John S. Elder, clerk of Rawlins county, was born in Montgomery county, Illinois, June 1, 1852, son of John M. and Roseau (Webber) Elder, the former a native of Kentucky, of English descent, and the latter a native of Switzerland, who came to America in 1833. John M. Elder was a farmer and stock raiser in Montgomery county, Illinois, where the subject of our sketch was born and raised. He attended the common schools and later the Hillsboro Academy at Hillsboro, Ill.
After leaving school Mr. Elder taught in the rural districts of Bond and Montgomery counties for two years. In 1873 he went to Fairfield, Clay county, Nebraska, where he taught school for one year, after which he attended the law department of the Kentucky University for six months, and then for five years taught school in Dycusburg, Ky., during which time he continued to read law. Returning at the end of this time to Clay county, Nebraska, Mr. Elder taught at Spring Ranch for two years. In 1879 he came to Kansas and took a hometsead[sic] in Rawlins county, where he was the teacher of the first public school, the school house of the only district in the county being located at Atwood. He had 110 pupils the first term. After teaching two terms he was elected county superintendent of public instruction for Rawlins county in the fall of 1885, and served one term, in which time he organized fifty districts and also ran a store at Celia, Kan. The first school house at Atwood was part dug-out and part log, but during Mr. Elder's second term a frame building was put up and it is now the Baptist church building at Atwood.
Mr. Elder put up the first building at Celia, but when the railroad came through McDonald he moved to that town. He then taught school for two years, after which he removed to Blakeman, Kan., and after teaching school for one year at that place he became manager of the Howard Lumber Company at Blakeman. He held this position for three years, and in 1896 was appointed mine officer of the Kansas State penitentiary, serving two years in this capacity. Mr. Elder returned to Rawlins county and taught school for several terms, at the end of which time he received the appointment as shipping clerk of the Kansas State penitentiary, his duty being to ship out all the products manufactured in the institution. This position he held for ten years and three months. In 1910 Mr. Elder went to Tulleride, Col., where he was employed for eighteen months as manager of the Ionia Mining Company. In August, 1911, he came back to Rawlins county and made the race for the office of county clerk on the Republican ticket, and was elected, taking the office January 1, 1913. Mr. Elder is a member of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.
On December 25, 1878, Mr. Elder was married in Crittenden county, Kentucky, to Miss Mattie Hildreth, daughter of William and Sarah (Fleming) Hildreth, natives of Kentucky, where she was born and raised, and attended the common schools. They had two children: Ollie P., who married Nelson Vezina, and now lives in Lansing, Kan.; Guy W., who is now agent for the Missouri Pacific railroad at Kelly, Kan. The wife and mother died in June, 1885.
Mr. Elder was married the second time on November 27, 1887, to Miss Maggie E. Hill, daughter of Ephraim and Elizabeth (Alexander) Hill, natives of Ohio, Mrs. Elder having been born in Darke county of that State, where she was raised till the age of sixteen, attending the commou[sic] schools. The Hill family came to Kansas, locating in Rawlins county, where Mr. Hill engaged in farming, and the wife of the subject of this sketch taught school ten terms and was editor of the Blakeman "Register" one year before her marriage. They had one child, Mabel E., who died in January, 1911. Mrs. Elder died June 22, 1912, leaving her husband and one adopted son, Donald.Pages 89-90 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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