Herbert O. Caster, of Oberlin, Kan., a prominent attorney of northwest Kansas, formerly a schoolman and superintendent of public instruction of Decatur county, was born in Meigs county, Ohio, August 28, 1871, son of Dan and Jane Turner Caster, natives of Ohio, where the father was engaged in farming and stock raising. In 1878 they came to Kansas and took a homestead in Decatur county. In 1881 Dan Caster was elected chairman of the board of county commissioners and in 1891 and 1893 represented his county in the State legislature.
There was not a frame house in the county at the time the Caster family came here and their first home was part sod house and part dug-out. Here the subject of our sketch was raised and attended common schools in a sod school house with dirt floor, working with his parents on the farm during vacations. His parents were progressive and soon had a fine ranch. After leaving common schools he went to the Oberlin High School, graduating in 1891, after which he taught school in Decatur county for one year and then attended the Ottawa University, at Ottawa, Kan., where he took the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy in 1898. While in college he was president of the State Oratorical Association, business manager of the college paper, and represented his college in several debates, in all of which Ottawa was the winner.
After leaving college Mr. Caster was appointed superintendent of the Oberlin city schools, which position he held for three years, and organized the first accredited high school course. In the fall of 1900 he was elected superintendent of public instruction in Decatur county, and reëlected in 1902, during which time he was reading law. In the fall of 1903 he drafted a petition to the legislature for a county high school, secured three-fourths of the signers to this petition and went down to Topeka to assist in getting the measure through, in which he was successful. He was on the high school board for eight years, six years of which he was treasurer. All of his brothers and sisters have been teachers in Decatur county, and Mr. Caster organized the first lecture course in the county, and also in 1907 organized the first chautauqua in Oberlin and managed it for five years. In 1904 he was Democratic candidate for Congress for the Sixth district, but was defeated by Congressman Reeder, the Republican nominee. The next year he was a member of the legislative committee of the State Teachers' Association. In June, 1906, he was admitted to the bar and began the practice of law with Judge Langmade, now judge in this district. In 1908 Mr. Caster was elected county attorney, serving one term, after which he has been devoting his entire time to the practice of law and he now has a large clientage over all the northwestern part of the State. Mr. Caster is a Democrat, a member of the Baptist church, for eleven years has been superintendent of the Sunday school, is a member of the board of the Baptist State Convention, secretary of the board of trustees and the teacher of a men's Bible class. Mr. Caster's father was in the county at the time of the Indian raid and has the tassel from an Indian bridle which he picked up the next morning while out bringing in the dead.
On August 23, 1900, Mr. Caster married Miss Maud Van Grundy, daughter of Samuel and Sarah Van Grundy, natives of Ohio who settled in Kansas in 1890. Mrs. Caster was born and raised in Missouri, where she attended the common schools and later was a student at Tarkio College, in Tarkio, Mo. After leaving college she taught common schools in Decatur county six years and in the Oberlin schools four years. Mr. and Mrs. Caster have three children, all attending school in Oberlin: Ethel, born October 10, 1901; Mary, born April 19, 1905, and Robert, born September 7, 1907.Pages 109-110 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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