KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS

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


WOODSON COUNTY, Part 4

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES (SKINNER - WILSON).

DR. O. J. SKINNER, physician and surgeon, was born near Montpelier, Washington Co., Vt., September 3, 1817. Is the son of Orson and Dorothea Skinner. His parents were natives of Massachusetts, and descendants of colonists who emigrated from England in the early days of the colonies. The Skinner family in America are the descendants of three brothers from London, Eng. (merchants), who settled sometime in 1600--one in the colony of Virginia, one in Massachusetts, and one in Connecticut. They engaged in connection in a coasting and importing trade. The grandfather was a Lieutenant in the war of the Revolution. The father was for some time Associate Justice in the Circuit Court for his county. The subject of this sketch was educated at Randolph Seminary, in Randolph Center, Vt. In 1838 he removed to Chicago, Ill., and remained there and in the vicinity over two years. A part of the time was employed as a Superintendent of Work in the construction of the Illinois & Michigan Ship Canal. Surveyed a state road from Chicago to Rockford, the first from the city leading to that portion of the State. He then removed to Summit County, Ohio, residing most of the time in Akron and vicinity for about six years, most of which was spent in the study of his profession and in teaching. His health failing (by advice), removed South, stopping at Jamestown, county seat of Russell County, Ky., where he was not permitted to rest, but was induced to teach once more. During the year so engaged, was appointed, and (until the adoption of the new Constitution) acted as Probate Commissioner for the county. In the meantime, was appointed Postmaster, which office was held for about two years, most of the official duties being discharged by a very obliging and intelligent medical student. Confinement still resulting in ill health, under advice, he sought an out-door, active life. The office of County Surveyor becoming vacant, was elected, and discharged (with the aid of a deputy) the duties of that office for four years, with more or less practice in his profession. In 1853, removed to Whitley County, Ky., engaged in the practice of medicine, and, with others, erected and operated an extensive mill on Cumberland River until the breaking-out of the war, which caused a suspension of nearly all business upon that river. During the war, on account of returning sick soldiers, and the absence of physicians, had a laborious practice, extending over a large area, even into Tennessee. To defend the border against the depredations of marauding bands of guerrillas, the militia of the State was organized, and Dr. Skinner, at the solicitation of the Governor, accepted a commission as Colonel of the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment State Militia. He proceeded to organize the same, and discharged the duties assigned by His Excellency and the Provost Department, until near the close of the war. During his absence from the county, was elected Justice of the Peace, which office he held for four years. He served for fifteen years as Circuit Court Examiner for his county. In 1871 and part of 1872, was United States Division Assessor, embracing his own and other counties. In the early spring of 1872, he removed to Kansas, located on a farm in Center Township, and has engaged in the practice of medicine ever since. After living nine years upon the farm, he moved to Yates Center, where he now resides. He was married at Clio, Wayne Co., Ky., October 25, 1851, to an estimable lady, widow of Dr. Alonzo Clark, and daughter of Dr. E. L. Miner, of Lithopolis, Ohio. He has three living children--Julia M. Ashley, Elvira E. and Mary F. He has practiced medicine for thirty years, and is not only regarded as a skillful practitioner, but as one of our best and most reliable citizens.

W. H. SLAVENS, attorney at law, came to Kansas in the fall of 1868, and located at Neosho Falls. He edited and published the Neosho Falls Advertiser from 1870 until 1873. Has engaged in the practice of law ever since 1870. In 1874, he was elected County Attorney of Woodson County, and served two years; then resigned and moved to Humboldt, Allen County, and in 1878 was elected County Attorney of Allen County. Moved to Iola, the county seat, and remained until the fall of 1880, when he purchased the Yates Center News, which he edited and published until the spring of 1882. Since then, has devoted his entire time to the practice of his profession. He was born in Putnam County, Ind., August 1, 1849, son of Reuben and Martha F. Slavens. Was educated at Asbury College. Located at Greencastle, Ind. Taught one term in the winter of 1866-67, in Wright County, Iowa. Returned to Indiana, and remained there until the fall of 1868, when he moved to Kansas. He was married in Neosho Falls, Kan., April 28, 1872, to Mary O. Jones, an accomplished lady, and daughter of Judge I. S. Jones. By this union they have two children--Jessie L. and Queen Maud. They are members of the M. E. Church. He is also C. C., K. of P., Senior Warden of the Masonic lodge, member of Valley Chapter, of Humboldt, Kan., and St. Bernard Commandery Knights Templar, of Independence, Kan., and is Past Grand of the I. O. O. F. He is well read in his profession, and is one of the leading attorneys of Woodson County.

ABRAHAM SMITH, farmer, Sections 5, 8 and 9, P. O. Yates Center, came to Kansas in July, 1860. He located in Allen County on a farm, where he remained until 1870, when he came to his present location. He has served with credit for himself and with entire satisfaction to the people as Sheriff of Woodson County two successive terms. He enlisted in Company G, Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, in September, 1861, and was mustered in January, 1862. Served three years and four months, and was principally engaged in escorting trains, hunting guerrillas, fighting bushwhackers, scouting, skirmishing, and doing border service generally. He was mustered out in January, 1865. He had numerous hairbreadth escapes while in the army and while Sheriff. The first time Humboldt was sacked by the rebels he was taken prisoner and held for two days, but escaped by strategy. The second time he was captured he escaped while under fire of six guns, being chased over two miles and having thirty shots fired at him. While on advance guard in the Army in Arkansas in 1864, he and two others were fired at from the brush at close range, while crossing a creek bridge, there being about 200 shots fired without effect. While Sheriff, he was in two shooting affairs, but has never yet been touched by a ball. He was born in Morgan County, Ohio, July 7, 1819, son of Joseph and Hannah Smith. He lived in his native county ten years, McLean County, Ill., three years, Putnam County one year, Kendall County about seventeen years, and Bureau County ten years, and then came to Kansas in 1860. He was married in Kendall County, Ill., July 10, 1841, to Angeline Ackley, who is a native of Ohio, and daughter of Ezra and Elsie Ackley. They have nine children living--Ellen F., Phoebe Ann, Laura A. H., Francis M., Mary H., Elizabeth, Chester, Ada E. and Charles A. While a boy, George L. was killed while in the line of duty during the war of the rebellion. His oldest boy, Joseph Ezra, died when about six years old. Mr. Smith is one of the most extensive farmers in Woodson County, having a farm of 600 acres near Yates Center. He is one of our enterprising and most reliable business men, and in the discharge of his duties while Sheriff he knew no fear, and was a terror to evil-doers, making one of the most efficient officers of the law ever intrusted with that position in the county.

LIZZIE J. STEPHENSON, County Superintendent of Public Instruction, came to Kansas in May, 1869, and located in Linn County, near Mound City. Taught one year in that county, and came to Woodson County in the spring of 1871, and has been continuously engaged in teaching ever since. Has taught in Toronto, Neosho Falls and Yates Center, being at one time Principal of the Yates Center School. She is now serving as County Superintendent, by an appointment to fill vacancy. But at the close of the unexpired term will enter upon a full term of service, having been elected to the office at the recent county election. She is a native of Geauga County, Ohio, daughter of William P. and Clara Stephenson, and is distantly related by marriage to William Cullen Bryant, of poetic fame. At an early age, she removed with her parents to Wisconsin, where she attended the village school at Wyalusing, Grant County. Afterward attended the High School at Griggsville, Ill., one year, then came to Kansas, her parents having moved here in the meantime. She is a useful member of the Baptist Church. Has served five years on the Board of County Examiners. Though modest and retiring, and wanting rather in self-confidence, she has taken a front rank in her profession, and her valuable services to the schools of Woodson County are being appreciated and rewarded by the people.

ALEXANDER STEWART, attorney, came to Kansas in the spring of 1857; lived one year in Franklin, Douglas County, and moved April 1, 1858, to Iola, Allen County, where he practiced law and taught the first school ever taught in Iola, and was the first man to move on the town site. Following the great drouth of 1860, Mr. Bostwick, of Iola, went East and solicited a large amount of aid, which was shipped in the spring of 1861, as far as Sedalia, Mo., then the terminus of the railroad, and was there held by the rebels. Mr. Stewart, with nine ox teams and drivers, went to Sedalia, procured the goods, and under the pretense of taking them to the rebels at Balls Mills, near the Kansas and Missouri State line, drove it through to Iola. He engaged in the mercantile business at Iola, for two years, and when Humboldt was burned by the guerrillas and Iola was threatened, he disposed of his goods and moved to Leroy, Coffey County, in the fall of 1863, where he devoted his entire attention to the practice of law. He was married, in Jay County, Ind., February 14, 1846, to Miss Rebecca Patterson, a native of Kentucky, and a daughter of George and Mary Patterson. She died in February, 1864, and in January, 1865, he married S. J. Veleto, daughter of John Veleto. They have three daughters--Cora, seventeen years old; Nellie, twelve; and Eva, nine. In March, 1878, he moved to Yates Center, where he is now engaged in the practice of his profession. He is now serving his second term as Justice of the Peace. During the war he recruited the Iola Battalion for the Ninth Kansas Regiment Volunteers, and did border service during a three months' enlistment. Was then commissioned Recruiting Officer, and organized an artillery company for the same regiment and was commissioned Captain; served four months, and when Hunter superseded James H. Lane, his company dropped out of the service, having enlisted under the condition that it would serve under no other commander than Gen. Lane. He was born in Marietta, Ohio, August 4, 1825. He is the son of Alexander and Irena Stewart. His mother died when he was in the cradle, and his father died soon after. He was raised in Seneca County, Ohio, until twelve years of age, then went to Fort Wayne, Allen County, Ind. Although he had never attended a day of school after he was twelve years of age, he began teaching in the village of Monmouth, Ind., when seventeen years old. He next taught seven terms in succession in one district; studied law during the time, and the next year was admitted at Portland. In the fall of 1855, he moved to Dixon, Lee County, Ill., and taught during the winters of 1855 and 1856, and in the spring of 1857, moved to Kansas. Mr. Stewart has been a Mason for twenty-eight years, and helped to organize the first lodge in the Neosho Valley, at Humboldt. He has ten living children, five married and five single. His youngest son, Wellington, is twenty-two years of age, and is foreman in the Yates Center News office.

WILLIAM H. THURBER, attorney at law, Yates Center, came to Kansas in August, 1870, and located at Eureka, Greenwood County, where he practiced law, and in 1875 moved to Yates Center where he has continued the practice of his profession ever since. He was born in Trentonville, Genesee County, Mich., and when only four years of age moved with his parents to Flint, in the same county, where he lived until twenty-five years of age, when he came to Kansas. He was educated at Ann Arbor, Michigan University. In 1864, he graduated in the classical department, and in 1867, graduated in the law department; was soon after admitted to the bar, and has ever since been exclusively devoted to the practice of his profession. He was married in Woodson County, Kan., in September, 1875, to Julia L. Handy, and by this union has two children, viz.: Mary Louisa and Belle Thurber.

HENRY S. TRUEBLOOD, County Clerk, came to Kansas in the fall of 1871; took a homestead in Liberty Township, Woodson County, which he improved and cultivated until 1880; was elected, in the fall of 1879, as County Clerk; served one term and was re-elected in the fall of 1881. He also served as Township Trustee, in his township, three years. He enlisted in Company K, One Hundred and Forty-third Indiana Volunteer Infantry, in January, 1865, and served until mustered out in October of the same year. He was born in Greene County, Ind., December 9, 1838, and is the son of Jesse and Charlotte Trueblood; lived on a farm in his native county until he moved to Kansas, in 1871. He was married in Davis County, Ind., December 24, 1861, to Julia Gowan, and by this union has five children--Richard, William, Charles, Flora and Lillian. He is a worthy member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and belongs to the I. O. O. F. He is a plain, honest, straightforward man, and a faithful public servant.

ALFRED VAN SLYKE, hardware merchant, came to Kansas in the fall of 1867; located in Iola, Allen County; remained one year, then homesteaded in Woodson County; farmed eight years then sold out and moved to Defiance; worked at the carpenter's trade two years, then moved to Yates Center. He engaged in the grocery and implement business one year, then worked at his trade and improved a farm one mile west of town, but has carried on the hardware business in Yates Center since March, 1881. He has served as Justice of the Peace one term, Deputy Sheriff of Woodson County one year, and Under Sheriff two years. He was born near Kingston, Canada West, August 1, 1843. He is a son of John and Matilda Van Slyke; moved with his parents, at an early age, to Lake County, Ind., where he remained seven years, then returned to Canada and remained until January, 1862, when he went to Indiana and enlisted in Company B, Twentieth Indiana Volunteer Infantry. Was mustered in August 25, 1862, and served until mustered out on account of disability, January 9, 1863. He then visited four months in Canada West, and finally returned to Indiana, clerked nine months and then enlisted in Company C, One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, enrolled May 6, 1864; served until the expiration of his term of enlistment, and was then mustered out September 22, 1864. He then recruited forty-four men for Company K, One Hundred and Fifty-first Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and was commissioned Second Lieutenant, February 23, 1865. He was mustered out after the close of the war, July 22, 1865. He then returned to Lake County, Ind., and remained two years, then came to Kansas. He was married in Lowell, Lake County, Ind., July 4, 1866, to Mary J. Bowe, and by this union has five children--Levi, Chester, Eva May, Nellie J. and Edward. Mr. Van Slyke and wife are worthy members of the Congregational Church. He is a Good Templar, and a member of the A. O. U. W.

JOSEPH WEBB, County Surveyor and teacher, Yates Center, came to Kansas, November 21, 1859, and located in Allen County near Humboldt, where he improved a farm and cultivated it about seven years, then came to Woodson County, where he farmed six years, and was then elected County Surveyor, and has twice been re-elected; is now serving his third term. He has taught several terms of school in Woodson County, and has served two terms as Justice of the Peace. He was born in Jefferson County, Ill., October 4, 1843. He is a son of Solomon and Nancy S. Webb, and lived in his native county until he came to Kansas in 1859. He was married in Allen County, Kan., March 10, 1863, to Nancy E. Ross, by whom he had one child--William Andrew Webb. His wife died in September, 1869, and he was married a second time in Humboldt, October 18, 1871, to Jennie Eals, daughter of W. C. and Sarah S. Price. This union has been blessed with three children, viz.: Bertha, Arthur and Marva Webb. Mr. Webb is a member of the A. O. U. W.

LEONARD J. WELLS, merchant, came to Kansas in the fall of 1868, and located at Ottawa, and remained there eighteen months; moved to Wilson County, and remained there almost two years, then came to Woodson County, and engaged in the mercantile business at Kalida, and served as Postmaster there three years. Then came to Yates Center, and was Postmaster six years, since which time he has been engaged in the mercantile business. He enlisted in Company H, One Hundred and Fifth Illinois Volunteers, and was mustered in August 14, 1862. He was in all the engagements of his command, being in some of the heaviest engagements of the war; was with Sherman in his famous march through Georgia to the sea, and was mustered out June 14, 1865. He was born in Reynoldsburg, Franklin Co., Ohio, March 14, 1841. He is the son of William P. and Mary R. Wells; lived in his native county ten years, in De Kalb County, Ill., on a farm fourteen years, and in Will County, Ill., two years; then came to Kansas. He was married in Kalida, May 28, 1872, to Sarah J. McCormick, by whom he has one child--William Curtis Wells. His wife died April 24, 1874, and he was married a second time October 23, 1875, to Mary Alice Clendenin, by whom he has three children--George C., Leonard Arthur and Mary E. Wells. He and his wife are worthy members of the U. P. Church.

DR. E. V. WHARTON, physician and surgeon, was born in Clinton County, Mo., May 7, 1847. He is a son of Joseph and Eleanor J. Wharton. He was raised in Buchanan County, Mo., and educated at McGee College. He lived in Lawrence, Kan., from 1858 to 1860, then returned to Missouri; afterward attended medical college, and finally graduated from the Eclectic Medical Institute, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 24, 1872. He soon after began the practice of medicine in Greenwood County, Kan., moved to Montgomery County, in 1873, and in August, 1876, came to Yates Center, where he has won an enviable reputation as a physician, and now enjoys a lucrative practice. He was elected, in the fall of 1882, as Representative from the Forty-second District, to the Kansas State Legislature. He was married in Yates Center, September 23, 1877, to Clara A. Hanna, of Illinois, and by this union has two children, viz.: Fay and Joseph M. Wharton. He is a worthy Mason.

ASA WHITNEY, farmer, Section 4, P. O. Yates Center, came to Kansas on a prospecting tour in the spring of 1858, remained one month, and finally moved to Kansas in the spring of 1859, located on Turkey Creek, Woodson County, and engaged in farming and stock-raising until 1878. He still owns and leases or lets his farm, while he lives in retirement at Yates Center. Since 1879, he and his wife have devoted almost an entire year to visiting friends in the East. They have also visited the Springs in Arkansas, and are among the very few farmers in the West, who, having obtained a competence, know just how to realize the most solid comfort and enjoyment in the judicious use of their acquisitions. Mr. Whitney helped to organize the first school district in Woodson County. He has served several terms as Township Trustee. He was born in Wallingsford, Vt., May 4, 1821. He is a son of John and Augusta Whitney. At an early age he went with his parents to Chautauqua County, N. Y., where he was educated in the public schools, and where he grew to manhood on a farm; and when about twenty-two years of age removed to Boone County, Ill., remaining there four years, and then moved to Marquette County, Wis., remained there five years, and in the spring of 1854, went with an ox-team to California, and worked in timber, cutting and marketing wood in San Francisco Bay until 1858, and on the 20th of January took a steamer for New York, came near being wrecked in a storm on the way, but after a rough voyage he reached New York in safety. He returned to Wisconsin and made preparations to emigrate to Kansas, and the same year went to Chautauqua County, N. Y., and on October 3, 1858, he was married to Lydia A. Morian, daughter of Jacob and Lydia Morian. Soon after their marriage they started for Kansas, and came as far west as Boone County, Ill., by rail, then made the rest of the journey with an ox-team and wagon, stopping to winter at Brunswick, Mo., and arriving in Woodson County, Kan., in the spring of 1859. They have three living children--Omar, Sarah Jane and William Morian Whitney. Mr. and Mrs. Whitney are both zealous members of the Missionary Baptist Church. Mrs. Whitney taught one of the first district schools in Woodson County. Mr. Whitney helped to organize the first Baptist Church in the county. He is a worthy Mason, an able advocate of temperance reform, and is one of Woodson County's best and most influential citizens.

THOMAS W. WILSON, merchant and dealer in general merchandise, southwest corner of public square, came to Kansas in 1870; located at Kalida, then the county seat, and engaged in merchandising for five years in that place, and has prosecuted the same line of business at Yates Center ever since. He is one of the few men whom nature built for success in this business. Commencing at Kalida with a capital not exceeding $500, he has gradually extended his business until he now owns one of the most substantial business houses in the county, and carries a stock of $25,000 worth of general merchandise. He served seven months as a private soldier in the war of the rebellion, and was mustered out of Company A, Thirteenth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, in March, 1862, on account of disability. He was born in Richland County, Ohio, August 6, 1840. He is a son of John A. and Mary A. Wilson. He lived five years in his native county, eight years in Noble County, and sixteen years in Linn County, Ind. sic Then moved to Woodson County, Kan. He was married in Linn County, Iowa sic April 12, 1860, to Mary E. Gephart, a native of Ohio, and daughter of Joseph Gephart. By this union they have four children, viz.: Henry Edwin, Emily Idella, John Elmer and Netta May. Mr. Wilson is a consistent member of the Christian Church, and has been Treasurer of the Masonic Lodge for nine years; is also a member of the Knights Templar, I. O. O. F., Knights of Pythias, and A. O. U. W. He has shrewd, native talent, knows little about text-books, but being a close observer, has gained by experience an education thoroughly practical in its kind. His commercial as well as his social standing, is first-class.

[TOC] [part 5] [part 3] [Cutler's History]