George Lee Calvert.The semi-centenary of Kansas's statehood concludes an epoch in her history wherein were developed men, who, from the standpoint of constructive, initiative and executive talent, rank with the most forceful in the annals of her sister commonwealths. Among those who have realized a large and substantial success is the subject of this article. His work in connection with the colonizing of Sherman county and with the development of her agricultural resources would prove sufficient to give precedence and reputation to any man were this to represent the sum total of his efforts, but Mr. Calvert has not only been of material value in the field mentioned, but has also been a most potent factor in the commercial, political and social life of the county, where he took up his residence in 1885.
George Lee Calvert is a native of Virginia, and was born on the Calvert homestead near Winchester, Frederick county, on October 26, 1863, and is a son of Israel and Maria (Kackley) Calvert. His ancestors were among the early settlers of America and numbered among them have been those who have filled position of usefulness in the town, State and Nation. His great-grandfather, Jesse Jay Calvert, was a pioneer of Frederick county, Virginia, an extensive land owner, and a man of influence. He took an active part in the war for independence, and gave freely to the cause. He was the father of eleven children. Jesse Jay Calvert. Jr., his son, and grandfather of our subject, born in Frederick county, was a plantation owner and inventor. A fanning mill, built by him, entirely of wood, was for many years a treasured heirloom in the family. He also was the father of eleven children. His son, Israel, the father of our subject, and the eldest child, became the practical head of the family on his father's death, when but a lad of seventeen. He built the first macadam road across the Alleghany mountains and was a successful contractor. Later he engaged extensively in the cattle business, buying in Ohio and driving to the Baltimore markets. He died at the old home in Frederick county in 1907, aged seventy-seven. One of his marked characteristics was his aversion to bookkeeping in his commercial affairs, and his expertness in mental arithmetic was such that he suffered no losses. He was a stanch Democrat, active in the civic and social life of his county, and held in high esteem by his fellow citizens. He married, when a young man, Maria Kackley, of Frederick county, who died in 1908. They were the parents of eleven children, nine of whom are living: Lafayette, a farmer of Mineral county, West Virginia; London D., a farmer, residing on the old home place in Frederick county, Virginia; John L., an attorney of Guthrie, Okla., secretary of the Democratic State Central Committee of Oklahoma, and whose son, Curtis C., is clerk of the circuit court of Sherman county, Kansas; Fannie, wife of Pierce A. Farrabee, a prominent fruit culturist of Kaiser, W. Va.; Emma, wife of Thomas Pugh, a retired farmer of High View, W. Va.; Media, wife of Frank Blakeslee, of Ashtabula, Ohio; Matilda, wife of Arthur D. Kackley, a retired farmer of Peoria, Ill.; Mary, wife of Zeb Scott, of Burr Oak, and George Lee, of this record. Two daughters are deceased; Adelaide, wife of William Boggs, a farmer of Sherman county, Kansas, died in 1910, and Lorena, wife of Riley Orendorff, of Hardy county, West Virginia, died in 1912.
George Lee Calvert was reared on his father's farm and acquired his education in the public schools of his native county. In the fall of 1885 he came to Kansas and on December 6 filed on a homestead four miles northwest of the present city of Goodland, Sherman county. This section of the State was at that time in the earliest stage of development. Antelopes were abundant and a few buffaloes remained. While holding down his homestead, Mr. Calvert read law with John E. Bogley, located settlers, made up their timber culture, preëmption and homestead entries and practiced before the different land departments. He was admitted to the bar in November, 1888, by Judge C. W. Smith. Subsequently he established in connection with his law practice a real estate and abstract business, which has since become the most extensive in northwest Kansas. He was appointed local immigration agent for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific railroad in 1892, and is still serving in this capacity. This connection has enabled him to bring to the county a large number of settlers who have rapidly changed the raw prairies into an agricultural section second to none in the State. Mr. Calvert, during the early years of his law work, gave especial attention to land practice, and is conceded to be the most successful land attorney in the State. As a real estate dealer he has become well and favorably known in many states. From 1900 to 1912 the sales through his Goodland office alone have been in excess of $1,200,000. He is also the owner of some of the choicest farm lands in Sherman county and operates some 3,500 acres devoted to wheat, oats, alfalfa and stock feeding. He has given to his farming interests the close attention to detail and broad, progressive management that has characterized his professional and commercial affairs, and his properties represent modern farming, at its best. In 1905 he began the breeding of pedigreed Hambletonian horses, and his breeding establishment at Goodland has produced some of the best light harness stock within the State. The increasing demands of his affairs have caused him to dispose of the bulk of his breeding farm, however, and at this writing, 1912, this activity is practically closed.
Mr. Calvert has been a lifelong Democrat, and during the early years of his residence in Sherman county received recognition at the hands of his fellow citizens. He has filled various offices within the gift of the people of Sherman county and the city of Goodland and has served with honor and distinction. Beginning with the year 1890 to the fall of 1900 he served continuously, with the exception of one year, as justice of the peace of the city of Goodland, and was also police judge a part of that time. He was elected the first city clerk under the reorganization of Goodland as a city of the second class in 1892. He was elected probate judge of Sherman county in 1900 and reëlected in 1902, was county attorney in 1904, reëlected in 1906, and declined renomination to that office in 1908, owing to the demands upon his time made by his real estate, loan and abstract business. Upon the urgent requests of his many friends he accepted nomination for the office of county attorney in 1912, and was elected by a flattering majority, this making his third election to this office. He has attended as a delegate several State and Congressional conventions of his party and served as assistant sergeant-at-arms of the Baltimore convention of 1912, which nominated Wilson and Marshall. On the organization of the Goodland Commercial Club in 1907, he was the unanimous choice of its members for the office of president and has continued to serve in that capacity. He has attained to the Knights Templar degree in Masonry, is a member of Concordia Lodge, No. 586, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Sparks Lodge, No. 175, Knights of Pythias, of Goodland, and Modern Woodmen of America.
Mr. Calvert married, on November 2, 1892, Miss Etta Allen, daughter of Rhodes Allen, a pioneer of Sherman county, and granddaughter of "Land Bill Allen," first advocate of the homestead law. She was born in Russiaville, Ind., and came to Sherman county in 1886. A sister, Emma Allen, is the wife of Hon. Charles C. Butler, judge of the district court of Denver, Colo., vice-president of the State Bar Association of Colorado, and a well known contributor to legal publications. They are the parents of three children: Opal Virginia, born August 9, 1895, a member of the class of 1913, of Goodland High School; Leonard B., born July 31, 1901, and Allen G., born March 9, 1908. Mrs. Calvert is one of the social leaders of Sherman county, a member of the Christian church and active in its various affairs and support. The Calvert residence in Goodland is one of the most modern homes in western Kansas and from it is dispensed a charming hospitality.
Mr. Calvert is in all respects a high type of the conservative, unassuming American, diligent in his various duties and commercial affairs, and conscientious in all things. He is one of the most progressive citizens of western Kansas, a leader in the development of his home county, and is at all times ready and willing to assist any commendable enterprise which will aid in its growth and betterment.Pages 333-336 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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