William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 12] [part 10] [Cutler's History]


JOSIAH C. THOMAS, dealer in general merchandise, is a native of Lee County, Va., born January 12, 1835, was reared on a farm and received but a common school education; but has, by industry and studious habits, become a thorough practical scholar. In 1857 he moved to Grant County, Ky., and was a prosperous farmer in that locality until his removal to Kansas. This transpired in the spring of 1869, his first settlement being on a partly improved farm one mile east of the present city of Hiawatha; since then he has bought and sold several farms. In November, 1873, he opened a general merchandise store at Hiawatha in company with his brother, Abijah H. This they conducted together until the fall of 1881, when Josiah C. erected a building where he now carries on business. This was built in L shape, thereby fronting on two streets, Oregon and Seventh. The main portion is 90x25, and has its front on Oregon street; while the grocery department, 50x25, is on Seventh, forming one of the most convenient business blocks in the county. Mr. Thomas does a careful and extensive business which is rapidly growing every year, and requires the attendance of four clerks. He is one of the directors of the First National Bank of Hiawatha, and is connected with the following societies: Hiawatha Lodge No. 83, I. O. O. F., Star of Hope Lodge No. 1338, K. of H. and also K. & L. of H., being a charter member of the two last named. He was married in Virginia, in 1859 to his first wife, Miss Nancy Bartley, who died in March, 1866. They were the parents of three sons and one daughter; the two eldest are now operating a large farm of their father's near Baker, on the Missouri Pacific R. R. consisting of a half section. Mr. Thomas' present wife was Miss Sarah E. Johnson, of Lee County, Va. Both have been faithful workers in the Methodist Episcopal Church for thirty years, and are members of the church of that denomination at Hiawatha.

ABIJAH H. THOMAS, with J. C. Thomas, dealer in general merchandise, was born in Lee County, Va., April 21, 1837, was reared on a farm, and received such education as the public schools afforded. In December, 1863, removed to Grant County, Ky., but after a residence of two years, moved into the adjoining county of Pendleton. In July, 1866, Mr. Thomas made his first venture in the merchandise trade, carrying on a successful business for nearly eight years; in November, 1873, he came West and started a store in company with his brother, J. C. Thomas, at Hiawatha, Kansas, and was a member of that firm until the fall of 1881, when he retired. He is one of the original members and founder of the Christian Church, and is one of the elders in that society. His wife is also a member of the same; her maiden name was Emeline Bartley, whom he married in Virginia, January 29, 1861. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity, Hiawatha Lodge No. 35.

PETER D. TOBIE, proprietor of the Hiawatha Steam Flouring Mills, was born August 25, 1839, in Herkimer County, N. Y. Received his education in the high schools of Utica, N. Y., and when twenty-one years of age became a member of a hardware firm. In this he was interested for three years, and then withdrew from the firm and took charge of his father's woolen mill at Eaton, the same State. In 1864 he engaged with the Des Moines Valley R. R. Co., as station agent, at Eddyville, Iowa, where he remained for three years, returning to Utica at the expiration of that time. In 1868 he, in company with his father, Peter Tobie, put in a bid for the government improvements on the Mississippi River at Rock Island. His father was successful in obtaining the contract at Keokuk, Iowa. Here the subject of this sketch lived three years assisting his father in the government work, and in 1871 removed to Atlantic, in the same State, where he was engaged in the drug business until 1874; at that time he went to Colorado; spent seven years of his life in the mining region, and in the fall of 1881 became a resident of Hiawatha, purchasing the mills of which he is now proprietor. Mr. Tobie was married at Keokuk, Iowa, in 1871, to Miss Isabella F. Kenderdine, formerly of Philadelphia, Pa.

WINDFIELD A. TURNER, physician and surgeon, was born November 4, 1847; his birth-place, Mount Hope, Orange Co., N. Y. Came to Kansas with his parents, George and Charlotte Turner, who settled in Powhattan Township, Brown County, on Section 20, purchasing 1,200 acres of land from the Central Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company. They were the first settlers in this locality, which was that of the Kickapoo Reservation, and were the first parties to open a road from that part of the county to Hiawatha. They were appointed land agents for the above railroad company during the same year, and sold thousands of acres of their land in those parts. In 1871 he graduated from the St. Louis Medical College, and has since practiced his profession in addition to his farming. In August, 1881, he removed to Hiawatha, and is now the oldest resident practicing physician in Brown County, and is considered by all one of Hiawatha's most able and competent physicians.

REV. WILLIAM H. UNDERWOOD, Pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Hiawatha, was born at Seneca Falls, N. Y., April 13, 1841; son of Joseph and Mary A. Underwood, who were both born in England, but came to this country while young; his mother's family name, Smallbridge. When William H. was five years of age, his parents removed to McHenry County, Ill., where with limited means they began farming. Six years afterward his mother went entirely blind, and two years later died. William was then thrown upon his own resources, and made a beginning by working by the month on a farm. Followed that occupation, attending school during the winter months, until seventeen years of age, at which time he took up his abode with his uncle, John Eddy, a prominent man, then holding the position of Sheriff of McHenry County. Here he attended school at Woodstock and at the same time became converted to the religion of Christ. During the following winter he attended school at Elgin, same State, and from that time until the breaking out of the Rebellion was engaged in the pursuance of his studies and at teaching school. He then enlisted with the first call for men for one hundred days' service in Capt. Harley Wayne's company, which, however, soon sent to Freeport, where it was consolidated with the Fifteenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company D, under command of Thomas J. Turner. During the May following, was sworn into the United States service for three years, and took an active part in all the principal engagements of his regiment, being mustered out June 14, 1864. He then returned home, but soon offered his services to his country again. They were rejected, however, on account of injuries received during his previous enrollment. He was very observant while in the army, keeping a complete journal of the events taking place in his regiment during his entire service, which records he still has in his possession. He then took charge of his uncle's farm until the close of the war, and by this time, having been always very economical and saving, had accumulated enough means to finish his education. This he did by attending school at Aurora and Evanston, Ill., until 1868, taking a theological course at the latter place. Was then appointed local preacher at Round Grove, same State, in the Rock River Methodist Episcopal Conference. Here he remained until October, 1870, when he was sent to Genoa, and in 1871 was ordained deacon at Aurora, Ill., by Bishop Ames. Remained in the Genoa circuit until the fall of 1872, when he was transferred to the Kansas Conference, but spent the winter following in northern New York. In March, 1873, came to Kansas, took charge of Irving District, and was soon afterwards ordained elder at Atchison by Bishop Andrews. In 1875 he was appointed to Clay Center, where he remained until 1878, in the meantime doing good work, and erecting a church for his society at that point. From there he went to Sabetha, Nemaha County, where he stayed two years; from there to Severance, Doniphan County, where he stayed the same length of time, and then was appointed to Hiawatha. Rev. Mr. Underwood has always been a strong advocate of the Prohibition movement in Kansas, and at one time was thrown in prison for the maintenance of that principle. He was married November 24, 1869, to Miss Juliet Plank, of Lewis County, N. Y., by whom he has three daughters living.

[TOC] [part 12] [part 10] [Cutler's History]