenced the publication of the Sentinel again. During the Harrison administration he held an appointive office of small size in Washington. In 1894 he purchased a half interest in the Topeka Breeze and moved to Topeka. At the same time he became Topeka correspondent to the Kansas City Journal. In 1897 he was advanced to the place of associate editor of the Journal, and this he holds now. To the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery three sons have been born, the eldest of whom, Terence, is now a member of the scouting regiment in the Philippines. Terrence is a product of Hays City, having been born there in 1880. (Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

NELLIS, D. C.

D. C. Nellis was born at Oswiegatchie, Palatine township, Montgomery county, New York, January 2, 1849. Attended school in his native town. Later entered Canajoharie Academy and completed his education at the Fairfield Collegiate Institute, New York. Taught school for two years and read law at Canajoharie for a short time. When 22 years of age he started for Kansas, arriving in Topeka in July, 1871, and entered the law office of Martin, Burns & Case and continued his studies for two years. Was admitted to the bar in February, 1873. Taught school in Shawnee county, Kansas, two years. Arrived in Hays City in the spring of 1873, and was soon after appointed county attorney, by Judge Prescott. At the expiration of his appointive term as county attorney of Ellis county, he was elected to same position, and re-elected for three consecutive terms. June 4th, 1874, was married to Emma S. McAfee of Topeka. In March, 1881, he was appointed judge of the 17th Judicial District by Governor St. John and served until January 12, 1882. The bar of the district specially regretted his retirement from the bench being considered by them well qualified for the position. His courteous, fair and impartial conduct in the transaction of business was appreciated by the attorneys and litigants alike. His record as county attorney is without parallel in the history of the county. He was conscientiously sincere in the preparation and trial of a case. The welfare of the taxpayer was never neglected or abused by him, and the transgressor never escaped the full extent of punishment, under the law by any act of his. After a residence of twelve years in Ellis county he moved back to Topeka and re-entered the practice of law. Three years later he accepted the position of secretary of the Kansas Farmer company, which position he now fills. (Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

REEDER, MARGERY HARLAN

Margery Harlan Reeder was born on the 25th day of November, 1818. Her parents moved to Parke county, Indiana, when she was five years of age. Married David Reeder in 1842, and resided near Rockville, in the same county. After the death of her husband in March, 1860, the care and responsibility of raising a family of seven children, consisting of two girls and five boys, devolved upon her. Eighteen years later she moved to Knoxville, Iowa, remaining only a few months, when she determined to move to Kansas. After a brief visit at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, with her brother, Iowa’s distinguished son, Senator Harlan, she stated for Kansas, arriving at Hays City on the 22nd day of July, 1878, and located two and one-half miles southwest of town. After a residence in Ellis county, Kansas, of twenty years, she returned to visit the old home in Indiana. While with her son, J. C. Reeder, her life terminated at the advanced age of four score years, amid the loved and familiar scenes of her girlhood days. Her simple unostentatious life engendered a nobility of character that was both attractive and impressive. Though cultures and stron intellectually, her simplicity of speech and demeanor subordinated everything in her life to her ideal conception of Wesleyan duty in the preparation for life eternal. Loved and respected by all, she continued faithful and steadfast from youth to old age in living a devoted and consecrated Christian life, awaiting the final call for the full reward of her devotion and teachings of her adopted church. (Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

SCHYLER, JOHN

John Schlyer was born in Kings county, New York, in January, 1849, and at the age of twenty he started for Kansas, arriving at Hays City in the spring of 1869, adopting the vocation of hunting as a means or livelihood. For three years the range of the buffalo was his ever shifting habitation. In 1872 he returned to Buffalo, New York, and was married. One year’s restraint incident to life in a city, was sufficient, after his three years’ enjoyment of unrestricted freedom of Kansas frontier life. He came back to Kansas and located in Johnson county. In the spring of 1874 he moved to Ellis county and established himself permanently four and a half miles southeast of Hays, on Big Creek, engaging in farming and stock raising. For twenty years he contended with the unrequited promises of the early farmer in Ellis county. In 1877 he was elected sheriff. After two years of official life he returned to his farm. In 1881 he engaged in the mercantile business at Munjor. The same fall he was elected county treasurer and re-elected in 1863. In 1884 he was elected delegate to the Democratic National convention form the Sixth Congressional district. In 1888 he was appointed received of the United States Land office at WaKeeney, but resigned before the expiration of his term of office and engaged in the agricultural, implement and machine business at Hays City. In 1894 he was elected to the legislature from Ellis county and in 1895 was appointed postmaster at Hays City and was elected delegate to the Democratic National convention from the Sixth district to be held at Kansas City, July 4th, 1900. He has been prominent in the management of Democratic party affairs in the state and singularly successful in all his business ventures since coming west. (Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

SMITH, P. W.

P. W. Smith was born September 4th, 1822, in Rochester, New York. Went to Rock county, Wisconsin, in 1845. Came to Kansas in June, 1874, and located in Ellis county in October following. He was among the few pioneers who had implicit confidence of the final triumph of the farmer in Ellis county. He was especially active from the time he located, in the church and other work that tends to strengthen and elevate the moral status of a new community. His usefulness in this direction was recognized and appreciated by all. In 1877 he was elected county commissioner. In 1881 he was instrumental in organizing the Ellis County Agricultural Association. Ever enthusiastic in the cause of the farmer, or whatever he deemed of interest in promoting the farmers’ condition, received his unqualified support. To perfect the farmers’ alliance in Ellis county he devoted much of his time during the year 1882. The state alliance fully appreciated his successful work and elected him vice president for 1883. While holding this position he urged upon the association the importance of securing from the general government a portion of the Fort Hays reservation for experimental work under the supervision of the State Agricultural College. Being fully satisfied of the beneficial results, if the cession of the land could be obtained, he persuaded Senator Plumb, in 1877, to introduce a bill in the United States Senate providing for the ceding of part of the reservation for an agricultural experimental station under the supervision of the state. The consummation of this ideal scheme was his ambition. The initiatory step of what has lately been accomplished after 23 years of unrelenting work was taken by our respected citizen, P. W. Smith.(Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

WILSON, MRS. A. M.

Mrs. A. M. Wilson, better known as Grandma Wilson, belongs to the Pioneer class of the Old Settlers, coming to Hays City in the early part of the year 1871, and is among the few residing in Ellis county who can recall the interesting stages from the gloom of wilderness to the first scattered rays of civilization.

Mrs. Wilson was born in Mifflin county, Pa. February 27, 1810. Her maiden name was Bowers. Her grandfather, Jacob Bowers, was a captain in the 2nd Pa. Cavalry in the war of the Revolution. May 1st, 1827, she was married to John S. Wilson, of Huntingdon county, Pa. Seven sons were born to this woman, three of whom died during childhood. Her husband died January 1, 1842, leaving her quite destitute, but she reared and educated her four remaining sons by teaching school. She not only accomplished this, but with some assistance from her mother’s estate purchased for herself a home in Williamsburg, Pa. She sent, with her blessing, each of these four sons into the service of her country. William, the eldest, served in Co. M. 2nd Pa. Infv., in the war with Mexico, in the same company with Hon. Alexander Caldwell of Leavenworth. Caldwell’s father commanded the company. He was killed in the assault upon the gates of the city of Mexico. The other three served in the war on the rebellion. Calvin, her sixth son, was a sergeant in Co. D., 53rd Pa. He was killed in front of Richmond on the 30th of June, 1862. Citizen James Mains of Ellis county, served in the same company. Major General John R. Brooks, U. S. Army, was the Colonel in the regiment.

She came to Kansas in 1871 to make her home with her youngest son, Hill P. Wilson, who was then post trader at Fort Hays. She was active in society and in all good works until the infirmity of years compelled her retirement. She was one of the original members of the Presbyterian church at Hays City, and had much to do with its establishment and welfare. She was a woman of strong conviction and lovely Christian character. In the shadow of affliction she had learned self-control and could enter into sympathy with the suffering and the bereaved. The ties of old friendship bind her to the hearts of our people who will long cherish her memories with affectionate regard.
(Source: Historical and Biographical Sketches Volume One; copied from Old Settler’s Booklet – Old Settler’s Association of Ellis County, Kansas; transcribed by Susan Geist)

 

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